Of course, the real meat of the game remains the dungeons, and Twilight Princess’s temples sit square with the best of Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker in providing both distinctive settings and compelling challenges that teach you new skills then ask you to employ them in increasingly imaginative ways. As ever, items are the key, and if you’re given the hero’s bow halfway through a dungeon, you can be pretty damn sure you’re going to need it from there on in. Yet Twilight Princess ingeniously asks you to combine items and abilities in ways that have you scratching your head one minute, then smiling when a solution clicks the next. On one level, little has changed since last time, but on a deeper level it’s different and even more satisfying. Comparing this to Ocarina of Time is a bit like comparing Half Life 2 to Half Life – sure the main gameplay elements are the same, but doesn’t it all feel bigger, more immersive and even more compelling?
I could go on ad nauseum, but I won’t. This is a game full of ideas and moments that you should be allowed to discover for yourself. Most of all, it’s a game full of genuine magic and wonder. Some games you can almost reduce to a formula; the graphics are great, the sound is great, the combat is exciting, the levels are well-designed. Here, that whole approach seems just too reductive – there is something special at work here, and you’ll feel it from the very first few hours of play. The fact that you’ll still feel it nearly thirty hours later, with a vast chunk of the game still to go, says it all. The Twilight Princess may be a disappointment on some levels, but when the game as a whole is this majestic, it seems churlish and small-minded to give them credence. Just buy, play and enjoy.
Is it a flawless Wii showcase? No. Is it one of the best games ever? Without a shadow of a doubt. For all its cheesy sounds and ugly textures, Twilight Princess is a towering achievement.