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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

When Nintendo delayed The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the company was betting heavily on the success of its new console. Launching a year past its original projected release date, the game needed to deliver in a big way, both to show off the Wiiís potential and to ensure continued goodwill among gamers irritated by the long wait. Twilight Princess did exactly that and is a game that belongs in every Wii ownerís library.

Twilight Princess contains everything that has come to be expected from an entry in the Legend of Zelda series. The gameís quest easily offers 40 or more hours of gameplay and is split between conquering dungeons and exploring a massive, imaginative world. A wide variety of items and weapons are acquired throughout the game, steadily evolving the gameplay enough to keep it from feeling repetitive. Link, Zelda and Ganon are all back, as are the Zoras and Gorons. Long term fans of the series will definitely feel right at home as they immerse themselves in the game.

In Twilight Princess, a darkness has started to fall over the land of Hyrule. It soon becomes apparent that only Link can fight off the evil magical forces attempting to dominate the world of light. In other words, the game applies new details to a basic plot structure that the series has seen many times before. As is usually the case, the new material is excellent and provides an epic and compelling narrative. Fans of Linkís previous adventures will definitely enjoy the new story.

It might be overkill to say that the Wiiís controls have revolutionized the Legend of Zelda series, but they have certainly made Twilight Princess a much more immersive experience. Basic controls involve a combination of the thumbstick on the Nunchuk and the pointing capabilities of the Wii Remote to aim. This layout is extremely intuitive and will likely become the standard for Wii games in the third person.

Twilight Princess also makes effective use of the speaker built into the Wii Remote. While the feature will likely be used as a gimmick in many games, it actually feels quite natural in Twilight Princess. Midna, a character that accompanies Link throughout the game, will often shout through the speaker when she has information to share. Many of the weapons in the game produce sounds from the Wii Remote speaker, such as the twang of an arrow leaving Linkís bow or the rattling of the chain of the clawshot.

Perhaps the most impressive demonstration of the Wii Remoteís potential comes in the form of the gameís fishing mini-game. Fishing has been a longstanding side quest in the Legend of Zelda series, but this is the first time that the player actually casts and reels as would be done in real life. The motion detection and corresponding in-game movement are spot-on and provide for an incredibly fun and addictive affair.

With the amount of pre-release publicity it received, it is hardly a spoiler to mention that large sections of Twilight Princess include playing as Link in a wolf form. This aspect of the game has been superbly executed as well. Switching between human and wolf is somewhat reminiscent of changing between child and adult versions of Link in Ocarina of Time.

In a typical positive review, this would be the spot for pointing out a gameís flaws, however minor. After playing through Twilight Princess, I canít imagine what would go here. The title is everything a game should be and may very well eventually be considered the strongest entry in a series that is renowned for excellence.

From a technical standpoint, the Wii will never be able to produce graphics with the same polish and shine as its peers. In fact, the Wii version of Twilight Princess supposedly contains no graphical advantage over the GameCube version, other than the support for widescreen displays. Because of this, the game serves as a perfect example of the power of artistic direction.

From beginning to end, Twilight Princess immerses the player in a brilliantly imagined fantasy world. Landscapes, buildings, and characters, both familiar and new, are designed and animated on a level that helps to bridge the gap to considering video games to be works of art in their own right. While the graphics might lack the levels of realism found on the Xbox 360 or PS3, they contain a degree of beauty that is uncommon in games, regardless of technical prowess.

The audio in Twilight Princess lives up to the high standards set by every other aspect of the game. Updated versions of familiar themes from the series are found in abundance, along with new music composed specific to the title. Sound effects are perfectly fitting and the use of the Wii Remoteís speaker adds an entirely new level of immersion to the audio. It really is a treat when you go fishing for the first time and realize that not only does the controller feel like youíre using a rod a reel, but sounds like it as well. The audio design demonstrates a level of creativity that perfectly complements the gameplay experience.

The only place The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess loses any points whatsoever is in replayability and that is solely due to its epic nature. It is doubtful that many will finish the game and want to start back in on it without letting some serious time pass. Of course, a fair number of players might find themselves popping it in just to go fishing from time to time, as that activity, in and of itself, offers a more fulfilling experience than several of the Wiiís launch titles.

Eight days after the Wiiís launch, Nintendo announced that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess had sold a quantity in excess of 75% of total hardware sales. While thatís an impressive number, one really has to wonder what those other approximate 25% were thinking. The game is just that good.