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Hyrule by Twilight February 15, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Video Games.
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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a game that starts slowly then never lets up. With an engrossing story that rivals that of The Wind Waker right until the very end, it is undoubtedly a welcome addition to one of the best video game franchises around.

The premise behind the game adds something new to the Zelda mythos. There is a kingdom of Twilight that exists sight unseen by those who live in daylight. When evil forces seek to conquer both darkness and light, the entire Kingdom of Hyrule is beseiged by monsters and is bathed in twilight, with its people suspended in time. Thus the hero of legend, who transforms into a wolf in twilight, must return to the Kingdom of Hyrule to set aright the balance between darkness and light once more.

On the Wii, the action-adventure game translates very well, though it does some things better than others. It is quite engaging to have to use both hands to manipulate Link’s sword and shield, and while the prospect of doing so may seem daunting at first it is actually quite easy to do: much of the motion required does not entail exaggerated swinging of one’s arms. However, controls do have a tendency to be imprecise, as when one would want to execute a shield attack (which requires a push of the nunchuck controller) but ends up unleashing a spin attack instead (which involves shaking the nunchuck). Still, other actions take to the Wii’s control scheme intuitively: never have shooting arrows, fishing, or using the clawshot been as much fun as they are on the Wii.

Much has been said of the game’s length, with some pointing out that it is one of the longer installments in the Zelda series (if not the longest). But this is only partly true: the game is only as long or as short as one wishes to make it. For instance, it is possible to finish the game in approximately 45 hours by intentionally moving the story along. But to complete the game, sidequests and all (and there are sidequests aplenty), will entail an effort in the neighborhood of 70+ hours. More than that, what contributes to the illusion of length the game has is the fact that the dungeons in Twilight Princess are some of the most challenging puzzlers in the series to date. It is not unheard of, for instance, to spend an average of five hours in each dungeon before beating it. Yet make no mistake: this is addictive and involving dungeon crawling at its best.

The Legend of Zelda is a series built around giving players enough of what is familiar to engender a sense of nostalgia while at the same time offering something new to look forward to that adds to the franchise’s storied history. Twilight Princess strikes that balance well. Indeed, enveloped in twilight, the sheer sense of adventure in the kingdom of Hyrule has never burned brighter.

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