Ten years. An entire decade. That’s how long it is since Twilight Princess launched alongside the Wii, and its status among fans has fluctuated ever since.
Its announcement was greeted with huge excitement, then its release with glowing reviews, both focused around the fact it was a 'proper'Zelda – not plagued by the cartoony look of its predecessor The Wind Waker. Since then, the general consensus has done a 180. Perceived wisdom now is that, actually, Wind Waker’s cel-shaded aesthetics were a good thing, while Twilight Princess is criticised for the slavish fan appeasement that made it too much of a retread of N64 classic Ocarina Of Time. And, if you bought the Wii version over the Gamecube one (which most people did), for forcing you to use motion controls.
Divorced from the hype and the subsequent backlash, it’s the perfect time to reassess the game. Following the recent tradition of upgrading its classic Zeldas (Ocarina Of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker have all had recent spruce ups), Nintendo has added an HD shine for a re-release on Wii U.
Of course, there’s yet to be a bad main series Zelda game, so criticisms and praise are all relative within the series. Removed from the baggage of any “not as good Majora’s Mask” proclamations (or similar), the game stands out as a well-oiled mixture of exploration, combat and puzzles. To compensate for the Wii’s motion controls, famous lefty Link was right-handed in that version, but he’s flipped back here (except, confusingly, in the harder Hero Mode where he remains right side dominant). What seems odd, given the Wii-U’s compatibility with both traditional controllers and the Wii’s Wiimotes, is the complete lack of the ability to experience the gameplay as most did in 2006. Even as a sword-waggling novelty.
In terms of looks, the original hadn’t aged well – its visuals murky and maddeningly indistinct, and not just in comparison with its cel-shaded predecessor, but with the series as a whole. The upgrade has helped, but there’s still a silver sheen over everything as though you’re looking at the screen through the early development of cataracts.
Still, it’s a fine Zelda game. Not the franchise’s best (although the actual holder of that honour will probably never be settled) but an accomplished adventure through the world of Hyrule. It’s time to rediscover it.