It was around three o-clock in the morning. I was startled as my front door swung open and a dog rushed into my home! It took me a couple of seconds to recover and realise what was going on, and by the time I did, she was gone. It turns out that my neighbour upstairs had mistakenly opened my door after a night out, and her excitable dog that was with her got excited. Two things: 1. I’ve made this mistake before (more than once!), so it’s not a big deal. 2. People should really start locking their doors.
But why was I so startled? What was I even doing up at that hour?
I was violently flailing my arms around like a spastic trying to get my fucking character on screen to follow my directions. After spending over 50 hours over the past few weeks on it, I’d finally reached the main evil baddie of the Zelda game on the Wii (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess), and I was still having difficulty getting my on-screen avatar, Link, to perform basic tasks; tasks that have been trivial to perform from day one in past Zelda games using “traditional” control schemes.
Perhaps an hour later, I finally finished the damn game so that I could get back to other aspects of my life, but I still can’t get over how vaguely unsatisfying it all was. In the hope that ranting about it will help me get over it, I am going to pinpoint aspects of the experience that especially sucked:
- The last two epic Zelda games that I played (The Wind Waker on the GameCube and Phantom Hourglass on the DS) oozed nothing but polish. Twilight Princess, on the other hand, feels hobbled together.
- While I don’t inherently dislike the art direction (well, maybe I do), I hate the greatly varying quality in the visuals one is presented with over the course of the game. Some levels and characters are absolutely gorgeous, and others, well, are plain blocky and jagged.
- The “fancy Wii control scheme” feels both tacky and tacked on. The controls aren’t as responsive as they should have been, and the camera is awkward to control. This really does feel like a GameCube game with some Wii stuff thrown in after the fact.
I know you shouldn’t turn to a Zelda game (or a Mario game, or a Metroid game, or any long-standing Nintendo franchise, really) for an epic original storyline. Things usually go something like:
- Stupid princess gets abducted yet again by the bad guy.
- You drop whatever it is you do and head out to rescue her.
- She thanks you, but obviously fails to learn that doors have locks on them for a reason.
But Twilight Princess was particularly unsatisfying. The game is really linear, so you’re never lost looking for what you should be doing next, but the storyline fails to properly motivate any of it. The game doesn’t even try to develop any of its characters, save for one, so on some level you don’t really care if you live or die, whether the princess gets rescued, whether the bad guy gets defeated, or really, even who the main bad guy is.
- There are very few real exploratory side quests and exploration is rarely rewarded. You see a suspiciously hidden chest far away; you figure out what you need to obtain to scale the mountain to get to the damn chest; only to see it contains a trifle of money, even which you can’t fit in your inventory. This sort of thing sucks the joy out of trying to explore and find things, and somewhere along the way, you stop trying.
I could go on and on like this, but I think I’ve worked the bile out of my system. I just hope the next Zelda game on the Wii is more polished and doesn’t leave a bitter after-taste when done. But however it turns out, I’m quite certain that the next Zelda installment on the DS, Spirit Tracks, will be enjoyable. I can’t wait for it to come out!