However, the more you play the game, the more these flaws disappear in the face of stunning, coherent and imaginative art. The lighting is frequently sublime; the character design is mostly wonderful; elements of The Wind Waker’s visual style have crept in and added a luminous note of cartoon wonder to the proceedings. There are scenes deep in the forest temple, or in the lava-filled depths of Death Mountain that are simply breathtaking, and there is epic architecture and waterfall-packed goodness here to match anything in Shadow of the Colossus. Last year, Kameo: Elements of Power gave us the nearest thing we’ve got to what a Zelda would have looked like on superior hardware, but for all its bump-mapped rocks and swaying grasses, it never got close to doing what Twilight Princess does here. This is a beautifully drawn fairy-tale world that you simply want to get lost in.
Now for the second tricky element – the controls. At first, I feared the worst. In the pre-release demo versions, I’d always found the fighting and aiming tacked-on and contrived, as if the Zelda team had been handed a remote and told to shoe-horn some Wii functionality in, or else. Within an hour of playing the full version, my fears had 90 per cent disappeared. Yes, it would have been nice if you could have thrust and swung with the remote and seen your movements replicated on the screen, but the general slashing mechanics work well, and there is a visceral feel to the fighting – particularly when you’re fighting on horseback – that wasn’t there before. Aiming slighshot, bow and boomerang is a little touch and go at times, but you can eliminate half of the problems simply by spending five minutes getting the placement of the Wii sensor bar right, and the rest falls into place fairly quickly. What’s more, some of the mini-games – particularly fishing and a spot of high-speed flying – make superb use of the remote. I was ready to hate, or at least only tolerate the controls, but to my surprise I’m growing rapidly to feel that this wouldn’t be as great a game without them.
The music? Yes the sounds sound synthesised and plastic, but the themes are as stirring and majestic as always, and you can’t fault them in terms of always generating the right mood. The save system? Well, it’s annoying that you can’t save where you like in dungeons, but in actual fact there is a workaround (and anyone who has found Cooccoo will know exactly what it is). And Link? Well, he does look a bit of a big girl’s blouse from the front, but does it really spoil the game? Not on your nelly.