The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Cover
Platforms Wii, GameCube
Genre Slow starting adventure
MtAMinutes to Action 6
Keep Playing? Zelda fans only
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It's hard for me to go an entire year without playing some Legend of Zelda game, heck, just the first half of this year included Spirit Tracks and The Minish Cap, so why not feature the first hour of another? The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was released in 2006 on the Nintendo Wii and GameCube. It was originally going to be for just the GameCube, but Nintendo thought it would make for a great launch title on the Wii (which it did, got me to buy the system), so then the GameCube release was delayed a month to let sales of the Wii version have free reign.

Twilight Princess went on to win game of the year awards and was generally praised around the industry for its gameplay and presentation. For the sake of full disclosure, I beat Twilight Princess within a few weeks of its release on the Wii and have mixed feelings about the game. It's been almost four years though since I've played it so here is its second chance with me in the form of the first hour review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii.

Sorry the screenshots seem muddied, but they are actually captures from a fan of the game and I like to keep them relevant to what's going on in the timeline.  I also apologize that they're boring, but that's the game's fault for nothing happening.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)

00 - I start a new Quest Log and the first hour of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess begins. I leave my name as Link and my horse's name Epona. After a quick brightness check, the opening cutscene begins. Link is sitting with some man on the edge of a pond. He's talking about spirits from another world intermingling with ours. We always feel loneliest at the hour of twilight.

01 - He then asks me to deliver something to Hyrule Castle, that I should see the world, have an adventure. I should note that there is no voice acting, just text on the screen.

02 - We stand up and walk away with Epona. The sun is setting as we return to the village. The scenery is beautiful.

03 - The man's family is waiting for him, and Link looks on. Some time later, some girl walks away with Epona and then a man runs up to Link's treehouse shouting for him. He asks for help with his goats.

04 - I get control and talk to the goat man, he tells me to go find Epona. Link is speedy, and we quickly run down the path the game pointed out to us. We find the pond, and of course, Epona is there with the young girl. She looks like Link, but with large green eyes and blonde hair. It's weird seeing Link without his green tunic. His face looks like he likes the girl.

Legend of Zelda Link Riding Epona

06 - She asks me to play a song on a piece of grass, I find one and blow. He plays the classic Epona song from Ocarina of Time. The girl likes it, and is done washing Epona, so I hop on.

07 - Link can use spurs to increase her speed, but no need for that here.

08 - We arrive at Ordon Village, the camera pans around the villagers doing their thing. I see the guy I talked to the night before and jump off Epona to chat again. He just mentions how a fishing rod will be ready soon.

10 - I keep running south until I come across the goat ranch. The man asks me to herd them back into the barn. Sounds simple enough.

12 - There are ten goats total, and every time they enter the barn the game displays "Goat In!" The last two were a bit stubborn but I pushed them in. One time one of them started glowing red and attacked me. Odd.

13 - Then I'm asked if I want to jump fences with Epona... I guess so. Not sure if I was supposed to do this but I just hopped right out of the ranch and left. I'm offered to save and then another cutscene kicks off. A bunch of kids are yelling for me outside my window. People sure are bothersome in this village.

Legend of Zelda Ilia Epona

15 - I'm inside Link's house now, and accidentally climb down into the basement and have to climb all the way out again. Feels like The Ladder from Metal Gear Solid 3! The kids tell me there's a slingshot for sale in the store.

16 - I'm back in the village now, not exactly sure where to go so I guess I'll seek out the store.

17 - With only about six buildings around town, Sera's Sundries is easy to find. Umm... she won't let me shop until I find he cat. How exciting.

19 - I spot it by the river, but the game won't even give me the option of picking it up if I get close enough. A puzzle!

20 - The world is proportioned very oddly, a kitchen table comes up to Link's shoulders!

22 - I jump in the river and go for a swim. There's a monkey hopping around on a boulder in the middle of the water, what's he doing? Ah, he's holding the baby cradle Rusl's wife asked me to find. Well, I don't think I'll be able to mess with him until I can buy that slingshot, which I won't be able to buy until I get that darn cat.

Legend of Zelda Link Water Walking

24 - I jog towards the ranch, but before I can enter a goat runs wild out of it and right at me! It plows me over before I can react. A man nearby tells me I need to plant my feet by holding A.

25 - My next opportunity is running right at me! I grab it by its horns and wrestle it to the ground.

27 - The rancher doesn't have anything of interest to say, so I head back to the village proper.

30 - I climb some vines to high above the village, but some bees attack me and chase me into the water! I'll have to shoot their hive down once I get the slingshot.

31 - A man just randomly standing on some high ground yells to me to come up by him. He points out Sera's cat and says it probably wants some fish. So where do I get that fishing pole?

32 - There's also some grass up here that when blown, attracts a hawk to Link! I can "fire" the hawk somewhere and aim for the monkey, but it's too far away. Maybe there is something else closer worth knocking around?

Legend of Zelda Link Hawk

33 - Ah, the bee hive! It goes down in a flurry of angry bees and opens up that path. The Wiimote I'm holding plays that classic Zelda "reveal" medley from its speaker.

35 - I get to the branch the hive was guarding and Link jumps off. Lame.

36 - Wow, all that for some rupees? That's horrible. With no where else to turn I head back for Link's house.

37 - Rusl's son is there and tells me the fishing rod he made is with his mom. But I just spoke with her! She can't stop talking about the cradle. Well, how am I supposed to get it? Maybe I can get closer to that monkey with the hawk?

38 - Yep, that was the ticket! The hawk steals the cradle and returns it to Link.

40 - I return the cradle to the wife, and she asks me to walk back to her house with her. She walks so painfully slow, well, she is pregnant. She gives me the fishing rod, now to catch that cat a fish!

Legend of Zelda cat Fish

42 - Any game that thinks learning how to fish is a must-learn skill in its first hour has my attention! I catch a greengill but I'm not sure how to give it to the cat.

43 - I catch another one though, this time a little further inland and the cat steals it and runs to his house. Mission Accomplished.

44 - Back at Sera's Sundries, she gives me a bottle of milk as a reward, but more importantly, I can buy the slingshot! Well, if I had 30 rupees I could. At this point I only have 16.

47 - On the lookout for some more cash, I head to the pond where the game started. Looking under rocks for coins seems like my best bet for now.

50 - I finally get the last one, only took five minutes! I buy the slingshot with all my money.

51 - While walking back to my house and that horde of kids, Rusl tells me he left something in my room. But before I can go up, I need to shoot down the spider hanging out on my ladder. It goes down in one shot. Aiming with the Wiimote works pretty well.

Legend of Zelda Links House

53 - Rusl has left me a wooden sword, awesome! Just swing it around with the wiimote!

54 - The kids challenge me to some target practice, Z-targeting with the slingshot is even easier. I take out all the targets and the kids are thorougly impressed.

56 - Next, I show them how to use the sword. We swing, stab, and spin our way to glory. Or at least the hearts of pre-teens.

57 - A monkey shows up and we chase after it. Why are we chasing after monkeys again? Oh oh, they've gone beyond the village gate and bridge. I enter Faron Forest.

59 - There's a fence I need Epona to jump, luckily there's horse weed right here that attracts her to my spot! How convenient.

60 - We wander through the woods a bit and come across an afro sporting man who gives me a lantern out of the kindness of his heart. Any chance you have a kid on you too? That's the end of the first hour of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Legend of Zelda Link Epona Master Sword

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 6

What I loved: Link controls very well, and I was surprised with how easy shooting the slingshot was with the Wiimote. It's great that he still moves quickly around, and even better when riding Epona. Just wish I would have had more time with my sword.

The graphics are lush and the music is classic, presentation is something Nintendo almost never messes up on.

What I liked: The town setting is well established, but if it turns out to be anything like Ocarina of Time, it won't play that big of a role in the grand scheme of the game. It also feels like the pace was finally picking up at the end of the first hour, maybe too quickly! I was a bit disoriented about what was going on and where I was going with the sudden turn of events.

What I didn't like: This is an (un)interesting way to start a game, there's very little action and you have to solve many miniature puzzles to put everything together and move on. I'm not a huge fan of this technique and I think we would have been better served to actually do some real fighting. We learn how to use the sword at minute 56, which is generally an integral part to Legend of Zelda games; here's everything we were taught before that: how to fish, how to ride a horse, how to herd goats, how to stop a charging goat, how to play music, how to fire a hawk, and how to shoot the slingshot. This seems like an excessive list of extras that while I'm sure will be useful, were probably better off putting off until after we learn how to use Link's sword.

What's weird is that Ocarina of Time started very similarly, but there was enough time in its first hour to be the first dungeon! Have games really gotten that much more complicated that we need to be hand held through everything?

Gameplay: Very solid and hints at a lot more to come, wish I had more time with the sword to really judge if it feels right with the Wiimote.

Fun Factor: Slow paced, too much talking, and a string of fetch quests made me kind of bored. Everything picked up right at the end of the first hour, which is better than nothing, I suppose.

Graphics and Sound: Looks and sounds great, you can tell it doesn't look that much better than a GameCube game, but Nintendo always does a lot with a little.  Lack of voice acting really stands out with all the incessant chatting though.

Story: I'm not really sure what Nintendo's obsession with starting towns in Zelda games of late, in A Link to the Past and Minish Cap there's just one house and the game is off with a bang. I really have no idea where the story is going, no sign of the wolf from the cover.

Would I keep playing? If I wasn't a fan of the series, I'd be done. Almost nothing of excitement happened and it took almost the full hour to actually get rolling.