tedious intro, which made me start to worry. But the game recovers well, despite its

Zelda Twilight Princess

Legend of Zelda, The: Twilight Princess (2006)

Who’d be a professional game reviewer? It seems like it’d be jolly good fun, fun enough for me to do in my spare time. The problem, as always, is the legions of online complainers who think they know better. Case in point, the remakes of Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald being given a 7.8 by IGN, with a snappy negative bullet point of “too much water”. Maybe that’s correct, but I thought the remakes were excellent. Presumably the nine billion Pokémon fans worldwide though so too, because they’ve been ripping into IGN for that one ever since.

But it was the infamous 8.8 review given to the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess by GameSpot, famous at the time, that really got ugly. The score was probably right in retrospect, but you should have seen the online disgust they received back then, even in 2006. Imagine it now? There’d be heads on sticks. I admired GameSpot for calling it as they see it, without falling into the trap of being deliberately contrary (I could learn from them) which is a hundred times worse than blindly giving it top marks.

I also admired them for the 7.5 score they awarded to Skyward Sword five years later – still too high, but definitely and palpably out of step with all of the other organs who were too afraid to step out of line. GameSpot knew that emperor was naked. After all, Famitsu gave Skyward Sword one of its then famous 40/40 scores, but then they also gave 40/40 to Kid Icarus Uprising, so what can that really be worth?

I will say this, the intro to Twilight Princess is toilet. This is the first few hours I’m talking about here, which isn’t a short period of time by any means. I almost thought I’d softlocked the game, or that there was something wrong with the disc. You’ll notice that the last person I’ll blame in situations like this is myself. I was happier to pin it on my brand-spanking new Wii.

I got through the opening sequence eventually anyway, with the type of hardheadedness that teenage boys are known for (oo er). But really, it’s almost worth copying your file into a new slot the moment you finally get the famous Green Tunic and then continuing any of your replays from there. Fishing in a village to keep a cat happy? Throwing birds at monkeys? Herding moody sheep into a barn? Hey, some of it might sound exciting to you, but it sure doesn’t play like it.

I can hardly ever recommend The Godfather to people who haven’t seen it. Why? You know why – it’s three hours long, and nobody thinks it’s any good the first time they watch it. Hence you have to watch it again, so that’s a minimum of six hours invested. Attention spans are the length of gnats’ pubes these days, and there are social conventions at play here – we all have access to as many YouTube videos as we want.

If I pull out my phone to show people a video, I need to be absolutely sure that it’s not gonna go down like a lead balloon. Therefore, one needs quite a bit of bravery and confidence if it’s gonna be a video over 30 seconds. You will have had to endure your parents showing you a Facebook video of absolute bottom-of-the-barrel, Rory’s Stories type humour with a high-pitched helium voice and human mouth superimposed onto a cat or something ridiculous like that. Sounds like anyone’s idea of hell, but it gets worse because this video goes on for 2:17, and you’ll have to stay rooted to the spot and feel forced to smile at roughly appropriate moments until it’s finally over.

Well, Twilight Princess’s intro does that to you for a number of hours. This can sometimes be a good thing though, having a rubbish intro. By setting the tone that way, the creator may very well go on to save you hours upon hours of your life you can free up for Netflix shows that you won’t watch anyway.

You take my compatriot James Joyce, always a popular choice for those who want to pretend they’re well-read. In between his frightful flights of flatulent fancy, Joyce wrote two piles of nonsense in particular: Ulysses, which goes on until Christmas but you could at least read it with several guides and almostget what’s going on; and then the big daddy, Finnegans Wake.

You may have picked up this tome before, and found your brain melting as soon as you’ve seen the very first word. This book breaks any and all conventions you knew about books by starting in the middle of a sentence, a sentence that started or will start from the very last page. You’ll read through the first few paragraphs not understanding any of it, but that’s OK because you’d expected that and nobody else understands it either so you’re not alone.

But press on just a bit further and right there at the end of the dreaded first page is the first literary landmine, where Joyce presents you with a new word you might not have seen in your English class before – reproduced faithfully, it’s ‘bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk’, to describe a clap of thunder. You have just burst into tears, but don’t be sad – be grateful. Old James has just told you, right there on the first page, that you’re only going to be wasting your time here. He’ll go on without you, so you can get back to something a lot easier to figure out, like feline psychology.

So that’s the question – can Twilight Princess recover from its bad start? Of course it can, it’s a lengthy Zelda adventure with plenty of ambition and scope. They sometimes call it Ocarina of Time 1.5, as if that’s meant to be a bad thing. Maybe we’ve seen it all before, but I’ve watched the Olympic games once every four years, that doesn’t mean I’m sick of the boxing, the sprinting or the womens’ volleyball, now does it?

The game’s great, a really lengthy adventure, and alongside Wii Sports it really kicked the Wii off beautifully – although see can you get a GameCube version, one of the console’s last releases. GameSpot also rated it a smidgen higher, at 8.9. See? That’s almost a nine, isn’t it? I’d call that a point for every major dungeon, and if you’re looking for traditional Zelda dungeons after sinking your teeth into the Breath of the Wild Shrines for example, then you’ll get loads of meat here.

And if the GameCube version is a bit pricey for you, then grab the HD Wii U version, if you were one of the unlucky thirteen (million) who bought the console. It would be remiss of me not to also mention that Wii gamers were able to use Twilight Princess to easily hack homebrew onto their console without additional hardware, and I’m not saying whether I did or didn’t do that. Actually, it was astonishing how easy it was, not having to submerge oneself in murky programs and programming languages. I think I’d stand a better chance understanding Finnegans Wake.

17 September 2021

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