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Next Zelda Ramble: Twilight Princess way better I remembered.

Just beat Twilight Princess again (played it once when it was new on Gamecube.) TL;DR The game is WAY better than I remembered it being and is a top 5 Zelda.

A lot of what I remembered about this game, at the time of it's release, was the fan response to Wind Waker and the delay from when I pre-ordered the game to when I actually got it. I have memories of the GameWinners forums and people arguments people were having about Celda and just being mad. I was original part of that crowd. Looking forward to a mature Zelda game, especially after that Space World demo of Link and Ganondorf having a sword duel. Then Wind Waker came out and I played it. Fell in love. To this day, I still think Wind Waker is one of the best Zelda games to date (Breath of the Wild is the only other one at that top spot). So, after many years, I hear pre-orders for the Next Zelda game are up at Gamespot. I pre-order and wait. And Wait.... AND WAIT. Already, Twilight Princess (for me) has big shoes to fill after Wind Waker, but the delays and with a new console on the horizon (the Wii was a juggernaut in retrospect), I get pissed. Eventually, I get the game. I play through the game and I feel like it's TOO much like Ocarina of Time. It didn't do enough to fill my need to explore and grow attached to people. I begin thinking the game wasn't worth the wait and, eventually, forget about most of my time with the game (with some great exceptions, cause Midna is fucking amazing then and now.) So, fast forward to 2019. I start doing this stupid thing by playing through each Zelda game (minus the multiplayer Zelda's) and we finally get to Twilight Princess HD. Like I said in the first paragraph, it's way better than I remembered and teenage me was a big baby.

I really enjoyed Hyrule field. Riding on horseback and riding through the land feels great and with the option to swing your sword, it felt like an adventure... until you got into the other areas. A lot of it felt one pathed and a lot of the time, while riding on Epona, I would clip or run into walls, stopping all of her movement in an instant. Castle Town feels SO ALIVE during the day. Seeing people moving around, and the noises and all the different people to talk to was wonderful. A lot of the people of Castle down felt distinct too. Hell, I felt like I kept seeing people from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Zora's Domain wasn't that impression. And the Zora's themselves didn't feel too distinct from one another. Gorons was interesting when you first arrive but after that it's similar to Zora's Domain in that no one feels that distinct from one another, tho there are a lot more exceptions here with the Goron Elders. I like the new feel to Kakariko Village in this game. Very western and rundown and barely holding on, but still plenty of life. It's just a shame there isn't many people that actually LIVE there. Ordon Village is very much like the Kokiri Forest. Very intimate and comfortable but small. You grow out of it quickly. Riding your horse feels wrong a lot of the time cause of that smallness. Lake Hylia is kinda interesting but also not. Having the minigames there is good and the area is big as well but, like Ocarina of Time, there isn't much to do or explore there. Gerudo desert is a shame. No one lives there and the land is vast but only has a few key areas. Not much reward for exploring it, especially since sand monster continuously spawn and attack. Still, has the Cave of Ordeals and it's the toughest the series has seen yet. Really enjoy the cave.

Gameplays really well in most cases. In comparison to Wind Waker, it doesn't feel as snappy tho. A little slight more emphasis on animation. Mentioned before, Epona is fun but has some issues when the path gets tight. Also, camera is kinda a nightmare a times. Very good mostly, but I had plenty of moments where the camera sifted angles without a notice or would glitch out and freak out the screen. Many times, especially on epona, it felt like the camera would get stuck on a segment of the world, being left behind then suddenly racing forward to catch back up. This is probably the best swordplay you'll ever seen from Link. In fact, Swordplay really overshadows pretty much everything else in this game. A lot of the abilities were clearly taken from Wind Waker's counter system, but now instead of waiting for the button prompt, you can do it at will when needed. Rolling behind enemies all the time is fun, shield bashing and jumping over heads dynamic, quick drawing you sword from you scabbard (sheath? not sure which) is fantastic. My biggest issue with these techniques, with shield bash being in particular problem, was that they weren't consistent. I would roll to the side instead of roll behind an enemy because of the camera, shield bash just wouldn't work unless I spammed it. Overall, combat and gameplay were okay with some major problems in certain circumstances that kept coming up.

I also like a lot of the items but there are some issues. This was the first time I saw bomb arrows in the series ( I know now they were in other Zelda games before) and I LOVE them so much. Removing the need to walk over to something and placing a bomb or getting close enough to throw a bomb is just wonderful. The bow and arrow also feel like a god damn laser in this game. A target as to be pretty far away for the arrow to even begin to drop. The Hawkeye item is also nice, letting you zoom in on targets and even giving you crosshairs. Feels a bit out of place though. Bombs are back but slight different. There are 3 types now: the normal, water bombs, and bomblings. Water felt the most useful since you could use them on land and under the water but had a much limited capacity in comparison to normal bombs. Bomblings are a gimmick, Bombchus were better. Clawshots and double clawshots are pretty cool, but feel limited in comparison to the hookshot for the number of things you can grapple onto. Ball and chain are a neat item, but the lack of mobility really hold it back, especially against the enemies you are suppose to use them for. Gale boomerang combines the boomerang and the deku leaf from Wind Waker. Bring items(and small enemies) to you, can lock on to multiple targets, and move small fans. However, it seems to lack the ability to stun many enemies, making it not AS useful as other boomerangs for combat. Slingshot can only damage tiny enemies and after the bow, is completely and utterly useless. I don't really know why it was included in the first place. Bottles are back and still great. Always wish for more. Lantern also makes a return but instead of using magic to use it, you have lantern oil to replenish. Not a bad item, obvious not useful in combat but nice that you can put it on your belt when it's dark and that allows you to use other items or you sword. Not bad. The horse call item you receive pretty late into the game to be really useful. Some good sentimental value to the item, since it is the key to helping your childhood friend. Iron boots are iron boots BUT they added magnetic to it, so you'll be attracted to special ore or metal objects. Also, you use it to cheat at sumo wrestling, making this Hero the Hero of Cheating At Sports. The Spinner is a cool item, allowing you to work mechanisms or race along special walls. It's fun to use when you need to, but it's useless otherwise. Wish you could do more with it outside of special circumstances. Unique to Twilight Princess HD is the Ghost Lantern. It allows you to see if there are poes in the area, day or night. However, it does not give proximity and you still have to wait till night to fight the poes. So not QUITE enough to be great. Three types of swords, with the Master Sword being the highest level and doing the best damage. 3 types of shields (Ordon, Wooden, and Hylian). Didn't really notice a different besides wooden burns. 3 types of tunics/armor: Hero's Clothes (green), Zora Armor (blue and looks the coolest) and Magic Armor. Zora lets you breath and swim underwater, but you take MAJOR damage from fire and ice attacks. Green is neutral and Magic protects your health as long as you have rupees. Damage takes a certain amount of rupees away proportional to the damage you took. Also, rupees tick away slowly as long as it's equipped. Overall the items are alright. Sword is the BEST WAY to defeat enemies up close but you have enough to deal with enemies at a distance, especially after you upgrade your carrying capacities. Still, in comparison to Wind Waker, it does feel like some items are not useful in a lot of circumstances.

Music if fantastic here. And you hear a lot of old stuff too and it's used to great effect. Hearing the Serenade of Water with the dead Queen of the Zora's in regards to her now orphaned son hits you like a tone of bricks. The new stuff however really adds a flavor only in Twilight Princess. Whenever you encounter a Twilight realm enemy or are in the Twilight Realm, the music becomes distorted and manic. I can't even describe it well. Enemies even change their noises, sounding like undulating horns. REally fits the mood that there are a lot of extra dimensional events going on here. Would recommend this soundtrack for a listen. Also, using the Ocarina of Time temple teleport songs as a way to summon the Hero's Shade is a great way to give the feel of "old guard passing on to the new." The cycle keeps moving on.The cast is pretty fun for the most part. The human characters are very distinct from one another. And the cast the helps with the plot feels pretty big too. Link's childhood friends fall to the wayside at a point, just resigning themselves to Kakoriko Village until things settle down. Gorons are... uniquely designed in this game but, with the exception of the elders and chief, all feel like one or two types and nothing more. Zora are even worse. The only unique designs that stand out are the Prince and the late queen. However, they all do add to the overall plot in the sense that Hyrule is in turmoil. In a lot of Zelda games, you don't really get that sense. Link feels very kind in this game, which is weird to say. He smiles, he'll laugh, he'll look determined. It gives a a little sense of being. Still, clearly not as expressive as Wind Waker Link, who defientely feels like a kid. Zelda gives the impression of a ruler with a heavy weight to bear.Early on, she is shown to be locked away, secluded from her lands by being locked in a tower, with Twilight monsters roaming and patroling. the main enemy, Zant, is imposing and cold up until the last moments when he turns manic and hyper. Clearing filled with rage at his lack of power and obviously crazed from being so close and seeing it all slip away. Ganondorf is even MORE imposing. It's shame we don't get much screen time with him. Overall, it feels like Zant could have been the sole villain and the game wouldn't be worse or better for it. Midna. Midna is the star of this game. Early on, she's shown to be mischievous and selfish. Clearly she has her own agenda and she'll do what she can to get what she wanted. But, like Zelda, she has a lot on her shoulders and by game's end, you're sad to see her go. Best companion character in the franchise yet and no one has ever come close to that title. There are some fun characters too, Agitha who wants to have a ball with bugs, or Yeto and Yeta (yetis if you couldn't get it from their names) being so damn cute together, or Purlo who really doesn't like to be upstaged from you. Very unique cast. Not as memorable as other Zelda games, but still very solid.

Twilight Princess is another little surprise on my Zelda playthrough journey. I felt like I was playing a lot of this again for the first time, having forgotten much of it to time and other Zelda games taking hold better in my memory. I'm coming away from this game happy and sad. Happy in that I played one of the best Zelda games the franchise has to offer and sad that it's over. And that's the staple of a great Zelda game. The still image of child Link and Zelda staring at one another in the courtyard, the image of a bad drawing of Link and skull kid playing on a tree stump, Link and the pirates waving to the inhabits of Onset Island, the Door to the Minish closing, leaving a miniature world behind, Link waking up in the middle of the ocean, alone but knowing he'll make it out cause he's done it before and now Midna, shattering the Twilight Mirror and looking back at Link and Zelda smiling fondly know this is the last time Twilight and Light shall meet. Great Zelda games make you happy at these final moments but are bittersweet.Next game is Phantom Hourglass so yeah. Thanks for reading this far if you did. Or, maybe I should say sorry cause this felt like a longer ramble than usual.

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