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April 4, 2014

The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Part 1)

I crack my knuckles. I do some exercise. Hop, hop, hop, some Just Dance 3. Today is a big day. Today begins another epic on Planned All Along. I'm gonna need all the strength I can get. Hop! Hop! Hop! Let's go! I prepare my sword, my shield. I put on the green tunic. With beige-ish pants, please. And the boots and the hat. Don't forget the plastic things people put over their ears to look like Vulcans. Okay, I'm ready.

BRING IT ON!

The Legend of Zelda fans hit sort of a disagreement when Wind Waker came around. Cel-shaded characters? Toon-esque faces? "That's not The Legend of Zelda, that's pretending to be The Legend of Zelda! That's TLoZ for KIDS!" So, the team behind the series started working on a next installment in the franchise. They argue over the pretty style of Wind Waker? This game will toss the fans into some pretty good 3D, the most advanced CGI the Legend of Zelda has ever had to this point (until the next games, anyway). With detailed worlds and characters. The team also threw in a gritty, dark plot. Twilight Princess is, arguably, among the darkest games the Legend of Zelda has ever had, if not THE darkest.

You know they mean business when they
rate it T. As in, "Too scary for our regular
audience."

Can I make jokes about it? Not to be overly confident in my abilities, but... yes. Yes I can. It's not gonna be a walk in the park. There will be scares, there will be hard times, but I can do it. I said it. BRING IT ON!

By the way, I must mention this immediately. This game is extremely long, there's a LOT of things to mention. Therefore, I will probably skip some parts that are less important, skim over a few other parts that are less important but still more than those that got skipped... and I probably won't go into a lot of detail about the semi-major events. If I kept putting the same level of detail into every part of the plot in this game... It would take me five parts, and three is enough! Can we agree on this? Good. Proceed. (For the record, I'll go to five parts in length for even bigger games. Yes, that exists.)

Once you've chosen a save file and named your character (for everyone's sake, I'll say Link; this bishônen just doesn't have a face to be called Nicolas), we find our favorite Hyrule hero in Ordon Village.

As is the case for many Legend of Zelda games, there's a LOT of things to remember about the controls. The Nunchuk and the Wiimote are used in equal parts, all the buttons are used in a way or another. In fact, you better learn to use multiple buttons at once, because you'll definitely need that skill later on. This isn't a kiddie game, oddly enough. Also, the controls change a bit between each item you get on your journey, so listing everything here would be kind of boring to read. This isn't a walkthrough!

We are then introduced to this Link, the official goat herder of Ordon Village. Yep, he can stop goats from running away simply by grabbing them with his bare hands. The hero can also ride Epona, his horse. And even from the start, there's talks of a Twilight Realm, which exists in an alternate world of sorts to Hyrule. Gosh, this series has more alternate universes than DC Comics! The one who tells Link about it was also supposed to make a delivery to Hyrule, but he offers Link to do it instead.

Link and Ilia: A pairing that is neither confirmed nor denied.
And in the fan fic universe, ANY pairing has its chance.
We also meet a girl about Link's age, Ilia, a horse enthusiast who takes care of Epona. At the village, some small quests show up. Link completes them and gets enough Rupees to buy the slingshot, after which he can practice shooting pellets on targets outside his house.

Link gets the fishing pole and a wooden sword. However, as Link was showing the kids how to use the sword, a monkey shows up and the kids chase after it. Link follows towards a cave and gets attacked by Keese. Eventually, Link finds the kids and the monkey, frees them from the cage, and saves them from Bokoblins. Maybe not in that order.

Next day, it's Link's chance to go to Hyrule. Sure! A bit more goat herding and there we go! Link and Talo, one of the kids, head to the Ordon Spring, where Ilia is, but the place is locked. Apparently, she's angry because Epona got hurt. Still, Talo reasons with her, and so she warms up to Link again. Until, PLOT TWIST! Enemies called Bulblins come in, knock Link away, and kidnap Colin and Ilia. No! Not his love interest until Zelda comes around! Trying to chase them, Link ends up on the bridge linking the Ordon province and the rest of the world.... when he faces a wall of darkness. A black arm comes out of it and tries to pull him in, but Link's Plot Power (or, as most of you call it, the Triforce) sets him free, though in pain. Feeling changes, he finally passes out.

Kind of a bad timing to pause the game and bring this up... But... Screw it, I have to. Look, I said that the 3D work was very impressive. That is true of the environments and the enemies and villains, for the most part. For the human-like characters, such as the kids from the Ordon Village, and a few others... It's... um... Kinda scary? Okay, it IS scary. Maybe it's the bodies that aren't shaped right. It might be the cartoonish features mixed with relatively realistic bodies, creating an effect of uncanny valley. Maybe it's those large eyes over otherwise normal-looking traits with normal proportions. Maybe it's the fact that this 4 or 5 years old Malo speaks and acts like an adult- AAUGH!

Big eyes, too low - Augh!
Uh... No comment?
Malo's forehead is too large.
And the older boy's hair is weird.
And he has the same forehead issue.
...Stop, Nicolas. You knew you were gonna see some scary stuff in this game. Pull yourself together. You can sit through much scarier films than that. Still, what counts most is that our hero is unaffected by this, right?


Link fangirls, you are allowed to swoon.

That's Midna. If you were to try and insult
her, you could say she's Crazy Frog's long-
lost dark (and much, much less ugly) female
cousin from the Twilight Realm. But seriously,
don't do that, because she can kick your ass.
Back to the plot now. When Link wakes up, he realizes he's unable to get up. Trying to look around, Link realizes that he's chained in a prison... but also, he's a wolf! There' a shard of Twilight indented in his head. Oh, and there's that imp creature mocking him! Although, she does snap the chain, after which Wolf-Link escapes the cell by digging a hole. By the way, that imp? It's Midna, your greatest ally in this quest. When you're as a wolf, anyway. Midna guides Link through what seems like a dungeon beneath a castle, until they reach the higher floors... or rather, the ground floor... of Hyrule Castle??? Link finds out that even as a wolf, his jumping ability sort of sucks if he doesn't get any help, so Midna helps him out. Eventually, Link and Midna reach a cloaked figure, Princess Zelda in disguise. She says that the Twilight King, Zant, has trapped Hyrule in twilight, and this causes the people to turn into spirit versions of themselves. Midna finally warps Link outside of the Twilight Zo- er, Realm, becoming invisible to him, since she can be seen only in twilight.

After turning into a wolf, Link has lost his shield and sword, so his first task in normal Hyrule is to retrieve them in Castle Town... where people will flee in terror when they see him in wolf form. Oh, great. Still, Link eventually finds his stuff, and heads out to free the Spirit Springs from the evil of twilight. On his way there, he's ambushed by strong Twilight monsters, but Midna shows Link how to get rid of them. Hope you liked that ambush. You'll get many more in this game.

In order to free the Ordon Spring from darkness, Link has to find and defeat a number of Twilit insects that stole parts of its light. As a result, the hero has to use his wolf senses to find the insects and take back the light from them. Anyway, this mission is completed and the light is returned to the Ordon province, freeing it from Twilight. Not only that, but the Ordon Spirit gives Link his human form back, as well as the clothes of the Hero, the trademark green tunic. With pants, that's very important to mention. And from here we get to enter the first dungeon. It was about freaking time!

Before entering the dungeon, Link learns a special move, the Ending Blow, which he can use to give the coup de grâce to strong enemies once they're K.O. but not dead yet. Anyway, what's this dungeon's theme? Monkeys!

Also, within the dungeon, Link finds Ooccoo, the mothe-AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! What the flying Heck is THAT? Is it a chicken with... A HUMAN FACE? AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! Creepy! ...On the plus side, even though that thing is the creepiest thing in this game so far, even worse than the human faces of the children, Ooccoo still helps you in and out of dungeons thanks to her... son... A kid's head with wings. AAAAAAAH- Okay, that's still creepy, but it's somehow more ridiculous.

Also, it had boobs, but the thought that such a creepy creature would have female
attributes being so yucky, I censored it. Also, family-friendly blog, yadda yadda...

Diababa
For a first boss, isn't this too... HUGE?
Well, finally, Link meets with Ook, a Donkey Kong wannabe and a mini-boss, and frees him from the evil bug. After this fight, Link finds the Gale Boomerang and progresses further until it reaches a zone of... Lava, I think. And from it appears the Twilit Parasite, Diababa! Ook comes to the boy's help to make it vulnerable, and Link finally defeats Diababa by forcing it to get close with the boomerang and then slashing at it. By winning this battle, Link gets Fused Shadow, a relic that Midna knows about. Apparently, it has powers related to the Twilight Realm. Hurray, one boss down, many more to go!

Link reaches Kakariko Village, speaks to the Goddess of Eldin, and saves Kakariko from the darkness caused by more Twilight bugs! Now, Link receives a letter from Mayor Bo of the Ordon Village. The protagonist heads there and gets, from the mayor, a few interesting things: Most of the kids are safe, but Ilia and Colin are still in “danger”. That's bad. Then, he teaches Link how to wrestle, combining his goat herding ability to some form of sumo fighting. Okay, if I was one day to refer to Link as an apprentice SUMO... Well, I'd laugh. In fact, I'm laughing at this right now. Finally, Bo gives Link the Iron Boots, which are so heavy that he'll sink to the bottom of bodies of water, and can also walk on magnetic walls and ceilings. But wait, Kakariko is also terrorized by Twilight Bugs, like he Ordon Spring was. As a wolf, Link chases the monsters and defeats them. Once that's done, he goes back to being human... and discussing with the people of Kakariko reveals that King Bulblin, the leader of the Bulblins, has kidnapped Colin. Link retrieves Epona and battles Bulblin on a bridge north to Kakariko. You don't get points if you guessed that the loser would be thrown down the bridge and into the abyss.


Still, Link frees Colin and brings him back to Kakariko village. Link goes to get the Hylian Shield, to replace the wooden shield that will NOT survive against fire enemies. And trust me, there's a ton of those in the next dungeon...

Link finally goes up Death Mountain, the land of Gorons. It takes him a while to climb up, as he isn't really accepted by that species... until he meets with the Goron leader and beats him at sumo fighting. I'm not making this up. On the other hand, Link fangirls get to see him shirtless. Sure, he uses the Iron Boots to win, but still, this fight that happens for real. Link gets the Gorons' trust and can now enter the Goron Mines.

This is a very heated dungeon crawl, what with the lava that covers a big part of the floors. Also, when Link reaches the mid-boss of this dungeon, he has to face a Twilight-controlled Goron. Finally, the possessed Goron is beaten and lets Link access the dungeon's treasure: The Hero's Bow! Link continues through the Mines and finally reaches the boss, which is the Goron patriarch turned evil and monstrous because of the twilight. Yeah, that book series is diabolical, we got proof right here. *rimshot* ...Ah, come on! I had to make at least ONE joke like this!

In this fight, Link needs everything he has gained since the last dungeon: The Bow, the Iron Boots and even his goat herding talent! Wow, sure helps that this Link grew up to become a goat herder. His life as a hero would have SUCKED if he hadn't learned to do that.

Less creepy than the human children.
Because Zoras are NOT humans...
So, Link defeats the patriarch and returns him to normal, gaining more Fused Shadow. He returns to Kakariko and buys the Bomb Bag, and then does some archery training. Too bad there's no Katniss around to help Link with that. You can also get the Hawkeye. But where is Ilia? Taking her scent, Link as a wolf goes to look for her. The scent brings him to a bar located in Castle Town, where the young girl is taking care of a Zora. Somehow THOSE are less scary than the human children in this game! Maybe it's because they're less human, and thus the uncanny valley hits less... Anyway, Link also overhears soldiers in the bar talking about an incident at Lake Hylia. When our wolf hero reaches the bridge over the lake, however, he finds out that the body of water has been drained! Oh and there's black liquid on the bridge. Gasoline... and Bulblin Archers with... Oh crap. Fire arrows. They shoot, causing the gasoline to catch fire... Wolf-Link is forced to jump down the bridge, into the large empty lake... And is somehow lucky enough to land in the little water that is left.

As if that was not enough, a Bulblin summons the Shadow Carrier Kargarok, which is defeated kind of easily... Since it's a kind-of-friendly Twilight beast, Midna convinces it to help them. As a result, it brings Wolf-Link to the higher places of the Province of Lanayru. Our heroes reach the Zora Domain, which has been... frozen. All the Zoras are trapped in the ice! Luckily, our Twilight imp has a plan: Warp a humongous fire stone from the Goron Mountains (yeah, there's one apparently...) in here to melt all the ice. And guess what? IT WORKS! It really works! The Zora domain is heated up, causing the water to flow back through the river and into Lake Hylia. After going back down the stream, Wolf-Link goes to see the goddess Hylia, and goes on a last hunt for Twilight Bugs. This brings him all over the Province of Lanayru, and even beyond. This ends over Lake Hylia, against a giant bug, the Twilight Bloat, that must be defeated in order remove all Twilight from Hyrule. This thing is the most disgusting thing in this game so far... Yeah, worse than Ooccoo, try to imagine that to yourself!

Link returns to Hylia, and the Goddess of Light shows him the cause of Twilight and how it spread over Hyrule. This is one of the scariest moments in all Nintendo games. Here it is, in all its horrifying glory.


(Just a comment: WHAT THE HELL???)

Of course, if you're a fan of horror films like me, you've seen much worse. And since this game is rated T, the cutscene can still be pretty scary... Though I guess this scene alone explains why the game is not rated E like most Nintendo games. The scary side of Twilight Princess really shines in this. It's equal to the game's overall darkness, summed up in a few minutes.

Finally, Link can go into Castle Town as a human! Except the main shop in there sells lame items at outrageous prices. Also, impossible to get to Hyrule Castle yet, as it is trapped in a giant prism of twilight. The Hero of Time heads to Telma's bar (alcohol in Nintendo series? Another proof that this game is darker than most!), and finds Ilia and the Zora. Since there's a Shaman who can heal him in Kakariko, Link has to escort a carriage from Castle Town to Kakariko. And this is one of the most annoying missions in the game. I hate this one, and I know that many others do. Also, Link has to battle King Bulblin again.

Once they reach Kakariko, the Zora is healed, and Link follows her to a watery grave. The Zora gives him the Zora armor, and Link also gets the Water Bombs and bigger bomb bags. He's ready to tackle the third dungeon, Lakebed Temple, located at the bottom of Lake Hylia!

This temple goes deeper and deeper, and you constantly go back and forth between the main floors. Eventually, Link defeats a Deku Toad and finds the Clawshot in a chest! Awesome! As for the dungeon's true boss... Personally, I hate that Twilit Aquatic Morpheel. It's a giant monster that you must attack with the Clawshot, while you're underwater; it's very difficult to aim and the creature's tentacles are a pain. Well, I guess the fight is still kinda awesome.

Seriously, are the makers of this game trying to create a new
Cthulhu mythos? Look at those freaking creepy monsters!

With his victory, Link gains the third piece of Fused Shadow. The Hero of Time returns to the spirit of Lanayru, but gets attacked by Zant. In the cutscene that follows, Zant steals all Fused Shadows, traps Link in wolf form and severely injures Midna. The only one who can help them now is Princess Zelda. Wolf-Link goes back to Castle Town and finds a way to reach the castle and Zelda. She heals Midna and also tells them that there's only one way for Link to retrieve his human form: Get the Master Sword in the Faron Woods!

This quest towards returning to human is complicated, as Skull Kid is around and causes lots of problems on your way. However, Skull Kid is defeated (after a long chase in the Faron Woods), and Link reaches the Master Sword soon. Pulling it out, Link goes back to human. Midna keeps the shadow shard that was in the protagonist, and as a result Link can now transform at will!

He heads back to Telma's Bar, and learns of a group of adventurers who are ready to help him on his quest. Among them, one named Auru has headed to Gerudo Desert, and hasn't come back yet. Also, it's very difficult to go to Gerudo Desert, as the only way to do that is to use a giant cannon over Lake Hylia (where was it, by the way, when the lake had been drained? Was it at the bottom?). Link takes the cannon trip to the Gerudo Province, explores the desert a bit, and then goes into an enemy camp located around the next dungeon, the Arbiter's Grounds. Should I mention that our protagonist fights King Bulblin ONCE MORE? Whatever, Link enters the dungeon at last. His first quest, in this place, is to find four Poes (ghosts he can see only with his wolf senses) and defeat them.

That's how the Poes look like in the Arbiter's
Grounds; everywhere else, they're like ghost dolls.

Will Link get out of the Arbiter's Grounds alive? Will I manage to keep this review into three parts instead of four? Will I be able to riff more on the plot than I did here? All these questions and even more pointless ones will be answered next week!