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Looking back: The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess | Wii/GC (2006)

One of the most anticipated games of all time finally hit two Nintendo platforms at the same time in 2006. Featuring an adult Link, a fierce vision of Ganon and an all-new Wolf Link, fans agree it was worth the wait.

The legend: According to director Eiji Aonuma, this is 100 years after Ocarina of Time, in the time period where young Link returned from the future and warned the world of Ganon's rise to power. After being executed, Hyrule seemed destined for everlasting peace. Cut to a new Link, about 16 years old, working on a farm in Ordon Village. The day-to-day peace is shattered when groups of orcish thugs tear up the place, club Link and drag his friend Illia into a growing dark haze. This black veil, known as the Twilight Realm, is usurping Hyrule and transforming its citizens into soulless abominations - Link, on the other hand, turns into a wolf. A mischievous imp known as Midna befriends this beastly Link and guides him to three artifacts that should defeat the one responsible for the spreading plague, an evil resident of the Twilight Realm named Zant. After several long struggles against all manner of monsters, Link and Midna fail to stop Zant from resurrecting Ganon, who has been using Zant as a medium all along. A long, strenuous battle ensues between a shape-shifting Ganon and Link, with the latter obviously winning. Midna's true form is revealed, the Twilight Realm returns to a state of balance and Hyrule returns to normal.

Master swords: After years of waiting, fans finally got their Ocarina of Time follow-up. No more cartoon Link, no more multiplayer experiments, no more handheld side stories - this was the real deal. Adult Link, badass Ganon, realistic takes on familiar Zelda staples, yes, this one really did everything Ocarina did, updated and polished for a new generation. Most of the new developments were cosmetic, so the items and weapons mostly stuck to their conventional uses or gained new attributes. The boomerang, for example, now had the ability to carry objects with a gust of wind. The hookshot could also be doubled up so Link could carry two at a time. Tweaks to the battle system gave Link more moves than ever before, expanding upon the already exciting roster found in Wind Waker.

What really made Twilight Princess so special was its exceptional presentation. The graphics might have been instantly dated next to the 360 and PS3, but they carried an honest sense of style and consistency that made Hyrule come alive. Even with a million or so fewer polygons to push, Link, Midna and the other denizens of Hyrule seemed more interesting and compelling than any blood-caked warrior or alien-human hybrid. And with cinemas that outdid the already spectacular Ocarina of Time, we could watch these characters change and grow as the adventure wore on. It's almost impossible not to feel for Midna once you hear her whole story.

There's more. Twilight Princess didn't just copy Ocarina's greatness note for note, however. It actually added gameplay elements to the series, from a fiery stagecoach chase to horseback battles to flying through a cave in the talons of a faceless bird. Dungeons too saw new ideas, with a Tony Hawk-inspired desert palace and a jaunt through a gigantic mansion leading the charge.

Best Moment: It didn't reinvent the franchise, but the creepy transformation into Wolf Link summed up Twilight Princess's desolate outlook quite nicely.

I AM ERROR: Even with new dungeon ideas and fresh takes on old weapons, it's hard to argue that non-fans will notice anything special about this one. It certainly didn't do much to court new players, despite being the flagship title for a console designed to attract just such a thing. The Wii version, for obvious but sad reasons, didn't support regular controls. Call us crazy, but we actually preferred using the GameCube controller to Wii's sword-shaking antics. But the GC version didn't support widescreen TV sets. What kind of decision is this?

It's a secret to everybody: Twilight Princess is the first Zelda to launch a Nintendo console. It's also the first to appear on two different Nintendo consoles at the same time - Even though Link is left-handed, the Wii version has him swinging his sword with his right hand - That's because the Wii version is a mirrored GameCube game. If you play the GC version, Link is left-handed and the entire world is flipped - Despite the GameCube's total death by the end of 2006, its version of Twilight Princess has managed to sell more than a million copies.

Hero of time? A Link to the Past perfected an already excellent game, so it gets the top honor as far as 2D games go. Twilight Princess updates, expands and elaborates on Ocarina's revolutionary design in every way we know how to categorize, so it's only fitting that it earn the title of Best Zelda Ever. 10/10

So there you have it. We say Twilight Princess wins it all. Agree? Disagree? Odds are you disagree. Well, we're standing by this decision. If you've got a better take, hit the forum  and give us what for.

If you'd like to see us argue which Final Fantasy is the best ever, check out this madness.

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17 comments

  • thefreakysurgeon - August 27, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    Let's all hope that Skyward Sword will kick so much ass that it'll be titled "Best Zelda Ever".
  • Gorlack312 - July 23, 2010 9:28 a.m.

    Yo Gamesradar, Imma let you finish, but Ocarina is the best Zelda game of all time. Of all time!! Though i am a bit biased, since OoT was my video game (started at age 4) and i still have memories of watching my brother play Ping Pong with Ganondorf. Oh, and thanks for giving Majora's Mask a 9/10, not many people are hardcore enough to play through it.
  • radishboy - May 30, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    I have always loved Wind Waker. Probably my favorite Zelda game ever. actually, one of my favorite games in general! I instantly loved the style of the game, and the cell shading. I'm very glad that they didn't do that stupid anti-aliasing affect where they put the black outlines around everything, which I see on a lot of other cell shaded games. (think the Dragon Ball Z games, or that P.O.S. FPS for PS2 "XII" (Thirteen.) I don't mind the black outlines if done correctly but they rarely are. they usually look bad due to technical issues, it looks like the outlines are jumping around the character, shaking or squiggling sort of? like those "squiggle vision" cartoons, where the all the lines/outlines are drawn in squiggly lines on purpose, so they wiggle and and jiggle and what not. (think "Home Movies," "Dr Katz," "Ed, Edd, and Eddie", etc...) anyways, I think Wind Waker is going to be one of those few games that are not only great, but will stand the test of time, pretty much forever. Even now, going back to play a PS1 game like Tomb Raider" is almost impossible, it looks and feels just so awful. But Wind Waker's style is timeless, it will always look, feel, and play great.
  • jwolf182 - November 5, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    I my opinion, The best Zelda games were Ocarina of time and majora's mask. hand down. Twilight Princess was a great game, but it just felt weird, i mean no Ocarina, no musical instrument? That's like history for Zelda. Wind Waker was a great game, but the cartooniness got old after awhile along with sailing. Idk i just didn't like twilight princess' going from wolf to Link, i just found that process stupid, and ganon turning into this giant boar thing? C'mon that's just stupid...
  • Nitemarish - October 9, 2008 4:45 p.m.

    Water Temple.
  • VGFreak1225 - November 30, 2008 4:36 a.m.

    I don't know, I don't hate Tingle that much, and the Tingle Tuner, while could have been a little more refined, was a nice addition and never necessary to finish TWW. Also, I'm still going to put OoT as greatest game ever. While Twilight Princess was obviously an improvement over OoT, it didn't innovate and there were more flaws that shouldn't have been there after eight years of opportunity to refine it. While I'll welcome both, to me, innovation is more important than inevitable refinement.
  • Digidabee - November 15, 2008 8:55 p.m.

    I agree Twilight Princess was the first one of the Zelda games i played right to the end although I had others before.
  • Christrigg1 - October 15, 2008 3:22 a.m.

    they shouls make a game where vaati finds the majoras mask, puts it on zelda, and then the real link must face her, who has all 3 peices of triforce as the second to last boss. the thirs to last would be fighting and sealing vaati. the last boos would be zelda using her magic to make there two of each triforce, since gannondorf had controll of all 3 and couldnt get it away from him. she did that so link would then fight gannon 1 on 1 with an awesome swordfight, and magic fight and thw whole 9. ending with a light arrow to the chest, and the master sword lodged in the forehead
  • skyguy343 - October 12, 2008 11:38 p.m.

    agreed, tingle is innocent but did Nessrox (also agreed) just say the Water Temple was good?
  • Nessrox - October 11, 2008 12:16 a.m.

    Good times.
  • BHT128 - October 9, 2008 3:06 a.m.

    Why does everyone hate Tingle so much? You dont have to love him or even like him, but I dont understand what he did to earn the loathing of an entire continent.
  • Danomeon - April 10, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    I don't beleive it, you guys gave link to the past a 10 and ocarina of time a 9! Both were great games, but that may be the first person I have ever heard say anythign other than, "BEST GAME EVAR!"
  • shadowleon - April 2, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    on link's awakening did they steal the ball and chane from Mario or did Mario steal it from them
  • KatamariLovesSpock - May 17, 2009 5:18 p.m.

    I really like the artistic direction that Wind Waker took, considering cel-shading can't really go out of style or become obsolete considering it has been pretty much at It's peak since the GC and PS2. But I personally want a Zelda in which they use the cel-shaded art style but still make it a darker more adult Zelda. They could make it with an older link even... Just because it has a "cartoon" style doesn't mean it can't be more mature. Not only that but a more stylized Zelda (no offence to Twilight Princess, which was a great game but doesn't nearly have as much character.) may make it a more solid game in general. As Twilight Princess showed you don't have to have a blood-caked protagonist... So I think cel-shaded is a great direction to take but they need to make the creatures less disproportional and make an older Link. Maybe closer to the DBZ style of cel-shaded games, those look great and, although DBZ tone may be very "YAAAAAAAAAARGH IMMA CHARGIN' MAH LAZURZ, I SCREAM TO POWER UP!!!!111ONE11!ELEVEN!1!!!" It still shows how a more adult cel-shaded Zelda is possible.
  • BodyDamage - February 19, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    I just watched the video on page 7 when the moon falls and noticed it bears a very striking resemblance to when *spoiler* meteor falls on midgar at the end of FF7.
  • Mr.Epic64 - February 16, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    Whats with the skin coloured teeth in Awekening? WTF!?
  • wolyfox - January 17, 2009 5:13 a.m.

    i mostly like fire temple and twilight princess the spider boss

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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