The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, developed by Nintendo EAD Group 3, was planned to be the GameCube's last big title but late in development, it was ported to the then upcoming Wii console as a launch title. Ultimately, the GameCube version was strategically delayed a few weeks, all advertising directly referenced the Wii version, and far fewer copies of the GameCube version were produced. The game was eventually released in North America on November 19, 2006 for the Wii and December 11, 2006 on the GameCube. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, an enhanced HD remaster with new content and some gameplay changes was released in March 2016 for Wii U.
During its initial development, it was intended to be a direct sequel to the previous GameCube Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. This went as far as internally referring to the game as "Wind Waker 2," but this was changed later in its development; the original storyline, which picked up shortly after The Wind Waker ended, was later used for the Nintendo DS title The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess sold very well, with the Wii version moving 4.52 million copies and the GameCube version selling 1.32 million.
The game begins with the latest incarnation of Link living in a small town called Ordon Village. After a few introductory escapades, including rescuing a lost child from a nearby dungeon, the adventure really begins when mysterious creatures come out of the darkness and kidnap the town's children. As Link tries to save them, he is pulled into a wall of black energy, where he is magically transformed into a wolf and locked in prison. Luckily, a strange imp named Midna -- who lives in the strange shadow world the dark creatures come from -- frees him and tells him that her people are called the Twili, and they are being unwillingly led by their evil king, Zant, who wants to merge Link's world of Hyrule with their alternate dimension, called the Twilight Realm, into one land that only he would control. Link and Midna must work together, both in the Twilight Realm and in Hyrule, in order to save the land from eternal darkness.
The gameplay in Twilight Princess is essentially identical to that in other recent 3D Zelda games, as the player navigates a series of complex, puzzle-oriented dungeons to acquire new weapons and abilities, and track down the ultimate source of evil threatening Hyrule. Many of the traditional Zelda items are present, such as bombs and the bow and arrow, as well as new items, such as a rod which controls statues and a bizarre spinning top-like weapon. The Wii version allows the player to use the console's signature gimmick, motion controls, to control Link in both of his forms. Swing the Wii Rmote to make Link slash, shake the nunchuk to slam Link's shield forward and stun enemies, and aim the bow and arrow with the Wii Remote's pointer function. The player can also transform into a wolf who offers his own unique moves, such as digging to uncover items and passages, speaking with animals, picking up the scents of objects and enemies, and moving more swiftly than Link's human form.
This menu is brought up by hitting the button on the Wii Remote, allowing the player to view and equip swords, shields, and armor. The player can also view Wallet and Quiver upgrades, Golden Bugs, Poe's Souls, Hidden Skills, letters and fishing records, as well as the scent fresh in Wolf Link's memory. The Game Options and Save feature are also accessed through this menu.
Swords, Shields, and Armor
- Wooden Sword
- Ordon Sword
- Master Sword
- Ordon Shield
- Wooden Shield
- Hylian Shield
- Hero's Clothes
- Zora Armor
- Magic Armor
This menu can be brought up by hitting the Minus (-) button on the Wii Remote, allowing the player to swap item assignments on the D-pad and B button. Some items (not listed here) are only held temporarily.
Near the beginning of the game, the children of Ordon Village are kidnapped by Shadow Beasts. As Link is searching for them, he encounters a wall of darkness separating him from the land of Hyrule. As he passes through the wall, he is transformed into a wolf, instead of a spirit-being like the other inhabitants of Hyrule.
As the wolf, the user has the ability to use Link's 'senses' and search for hidden areas and items. Doing this can solve some of the game's puzzles and
is a good source for acquiring some extra rupees. Another of Wolf Link's abilities is 'digging'. This is how hidden items discovered by using the 'senses' are recovered. In combat, by holding down B, Midna allows Wolf Link to create a circle that encloses around nearby enemies, making it so that Link will attack all of those enemies at the same time when the B button is released. This is the only way to defeat some of the enemies in the game, because when in groups they can revive one another by screeching. Another ability that only Wolf Link can execute is walking along thin platforms such as ropes. This allows Link to access new areas. Wolf Link can also interact with other animals in the game. Animals often know secrets about their environments and are willing to share all the information they know with fellow animals. The final new ability gained by Wolf Link after his transformation is 'howling'. This is similar to the ocarina concept in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Link uses howling to interact with certain objects and characters in the game.
Later in the game, Link becomes able to transform into a Wolf at any time. This is very useful because the Wolf also has the ability to use the Twilight warp portals to travel around Hyrule without having to walk or ride for miles.
The Two Versions
Previously, all the various incarnations of Link were left-handed. Since most players of the Wii version would be more comfortable with the Wii Remote (representing Link's sword) in their right hands and the nunchuk (representing Link's shield) in their left hands, Nintendo made the Wii version's Link right-handed. In one of the more exaggerated reactions ever seen in video games, under the premise of preventing any conflict between the environments (which had been designed for a left-handed Link) and the right-handed character, Nintendo also reversed the entire world of the Wii version. As the GameCube version is played with a traditional controller, Link retains his left-handedness.
The soundtrack of the game was composed by Asuka Ohta, Toru Minegishi and Kōji Kondō. Minegishi designed the overworld and dungeon music under the supervision of Kondo. The official soundtrack was published by Nintendo Power in 2006 and it contains seven tracks:
- The Legend of Zelda: Orchestra Piece #2
- Hyrule Field Main Theme
- Ordon Village
- Kakariko Village
- Death Mountain
- Midna's Theme
- Ilia's Theme
During a November 2015 Nintendo Direct, it was announced that the game will be released on Wii U in a remastered HD version. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD launched on March 4, 2016.