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'Zelda' - total immersion

January 30, 2007|by SEAN CLARK

Review

Every once in a while, a game comes along that changes everything. It's so good, so fulfilling, that you want more when it's over. Even when you have schoolwork and other things to do, you still wish the game could've gone on just a bit longer.

"The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" by Nintendo EAD for the Nintendo Wii does just that.

If you haven't played a "Zelda" game before, you're in for a treat. Each new version of "Zelda" - this is about the 12th; I lost count - is meant to be a retelling of the same story. It usually involves a village boy named Link setting out on a mission to rescue a captured princess, named Zelda (hence the name of the game). But as each game progresses, another perspective is revealed, something that makes each game unique.

This time around, you play Link as he tries to rescue Princess Zelda and defeat the evil Ganondorf. It's an adventure with swords and dungeons, monsters and heroes, and lots of puzzles to solve - a "Zelda" staple. The motion-sensing Wii controller brings a new depth to the series. You swing the controller and Link swings his sword. You point the controller at the screen and Link shoots an arrow.

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The game's story is fantastic. Evil king Zant of the Twilight realm has invaded the world of light and enshrouded the world in an eerie darkness. The twilight turns Link into a wolf, and you must find a way to bring the light back to these places so the people can resume their normal lives.

The only major flaw with the game shows up when you are turned into the wolf. It's fun, but the sessions tend to be a bit long. Later, however, you gain the power to transform at will, which brings a whole new aspect to the puzzles in the game's dungeons.

Speaking of the dungeons, there's more than ever now - a total of nine plus an extra one you can go through to test your skills. There's also a secret reward at the end.

The game is pretty easy at first, with you just running around on errands. This lets you get a feel for the new controller and learn your way around. As the game goes on, the puzzles in the game get tougher and tougher, sometimes leaving you stuck for minutes as you yell at the game screen.

For example, in one of the later dungeons, I stumbled upon four switches and a gate. To get past the gate, I concluded I needed to hold four switches down at the same time. No problem? Yeah, right! The switches were up high on a ledge with three statues. I used the statues, but needed a fourth object. Finally, after some frustration, I used a boomerang I had collected earlier to carry a big pot to the high ledge, and then to hold down the switch. It's these kinds of puzzles that make "Zelda" so fun.

The storyline gets a 10. The plot is full of twists and turns, and you'll find yourself deeply satisfied with the ending.

I'll give game play a 9. Fighting is a lot of fun, but for more experienced players, it can be a bit easy. It does feel really good to have a one-on-one with the game's Darknuts, huge armor-clad fighters that take time and thinking to beat.

Controls for "Zelda" get a 10. Swinging your sword with the Wii remote feels natural, as does firing arrows and using other items. It's a totally immersive experience, especially fishing. You cast your line out and reel it in as if you could feel the fish tugging on the other end.

Sounds and music get a 9. The music is a mixture of melodies old and new, and it all sounds great. Sounds coming out of the Wii remote, such as the thwock of your sword, get you even more into the game.

Overall, I give "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" for the Wii a 9.5. This game is great, and I can't wait to play it again. There's just so many things I missed - five life-giving pieces of heart, more than 30 of 60 ghost beings; one of the four item-holding bottles; the list just goes on and on - and I've spent almost 50 hours on the game already!

This is a must-have for any Wii owner.

"The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" for the Nintendo Wii is rated T for Teen (ages 13 and older). If you don't own a Wii, check out the GameCube version of "Zelda."

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