Sunday, 29 June 2014

Twilight Princess pretty much forces us to say goodbye to traditional Hyrule.

by Jak Marshall (Spoiler warnings).

I'm just working through my gaming list, which includes some second playthroughs of older titles including The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which I recently finished. To put this article into context, Twilight Princess was the first major console release from the Zelda franchise since Wind Waker, a game which divided opinion with it's cartoon visuals, shorter-form game structure and it's ocean dominated overworld. People would have to wait until the winter years of the Gamecube for the release of Twilight Princess or as I like to think of it, Ocarina of Mask HD as the title is essentially what I imagine a fan-made re-release of the N64 games would look like. I'm surprised there wasn't an angry moon in the sky making a cameo. The game is a deluxe package for fans of the previous generation's Zelda titles. Hell, "Zelda as a boss" comes straight out of a fan forum.

This isn't from Deviantart, this is in-game evilled up Zelda. Right outta fanfic.
Twilight Princess brings us back to a Hyrule Field which is bigger and braver than before and gives us Epona more or less from the beginning to gallop around its vast expansive areas. There is so much to find in this game that recent E3 talk of an open-world type Zelda title almost feels a tad on the late side. On my second playthrough of this giant I found entire sections of the game that I'd never seen before and a lot of this is easy to miss. Shorter form titles like Wind Waker and more linear titles such as Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword are probably Shigeru Miyamoto's way of telling us that he is sick of players not finding all the areas his teams bother to put in the game nor being good enough at his games to see them through to the later stages. He didn't work his (iron) knuckles to the bone on the Spirit Temple just so that half the player base would never fight Twinrova because the Water Temple put them off!   
Seriously though, strap in. This temple is a marathon.

This game is so generous, as a matter of fact, that we probably need never return to Hyrule in this format again. The aforementioned Water Temple was given a make over in the form of the Lakebed Temple, manages to capture the 'tricky puzzle dungeon' theme of the Water Temple without making it nearly so tedious and pace-killing. The Lost Woods type sections with the Skull Kid is about as much Lost Woods action as anyone is ever going to need. There's enough dark-world/light-world action to keep that crowd happy.
  Almost every enemy from the console releases up until this point has had a make-over and so too have many of the bosses! They were even generous with the items! Bombs come in three flavours, you not only get one but two grappling hooks. They even overhauled the fishing mini-game from Ocarina! The fact is that, by the time you've finished with Twilight Princess, you'll have stuffed your face with classic Hyrule flavour so much you'll not want any more. Heck you even have to fight four different forms of Ganondorf before this game is through.

Seven hidden sword skills... none of which are any use in this fight at all.

My point is that I honestly think that Twilight Princess is the last we should see of a traditional Hyrule for quite some time and that the series should keep experimenting with new ideas. Skyward Sword had a very different overall aesthetic to it and started playing around with some great new ideas. Time bending crystal pirate ship dungeons in a desert world manned by cute robot people? That's new. An entire dungeon built around the concept of a sliding tile puzzle? Novel. Whilst still keeping in with the mythos of the overall Zelda universe, Skyward Sword showed us that it's quite alright for the series to take us on new journeys without losing that grand Hylian charm. If E3's teaser trailer is anything to go by, the latest game in the Legend of Zelda series promises to be filled with innovative ideas that draw inspiration from the older titles in the series rather than simply rehashing them. It may well be Hyrule after all, but hopefully not as we know it.

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