November 30, 2006

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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii/GC)
Nintendo, 2006

Is it wrong to love a boy with pointy ears? If so, then tell my wife about my illicit affair.

I think I’ve been fighting Moblins with Link and his trusty Master Sword for most of my conscious life. While there have been frustrations, bizarre reimaginings and a gnawing sense that the eternally rehashed plot might begin to wear thin though the franchise’s history, Twilight Princess rises to the top of the heap as the best Zelda I can remember.

Gamers who were dejected with the Game Cube’s Zelda: The Wind Waker — for its ultra-cutesy cel-shaded animation and for it’s forgiving difficulty level — will find that this Zelda returns the challenge and beauty to the series in spades. Link must delve into TP’s clever dungeons, ride across Hyrule’s wide open fields, and venture transformed into a wolf through the grim Twilight realm to (surprise!) rescue Zelda from (surprise!) Ganon. Yes, we’ve done most of that before, one time even on a talking boat. Yes, you’re gonna get a boomerang and use it to fight the dungeons boss, and then a bow and arrow to defeat the next boss and so on. Yes, your sword will go from wooden child’s toy to the mighty Master Sword. But, damn, TP is a grand sweeping reunion with a treasured friend. You know that you’re gonna get drunk with them and laugh at old stories like they’re new again.

Link handles translating your swipes into sword swings, whipping boomerangs and planting deadly arrows with great accuracy by way of the Wiimote pointer. You can hot swap items at the click of a thumb and deflect Moblin clubs with a trigger pull. It’s all an elegant affair after a few minutes with the new controller and nunchuck attachment.

Twilight Princess cribs most heavily from Super Nintendo’s exquisite A Link To The Past with its version of the Dark World in the Twilight Realm. Periodically Link will dive into the encroaching blackness plaguing Hyrule and transform into a wolf to battle the forces of evil. Your mischievous guide Minda helps with the gasp-inducing leaps and generally points Link in the right direction along TP’s unusually deep story. Solving puzzles and defeating challenges in the mirror realms will affect the other in various plot-progressing ways. There seem to be even more side quests than in prior Zelda games with optional dungeons and a clutch of mini-games to slake your Hyrulian wanderlust.

Twilight Princess is, rightfully, the crown jewel of the Wii launch titles and for those of you who neglected to purchase it with your new system: for shame. A superb game against which any action-adventure game will be judged for the foreseeable future. A+

— Glenn Given