Posts Tagged ‘link’

Revisiting The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – In High Definition & High Detail

Well this looks a bit weirdly-timed now, but I have been working on it for almost two months, so here we go. Strap yourself in.

It’s been a while, old friend.

Ten years ago, in 2006, I picked up The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess alongside my brand new Nintendo Wii console at the system’s launch. After years of hype and a string of exemplary prior Zelda games, I could barely contain my excitement. 80 hours of gameplay (and weeks of real-world time juggling Wii Sports) later, I had completed it very close to 100%. And what a rollercoaster it had been.

Twilight Princess promised a lot, as the Zelda series’ long-awaited return to the dark, “realistic” aesthetic made popular by Ocarina of Time following a controversial – at least at the time – stylistic sidestep with The Wind Waker. And in fairness, it delivered a lot – sensational dungeons, standout set pieces built on fan wish fulfilment, a breakout companion character and bosses on a truly grand scale, mainly.

Ooh baby.

Yet the game also came in for its fair share of criticism for its slow and inconsequential opening, largely empty world, bland colour palette, litany of rupee-related annoyances, relative lack of difficulty and slavish devotion to aping Ocarina at the expense of the freshness offered by predecessors Majora’s Mask and the aforementioned Wind Waker. Though I remember plenty of moments from Twilight Princess fondly, it came in at Number 7 on the Top 10 Zelda games list I wrote back in 2013.

And yet early last month, it received a new lease on life.

Link makes a triumphant return with a new HD sheen.

With help from little-known Australian studio Tantalus Media, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for Wii U here on March 5th. Based on the “waggle-free” Gamecube version of Twilight Princess, which I never touched, and boasting quite a few tweaks and supposed improvements, it marked the perfect opportunity for me to revisit the classic adventure with a critical eye, separated somewhat from the perhaps exaggerated criticisms the internet has whipped up over the last decade. Now that I have finally finished TP in its newest iteration, here is what I have to say about it.

Prepare yourself – this will be a long one. A very long one.

Be aware that this post contains a huge amount of spoilers – worth mentioning if you haven’t played the game before. All you need to know if you’re a Twilight Princess newcomer is that yes, I believe this HD version is definitively the best version of the classic title, and yes, you really should play it. If you really want to read on, continue at your own risk, but you should know that what follows is so exhaustive that you may not even feel like you need to play it by the end.
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My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions, Round 2

I regret that this year’s guest blogging week had to be cut short by one day due to unforeseen circumstances, but I do want to take a brief moment thank all six wonderful contributors for their entertaining pieces. Moving on…

It’s official: Mario Kart 8 is now the biggest Mario Kart game to date. Say what you will, Battle Mode fans, but this week’s arrival of the highly anticipated second MK8 downloadable content pack announced last year means that the latest in Nintendo’s flagship racing series boasts more content than any entry before it. The game is now bursting at the seams with 48 painstakingly rendered tracks, along with 36 playable characters and a dizzying number of karts, bikes, ATVs and the like. Given the critical and commercial success of the last DLC pack, I wouldn’t be putting any money down on this being the last update, but we are at least now at the end of what we knew was coming, and there’s a sense of finality that comes with that.

So, much like I did for the first DLC pack last November, I thought I’d share my impressions of the new stuff. Everything you’re about to read has been scientifically tested by a small but lovable bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings over an evening of, err, healthy competition.

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My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions

Yesterday, Nintendo entered a brave new world – one in which for the first time in their history, they have a Mario Kart game with additional tracks as paid DLC. Thanks to the largely unprecedented Nintendo move of adding substantial downloadable content to Mario Kart 8, fans now have an extremely enticing incentive to jump back into the game almost six months after it launched. For $10 AU (technically $8 if you buy the pack with the upcoming May DLC as well), three new characters, four new karts and eight new tracks are available for you to download at your leisure. Last night I brought some friends over to try out the new content, and here’s what I think:

Nintendo, this is the reason I love you.

It’s certainly weird to think of the Big N as a company peddling DLC, especially given how long they’ve gone without it in a general gaming environment that is positively rife with the stuff. But surely, this is downloadable content done right. This first pack is alarmingly cheap for what you get, and it’s extremely evident that a lot of design work has gone into it. Though I’m not really all that fussed about the new characters (Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach and Link from The Legend of Zelda series) or the new Karts (The classic B-Dasher, the Blue Falcon from F-Zero, the bulky new off-road Tanooki Kart and Link’s matching Master Cycle) , the detail that has gone into their design is fitting of Nintendo’s reputation. Link makes his trademark angry yell noises during hectic races and waves his sword around during tricks, for example, while Tanooki Mario’s horn sound will be familiar to anyone who grew up with Super Mario Bros 3. The real value for money, of course, is in the eight fresh tracks, and boy do they deliver.

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VR Zelda Month: Top 10 Memorable Moments

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This is probably the most personal of all the lists I have attempted this past month. Nearly every person who has ever played a Zelda game will have some moment that sticks out in his or her mind from said game. Usually, there are more than one. Here is a list of my top ten personal (key word there) favourites. Well, sort of.

I suppose I should mention that this isn’t technically my absolute all-time list of the ten most memorable moments in Zelda games; rather this list deals with moments that do not overlap with any list I’ve already posted. For example, had I not already featured Midna’s Lament in my overall music list, the corresponding gameplay moment would absolutely appear here. A more accurate title would be “Top 10 Memorable Non-Dungeon, Non-Boss, Non-Sidequest, Non-Music-Related Moments”, but that ain’t quite as snappy. I headed back to Deviantart for the pictures to this one, because just like my sidequests list it’s hard to convey a moment with an official icon.

Finally, this list is probably the most spoiler-laden of them all as it deals heavily with story related content, so be warned.

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VR ZELDA MONTH DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome. MASSIVE spoilers may follow.
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10. The First Three Days – Majora’s Mask

Credit to Ayemae

I cannot hope to describe what makes the first three day cycle of Majora’s Mask, its only scripted gameplay sequence until you enter the moon at game’s end, so memorable without entering into emotional nostalgia. I first played through it at a friend’s house (remember those days when you could take turns playing a single player game at another person’s house and everyone was just cool with it?) and the impact of the whole ordeal just blew me away. From the amazing graphical showcase of the first forest areas to the nightmarish Deku Scrub curse to showing the snarky Bombers who’s boss to the entire Astral Observatory to the epic confrontation with the Skull Kid, it was all magic to me. The sequence was more than enough to convince me to ask for the game for my 12th birthday and the rest, as they say, is history.
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VR Zelda Month: Top 10 Enemies

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The Zelda series does not have a particularly deep combat system, at least compared to most modern action adventure games, and it never really has. However, to say that fighting enemies is an insignificant part of the Zelda tradition would be a big mistake. Combat is the number one factor separating Zelda games from being pure puzzle-driven adventures and it only enhances the universally relatable feeling of heroism that comes with controlling Link. What’s more, even though there are plenty of slashable foes about, several Zelda enemies require careful thought and timing to defeat.

That said, here are my all-time favourites. I’m basing this list on such factors as visual design, prevalence of unique characteristics, legacy, the intimidation factor and how much fun the enemies are to fight. Also, I’m not going to label the game from which each enemy hails, because most of them have simply appeared in too many incarnations over the years for that to be worth doing in this case.

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VR ZELDA MONTH DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome.
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10. Octorok

The Octorok was actually the first enemy that came to mind when I sat down to write this list, such is its iconic status. Ever since the very first Legend of Zelda the Octorok has been there (well, except for Twilight Princess), sometimes crawling around on land, sometimes jetting through the sea and occasionally even floating in midair, but always spitting rocks at Link. Deflecting these projectiles back at the just right angle to give the Octorok a taste of its own medicine is one of the quintessential Zelda experiences. According to fan theory, the Octorok is a close relative of the Deku race, which play a major role in a number of Zelda games.
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VR Zelda Month: Top 5 Companions

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Hey, I told you this list thing would be a comprehensive undertaking. Companions are important!

The various Links that have taken up the fight against evil across the many years of Zelda games are only struggling on their own about half the time. A large percentage of them are paired with what you might call sidekicks or companions, a feature that is especially common in the latter Zelda series entries. Ostensibly they are there to help newcomers with the unique features of each game and occasionally with navigation, but each one also serves a narrative purpose and has a unique personality. This has led to some of them taking on cult status. Here are my favourites.

I’m only counting companions that are with Link all the time, including in dungeons. So Linebeck and the King of Red Lions are out of contention for this one.

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VR ZELDA MONTH DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome. Spoilers may follow.
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5. Ezlo – Minish Cap

Though I haven’t yet finished The Minish Cap, the game’s semi-titular companion, a literal cap who can talk and change Link’s size, is inoffensive and unintrusive enough to leapfrog the only other two companions eligible for this list into fifth place. I’ve seen people praise his wit and charm over the course of the game, but I am unable to comment on that myself. He does have a memorable introduction, though, and he’s the only Zelda series companion that Link actually wears. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when that was suggested during The Minish Cap‘s development. Ezlo is also almost entirely green, which is my favourite colour, so that’s a bonus.
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