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Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Mini DVD-ROM
Release: US Winter 2005
Japan Fall 2005



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Link puts the spurs to his faithful mount.
 
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Those goblins can be real boars.
 
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Link should leave the gardening to someone else.
 
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The boomerang can be powered up to deliver whirlwind attacks.
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Christine Radler
Hands-On Preview
05/30/05
Christine Radler

Darkness and almost ruthless violence have set the tone for the newest Zelda game throughout all the trailers seen so far. It's enough to give the impression that the game will give a completely different feel from previous titles in the series. However, while the storyline has a shadowy tinge, the gameplay itself remains consistent with Twilight Princess's 3D predecessors.

The story starts in the classically sunny way that any tragic tale begins; with our hero, Link, sporting a sexy farm get-up and matching occupation of goat herder. This year, he’s going in the mayor’s stead to the annual Hyrule summit. Things go awry beforehand, though, as a monster riding a boar kidnaps a village child, and Links follows after on his horse. Through the events that following, our hero gains the ability (curse?) to transform into a wolf upon entering the twilight realm that is consuming good old Hyrule castle. Although there were no wolf levels playable at E3, it is known that during these times Link will have heightened senses, the ability to communicate with animals, and a dependency to partner up with the strange creature Midna, who was seen riding on his back in the trailer.

At this year’s E3, Nintendo had a playable demo of the game featuring a few levels. After noting that the dialogue was, once again, completely textual with only an interjection spoken here and there, the player was treated to nostalgia by whistling the Epona song through a blade of grass. The horse of said name comes to your side, and you're set to the task of getting giant, bison-looking goats back into the barn by charging at them. If you're too aggressive with the task, the goats will respond in like-manner by turning red and charging at you. When you're done you get to jump fences, even though the mayor's daughter Illia specifically told you not to. Breaking the rules is all good practice for the horseback battles later on.

About mounted battles: they’re pretty straightforward, while being fast-paced and entertaining. You have a set amount of boosts that gradually return over time as in the N64 games, but unlike its predecessors, Twilight Princess doesn't honey-glaze the action of kicking poor Epona by using carrot icons. This time, you're digging your spurs into your faithful friend. Also, if for some reason you'd like to dismount and get walloped on, it's completely doable. Just hop right off and you'll be flung about like a sack of deku nuts by the nearby giant boar riders.

To conclude the run, there was the boss level of the Forest Temple. Standard rolling and sword-swinging is available, as well as the exciting new ability to crouch down, which you don't need for this fight. What you do need is the gale boomerang, which presumably was acquired in the actual Forest Temple. This new spin on the old Zelda weapon requires you to charge it up first if you'd like to use its special whirlwind feature, which was necessary in this particular battle. For those who didn’t know this, after running around like a ninny for about 2 minutes, a message pops up to tell you to push the z button for help. It was less intrusive, sound-wise, than previous games' hint options, but it was right in the middle of the screen, which may annoy people. Whether or not it was just that way for the demo remains to be seen. By the by, targeting works like it did in Wind Waker: you can do it without the use of an annoying fairy, and you can toggle between objects. In this particular case, the objects were a giant plant monster and a bomb-carrying baboon who initially greets you with a tasteful shaking of his round red monkey rump.

Despite the humorous image that may pop into your head when you think of a monkey taunting you, the graphics of Twilight Princess portray the game’s more adult atmosphere. Gone are the cel-shaded stylings of The Wind Waker and cartoony designs of the likes of Minish Cap and Four Swords. In a way, this entry harkens back to Ocarina, but the feel of TP is definitively more mature than that title, as well.

All in all, the darkness of Twilight Princess is supported with the classical construction of great Zelda game play, and should be an all-around crowd pleaser for hungry fans. We'll have to go without dinner until the projected release of this winter of '05, though. So go snack on some screen shots until then.



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