Having never played a Zelda game before, I had no idea what to expect from Twilight Princess, first released in 2006. I was aware that it received a lot of attention and tons of Game of the Year awards, which I thought was odd. Why? I couldn't understand how a game about an elf saving a princess could top everything else. Well, a few minutes of game play later, I was hooked, and it kept getting better!
It all starts with a young boy named Link who lives in a tree, seemingly by his lonesome. He is a dependable lad, admonished by his elders and loved by all the kids. There's even room for a potential love interest who keeps sneaking off with Link's horse. Then, with the coming night, something changes in the horizon, causing the worlds of light and dark to collide into a twilight world!
Oh yeah ... >this guy< is in unabashed fantasy heaven!
So this girl is taken by shadow creators (to which I thought, wait a sec, aren't these games about saving Zelda?) and Link wakes up in a cell ... as a wolf. This detail alone opens the game up to a whole other interest group! And the odd situation is made odder when a precocious imp frees Link in exchange for his help to return her twilit world where it belongs. I could never tell if I could trust this character or not, which added suspense as the game progressed.
So ... Link's running around the land, morphing between a human and a wolf, with an imp on his back who's bossy and tells him what to do. Since Link doesn't say much (non-verbal cues a-plenty), it actually makes the dynamic work. It allowed me to think for Link and made me reflect on what my responses would be. This adventure game did an excellent job of planting me into the shoes (and the long, pointy hat) of this evergreen (and at times fluffy) hero. Demon by demon and ally by ally, Hyrule is beginning to seem normal again. However, Zelda is nowhere to be found. And Midna (the imp) isn't a fan of the princess, for some reason. And that's when the game turned to a plot twist, unexpected and totally appreciated.
The evil forces have trapped Zelda in her castle, and when our heroes come to her rescue, knowing that her leaving will bring harm to her people, she stays.
That's what I call a leader, and I just couldn't help being captivated by the intelligent manner in which Zelda presents herself. Brains. Beauty. Magic! Link should consider himself lucky, but then, whatever happened to Link's girlfriend?
More importantly, why haven't I played these games sooner?
But what I found most entertaining of all way the antagonist.
I'm not a fan of villains who exist simply to exist, and this Ganondorf guy fit that mold well, but something about his presence ... one look at me and all my bias convictions on storytelling was thrown out the window. Few bad guys are able to express this level of shear badassery without having to say a word. Even the thought of having to face this guy made me sweat! In one swoop, Ganon entered my top 10 favorite baddies of all time, which is hard to do these days.
Two things struck me as being unique about this game. First, it's dark. There's scary creatures and massive bosses Link has to face, and stepping into the twilight world for a bit is loaded with enough nightmare fuel to last a lifetime. Secondly, the game is remarkably clean and kid-friendly, even at the final battle!
Where'd all my pieces of heart go?!
While the game was longer than I anticipated and a few repeat visits were in order to complete various tasks, I fully understand the hype the preceded my experience, for which this game certainly is. It looks great, it plays great, it encourages reading and makes the player an active participate in the adventure. It even has the capacity to shed a few tears (or make your eyes watery, in my case ... I blame the excellent music and the "sense of loss" ending" ... ahem ...). Now I have some catching up to do, and if Nintendo continues this franchise with this level of pure fantasy escapism, I may just buy the consoles for these games alone, to which Twilight Princess is a masterpiece!
Cosmic Cruller Rating:
I'm David, and Ooccocos may look funny, but they can teleport!