“The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD” removes a classic’s wrinkles, leaving behind blemishes, scars

Brian O’Kelly

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD” is an HD reimagining of a classic “Legend of Zelda” title. Nintendo’s HD update tweaks the original’s outdated graphics but does little more than clean up some low-quality textures in terms of new content.

“Twilight Princess” tells an epic narrative, where farm boy Link is tasked with saving the fantasy land of Hyrule from an invasion. The invaders are an exiled race who cover the land with “twilight,” distorting the game’s provinces into darker versions of themselves. Link receives a similar transformation as the twilight transforms him into a wolf, which the player can use to explore the twilight realms.

The game skillfully balances a personal focus on a cast of characters with a grand overarching plot structure. The inclusion of side characters as more than just plot points improves the game’s narrative so it becomes emotional and immersive. It’s this well rounded use of different plot elements that distinguishes “Twilight Princess” from the other “Zelda” entries, which focus on the heroism at the expense of the characters’ humanity. 

The dungeons in the game are some of the best in the series, with challenging puzzles that require players cleverly use the items they find during their adventure. This is enhanced by the phenomenal combat that uses shield bashes, rolls and finishing moves to add a new dimension to the series’ usual simplistic combat. “Twilight Princess” is a masterfully crafted adventure title, and the HD remake captures the details that made the original a classic.

As the game’s title references, the HD version features new high-definition textures that improve the visual appearance on modern TVs. A new lighting engine has been added to complement these new textures, but the combination of these two bring out the game’s age. Occasionally, the softer lighting engine removes a certain level of depth, which often results in visually unappealing faces and landscapes. Nintendo’s original aesthetic vision for the title is still largely timeless, and luckily for the remake, the new textures often do more good than bad. 

This new version also introduces some new gameplay elements such as Hero Mode, which makes enemies deal twice as much damage and removes health pickups from being dropped. This increased difficulty is particularly appealing for veteran players who want to test their mastery of the game’s combat.

The Cave of Shadows is a new optional dungeon that can be accessed at any point in the game. The dungeon is combat-oriented, with 40 floors of enemy hoards for the player to challenge. This dungeon must be completed in Link’s wolf form and requires the additional purchase of a Wolf Link figurine. The figurine only sells with the limited edition of the game, and putting a piece of content behind a paywall when the title was already lacking new features is a greedy business decision for the developer.

The game also has some minor changes such as increased movement speed and fine-tuned controls during horseback riding and swimming. While these additions are nothing to write home about, they do improve the overall experience of the game by removing some frustration because of unresponsive controls.

The minimal amount of additions may turn off players hesitant to revisit a 10-year-old game, but hardcore fans who wish to return to a cleaned-up version of Hyrule will be pleasantly surprised by the game’s many small touch-ups.

Title: “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD”

Genre: Adventure

Rating: T

Score: 3.5/5 stars