The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U) Review

Shining through the Twilight

The long-awaited The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess first launched with the Nintendo Wii. It was a great game to sell Nintendo’s new console, bringing a darker story and refined visuals to the Zelda series. In preparation of the franchise’s 30th anniversary and the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Twilight Princess was remastered for the Nintendo Wii U. There are only a few new gameplay features, but the HD remaster looks crisper than ever and is just as fun to play as it was back in 2006.

Story

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD’s story is unchanged from the original. Its story should be familiar to anyone who has played other mainline games in the series. Link is a farm boy living in Ordon Village. Following an attack by shadowy beasts, he is suddenly transformed into a wolf and sent to the Twilight Realm where he meets Midna, an implike creature, who asks for his help in defeating the King of Twilight.

TwilightPrincessHD_Midna.jpg
Midna, the Twilight imp girl, steals the spotlight.

While the story is edgy, with some introspective cutscenes and graphic action sequences, it’s not that special. Although there are some important story sequences that adorn the first half, the second half is mostly rushed with very few important events between dungeons up until the end. It’s as if they had an idea, but decided to forgo it halfway through in favor of a focus on dungeon design. While this is actually effective from a gameplay perspective, the game is left with a half-told story and underdeveloped characters. The huge exception and saving grace is Midna, a Twilight imp brimming with personality. She is spunky and snarky, while displaying a lot of heart and dynamic character growth. The villain is also interesting and plays off of her very well. While the overall plot is decent, Midna’s tale is well-told and is worth experiencing.

Gameplay

Much like the story, gameplay should be familiar to anyone who has played a previous Zelda game, especially Ocarina of Time or A Link to the Past. The opening tutorial is still a little slow, but the game grants you freedom as soon as you get through it. Exploring the world and traversing through dungeons are the two main aspects of this game. On the exploration side, Hyrule Field is a vast area filled with secrets to discover and collectibles to find. Getting around is a breeze thanks to your horse, although she has a tendency to bump into trees and cliffs if you’re not careful. The ability to brandish your sword while on horseback is exciting though not used much. Unfortunately, the field is sparse, with a small number of enemies covering its large surface area. With several towns and calmer locales making up the rest of the map, overworld exploration could easily eat up hours of playtime.

TwilightPrincessHD_Epona.jpg
Travel across the field on your faithful steed.

Dungeons are the meat of most Zelda games, and the ones in TP comprise some of the most entertaining in the series. The dungeon designs are very cohesive, with two or three central mechanics featured in each, such as controlling water flow or bringing a statue down a tall tower. These creative concepts encourage mastery of a dungeon item, which is a key weapon that helps you solve the puzzles within. Some items help you throughout the game, such as the grappling Clawshot. Many of these items are mainstays of Zelda games, but have additional clever functionality here. For instance, the Iron Boots not only let you sink in water, but also take advantage of its magnetic properties for some creative wall-climbing gameplay. However, others are less versatile and are generally mostly used in its dungeon like the wall-grinding Spinner, which is a fun item but has limited utility.

TP’s combat uses the effective L-targeting mechanic that Zelda games are known for. By using the ZL button to target your enemies, you can attack and dodge freely. Special learned moves let you vanquish foes in style. Each dungeon also ends in a boss fight, and TP has some of the most epic bosses in series history. Dungeon items are again used cleverly against these huge monsters, and nothing is more satisfying than slashing your sword continuously to finish off a boss.

TwilightPrincessHD_Combat.png
Combat is intuitive, thanks to L-targeting.

This game’s dual world mechanic is between the normal world and the Twilight Realm. You don’t actually spend much time in areas covered in Twilight, but you are forced to become a wolf form of Link during those sections. Wolf Link can’t use items and instead attacks with pounces and bites. He is clunky to fight with, but you luckily don’t have to use him much outside of the Twilight Realm sections. The realm also features a slightly time-consuming subquest in which you must collect Tears of Light hidden in a province to dispel the Twilight. While this is a little annoying, TP HD actually removes some of the Tears that were in the original games, making this subquest go by more quickly.

TwilightPrincessHD_Tears.png
Being a wolf is certainly different, but not better than regular Link.

There are plenty of collectibles to keep you busy throughout your time in Hyrule. Pieces of Heart increase your max health, although it now takes five pieces to fill a new Heart Container as opposed to the standard four, a small but noticeable change to the grind. Hidden Poe ghosts and Golden Bugs return from the original. Hidden Poes used to be a hassle to find in the original, especially since there were so many, but a new Ghost Lantern now assists you by illuminating when a Poe is nearby. New to this version are Stamps, which can be used on Miiverse posts and feature the Hylian alphabet and other fun images. Although they aren’t that useful, they are placed in new hard-to-reach locations or replace other items in select chests to give veterans something new search for.

TwilightPrincessHD_Dungeon.jpg
There are some new collectible secrets to discover in these intricate dungeons.

There aren’t many new additional features in TP HD. The world map is no longer reversed as it was in the Wii version. In fact, the non-mirrored map combined with button inputs replacing waggle motion controls makes this entry more similar to the original GameCube version. The Wii U GamePad is used effectively, allowing you to manage items on the fly. You can also look at a map, your status, or play completely on the GamePad if you desire. Additionally, the GamePad’s gyroscope assists your aim when using items like the Bow or Clawshots. Finally, there is amiibo support, though only for Zelda-themed amiibo. For the most part, you can either refill arrows, restore health, or double damage inflicted on yourself with compatible amiibo. Wolf Link’s amiibo, which comes with some copies of the game, offers an additional enemy rush dungeon – the Cave of Shadows – which you must complete as Wolf Link. This is a true challenge, testing players’ skills with the hard-to-use wolf form, though this bonus feature doesn’t add that much for those only interested in the main game.

Graphics and Sound

Twilight Princess looks beautiful in HD. Character models are more refined, cutscenes show off better detail, and the world is impressive to gaze at. Additionally, the game looks a little cleaner, lacking a yellow filter that was present in the original. The artstyle is still a little on the ugly side, with character designs that are only memorable for looking bad. The main cast looks better and smoother than ever though.

TwilightPrincessHD_WolfLink.png
The world looks better and less yellow than the original version.

The music is well-composed and resembles an orchestral sound. There are many great tracks from the calm Lake Hylia to the spaghetti western stylings of the Hidden Village. The overworld theme has also become iconic with the music changing depending on the time of day and current location. The music effectively sets the mood with a good mix of melancholic tunes and triumphant tracks. The music that plays when you are wailing at a boss is still one of the most fist-pumping songs in any Zelda game. Unfortunately, there isn’t voice acting, unless you count Midna’s garbled Twilight language. It’s easier to forgive since there was no voice acting in the original game, nor has the series had it up to this point. However, the cinematic sequences and characters’ lips syncing to the dialogue make this lack of voices more apparent and even a little awkward.

Playtime/Replayability

The game is lengthy, taking anywhere between 35-50 hours, depending on how much you explore and how many collectibles you are aiming for. A perfect 100% file can take very long just based on the sheer amount of collectible items alone. A new Hero Mode, in which hearts don’t appear and Link takes double damage, is available from the beginning, so challenge-driven veterans can dive right in. Hero Mode is also flipped, which matches the mirrored orientation of the Wii version. The Cave of Shadows, the new Wolf Link exclusive dungeon unlocked by scanning its amiibo, also increases replay value.

TwilightPrincessHD_Epona2.jpg
If you wanted a flashy Zelda game, then you’re in luck!

Conclusion

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is an astounding remaster worth replaying. Even if Nintendo didn’t add anything to the game, it would have already been a fun experience thanks to the clever dungeon design and large explorable overworld. The game has some trouble finding a good pace with a slow opening and a more rushed second half, but the game is overall solidly designed with intuitive puzzles and unique items. Characters are mostly missed opportunities, but the playful Midna makes up for it and steals the spotlight. The added Cave of Shadows, amiibo support, Hero Mode, Stamps, and different control schemes go a long way in making this feel like a unique experience, especially if you’ve only played the Wii version. Twilight Princess takes the beloved mechanics of the 3D Zelda entries and refines it superbly. This beautiful HD remaster is worth playing for anyone who loves the Zelda series.

Score: 9/10

What are your thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, both original and remastered? Do you have any fond memories of this game? What are your favorite dungeons and items from Twilight Princess? Please share any thoughts in the comments section below!

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44 thoughts on “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U) Review

  1. Reblogged this on The News, Reviews & Personal Views Website On All Things Nintendo and commented:

    Hey everyone! Mr. Panda here, with a review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U! This game was originally released on the Wii and GameCube in 2006. In preparation for the newest entry to the Zelda franchise, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has remastered Twilight Princess in HD! Find out if the hero of time stands the test of time in my review! Please leave any comments you have on this game and share if there’s anything you’d like to see carry on to the newest Zelda game! Thanks and enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Twilight Princess is my favorite Zelda game–but not necessarily for story reasons, hehe. I agree the story is underdeveloped, but Midna is definitely my favorite Link sidekick. I also really like playing as Wolf Link form. Wolf Link is so cool! Riding on Epona is a lot of fun too, though she does have a problem with running into things all the time. Can’t wait to see Breath of the Wild Epona and best sidekick Wolf Link! (By the way, also really enjoyed your Breath of the Wild analysis.) It was nice to play the Wii U version with left-handed Link. I liked playing with the game pad, though I did miss the Wiimote waggling experience I got with the Wii version. Great review of my favorite Zelda game!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words! Twilight Princess isn’t my favorite, but it’s a solid entry that actually is just as good the 2nd time around, even after a decade. Wolf Link is a little hard to use, but he was an edgy version of Link in what’s supposed to be a darker, more mature version of Zelda. I’m going to enjoy having him as my sidekick in Breath of the Wild, that’s for sure! Also, buttons work fine in this game. I never really took the motion control seriously in the original, so I was actually happy to play with buttons in the Wii U version. Thanks again for commenting! I appreciate it!

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    1. It is super fun! There are specialized battles that take place where you have to either joust or take down enemies while on horseback. You can even use arrows! Have you had the chance to play other Zelda games with the horse like Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask?

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      1. No, I’ve never really played a Zelda game. I mainly play for the story, and by the time I really started getting into gaming, there were already a whole bunch of Zelda games. Plus Action-adventure isn’t my specialty. Think I’d rather watch all of Zelda than play them, although I know they’re fun.

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      2. Zelda’s certainly a fun game to watch! It has more action than an RPG and doesn’t make you as dizzy like other games might. If you were going to get into one, I would recommend Ocarina of Time (N64 and 3DS) for a 3D Zelda and A Link Between Worlds (3DS) for a 2D top-down Zelda. But yes, they are really fun to watch too! Thanks again for commenting!

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  3. Awesome post! I’ve never played Twilight Princess, but now I’m thinking I might have to. I own it for GC and Wii, but I’m a little tempted by the WiiU version. I played partly through Wind Waker HD while never having touched the GC version, and people have said that the WiiU’s game pad added a lot of value and ease to the game compared to the original. I wonder if the same would be true of the remastered version of Twilight Princess compared to either of its predecessors. For a first-time player through the game, do you have a recommendation?

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    1. Thank you so much for your incredibly kind words! If you couldn’t tell from my review, I highly recommend this game. Since you have the original, it will feel familiar to you, but it’s worth playing again if you forgot everything. When I first got TP for Wii, I blasted through it Thanksgiving weekend – remembered none of it. Replaying Twilight Princess helped me appreciate the dungeon design more. I was also able to 100% it this time thanks to the Ghost Lantern (pesky Poes). The Wii U GamePad does add ease because you can switch items on the fly. Wind Waker HD’s usage was more of a change because you had to pause to switch items, whereas this just lets you do it without blocking the entire screen (and using pointer controls for that matter).

      For your last question, do you mean if I have a recommendation for someone playing through either Wind Waker or Twilight Princess for the first time? In that case, I would choose Twilight Princess because it’s more of a standard Zelda game with gameplay on land and a familiar story. Wind Waker is awesome, but it’s very different especially because of the Great Sea. If this wasn’t your question, please do let me know what you wanted me to answer! Thanks again! I appreciate it!

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      1. Oh you’re very welcome! Your reviews are always a great read! Sorry if I was vague with my question… what I meant was that I’ve never played Twilight Princess before, so I was wondering if you’d recommend the GC, Wii or WiiU version for a first playthrough. I own the GC and Wii versions, but would feel okay with picking up the WiiU version if it would make for a more enjoyable gaming experience!

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      2. Aw thank you so much! Your kind words mean a lot to me! Ah, I understand. If you’re willing to pick up the Wii U version, I would 100% recommend that version over the originals. Since it would be your first time, you should experience the best version of it. It looks much better on the Wii U with 1080p. It’s also less yellow. That might not make sense but the original had a slight yellow filter that made everything seem more grim or dark. The Wii U version is cleaned up. And of course, you get the bonuses like Wolf Link’s amiibo support (the amiibo itself looks great too!), GamePad support, stamps for Miiverse, and some helpful items like the Ghost Lantern which will help you find one of the collectibles, hidden Poe Souls. Second place to play would be the Wii version, but only if you really want to play with fake waggle. Honestly, I think TP works better with button controls, especially since the Wii’s motion controls are really just waggling. It’s not like Skyward Sword at all. That said, if you were going to settle with the GC version to play with buttons, I would recommend the Wii U version as the superior version anyway. Let me know what you think of Twilight Princess, regardless of what version you play! Thanks again!

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      3. Awesome! Yes, it’s pretty good timing that you haven’t yet played TP and have the opportunity to try out an excellent, beautiful remaster. I’m excited for you! I look forward to hearing what you think when you try it out!

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  4. I didn’t even know they’d done an HD remaster! I loved Twilight Princess as I love all Zelda games. Midna definitely stole the show. She’s actually one of my favorite characters. I love the ending scenes with her (don’t want to give anything away in case people haven’t played and don’t want spoilers), and I love the cosplay renditions of her I’ve found. This one is up there in my favorite Zelda list.

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    1. Thanks for your awesome comments! Yes, the HD remaster for the Wii U came out not too long ago. Midna is my favorite from this game, and she’s also one of my favorite sidekicks in any Zelda game. And yes, that spoiler end is terrific. Wish there were more of that spoiler, though a certain other spinoff game does have that character, which is nice. I enjoy the cosplay too! I saw a good cosplay of Midna at an anime convention that I went to this past weekend, though I unfortunately didn’t take a picture. Glad you enjoy Twilight Princess so much too! Thank you again!

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      1. Hyrule Warriors is quite different from Four Swords Adventure. It’s not really a Zelda game. It’s more like Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slash gameplay. You can check out the review that I linked for more information!

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      2. I did! It was very thorough and excellent. I skimmed it so probably missed certain parts, but I read enough to pique my interest. I d heard of Dynasty Warriors, but never played that. And I was thinking of the Four Swords not HW. Mixed that up right well, didn’t I? Hehe.

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  5. Twilight Princess had good, varied level design and an excellent cast of characters. I remember when I played the game for the first time, I always found myself excited to learn what the next dungeon item would be. It was the first Wii game I got, and while it may not have received as much retroactive vindication as Wind Waker, it’s a solid installment nonetheless. Indeed, I’d say it’s my second favorite Zelda game behind Majora’s Mask.

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  6. Twilight Princess nearly mastered the art of dungeon items, with the items perfectly complementing the excellent dungeon design. My only wish is that some items were more important outside of key areas. Some items like the Spinner are just not versatile at all. And yes, it’s also my first Wii game! I put it in before Wii Sports! Majora’s Mask is an excellent choice for a favorite game. MM is my favorite behind Ocarina of Time. I just love how different and dark it is. People applaud TP for its dark themes, but MM was really dark especially when it came to anything about people’s reactions regarding the moon falling. It’s a beautiful game, and one that I’m glad was also remade recently. Thanks for your great comments!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! TP has a different artstyle from other Zelda games. It’s a less cartoonish look than Wind Waker or even Skyward Sword. I don’t think most of the characters look great to he honest. Though the main characters look pretty good, which is partly why Smash Bros. continues to use their specific counterparts. I like the slightly cel-shaded watercolor artstyles of Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild more, but the HD remaster did a great job in making this game look better, which you might be able to tell from the screenshots!

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      1. Yes! I especially like just being able to see the backgrounds especially the one with Wolf Link in front of the Castle Town. It looks so much nicer. I replayed the original version, and it looks okay. But TP HD radically improves it! Also, it’s not as yellow. I can’t stress that enough, haha.

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  7. I haven’t played (well, watched Kris play) the game for a long time. So much so that I barely remembered what happened in it. So now that we’re playing through the HD version everything is coming back to me and it’s gorgeous as well. I can’t wait to actually finish the game. Great review!

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    1. Thank you! And it was perfect timing that you two were playing through the HD version too! It helped warm my brain up. Glad you’re going through it again and enjoying it so far! I can’t wait to hear what you think following your revisit!

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  8. Great review! I forgot how cool that attack music was, they should really bring that back. Also, still kinda mad Zelda and Ganon steal the game from Midna and Zanta at the end. Good game overall though, and it started the Wii off on the right foot.

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    1. Thanks for the comments! I love the theme of this game and how they implemented into the “final attack” sequence of each boss. It made finishing them off so much sweeter. And yea, the ending “twist” wasn’t so good and felt like a last minute insertion, but it was still epic. The game is great though! It did contribute to the Wii being successful early on… Not as big as Wii Sports was, but Zelda is Zelda.

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  9. Good read! I would give the game an 8/10. The HD remaster is not as impressive as I’d hope it would be. Yes there’s an improvement but I guess I was expecting a much higher quality. The beginning of the game is a hassle with the village as well. However, I love the times when Link learns his Hidden Skills!! The background music with the training sessions is excellent! I liked getting a SECOND Clawshot too where I could move around a little like Spiderman haha. Although there were definitely cool moments, the specific story in the game is not memorable.

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    1. Thanks for the great comments! 8/10 is still pretty good. Yes, the game could definitely have added some more features like Wind Waker HD or even the remake of Majora’s Mask 3D, but that’s exactly why this game is really more of an HD remaster than a remake. Twilight Princess still holds up whether HD or not, and there are many who didn’t get the chance to play it while it was on Wii/GameCube. This is a great opportunity, especially with the improved graphics and GamePad functionality. Thanks again though! I appreciate it!

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    1. Breath of the Wild will gladly take your kingdom for that very horse! Epona’s pretty annoying to use in TP, but during long segments of straight, open paths in the field, it’s actually not that bad.. as long as there aren’t trees.

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  10. Great review. I like Zelda games, but I’m more partial to the cell shaded games myself, I don’t really relate to the darker Link adventures. But the game does look stunning, as does the new one too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! The cel-shaded games are also great and have their own pros and cons. I especially liked Skyward Sword’s style which was a mix of cel-shaded and watercolors. The new Breath of the Wild has a similar style with its open-air painting. And then of course, Wind Waker HD looks beautiful and is also very fun to play. For Twilight Princess, the highlights are definitely the dungeons and exclusive items moreso than the artstyle. Thanks again!

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  11. I have played the original version of this game. I was happy to see that this game was awarded a high result as I had enjoyed this game when I played. I actually enjoyed the story right through. I found the game was effective at creating a situation where a man from an isolated village suddenly discovers the surrounding kingdom has been conquered. I liked the story from the beginning (which described how Princess Zelda was defeated) to the end (which used some side story to describe the corrupting effects of the Mirror of Twilight). I was also interested by the character of Lord Zant. I agree the dungeon designs for this game were good, which had a grand atmosphere and intricate designs. I also agree that it was interesting that some items had more than one function, but it was strange for some items to have limited use outside of dungeons (such as the ball and chain). The controls for the wolf felt less flowing than for human Link, but I enjoyed the special moves he could accomplish. I also remember a slight yellow/green hue throughout the game, so it was nice it was removed for the HD version. I liked the praise for the Midna character, I also thought she was interesting and was surprised by her change.
    What changes are resent in the HD version? I could never understand the part of the story that discussed the dark magic users, what were they? Why did they resemble Link?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your insightful comments! It’s great that you enjoyed the story and dungeons. Midna is certainly a highlight for me . She’s a great character who drives the story. Overall, the HD version isn’t too different. It looks nicer, thanks to the HD resolution as well as the removal of that yellowish hue. There are some differences between the HD version and the original, most of which are listed in the review. They mostly add outside content like the new Cave of Shadows from scanning the Wolf Link amiibo. As for your question, I know which scene you’re talking about (it’s a creepy one!), but I’m afraid I’m not sure what was going on there either. Moments like that that seem to not fit into the storyline are partly why I had some criticisms about the story. I still loved the game, overall, but it seemed cut and dry compared to some other Zelda titles like Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker, and now Breath of the Wild. Thanks again for your comments!

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