Ball and Chain

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, by Eiji Aonuma and Satoru Takizawa, Nintendo EAD, 2006.

I told myself I would write about Zelda as if a few words could redeem all the nights I spent playing. It was too much: too many story scenes, too much back-and-forth over too large a world, too many things to collect for too little reward, not-so-mini-games crowding all the time for your attention.

I do miss how tightly the 2-D entries were organized; we’ve gone from close 2-D mazes to sprawling 3-D wilderness. The 2-D “rooms” can be taken in instantly, but here you’re constantly going into first person mode and looking around; mere acclimation takes a lot of time. (“Be sure to check the ceiling in each room to make sure you’re not missing anything!”) And yet so many of the best parts, like the horseback chases, or the puzzle where you have to hang down from the floor above to reach a switch on the ceiling, wouldn’t have been the same in 2-D.

What some players see as tradition I call late-period Mega Man-style malaise: Boomerang? Check. Hookshot? Check. Bow and arrow? Check.

Each of the dungeons is a major commitment, but the payoff is huge. There are so many “a-ha” moments within that I can almost forgive the outside world. The mines and then the lakebed and then the tombs are fine and good, but that home stretch — ice-mansion to stone-tower to sky-fortress to twilight-palace — is unbelievable: the four best Zelda dungeons ever, back to back?