Except for the Zelda games on the CD-i that no one ever played, Twilight Princess is the the worst Zelda game ever. The series has always been innovative, introducing new gameplay mechanics and presenting everything with an interesting premise and high production values. But TP is a half-assed effort that doesn't capture any of the unique qualities the series is known for. It's a lame re-hash of the same things we've already seen and done before, and most of its original content is just not good. Even though it's still above average, it's completely underwhelming for a Zelda game. Continue reading for the break-down of why Twilight Princess sucks.
It's difficult to even figure out where to start with this critique, because the problems with TP are a tangled web of missed potential, dashed expectations, and bad decisions. The whole game feels bland and uninspired with nothing really interesting happening, and none of the design does anything to make it feel compelling. So let's just start with TP's position in the lineage of the series.
(There's a TLDR at the bottom of the post if you don't feel like reading everything. But I advise you at least read the headlines on the way down. Also, while we're on the subject of Zelda games, don't forget to check out my other controversial Zelda article, Majora's Mask is Better than Ocarina of Time.)
Surely There are Worse Zelda Games, Right?
Even Nintendo doesn't consider those CD-i games part of the Zelda series, so we can disregard those. So now you might be thinking that perhaps the original two games on the NES are the worst, just because they haven't aged very well, and they're really primitive and what not. It's nothing personal, but they're just nowhere near as good as what games can offer us in this modern age, right? Well, that's true, but it's not really fair to criticize either of those two.
There was no precedent when the original Zelda game was released. We had no expectations for it, so it is what it is. It established a series that went on to become perhaps the most popular franchise in the world, which is commendable enough and I think therefore grants it immunity from the "Worst Zelda Ever" title. Adventure of Link took a turn for the worse, but at least it took the admirable approach of trying to do something new with the formula. The series hadn't fully established itself by that point in time, so it's not like AOL had a legacy to live up to; its failures are excusable.
Twilight Princess, on the other hand, is the culmination of over 20 years of advances in a critically-acclaimed series. Technically speaking, TP is probably the best Zelda game to date. It's the most streamlined, it has some great dungeon design, its gameplay is highly functioning, the raw processing power is better. It's basically a new and improved version of Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past. But TP just hasn't advanced the series like its predecessors. and that makes it even more of a letdown, especially considering our higher expectations for it. Relatively speaking, TP is in fact the worst Zelda game ever.
(You might also be thinking that some of the handheld Zelda games (Oracle of Ages/Seasons, Minish Cap, Phantom Hourglass, or Spirit Tracks) are much worse, but these games are kind of in a league of their own. As portable games, they run on different expectations and standards. So for the sake of argument, let's just compare the console games.)
Like I said, the series has always been innovative. Each game did something to mix up the formula and introduced creative, new elements of gameplay. The first game established the series, and the sequel, Adventure of Link, changed the gameplay to side-scrolling action-RPG. A Link to the Past added a bunch of new mechanics that I can't even begin to list but also had the whole Dark World twist going on. Ocarina of Time, besides being the first 3D Zelda, had the seven year time-travel dynamic. Majora's Mask had the mask mechanics with the three-day time limit and time manipulation. Wind Waker had the cel-shaded graphics with the sailing mechanic.
What does Twilight Princess have? Basically nothing. The design philosophy behind TP was to appease the screaming fanboys by giving us a new and improved version of OOT. Everything about TP is derived from previous Zelda games, and feels almost exactly like ALTTP put into an OOT skin.
The only unique aspects of TP are the wolf transformation and the twilight realm. But both of these mechanics are themselves weak derivations of previous Zelda games (I'll describe these in more detail later). Everything the wolf does has already been done before, and the twilight dimension is very similar to the Dark World (and Adult Link world) from ALTTP and OOT. As a result, TP just feels like a boring, repetitive game that we've already played before. It even goes so far as to re-hash the same old "Ganondorf conquering Hyrule" story that's been in basically every Zelda game. There's nothing unique or truly remarkable about TP. It's generic.
It's also worth mentioning that the motion controls don't add much to the experience, either. It sounded like it'd be really cool to use the Wiimote to control the sword, that it would feel more immersing, but it actually detracts from the experience because all you're doing is waggling the controller in ways that don't sync up with the action on the screen. The game actually plays better on the GameCube without the motion controls. Because motion controls ruin immersion.
The Whole Set-Up is Cliche
Twilight Princess goes for the cliched "epic hero" story of an innocent farm boy who sets out on a quest for justice after some calamity strikes his village. It's the same story that's been told for centuries. The idea is to make the protagonist an ordinary individual so that the audience can relate more easily, and to make the character's progression from "zero to hero" more dramatic. Stories can use this motif without being cliche (after all every Zelda game uses it), but TP really hammers it in until it loses any sense of originality. The intro draws far more attention to this aspect than any other game before.
The Intro is Long and Boring
Every other Zelda game gives you a clear direction from the very beginning. They establish a central conflict, give you a series of goals, give you the tools to get the job done, and get you right into the action. Ocarina of Time starts with Navi waking you on a request from the Great Deku Tree. Your first task is to find a sword and shield and then you go right into the first dungeon. Majora's Mask immediately starts out with a quest to catch up with the Skull Kid to rescue Epona and the Ocarina, to turn yourself back to normal, and to save the world in three days. A Link to the Past immediately begins receiving a quest from Zelda to rescue her from the castle dungeon.
But the intro to TP spends a lot of time establishing Link's ordinary life as a farmer and drawing our attention to it. We do odd jobs for everyone (including several iterations of that stupid goat-wrangling mini-game), talk and play with fellow villagers, and everything's business as normal in the life of a typical farmhand. It does all of this to emphasize the "epic hero" story to try to make us care about Link's origin and the fate of the villagers at the expense of pacing.
It takes something like two hours in TP before we even get into a dungeon, and we spend all of our time up until then doing random things and whacking enemies with a wooden practice sword. Just aimlessly meandering around. It's not at all exciting and doesn't give you any kind of a "hook" to keep going. The only real reason to keep playing is because of our own external expectations: "It's a Zelda game, it's gotta be good" or "Guess I just have to keep going until things get interesting."
Lame Attempts to Endear us to Lame Characters
During this long, boring intro they try to endear us to some of the villagers so that we'll care about them once they're kidnapped. Except that none of the characters have any real personality or depth to them which makes it hard to care at all. Malo and Talo are creepy, androgynous-looking typical whippersnappers. Colin is an androgynous-looking typical wussy. Ilia has the distinction of actually resembling her gender, but she too is just a typical romantic interest with a fascination for horses.
There's just nothing unique about these characters or their relationship with Link. We don't interact with them in meaningful ways; most of the time we're just passively there while they do their own thing. Defending Colin against Talo's teasing mischief feels hollow and makes me care less about both characters--Colin because he's got no stones (I just want to smack him and tell him to grow up and deal with it) and Talo because he's an insensitive punk. Malo's just weird and creepy and doesn't really do anything.
There's a little something going on with Ilia, but not very much. The scenes with her in the spring tending to Epona at dusk are slightly moving, but this is primarily because of the melodramatic aesthetic, not because of her character. It's a beautiful, glistening pond glowing with the orange sunlight and she's getting sentimental while soft charming music plays. The game implies a deep relationship built around silent affection, but it doesn't build on or develop this idea. When we finally catch up to her and find out she's lost her memory, it's supposed to be tragic but I really didn't care.
Wind Waker goes for a similar motif with your little sister Aryll. She gets carried off of the island by a giant bird, and that's supposed to be our motivation to set out on our quest. Now, she's not really a better character than any of the folks in TP--in fact she's probably even more generic--but there's a charming, appealing simplicity to her characterization (or lackthereof), aided by the graphical style and atmosphere of the game. In TP they try to create "serious" character development, which only draws more attention to the fact that the characters are really quite shallow and generic.
Later on there's also a resistance movement opposing the usurped rule of Zant. They're supposed to be the underground allies aiding you in your mission, but they're completely forgettable. The game doesn't depict Zant's reign (except for the whole twilight thing) to give us a sense of why he's such a villain or that anyone is really suffering under his rule, and the resistance characters don't actually do a whole lot in the story. Their moments are fleeting and they don't do anything besides point you in the next direction.
Link Has No Personality
Link's been a silent protagonist since forever (except in the 1989 anime). He doesn't show much emotion, letting you (the player) transpose your own emotion into the role. I was never bothered with this aspect of Link as a silent hero in the previous games, and I'm not saying that he needs to talk to have personality. But WW established a new way to give Link some personality while retaining his silence. His facial expressions, voice acting (what little there is), and body language convey a wider range of emotion that makes him a deeper, more interesting character.
As a demonstration of what I mean, compare a collection of some of the facial expressions from Wind Waker (top) to those in Twilight Princess (bottom).
Link's facial expressions in TP are all slight variations of his default, neutral face. The only difference is the angle of his eyebrows, and whether the edges of his mouth are pointed up or down. I can tell what these four images are supposed to represent emotionally, but they don't convey emotion. Even when these expressions are in full motion in the context of the game, they feel like blank, empty zombie faces. He might look more realistic in TP, but he feels flat and boring.
This wouldn't bother me that much (like I said, basically every Zelda game is like this), but because TP tries to develop deeper characters and tries to endear us to them more than any other Zelda game, it makes Link's static, hollow expressions feel even flatter. They'd feel fine if the game weren't trying to establish a deeper emotional connection with the setting. It's also just the fact that it's following WW which makes it even more obvious to notice after WW set the standard.
Epona's "More Prominent Role" is Relatively Minor
The trailers, press releases, and general hype for TP included the fact that Epona was getting a more prominent role. We basically have access to her from the very beginning (unlike OOT and MM where we have to unlock her after a while), we can use more items while mounted, and there are a handful of battle sequences that involve her. Oh, and Ilia has that strange obsession with her. But that's about it.
That one sequence where you defend the wagon on horseback is fairly fun, but I wasn't impressed with the bridge dueling or the final battle with Ganondorf. These are isolated instances that don't really reflect the rest of the game. You spend most of your time as a wolf or in dungeons where you can't use her, anyway. It would've been cool if they had a dungeon where you actually brought her in and used her to solve puzzles and for boss battles or what not. You know, if they'd integrated her with the full game experience instead of just making sideshow content for her.
The Twilight is Underwhelming
Hyrule is cast into twilight where the color is a little de-saturated and a bunch of pixel effects dance around the sky. Zelda tells you what Zant has done and puts you on a quest to restore the Spirits of Light in order to save Hyrule from Twilight. But the Twilight doesn't seem all that bad. It's more of an inconvenience than any real threat. People turn into lost souls or whatever, but they're not really aware of what's going on. Not many characters are noticeably distressed by the twilight.
I guess some of them are terrorized by shadow beasts or something that we can't see, but it's just not that big of a deal to me. They don't do much to depict the Twilight as bad except for telling us that Zant is bad and that we need to stop him. But the Twilight can't be all bad, can it, if Midna's a Twili? And besides the weak characterization and depiction, there's just nothing at stake. It's not like we have to save the world from destruction or rescue anyone, we just have to restore the light and make things look normal again. Big whoop.
Furthermore, the twilight just isn't that interesting. The concept reminds me of the Dark World from ALTTP and the Adult Link setting from OOT, where it's the same basic world but it's dark and twisted. Except that the twilight isn't functionally different from the normal version. It's the exact same thing but with a color palette switched out. NPCs are ghosts or whatever and the enemies are shadow versions but it's just not dynamic or interesting. Most of what it does is stretch the game length out by making us replay the same areas once as twilight and again as normal. It's not new or innovative, it doesn't add anything to the experience.
They Don't Characterize Zant
They try to introduce a new villain to mix things up (even though Ganondorf eventually gets involved again), but they don't characterize Zant at all. They tell us a couple factual things about him, but we don't really get to understand his motivations or his desires beyond very superficial explanations. Alright, he's angry and wants to be king, so he wants to take over Hyrule so that his people can reign where they belong. But there's no conviction that he's really that bad of a guy, they just tell us that he's the antagonist and that we have to stop him. He could've been an interesting villain, but he just turns out to be a weird clown without any depth or interesting qualities.
Restoring the Spirits of Light is Boring and Tedious
Anyway, we're then tasked with restoring the Spirits of Light. How do we do this? Is it some kind of dungeon-like sequence with menacing enemies and challenging puzzles? Is it an epic scripted adventure? No, we just collect a few dozen bugs. We just wander around an enclosed area of twilight looking for blue dots of light and we collect them. And then we do it three more time for each remaining Spirit. This is how we spend the majority of our time in the twilight. It's a boring, tedious chore. Who thought it was a good idea to spend so much of the game doing this? It just makes the concept of the twilight even more shallow and uninteresting.
The Wolf is a Stupid, Pointless Gimmick
Whenever you're in the twilight region you turn into a wolf. The original buzz around the gaming circuits was that Link was going to be a werewolf. I was expecting a dark, gothic werewolf thing, thinking that it would be a blessing and a curse, bestowing supernatural strength and abilities while also causing you to lose control of your behavior. I was hoping for an intricate lunar phase system that would dictate when you'd turn into the werewolf. But then it turned out that Link is just an ordinary wolf. How lame is that?
Besides the let-down, though, the wolf is functionally no different than what we've already seen and done in previous Zelda games. The wolf can dig holes in the ground. You could do that with shovels in Link's Awakening and ALTTP. But now you can only do it in pre-scripted areas. The wolf can follow scent trails. You could do that with the Mask of Scents in MM. But this skill is pretty boring and just amounts to following a dotted line, anyway. The wolf can howl music. You could do that in OOT, MM, and WW. But now you can only do it in pre-scripted areas instead of using the music as a functional tool. The wolf can also see things that human Link can't. You can do something similar with the Lens of Truth in OOT and MM.
|If you've played these games, you've basically played the wolf in Twilight Princess.|
The wolf's attacks are also very simple and unengaging. At least with human Link you can block and dodge and use items and perform combos, but with the wolf you basically just press A for a lunge attacks and then you can press A again to bite into the target's face. Or you can hold down B and then perform an auto-scripted multi-combo attack. Wolf combat therefore feels like a chore. I sigh and grumble every time I turn into the wolf because it's just not fun. Being a wolf is a novel idea (sort of) but it's just not that unique in terms of actual gameplay.
Why is Link a Wolf, Anyway?
There's a stupid circular logic to this that I don't understand or appreciate. We enter into a twilight dimension and automatically turn into the wolf. Why is that? Well, it's because Link is the Hero of Time, of course! But how do we know that he's the Hero of Time? Because he turns into a wolf in the twilight realm! There's no other explanation besides the convenient justification that he's The Chosen Hero.
It kind of defeats the point of spending all of that time in the beginning establishing Link as an ordinary farmhand and setting up the cliched "epic hero" premise when it turns out that he's The Chosen Hero anyway. It's also disappointing because you don't do anything to earn that status. In OOT they made you work for it by getting the spiritual stones to open the Door of Time, acquiring the Master Sword, and earning the Triforce of Courage. Here you're just inexplicably imbued with the Heroic Powers from the very beginning, and it therefore doesn't feel rewarding or special.
The Map Design is Claustrophobic and Disjointed
Once you're out exploring and questing, the entire map--everywhere you go--feels like you're in tight, enclosed areas. Hyrule Field is broken into a bunch of small "islands" connected by long, narrow hallways. It's completely unrealistic and kills the sense of scale. Instead of feeling like you're in a grand kingdom, it just feels like you're going through a couple of relatively large rooms. Everything feels disconnected from everything else because it quite literally is. This all detracts from the sense of scale and makes the world less interesting but also a lot smaller than it should be.
|This just looks ridiculous. (Click to enlarge)|
If they wanted to break the maps down into smaller areas for the sake of processing power or what not, they still could've done it better. Clock Town in Majora's Mask, for example, is broken into four districts, but there's a sense of continuity between them, as if they're all part of a larger town. I don't get that sense of continuity in TP. Even the map doesn't do anything to convey it, you know, at least they could've painted some mountains in, given it some kind of landscape justification for why everything's so disjointed.
Exploring the Maps is Unrewarding
Most Zelda games have interesting things to find in the maps. Whether it's just interesting scenery or finding secret grottoes, it feels exciting to explore and see what you can find. But TP misses that mark, too, and gives us almost no incentive to explore. The maps feel lifeless with nothing to really see or do. You walk into a house and there aren't even pots to smash. A lot of the heart pieces got moved into the dungeons, and the ones you can find in the world map are in completely obvious locations that just require the right item to get to. You see obvious chests and there's just nothing you can do about it until you've forgotten and lost interest.
Most of the time those chests are filled with rupees. Rupees are basically useless (except for the Magic Armor which is itself basically useless), so big whoop if you find rupees. But to make matters worse you can't even loot the chest if your wallet is full. I guess it makes sense to leave the rupees there instead of wasting them, having them vanish into thin air, but then you're left with a chest icon on the map that you'll basically never open. This drives my OCD off the wall, because I hate seeing a chest icon that I can't open or get rid of.
Not to mention, TP is much more linear than other Zelda games and restricts your movement a lot more. It practically forces you to go directly to the next map marker in the main questline because literally everywhere else is conveniently blocked. I realize OOT and MM did this as well, but I feel like those were justified more since the routes were blocked with obstacles that you knew you'd use your items to overcome. In TP they're blocked with barricades that just conveniently come down when you need to go there. There's nothing satisfying about getting into new areas when the game rails you towards it and doesn't let you go anywhere else.
Too Many Mandatory, Gimmicky Mini-Games
There's the stupid goat-wrangling, but there's also the sumo wrestling that you have to do at random times. But because of the disjointed level design, there are bunch of navigational mini-games where they try to make it "fun" to go through the long, narrow, connecting tunnels from area to area. You can ride a snowboard down the mountains, or you can ride the rapids down a stream, or you can fly up a canyon with a bird. These things all feel really out of place and aren't really any fun, anyway. Like someone thought it was a good idea and fought tooth and nail to shoehorn them in somehow.
There Are Virtually No Side-Quests
A large part of the appeal of previous Zelda games was the potential to do side-quests. It's fun to deviate from the main-quest to do things that better prepare you for the road ahead. It gives you a sense of control, that you decide when to progress the story and that you're taking matters into your own hands to improve yourself. But the only side-quests in TP are basically the Magic Armor quest, and the bug collecting quest. And neither of these are particularly rewarding. The bugs just give you useless rupees, and the Magic Armor just makes you invincible in an already too-easy game.
The handful of side-attractions that exist are also kind of boring. There's that Star game you can play in the tent in Hyrule Castle Town, you can play "rollgoal" (that stupid little game where you roll the ball into a hole), you can float around on cuccos. In fact, those mandatory, gimmicky mini-games themselves become optional side-attractions. You can still go fishing, and by golly one of the few compliments I have for TP is that the fishing is actually really enjoyable. But even then there's not much of a reward for it.
TP doesn't give you very many opportunities to stray away from the main quest to search for heart pieces or item upgrades or special items. For the most part, you're stuck following the linear storyline, which reduces the player's freedom and restricts what they can do. It gives the player fewer opportunities to feel a part of the game world because all we get to do is the scripted main quests, doing them the ways the game expects us to.
All of the New Items are Functionally Useless
The best items in a Zelda game are the ones that you can use in varied situations. The bow and arrow is cool because you can use it in virtually any combat situation, you can use it to hit ranged enemies, you can use it to solve different kinds of puzzles, you can use it in shooting galleries, and you can shoot it from horseback. The megaton hammer is less cool because you only really use it to flip rusted floor switches and to smash certain obstacles.
Every single new item in TP is either a lame derivation of previous items, or has extremely limited uses. The Gale Boomerang functions exactly the same as the Boomerang from WW, except that now it creates a small tornado that flips switches or carries items away from you. It's not very different and not very exciting, but it's your staple boomerang so it's hard to complain. The Clawshot is the same as the hookshot, except that now you can use two of them at once. Big deal. The Water Bomb is a normal bomb that works underwater, the Bombling is basically a Bombchu. The Lantern is basically the same as in ALTTP. Oocoo is basically just Farore's Wind.
So that leaves the three truly new items, the Spinner, the Ball and Chain, and the Dominion Rod. But the problem is that all of these items can only be used in certain pre-scripted areas for pre-scripted purposes. You barely use them at all outside of their respective dungeon. The Spinner is kind of cool when you first start using it, but its novelty wears off very fast. The Dominion Rod is also pretty cool but, again, you don't use it much at all outside of its temple. The Ball and Chain is the most functional item of the bunch, because you can actually use it in combat, but this one new item doesn't make up for the the underwhelming lameness of everything else.
There's No Magic Meter
I've grown accustomed to having a magic meter ever since it was introduced in ALTTP. I guess I don't mind that it's missing in TP (you almost don't even notice), but the magic meter added an extra dimension of strategy and complexity to the previous games. It gave you an "ammo supply" that you had to use wisely. Every "magic" item shared the same ammo pool which made it a tough call whether to use Nayru's Love (since it uses a lot of magic), or determining how long you could sail with the Deku Leaf. So it's not that big of a deal with TP, but I do miss it, and I think it added some good qualities to the gameplay that TP doesn't compensate for.
The Whole Game is Too Easy
Twilight Princess feels easier than previous games. A lot of this may simply be because we've been playing Zelda games long enough that we're familiar with all of the tropes and conventions. But TP really holds your hand and it rarely ever lets you go. Just to make sure that you don't get lost, you can't wander off of the main path or go to other towns before the game lets you. There are no opportunities to deviate. Midna tells you in straight-up terms exactly what to do in different situations. The solution to the bosses is painfully obvious and Midna will tell you the solution if you don't figure it out in two minutes.
Majora's Mask, for example, doesn't tell you exactly what to do. You get vague instructions ("there are four giants in the north, south, east, and west") and you have to connect the dots yourself to figure out where to go and what to do. You explore, talk to people, learn things about your surroundings, and it feels satisfying to get to the solution on your own. There are a lot of different ways to fail quests in MM, and you can make the game harder for yourself by neglecting to go after optional side-content like Great Fairies, heart-pieces, mini-games, masks, item upgrades, etc.
These games aren't supposed to be brutally challenging, but they're supposed to give you a sense of accomplishment and progression. But you just don't get that feeling in TP because the game holds your hand too much. You don't have the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, or to explore things at your pace. There's some of this going on in the dungeons, but everything else is simple and straight-forward, making the dungeons feel like isolated instances.
The Atmosphere is Too Serious, No Whimsy
Veering away from the somewhat controversial cel-shaded, bright graphics, light-hearted, "childish" atmosphere from WW, Twilight Princess wanted to capture the more mature feeling of the Adult Link world from OOT. So now we've got gritty, realistic graphics with an Adult Link who wears chainmail armor and has an angrier-looking face with a dark twilight realm closing in on Hyrule turning everyone into lost souls. It's all a bit much for me.
These games work best with a bit of light-heartedness to ease the tension and to let you just have fun in the setting. Like a kid playing in the ball pen at a playground, free to do whatever pleases you and to forget about everything else. Even though MM had such a dark, stifling atmosphere, it gave you plenty of opportunities to indulge in side-quests and side-events. Ocarina of Time had fewer side-quests, but for some reason there was still a child-like fascination running around exploring and doing things.
But there's very little whimsy in TP. It's constantly about the main questline and it keeps reminding us how dark, gritty, and realistic everything is. We're almost always in a rigid, business-like mindset of "I gotta go here and do this," as if playing the game is a chore. Even if you're enjoying the main questline, it's still like a serious, mandatory task. I don't mind the idea of a more mature setting, story, and atmosphere, but in this case it comes off feeling pretentious, like it's trying too hard to be serious. It sacrificed its sense of mystical style to go for this serious, realistic atmosphere, and it's just not as interesting.
The Graphics Are Disappointing
Despite the effort to make TP more realistic and graphically impressive, the graphics aren't actually that great. The visual style makes a lot of the scenes look drained of life (because of its low saturation), and you run into a bunch of really bad, low-res textures and jagged edges. Not to mention the fact that the design of the NPCs is so weird and bizarre that it just doesn't look good. Just look at some of these pictures:
|This outfit looks absurd and belongs in Final Fantasy.|
|OMG THE CREEPY BABY FACE!|
|Look at these low-res textures.|
You know there's something wrong when Twilight Princess, a 2006 launch title for the Wii, looks worse than StarFox Adventures, a 2002 second-party launch title for the GameCube. The graphics ultimately look fine for what they are--they can actually look really nice at times--but the highly-touted realistic graphics didn't add anything to the experience, and actually put the game into the shallow end of the uncanny valley. The excessive use of brown earthtones makes everything look and feel stale.
Where's My Orchestrated Soundtrack?
As long as I'm nit-picking the graphics, I may as well mention the fact that the soundtrack for TP is in MIDI format. We were expecting a fully-orchestrated soundtrack after all of the trailers (which used orchestras) and music composer Koji Kondo's desire to use a full orchestra. And then we ended up with MIDIs which sound noticeably lower in quality. Even though a lot of the music is really evocative and creative, it sounds tinny and weak.
For example, listen to the above comparisons of Midna's Lament and the Sacred Grove, and tell me which one feels richer and more organic. The MIDI versions feel a little phony to me, while the orchestrated ones have more depth and quality to them. Like with the graphics, it's not that big of a deal, but it's yet another case of missed potential and dashed expectations.
Too Long, Didn't Read
Twilight Princess sucks. Every other game in the series has innovated with exciting new gameplay mechanics, but TP is just a lame re-hash of everything that we've already seen and done before. The wolf is especially pointless and is really just a gimmick. The game is too easy and most of the items are useless because they can only be used in pre-scripted areas with extremely limited functionality. There are virtually no side-quests to indulge in, and the world map is not rewarding to explore. The characters are pretty flat and boring which is made worse by the fact that TP tries to be more melodramatic than previous games.
It's still an above-average game, but it's disappointing for a Zelda game. Some of it's actually quite good, such as the dungeon designs, and the fact that Midna's the first interesting side-kick we've ever been paired with. I also really, really liked the fishing. A lot of what I wrote above is just my opinion, but everything is based on objective observation. Whether or not you agree with my interpretations, the facts are what they are. So you might prefer the realistic style of the graphics, or you might really enjoy playing as a wolf, or you might really care about what happens to Ilia, and you might think that Twilight Princess is the best Zelda game yet. That is, if you have bad taste in video games and poor judgment skills.