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Critical Reception: Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a long-awaited sequel that has proven to be the most popular of the Nintendo Wii's launch offerings.

Danny Cowan

November 22, 2006

5 Min Read

This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a long-awaited sequel that has proven to be the most popular of the Nintendo Wii's launch offerings. Of all the games to launch alongside the Nintendo Wii, Twilight Princess is one title that many early Wii adopters have considered to be a must-have. The game sold out quickly at many retail locations shortly after the Wii's launch, and many stores -- online and off -- are still out of stock as of this writing. Obviously, gamers have high expectations of Twilight Princess. Many view it as the successor to the widely praised The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64, and as such, Twilight Princess is held to high standards of excellence. Some critics feel that Twilight Princess could be the key to many gamers' acceptance of the Nintendo Wii, as it will be the first Wii title that many will play, and could make for an important first impression. Judging by its current average review score ratio of 96% at Gamerankings.com, critics seem to think that Twilight Princess lives up to nearly every expectation. According to Gamerankings.com, Twilight Princess currently ranks as the second best game of all time across all platforms, with only the N64's Ocarina of Time earning a higher percentage at this current point in time. Jeremy Parish of 1UP.com describes Twilight Princess as having a lot of weight to shoulder with regards to expectations from longtime fans of the Zelda series. "Not only does it have its series' considerable legacy to live up to, it also has to win back gamers who were disenchanted with 2003's controversial Wind Waker," he begins. "And not only is it the last major GameCube game, it's also the Wii's flagship launch title." Parish continues: "That's a lot to live up to, and surprisingly -- amazingly -- Twilight Princess succeeds admirably, and in every respect. On top of that, it's an exceptional game in its own right: gracefully improving on the best elements of its predecessors, carefully trimming their shortcomings, and throwing in plenty of new ideas to keep things interesting." Awarding Twilight Princess with a score of 10 out of 10, Parish offers only a few minor complaints. "If Twilight Princess has a single shortcoming, it's that it feels a bit predictable at times," he explains. "It is a Zelda game, after all, and it's very much the successor to Ocarina of Time, so you'll frequently experience a sense of déjà vu." "But even as it borders on formulaic," he continues, "the game never feels lazy, or as though it's simply resting on its laurels." This results in what Parish describes as a rarity: "a 60-hour adventure in which every moment is memorable." IGN's Matt Casamassina provides a similar take, scoring Twilight Princess at 9.5 out of 10. "It took Nintendo almost a decade to do it," he writes, "but the publisher has finally created a new Zelda game that is so well-designed and so epic that it deserves to be crowned the best in its class." Casamassina gives special attention to Twilight Princess's new motion-sensing control scheme. "we have nothing but praise for the title's new Wii controls, which enhance the experience - not detract from it," he says, later stating that "targeting with the pointer is so far and away better than using an analog stick that the latter feels archaic and broken by comparison." Casamassina also addresses concerns expressed by other critics. "The complaint could be made that Twilight Princess is too similar to Ocarina of Time because the basic play style is familiar and because some faces and places return," he reports. "However, we think such criticisms are unfounded because they seem to suggest that Zelda's masterful control mechanics should be changed simply for the sake of being different." He concludes: "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is, in my opinion, the greatest Zelda game ever created and one of the best launch titles in the history of launch titles – second only, perhaps, to the at-the-time ground-breaking Super Mario 64." One of the more controversial Twilight Princess reviews recorded at Gamerankings is Jeff Gerstmann's at GameSpot, in which he awards the title a score of 8.8 out of 10. The score represents one of the lowest Twilight Princess has yet received from any outlet, and though many Zelda fans are upset, Gerstmann provides a number of valid points in justifying his rating. Gerstmann's biggest issue is with Twilight Princess's similarity to previous Zelda titles. "once you get over the rush of excitement from a big, new Zelda game having finally arrived, it's hard not to feel a tinge of disappointment," he explains. "There's a very noticeable lack of evolution here, which makes aspects of the game seem more dated than classic. "Even so," he continues, "there isn't much out there that compares to Twilight Princess, except for the Zelda games that have come before it." Gerstmann recommends the game, but cites simplistic combat and occasionally imprecise controls as being problematic. "You'll almost certainly enjoy the game for its terrific puzzles, colorful characters, and compelling story," he concludes, "but at some point the feeling of nostalgia crosses the line and holds this game back from being as unbelievably good as some of its predecessors." The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess appears to offer everything that can be expected from a Zelda game, and while this may please some gamers, others may be a little disappointed that its underlying gameplay remains much the same as its recent predecessors. Still, critics agree that this gameplay is as exceptional and engrossing as ever, and that it provides a great foundation for an experience that will mark many gamers' first encounter with the Nintendo Wii.

About the Author(s)

Danny Cowan


Danny Cowan is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for Gamasutra and its subsites. Previously, he has written reviews and feature articles for gaming publications including 1UP.com, GamePro, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.

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