When I open a Zelda game, even if it’s a remaster, I always hear the sound of a treasure chest opening in-game—bah da da dah hh hh! With Twilight Princess, it was as if it’s suddenly 2006 and my GameCube is as desperate for this game as I am. Nintendo made the deal even more tempting by offering the soundtrack, which any Zelda fan would love to have in their collections, as well as a beautifully detailed amiibo. Twilight Princess is my equal-favourite Zelda game, and I hope that any dedicated Zelda fans who are reading this appreciate the time I’ve put into this instalment over the last ten years and consider me appropriately qualified to assess it as a HD remaster.
Usually, I’d start by talking about the narrative, but this one has a story so well-known and explored over the last ten years, I’ll instead focus on what’s changed. As it’s a HD remaster, I expected some gratifying graphical updates and the updated art in 1080p floored me. The detail in the weapons and how smoothly the mechanics worked made me wonder if the game was ever actually hard, or if I just couldn’t clearly see what I was doing. From the filigree detail on the dominion rod to the pattern of a Bulblin’s shirt through a zoom lens, I was impressed throughout the entire play through. Things that were always borderline blurry, most areas during twilight periods, for example, have become the haunting version of the light world that I’d always pictured them as. Areas I’d always run through mid-task deserved my attention, as did the oddly detailed faces in every conversation or cutscene. Ten years of not being creeped out by Zant crumbled, too: Zant in HD feels like a close up from Silence of the Lambs.
I was waiting for a glaring change to some pivotal part of Twilight Princess, though didn’t notice one until my first temple. I feel crazy saying this, but I think Link climbs and moves on vines faster now. I even put on the Wii version then swapped back to Wii U to test it out. I’m putting it down to having far better control on a Wii U pro controller than a Wii-mote or GameCube controller, but it felt like one of a few actions, such as riding Epona, that were more efficient and less frustrating. The other adjusted mechanic I loved was having the gamepad set up as a personal GPS; I used the pro controller with the gamepad propped up showing the map, so I could have my HUD almost empty to better enjoy the updated picture. The gamepad didn’t make item switching any better or worse, nor did it do much for saving and collection viewing. Using it to aim with the bow was much more precise than the old Wii, but that’s expected with the new hardware.
As for definite changes, the amiibo is the most notable as it completely removes you from the game and into a separate mini adventure. Midna and Wolf Link pause your game and warp you to the Cave of Shadows; those that have played this before will recognise it’s similarity as the seemingly endless cave found in Gerudo desert late in the game. While this dungeon is only doable in wolf form, it is optional and gives those who have finished the story more than once a little extra to do. The previously released LoZ amiibos have small benefits providing arrows or hearts, or if you like a challenge, then Ganondorf gives all enemies double the power against you. If the whole thing is too easy for you play, try “Hero Mode”: you take twice the damage, or four times if combined with the Ganondorf amiibo. I hated Hero Mode, not because it was difficult, but because Link held his sword in the wrong hand. Blasphemy.
Once the awe of the new details in everything from the facial expressions to the tree house décor had worn off, I made my next discovery in the first temple. I was busy showing off for my son, racing around the temple explaining everything as I ran through it when the wrong item popped out of what should have been a rupee chest; say hello to the Hylian stamp. There are 50 of these throughout the world to collect, the entire alphabet and several character and item-based designs included. While my collection is barely half complete, I’m enjoying having a new collectible to show off in Miivsere, instead of finding rupees I don’t need. The bigger wallet available is also cool, but, again, if you’ve clocked this at least once you know that money is easy to come by. Finding poes has now also been given a very cool upgrade with a lantern that glows blue in their presence, giving Link and Bilbo Baggins something in common.
I already loved this game long before we met again, and I am so happy it received the full HD treatment so another generation could fully appreciate it. Or, more importantly, so I could play it once more and love the water temple, hate on the floor masters of Twilight Palace, and re-meet some of the odd individuals that populate my favourite place all over again. Twilight Princess HD didn’t feel like a space filler for a slow release period, but more like a gift to fans for remaining loyal for so long. Although, Nintendo, as far as gifts go, maybe next time don’t go to the trouble of bringing every detail to HD; I could have done without the improved detail of Fyer’s back-fat filling my screen.