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25. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Nintendo | Nintendo | 2006
The latest and greatest Zelda of them all. Easily the most cinematic and enjoyable adventure on the system, even if it arrived just in time to watch the console die
What made it so great?
Everything. From its mind-bending puzzles to the intricately-designed dungeons, Link's final GameCube outing ranks as one of the greatest games of all time. Running through Hyrule one more time to save the world never once feels old, yet constantly seems familiar - that's partly due to its close ties to N64 classic Ocarina of Time. This legend, however, creeps out of Ocarina's lengthy shadow by offering more characterization, better cinemas and a world that somehow remains beautiful despite being trapped in Blocky Polygon Town. It's the most intense, rewarding Zelda yet and the GameCube is a better system because of it.
So why is Princess at number 25? It's more a Wii game than GameCube. It makes the list solely because the idea of Twilight Princess hovered over the system for years, always giving devotees a reason to look towards the future. Ever since an adult Link appeared in Ocarina nine years ago we've wanted a game that took on the more serious tone... but never got it. The 2000 demo reel that showcased a realistic Ganon and Link locked in battle served to energize the GameCube even before it launched - that image stayed with the system up until December 12, 2006, the long-awaited release of Twilight Princess. The only thing that could have overshadowed its release would have been a new hardware launch. Oh wait, that's exactly what happened.
Get ready to play
You play as Link, obviously, but this 50-hour tale is more about the mischievous Midna than it is our left-handed hero. Her fall from grace and eventual reclamation of power are the most endearing parts of the story, which unlike Wind Waker, actually seems to carry some weight. From the moment Midna helps wolf-Link out of his cage and introduces Princess Zelda, you know something's up. And you won't want to stop until it's all been unveiled.
Been there, done that?
For whatever reason (we'll call it "sales"), the GameCube became a massive repository for all things Zelda. Why not grab that Ocarina of Time disc and enjoy Master Quest in progressive scan?