Earlier this week Nintendo confirmed what we all suspected – Twilight Princess is getting the HD treatment, and there’s an Amiibo tie-in to boot. With this nearly 10-year-old game back in the headlines, I wanted to take a moment to jot some thoughts down AND get yours in the process!
Twilight Princess’ story really begins at Nintendo’s 2000 Space World show, where Nintendo debuted test footage of numerous upcoming GameCube titles. We caught glimpses of Samus firing at alien creatures, Luigi freaking out and, most importantly, Link battling Ganondorf in what appeared to be an Ocarina of Time sequel… or at least spiritual successor. This brief yet incredible footage left many a Zelda fan desperately awaiting further details.
But a full year later at Space World 2001, the dramatic update we expected was replaced by a cartoonish kid Looney Tunes-ing his way past a horde of baddies. Needless to say, even in this pre-Wiki, pre-YouTube, largely pre-broadband internet, there was still a mountain of rage at this “betrayal.” Granted, this game – Wind Waker – would go on to become of the most cherished in the series, but from 2001~2004, most fans and press wondered what happened to the adult Link seen in the 2000 demo footage.
This mystery was solved at E3 2004, when Nintendo revealed what many assumed to be that ”lost” Zelda title from 2000. Even without an actual subtitle or release date, the audience loses its mind at the sight of this serious, Lord of the Rings-esque approach. And while that 2000 footage was never really related to Twilight Princess, it did plant a seed that finally blossomed during this show.
And this is where things get a bit more personal, as E3 2004 also happened to be my first, and I hit the show floor kinda freaking out about the whole thing. Not only was this my first time going to the (at the time still) mythological E3 conference, but it was also ground zero for a hype machine four years in the making. It wasn’t present at the booth, but the trailer did replay on Nintendo’s screen quite a few times.
Jump ahead to E3 2005, and Twilight Princess earns its name and alleged 2005 release date. The game is playable to attendees and for the moment it seems like this long-awaited, borderline mythical entry in the series is going to deliver on its promises. But jump to E3 2006…
… and Twilight Princess has now become a dual Wii launch title / GameCube swan song, as it’s been in development for so long that its original platform isn’t entirely viable. This was a blessing and a curse, as Twilight Princess’ profile would be raised as a “launch title” for new hardware, but said hardware was already making headlines as a standard definition weakling in an age of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
By this time I was the Nintendo Editor at GamesRadar, and was outrageously lucky to preview Twilight Princess from NOA’s headquarters. And while I went into the appointment somewhat deflated, having seen the kind of HD insanity Sony and Microsoft were selling that holiday, I left with a renewed spring in my step. Twilight Princess was indeed the game I’d constructed in my head after watching that 2000 test footage. It was, at last, the “serious” and “cool” Zelda game made to follow Ocarina of Time.
After pouring 50 hours into the game, I completed Twilight Princess and felt a unique sense of closure. In a way, I (and many others) had waited six years to experience the intense one-on-one battle with Ganondorf teased back in 2000, and here it was. But Princess exceeded those lofty expectations in many ways, offering an epic, wildly escalating battle against Ganondorf’s many forms.
Princess also managed to walk a fine line between honoring “traditional” Zelda values and dreaming up all-new ideas. In between numerous safe Ocarina homages are inventive new dungeons (that Yeti mansion really stands out to me), a companion who’s actually invested in the story (Midna <3) and uh, the fact you play a huge portion of the game as a wolf. I still think the wolf aspect is a little weird, but hey, that’s Twilight Princess – Majora-style weirdness tempered by Ocarina’s form and flow.
Once the HD version was announced, it struck me how this game has been in my mind in just about every phase of my adult life, from its 2000 “tease” (college) to its 2004 debut (graduated, freelancing), to its 2006 release (salaried employee of GamesRadar) and now its HD remaster (2016, LaserTime Ernest Editor). To go from random college kid (2000) to sitting in NOA and meeting the team (2006) is a pretty wild leap to make, and I’ll always associate Princess with that kind of life-changing drama.
Today, we’re lucky enough to have GC copy signed by both Aonuma-san and Kondo-san (via Caro’s trip to see the 25th Anniversary Symphony), which further places this game in a unique, lofty place. I may have never thought about how many ways TP had affected or impacted my life, had this HD version slipped through the cracks.
But now, I really wanna know what YOUR take on this game is. Did you play or finish it? Is this your magical childhood or high school Zelda experience? Are you interested in playing it again on Wii U?