4 changes that make life easier in Twilight Princess HD (and 1 that makes it worse)

At nearly a decade old, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess couldn’t hope to feel as spry as Nintendo’s modern games like Splatoon and Mario Kart 8. And though it’s shaking off some old-fashioned remnants in its upcoming HD release for Wii U, like a dog trotting in from the rain, the improvements that come with Twilight Princess HD fall firmly into the ‘quality of life’ category. The biggest tweaks, which I’ve tried out and listed below, are enticing reasons to return to a more polished Twilight Princess - more so if you’ve never gone on this worthwhile journey with Link and one of his most eccentric companions, Midna.

The game boasts a new level of clarity due to its higher resolution on Wii U, but the presentation also reveals that the dark fantasy artwork doesn’t have the same enduring qualities or pure pop as Link’s previous HD update, The Wind Waker. It’s home to some of my favorite tools in the series (yes, this is the one with the Spinner), but it’s hard to ignore the cloud hanging over Twilight Princess. Not only has it been ported before, over from GameCube for simultaneous release on the Wii, but it comes in that awkward time before Nintendo finally launches a new Zelda, and to a console that’s on its way out. Still, let me start by telling you about…

The Insta-Wolf button

“Midna? Excuse me, Midna, may I please change into a wolf now?” There’s none of that anymore in Twilight Princess HD, which boasts a significantly revised interface. A single tap of a shoulder button now transforms you into Wolf Link, the furry quadruped form that you’ll need to find hidden items and defeat certain enemies, without needing to skip through a quick exchange with Midna. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but going back and forth through an additional button prompt in the original game added up in the long run.

You don’t need as many tears of light

At the beginning of Twilight Princess - arguably its slowest period - you must free Link from his cursed Wolf form by collecting hidden droplets of luminous magic, called ‘tears of light,’ in three of the game’s provinces. Nintendo says it has subtly reduced the number to something that feels right for the game’s pacing - 12 vs. 16.

Hero mode makes it harder

Beyond its slow start, Twilight Princess has drawn criticism from fans for its easy difficulty. In response, Nintendo is adding a Hero Mode for Link’s ordeals, signified by blue hearts on the interface, a right-handed link (similar to the Wii version’s mirroring of the entire GameCube game) and a complete lack of free hearts dropped by defeated enemies. This doesn’t change the straightforward enemy AI or make Twilight’s barren overworld much more hazardous, but it’s a start. Oh, and any damage you’ll suffer is doubled.

Ganondorf’s amiibo will make you hate yourself

Ok, so double damage in Hero Mode isn’t enough of a challenge? Tap the Ganondorf amiibo to your GamePad - an act the game acknowledges with an audible laugh from the grimacing villain - and he’ll double all the damage you’ll take. But remember, Hero Mode already doubled that, so you wind up with … *counts on fingers* … quad damage.

But other characters help you out

Tap in a Zelda or Link amiibo, though, and Link will receive hearts. The Wolf Link amiibo, meanwhile, transports you immediately to ‘The Cave of Shadows.’ Like the ‘Cave of Ordeals’ from the original, the cave offers increasingly tougher waves of enemies (in a dark and admittedly bland environment) and great rewards like huge-capacity rupee wallets.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD will be available for Wii U now.

Ludwig Kietzmann

Ludwig Kietzmann is a veteran video game journalist and former U.S. Editor-in-Chief for GamesRadar+. Before he held that position, Ludwig worked for sites like Engadget and Joystiq, helping to craft news and feature coverage. Ludwig left journalism behind in 2016 and is now an editorial director at Assembly Media, helping to oversee editorial strategy and media relations for Xbox.