The Legend of Zelda. What more is there to say? Twilight Princess is Nintendo's latest installment of one of its most popular franchises. This time around, Link, the hero of the series, is all grown up and taking on a much darker force that he's used to. It's safe to say that this is the game that Zelda fans have been waiting for since the announcement of the GameCube several years ago, and let me tell you: it was worth the wait.
The phrase takes on a double meaning for me since Cortney and I waited in the line to play the game for over three hours. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. When I finally got to play the game, I was put right smack into the middle of a boss battle on a bridge. The battle played like somewhat of a joust. Link, riding on Epona, stood at one end of the bridge, while his foe, riding his own animal, was at the other. Pressing the A button causes Link to give Epona a little kick, forcing the horse to start running. At the same time, the boss begins his charge and when the two meet, Link has to swing his sword just right to hit the boss off of his animal and the entire bridge. If he fails, he either falls off of the bridge or just runs past the boss, turns around, and prepares for the next round. Rather, rinse, repeat.
Of course, the first things to make a note of are the gorgeous graphics the game sports. These are no secret to anyone who's ever visited the site, and they look just as great playing the game live as they do in the still screens. The look of the game is smooth and fluid, and everything comes together great, visually. Link definitely has grown up and so have his movements and his voice.
As far as gameplay, Nintendo hasn't changed a thing from the previous 3D Zelda incarnations, which should come as a relief to most people. All of the buttons perform the same actions, and even minor details from games of the past are still in the series. For example, every connecting sword strike pauses the action for a split second.
A second demo of the game had our hero, Mr. Link, doing what he does best--dungeon crawling. Attacking plants, spiders, and weird, little, exploding creatures was only the beginning of the adventure. Also during the play through, Link comes across one of the many unique tools that are akin to this series; this one is a twist on the familiar--a boomerang that, when thrown, creates a small tornado. Of course, as soon as this boomerang was acquired, it was needed to proceed to the next area. This was doen by spinning a fan above a door, causing it to open. Using the boomerang puts the game into a first-person perspective with a small red dot indicating where it would be launched, exactly like previous Zelda games. Eventually, Link meets up with old friend, Kiki the monkey from Link to the Past and he has to help him save his other monkey friends who have been captured by the dungeon's keeper. Using the boomerang, the monkeys, and his skills, Link must make it out of the dungeon alive.
For a quick summary of the impression, the game is pretty much what anyone would expect it to be--just like all of the other 3D Zelda games as far as gameplay, plus unbelievably gorgeous graphics. This is exaclty what Zelda fans have been asking for and, after long last, they're getting it.