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April 11, 2014

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Part 2)

Part 1 can be read here.

Welcome back! Are you ready for this week's episode? I'd love to talk about all kinds of stuff in my intro, as I usually do, but this plot is so damn long, I don't have time for that! Let's jump back into the story of Twilight Princess!

Where were we last time... Oh yeah, the Arbiter's Grounds. In Gerudo Desert. Link is hunting for Poe Souls in the dungeon. Right. He finds and defeats four ghosts that he can see only in wolf form, and accesses the midway point in the dungeon, where he battles the scary Death Sickle, a blade controlled by an invisible ghost. Once this monster is defeated, the Hero of Time gets his hands on... The SPINNER! Awesome! More dungeon crawling happens after that point, until Link reaches the Twilit Fossil Stallord, one of the most awesome bosses and one of the best boss fights in the game. It starts off normal enough, with Link having to break the beast's vertebrae with the spinner, but then it takes a turn for the crazy with the second part of the battle, which is just incredible. Watch for yourself.

….Awesomely epic... "Epically" awesome... Wow.

After this, ahem, great fight, the protagonist and his ally reach the Mirror Chamber, where the Mirror of Twilight rests. This is the only way to enter the Twilight Zo-er, Dimension, the original one, not the Hyrule version. However, it was shattered by... Gan... on... d... dammit!

REALLY? Him again? No. No, no, no. No-no-no-no-no. NO! NOOOOOOOOO! No way! Nonono! Nah, no, niet, nada, zilch, screw it! ...Sorry about that outburst. It's just a pet peeve of mine with the Zelda series, how in many cases, regardless of the plot, it seems to have happened partly because of Ganondorf. You know, I wouldn't mind so much if it didn't happen that often. Remember A Link To The Past? Remember Aghanim? No? Well, that's because he was Ganon's underling. Onox and Veran from the Oracle duo series? In the end, they both worked under Ganon as well. As is the case for Zant here. This plot twist has lost all originality within the Legend of Zelda series! Nintendo, drop Ganondorf for a while, give Link new enemies, that will be better. THIS PLOT HAS OFFICIALLY BEEN GANONIZED.

Oh, before I continue with the plot, I have to tell this: Shortly before the Arbiter's Grounds, Link went to Telma's Bar and met a group of adventurers who help him in his quest from now on. We never get to know them much, and as a result they will probably be forgotten. I think Telma is known more than them, which is kind of pathetic. Yet they are very important to the plot, as they are the ones to tell Link the location of the next dungeons.

Of note, the Mirror of Twilight can only be destroyed by the true sovereign of the Twili, and as proof that Zant is not the true King of Twilight, he only broke it in a few pieces. Who's the king of the Twili, then? No time to answer that, we got mirror shards to find! Time to head to Snowpeak.

There, Link meets with Yeto, a friendly Yeti who lives in a mansion way too far from where the hero is. There's a mirror shard in his mansion. How to go there? By snowboarding down the mountain, of course! ...Well, to be fair, that's not the most dangerous thing Link has done so far... Until you realize that there are bottomless pits on the way. Our protagonist still reaches the mansion, and fins himself in – what else? Another dungeon! This one is horribly long, because Link has to constantly go back and forth through the rooms because of the ice. He can also go speak to Yeta, Yeto's wife – I guess the character naming department was on vacation that day – and she gives him a map. She also says that the shard is in their bedroom on the highest floor... Now that he has broken the ice with the couple, he needs to break some real ice in the dungeon if he wants to proceed further. But how?

Link would steel anything from his enemies.
By locating a madman somewhere in the mansion, the Darkhammer, who wields an enormous ball and chain. Whoa, careful with that! Once the monster is defeated, Link wins the Ball and Chain, which is very heavy for him. (I already made a joke about this, so don't count on me this time.) Still, after going through the dungeon some more, a task made much easier now that he can break all the ice blocking his way, Link eventually reaches the bedroom... where he is assaulted by Yeta, turned into the Twilit Ice Mass Blizzetta! This is one hard battle, but despite the harming ice, Link stays cool and heats the place up with his heroic talents. He defeats Blizzetta, which was Yeta possessed by the mirror shard. Yeto rejoices and goes to hug Yeta, producing... lots of hearts.

The mirror shard... ♫Let it go, let it go♫...

What's the next stop on this quest? Time to return to the Sacred Grove, where Link pulled the Master Sword out of the stone. He goes there, and Skull Kid is still around to nag him. Gah! I hate that annoying villain! Was he that bad in Majora's Mask? Eh, whatever. Our hero still defeats Skull Kid and finds a door in the temple's ruins that was kept standing. He opens it, revealing a link to the past (Had to do that reference): A portal to the old Temple of Time!

Ah, so that's where all the budget went!

This temple is VERY puzzle-oriented, so if that's not your cup of tea... well, tough. You wouldn't have bought a Legend of Zelda game if you disliked the puzzle aspect of this adventure game. Oh, but no worries. There's still a lot of fighting in there, especially against a Darknut as mini-boss. And gosh, is it one hard fight the first time. There will be more of those guys later on... Hurray. Also, what does Link win after this fight? The... Dominion Rod. One of the worst tools in this game, in my honest opinion. Its main purpose is to control certain types of statues so that they will be placed over, say, pressure pads and switches. Yes, it's impossible to beat this dungeon without it (duh), but outside of this dungeon, its uses are very limited. Most of the time, it will let you access a Piece of Heart or a platform with a Poe Soul. Secondary quests, gotta love 'em.

The only Zelda creature that freaks me out more is the Chus.
...Don't ask. The less you know the better.
Link keeps going through this dungeon until he reaches the boss, Armogohma, a giant spider on the ceiling. First it has to be taken down by shooting the eye on its... back. Eeyew. After which the giant spider falls down, and Link must control a statue that will slam it with its ax. Re-eeyew. After a while, the body is destroyed, leaving only the... eye... again, eeyew... and lots, lots of insects. EEYEW! Yuck! AAAUGH! I suffer from arachnophobia! Or is it oculophobia?

So... yeah, this is the only time the Dominion Rod is actually used for fighting purposes. To my knowledge, anyway. Upon defeating Armogohma, Link gains a mirror shard. Two gained, one more to go. Link goes to Kakariko Village, as one of the adventurers, named Renado, is looking for information about the Oocca, the birds with human faces that still creep me out. Among other things, Link tries to help Ilia regain her memory (I forgot to mention that? Silly me), visits a hidden village and gets a Sky Book, which he has to fill up by finding owl statues scattered around Hyrule. Complicated yet? Well, be happy, it's almost over. Link accesses a cannon that will launch him in the City in the Skies, ancient land of the Oocca species (Urgh, there's MORE of them? Yuck). He needs Midna to transport it to Lake Hylia, where a minor character will activate it for Link to reach the next dungeon.

Also of note is a horrible glitch in this game, that was triggered if you saved and quit and returned while you were in the cannon's room. This has enraged a lot of gamers, and so the issue was fixed in re-releases. As much as I hate to admit it, errors can happen. Some glitches cannot be found and corrected easily. Some players actually look for them. But seriously, trying to trigger this one is a bad idea, because if you get stuck, you'll have to start over the entire adventure. I wouldn't wish that to my worst enemy. 

"WHAT? No, you didn't do that! I was so far into the game!
I'm gonna kill you even if it's the last thing I do!"

(Good thing later versions patched this problem.)

Link FINALLY gets to the City in the Skies, where he'll find the last mirror shard. Huh, only three? This game has (Three Fused Shadow pieces + Arbiter's Grounds + Three mirror shard pieces + Twilight Realm + Hyrule Castle) nine dungeons? Huh, that's good I guess. It's not the most, but I'm sure it's not the least number of dungeons in all the Legend of Zelda games. The City in the Skies plays a lot with heights and bottomless pits, so the Clawshot is Link's best friend around here. Say, do you know what that dungeon reminds me of?

Yeah, the picture on that card. Talking about cards, I think a review of a card game is coming soon...

Like a freaking Hylian BOSS.
So, the Hero of Time progresses through the many puzzles of this new place, until he comes across a flying lizard, the Aeralfos! That's the mid-boss for this dungeon, and if you hated the fight, well, just know that more of those are coming, as they become regular enemies later on. After winning this battle, Link gains an upgrade to his Clawshot... a second Clawshot. Double Clawshot for the win! This is a fan favorite among all the tools created for the franchise, as proven by the list I posted a while ago.

However, the Double Clawshot's awesomeness stands out during the boss fight on top of the City in the Sky, against the Twilit Dragon Argorok. Seriously, this is another boss battle you must see. Here it is, in all its flavors of epic.

For the sake of writing it, here's what happens. First Link forces Argorok down to chip off its armor, which is a long and dangerous task. However, once this is done, the dragon takes off, away from Link. Guess what? Our hero FREAKING CHASES AFTER HIM, in the air, in order to attack him up there. That takes guts. This required a brass pair.

Unless the Clawshots are made of another material, like steel or iron... but I guess brass isn't half bad.

So, after this... more-than-awesome fight, Link goes back down and gets the third and final mirror shard. He can now go back to the Arbiter's Grounds and put them back together, which will let him enter the Twilight Realm and dethrone Zant!

And for once, there's pretty much nothing to do between those two dungeons, so there's no waste of time for Link! As a result, the hero puts the mirror shards together and a portal opens to the Twilight Zo-Dammit! I keep making that mistake! It's Twilight REALM!

Can you be a little darker? Yes? Thanks. I was sarcastic, BTW.
This dungeon is very unique, as you don't just have to head towards the boss. In the first half, you have to get two “Sol” spheres and put them back at the beginning of the dungeon in order to reach the second part. The dungeon mixes action and puzzle very well (though, to be fair, that's a staple of the Zelda series since the SNES era, and even before that). Oh, also, when Link gets his hands on a Sol sphere, he gets chased by a monster called Zant's hand, a giant implacable hand that will chase him back to the entrance of the dungeon. It's aiming to steal the Sol sphere from him, and each time it succeeds, Link has to get it back.

Seriously, what is it with The Legend of Zelda series and hands?
Was someone on the development team threatened by a hand
when they were young? Or pulled off a hand puppet and got their
dreams crushed forever???

One enemy stands on the protagonist's way to both spheres: A mini-boss called Phantom Zant, whose main schtick is summoning monsters and warping around the room. Two characteristics we see on lots of other bosses in the world of gaming. Separately, they're nothing new, together they still aren't. Oh well. The boss isn't too hard, as long as the enemies are defeated quickly and Phantom Zant is hit with great force.

Once both spheres are brought to the beginning of the dungeon, Link powers up his Master Sword with the power of light, effectively turning it into the Light Sword... Also, bad news. In this dungeon, you'll notice a lot of humanoid creepy creatures that are standing around. Those are the Twili. They look like Slender Man's creations if he wanted more of himself walking around. But unlike the creepy tall man, the Twili are not going to hurt Link, unless they're transformed into monsters. Also, Midna adds that in many cases, the Twilight monsters Link has fought in ambushes were members of this people. Oh... Wow, really pushing the darkness in this game, huh?

The rest of the dungeon is nothing special. Link battles shadow monsters, Twili transformed into monsters. No. the real kicker is the boss. Zant. Up to that point, he seemed like the stoic, bold type who would shrug off a nuclear bomb and still go back to attacking you. His helmet gave him some sort of impressive look. His appearance could instill fear in his opponents. As such, seeing the real him is... deceiving.

What he looked like until now...
Yes, really. We knew he was Ganondorf's pawn, but there's no better way to prove it than to completely ignore his characterization and transform entirely our opinion of him. As soon as the fight starts, Zant proves to be... well... psychotic would be the right term, but I think even Norman Bates would tell him to calm the Hell down. Zant jumps all over the place, keeps using different techniques against you... He's like a final exam before the true final dungeon.

No, really. Zant uses numerous techniques used by previous bosses, proving how much he relies on other people's ideas for his own schemes. Guess that explains why he needed Ganondorf for his plan; he was unable to do one by himself. Guess what Zant does? He teleports himself and Link to different boss rooms seen through the game. And on each arena, his tactic changes. Each time, Link has to use a different set of tools against him. Just to tell you the list of tools you must use against him during this fight: The Gale Boomerang, the Iron Boots, the Zora Armor, the Clawshot, the Ball and Chain, and finally the Light Sword. All that in a single fight. And he's not even the last boss!

And what he looks like during the battle. Admit it, your mental
image of him has just been shattered.

Through the battle, Zant shows behavior that would be expected of more... um... comedic villains. When he's hurt, he seems to suffer some kind of funny pain, as he'll gesticulate and make other “funny” movements. He's still dangerous, that's clear. But somehow, it seems like his madness brought him down from epic Twilight villain to just a raving lunatic.

Seriously, if he wanted Twilight to reign on Hyrule, I could just have bought him the DVD box set. Or the entire book series.

"Oh no. You didn't say THAT, Nicolas..."

Yeah yeah, obvious joke, but I've been itching to make another one all the way through. You can't blame me for that.

Anyway... After the battle, Zant still isn't ready to admit defeat, but his madness is cut short by Ganondorf, who, without even appearing near him, literally snaps the guy's neck. Yeah, nothing more. Wow, looks like villains' necks aren't very strong after all. Zant, then Zod... It's either weak necks or villains with names starting in Z just aren't lucky. At least, this scene from Twilight Princess didn't cause as much debate as did the scene in Man of Steel... Link reappears at the beginning of the Twilight dungeon and leaves that realm.

Only one enemy left: Ganon-freaking-dorf.

"I'll be waiting... for you to accomplish all the side-quests.
Before you come to find me in Hyrule Castle."

To be concluded next week!