Last weekend I played through Twilight Princess
again. Though I still like Skyward Sword better, I’m still pretty amused playing through TP, and I wasn’t too bothered by the things it failed to deliver on (or that SS clearly did a better job on), like plot holes, and the lacking difficulty.
1) TP is what it is, and the fact it’s set in Hyrule (not TOO long after the events of Ocarina of Time) will always make it a “classic” game. It has Death Mountain with the Gorons, it has Zora’s Domain, it has sufficiently entertaining dungeons, and more than enough of them, and the Cave of Ordeals
, which is one of my favorite versions of its kind.
In TWW you also had a 50-floor survival cave (“the Savage Labyrinth”), but it was rather easy compared to TP’s. Spirit Tracks did a nice job with the 3 “Take Em All On” challenges, but the tricky part was the combination of preset monster floors with all the bosses after one another. I prefer to keep those two separate. And personally I enjoy a Cave of Ordeals type of deal over a Boss Rush mode. You’ve already defeated the bosses, so apart from trying to get an insanely good time and not getting hit there’s not much new it has to offer. Also, the perfect TP file has 4 bottles of Fairy’s Tears
, making a second and third run of the Cave of Ordeals even more challenging as you’ll only have one free bottle for a potion to heal. You had to be pretty fast on those two or three floors with ChuChus to get to a red or blue one to recover some health. It was a bit of a gamble as you could choose to waste most of your rupees by wearing the Magic Armor early, but then if you had the chance to heal it would be better to have saved most rupees for the last dozen floors. Darknuts do get easier, but a multitude of small monsters or any ice-related monsters were sure to rob you off several hearts. I for one rather lost a couple 100 rupees getting hit by ice, than taking it in the butt and walk away with only half my hearts.
2) TP’s ending
is longer than Skyward Sword’s, and thus shows more of the overworld. It also shows a short NPC-cheering-arm-in-arm scene similar to OoT, but it doesn’t feel as good since you couldn’t even talk to most NPC’s in TP’s Castle Town, and none of the ones you could talk to said anything about the events in Hyrule Castle, or the big honkin’ dome over it post-“Zelda heals Midna” cutscene. It does however reward you by showing the 4 Spirit Springs, which will have fairies (and the cloud allowing you to speak to the Fairy Queen) in them depending on how many floors of the Cave of Ordeals you beat. SS should have at least shown Batreaux.
3) One thing I definitely like better about TP compared to SS is the amount of treasure chests
. SS had disturbingly few treasure chests in the overworld, and especially in dungeons. Part of the fun is having lots of lame 20-rupee chests, partly because in dungeons they throw you off from the chests you REALLY need to get, like small keys, the big key, or the dungeon map. Though TP may have had a little too many chests, perhaps, the only bad part about it was the game wouldn’t allow you to keep the rupees if you would exceed your wallet max. This was particularly frustrating when you had 251 rupees and didn’t get to keep a purple 50 rupees. But if it hadn’t given you crap about that, there would have been no complaints about the treasure chests in TP. The more the merrier. Just like in MM: it’s better to have them and not need them, then need them but not have them
4) Additionally, I feel most of the 100-rupee chests in TP should have been Heart Pieces, replacing some of the easier Heart Pieces. Some of these chests were harder to spot than certain Pieces of Heart.
5) Speaking of which, splitting Heart Containers into 5 pieces wasn’t a bad idea per se, but if they had just had less of them, they could have just kept it at 4. I didn’t like how there were TWO Heart Pieces in each dungeon. One of them was always easier than the other, so they should have just kept the harder one. SS had it right, and they didn’t even put one in every dungeon. Although TP was still less extreme than MM, and less annoying than TWW (“just haul them up from random treasure charts nobody even remembers, why don’t ya?”).
6) Though everybody loves the Gorons and Zora’s, if you only look at the main story, they are pretty bland in this game. Sure, you get to wrestle a Goron and save Darbus, and fulfill everyone’s desire from OoT to melt Zora’s domain, but that’s pretty much it. Without the sidequests, the famous races wouldn’t be so awesome in this game. The elders helping out with the funding of the Malo Mart store in Castle Town make the game especially fun – silly dancing ftw! And design-wise it was nice to see a noticeable difference between male and female Zora’s, and guard Zora’s. I also liked the option to have a Zora swim you up the waterfall to the throne room. That was a nice touch, but of course it didn’t make you care for the Zora’s as much as in OoT, or MM.
7) The day/night cycle was very slow in TP, which was annoying particularly for the Poe Soul hunting. Since there was no way to instantly make it nighttime, you had to do outdoorsy stuff until nighttime finally came again. Fortunately though, if you’re efficient enough you can get most of the Poes in 2 nights, with some in a third night later in the game (assuming you don’t wait forever to start collecting Poes). But I guess 2 nights would still work for ALL outside ones, if you’re completely efficient. It would involve a longer trek in the Desert, though, since those are all pretty far apart. (The first one is actually faster to get by selecting the Oasis Flight at Fyer’s).
8) One thing that did seriously bug me – even more after having played SS – is the extremely slow vine / ladder climbing. It doesn’t respond that well either (Link often climbs sideways when he should be climbing up). Long live SS. Sure, the Stamina Meter restricts your vine climbing, but who wants to climb forever anyway?
9) TP also had TWW’s movement engine for the most part, with one particular bug that sometimes causes falling down a pit: when you are relatively subtle with taking a turn (often while also turning the camera – so I’m talking about the GCN version, I don’t remember the deal with the Wii version), Link would often keep going straight ahead, into a pit. It doesn’t occur that much, but when it does it’s like the controls aren’t responsive cause Link just keeps on going.
10) TP was too easy
compared to most other games. Even without Hero Mode SS is a more challenging game, and that’s not just because of the implemention of Wii MotionPlus. It’s a bit too easy to breeze through TP, never using any potions or fairies. In fact, if it weren’t for ice enemies and the Cave of Ordeals, they could have omitted potions altogether from TP, and most people wouldn’t even miss them. (Maybe just 1 potion like in LA).
11) Dungeons: Arbiter’s Grounds is still my favorite, and Snowpeak Ruins wins originality rewards. City in the Sky was quite decent as a dungeon, but crappy as a city and was only satisfying from a design point of view. It also introduced the Double Clawshots, something they were very right in carrying over to SS. Interestingly, both Clawshots in TP can be found in the Lanayru province, just like in SS (Silent Realm). [Technically the City in the Sky is above the Lanayru Province].
12) The item wheel was a good thing, but it was way too big since it held pretty much every type of item. Bomb Arrows were a great asset, though, but Bomblings were pointless. The only use I found for them was instantly blowing up boulders (for cash). Although using Bomb Arrows is still faster.
13) TP’s collection quests were very uninspiring. You only got a reward for Golden Bug #1 and #24, nothing in between, and for the Poe Souls it was 20 and 60 – with just rupees as a final reward. Though I do like combing the overworld for critters (OoT’s Gold Skulltula’s are the best example), you need to also have a satisfying reward system. Most of the time I don’t even bother to get all the Poe Souls again when I replay TP. I did this time since it had been a while, and I wanted to see if I still knew where they all were. I didn’t overlook any Poe, and I’m not sure if that should make me happy or sad. I guess it’s mostly me having a good memory – some of those Poes were in unconventional places. But then the ones you have to try harder for are usually also the ones that stick in your mind better. It’s a memory training thing.
14) When it comes to the overworld, it’s not that easy to fairly compare SS and TP. Yes, TP has a more cohesive overworld, but despite its size it’s still not the best kind of overworld, compared to OoT. TP has way too many linear sections, basically corridors from field 1 to field 2, with almost NOTHING to do there. Consider the size of Eldin’s Hyrule Field: without the Golden Bugs and the path to the one Heart Piece (right outside Kakariko Village), there’s nothing to do there (except the Bridge of Eldin, but that’s the road leading to Lanayru). It has one optional cave you can dig into as Wolf Link, but that’s it. Faron’s Hyrule Field isn’t much better, and most of these fields just act as connection points to the other areas, so it wouldn’t be like the 2-D games where areas flow over into each other very harshly.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a big connected overworld, but considering the fact that for the bigger part of the game you can’t even cross the Bridge of Eldin or the 2 bridges leading to/ from Castle Town, AND you don’t get Ilia’s Charm to call Epona wherever, most of the fields and paths are a waste of time. Once you can transform and warp anywhere (not near NPC’s of course, which is an annoyance in its own right), you won’t even be going through these pointless parts. In a way this is similar to the Sky in SS. Many people dislike the game making you fly to and from the different provinces, but without that the game would lack a certain realistic depth. You want to stay connected to the organic structure of the world, not warping from sub-area to sub-area, after a while forgetting about how it all fits together. Since the setup of the game (SS) made it so the surface areas had to be accessed from different points, they couldn’t also connect them, and if they had it’s doubtful said shortcuts would get any use. Consider the bridge you pay to build in TP to Castle Town, and the rockslide you get rid off with Hot Spring Water. And even restoring the Bridge of Eldin – apart from the quest with the Owl Statues there’s not even any need anymore to cross the bridge. It’s still the faster way to get to the Hidden Village, but that’s it. Eldin Field itself remains pointless, just like the path between it and Kakariko Gorge. All these paths create the illusion everything’s neatly connected, but without any reason to use these paths, it all becomes very pointless. SS did things quite differently, since the 3 surface areas were very much connected, especially Faron Woods and Eldin Volcano, big organic areas you could freely navigate, opposed to wide open space with small corridors leading from area A to area B, with rarely any motive to return to specific sub-areas. I guess it all depends on how you dress it up, but I definitely feel SS is a step in a better direction than TP when it comes to the overworld structure. I also wrote about this in the Skyward Sword impressions thread
15) TP uses a seriously big font, especially compared to SS’s. This may also be less dramatic depending on your TV (I don’t have a widescreen or HD or anything fancy), but to me it often felt like everyone was shouting in TP (and whispering in SS).
16) Midna’s still a bossy bitch, but fortunately she becomes a bit more “philanthropic” halfway through the game. I still don’t like being bossed around and used, though. If it weren’t for that she would be a more enjoyable character overall. She certainly has character, and her interactions with vital NPC’s (Zelda, the sages, Ganondorf…) are good, and wouldn’t have been the same with another helping partner. Fi didn’t usually engage in conversation with others, so SS needed more side characters (like Groose) to make the interaction level what it should be. Of course that worked out great, so I’m not complaining.
Bottom line: TP is the Legend of Midna
, with Link being her servant, and SS is the Legend of Link, who’s Fi’s master.
17) I noticed Telma has 3 dots tattooed close to her eyes: green, red and blue. Can’t really say much more about that, other than it’s the colors of Faron / courage, Eldin / power and Lanayru / wisdom.
18) At Barnes’ Bomb Shop, when you use your Lantern next to the door, he slams his fist against the counter so Link gets doused with water. I discovered that early in the game (before you beat the Goron Mines), he’s working with gun powder on the 2nd floor, and when you use your Lantern next to the door he stomps his foot down on the ground instead, causing the same thing to happen =D
19) I also learned that when the second-to-last bug you kill in Lanayru is in Lake Hylia, you won’t get the usual intermezzo from Midna wondering where the last one is and her pulling out your map, prompting you to investigate the lake. Instead, you just see the dot on your mini-map in the corner, and when you get close, the bug starts flying around (invisible) already. It’s good to find subtle differences still in the games.
20) If you throw all the Cuccos in Falbi's hut (Flight By Fowl at Lake Hylia) off the cliff, Falbi tells you to learn to fly by yourself. =D
21) I had some fun with the ending
: just before I finished off Ganondorf I drank some Fairy’s Tears (or Rare Chu Jelly), making Link’s outfit yellow
. Pretty funny to see him finish off Ganondorf like that. I was also wearing the Iron Boots
, which was especially funny when Link ran up the hill to check on Midna. He runs as fast as without the boots, but you hear the boots’ metallic clanging pretty fast. The yellowness isn’t shown in the actual ending, but you keep the Iron Boots on and hear the clanging whenever Link walks (this is mostly relevant for the first part of the ending, after that it’s just dialogue or Link on Epona).
22) Ganondorf is referred to as a Demon thief
, which I found interesting, in light of what you figure out after beating SS.
Ganondorf is Demise, aka the Demon King, reborn. His soul and/or hatred reincarnated into a being of great status. It’s possible that this is also why Ganondorf has such awesome magic powers – I don’t think there’s ever any mention about the Gerudo, or their king, having innate magical powers.
: TP isn’t as good as Skyward Sword, despite its big post-OoT Hyrule / Epona / Ganondorf / general nostalgia advantage. Having more dungeons is only a deciding factor when everything else is spot on. This is part of why it is unlikely that OoT will be kicked from its thrown. It did everything right, AND had the highest number of dungeons in any Zelda game.
I’m still playing OoT 3DS MQ and LA DX at night, and I plan on replaying MM this weekend, so more Zelda-related posts will surely follow!