The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The text "Wii" is in the top-right corner. The game's title is in the center-top. A line runs diagonally through the image; in one section, a man's face is shown. In the other, there is the head of a wolf.
North American box art
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Eiji Aonuma
Producer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Artist(s) Yusuke Nakano
Satoru Takizawa
Writer(s) Mitsuhiro Takano[1]
Aya Kyogoku
Takayuki Ikkaku
Eiji Aonuma[2]
Composer(s) Toru Minegishi
Asuka Ota
Koji Kondo
Series The Legend of Zelda
Platform(s) Wii, Nintendo GameCube
Release date(s) Wii
NA 20061119November 19, 2006
JP 20061202December 2, 2006
AU 20061207December 7, 2006
EU 20061208December 8, 2006
Nintendo GameCube
JP 20061202December 2, 2006
NA 20061211December 11, 2006
EU 20061215December 15, 2006
AU 20061219December 19, 2006
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (ゼルダの伝説 トワイライトプリンセス Zeruda no Densetsu Towairaito Purinsesu?) is an action-adventure game developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development, and published by Nintendo for the GameCube and Wii video game consoles. It is the thirteenth installment in The Legend of Zelda series. Originally planned for release in November 2005, Twilight Princess was delayed by Nintendo to allow its developers to refine the game and add more content and to port it to the Wii.[3] The Wii version was released alongside the Wii console on November 19, 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 Japan.[4][5]

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 human 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.[6]

Twilight Princess is the first (and so far only) game in The Legend of Zelda series to receive a T (Teen) rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which cited fantasy violence and animated blood as reasons for the more mature rating.[7] Twilight Princess received several Game of the Year awards and was the most critically acclaimed game of 2006. The Wii version was re-released as part of the Nintendo Selects range.



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).

Twilight Princess is an action-adventure game focusing on exploration and item collection. It uses the basic control scheme introduced in Ocarina of Time, including buttons whose functions change depending on game context, and L-targeting (Z-targeting on the Wii),[8] a system which allows the player to keep Link's view focused on an enemy or important object. Link can walk, run, and attack, and will automatically jump when running off of or reaching for a ledge.[9] Link uses a sword and shield in combat complemented with secondary weapons and items, including a bow and arrow, boomerang, bombs, and the Clawshot (similar to the Hookshot introduced earlier in the Legend of Zelda series).[10] L-targeting allows Link to lock on to an enemy and automatically defend himself. During L-Targeting, projectile-based weapons can be fired at a target without the need for manual aiming.[9]

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.[11] The on-screen display shows what action, if any, the context-sensitive 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.[12]

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.[13]

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 to one of several specified points.

When Link enters the Twilight Realm, the void which corrupts parts of Hyrule, he transforms into a wolf.[14] He is eventually able to transform between his human and wolf forms at will. As a wolf, Link moves more quickly, attacks by biting, and digs holes to create new passages and uncover buried items.[15] He also carries Midna, a small imp-like creature who gives hints, uses an energy field to attack enemies, helps Link jump long distances, and eventually allows Link to "warp" to any of several preset locations throughout the overworld.[16] As a wolf, Link has improved senses and can follow scent trails.[16] Using Link's wolf senses, players can see wandering spirits and hunt for ghosts named Poes.[17]

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. The AI can also detect Link from a longer distance than in previous games.[18] There is very little voice acting in the game. 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.[19]


A female imp rides a wolf while running away from a monster.
A Shadow Beast pursues Wolf Link and Midna in the Twilight Realm.

The story begins with Link as a young adult working as a ranch hand in Ordon Village. One day, the village is attacked by monsters, who carry off the village’s children. Link pursues the attackers, but 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 later freed by an imp-like twilight creature named Midna, who guides him to Princess Zelda. Zelda explains that Zant, the King of the Twilight, has stolen the light from the three 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 Light Spirits. He must do this by collecting the multiple 'tears of light', and 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 human 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 the village's children. After Link restores the Light Spirits and Midna has all the Fused Shadows, Zant attacks them; he takes the Fused Shadows, turns Link back into a wolf using his magic, and critically injures Midna. Link then brings a dying Midna to Zelda. Zelda tells Link that he needs the Master Sword to be restored to human form, then heals Midna before vanishing mysteriously. After Link is returned to human form, now able to switch between forms at will, Midna leads him to the Mirror of Twilight, the only known gateway between the Twilight Realm and Hyrule. However, they discover that Zant has broken it. The sages there explain that Zant tried to destroy it, but he was only able to shatter it into fragments; only the true ruler of the Twilight can completely destroy the Mirror of Twilight. They also tell them that a century ago, they used it to send the leader of a band of thieves named Ganondorf, to the Twilight Realm.

Link and Midna set out to retrieve the missing shards of the Mirror. They use the repaired mirror to open a portal to the Twilight Realm. Before they enter, Midna and the sages tell Link that Midna is the true ruler of the Twilight; Zant changed her into an imp after he usurped her power. In the Twilight Realm, Zant informs Link and Midna that his god, Ganondorf, granted him great power to do whatever pleases him, on the condition that he use it to conquer Hyrule. After Link defeats Zant, Midna recovers the Fused Shadows and then destroys Zant after he reveals that only Ganondorf's death can undo Midna's curse. Returning to Hyrule, Link and Midna find Ganondorf in Hyrule Castle, with Zelda suspended above his head. After Link defeats Ganondorf, who possesses Zelda's body and then assumes his Ganon incarnation, Midna manages to revive Zelda as she and Link help her to her feet.

Ganondorf then revives, and Midna teleports Link and Zelda outside the castle so she can hold him off with the Fused Shadows. Link and Zelda watch as the castle is wrecked before Ganondorf appears before them on a horse with Midna’s helmet (one of the four Fused Shadows) in his grasp before breaking it. Link and Zelda mount Link's horse, Epona, and continue the battle after receiving Light Arrows. Eventually, Ganondorf is knocked off his horse, and he battles Link on foot. Finally, Link strikes down Ganondorf and plunges his sword into Ganondorf’s chest, defeating him. The Light Spirits are then seen reviving Midna, who is restored to her true form after Ganondorf’s death. After a tearful goodbye, Midna uses the Mirror of Twilight to return home while destroying the Mirror, severing the only known link between Hyrule and the Twilight Realm. Near the end, as Hyrule Castle is rebuilt, Link is shown riding away from his hometown of Ordon on his horse.


Aonuma, the director of Twilight Princess, is seen here at the 2007 Game Developers Conference.


In 2003, Nintendo announced that a new Zelda game was underway for the GameCube,[20] developed by the same team that created the cel-shaded The Wind Waker.[21] A presentation by director Eiji Aonuma contained a reference to the working title The Wind Waker 2,[22] and it was said to use a similar graphical style.[23] Nintendo of America told Aonuma that North American sales of The Wind Waker were sluggish because the 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 fellow designer Shigeru Miyamoto that he wanted to create a realistic Zelda game that would appeal to the North American market. In turn, Miyamoto was concerned about merely changing the presentation instead of coming up with new gameplay ideas. He told Aonuma that he should start by doing what could not be done in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, particularly horseback combat.[24]

In four months, Aonuma's team managed to present realistic-looking horseback riding,[24] which Nintendo later revealed to the public with a trailer at E3 2004. The game was scheduled to be released in 2005 and was no longer a sequel to The Wind Waker.[25] Miyamoto explained in interviews that the graphical style was chosen to satisfy demand, and that it better fit the theme of an older Link.[26] The game runs on a modified Wind Waker engine.[27]

Past Zelda games have used 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 and Oracle of Ages, Link travels between two different time periods. The Zelda team sought to use this same concept. It was suggested that Link turn into a wolf, much like he turned into a rabbit in the Dark World of A Link to the Past.[28] The story of the game was created by Eiji 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.[29] Aonuma left his team to continue work on the new idea while he directed The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap for the Game Boy Advance. When he returned, he found his team struggling. Emphasis on the two worlds and the wolf transformation had made the Link character unbelievable. Aonuma also felt that the gameplay lacked the innovation of Phantom Hourglass, which was being developed with a touch-controlled interface 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 interface was well suited for arrow-aiming in Zelda, and suggested that Aonuma consider using it.[30]

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.[31]

Transferring GameCube development to the Wii was relatively simple, since the Wii was being created to be compatible with the GameCube.[31] 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.[35] 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.[36] Miyamoto confirmed the Revolution controller-functionality in an interview with Nintendo of Europe[37] and Time reported this soon after.[38][39] 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,[40] and had a playable version of Twilight Princess for the Wii.[35] Later, the GameCube release was pushed back to a month after the launch of the Wii.[41]

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.[42] The camera movement was reworked and item controls were changed to avoid accidental button presses.[43] 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[44]—everything was made a mirror image.[45] 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.[46]


Koji Kondo, who composed the music for most games in The Legend of Zelda series, also scored Twilight Princess, along with Toru Minegishi and Asuka Ota.

The game's score was composed by Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ota, and Koji Kondo.[47] Minegishi took charge of composition and sound design in Twilight Princess, providing all field and dungeon music under the supervision of Kondo.[48] For the trailers, three pieces were written by different composers,[49] two of which were created by Mahito Yokota and Kondo.[47][50] Michiru Oshima created orchestral arrangements of the three compositions, later to be performed by an ensemble conducted by Yasuzo Takemoto.[49] Kondo's piece was later chosen as music for the E3 2005 trailer and for the demo movie after the game's title screen.[50]

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.[49] He originally envisioned a full 50-person orchestra for action sequences and a string quartet for more "lyrical moments",[49] though the final product used digital music instead.[51] Kondo later cited the lack of interactivity that comes with orchestral music as one of the main reasons for the decision.[50] Both six- and seven-track versions of the game's official 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.[52]

Technical issues

Initially, Twilight Princess was vulnerable to a buffer overflow attack, known as the Twilight hack, which allowed execution of custom code from a Secure Digital (SD) card. A properly crafted save file would cause the game to crash and load unsigned code, which could include Executable and Linkable Format (ELF) programs[53] and homebrew Wii applications. Versions 3.3 and 3.4 of the Wii Menu initially prevented copying of exploited save files[54][55] until circumvention methods were discovered. Version 4.0 of the Wii Menu patched the vulnerability.[56][57]


At E3 2005, special Nintendo DS cartridges were given out which contained simply a trailer of the game with the ability to play and pause it on the handheld device.[58]



Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Metacritic Wii: 95 / 100 (73 reviews)[59]
GCN: 96 / 100 (16 reviews)[60]
GameStats 10.0 / 10 (91 reviews)[61][62]
Review scores
Publication Score Wii: A+[63]
Computer and Video Games 10 / 10[64]
Electronic Gaming Monthly Wii: 30 of 30[65]
Famitsu Wii: 38 of 40[66]
Game Informer 10 of 10[67]
GamePro 5/5 stars[68]
GameSpot Wii: 8.8 of 10[69]
GCN: 8.9 of 10[70]
GameSpy 5/5 stars[71]
GamesRadar 10 / 10[72]
IGN Wii: 9.5 of 10[51]
GCN: 9.5 of 10[73]
Nintendo Power Wii: 9.5 of 10[74]
GCN: 9.5 of 10[75]
Nintendo World Report 10 / 10[76]
X-Play Wii: 5/5 stars[77]

Twilight Princess was released to universal critical acclaim and commercial success. It received perfect scores from major publications such as, CVG, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Informer, GamesRadar, and GameSpy.[63][65][67][71][78][79] On the review aggregators GameRankings and Metacritic, Twilight Princess has average scores of 96.00% and 96 for the Gamecube Version, and scored 94.51% and 95 for the Wii version, making it the highest rated and second highest rated game of 2006, and both versions among the highest rated games of all time. GameTrailers in their review called it one of the greatest games ever created.[80] On TopTenReviews, it has received an average score of 3.86 out of 4, the highest among all games in the Zelda franchise.[81] In the PAL region, which covers most of Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and most of Western Europe, Twilight Princess is the best-selling Zelda game ever. During its first week, the game was sold with three of every four Wii purchases.[82] The game had sold 4.52 million copies on the Wii as of March 1, 2008,[83] and 1.32 million on the GameCube as of March 31, 2007.[84]

Twilight Princess is considered to be the greatest Zelda game ever made by many critics,[85] including writers for, CVG, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Informer, GamesRadar, IGN and The Washington Post.[51][63][65][67][78][79][86] Game Informer called it "so creative that it rivals the best that Hollywood has to offer".[67] GamesRadar praised Twilight Princess as "a game that deserves nothing but the absolute highest recommendation".[87] Cubed3 hailed Twilight Princess as "the single greatest videogame experience".[88] 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.[51][71] Despite these complaints, CVG 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.[78] PALGN praised the game's cinematics, noting that "the cutscenes are the best ever in Zelda games".[89] Regarding the Wii version, GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann said the Wii controls felt "tacked-on",[69] although said the remote-swinging sword attacks were "the most impressive in the entire series".[63] Gaming Nexus considered Twilight Princess's soundtrack to be the best of this generation,[90] though IGN criticized its MIDI-formatted songs for lacking "the punch and crispness" of their orchestrated counterparts.[51] 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".[91]


Twilight Princess received the awards for Best Artistic Design,[92] Best Original Score,[93] and Best Use of Sound[94] from IGN for its Nintendo GameCube version. Both IGN and Nintendo Power gave Twilight Princess the awards for Best Graphics[95][96][97] and Best Story.[97][98][99] Twilight Princess received Game of the Year awards from GameTrailers,[100],[101] Electronic Gaming Monthly,[102] Game Informer,[103] GameSpy,[104] Spacey Awards,[105] X-Play[106] and Nintendo Power.[97] It was also given awards for Best Adventure Game from the Game Critics Awards,[107] X-Play,[106] IGN,[108][109] GameTrailers,[110],[101] and Nintendo Power.[97] The game was considered the Best Console Game by the Game Critics Awards[107] and GameSpy.[104] The game placed 16th in Official Nintendo Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Nintendo Games of All Time.[111] IGN ranked the game as the 4th-best Wii game.[112] Nintendo Power ranked the game as the third-best game to be released on a Nintendo system in the 2000 decade.[113] At the event "GameStar/GamePro Leserpreis 2006" on February 1, 2007, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii version) received the trophies "Best Console Game in 2006" and "Best Console Action-Adventure in 2006" after the reader's voting of German gaming magazine GamePro.

See also

  • Link's Crossbow Training, a shooting video game created for the Wii Zapper, using the world and assets of Twilight Princess as a basis.


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