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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

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The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The text
North American Wii box art

Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Group No. 3
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Eiji Aonuma
Producer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Aya Kyogoku
  • Takayuki Ikkaku
  • Mitsuhiro Takano[1]
  • Eiji Aonuma[2]
Series The Legend of Zelda
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Japanese: ゼルダの伝説 トワイライトプリンセス Hepburn: Zeruda no Densetsu: Towairaito Purinsesu) is an action-adventure game developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development and published by Nintendo for the GameCube and Wii home video game consoles. It is the thirteenth installment in the The Legend of Zelda series. Originally planned for release on the GameCube in November 2005, Twilight Princess was delayed by Nintendo to allow its developers to refine the game, add more content, and port it to the Wii.[3] The Wii version was released alongside the console in November 2006 in North America, and in December 2006 in Japan, Europe, and Australia. This made Twilight Princess the first Zelda game released at the launch of a Nintendo console. The GameCube version was released in December 2006, and was the last Nintendo-published game for the console, as well as the final official GameCube game released in Asia.[4][1]

The story focuses on series protagonist Link, who tries to prevent Hyrule from being engulfed by a corrupted parallel dimension known as the Twilight Realm. To do so, he takes the forms of both a Hylian and a wolf, and is assisted by a mysterious creature named Midna. The game takes place approximately 100 years after Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, in an alternate timeline from The Wind Waker.[5]

At the time of its release, Twilight Princess was considered the greatest entry in the Zelda series by many critics, including writers for,[6] Computer and Video Games,[7] Electronic Gaming Monthly,[8] Game Informer,[9] GamesRadar,[10] IGN,[11] and The Washington Post.[12] It received several Game of the Year awards, and was the most critically acclaimed game of 2006. In 2011, the Wii version was rereleased under the Nintendo Selects label.


  • Gameplay 1
  • Plot 2
  • Development 3
    • Creation 3.1
    • Wii transition 3.2
    • Music 3.3
    • Technical issues 3.4
  • Reception 4
    • Reviews 4.1
    • Awards 4.2
    • Sales 4.3
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


A boy in a green tunic holds a shield while swinging his sword towards an enemy.
An arrow points at an enemy whom Link is targeting as he prepares to swing his sword (GameCube version).

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is an action-adventure game focused on combat, exploration, and item collection. It uses the basic control scheme introduced in Ocarina of Time, including context-sensitive action buttons and L-targeting (Z-targeting on the Wii),[13] a system that allows the player to keep Link's view focused on an enemy or important object while moving and attacking. Link can walk, run, and attack, and will automatically jump when running off of or reaching for a ledge.[2] Link uses a sword and shield in combat, complemented with secondary weapons and items, including a bow and arrows, a boomerang, bombs, and the Clawshot (similar to the Hookshot introduced earlier in the The Legend of Zelda series).[3] While L-targeting, projectile-based weapons can be fired at a target without the need for manual aiming.[2]

The context-sensitive button mechanic allows one button to serve a variety of functions, such as talking, opening doors, and pushing, pulling, and throwing objects.[4] The on-screen display shows what action, if any, the button will trigger, determined by the situation. For example, if Link is holding a rock, the context-sensitive button will cause Link to throw the rock if he is moving or targeting an object or enemy, or place the rock on the ground if he is standing still.[5]

The GameCube and Wii versions feature several minor differences in their controls. The Wii version of the game makes use of the motion sensors and built-in speaker of the Wii Remote. The speaker emits the sounds of a bowstring when shooting an arrow, Midna's laugh when she gives advice to Link, and the series' trademark "chime" when discovering secrets. The player controls Link's sword by swinging the Wii Remote. Other attacks are triggered using similar gestures with the Nunchuk. Unique to the GameCube version is the ability for the player to control the camera freely, without entering a special "lookaround" mode required by the Wii; however, in the GameCube version, only two of Link's secondary weapons can be equipped at a time, as opposed to four in the Wii version.[6]

The game features nine dungeons—large, contained areas where Link battles enemies, collects items, and solves puzzles. Link navigates these dungeons and fights a boss at the end in order to obtain an item or otherwise advance the plot. The dungeons are connected by a large overworld, across which Link can travel on foot; on his horse, Epona; or by teleporting.

When Link enters the Twilight Realm, the void that corrupts parts of Hyrule, he transforms into a wolf.[7] He is eventually able to transform between his Hylian and wolf forms at will. As a wolf, Link loses the ability to use his sword, shield, or any secondary items; he instead attacks by biting, and defends primarily by dodging attacks. However, "Wolf Link" gains several key advantages in return—he moves faster than he does as a human (though riding Epona is still faster) and digs holes to create new passages and uncover buried items, and has improved senses, including the ability to follow scent trails.[8] He also carries Midna, a small imp-like creature who gives him hints, uses an energy field to attack enemies, helps him jump long distances, and eventually allows Link to "warp" to any of several preset locations throughout the overworld.[9] Using Link's wolf senses, the player can see and listen to the wandering spirits of those affected by the Twilight, as well as hunt for enemy ghosts named Poes.[10]

The artificial intelligence (AI) of enemies in Twilight Princess is more advanced than that of enemies in The Wind Waker. Enemies react to defeated companions and to arrows or slingshot pellets that pass by, and can detect Link from a greater distance than was possible in previous games.[14]

There is very little voice acting in the game, as is the case in most Zelda titles to date. Link remains silent in conversation, but grunts when attacking or injured and gasps when surprised. His emotions and responses are largely indicated visually by nods and facial expressions.[15] Other characters have similar language-independent verbalizations, including laughter, surprised or fearful exclamations, and screams. The character of Midna has the most voice acting—her on-screen dialog is often accompanied by a babble of pseudo-speech, which was produced by scrambling the phonemes of English phrases[16] sampled by Japanese voice actress Akiko Kōmoto.[17]


Twilight Princess takes place one century after Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, and begins with a youth named Link who is working as a ranch hand in Ordon Village. One day, the village is attacked by Bulblins, who carry off the village's children with Link in pursuit before he encounters a wall of Twilight. A Shadow Beast pulls him beyond the wall into the Realm of Twilight, where he is transformed into a wolf and imprisoned. Link is soon freed by an imp-like Twilight being named Midna, who dislikes Link but agrees to help him if he obeys her unconditionally. She guides him to Princess Zelda.[18] Zelda explains that Zant, the King of the Twilight, has stolen the light from three of the four Light Spirits and conquered Hyrule. In order to save Hyrule, Link must first restore the Light Spirits by entering the Twilight-covered areas and, as a wolf, recover the Spirits' lost light. He must do this by collecting the multiple "Tears of Light"; once all the Tears of Light are collected for one area, he restores that area's Light Spirit. As he restores them, the Light Spirits return Link to his Hylian form.

During this time, Link also helps Midna find the Fused Shadows, fragments of a relic containing powerful dark magic. In return, she helps Link find Ordon Village's children while helping the monkeys of Faron, the Gorons of Eldin, and the Zoras of Lanayru. Once Link has restored the Light Spirits and Midna has all the Fused Shadows, they are ambushed by Zant. After he relieves Midna of the Fused Shadow fragments, she ridicules him for abusing his tribe's magic, but Zant reveals that his power comes from another source as he uses it to turn Link back into a wolf, and then leaves Midna in Hyrule to die from the world's light. Bringing a dying Midna to Zelda, Link learns he needs the Master Sword to return to human form. Zelda sacrifices herself to heal Midna with her power before vanishing mysteriously.[19] Midna is moved by Zelda's sacrifice, and begins to care more about Link and the fate of the light world.

After gaining the Master Sword, Link is cleansed of the magic that kept him in wolf form, obtaining the Shadow Crystal. Now able to use it to switch between both forms at will, Link is led by Midna to the Mirror of Twilight located deep within the Gerudo Desert, the only known gateway between the Twilight Realm and Hyrule.[20] However, they discover that the mirror is broken. The Hyrule Castle, with a lifeless Zelda suspended above his head. Ganondorf fights Link by possessing Zelda's body and eventually by transforming into a beast, but Link defeats him and Midna is able to resurrect Zelda.

Ganondorf then revives, and Midna teleports Link and Zelda outside the castle so she can hold him off with the Fused Shadows. However, as Hyrule Castle collapses, it is revealed that Ganondorf was victorious as he crushes Midna's helmet. Ganondorf engages Link on horseback, and, assisted by Zelda and the Light Spirits, Link eventually knocks Ganondorf off his horse and they duel on foot before Link strikes down Ganondorf and plunges the Master Sword into his chest. With Ganondorf dead, the Light Spirits not only bring Midna back to life, but restore her to her true form. After bidding farewell to Link and Zelda, Midna returns home before destroying the Mirror of Twilight with a tear to maintain balance between Hyrule and the Twilight Realm.[23] Near the end, as Hyrule Castle is rebuilt, Link is shown leaving Ordon Village heading to parts unknown.



Eiji Aonuma, the director of Twilight Princess, at the 2007 Game Developers Conference

In 2003, Nintendo announced that a new The Legend of Zelda game was in the works for the GameCube[24] by the same team that had created the cel-shaded The Wind Waker.[25] At the following year's Game Developers Conference, director Eiji Aonuma unintentionally revealed that the game's sequel was in development under the working title The Wind Waker 2;[26] it was set to use a similar graphical style to that of its predecessor.[27] Nintendo of America told Aonuma that North American sales of The Wind Waker were sluggish because its cartoon appearance created the impression that the game was designed for a young audience. Concerned that the sequel would have the same problem, Aonuma expressed to producer Shigeru Miyamoto that he wanted to create a realistic Zelda game that would appeal to the North American market. Miyamoto, hesitant about solely changing the game's presentation, suggested the team's focus should instead be on coming up with gameplay innovations. He advised that Aonuma should start by doing what could not be done in Ocarina of Time, particularly horseback combat.[11]

In four months, Aonuma's team managed to present realistic horseback riding,[11] which Nintendo later revealed to the public with a trailer at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2004. The game was scheduled to be released the next year, and was no longer a follow-up to The Wind Waker;[28] a true sequel to it was released for the Nintendo DS in 2007, in the form of Phantom Hourglass. Miyamoto explained in interviews that the graphical style was chosen to satisfy demand, and that it better fit the theme of an older incarnation of Link.[29] The game runs on a modified The Wind Waker engine.[30]

Prior Zelda games have employed a theme of two separate, yet connected, worlds. In A Link to the Past, Link travels between a "Light World" and a "Dark World"; in Ocarina of Time, as well as in Oracle of Ages, Link travels between two different time periods. The Zelda team sought to reuse this motif in the series' latest installment. It was suggested that Link transform into a wolf, much like he metamorphoses into a rabbit in the Dark World of A Link to the Past.[12] The story of the game was created by Aonuma, and later underwent several changes by scenario writers Mitsuhiro Takano and Aya Kyogoku.[1][2] Takano created the script for the story scenes,[1] while Kyogoku and Takayuki Ikkaku handled the actual in-game script.[31] Aonuma left his team working on the new idea while he directed The Minish Cap for the Game Boy Advance. When he returned, he found the Twilight Princess team struggling. Emphasis on the parallel worlds and the wolf transformation had made Link's character unbelievable. Aonuma also felt the gameplay lacked the caliber of innovation found in Phantom Hourglass, which was being developed with touch controls for the Nintendo DS. At the same time, the Wii was under development with the code name "Revolution". Miyamoto thought that the Revolution's pointing device, the Wii Remote, was well suited for aiming arrows in Zelda, and suggested that Aonuma consider using it.[13]

Wii transition

Aonuma had anticipated creating a Zelda game for what would later be called the Wii, but had assumed that he would need to complete Twilight Princess first. His team began work developing a pointing-based interface for the bow and arrow, and Aonuma found that aiming directly at the screen gave the game a new feel, just like the DS control scheme for Phantom Hourglass. Aonuma felt confident this was the only way to proceed, but worried about consumers who had been anticipating a GameCube release. Developing two versions would mean delaying the previously announced 2005 release, still disappointing the consumer. Satoru Iwata felt that having both versions would satisfy users in the end, even though they would have to wait for the finished product. Aonuma then started working on both versions in parallel.[14]

Transferring GameCube development to the Wii was relatively simple, since the Wii was being created to be compatible with the GameCube.[14] At E3 2005, Nintendo released a small number of Nintendo DS game cards containing a preview trailer for Twilight Princess.[32] They also announced that Zelda would appear on the Wii (then codenamed "Revolution"),[33] but it was not clear to the media if this meant Twilight Princess or a different game.[34]

The team worked on a Wii control scheme, adapting camera control and the fighting mechanics to the new interface. A prototype was created that used a swinging gesture to control the sword from a first-person viewpoint, but was unable to show the variety of Link's movements. When the third-person view was restored, Aonuma thought it felt strange to swing the Wii Remote with the right hand to control the sword in Link's left hand, so the entire Wii version map was mirrored.[15] Details about Wii controls began to surface in December 2005 when British publication NGC Magazine claimed that when a GameCube copy of Twilight Princess was played on the Revolution, it would give the player the option of using the Revolution controller.[35] Miyamoto confirmed the Revolution controller-functionality in an interview with Nintendo of Europe[36] and Time reported this soon after.[37][38] However, support for the Wii controller did not make it into the GameCube release. At E3 2006, Nintendo announced that both versions would be available at the Wii launch,[39] and had a playable version of Twilight Princess for the Wii.[15] Later, the GameCube release was pushed back to a month after the launch of the Wii.[40]

Nintendo staff members reported that demo users complained about the difficulty of the control scheme. Aonuma realized that his team had implemented Wii controls under the mindset of "forcing" users to adapt, instead of making the system intuitive and easy to use. He began rethinking the controls with Miyamoto to focus on comfort and ease.[16] The camera movement was reworked and item controls were changed to avoid accidental button presses.[17] In addition, the new item system required use of the button that had previously been used for the sword. To solve this, sword controls were transferred back to gestures—something E3 attendees had commented they would like to see. This reintroduced the problem of using a right-handed swing to control a left-handed sword attack. The team did not have enough time before release to rework Link's character model, so they instead flipped the entire game—everything was made a mirror image.[18] Link was now right-handed, and references to "east" and "west" were switched around. The GameCube version, however, was left with the original orientation. The Twilight Princess player's guide focuses on the Wii version, but has a section in the back with mirror-image maps for GameCube users.[19]


The game's score was composed by Toru Minegishi and Asuka Ohta, with series regular Koji Kondo serving as the sound supervisor.[41] Minegishi took charge of composition and sound design in Twilight Princess, providing all field and dungeon music under the supervision of Kondo.[42] For the trailers, three pieces were written by different composers,[43] two of which were created by Mahito Yokota and Kondo.[44] Michiru Ōshima created orchestral arrangements for the three compositions, later to be performed by an ensemble conducted by Yasuzo Takemoto.[43] Kondo's piece was later chosen as music for the E3 2005 trailer and for the demo movie after the game's title screen.[44]

Media requests at the trade show prompted Kondo to consider using orchestral music for the other tracks in the game as well, a notion reinforced by his preference for live instruments.[43] He originally envisioned a full 50-person orchestra for action sequences and a string quartet for more "lyrical moments",[43] though the final product used sequenced music instead.[11] Kondo later cited the lack of interactivity that comes with orchestral music as one of the main reasons for the decision.[44] Both six- and seven-track versions of the game's soundtrack were released on November 19, 2006, as part of a Nintendo Power promotion and bundled with replicas of the Master Sword and the Hylian Shield.[45]

Technical issues

Following the discovery of a buffer overflow vulnerability in the Wii version of Twilight Princess, an exploit known as the "Twilight Hack" was developed, allowing the execution of custom code from a Secure Digital (SD) card on the console. A properly designed save file would cause the game to load unsigned code, which could include Executable and Linkable Format (ELF) programs and homebrew Wii applications.[46] Versions 3.3 and 3.4 of the Wii Menu prevented copying exploited save files onto the console until circumvention methods were discovered,[47][48] and version 4.0 of the Wii Menu patched the vulnerability.[49]



Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (Wii) 94.58%[50]
(GCN) 95.00%[51]
Metacritic (Wii) 95/100[52]
(GCN) 96/100[53]
Review scores
Publication Score (Wii) A+[6]
AllGame (GCN) 4.5/5 stars[54]
CVG 10/10[7]
Edge 9/10[55]
EGM (Wii) 30/30[8]
Famitsu (Wii) 38/40[56]
Game Informer 10/10[9]
GamePro 5/5 stars[57]
GameSpot (Wii) 8.8/10[58]
(GCN) 8.9/10[59]
GameSpy 5/5 stars[60]
GamesRadar 10/10[10]
IGN (Wii) 9.5/10[11]
(GCN) 9.5/10[61]
Nintendo Power (Wii) 9.5/10[62]
(GCN) 9.5/10[63]
Nintendo World Report 10/10[64]
X-Play (Wii) 5/5 stars[65]

Twilight Princess was released to universal critical acclaim and commercial success. It received perfect scores from major publications such as,[6] Computer and Video Games,[7] Electronic Gaming Monthly,[8] Game Informer,[9] GamesRadar,[10] and GameSpy.[60] On the review aggregators GameRankings and Metacritic, Twilight Princess has average scores of 94.58% and 95 for the Wii version[50][52] and scores of 95.00% and 96 for the GameCube version.[51][53] GameTrailers in their review called it one of the greatest games ever created.[66]

On release, Twilight Princess was considered to be the greatest Zelda game ever made by many critics including writers for,[6] Computer and Video Games,[7] Electronic Gaming Monthly,[8] Game Informer,[9] GamesRadar,[10] IGN[11] and The Washington Post.[12] Game Informer called it "so creative that it rivals the best that Hollywood has to offer".[9] GamesRadar praised Twilight Princess as "a game that deserves nothing but the absolute highest recommendation".[10] Cubed3 hailed Twilight Princess as "the single greatest videogame experience".[67] Twilight Princess‍ '​s graphics were praised for the art style and animation, although the game was designed for the GameCube, which is technically lacking compared to the next generation consoles. Both IGN and GameSpy pointed out the existence of blurry textures and low-resolution characters.[11][60] Despite these complaints, Computer and Video Games felt the game's atmosphere was superior to that of any previous Zelda game, and regarded Twilight Princess‍ '​s Hyrule as the best version ever created.[7] PALGN praised the game's cinematics, noting that "the cutscenes are the best ever in Zelda games".[68] Regarding the Wii version, GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann said the Wii controls felt "tacked-on",[58] although said the remote-swinging sword attacks were "the most impressive in the entire series".[6] Gaming Nexus considered Twilight Princess‍ '​s soundtrack to be the best of this generation,[69] though IGN criticized its MIDI-formatted songs for lacking "the punch and crispness" of their orchestrated counterparts.[11] Hyper‍ '​s Javier Glickman commended the game for its "very long quests, superb Wii controls and being able to save anytime". However, he criticised it for "no voice acting, no orchestral score and slightly outdated graphics".[70]


Twilight Princess received the awards for Best Artistic Design,[71] Best Original Score,[72] and Best Use of Sound[73] from IGN for its Nintendo GameCube version. Both IGN and Nintendo Power gave Twilight Princess the awards for Best Graphics[74][75][76] and Best Story.[76][77][78] Twilight Princess received Game of the Year awards from GameTrailers,[79],[80] Electronic Gaming Monthly,[81] Game Informer,[82] Games Radar,[83] GameSpy,[84] Spacey Awards,[85] X-Play[86] and Nintendo Power.[76] It was also given awards for Best Adventure Game from the Game Critics Awards,[87] X-Play,[86] IGN,[88][89] GameTrailers,[90],[80] and Nintendo Power.[76] The game was considered the Best Console Game by the Game Critics Awards[87] and GameSpy.[84] The game placed 16th in Official Nintendo Magazine‍ '​s list of the 100 Greatest Nintendo Games of All Time.[91] IGN ranked the game as the 4th-best Wii game.[92] Nintendo Power ranked the game as the third-best game to be released on a Nintendo system in the 2000 decade.[93]


In the PAL region, which covers most of Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, Twilight Princess is the best-selling entry in the Zelda series. During its first week, the game was sold with three of every four Wii purchases.[94] The game had sold 5.82 million copies on the Wii as of March 31, 2011,[95] and 1.32 million on the GameCube as of March 31, 2007.[96]

See also


  1. ^ Aonuma 2007, Eiji Aonuma's GDC 2007 Presentation
  2. ^ a b Pelland 2006, p. 20
  3. ^ Pelland 2006, pp. 22–23
  4. ^ Pelland 2006, p. 22
  5. ^ Pelland 2006, p. 12
  6. ^ Pelland 2006, p. 168
  7. ^ Pelland 2006, p. 35
  8. ^ Pelland 2006, pp. 17–20
  9. ^ Pelland 2006, p. 21
  10. ^ Pelland 2006, p. 153
  11. ^ a b Aonuma 2007, The fate of Wind Waker 2
  12. ^ Aonuma 2007, A lupine direction and Minish Cap
  13. ^ Aonuma 2007, E3 2005 and 120% Zelda
  14. ^ a b Aonuma 2007, A Revolutionary idea
  15. ^ a b Aonuma 2007, The first attempt at Wii control
  16. ^ Aonuma 2007, E3 2006 lesson
  17. ^ Aonuma 2007, Camera and item controls
  18. ^ Aonuma 2007, Sword controls
  19. ^ Pelland 2006, pp. 170–191


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External links

  • Official European website (Requires Adobe Flash Player)
  • Official Japanese website
  • Official North American website
  • at Nintendo.comThe Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess at the Internet Movie Database
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