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The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD - Wii U [Digital Code]
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD - Wii U [Digital Code]
Price: $49.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive version of a true Legend that feels brand new again, March 22, 2016
The Legend of Zelda is my favorite series in all of gaming, a lifelong hobby and a favorite pastime in and of itself for me, and The Wind Waker just happens to be my favorite entry in that series. When I first glimpsed the screenshots Nintendo revealed of this remake, I literally danced for joy all the way to my bedroom to wake my wife with the blessed news. I just couldn't contain my excitement, and now that I finally have Wind Waker HD in my possession, it's nearly everything I could have hoped for from one of my personal favorite and most influential video games of all time. Although I was pretty skeptical it could be *that* much of an upgrade when I first bought it, Nintendo really went all-out here, way beyond my expectations. Before you read this review any further, I need to insert this disclaimer: this review will be quite long (hopefully in an informative-from-a-superfan sort of way) and (mostly) full of gushing praise from a lifelong gamer who is super passionate about The Wind Waker. If long, detailed reviews are not your thing, then skip this one. You've been warned.

For fans of Wind Waker who already know how amazing the core game is and just want to know what Nintendo upgraded and how this remake works out, skip the next two paragraphs. I have become intimately acquainted with this remake by now, having played it at least three times, and I've played the original more times than I care to count. That been said, I think I'm more than capable of judging this version fairly.

*What's So Great About The Wind Waker?*

If you're unfamiliar with the game at all, you might wonder why I love Wind Waker so much. Well, it'd take a full-on dissertation to cover all that and I want this to mainly be about the remake itself, so I'll try to sum up my feelings quickly. It's true that pretty much every game in the Zelda series does a wonderful job capturing the epic tale of the "hero's journey." However, few Zelda games, and hardly any other games in general for that matter, have managed to capture the genuine and amazing feelings of discovery, exploration, and adventure like The Wind Waker did, at least for me anyway (Disclaimer: I love all Zelda games and am not bashing *insert your favorite Zelda title here* with that statement by any means. It's all subjective, right?). The timeless graphical style is so vibrantly colorful and imagination fueled/fueling, complimented very well by its timeless sound design and stirring, iconic musical score from Koji Kondo. The surprisingly mature, deep, and impactful narrative is juxtaposed beautifully against the colorful "Toon" aesthetics. The entire cast of characters is lovable and unique because of the fantastic writing and localization. The graphical style helped in this area as well, as the cartoon/anime style made for beautifully expressive characters (I personally find character expressions in WW to be preferable to the prevalent motion capturing and photo-realism you see in games these days. I like video games that don't always try to be interactive movies like so many modern "games" these days do. In my opinion, that approach ditches what makes video games such a unique, magical medium). In my opinion, The Wind Waker also features the most deep/interesting/engaging/sympathetic depiction of the series' mainstay villain, Ganondorf/Ganon. Even to this day, the brand new oceanic setting and nautical theme makes the game feel so fresh in comparison with other entries in the series. Every race and island feels genuinely real and likable, giving an amazing sense of connection to the world despite its gargantuan size, which in turn makes the quest feel all the more urgent. When it comes to gameplay, the established LoZ mechanics were more refined than ever, and the new gameplay mechanics fit the series perfectly. The swordplay is still among the best of any traditional 3D Zelda game to date, in my opinion. It all just screams top-notch, timeless masterpiece for me. The game literally changed my tastes and gaming horizons forever when I first played it all those years ago, and my love for it has only deepened with time. To see it get a genuine HD remake treatment is an absolute dream-come-true for me.

The original was not a perfect game though and I readily admit that. The game has a few noticeable flaws that keep it from the status of perfection that masterpieces such as Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, A Link to the Past, and (arguably) Twilight Princess have attained. No, the original was not quite perfect, but WW got so much right, it still ranks as my favorite Zelda entry. I have so many fond memories of playing it when I was younger; my baby sister used to love sitting at my feet and just watching me play, unable to read yet so I would read the words to her with the best acting ability I could muster (Grandma was read with my best sweet ol' granny voice, for example, lol). I've played this game so many times since then, it's the definition of a seminal game for me. Thankfully, this remake fixes almost all of the issues that weighed the original down, which I'll get to later. With WWHD, now I do consider it a flawless masterpiece, like the aforementioned legendary Zelda classics.

*A Review of The Wind Waker HD as a Remake*

That's enough about my nostalgic rambling though. This is a review of Wind Waker HD after all, so the real question is, how does this game fare with regards to the remake treatment it received? To put it simply, fantastic, amazing, utterly beautiful. It feels like a brand new game again.

The first thing you'll notice when starting up the game is its revamped graphics. The original Wind Waker's graphical style may have been hugely controversial when it was first announced, but the Toon design eventually won most fans over and actually lives on as one of its most timeless aspects. Seriously, the original Gamecube game still looks gorgeous compared to its contemporaries and it is because of this that I was kind of shocked when WWHD was announced (I readily admit that other Zelda titles, even ones newer than WW, seem to beg for a remake treatment more, but I'm not complaining). Still, Nintendo managed to find several ways to visually enhance Toon Link's world. It's all cel shaded still, and most 3D models seem to have little change, aside from much softer, more realistic shadows and edges on them. All textures have been redone completely and look fantastic in HD! Colors are far more vibrant than ever before and the range of colors has increased dramatically. The most noticeable graphical addition here are some very impressive enhanced lighting and shading effects. Because of all these new upgrades to the visuals, the majestic atmosphere of an endless deep blue ocean or encountering a thunderstorm at sunset while at sea (one of my favorite memories of the original) is simply unmatched. Seriously, take a look at the moon at night and marvel at how the world seems to be bathed in that lunar light, or the forbidden fortress with its incredibly thick level of atmosphere, or heck, even just soaking in the sun with the salty sea air breezing by. It's unbelievably gorgeous and immersive. The lighting shines through even in small moments, such as when weapons clash and sparks fly or when an opened treasure chest lets out a heavenly light. It's just awesome. Memorable locales and events (and anyone who has played the original knows this game has many of them) all have new life breathed into them because of the awesome new updated presentation. Some events have been really enhanced to new levels. Watching the game play out almost feels as if Pixar made a Zelda movie. Seriously, fantastic job here!

Contrary to my expectations, Nintendo made substantial upgrades to WW's formula in other ways too. Even the basic gameplay mechanics have been improved. The overall experience feels much smoother and more refined than the original. For example. the grappling hook item now wraps around your target much faster. Also, you don't have to come to a complete stop to switch your direction while swinging with the hook; you can just naturally change direction in mid-swing. These tweaks make using the grappling hook much more enjoyable and streamlined. Text scrolls much faster now in conversations than in the original. The Wind Waker itself is always mapped to "up" on the d-pad making it much more convenient to use. Little tweaks like this are everywhere in WWHD. These little gameplay refinements add up very quickly, and the overall experience is all the better for it. Controls feel more responsive, movement feels smoother, and everything just feels refined to perfection. Add this to the graphical improvements and new features exclusive to this version, and you get what feels like a brand new game. It's hard to explain, but you'll see what I mean when you play it for yourself. Some new ideas are neat and fit in with the classic experience very well too. One example of this is that you can now enter a basic first-person view and actually walk around and use some items like the boomerang or bow in this perspective. Don't expect an experience like Skyrim, but it is a pretty cool addition.

As far as new, system specific features goes, the Wii-U's signature hallmark, the gamepad, is utilized very well. Off-TV play works like a charm. Being able to relax in bed and enjoy the game is a very welcome addition. The touch screen is also used to good effect, making inventory management, accessing items like the hook or canon while at sea, or looking at the map of the great sea without having to pause the game a breeze. It makes for a smoother, more seamless experience. Being able to direct Link's use of the Wind Waker baton using touch controls feels natural. You can use the gamepad's gyroscopic feature to better aim things like your bow, picto-box, telescope, you name it, and it all feels fantastic. It's games like this that really show the potential and unique benefits of the gamepad. The Wii-U's button layout also makes the game better, as you now have many more buttons to map items to compared to the GameCube original. If you don't want to use the gamepad, you have the option to switch control to the Pro Controller for a more traditional experience. I think it's very nice that they put in that choice for players.

Another Wii-U feature that has been integrated really well is Miiverse. The original Wind Waker allowed you to connect your Gameboy Advance to your GameCube to access some unique but nonessential features involving Tingle and even a little co-op mode of sorts. That has all been taken out and replaced with the Tingle Bottle. This is where Miiverse comes in. At any time, you can take the bottle out and use the gamepad to type a message, draw a picture, or even take a photo with the in-game pictograph, put it in the bottle, and hurl it into the sea. Then, somewhere else in the real world, another player may see your glittering bottle washed up on a beach in their game. They can pick it up and see whatever message you put in the bottle. It's such a neat feature, and it fits right in with the rest of the themes of adventure on the high seas so prevalent in the game. Seriously, just the concept of a message in a bottle is so magical by itself, and using that as the Miiverse feature in WWHD feels like a perfect match. Awesome.

Remember how I mentioned the original Wind Waker had some caveats earlier? Most of them have been fixed in this remake! A bit into the game, you gain the ability to speed up sailing to a massive degree, via a "red sail" upgrade purchasable at the in-game auction house. You don't even need wind in the direction you're going to get this super speed. This update erases any frustration from getting from one locale to another using the "slow" sailing of the original almost entirely (Many people complain about the sailing in the original, but I personally loved the sailing a lot and think complaining about is missing the point, but oh well. The fast sailing feature here is a welcome addition, at any rate). The non-confrontational, easier difficulty of the original has been "fixed" via a much more challenging "hero mode" option similar to the one found in Skyward Sword, where enemies do double damage and the only method of healing Link is through potions. Even better, this more difficult mode is available right off the bat without having to play the whole game first! Best of all, they addressed my biggest gripe about the original: the infamous, horrendous Tri-Force piece fetch quest that all but ruined the otherwise perfect pace of the original. They fixed this by making it MUCH more streamlined and actually engaging, and that's awesome! Thank you so much for listening to fans and fixing these issues Aonuma-San. You're the best!

As much as this remake enhances the original WW's magic in many ways, it is, once again, not quite *all* I had hoped for. I really wish they had gone all-out in every aspect since this is a home console remake. They did nothing to add any substantial new content. Just one new dungeon would have made me so happy, and it's not unheard of for Nintendo to do this with enhanced Zelda titles (Link's Awakening DX comes to mind), but no. I know Aonuma wanted to keep the core experience intact here, and much of the original WW's cut content ended up in later Zelda games, but still, it's a slight shame. Ah well, at least the core game is such a masterpiece. Also, Koji Kondo's soundtrack for this game is one of my favorites of any video game ever. Yet, not much work was done to enhance it for this remake beyond some remastering of the original tunes. To be fair, some tunes do come across as a lot beefier and sound amazing, but not all. It would have been awesome to get Skyward Sword quality orchestration of at least some of this iconic soundtrack, but alas. Finally, and this is an admittedly nit-picky gripe, you can't invert the Y-axis of the second analog stick while in normal view. You can only invert right/left and you can invert the Y-axis of first-person view, but not the general Y-axis? Talk about jarring and difficult to get used to, at least for me anyway (I'm one of those guys who likes inverted controls). Why not put that option in for players, huh?! As you can tell by my score, these issues didn't keep me from loving the game, but I still feel they must be said. It's only fair for me to voice some criticism, right? I don't want you to think I'm completely blinded by bias, after all.

I understand some don't like reading long reviews, but if any remake deserved an in-depth analysis, it's this one. I'm so glad Nintendo decided to remake and enhance it to the degree that they did. Few games have made the huge impact on me the way that Wind Waker has. It's so surreal to think that when I first played it, I was just a kid not much older than Link is in this game, so young and naive. Now I'm an older (but still young) man with his own family and yet I feel the same childlike excitement when I play The Wind Waker HD, having gone though my own journey in life (with a lot left to go, hopefully :P). Everything about WWHD, the characters, the settings, the story, just the overall experience, it all just feels so familiar and yet brand new and magical again. It's a beautiful and surreal thing. Thank you so much Nintendo, for giving me the definitive version of one of my most beloved games of all time. The Wind Waker was always a flawed gem, but this remake has made it into a virtually caveat-free masterpiece and can now stand tall and proud among other flawless Zelda games. Not only that, but it stands tall among all video games, period. It really feels like a modern masterpiece, despite the fact that the core here is over a decade old, in much the same way playing other fantastic remakes like Halo Anniversary, Klonoa, and Ocarina of Time 3D feels. All great remakes, and WWHD fits in that high-quality group perfectly.

To you readers who stuck with this review until now, I hope my sappiness and wordiness hasn't been too annoying. I sincerely hoped to be helpful to all of you out there wondering if you should get this. Most "remakes" these days end up being incredibly lazy ports with no real effort put into the rerelease beyond upscaling resolution and no more. WWHD is so much grander and better than 95% of today's "remakes," remasters, and rereleases, it's not even funny. Trust me, I went into this remake with a huge amount of skepticism that they could really improve this game, and I really did wonder if the changes could justify buying it again, but I did anyway and boy am I glad I did! I say it's absolutely worth it. This is, without a doubt, the definitive version of a true classic and revitalizes it to the point where it feels brand new again. Go out and buy it immediately, and enjoy one of the greatest Legends of Zelda that has ever been told. Buy it, prepare for the adventure of your life, and go discover, and save, a vast, beautiful new world.


Nintendo Selects: Super Mario 3D World
Nintendo Selects: Super Mario 3D World
Price: $19.88
57 used & new from $12.86

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully designed game that has something special for every kind of Mario fan, March 22, 2016
*Before I continue with the actual review, I just wanted to point out that there seem to be scalpers taking advantage of folks with this game. Nintendo Select titles are reprints of classic, beloved games with a price tag of no-higher than $20. Don't EVER pay more than that for a NS game. Now that that warning is out of the way, onto the actual review...

Color me surprised. I thought there was no way Nintendo could possibly match the Super Mario Galaxy games in terms of quality and creativity, and yet, somehow, they have with this gem. Super Mario 3D World has taken the stellar core premise of Super Mario 3D Land (it itself a fantastic Mario game and one of the best 3DS games) and launched it into the stratosphere with exceptional execution, staggering density of content, and breathtaking creativity. It's amazing to me how a game that is, at its core, centered around the simple joys of running, jumping, exploring, and playing, can be so full of brilliance and inspiration. If it's not already obvious, my wife and I both absolutely love this masterpiece. This is a *huge* game full of ideas and concepts both new and nostalgic, and while I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum, this will be a long, detailed review. It's the only way to do such a wonderful game justice. Either jump ship now or continue reading, you've been warned.

The story in Super Mario 3D World is as simple as it is in any Mario game, but 3D World's story is noteworthy simply because Peach's kidnapping is not the plot device used to introduce the exquisite gameplay (it also shows Mario and Luigi actually fixing something as plumbers, something I cannot recall a main series Mario game showing before, so that's special :D).While going for an evening stroll, Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Blue Toad stumble across a clear pipe, out of which pops a unique pixie-like princess from the Sprixie kingdom. She then informs them that Bowser has attacked and taken over her kingdom and requests help when, all of a sudden, Bowser pops out of the pipe, kidnaps this new princess, and absconds back into the recently conquered Sprixie Kingdom. Our four heroes give chase into the pipe to help their new friend, like any good Samaritans would do, thus beginning 3D World's platforming euphoria. Interspersed throughout the adventure are very simple cutscenes that are enjoyable and appealing.

The visuals in 3D World are exceptional. This is the first Mario outing in genuinely glorious HD, all at a smooth 60 fps, and it is beyond gorgeous. I've always loved the art design in Mario games. The focus on clean, imaginative style and vibrant color has always made Mario games stand out as some of the most beautiful releases on their platform, and 3D World is no exception. Impressive lighting effects and exceptionally well done textures make levels like Bowser's oceanside castle during a sunset, or sunny grasslands, or snowy wonderlands such beautiful, enchanting playgrounds to run and jump through. Character designs, whether friend or foe, are all very nostalgic and the new ones feel very fresh at the same time. Seeing classic enemies like Chargin Chuck from SMWorld is so nostalgic. The audio is equally charming, with many iconic sound effects returning. The real audio highlight, however, is the soundtrack. Anybody worried that this game would drop the beautiful orchestrations of the Galaxy games can rest easy. Whether the tracks are reminiscent of the symphonic majesty of the Galaxy soundtracks or more of the jazzy 3D Land variety, all songs in 3D World are super catchy and full of warm nostalgic magic, as befits a Mario game (even brand new songs immediately cultivated nostalgia in me). You'll be humming the tunes long after you turn off the game. From a visual and audio perspective, this game is a definite winner and a showcase for the Wii-U.

I've always loved the core concept behind Super Mario 3D Land/World: Take nostalgic gameplay concepts and goals from the classic Super Mario Bros. 1-3 and Super Mario World, and play through them from Mario's perspective in a 3-D game with all the refinements and conventions 3-D Mario games have introduced over the years. It's a perfect marriage of classic conventions and creative innovation, made so that fans of every style of Mario can enjoy themselves. For example, each level has you going for the end-pole as your goal, just like the 2-D Mario classics. However, each level features three green stars (first seen in Galaxy 2) that encourages 3-D Mario style exploration of the levels in order to collect them, and the levels are so well designed and massive, you'll enjoy every second you spend exploring them. It's a marriage of two different Mario styles that compliment each other very well and offer something to every Mario fan. That's great. The world map may seem to be styled after the New Super Mario Bros. games at first glance, except that you're given free rein to run all over the whole thing like some sort of 3-D playground overworld, another example of 3-D and 2-D Mario combining into something new and special, appealing to everybody.

The controls in this game have been refined to near perfection, to the point that characters on the screen feel like an extension of yourself. Like everything else in the game, they feel like a perfect marriage between classic and modern Mario styles. Like the classic 2-D Mario games, you can't double or triple jump, which is jarring at first but ultimately makes for unique, old-school gameplay that feels new for a 3-D Mario game. Using just the control stick has you move in a leisurely stroll pace. Holding down X/Y makes you run and if you keep running uninterrupted, the character breaks out into a fast sprint. The rolling spin and rolling long-jump (returning from 3D Land) are wonderful additions to Mario's acrobatic repertoire. Jumping and stomping on enemies has never felt more satisfying. What's awesome about all of this is that you get to choose between several equally well-designed characters to play as, and all offer unique abilities and traits. Mario is an all-around balanced character, Luigi's controls are more "slippery" and he jumps higher, Peach runs slower but can hover like in SMB2 which makes her good for beginners, and Blue Toad runs faster than the others but he drops faster after jumps. That's not all, as there is an unlockable character with their own unique abilities and gameplay style too! This is such a great aspect of 3D World. Having so many unique characters practically guarantees that gamers of any skill level or play style will get the most out of their experience with the game, and that's awesome. Bravo Nintendo! On the new side of things, you can knock shells off of Koopas and, in addition to throwing them as always, you can go inside and ride them as they slide along the floor. Talk about a blast! The new clear pipes introduce a ton of new gameplay possibilities that require good reflexes and strategy. So many new gameplay concepts, and all are super fun.

The suits that return from 3D Land (Tanooki, Fire, Boomerang Bros., propeller box, etc) all play extremely well and are super satisfying to use. New suits/items, such as the already-iconic Cat Suit or the new canon box fit in with the rest very well. The Cat Suit is ridiculously fun. Others are bizarrely appealing, like the double cherry, which creates a new clone of your character each time you grab one. Imagine the hilarious chaos that results from 10-12 fire balls bouncing around hurled from 5-6 Marios with fire suits. Boss fights that incorporate the double cherry are super fun too. There are many new items you can grab and carry along with you, like a baseball to throw at enemies, or potted Piranha plants that can rapidly eat enemies and other obstacles. Of course, these are just a few examples, and the game features many more.

The utterly brilliant level designs compliment the gameplay mechanics beautifully. There are so many new level ideas for a 3-D Mario game too, including but not limited to: riding a Loch Ness Yoshi monster named "Plessie" through a tropical paradise, a level exploring a Japanese-style castle, a light/shadow/silhouette themed sewer level that really messes with your perception of size and distance, a level based on the classic Super Mario Kart (complete with overwhelmingly nostalgic music), the Captain Toad puzzle levels, the mystery houses, the speed run levels, a golden express segment that makes New Super Mario Bros. 2 look conservative by comparison... I could go on forever. Although a bit on the easy side, boss fights in the game overall are better than they were in 3D Land, full of variety and new ideas, although I still prefer the Bowser fights from 3D Land (3D Land's Bowser battles are among my favorite in the entire series). Seriously, this game is bursting with creativity. New concepts are introduced at a breathtaking speed. Much like Galaxy 1 & 2, Super Mario 3D World feels like standing before a seemingly bottomless well of brilliant new ideas. If it doesn't top Galaxy 1 or 2 in that respect, 3D World at least matches them. That alone is impressive, especially since the overall focus of 3D World is more "conventional" in comparison to the mind-bending Galaxy games. The fact that it is easily as big as the first Galaxy game makes this even more amazing. Once you beat the main worlds, several more pop up, and the farther you get into the game, the more challenge there is to be had. This game has a fantastic density of content.

Another aspect that makes Super Mario 3D World a milestone for the series is its excellent multiplayer. This is the first 3-D Mario game to implement multiplayer and it is incredible! I was worried this would have the lazy multiplayer of the NSMB games where all characters play the same and offer no real variety, but thankfully 3D World delivers the goods. Each player gets to control a unique character (no generic, recolored Toads for player 4, thankfully), and as I said earlier, each character controls uniquely as well, so everyone will have their own experience! It also never become frustrating like it does in the NSMB games, where other players too often become obstacles to your enjoyment rather than enhancing it. In 3D World, it's super fun and really hearkens back to the old days where playing video games with friends and loved ones on the couch was a bonding, joyful experience. Any game that my wife and I bond over always gets bonus points in my book, and 3D World is superb in that regard. The game is so well designed that you will get the most out of your time with the game, regardless of whether you're playing alone or with others. That's awesome. Bravo Nintendo!

You might wonder how 3DW functions as a Wii-U exclusive and what features there are. Well, for starters, the touch screen and mic are used in several, unique ways that affect the levels you play through, adding complexity to the mix. The gyroscope can be used to get different angles in the levels, which is really helpful for finding collectibles. There are so many other things you can do using the gamepad, it's easy to lose count. Personally, I find the gamepad a lot more useful with more complex series, like The Legend of Zelda for example, but it works surprisingly well in 3D World. Miiverse is also utilized in the same fun way it was in NSMBU, but has been deepened with collectible stamps hidden in the levels that adds spice to messages. I like the Miiverse system here, it's a nice novelty at the very least. Overall, the Wii-U exclusive features don't feel like gimmicks, thankfully, and the game works well because of them and not in spite of them, which is all I ask for.

So, to all you who stuck around with this review, I really cannot emphasize it enough: this game is an absolute masterpiece. I really can't think of a single flaw or complaint to say about the game. Nintendo EAD has been on a roll for years with 3-D Mario releases, and with each new game, I always doubt and worry that they can't possibly top the game that came before it. With Super Mario 3D World, they have indeed continued their streak of top-tier quality. It may not have the brilliant gravity defying concept of the Galaxy games, but the sheer amount of creativity and innovation they poured into this game despite it being more "conventional" in its style just astounds me even more. The huge addition of well-executed multiplayer makes this a 3-D Mario milestone in yet another way. I bought this game at my local *cough cough* as soon as it opened and have been playing since then (alternating with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, another masterpiece). In addition to its awesome creativity, this is one of the most celebratory Mario games I've ever played too, filled with salutes and homages that pretty much every Mario fan can appreciate and enjoy to the fullest. So do I recommend it? Oh yeah, you better believe I do. This is the undisputed Wii-U "killer app" and is an absolutely essential game for any Wii-U library. I'd even say the game is worth buying the system over. Seriously, it is such a masterwork in game design. Buy it immediately, enjoy the game either solo or with others, and experience another magical masterpiece with Nintendo's famous plumber hero.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2016 5:05 PM PDT


Nintendo Selects: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Nintendo Selects: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Price: $19.88
50 used & new from $17.89

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "MAN THESE BANANAS ARE GOOD!", March 22, 2016
Bonus points for any who caught the Brian Regan reference in the title...

In the past several years, two previously dormant video game icons have made major comebacks, starring in some of the best 2-D platformers in decades. Of course, I'm referring to Donkey Kong and Rayman. Both characters offer games that are about as awesome as 2-D platformers get these days, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is yet another modern DK masterpiece to add to the list (Rayman Legends was also stellar). This game is simply stupendous, in so many ways. Not only is it filled with nostalgia for the DK of my childhood, but it also adds a ton of new ideas that are not only cool for DK, but for 2-D platformers in general. This game is a real treat. Once again, Retro Studios has nailed it, and this game actually soothes some of the sting I felt at learning they were not developing a new Metroid game (Not gonna lie, it still hurts a little). Now that it's a mere $20 as a Nintendo Select title (and don't EVER pay any more than that for a NS game), there's no reason not to get a copy immediately. If you don't like somewhat longer, detailed reviews, then give this one a pass. You've been warned.

The story in DKCTF is very unique for the series. Once again, Retro has created an all-new villainous force for DK and co. to face called the "Snowmads," a ragtag army of arctic animals with a major Norse/viking theme. They rudely crash DK's birthday party with an invasion, driving all our favorite Kongs away from their home island while also redecorating it to suit their snowy tastes. Needless to say, they brought a polar vortex of their own, transforming DK's island paradise to a frigid arctic playground. Thus, DK and three of his closest companions begin a trek across several unique and totally different islands to take back his home. The premise is cool and all (Like that pun? No...? I'll see myself out...), but like all platformers, the story is there to introduce the platforming action and then take a step back to let the gameplay shine, and it does so well here.

The graphics in DKCTF are, putting it bluntly, drop-dead gorgeous. There's so much vibrant color and imagination in this game, it's fantastic! Because you'll be traveling across several different islands, you'll be treated to a huge variety in locales, all of which look awesome. From DK's frozen island, to an island filled with flaming boars, massive mountain crags, and Viking Owl villages, all in a beautiful autumn, to an island strewn with the wreckage of countless boats, planes, and ships (including Samus' starship cleverly hidden in the canopy in one level, which is awesome!), to a jungle during harvest time filled with jelly, rivers of juice, and other food items (Yummy), there's no shortage of interesting level themes. Remember the beautiful silhouette levels from DKCR? They return in full-force here, making some levels look like they'd belong in a sweet art house indie game. Lots of creativity in this game visually, you'll never be bored. Seriously people, this game is gorgeous, and it runs at a smooth 60 fps which is awesome. The new enemies are also really neat and full of character. While it's easy to miss the Kremlings, Retro has made up some equally charismatic and iconic villains to replace them, if you ask me. I love the Snowmads. Really, the charm in this game is everywhere. I love how Donkey will sit down and start playing a 3DSXL if left idle. I love the different personalities of the main characters. This game is full of charisma.

The sound design in the game is also fantastic. Lots of nostalgic sound effects return. I also really enjoy the voice actor's work on DK and the rest of the characters, even if it's all relegated to shouts, grunts, howls, etc. Best of all, this game sees the return of David Wise, the brilliant composer behind the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy's incredible music. Remember the unspeakably awesome atmosphere of songs like "Aquatic Ambiance" and "Stickerbrush Symphony?" This game has songs of that caliber (Both of those in addition to other fan favorites actually show up gloriously remixed, and the latter is evoked in the incredible "Alpine Incline"). Remember the bop-your-head-to-the-beat awesomeness of the original "DK Island Swing" or the dramatic epicness of "Flight of the Zinger?" Yep, that kind of greatness is here too. I would start listing off awesome tracks from the game, but pretty much *every* single song is stellar. No joke. I love David Wise's music so much. He hit it out of the park with this one. Recruiting him was very smart on Retro's part. Thank goodness he agreed to come back to the series. As a matter of fact, I'd go as far as to say the soundtrack is a major, major selling point for this game. If they ever release this game's soundtrack, I WILL buy it immediately. I don't care if I have to import it from Japan, I *need* this game's soundtrack.

The gameplay in Tropical Freeze is, at its core, the same great formula introduced almost two decades ago, with even more of the refinement and freshness that DKCR introduced to the mix. You'll be enjoying a 2-D platformer with a tangible rhythmic quality to it that is very satisfying, with controls so tight you can bounce a quarter off the game and make change. Alongside Rayman's recent outings, you will not find a platformer with such great controls and unique, challenging level designs. You'll be collecting red balloons, banana coins, and literally hundreds upon hundreds of bananas. KONG levels and puzzle pieces are hidden cleverly in the levels. Mine carts return to turn you into a sweat-drenched, adrenaline-drained husk. Make no mistake, this game is ridiculously challenging, perhaps infuriatingly so for some gamers, which is something to keep in mind. DKCTF is a game that hearkens back to a time when dying in the same spot a couple dozen times in a row was due to a lack of player skill, not the game being "cheap" (so many games these days coddle gamers, it's nice to see old-school challenge in my opinion). Boss fights are a highlight as well. Most of them have multiple parts, each of which requires you to take a new and different approach. This makes boss fights super hard, but also very engaging and challenging, which I appreciate.

DKCTF also introduces quite a few new ideas to the DKC mix. For the first time since DKC3, DK and friends can swim. In my opinion, the controls in these segments are much better than they were in the old DKC games. Underwater levels in this game are actually awesome thanks to more than just the music this time. There's a lot more emphasis on 2.5-D in this game. During many barrel segments, the camera will change to a full-on 3-D view, which makes for some mind-bending challenge and exciting set-pieces. Even mine cart segments have some 3-Dish moments, which is awesome. The biggest change to the game is the introduction of two new characters. DK and Diddy return and play exactly as they did in DKCR. New to the game are *drumroll* DIXIE KONG, who plays similarly to Diddy but has a double jump of sorts that gives you some extra distance and height. Totally new to the series is CRANKY KONG (He hasn't been the star of a game canonically in a loooong while), who essentially uses his cane in true DuckTales pogo fashion. Cranky's style is particularly unique, and so fun to use. While player-one can only ever play as DK, each of the three supporting characters add really fun and unique benefits to your move-set. All the characters are fun to play, whether DK for player one or the other three for player two, and the increased variety is really nice for people who love co-op gaming like my wife and I do. Overall, there's a lot of new ideas in this game, too many to count here. Suffice it to say, this is a major step forward for the DKC series, and most definitely not a rehash.

Let's face facts, this game rules for the most part, but there are some subjective aspects that some may not like. These should be pointed out for the sake of objectivity. Like I said earlier, this game is ridiculously hard, especially after you get past the first couple islands (and even those can be challenging!). This game will not coddle you. No, this game will kick your @$$ six ways to Sunday, and that will undoubtedly turn some gamers off. As much as I love co-op, you have to be so in tune with your partner to succeed, and the slightest mistake will ruin everything. My wife loves playing DKC with me. For us as a couple, DKCR and now this game have been majorly bonding at the best of times, and end-of-the-world fight inducing at the worst of times (I'm only partially kidding, lol). All I'm saying is the punishing difficulty and co-op don't always mix too well. Also, when playing co-op, they did not make a way for player-2 to quickly switch characters or drop in/out. You have to pause the menu, select the drop out option, then reconnect to pick a new character. That's a major pain. Perhaps worst of all, or least worst of all depending on your opinion, they did nothing to utilize the Wii-U's features in any meaningful way. Don't expect any interesting implementation of the touch screen, gyroscope, etc. The gamepad's screen isn't even on if you select to play off of the T.V, in fact. Rather than a Wii-U showpiece, this is just an awesome traditional hardcore DK experience that happens to be exclusive to the Wii-U, which I'm perfectly happy with. Focusing on the core experience in development is always better, I say

I don't know how Retro does it, but every game they make is just pure gold. They must employ Midas or something. I've played for many hours by now, solo and with my wife, have reached several islands, conquered several bosses, and I'm really thinking that this is the best Donkey Kong game I've ever played. I'm not just blowing smoke or using hyperbole. This game is just pure, refined 2-D platforming gold, and I absolutely love it. DKCTF makes DKCR look like an extended demo in comparison, and I LOVE DKCR, so that really is a testament to the greatness of Retro's work on Tropical Freeze. I love this game, and if you are a fan of old-school gaming challenge, platformers, Donkey Kong, Nintendo, or just awesome games in general regardless of genre, then get this game immediately. Buy it, prepare an epic trek across several islands, and save your precious home and banana hoard from the Snowmads!


Nintendo Selects: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Nintendo Selects: Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Price: $19.87
54 used & new from $18.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Wii/3DS games and one of the best platformers of the past decade, March 22, 2016
I can almost hear the haters now, complaining about Nintendo re-releasing a not-that-old game onto the 3DS, but such gripes are unfounded in my opinion. While it is true that this is *mostly* a port of the fantastic platformer from a couple years back, there are definitely enough additions and differences to make this a game that may be the preferred version among fans. Seeing how this is a game that has, for the most part, been accessible since 2010, I'll focus mainly on discussing the differences between this version and the original and whether or not you'll want to even bother buying this. Before I say anything else, now that for $20 (and don't ever pay more for a Nintendo Select title), this is a must-own game for your 3DS collection.

In the rare case that you're not familiar with Donkey Kong Country Returns, I'll sum the game up thusly: It is easily one of the best Wii games, arguably the best Donkey Kong game that has ever been released, and it's a real contender for best 2-D platformer of the past two decades. It is that good. The whole experience is just saturated with nostalgia while still feeling extremely fresh. The visuals are colorful and stylistic, and the music is wonderful, whether the tune is classic or new. The level design and game mechanics are amazingly well-crafted, the difficulty and satisfaction in the game is huge, and most importantly, the control mechanics are so tight you can bounce a quarter off of the game and make change. Much like the original DKC trilogy, the gameplay has an awesome rhythmic quality to it. Yes, the game may be missing King K. Rool and the Kremlings as villains, and many of DK's relatives we've all come to know and love don't show up, but for the most part, Donkey Kong Country Returns really is the quintessential Donkey Kong game, and should not be missed. If you never got a change to play the original (god forbid), then this is a wonderful time to get into it, for certain.

So what are the main additions/differences between DKCR3D and the original? First off, the controls are obviously different. The Wii original used the motion-control capability of the Wiimote to good effect, in my opinion. I thought the waggle activated actions worked well for the most part, but it did have its issues that could really add frustration in intense platforming sections. I know of many people who hated that part of the original. For those who weren't so enthusiastic about the motion, you'll be happy to know that has all been replaced by traditional button presses, obviously. So basically, you will have a different experience when it comes to rolling, blowing, ground-pounding, etc. Otherwise, the super tight controls are the same.

There is a bit of extra content that has been added to the game this time around. After you beat the game, a whole new "world" of levels becomes accessible that are quite fun and unique to play through. Many of the settings of these new levels fit the themes found in the original world levels, but are brand new, such as one on a huge, low-leveled riverbed in a forest. They look and play great. The original had a ton of content, but these new additions are very nice indeed.

While DKCR is definitely a fun game, there's no doubt that it's also by far one of the most challenging platformers of the past decade or so. This definitely adds a huge level of satisfaction to the game, but it also stands as a huge barrier of entry to younger or less experienced gamers. For those people, Nintendo has added an "easy mode" of sorts to the game that greatly reduces the challenge. Some changes in this mode include DK and Diddy getting three hearts by default instead of two, power-ups that reduce damage, green balloons that save you if you were to fall into a bottomless pit, etc. To be honest, I'm torn on this. On one hand, I appreciate making a hard game more accessible so everyone can enjoy it. On the other hand, this "easy mode" makes the game almost insultingly easy by comparison. It's not too bad though, because "original mode" is still available, so if you crave the soul-crushing difficulty of the original, you can still play it that way, which is great.

Well, that's most of the major changes/additions you can expect from this game. I'm very impressed with the port-job the game received. Very little was sacrificed to get the game to play on Nintendo's handheld. You'll notice some details in the visuals are a bit toned down. After all, the 3DS isn't quite up to the Wii's specs, but it does still look great for the most part. DKCR is a splendidly detailed game, and it's worth noting that having all that shrunk to the 3DS(XL)'s screen size can get crowded at times. The cool 3-D effect, while nonessential for the gameplay itself, is really enjoyable to look at. Some portions of the game, such as the special silhouette levels, look really awesome in 3-D. The only problem I have with 3-D is that when action is heavy, sometimes the frame rate stutters ever-so-slightly, which can be a problem in a precision platformer like this. It's also worth noting that, while the original DKCR ran in 60 fps on the Wii, this version has been toned down to 30 fps, again, due to the difference in tech. While this is a shame, it really doesn't affect what a good time you'll be having. It still plays fantastic. Overall, Monster Games, the developer who did most of the work porting this game (they also made Pilotwings Resort), did a pretty fantastic job.

So, whether you played the original DKCR and salivate at the idea of it being portable, having extra content, and a new control scheme, or you're a newbie who has never even touched the game before, I'd say Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is definitely a game you'll want to buy. I understand veterans of the original may not want to dish out the cash to play the game again, even with the aforementioned additions, but I did, and I'm glad I did. DKCR was the game that proved Retros Studios was a top-tier developer whose genius in the Metroid Prime Trilogy was not luck or a one-off success (and it appears Retro isn't quite done making DK games. Can't wait for DK Tropical Freeze, it looks amazing already!). They really hit this one out of the park. Personally, I can only think of a few "flatformers" that I enjoyed as much or more than I did with DKCR, and now I can enjoy it again on the go with this 3DS version. It's a fantastic game that simply should not be missed if you consider yourself a fan of Nintendo, DK, platformers, or just plain awesome games in general. Buy it, enjoy the expertly crafted platforming, and go on a banana hoarding adventure through a lush jungle island with one of video gaming's biggest and oldest icons.


Nintendo Selects: The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D
Nintendo Selects: The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D
Price: $19.88
58 used & new from $17.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stellar refinement of one of video gaming's highest pinnacles, March 22, 2016
*Before I continue on with the review, I just wanted to write real quick that you should NEVER pay more than $20 for this game. Nintendo Selects are reprints of classic, beloved games and are supposed to only cost $20. Anything more is a scalper trying to take advantage. 1-star for scalpers, 5-stars for Ocarina of Time 3D. Now, here's a review of OoT3D itself....

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, is truly a special game. It is one of those rare treats in an artistic medium for which the universal praise and superlatives are entirely true no matter what angle you look at it from. Very few would argue against Ocarina of Time's greatness, or its lasting impact on the industry as a whole, and the fact remains that even after all these years since its release, it still reigns supreme as the world record holder for highest rated game in history. To attempt to remake such a classic masterpiece is a very daunting task indeed, but developer Grezzo, under Nintendo's watchful eye, did just that. The question is, is the remake worthy of the original's name? In short, yes, yes it is. This, to me, is the shining example of what remakes should be, but allow me to go into greater detail to explain why I think this.

Full Disclosure: The Legend of Zelda series is my favorite franchise in video games (a hobby I consider my favorite pastime). It is no stretch to say that Ocarina could very well be the greatest video game ever made thus far in the relatively young entertainment medium. The incredibly epic story of good versus evil, the compelling characters, the masterful gameplay, the beautiful art design, the iconic music, the sheer variety and amount of excellent content, the majesty and mystery of exploring the massive (at the time of its release, anyway) world of Hyrule, Ocarina had it all, and honestly, it still does. You could play this today in its original format and despite its age, you'd still get a masterpiece (as evident by its popularity on the Wii Virtual Console). I make no apologies for my belief in these statements, and I stand by them. Obviously, when considering how to rate a remake, you first have to consider the backbone of the package by analyzing the original works being remade. Ocarina 3D has one of the best games ever to work with, so no problems here. Second, you have to consider what work went into the game to qualify it as a "remake" AND if it benefits the original work enough to warrant a remake treatment. How does Ocarina of Time 3D fare in that regard?

Back in 1998, Ocarina of Time was groundbreaking in many ways as a 3D adventure game, but one of the most striking examples of this were in its visuals. If you play the original today, you'll obviously notice Ocarina has aged pretty horribly, despite the timeless art design, gameplay, music, story, etc. Graphically, Ocarina needed a facelift, and this 3DS remake does just that masterfully. From character models/animations to structures to textures, literally everything was remade from the ground up visually. Grezzo's goal in remaking the visuals was to finally channel the exact art design that was originally conceived, seen through the original official concept/promotional art for the game. That been said, rather than being the detailed, adult graphic novel style of Twilight Princess, OoT3D is more like a vibrant, colorful stylized comic book/anime. Is that bad? By no means! It's more a matter of taste. Personally, I think this game is absolutely gorgeous! The 3DS is essentially a portable Gamecube in terms of graphical capabilities, so imagine that kind of power channeling the original epic concept and promotional art for Ocarina and you have a pretty good idea what you're looking at here. If you don't think the difference between the original and this is much, I dare you to say so after looking at videos and screenshots of them side-by-side. Yes, in terms of visuals, Grezzo nailed it with this remake! To play Ocarina with the visuals it was always intended to have before but couldn't because of hardware limitations is reason enough alone to warrant a purchase, but that's not all Ocarina 3D has going for it visually.

Another visual treatment that this remake got was one that only the 3DS could offer: 3-D (duh). In all honesty, this is one of the better examples of stereoscopic 3-D on the 3DS. I actually found myself playing the game with the 3-D slider all the way up most of the time, and viewed it as an essential aspect to the experience, something I did not expect going into it. That 3-D effect really lent this feeling of organic life to the game, and helped Hyrule truly feel like a living, breathing world. As gimmicky as that all may sound, it's very true in this game's case. Nintendo did a great job making this a showpiece for the 3DS' three-dimensional capabilities. The only problem I ever encountered in this area was image ghosting in places where there was very high contrast, but that's more of a criticism of the 3DS' screen system and not this game.

Koji Kondo's work as the main composer in Ocarina of Time is unrivaled in terms of iconic, brilliant music in a game. To this day, Ocarina's music is required listening for any fan of Nintendo, Zelda, video games, you name it. That been said, they did not rock the boat when handling the soundtrack for this game. The music was remastered, but plays pretty much unaltered in any way from the original (per Kondo's request). It's fun to take in the sound/music design in this game, as the original was pretty groundbreaking in this way. For example, the Hyrule field theme would change in pace and instrumentation depending on circumstances, which is something we take for granted today, but back then it was amazing. It is still impressive today. Grezzo's treatment of the audio was extremely respectful, upgrading and refining without altering, and as a massive fan of Zelda, that is exactly what I wanted.

The controls are as intuitive and satisfying as ever, and in some areas may actually be better than the good ol' N64 "pitchfork" set-up, which always worked so well. The lower touchscreen on the 3DS is utilized to great effect, making looking at the map, changing equipment and gear, changing the view to first-person, talking to Navi, using two of four item slots, and playing the Ocarina, all smoother and more accessible. Otherwise, the action buttons are masterfully mapped on the 3DS' button layout, no complaints there. I DID find my hand cramping after extended play due to the button placement for z-targeting and shield usage, but that's more criticism of the slick, compact 3DS itself. This 3DS hand grip helped *immensely* in that way (and if you have a 3DS XL, then I highly recommend this grip). You also have the option to use the 3DS' gyroscopic capabilities to aim things like your bow that feels really good to use, but that often means losing the 3-D effect, so there is a trade-off there.

To summarize, this remake is, in my opinion, the best version of one of the best video games ever made. It makes substantial upgrades to the original in its visuals, 3-D implementation, audio remastering, controls, as well as the inclusion of the Master Quest (a game that plays the same as the original, except that it is mirrored and the temples/dungeons are very different and much harder, as a challenge to Ocarina veterans). The fact that this new portable version of one of the most revered games ever channels the spirit of the original so perfectly while still feeling brand new again is pretty amazing. In my opinion, that is everything a remake should be, and is exponentially better than the hideously lazy cash grab opportunities that comprise most remake/rerelease/port efforts, but in all honesty, this isn't really a "remake." No, it's more of a respectful refinement. You can tell that the developers were constantly cognizant of the massive shoes of the original, and so refined all that had aged and respectfully left untouched all that makes this game so timeless, and timeless it most certainly is. It is just as good now as it was all those years ago, and is a game that would be worth buying the 3DS for alone. Yes, Ocarina of Time is indeed one of the greatest games ever made, but here's what you maybe didn't expect: Ocarina of Time 3D actually refines and revitalizes this timeless masterpiece. Buy it, save the beautiful kingdom of Hyrule once again, and become the destined Hero of Time.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2016 5:11 PM PDT


Journeys
Journeys
Price: $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful soundtrack for life that is sentimental, nostalgic, and beautiful. Journeys is dreamwave perfection, March 5, 2016
This review is from: Journeys (MP3 Music)
Retrowave has really grown to be a massive underground musical scene, with seemingly hundreds if not thousands of various artists clamouring to fall under its umbrella since its inception a few short years ago. This is wonderful to see, but Timecop1983 is not your typical Retrowave artist, no siree. Timecop1983 has risen above the umbrella and chiseled out a special place in this musical movement. To put it simply, Timecop1983 is the king of Dreamwave.

What is Dreamwave, or Retrowave for that matter? Imagine your favorite movies and TV shows from the 80's and early 90's, where lush synths, driving basslines, and simple but powerful drums ruled the soundscape. Now imagine those sounds that made that era so iconic, shove it into a nuclear Delorean, and shoot it straight into our time, the FUTURE. Awesome 80's sounds made by talented modern artists, that's Retrowave. Dreamwave is a sub-genre of this beautiful movement that is like Retrowave, but dreamy (doy). Imagine all the lovely songs that played during scenes from 1980's pop culture of people driving in sunsets, on the coast, with happy sentiments filling your heart as the credits roll on a perfect ending. Now imagine that it's you in those scenes, in real life. This is the power of Timecop1983.

Honestly, this album is perfect. Every song is memorable, with gorgeous melodies, exquisite production, and fantastic musicianship. It doesn't matter which track you pick, every one will take you on a journey, whether it's the classic 80's pop sound of Dreams (featuring lush vocals from the lovely Dana Jean Phoenix) to the forlorn spurned love song in "Lost In Your Eyes" to the heartbreakingly beautiful synth and guitar solo dual melodies of "Journeys," to the amazing synth grooves of "City Lights," this album is spectacular. I would break every song down, but honestly, every song is spectacular. They may all have a similar beat and sound at times, but the whole record is stupendous as a "soundtrack for life."

Recently I took a late night/early morning drive in the heart of downtown Portland, OR, a beautiful, living major city in its own right. For two hours, I criss-crossed the city streets with this soundtrack playing. The neon colors that poured into my car mixed with the equally colorful music pouring out my speakers and it was truly a memorable experience. As the sun came up and bathed this already beautiful, clean city in heavenly light, I couldn't help but appreciate this music. Journeys is a must have if you want dreamy, nostalgic music to have as a soundtrack to your life. In that regard, I cannot recommend Journeys or any of Timecop1983's other albums enough. If you get them, you're in for a treat.


The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD - Wii U [Digital Code]
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD - Wii U [Digital Code]
Price: $49.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hero of Light returns in the definitive version of a Zelda classic, March 4, 2016
Ah yes, the "Zelda Cycle" is as reliable as the passing of the seasons. What is the "Zelda Cycle" you might ask? It's a pattern that takes place over roughly a decade wherein a new Zelda game is released to universal critical and community praise, then scrutinized, then bashed, then loathed and hated as "the black sheep" of the series, then reevaluated and slowly accepted again, until the final step wherein it is viewed as a beloved cult classic. For a long time, admitting you liked Twilight Princess was a statement you had to qualify and justify to others (right now it's Skyward Sword's turn on the hobbling wheel, judging by internet comments anyway). Not now though, because we've finally gotten to the point in the Zelda cycle where Twilight Princess is now rightly viewed as a high quality classic. The same thing happened to The Wind Waker as well, which is now universally loved, and rightly so (Wind Waker is my favorite entry in the Zelda series, which is my favorite game series of all time). For the record, I've loved Twilight Princess since I first played it roughly a decade ago, and my love for it has only grown each time I've played it since (which is about 5 or 6 times with a couple completionist runs in there, and I've played both the Gamecube and Wii versions). It has always been one of my favorite Zelda games. Now that everybody is generally on board in liking the game, it is the perfect time to release an HD remaster. Everyone loved Wind Waker HD, and I'm happy to say that Twilight Princess received the same stellar treatment here. Given that I've had so much experience with the original, I feel I can give a fair assessment of this remake. However, I must warn you, if you don't like long reviews, you may wish to stop reading now. I want to be fair and thorough to the game. You've been warned.

*For those already familiar with the original Twilight Princess and want to know only about this HD remake/remaster, skip the next three paragraph mini review*

After experimenting quite a bit with Majora's Mask and Wind Waker, Nintendo listened to all the feedback from fans and took TP back to 3-D Zelda roots by essentially revisiting the formula of Ocarina of Time closely. They abandoned the cel shaded Toon style of WW, and went with a gritty, high fantasy graphic novel look, like OoT but grown up. They abandoned the Great Sea and Termina and returned to the grand fields and regions of Hyrule, and made the game world way bigger than any Zelda game ever before it. They went back to a more classical Zelda thematic theme of duality, both in the story and in gameplay. In every way, TP feels like a true, faithful sequel to OoT, just much bigger and more refined. As a matter of fact,Twilight Princess is arguably the most refined, expansive, and encyclopedic classical 3-D Zelda entry ever. If you love Ocarina of Time, then Twilight Princess should be your bread and butter. It took the damn-near perfect formula from OoT, and sharpened it to an almost blinding gleam. TP is classic Zelda, plain and simple, but It wasn't just a retread of OoT. TP is also incredibly unique in the series. Hyrule is gigantic here, so the game's emphasis on horse riding and the genuine improvements and expansion on that mechanic, including horseback combat, is thrilling and enjoyable. No game has Epona ever been more important. The game's dungeons, their unique items, and boss fights are some of the best in the series, and that's a great thing as there are more dungeons in TP than any other 3-D Zelda game (which was nice given than people complained about the comparatively templeless WW). There were some really unique mechanics employed here as well, and yes, that includes Wolf Link. Love it or hate it, the wolf segments of the game did lend itself to good storytelling and variety in gameplay, in my opinion. Later portions of the game, where you can transform between Normal and Wolf Link at will, really embrace a great level of complexity that I enjoy greatly.

Twilight Princess is also, by far, the darkest entry in the main series (even more so than MM at times, which is hard to believe). It has a story that is filled to the brim with lovable, unique, and compelling characters who are all written and developed superbly. Midna, your main companion in the game, is by far the best companion character in the entire series (my wife and I named our Rat Terrier in her honor). This version of Hyrule and its various regions feels lived in and ancient. The world building is exceptionally well done. Each race and town all feel like a living, integral part of this world. I love the game's take on classic villains, but TP also featured a genuinely chilling and unnerving new villain with a very nice twist that I appreciate more every time I play the game. Aside from a slow opening, the game had excellent pace where no task felt like padding or a waste of time (*CoughSkywardSwordcough*) and there are tons of unique places to explore. The visuals are beautiful, with a gritty high fantasy take on classical Zelda themes. The peaceful, isolated serenity of the snowy region, or the sunset soaked bloom lighting of the Twilight Realm alone are worthy of mention when it comes to the game's timeless visual splendor. In some ways, even the original TP looks better than ever Skyward Sword, a much newer game.The soundtrack too reflected the more mature, nuanced, and complex world that Hyrule offered. It is probably my favorite soundtrack in a Zelda game, as it does such a wonderful job creating atmosphere and deepening the impact of the story.

Added all together and TP offers a complex and refined adventure. Its expansive take on classical Zelda elements make it the most refined, encyclopedic 3-D Zelda game to date, and the new and unique visual, thematic, and mechanical additions it made also makes it one of the most unique 3-D Zelda games. Those two statements may seem mutually exclusive, but TP somehow simultaneously pulls them off flawlessly. It certainly is not objectively perfect, but this HD remaster goes to some length to refine and improve the game, which I feel it succeeds at pretty well. Let's talk about that now.

*Review of the HD treatment Twilight Princess received*

By far the biggest and most noticeable improvement in Wind Waker HD was its visual upgrade. The vastly improved lighting and shading effects, the color range and vibrancy expansion, the much higher resolution, the completely redrawn textures, and more, all made Wind Waker look brand new and beautiful enough to stand tall against anything on the Wii-U's admittedly more powerful console competitors. This version of Twilight Princess received the exact same treatment as WWHD, but the upgrade is not quite as immediately striking. To be sure, this is by far the most beautiful version of TP, and it looks substantially better than the famously muddled Gamecube original (and yes, this is the GC version being remastered). Looking across Hyrule field in the early hours, with the warm sunlight penetrating the cold fog of night, looks stunning, as does walking around the Ordon Woods with gorgeous sun beams filtering through the trees and striking its serene sacred spring. The warm sunsetlike light of the Twilight Realm, which were always my favorite looking parts of the original, look absolutely gorgeous and radiant in this version, complete with its awesome particle effects. The texture upgrades also makes a HUGE difference in improving TP's visuals. Even something as simple as a wall texture, or the textures on characters themselves really improve the experience. What most people don't seem to realize is that in both WWHD AND TPHD, no work was done to upgrade any geometry or the character models themselves. It is only because of the timeless cel shaded look that emphasized color and style over realism that made WWHD look brand new again. Any time a game puts more emphasis on more realistic looking graphics over stylistic graphics, it will age more and quickly. That is the case here. So, in terms of the visual remastering, TP can be a bit of a mixed bag at times. All the improvements are wonderful, but it seems strange to see all that contrasted by almost completely unaltered Gamecube character models. Thankfully, even though TP went for a more realistic look, it is ultimately a Zelda game, which makes TP have its own distinctive stylized visual language even if it is through a more gritty lense. I also have to say I'm very happy we got the canonical Gamecube version of the game where Link is left-handed, the Gerudo desert and Lake Hylia is to the west, and Death Mountain is to the East. It's the little things which makes a Zelda nerd like me happy.

As with WWHD, there are also tons of subtle improvements to the game itself. A lot of people's biggest complaints about the original were its sometimes slow pacing, and a lot of these fixes help remedy that. Remember the somewhat slow and tedious quests to find the Tears of Light? Those have been quickened considerably, cutting the tears of each region from 16 to a dozen or so. This definitely helps the pacing along a lot. Hunting Poes is much less tedious due to an all-new Poe Radar Lantern item specifically made to make tracking those troublesome creepy Wraith monster dolls easier. They added a button on the touchscreen to make transforming between normal Link and Wolf Link much quicker and easier. If you open a chest with Ruppees in it, they no longer go back into the chest if your wallet is full, AND wallet capacity has been increased by default to accommodate this change, thank goodness. Other, more subtle improvements, such as speeding up climbing and swimming, also adds up a lot. Controls overall have been refined to feel smoother and more responsive. Stuff like this is all over the game, and is greatly welcome. Also, if you felt the original TP was too easy, well you're in luck, as the more difficult Hero Mode is available right off the bat. Overall, with all these tweaks, additions, and refinements, as well as the upgrades in presentation, this is the best version of TP by a lot.

The gamepad is used pretty much the same way it was in WWHD. The touch screen is put to excellent use as a way to quickly and efficiently look at the map, manage inventory, and other things like the new Wolf/Normal Link button I mentioned earlier. It all goes a long way to making the game experience more seamless. By far my favorite gamepad feature here is the gyroscopic controls. Aiming things like your bow, boomerang, slingshot, etc, all feels so good with the gyroscopic controls. Of course, if you hate the gamepad and would rather have a more traditional control experience, you can use the Wii-U Pro Controller, which is a nice option for gamers to have. There's also Amiibo support by default. If you were lucky enough to get a Wolf Link/Midna Amiibo, then you can have access to a "cave of trials" type arena where you play as Wolf Link, and which has its own rewards for completing it. Other Zelda themed Amiibos do unique things once per day. Ganandorf's amiibo makes Link take more damage, Link replenishes your arrows, and Zelda/Sheik replenishes hearts, etc. Not a groundbreaking feature by any stretch, but a nice, superfluous inclusion.

As much as I like Twilight Princess HD, it's not all perfect. While some of the pacing has received substantial improvement, by far the biggest complaint that people had about the original in this area was the game's incredibly slow opening 2-3 hours. For the record, I've always liked the game's opening, as I feel it does a good job at world-building and setting the darker, more mature tone of the game. I can understand why others dislike it though, and it's mystifying to me that Nintendo did nothing to speed this portion of the game up when they improved other areas people didn't like for being slow. I mean, seriously? One of my biggest gripes about WWHD is that the soundtrack itself didn't really get much love, and it's the same situation here. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to hear at least SOME of TP's fantastic, atmospheric soundtrack with full orchestration? It'd be great, right? Well, tough. All we get is some simple. often barely perceptible remastering, which is a bummer. As I said earlier, the character models stick out like a sore thumb a bit. I'm not saying Nintendo needed to pull a full-blown Ocarina of Time 3D remake, but it would've gone a long way visually if they had at least made new character models for the game. Nintendo themselves have said these HD Wii-U remasters are quick and easy to make. They couldn't update Link or Midna's model in the past two and a half years? Not onl that, but, like WWHD, the framerate is locked at 30 fps. I generally don't care about framerate as long as its stable and the game is good, and so I have no problem with 30 fps here, but I'll mention it because I know some do care about that. Another gripe I have is that you cannot play the Wii version of the game by default, and there's no motion control option. For those unaware, the Wii version of TP was mirrored with every location flipped and with a right-handed Link. If you want to play the mirrored version, you can only do so in Hero Mode. The default adventure is always the Gamecube version. Astonishingly, there's no Wii mode where you can use motion controls if you want. This seems like a massive omission that would've been easy to include given that all the work to implement motion control WAS ALREADY DONE FOR THE WII VERSION. Bummer.

In my opinion, few HD remaster/remakes have been as worthwhile as the ones Nintendo has done for the Zelda series. TPHD makes many genuinely excellent improvements on a game that I genuinely used to think had little room for improvement. I may be a weirdo for this, but I've always felt the original TP deserved to stand alongside OoT, Link's Awakening, and Wind Waker HD (which fixed the flawed original) as relatively flawless Zelda games. TP has grown on me over the years. Every time I've played the original (which is about 5-6 times), my love for it has grown. This HD remaster has only solidified its place in my top 3 Zelda games of all time list. It took a ten year old game, improved it immensely, and made me realize just how timeless it really is. It's still a great game even when compared to brand new releases today. If you are one of those who didn't like TP for whatever reason, this version gives compelling reason to come around and enjoy it. If you're a die hard Zelda fan, this is a no-brainer. It's the definitive version of an underappreciated, underrated cult classic and one that deserves a place of honor in Zelda's fabled 25+ year history. Hopefully now it will get the recognition and love it has always deserved. My recommendation: Buy it, prepare yourself for a true high fantasy adventure, and accept your fate as the Hero of Light chosen by the gods.


The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD - Wii U
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD - Wii U
Offered by T.R.G.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hero of Light returns in the definitive version of a Zelda classic, March 4, 2016
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Ah yes, the "Zelda Cycle" is as reliable as the passing of the seasons. What is the "Zelda Cycle" you might ask? It's a pattern that takes place over roughly a decade wherein a new Zelda game is released to universal critical and community praise, then scrutinized, then bashed, then loathed and hated as "the black sheep" of the series, then reevaluated and slowly accepted again, until the final step wherein it is viewed as a beloved cult classic. For a long time, admitting you liked Twilight Princess was a statement you had to qualify and justify to others (right now it's Skyward Sword's turn on the hobbling wheel, judging by internet comments anyway). Not now though, because we've finally gotten to the point in the Zelda cycle where Twilight Princess is now rightly viewed as a high quality classic. The same thing happened to The Wind Waker as well, which is now universally loved, and rightly so (As you can see by my review on that page, Wind Waker is my favorite entry in the Zelda series, which is my favorite game series of all time). For the record, I've loved Twilight Princess since I first played it roughly a decade ago, and my love for it has only grown each time I've played it since (which is about 5 or 6 times with a couple completionist runs in there, and I've played both the Gamecube and Wii versions). It has always been one of my favorite Zelda games. Now that everybody is generally on board in liking the game, it is the perfect time to release an HD remaster. Everyone loved Wind Waker HD, and I'm happy to say that Twilight Princess received the same stellar treatment here. Given that I've had so much experience with the original, I feel I can give a fair assessment of this remake. However, I must warn you, if you don't like long reviews, you may wish to stop reading now. I want to be fair and thorough to the game. You've been warned.

*For those already familiar with the original Twilight Princess and want to know only about this HD remake/remaster, skip the next three paragraph mini review*

After experimenting quite a bit with Majora's Mask and Wind Waker, Nintendo listened to all the feedback from fans and took TP back to 3-D Zelda roots by essentially revisiting the formula of Ocarina of Time closely. They abandoned the cel shaded Toon style of WW, and went with a gritty, high fantasy graphic novel look, like OoT but grown up. They abandoned the Great Sea and Termina and returned to the grand fields and regions of Hyrule, and made the game world way bigger than any Zelda game ever before it. They went back to a more classical Zelda thematic theme of duality, both in the story and in gameplay. In every way, TP feels like a true, faithful sequel to OoT, just much bigger and more refined. As a matter of fact,Twilight Princess is arguably the most refined, expansive, and encyclopedic classical 3-D Zelda entry ever. If you love Ocarina of Time, then Twilight Princess should be your bread and butter. It took the damn-near perfect formula from OoT, and sharpened it to an almost blinding gleam. TP is classic Zelda, plain and simple, but It wasn't just a retread of OoT. TP is also incredibly unique in the series. Hyrule is gigantic here, so the game's emphasis on horse riding and the genuine improvements and expansion on that mechanic, including horseback combat, is thrilling and enjoyable. No game has Epona ever been more important. It expanded on and refined the combat to the point where I'd say it's the best swordplay in the series. The game's dungeons, their unique items, and boss fights are some of the best in the series, and that's a great thing as there are more dungeons in TP than any other 3-D Zelda game (which was nice given that people complained about the comparatively templeless WW). There were some really unique mechanics employed here as well, and yes, that includes Wolf Link. Love it or hate it, the wolf segments of the game did lend itself to good storytelling and variety in gameplay, in my opinion. Later portions of the game, where you can transform between Normal and Wolf Link at will, really embrace a great level of complexity that I enjoy greatly.

Twilight Princess is also, by far, the darkest entry in the main series (even more so than MM at times, which is hard to believe). It has a story that is filled to the brim with lovable, unique, and compelling characters who are all written and developed superbly. Midna, your main companion in the game, is by far the best companion character in the entire series (my wife and I named our Rat Terrier in her honor). This version of Hyrule and its various regions feels lived in and ancient. The world building is exceptionally well done. Each race and town all feel like a living, integral part of this world. I love the game's take on classic villains, but TP also featured a genuinely chilling and unnerving new villain with a very nice twist that I appreciate more every time I play the game. Aside from a slow opening, the game had excellent pace where no task felt like padding or a waste of time (*CoughSkywardSwordcough*) and there are tons of unique places to explore. The visuals are beautiful, with a gritty high fantasy take on classical Zelda themes. The peaceful, isolated serenity of the snowy region, or the sunset soaked bloom lighting of the Twilight Realm alone are worthy of mention when it comes to the game's timeless visual splendor. In some ways, even the original TP looks better than ever Skyward Sword, a much newer game.The soundtrack too reflected the more mature, nuanced, and complex world that Hyrule offered. It is probably my favorite soundtrack in a Zelda game, as it does such a wonderful job creating atmosphere and deepening the impact of the story.

Added all together and TP offers a complex and refined adventure. Its expansive take on classical Zelda elements make it the most refined, encyclopedic 3-D Zelda game to date, and the new and unique visual, thematic, and mechanical additions it made also makes it one of the most unique 3-D Zelda games. Those two statements may seem mutually exclusive, but TP somehow simultaneously pulls them off flawlessly. It certainly is not objectively perfect, but this HD remaster goes to some length to refine and improve the game, which I feel it succeeds at pretty well. Let's talk about that now.

*Review of the HD treatment Twilight Princess received*

By far the biggest and most noticeable improvement in Wind Waker HD was its visual upgrade. The vastly improved lighting and shading effects, the color range and vibrancy expansion, the much higher resolution, the completely redrawn textures, and more, all made Wind Waker look brand new and beautiful enough to stand tall against anything on the Wii-U's admittedly more powerful console competitors. This version of Twilight Princess received the exact same treatment as WWHD, but the upgrades are a bit more subtle. To be sure, this is by far the most beautiful version of TP, and it looks substantially better than the famously muddled Gamecube original (and yes, this is the GC version being remastered). Looking across Hyrule field in the early hours, with the warm sunlight penetrating the cold fog of night, looks stunning, as does walking around the Ordon Woods with gorgeous sun beams filtering through the trees and striking its serene sacred spring. The warm sunsetlike light of the Twilight Realm, which were always my favorite looking parts of the original, look absolutely gorgeous and radiant in this version, complete with its awesome particle effects. The texture upgrades also makes a HUGE difference in improving TP's visuals. Even something as simple as a wall texture, or the textures on characters themselves really improve the experience. What most people don't seem to realize is that in both WWHD AND TPHD, no work was done to upgrade any geometry or the character models themselves. It is only because of the timeless cel shaded look that emphasized color and style over realism that WWHD looked brand new again. Any time a game puts more emphasis on more realistic looking graphics over stylistic graphics, it will age more and quickly. That is the case here. So, in terms of the visual remastering, TP can be a bit of a mixed bag at times. All the improvements are wonderful, but it seems strange to see all that contrasted by almost completely unaltered Gamecube character models. Thankfully, even though TP went for a more realistic look, it is ultimately a Zelda game, which makes TP have its own distinctive stylized visual language even if it is through a more gritty lense. I also have to say I'm very happy we got the canonical Gamecube version of the game where Link is left-handed, the Gerudo desert and Lake Hylia is to the west, and Death Mountain is to the East. It's the little things which makes a Zelda nerd like me happy.

As with WWHD, there are also tons of subtle improvements to the game itself. A lot of people's biggest complaints about the original were its sometimes slow pacing, and a lot of these fixes help remedy that. Remember the somewhat slow and tedious quests to find the Tears of Light? Those have been quickened considerably, cutting the tears of each region from 16 to a dozen or so. This definitely helps the pacing along a lot. Hunting Poes is much less tedious due to an all-new Poe Radar Lantern item specifically made to make tracking those troublesome creepy Wraith monster dolls easier. They added a button on the touchscreen to make transforming between normal Link and Wolf Link much quicker and easier. If you open a chest with Ruppees in it, they no longer go back into the chest if your wallet is full, AND wallet capacity has been increased by default to accommodate this change, thank goodness. Other, more subtle improvements, such as speeding up climbing and swimming, also adds up a lot. Controls overall have been refined to feel smoother and more responsive. Stuff like this is all over the game, and is greatly welcome. Also, if you felt the original TP was too easy, well you're in luck, as the more difficult Hero Mode is available right off the bat. Overall, with all these tweaks, additions, and refinements, as well as the upgrades in presentation, this is the best version of TP by a lot.

The gamepad is used pretty much the same way it was in WWHD. The touch screen is put to excellent use as a way to quickly and efficiently look at the map, manage inventory, and other things like the new Wolf/Normal Link button I mentioned earlier. It all goes a long way to making the game experience more seamless. By far my favorite gamepad feature here is the gyroscopic controls. Aiming things like your bow, boomerang, slingshot, etc, all feels so good with the gyroscopic controls. Of course, if you hate the gamepad and would rather have a more traditional control experience, you can use the Wii-U Pro Controller, which is a nice option for gamers to have. There's also Amiibo support by default. If you were lucky enough to get a Wolf Link/Midna Amiibo, then you can have access to a "cave of trials" type arena where you play as Wolf Link, and which has its own rewards for completing it. Other Zelda themed Amiibos do unique things once per day. Ganandorf's amiibo makes Link take more damage, Link replenishes your arrows, and Zelda/Sheik replenishes hearts, etc. Not a groundbreaking feature by any stretch, but a nice, superfluous inclusion.

As much as I like Twilight Princess HD, it's not all perfect. While some of the pacing has received substantial improvement, by far the biggest complaint that people had about the original in this area was the game's incredibly slow opening 2-3 hours. For the record, I've always liked the game's opening, as I feel it does a good job at world-building and setting the darker, more mature tone of the game. I can understand why others dislike it though, and it's mystifying to me that Nintendo did nothing to speed this portion of the game up when they improved other areas people didn't like for being slow. I mean, seriously? One of my biggest gripes about WWHD is that the soundtrack itself didn't really get much love, and it's the same situation here. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to hear at least SOME of TP's fantastic, atmospheric soundtrack with full orchestration? It'd be great, right? Well, tough. All we get is some simple. often barely perceptible remastering, which is a bummer. As I said earlier, the character models stick out like a sore thumb a bit. I'm not saying Nintendo needed to pull a full-blown Ocarina of Time 3D remake, but it would've gone a long way visually if they had at least made new character models for the game. Nintendo themselves have said these HD Wii-U remasters are quick and easy to make. They couldn't update Link or Midna's model in the past two and a half years? Not onl that, but, like WWHD, the framerate is locked at 30 fps. I generally don't care about framerate as long as its stable and the game is good, and so I have no problem with 30 fps here, but I'll mention it because I know some do care about that. Another gripe I have is that you cannot play the Wii version of the game by default, and there's no motion control option. For those unaware, the Wii version of TP was mirrored with every location flipped and with a right-handed Link. If you want to play the mirrored version, you can only do so in Hero Mode. The default adventure is always the Gamecube version. Astonishingly, there's no Wii mode where you can use motion controls if you want. This seems like a massive omission that would've been easy to include given that all the work to implement motion control WAS ALREADY DONE FOR THE WII VERSION. Bummer.

In my opinion, few HD remaster/remakes have been as worthwhile as the ones Nintendo has done for the Zelda series. TPHD makes many genuinely excellent improvements on a game that I genuinely used to think had little room for improvement. I may be a weirdo for this, but I've always felt the original TP deserved to stand alongside OoT, Link's Awakening , and Wind Waker HD (which fixed the flawed original) as relatively flawless Zelda games. TP has grown on me over the years. Every time I've played the original (which is about 5-6 times), my love for it has grown. This HD remaster has only solidified its place in my top 3 Zelda games of all time list. It took a ten year old game, improved it immensely, and made me realize just how timeless it really is. It's still a great game even when compared to brand new releases today. If you are one of those who didn't like TP for whatever reason, this version gives compelling reason to come around and enjoy it. If you're a die hard Zelda fan, this is a no-brainer. It's the definitive version of an underappreciated, underrated cult classic and one that deserves a place of honor in Zelda's fabled 25+ year history. Hopefully now it will get the recognition and love it has always deserved. My recommendation: Buy it, prepare yourself for a true high fantasy adventure, and accept your fate as the Hero of Light chosen by the gods.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2016 11:19 AM PDT


NaturOli Soap Nut / Soapberry Shampoo 16oz Organic Natural Hair Care. Sulfate Free! Normal to Oily. EXTREME Hair is made with USDA organic soap nuts / soap berries! Gluten free. Vegan.
NaturOli Soap Nut / Soapberry Shampoo 16oz Organic Natural Hair Care. Sulfate Free! Normal to Oily. EXTREME Hair is made with USDA organic soap nuts / soap berries! Gluten free. Vegan.
Offered by NaturOli
Price: $23.90
3 used & new from $19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Shampoo for my hair so far, February 3, 2016
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Best Shampoo for my hair so far. Seriously leaves hair clean but not stripped. Don't need a conditioner at all with this. Good size, last long. No particular smell. Ingredients are gentle and reliable.


Women Color Flat knit Sweater tights (One Size : XS to M, Camel)
Women Color Flat knit Sweater tights (One Size : XS to M, Camel)
Offered by STYLEGAGA
Price: $12.90

2.0 out of 5 stars Nasty smell won't go away even after washing, actually ..., February 3, 2016
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Nasty smell won't go away even after washing, actually tainting skin with the smell. Color and fit are as expected. Material is itchy and uncomfortable.


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