Saturday, January 22, 2011

Replaying Twilight Princess and Link's Crossbow Training

As I announced I was going to replay both Twilight Princess and Link's Crossbow Training and I'm now finished with that, so it's time to share some thouhgts.

Twilight Princess isn't really the ideal game to be replayed. A problem, which it shares with the NDS Zelda games, and a problem, which was recently acknowledged by Nintendo and which they want to fix with Skyward Sword. The game is lengthy, the 100% took me about 30 hours, which isn't bad, but it's also a very linear and stiff game, which doesn't add to the replay value. Especially combined with the amount of time required to play through the game. Unlike older Zelda games it doesn't encourage you to break from the normal game course and explore things on your own, in fact at most times you can't even do that. Also, it's very story-heavy, but if you already know the story, it's not so exciting anymore, you will probably even skip some of the cutscenes. So, why even replay the game? I finished the game twice on the GameCube and once on the Wii, so why go through it a fourth time? Well, it's not a bad game after all, I enjoy the style as well as some of the fighting, especially the Darknut fights in the Cave of Ordeals. I also wanted to play with its controls again, say as preparation for Skyward Sword. And I was still curios about the mirroring, I wanted to see if it's still as confusing as the first time.


The Wii powered controls are pretty gimmicky, but can be fun. There's actually not much motion involved, most items just require the pointer, wiggling the Wiimote replaces the sword button and the Nunchuk is used for Shield and Spin Attacks. The latter one can be somehow unreliable, but it's still very satisfying to cause a Spin Attack by shaking your wrist. After playing A Link to the Past, wiggling the Wiimote to swing the sword felt really strange and inconvenient, actually at first I used Jump Attacks triggered by simply pressing A to fight the enemies, because this felt more familiar. But you get used to the controls and later they can be so much fun that you're really into the fights. In the moments where the bosses are on the ground and the music changes, I usually stand up and swing the sword in exaggerated movements, even though it's not necessary. Well, I guess I'm prepared for the MotionPlus powered Zelda game.


The mirroring of the game is still an issue. It's not like in Mario Kart, where the courses are pretty straight-forward and you just have to adept. And even there the Mirror Mode can be sometimes confusing. But in Twilight Princess this is a completely different level. It feels like totally different but yet familiar places. You know what is there and what you can do there, but it's just not the same place. Basically it would be as simple as "what's left is right and vice versa", but it can be so confusing, that I fully lost orientation here and there. And I normally don't have any problems with orientating through video games, it's just that you know the original places so well, that their maps are still in your head. For example if I want to go to Kakariko, I'm thinking about going to the east, even after finishing the Wii version two times, where the village is located in the west. It's really weird and you have to experience this for yourself by playing both games.

Sidequest Overload

If you're into sidequests, you will notice while replaying, that the sidequests are not too well apportioned. There's a huge sidequest overload after the point, where you got the Master Sword and where you're finally able to freely switch between human and wolf form. 36 Poe Souls can be collected at this point, as well as the last bugs except for one, lots of hidden grottos wait for you to be discovered, there are two more complex caverns, there is the Malo Mart Quest and the Magic Armor, you can get a Quiver upgrade, as well as some Heart Pieces and TONS of rupees. And if you went straight for the Lakebed Temple instead of inconveniently navigating Hyrule without warping to do some sidequests early, you also have some more bugs left, even more rupees, two additional Bomb Bags, the Bomb Bag upgrade, and nearly all fishing related sidequests including the infamous, feared and hated Roll Goal. It's lots and lots of stuff to do and all at once. You can spent multiple hours at this point in the game just completing side quests before you continue into Arbiter's Grounds. It's crazy actually. And after such a side quest raid there won't be much left, the new items from the later dungeons don't offer many uses elsewhere. However, this part of the game was the most fun for me, because it offers a lot of freedom, unlike the rest of the game, and I see remembering all of the stuff, which can be done at that point, as a good challenge.

Rupee Overload

Did I mention the Rupees? The TONS of Rupees? I don't know what this game wants me to buy and the "it won't fit into your wallet, so let's put it back" message gets annoying easily. There are two major donations in this game, the 598 Rupee Magic Armor and a cannon repair for 300 Rupees. That's it. The only other use for money is running around in the Magic Armor, which you will have to do in order to open all the treasure chests containing hundreds and thousands of Rupees. Here we see, that the treasure system introduced in the Nintendo DS Zelda games isn't that bad at all. It simply offers more variety and you basically can't get enough of one treasure. If they don't screw up the probabilities, like they did in Spirit Tracks, or if they simply offer fixed places for all treasures, this system could be very successful in later Zelda games. Of course a good collecting quest would be also great. You need a collectible item, that can be potentially found anywhere. In treasure chests, in the ground, in shops, in minigames, in the grass, in the water, anywhere. Like the Secret Seashells in Link's Awakening or the Spirit Gems in Phantom Hourglass for example, these were great collectible items. The Poe Souls or the Golden Bugs have a too obvious and limited pattern, while everywhere else in the game the only hidden thing are just Rupees, Rupees, Rupees...


However, there's another way to easily waste lots of Rupees in Twilight Princess: Rollgoal. Probably the most hated and most annoying minigame in all of the Zelda games and you need to beat it at least once to get the Frog Lure. A real replay killer, because this game is one of these things, which you simply don't want to do ever again. And there's just no excuse why this is actually part of a Zelda game and not just some cheap Wiiware title, that no one wants to download. It's actually not that much of a deal, with enough practice you can do anything. But you'll need patience and to stay calm. In case you wonder, how I managed to beat this game on the Wii even for a second time, I'll tell you. The trick is only to tilt the Wiimote sideways, never tilt it back and forth, which lacks the accuracy. Simply adjust the camera after each move and continue. Support your forearm on an armrest or your legs, so you won't accidently lose stability. If you follow these rules, you can do it. But it's still annoying as hell.

Crossbow Training

After lots of hours the credits roll for another time. At the end of the credits Link gets on his horse and leaves Ordon to... test his newly aquired Phantom Crossbow of course. I thought after playing Twilight Princess I should also play another round of Link's Crossbow Training, since there most of the first game's content got reused to create some sort of epic version of Duck Hunt. Actually it's not even worth mentioning, the game is so short, it's practically negligible compared to the amount of time needed for replaying Twilight Princess. It takes maybe an hour and getting all Platinum Medals isn't hard, if you concentrate on consecutive hits. They could have easily set the limits for the medals higher. And I wish the game had some more levels, there are even quite some areas from Twilight Princess that weren't used as a stage, for example the Forest Temple, Goron Mines, Lakebed Temple, Lake Hylia or the Fishing Pond could all have been reused for some target shooting. And a simultaneously played multiplayer mode would have made this small but nice Zelda spin off game perfect. But it's still fun and I enjoy going through this game again from time to time.


Well, I'm done with replaying for now. In the last two months I replayed Spirit Tracks, A Link to the Past, Ancient Stone Tablets, Twilight Princess and Link's Crossbow Training, which was quite the mixed bag. Replaying is always very different from playing a game for the first time. You already know what to do, when to do it and how to do it. For me personally it's more a memory game, it's about memorizing and remembering all the ways and possibilities. You'll internalize the game. I try to play faster and more efficiently and I'll always try to finish the game's sidequests as early as possible - of course for that you need to know exactly what can be done at what time. This is the kind of challenge I seek from replaying.


romplayer said...

You have too much time, don't you? ;)

It's true, the "it won't fit into your wallet, so let's put it back" message DOES get annoying, though the thing I REALLY hate is the explanation of the rupees every time you switch on the system again. "You found a blue rupee, that's worth five green rupees!" YES, I KNOW! I've found such damn rupees over a hundred times now!

Sidequests: Actually, I liked the golden bugs, it was fun finding them. Wait, was that a bug sound? And then you start looking for this little thing.
But I get your point, especially in dungeons there's nothing than rupees.

And if i remember correctly, I also liked the rollgoal game. I mean, it is a minigame, it's okay if it's totally different to the rest of the Zelda game. And you don't HAVE to complete it, as long as you are not a 100% fanatic like you are ;)
So I found this quite amusing. Though I have to admit that I played it on the Gamecube, which probably made it a lot easier.

uriya said...

Nintendo did use fixed places for the treasures in Spirit Tracks the more rare treasures had less places they were hidden in and in faraway places where you don't enter much.

TourianTourist said...

There are only fixed places for the Regal Ring and the Alchemy Stone. All other treasures appear randomly in spots assigned to their treasure value. For example there are spots where you always get a 150 rupee treasure. The problem is, that in each savegame there's one 50 rupee treasure (like the Demon Fossils) and one 150 rupee treasure (like the Dark Pearl Loops), which just appear very rarely. That keeps you from completing the train sets easily, because you can spent hours and hours farming treasures until you finally got enough pieces. It's a well known problem with the game and I'm referring to this.