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Why The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is one of the greatest games ever made

Twilight Princess definitely didn't skimp on the dungeons in Link's mature adventure, either. The monkey-infested Forest Temple, lava-filled Goron Mine, and the waterlogged Lakebed Temple gave new life to the fire/water/forest themed dungeons we'd seen in previous games. None of the dungeons felt like the typical Zelda labyrinths. You'd explore a city in the sky with complicated indoor puzzles and treacherous outdoor pitfalls, or help a yeti get his sick wife some soup in a frozen mountainside mansion. Not standard for a Zelda title, but the diverse locations made the dungeons even more engaging and made each feel like they were a legitimate part of the world. Every environment was exciting to explore, presented challenging puzzles, and were guarded by even more impressive bosses. These were Zelda dungeons at their best.

Outside the dungeons, the environments in Twilight Princess were equally as impressive. Hyrule Castle Town's bustling center made the world feel alive. Peasant folk wandered about the town according to the changing day/night cycle. You could spend hours just hanging out in town, picking up cats, shopping, talking to NPCs, and playing carnival games. Best of all, you were rewarded for your curiosity, as talking to all the locals helps you acquire new quests--which often lead to interesting characters, like the somewhat mentally unstable bug collector Agitha.

Even with the immersive, sprawling world, Twilight Princess's characters never took a backseat. Link's relationship with his Twili companion Midna was one of the series' most interesting partnerships. At first, Link wasn't sure whose side the gremlin-like, magical creature is on. Her tricky nature and the fact that she treats him like a pet (in wolf form), made us distrust her at first. But as the two's relationship grew throughout the game, we sympathized and truly began to care about Midna's story and struggles. Then there was all of the members of the Resistance, the disturbingly odd Ooccoo, and the creepy, power hungry Zant. Even Zelda herself took on a different role, playing the concerned leader rather than the damsel in distress.

When Zelda fans' craving for a more mature and darker adventure was not sated by Wind Waker's cartoony, cel-shaded visuals, Twilight Princess's child kidnappings, brutal execution scene, bestial transformations, and alternate world living in perpetual twilight gave gamers what they asked for. Link was no longer a green garbed, little kid swinging a sword at Octorocks--he was a fully-grown adult and legendary hero. But Twilight Princess was not only successful as a dark themed Zelda; it differentiated itself from its predecessors with its list of memorable characters, the massive, living world, and some of the most unique and entertaining dungeons in the series. Every aspect of Twilight Princess was done right, and deserves recognition as one of the greatest games ever made.

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16 comments

  • Spec13 - August 27, 2014 5:18 p.m.

    An expertly written tribute to an expertly designed game. I completely agree with the article in every aspect. This game truly was one of the greatest ever made; I continue to enjoy it with every play through. I was thoroughly impressed with this title and am anxious and excited to see what Nintendo still has to offer in The Legend of Zelda Series. I believe the series has made the most impact and has been and will continue to be the greatest masterpiece in the gaming world.
  • GameManiac - February 15, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    Just reading the epicness that is this article, I recall those brutal execution scenes. I still remember how those sages tried (and failed) to kill Ganondorf, and how Midna VIOLENTLY felled Zant.
  • Pruman - February 14, 2013 1:02 p.m.

    I do like this game, and Midna is awesome, but I feel like its exaggerated grimdarkness was Miyamoto way overcompensating in response to the "Celda" outrage. How many more great Wind Waker-style games would we have gotten if that had never happened?
  • Fox_Mulder - February 14, 2013 11 a.m.

    One of the things I loved about TP was how much darker it was than all the previous games, second only to Majora's Mask. It was eerie, creepy, and the whole tone fit really well with the Zelda series. It's hard to rate all the games in order of favorite to least favorite. Majora's is my 1st, Wind Waker is 2nd. After that, I'm not sure, but they all would fit in as 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc. because they're all so close together in my mind. Long live The Legend of Zelda!!!
  • Infernum128 - February 14, 2013 4:18 a.m.

    i have to disagree it could have been greatest zelda game, if it had more challinge combat, the overal combat even against bosses whas no challenge 2 hearts lost at most even agianst the final boss on first try. Just an complete shadow world of the real world with dungeons,(i know to much like ALttP) would have made it a beter perhaps greaterest zelda game in my opinion.
  • RadgarLaser2 - February 13, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    Great game and nice change of pace from the string of childish Link based Zelda games before TP. It was also one of the few Wii games that actually used the wii control in a functional manner rather than just for mini-games.
  • Talvari - February 13, 2013 2:53 p.m.

    Hell yeah Twilight Princess. I really liked everything about TP even if i haven't really replayed it more than once, but hey i never really thought of zelda games to be the ones you replay a lot unless you missed a lot. Windwaker was really good but..triforce collection and lack of sea events made it a bit tedious :| Skyward Sword suffers the same kinda thing, not enough to do in the sky and there were only really 3 main areas :| But at least they were different when you went back. Either way great choice :D
  • Smash_Bro - February 13, 2013 2:06 p.m.

    Thank you for doing justice to my absolute favourite Zelda game. Midna is a great character, and surprisingly deep. I'm sad to say it, but I didn't care one bit for Navi nor Fi (well, at least until Fi's last cutscene). It's also a blast to run--or gallop--around Hyrule Field and fight those Bullbo-mounted Bulbins.
  • pl4y4h - February 13, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    The only thing that disappointed me about this game was how silly zant was. They play him up to be this big evil, bad ass dude in the shadows and then when you fight him he's just a big clown
  • slimjim441 - February 13, 2013 11:33 p.m.

    That was exactly the point. The whole game, he's play off like the bid, bad king of Twilight, wielding some great power (assumed to passed on from the 'late' Ganondorf) that only someone of his immense prowess could obtain. But he's just a tyrant and a usurper who throws a tantrum when you foiled his plans time and again. I'll admit, the fact that he literally stomped and whined and threw a fit was a little over the top, but I thought it was a great way to make a villain. Then Ganondorf showed up and everything was like 'aww shit, son.'
  • BladedFalcon - February 13, 2013 12:34 p.m.

    Hmm... If you're gonna name one Zelda game to be considered one of the greatest games of all time, (And there really should be one, let's face it.) I'd say Wind Waker is far superior, and holds up better than this one. Other people would probably mention A link to the past as well.
  • Redeater - February 13, 2013 1:48 p.m.

    I'd still say the original NES game. But then, not everyone had the privilege of being a kid with unlimited time and being thrown into a world unlike anything anyone had ever seen before and given no "owls", "fairies" or..(whatever the hell Midna was) to help. I played through Dark Souls and had to chuckle at the people who compared it to "old school NES games".
  • rainn'sgaydar - February 13, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    Agree with you, but to be fair the 100 greatest list this is based on includes the two you mention as well as TP, if I remember correctly. So while WW and LttP are better, if the true standard of comparison for TP is OoT and SS, I'm with Radar in saying TP wins.
  • slimjim441 - February 13, 2013 11:44 p.m.

    Gotta disagree. ;D I'm a firm believer that Twilight Princess is one of the greatest games of all time, and decidedly my favorite Zelda title. Wind Waker is a very close second, mind you, but everything about TP was right. Everyone calls it the 'spiritual successor' to OoT; I've always seen it as a spiritual successor to ALttP, but I've come to recognize it's the sweet, sweet love-child of both, taking the best of the two and making the most amazing thing I've ever played. I'm glad that WW is getting the HD remake on Wii-U; it deserves it. Honestly, I would think TP would have benefitted more from an HD remake though, especially considering Nintendo got their hands on owning the rights to Zelda Reorchestrated's Twilight Symphony and could have used the redone scores in a remake. Speaking of which, if you haven't listened to Twilight Symphony, it's the most beautiful thing I've ever heard.
  • SDHoneymonster - February 13, 2013 12:08 p.m.

    Plus: Midna was well fit. I'm not ashamed to admit it.
  • Fox_Mulder - February 14, 2013 11:04 a.m.

    I'll never forget when Zant sucks Midna's life out. That track playing when you deliver her frantically back to castle town is simply magic. How could I have grown so attached to a character who is clearly using Link only to get the fused shadows? Such is the power of Nintendo.

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