The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is an upcoming video game in Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series, for Wii and the Nintendo GameCube. Originally planned for release in November 2005, Nintendo delayed it so that the developers could add more content and fine-tune the game. The Wii version will be released on the console's launch dates: November 19, 2006 in North America, December 8, 2006 in Europe, and December 2, 2006 in Japan, making Twilight Princess the first Zelda game to debut alongside the launch of a Nintendo console. The GameCube version will be released on December
13, 2006 in the United States.
At the Nintendo E³ 2006 Press Conference, President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime described Twilight Princess as “...by far the best Zelda game we’ve ever made.”
Twilight Princess also is noteworthy of being the first Legend of Zelda series game to be rated T for teen, for animated blood and fantasy violence, as revealed on the official North American Wii website.
Footage from the game was originally shown at E³ 2004 in the form of a short trailer, and a second trailer was later shown at the 2005 Game Developers Conference. It features a stylized, naturalistic art style (similar to, but more advanced than, that found in Ocarina of Time), rather than the cartoonish look that The Wind Waker exhibited; although it still makes use of cel-shading effects, using a heavily modified version of The Wind Waker’s engine. In a further departure from The Wind Waker, Link is once again a young man, as in the latter part of Ocarina of Time. The game also takes on a more "darker tone" according to Shigeru Miyamoto.
A number of rumors about the game were confirmed at E³ 2005. The official title, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was announced. (The title was actually first revealed in a pre-E³ scan from Game Informer.) It was explained that Link would transform into a wolf when entering the “Twilight Realm”, a mysterious void that has ensnared Hyrule.
It was confirmed that the game falls chronologically “decades after Ocarina of Time,” but before The Wind Waker, and that “the hero in the adventure is an all-new Link”. Interviews and a playable demo exposed many new details, such as Link beginning the game as a sort of shepherd or cowboy/ranch hand, Link battling on horseback, changes in the horse controls from OoT, thematic differences between dungeons, and so on.[Live feeds of this demo have also been published.
In recent interviews in Nintendo Power, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and the Spanish magazine Hobby Consolas, director Eiji Aonuma revealed that Princess Zelda and Ganondorf will be returning. What their roles are is unknown, but the new character art shows Princess Zelda with a thin rapier-like sword, leading a lot fans to theorize that she will fight at some point, or at the very least defend herself. Nintendo has not been forthcoming as to whether or not the Master Sword will be featured in the game, but recently released official artwork seems to suggest it. Many even speculate that Nintendo's new character who appears to Link in the Twilight, Midna, is even Zelda herself.
In the March issue of Nintendo Power, developer Yoshiyuki Oyama is quoted as saying, “I know that everyone’s wondering what going on with Link’s old nemesis.
Aonuma has also stated that the game will be much larger in size than The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and will have more dungeons than any other Zelda game. He revealed that Link can communicate with animals when in wolf form, but did not elaborate on this. When transformed into a wolf, Link’s senses (smell, sight, and hearing) will also be raised quite significantly. With these abilities come some disadvantages. While he is a wolf, Link cannot use any of his items. Aonuma also confirmed that there will not be extensive voice acting in the game. However, characters will still grunt, laugh, scream, and make other such noises, just as they have in all LoZ games on the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube.
Speculation regarding a realistic Zelda game on the Nintendo GameCube goes back as far as Summer 2000. During its 2000 Spaceworld convention, Nintendo unveiled the GameCube along with some demos for Luigi’s Mansion, an unnamed Metroid game, Super Mario 128, an unnamed Pokémon game (Pokemon Colosseum), and a Zelda demo where characters Link and Ganondorf fight. While Nintendo mentioned that the demos did not necessarily represent upcoming Nintendo projects accurately, the Zelda demo left a permanent impression on many fans.
When Nintendo unveiled a trailer for what would become The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker during Space World 2001, fans were shocked by the change in direction the Zelda series was taking on consoles. After the game was released in 2003, most criticism of the new style disappeared, as both reviews and word-of-mouth ratings for the game were generally positive. Many thought this acceptance (and the news that a “sequel”, tentatively dubbed Wind Waker 2, was being built on the same engine) signalled that the next Zelda console game, (not counting Four Swords Adventures) would continue in that style.
Character art, depicting the new LinkAt E³ 2004, this misconception ended, when a surprise announcement was made near the end of a Nintendo press conference. In an explanation for the stylistic departure from Wind Waker, game director Eiji Aonuma described the title as being more specifically targeted to the franchise’s North American audience.
The game was believed to be scheduled for release in November 2005, until August 16th, 2005, when Nintendo announced it would be released some time after March 31st 2006, because the development team needed more time to work on the game. In February, Reggie Fils-Aime stated in an interview on Spike TV that Twilight Princess would be released in the Fall of 2006, well past the expected Spring or early Summer release but still in time for the holiday shopping season. This delay of Twilight Princess caused a large number of fans to speculate that Nintendo was actually planning to release the game for the company’s new console, Wii. However, Perrin Kaplan, Nintendo’s Vice President for Corporate Affairs, has confirmed that it will indeed be released on the GameCube: “...we feel a commitment to the GameCube owners who’ve been patiently awaiting this new Zelda title, and don’t want to force them to wait and buy a brand new system in order to play the game.” At Nintendo’s pre-E³ 2006 press conference, Reggie Fils-Aime announced that 2 versions would be released simultaneously in the Americas: one for GCN, and one for Wii. However, it’s worth noting that at one point it was speculated that another Zelda game for Wii was being planned, which had previously caused some confusion. The announcement of two separate releases clarifies the situation and past statements.
The high anticipation and delay of the game earned Twilight Princess the #6 spot on Wired News’s 2005 Vaporware Awards.
Twilight Princess on Wii:
British publication NGC Magazine claimed, in December 2005, that when the game is played on Wii, the player will be given the option of using Wii’s unique controller; Reggie Fils-Aime denied these claims, stating that across the board, GCN games played on Wii would not be compatible with Wii's controller. Nintendo of France Director of Marketing Mathieu Minel stated in a subsequent interview with Jeux-France that Twilight Princess would include Wii controller functionality one way or another, but Nintendo quickly requested that this be removed from the interview. In the end, however, Shigeru Miyamoto himself was reported to have confirmed the Wii controller functionality in an interview with Nintendo of Europe.Time reported this also soon after.
Finally, at E³ 2006, Nintendo announced that there will be two versions of Twilight Princess released the same day: one for GameCube, and one for Wii. It is not fully clear what the differences between the two will be, but as demonstrated in the playable demos at E³, the Wii version will use Wii Remote with the Nunchuk attachment. The analog stick on the Nunchuk will be used for movement, and the “point-and-click” capabilities of the Wii Remote can control a fairy on the screen, which serves as a cursor for accessing menus. The Wii Remote will also be used to aim and fire distance weapons like the bow, select boomerang targets, and even be used to fish. Despite speculation about fully motion-sensitive sword control, it appears that basic sword swinging will be controlled with the B button. However, certain advanced swordfighting techniques do make use of the motion sensitivity. A jab with the remote will cause Link to shove the enemy with his shield, and to use Link’s “spin attack”, the player rotates the tilt-sensitive Nunchuk. The nunchuk is also used to throw items via a jabbing motion, and perform a “downthrust” finishing move with a downwards stab. The built-in speaker on the remote will be used for sounds like the bowstring being drawn and released, as well as the rear “Zelda chime”.
Reggie’s statement has caused confusion concerning whether or not a GameCube version will also be available in the other regions. It is not yet known whether there will be two separate versions in the rest of the world. Nintendo of Europe has confirmed, however, that Twilight Princess will be available on GameCube worldwide.
Shigeru Miyamoto has confirmed in an interview that the only differences between the GameCube and Wii versions of the Twilight Princess are technical (as described above). The Wii version will also display in a 16:9 (widescreen) format in 480p, where the GameCube version plays only in 4:3.
The game begins with Link residing in Toaru Village (this name may not have been finalized; “Toaru” is Japanese which roughly translates as “unnamed”), working as a goat wrangler. This changes, however, when he is asked by the village’s mayor to visit the Hyrule Summit. In doing so, Link leaves behind Ilia, the mayor’s daughter (who some believe to be Link’s girlfriend, or at least an admirer.) It is his journey beyond the village which leads him to first encounter the Twilight Realm. Early on in the game, Ilia and a young boy who has been referred to as “Colin” are kidnapped by a group of monsters. Link is knocked unconscious but later pursues and battles their leader on horseback. After Link enters the Twilight Realm, he is transformed into a wolf, captured and imprisoned in a castle. With the help of a strange, imp-like creature named Midna, he escapes and they join forces.
Link will age throughout the game. Though it is yet kept under wraps how it will exactly unfold, we will see Link as a child, as an adolescent and as an adult.
Wolf-god like entity
'Doshin the Giant' (huge tree-like creature)
Raka (long and thin) and Tobi (short and tubby) - two clownesk characters
Residents of Toaru Village:
Hena, the Fishing lady
Animals are expected to play a large role in the game. Although it is confirmed that Link will be able to talk to some animals, and maybe even his horse, the exact roles of most of them are unknown. Some dungeons are animal-themed, as revealed on the show X-Play.
Link (in wolf form) and Midna (on his back).Link will also be able to enter the Twilight Realm and transform into a wolf. Link will be unable to use any weapons or items in this form, but will team up with Midna, a small character who rides on his back, wearing an odd helmet that resembles the background of the logo of the game. As the Twilight gets pushed back, Link will regain his human form, altering Link and Midna’s partnership.
In this game, although the E³ 2005 footage shows the horse’s name as Epona, gamers can choose their own name for the horse. Whether or not it has an official story name (as with Link) is currently unknown. In the gameplay trailers, Link picks some “weed”, and plays Epona’s Song, which has been confirmed to summon the horse.
Confirmed new mechanics for riding include Link doing battle with his sword or bow while on horseback, and the possibility of being thrown from the saddle.
The hawk seen with Link in gameplay trailers can be used much like the Boomerang; Link can target objects, and send the hawk out to hit things from afar. Whether the hawk can be used to attack enemies or is merely a puzzle-solving ally is unclear. It is called upon using “Hawk weed” found in patches shaped like small birds.
As in the past games, Link can grab hold of cuccos (Hyrulean chickens) to hover for short distances. This enables him to access secret or hard-to-reach places he could not normally get to. Unlike games prior to The Minish Cap, in which the they were always white (except for a few special blue roosters), some of the cuccos in the E³ footage are brown, much like everyday chickens.
The second trailer showed Link petting some cats, and later picking up one of them and running off with it (with the others chasing after). What their role will be is unknown, and they were only seen washing themselves in the expanded third trailer. A cat was also seen in some gameplay footage where Link had to get it off a roof and return it to its owner.
In new gameplay footage Link could pick up a bone and toss it to a dog. This might become useful later in the game.
As previously mentioned by Aonuma, Link herds the strange village goats with large ears and horns that connect above their head. He is also able to grab their horns and wrestle them to the ground, which sends them into a dangerous fury (much like the pigs in Wind Waker, or the cuccos in the Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask).
The new dungeon shown in E³ 2005 footage and in the playable demo appears to be monkey-themed. Link rescues monkeys from cages; in return they help him cross a bridge to the mini-boss’s lair, where he battles the bewitched baboon who locked them up.
Not much is currently known about the enemies in the game; while some enemies from previous Zelda games return, as seen in the third official trailer, there are also many new creatures. Enemy AI is more advanced than in The Wind Waker.
Some staple enemies return with a new look. Keese fly around to attack Link and are easily defeated, taking only one hit to subdue. They are seen in a forest in the third trailer and a dungeon from gameplay footage.
Another old enemy in the Zelda series, Stalfos have appeared in numerous screenshots and trailers. A Stalfos is a walking skeleton, usually equipped with a shield and sword, and in most cases they can be defeated by blocking their attacks and counter-attacking quickly before they can defend themselves. Like the Keese, they have been given a new, darker and more detailed look.
In the second trailer, a squat statue comes to life and tries to attack Link with a hammer-like object. This is probably an Armos.
In the same trailer, a first-person (first-animal?) scene shows zombie-like creatures surrounding Wolf Link. Some have hypothesized that they are Redeads.
Green skinned marauders, reported to be Moblins and Bokoblins, attack Link in various locations including (a new addition to the series) from the backs of boars while he’s on horseback, in what appears to be a new rendition of Hyrule Field. The second trailer also shows that Link can ride the boars when their original riders are gone.
What appears to be a Skull Kid (from Ocarina of Time, one of which played a major role in Majora’s Mask) is present in game footage, seemingly in control of a group of lanky creatures Link is fighting.
The reptilian Lizalfos (and/or Dinolfos) return from Ocarina of Time. These foes make appearances in a number of different places in the trailers. They appear to fight with swords, shields, axes on their tails, and some wear a sort of skull helm.
In several trailers, Link is attacked by huge spiders. Their appearance is reminiscent of a Skulltula, although the skull is only a pattern on the abdomen, whereas the Skulltulas in the N64 games were smaller and had a skull-shaped armored carapace.
These spider-creatures are seen in the dungeon in the new gameplay footage. They hang from webs much like Skulltulas, and they may also leave their webs and attack Link from the ground. This enemy appears to have the ability to encase Link in a web as seen in the second trailer.
Strange creatures, which bear a disturbing resemblance to something out of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos (or the Nintendo rear it inspired, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem), have also been featured in the latest trailer.[ They are seen falling from an odd portal in the sky, and later being attacked by Midna and wolf-Link.
Flying, dragon-like creatures have been featured in a few trailers, both flying in the Twilight Realm (in the E3 2005 trailer) and pestering Link while he is on horseback (in the GDC 2005 trailer).
One of the new mini-bosses is a giant baboon with a black-and-red spider parasite that has the same cell-shaded effect as the new creatures that fall from the portal in the 3rd trailer. The baboon taunts Link and throws a boomerang. Simultaneously, Link is being attacked by an uprooted Deku Baba with three joined heads; it crawls on the ground and snaps at him. Link needs to deflect the baboon’s boomerang back by hitting it, then roll into pillars to knock the baboon off. He then hits its red bottom several times until it is defeated. As demonstrated in the second trailer, enemies’ attacks can hurt each other. The baboon is revealed to be good once it is defeated by Link and the parasitic cap falls off its head.
Link taking on a Fire Boss seen in the original Zelda Trailer at E³ 2004.A major boss seen in the third trailer resembles a towering plant with one eye, with two plants on his sides. These appear to be an evolution of the Deku Baba. The baboon, which you previously fought as a mini-boss, allies with you now and swings back and forth across the room along a vine, carrying an explosive insect. Link must use his Gale Boomerang to snatch the bomb and hurl it into the big plant. When the plant is hit, it will give Link an opportunity to slash away at its exposed eye.
Another boss, briefly featured in the first trailer at E³ 2004, and included in the E³ 2006 demo, is a giant figure of flame with a dangerous-looking chain, which was used as a whip to knock Link to the ground in the Goron Mines. Link must blind the creature, pull on the chains to topple it, then strike its weak point.
Another boss or mini-boss battle is a sort of jousting match with an ugly creature riding a huge armored boar. To raise the stakes, the creature has abducted a village boy, Colin, and is dangling him from the end of a pole. The goal of this match is apparently to knock the boar-rider from his mount and off the bridge on which they are jousting by dodging his attack with the analog stick, then slashing with the B button.
In the second trailer, Link is briefly seen running headlong from a giant, black, one-eyed spider through a network of caves. This may be a more rear rendition of Gohma, a giant tektite or a new enemy altogether.
A new ally:
Midna, Link’s guide.Midna, a new character, is a resident of the Twilight Realm. At a certain point in the game she decides to team up with Link to fight a “greater evil” that she cannot overcome alone. Midna (once teamed up with link) breaks out of a "prison" with him. For these parts, the player controls her while she rides on wolf-Link’s back. There has been much speculation regarding Midna’s identity. Popular theories posit that she is related to, or even an incarnation of, the Master Sword. Because of the wide-open eye on the right side of her helmet, some believe she has a relation to (or is) Majora’s Mask. Other theories suggest that she may be princess Zelda herself. Official sources, however, do not suggest in any way that she is a familiar character, confirming only that she changes form in the normal world as Link does in the Twilight Realm. Since she disappears once Link reenters regular Hyrule (in the demos), and has been said by Aonuma to remain with Link in another form, some have speculated that she is Link’s shadow.
In a recently released video at IGN.com, Midna is seen appearing out of Link's shadow. This could, however, be a type of communication device such as the Pirate’s Charm in The Wind Waker.
Weapons and items: The game will feature some as-yet-unrevealed new weapons/items, and many rear Zelda armaments - some with new twists, such as the Gale Boomerang. This novel version of the series staple can create a small whirlwind capable of picking up items, including lit bombs, and delivering them to other locations, such as to an enemy or back to Link.
This Boomerang is, at first, used in the E3 2005 Demo. Link receives it by opening a chest in the Forest Temple.
A Lantern and Lantern Oil are also in the game, which is a first for a 3D Zelda game. The Lantern Oil was shown in the E3 2005 Demo to be held in a bottle, and the Lantern was present in the second trailer.
rear items including Potions and Bottles will also return. In several videos Link is shown fighting on horseback and then drinking a Red Potion to regain health.
Scenes in the sewers from the second trailer involve a flash and humanoid ghosts (unlikely to be Poes) suddenly appearing in a way which is evocative of the Lens of Truth from OoT/MM. This may be related to special “wolf vision” which can reveal things humans can’t see.
The E³ 2006 demo revealed the return of the Iron Boots, which can now be used in conjunction with large magnets to lift Link to new heights, and a new version of the Hookshot, the Clawshot.
Link is seen wielding what appears to be the Master Sword in a recent piece of official art.
A snowy scene with Link as a wolf.Twilight Princess will feature many different types of environments. In the trailers, besides the dungeons (which are an important Zelda feature) and the mysterious Twilight Realm, forest and open field settings were shown, along with the small village where Link lives.
The "Twilight Realm".There are also mountain areas, where Link was seen apparently sparring with a Goron. Later pictures introduced a market scene, and snowy area where wolf-Link was running. The demo shown at E3 2006 indicated that Twilight Princess will see a changing of seasons.
The "Twilight Realm", which in previous showings of the game was seen to be a desolate, black and white environment, has changed. The Twilight Realm now resembles a hazy, dreamlike landscape, different from yet similar to the game's 'normal' world, somewhat reminiscent of the Dark World in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
The thuggish new look for the GoronsThe rock-eating Goron race will return, although it has been stated that these will not be the same Gorons seen in Ocarina of Time. In one trailer, an adult Goron is standing opposite Link, fists up and bouncing around a bit, as though they were having a boxing match (though Link is using his shield). Link blocks one punch, but then takes a hit and is knocked down to the ground.
In the recent issue #204 of Electronic Gaming Monthly, art seems to indicate that the Gorons in Twilight Princess have become much more technologically inclined, as a Goron shown in the issue has quite a few mechanical body parts. Further proof of this industrial boom may be found in the recent E³ 2006 gameplay demo, in which members of the press took Link through a ‘dumbed down’ dungeon with many mechanical devices including a magnetic crane, which on the map was labeled “Goron Mines”. In the official e3 2006 trailer for the GameCube version of Twilight Princess, the goron that appeared as concept art in issue #204 of Electronic Gaming Monthly was briefly seen in a fight scene with Link.
Sheikah symbol.Also worth noting is a rumored return of the Sheikah, a supposedly extinct tribe of ninja-like warriors originally found in Ocarina of Time, who were loyal to the Hyrulean throne. This speculation is based on the presence of a Sheikah symbol on the back of Zelda’s robes in the trailer. The symbol, seen right, is a stylized eye with 3 spike-like lashes fanning out above it and a tear falling below. Originally seen on the chest of Impa, a survivor of the Sheikah people in Ocarina of Time, it was also worn by Sheik. It is not yet known what role, if any, the Sheikah play in Twilight Princess. The symbol may be merely a treat for fans; nothing has been officially said about it.
The Zora people may also be making a comeback. In an interview from EGM’s September 2005 issue, Eiji Aonuma said “...Because [Twilight Princess] is several decades after Ocarina, it’s possible some of the characters from that game might still be alive in this world." Though in The Wind Waker, the fact that the Zora people had evolved into their winged descendants, confirms that the Zoras are still alive in this time period. We’ve already shown the Goron in an earlier trailer; I think people can look forward to seeing if we include Zoras as well...” While in the recent issue #204 of Electronic Gaming Monthly, the short description beside the "thuggish" new Goron image says to "expect similarly stylin' makeovers for Hyrule's other races, the zora fishmen and deku scrubs." This may be confirmation that both the Zora and the Deku scrub races will be appearing in the game. However, the point of view of this remark was from the EGM editor, not from Eiji Aonuma or Shigeru Miyamoto.
The humans in this game may not all belong to the Hylian race. In Toaru Village, the town Link starts out in, the townsfolk all have normal, rounded ears (this may be because Toaru Village is on the outskirts of Hyrule, and not necessarily in Hyrule proper). Link himself still has pointy ears, and he must travel to Hyrule, so a Hylian presence in the game is still likely.
Miscellaneous: Returning in Twilight Princess is the fishing mechanic from the popular Ocarina of Time mini-game, which was inspired by a fishing mini-game in Link’s Awakening. Its exact place and purpose in the game has not yet been confirmed (i.e., a mini-game, sidequest, or part of the main adventure), however, it was revealed by Eiji Aonuma that unlike the fishing in Ocarina of Time, Link will be able to take his boat to different areas to fish. It has been hinted that one of its final uses may be to fish up a boss that Link must then defeat. At E³ 2006, one of the playable demos was a fishing expedition with Hena, a village girl. There were two types for attendees to try: bob fishing and lure fishing.
Very little information is available regarding Princess Zelda’s role in the game. The cloaked figure seen in the opening of the third official trailer released by Nintendo at E3 in 2005 is Zelda, wearing traditional funereal robes, apparently in mourning for the fate of Hyrule which she is powerless to stop.
The Chinese gaming site Level Up reported that Eiji Aonuma confirmed the game’s length to be over 100 hours in an interview, citing Korean site Ruliweb.com as a source. It has, however, been confirmed that the game will be at least 2 to 3 times bigger than The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, with an estimated length of 70 hours! This is in the range of several other infamous game lengths, including the 2-disc, 80-hour RPGs Tales of Symphonia (GCN) and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS2).
Footage from E3 2005 shows Link sneaking up on, and stealing a sword from, a fellow who has invited him to do so. If Link successfully steals the sword, the man will give a brief tutorial of how to use the basic features. Earlier on, Link learns the basics of swordfighting when he demonstrates his skills to the young children of Toaru in order to help Colin get out of being bullied.
The name "Twilight Princess", and the fact that Link turns into a wolf, led online gaming magazine IGN to speculate that it may have some relationship to the Japanese manga Twilight Princess, which was in turn based on the movie Ladyhawke. In the movie, the hero turns into a wolf and the heroine turns into a hawk, leading some to believe that the hawk seen in game trailers is in fact a heroine in disguise. Nintendo has denied any connection beyond sharing a title.May 10, 2006 - First there was one, now there are two. Nintendo announced yesterday that it would release two different versions of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess -- one for GameCube, as previously shown, and one for Nintendo Wii. Shown at numerous demo kiosks in Nintendo's booth, we were able to go hands-on with the title this morning. Does the Zelda formula work with Wii's new controllers? Or will long-time fans be disappointed with the changes? We sent one such long-time fan, self-professed Zelda nut Peer Schneider to go in-depth with the title.
First there was one, now there are two. Nintendo announced yesterday that it would release two different versions of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess -- one for GameCube, as previously shown, and one for Nintendo Wii. Shown at numerous demo kiosks in Nintendo's booth, we were able to go hands-on with the title this morning. Does the Zelda formula work with Wii's new controllers? Or will long-time fans be disappointed with the changes? We sent one such long-time fan, self-professed Zelda nut Peer Schneider to go in-depth with the title. Here are his impressions:
Let's cut to the chase: yes, it sure works. When I initially heard that Nintendo was adding Wii controller support to my most anticipated videogame, I was worried. After all, Zelda titles aren't really about pointing and clicking and more about fighting and puzzle solving. I had a feeling sword-slashing freehand controls would feel gimmicky in a third-person game and ultimately be far less accurate than the traditional lock-on/button control. In hindsight, I should have had more faith in Nintendo's Zelda team. The developer smartly integrated Wii pointer and nunchuck control to deliver something that not only works, but feels fresh.
Remember playing Majora's Mask back on the N64? Despite the novel three-day setup, some players found that it felt a bit too similar to The Ocarina of Time and thus simply wasn't as exciting and fresh. I have a feeling Twilight Princess might have turned out the same way. It's a gorgeous game filled with great puzzles and characters -- and apparently it's a longer and more involved quest than any Zelda game before it -- but it's firmly rooted in the TOoT-style of gameplay.The changes the control setup in the Wii version adds to the game profoundly impact the game's feel. Fishing feels new. Blocking feels new. Shooting arrows feels new. Even the spin attack has a new twist to it. So even though you may encounter a familiar looking puzzle, the new control dynamics give everything a fresh coat of paint. Yes, you can get excited now.
The demo shown on the show floor offers two areas to explore: dungeon and Hena's Fishing Hole. Where's the traditional boss battle demo Nintendo usually includes in E3 demos? Don't worry, the boss battle is actually at the end of the dungeon stage. Let's tackle the dungeon first.
Dungeon Demo: If you've watched the Nintendo presentation we've captured on video, you've already seen most of the area. The shadowy figure Midna acts as a guide, while Navi -- your trusted fairy -- actually acts as a target for the pointer functionality at times. You get to try out your sword on a scarecrow (lock on with a shoulder button on the nunchuck, then hit the B button underneath the pointer to strike), navigate a series of wooden walkways above a waterlogged area, and shoot arrows at enemies. You control Link as always via the left analog stick and you can quick-center the camera with the same button used for lock-on. The trigger button on the nunchuck lets you kick the game into a first-person camera view. And it's here that players experience the freelook function of the pointer for the first time. The experience with the aiming control is easily likened to using an analog thumb stick for the first time. Some players will struggle with the sensitivity of the on-screen target that shows what you're looking or aiming at. Other players (like me) only took a moment to adjust the controls. It helps when you watch someone else play first, of course.
The combination of the controller rumble, the audio feedback from the built-in controller speaker and the motion controls create something really special here. Nintendo's shown without doubt that the control setup enhances many of the actions performed in Link's world, but thankfully also exercised restraint and didn't overthrow everything we've become accustomed to over the years just for the sake of showing off the controller. I did experience some small hitches, however. For one, the action of throwing crates by shaking the nunchuck didn't always work. I'm confident that this is a bug that Nintendo will easily be able to fix as the spin attack worked like a charm every time. The second issue came up when trying to aim at a nasty little guy far away on a platform. The freehand controller had somehow gotten calibrated off-center, making quick aiming extremely difficult. It's unclear whether this was a bug with the game code or a problem with the freehand-aim control setup that Nintendo has yet to solve across all its titles. Luckily, I only encountered this problem once during my two walkthroughs of the dungeon demo areaItem Selection
As mentioned above, Navi acts as a quasi mouse-arrow while you're exploring. It's easy to ignore the little fairy whirring around while you're controlling Link with the analog stick, but there are times when you have to direct your eyes towards her position. For example, selecting your item sub-menu is done by aiming Navi at the item cross in the upper right and pressing a button. This will access the menu. You can then simply point at the item you want to equip and press the button you want to rear it to.
Crates and Pots:You can pick up crates, throw them with the nunchuck or put them down. You can smash them with your sword and, as enemies demonstrated with some fire arrows, they can also be burned. Crates and pots contain the usual rear of heart power-ups, rupees, and weapon refills (arrows, for example).
The Sword and Shield:All your favorite moves are here, including slashing, the forward slice, spin attacks, and the rolls, sidesteps and backflips. The sword fighting is controlled via the pointer's buttons (not by waving it in the air like in Red Steel, for example). However, if you lock on and jerk the Wii-mote forward, Link parries. An attacking enemy is instantly stunned by this maneuver. As shown in the press conference demonstration, Link can also perform a downward thrust finishing move on enemies who are on the ground. Currently, it can be performed at the press of a button or by moving the nunchuck downward -- the latter feels much better, of course.
Spin Attack:To perform Link's rear tornado attack, you perform a circular motion with the nunchuck. I was surprised to find it to be more responsive than the traditional circular motion on the analog stick on N64.
Bow and Arrow:
The freehand-style pointer reinvents the bow controls. It really feels fresh -- and most importantly, challenging. Shooting arrows in real life is not an easy task. You not only have to have a steady hand while aiming, you have to do so while pulling back on the bow string. Nintendo emulates this by letting you aim manually with the pointer and then making you press the direction on the digital pad you have equipped the bow to to nock the arrow. Though this doesn't duplicate the two-handed control of a real bow, it adds the challenge of having to press a button with the same hand you're using to aim. You really have to steady your hand to take out a faraway opponent. The demo had some strategically placed Bokoblin-like imps for players to snipe. You could either directly shoot them or shoot an explosive barrel nearby for a money shot.
The Claw Hookshot:
The new hookshot looks like a mixture between Wind Waker's claw-endowed grapple and the rear chain hookshot. You fire it like the bow and arrow, but you actually have to hold down the button while aiming. Let go and it fires and pulls you up or forward, just like in previous Zelda games. In the dungeon demo, the hookshot was the only way to get to an area with a treasure box. The reward: a yellow rupee. Meh. I felt all smart getting there. Money just isn't exciting when there's no store demo…
Yes, it's back. We've carried burning sticks in 3D Zelda titles before, but the lantern is a welcome addition to Twilight Princess. Not only does it light up the dark, you can also wave it by moving the controller. One can only imagine the fire-related puzzles it will be used for. The lantern requires petroleum, which can be kept in bottles.
It's not a Zelda game without the ability to store items in bottles. The bottles Link had on him in the demo were filled with lantern fluid and a fairy.
Yes, you can walk underwater when using these trusted heavy boots -- even when on a fishing trip. Yes, Link can only walk slowly when they're equipped. Yes, they make him really heavy and able to push down rusted pressure plates. Yes, they are used to anchor you to the ground in "sticky" situations, such as a giant magnet used in the demo to transport Link from one walkway to another; and effectively turns his world upside down. But there are no doubt more secrets slumbering in these "electrified" upgrades of the rear item. Expect to see plenty of underwater and upside down action in the future.
The Gale Boomerang: Looks like some of Wind Waker's wind-based puzzles are back. In the demo dungeon, players have to figure out a simple boomerang puzzle. There are four pillars with spinners on top. Players are asked to lock on to the tops of the pillars (you can also lock on to the pillars themselves, but that won't help you here) one by one and then send the boomerang flying at the targets. Aiming is done with the pointer, locking on with the B button underneath the Wii-mote. The trick in this particular puzzle is that players have to pay attention to a pattern on the ground that shows you in which order to hit the little windmills. The boomerang can of course also be used to retrieve items or knock out enemies. You can move around slowly while aiming, by the way.
The staple map display returns. Naturally, you can easily turn on or off the small map overlay, complete with entrance locator and Link's current position marker -- but there's also a bigger map available. We took a little peek and saw tempting hints at other locations, including a Goron Mine.
There are no doubt many more things to uncover in the demo, but playtime at E3 is limited so I eventually had to move on and open that door at the end of the level Nintendo left shut during the E3 conference demo. Behind it is the Balrog-like fire giant shown in screenshots and earlier trailers. When Link walks in, the statue-like giant looks shadowy and black and sits motionless in the middle of an arena. As Link approaches, a jewel on the creature's forehead begins to glow and the giant comes to life. He shakes the oversized iron chains attached to his arms and bursts into flames. If you don't want to know how to defeat him, skip to the next paragraph now. It's a no-brainer, actually: using your bow and arrow, you have to target the jewel and fire off an arrow. This will blind the creature, giving you a chance to run up to one of its chains, grab and hold it with the B button and pull on it. But pull as you might, the giant is simply too strong and will drag you along. The solution? Heavy Boots, you guessed it. With the boots attached, you can slowly drag the chains backwards and make the fire giant fall down. Then it's the tried-and-true Gohma-maneuver that does it in. Hit the eye and you emerge victoriously. An impressive death sequence shows the creature rear up in agony as the flames extinguish and it fades to a dark black and shrinks down to a smaller size. The demo ends. I want more.
The second demo area is home to Hena, the light-haired girl you may have seen in some of the misty village screenshots released in Japanese mags last year. Hena says she loves ducks and fishing and fittingly acts as a guide to the fishing sequences that make a long-awaited return. The fishing hole area looks great, with nice-looking water effects, a misty, overexposed look in the morning hours and striking, golden hues in the evening. The series' staple day/night cycle really shows off the beauty of this game. It may not be as sharp as hi-def games on the other two consoles, but it still has plenty of style and appeal.
There are two different types of fishing: bobber fishing and lure fishing. Bobber fishing, at its current state, feels like an afterthought. Link can explore the misty lake area at his own leisure and cast using the pointer. Just tilt the pointer backwards and flick it forward to toss the bobber into the water. The line in this mode is very short, so jerking the controller up will make the bobber hop on the water or fly up into the air. If you're near fish -- which can be seen through the transparent water -- you might catch their attention. While the physics look sound, the mechanics in this mode feel unfinished. For example, moving the pointer left and right doesn't move the fishing rod. Granted, you want to keep the bobber still with this type of fishing, but not allowing rod motion breaks the feel that it acts like an extension of the controller and you don't feel as connected to it as to the bow and arrow, of example. I'm hoping this will be fixed.
Luckily, the second fishing mode is much, much better. If you select to go lure fishing, you climb into a canoe with Hena and paddle out to the lake. No cutscenes here, folks. You paddle the canoe in real-time and stop anywhere you want to. The lure casting mechanics are clever and feel totally natural once you know the controls. Your right thumb rests on top of the A button and, when pressed, holds the line in place. You then tilt the controller back and flick it forward. If you simultaneously release the A button, you'll send the lure soaring through the air. You'll feel the controller rumble and you can actually hear the line whirring through the speaker in the remote controller -- a nice touch that makes it feel all the more real. You can then shake either the nunchuck or the pointer to jig the lure in the water and attract fish. Pushing down on the digital pad reels in the line fast, while pressing the A button reels it in slowly. When a fish bites, you tilt the controller backwards and start cranking. No, really. You can actually move the nunchuck in circular motion to reel the fish in faster. rear by the rumble, it feels great. Too bad that the only fish I managed to land were immediately dismissed by Hena as boring.
Twilight Princess looks pretty when displayed on good TV sets. When blown up to large sizes at Nintendo's press conferences, Wii's inability to display higher resolutions than 640x480 made things look jaggy and "dirty" -- but on smaller sets, the game looks very nice. If you're expecting an upgrade from the GameCube incarnation of TP shown at last year's E3, you're in for a disappointment, however. The texture resolution and overall look are firmly rooted in GameCube code so far. Likewise, Link's animation when moving from complete standstill to walking and running still looks overly stiff just like in last year's GCN demo, but there's plenty of eye-candy to make the game come to life, such as bloom lighting in the fishing sequences and Wind-Waker-style heat distortion. When stacked up against other GameCube (and Wii) titles, Twilight Princess is definitely in the top graphics echelon. It's visually not on par with next-generation titles on other platforms, but it presents a rich world with plenty of variety and complex architecture that just beckons to be explored.
The Verdict So Far:
It looks like Twilight Princess was worth the wait. Though still unfinished, the integration of the Wii controller functions gives the game a fresh feel, while still delivering the rear Zelda action and puzzles fans have been waiting for. The only downsides I saw are that there are some small problems with the controls (tossing crates, for example) that still need to be ironed out and the difficulty in the demo was ridiculously low. I geuss the latter is just so beginners can enjoy the demo, but just in case: Nintendo, please add multiple difficulty settings. It'll take a programmer a few hours and will ensure that expert players will have a better time with the title. Losing a quarter of a heart when getting burned by a giant fireball just feels wrong. Let us cocky bastards pick "Expert" and make us suffer. Outside of these two issues, Twilight Princess looks like a clear winner and has secured itself a permanent spot at the top of my most-wanted list until its release later this year![/FONT][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE]