Go ahead and call me crazy. Yes, I was one of the brave gamers who spent a night or so out in the bitter cold to claim Nintendo's answer to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 — the Wii. With reasonably priced hardware, superbly innovative controls and an impressive launch software lineup, Wii is stealing the spotlight in the next-gen console wars.
Controls obviously are at the forefront of any Wii discussion. Instead of a traditional game pad, players are equipped with a remote (dubbed by the gaming community as the Wiimote) and are actually forced to drag themselves off the couch and flail it around to control the action of the game. With only a tiny infrared receiver, the Wiimote delivers responsive pinpoint accuracy. Whether it be mimicking the slash of a sword or swinging a tennis racquet, the scheme just never gets old.
Perhaps the most entertaining portion of the console's included software is the "Mii Channel," which allows players to mold a computer-generated character for use in games like "Wii Sports." While the graphics are modest, it is astounding how alike some of the Mii are to their human counterparts. Bravo, Nintendo.
To successfully launch a console, companies have to deliver not only great hardware, but must-have games to go along with it. Fortunately for gamers, Nintendo was really on the ball and released one of the most highly anticipated titles of this holiday season, "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess." Taking full advantage of Wii's controls, and serving up the best gameplay since "Ocarina of Time," "Twilight Princess" can safely be crowned the best Zelda title to date.
Of course, players assume the role of Link, who must once again save the land of Hyrule, this time from the sinister force known as the King of Twilight. With the aid of a questionable creature, Midna, and trusty stead Epona, Link will traverse a plethora of temples and dungeons while wielding his arsenal of weapons, all to restore the light and dispel the darkness.
Right off the bat, "Twilight Princess" looks simply stunning. Admittedly this is really a GameCube title in Wii clothing, but since this is the first Zelda title post-"Wind Waker" to employ non-cel shaded graphics, the visual effect is impressive. The worlds are highly detailed, characters clean and crisp, and motion fluid. All in all, "Twilight Princess" possesses a very complete graphical package, sure to impress. The most stunning of areas is the twilight world. Particle effects float eerily through the air, and the creatures are molded in appropriately creepy forms. It is nice to see how completely different this world is from the traditional Zelda where the scenery is all brightly colored and giddy. Nintendo broke its traditional design style, and it is indeed a change for the better.
Controls really shine in "Twilight Princess" since the Wiimote in essence becomes Link's sword and also serves as the crosshairs for weapons like the slingshot or boomerang. Quickly being able to aim with the Wiimote allows the game to flow a lot easier than having to aim with an analog stick, saving time and frustration. The ability to merely swing the control to slash with the sword and hear a sound effect being emitted from the remote really puts players into the role of link, creating a perfect ambiance.
A new aspect to this installment is that Link transforms into a wolf when he enters the twilight realm. While his attack powers are rather limited, this portion of the game focuses more on puzzles than brute force. Wolf Link even has the ability to use his animal senses to dig up hidden treasures or communicate with spirits and animals to aid in the quest. These instances are rather refreshing and balance nicely with the remainder of the game.
The only real drawback to the game is in the sound department. Again, Nintendo decided not to take on voice actors for the characters, which is disappointing, yet at the same time appropriate. I mean, come on, who would really be able to take on the task of becoming Link? It would be a near-impossible task to find the perfect candidate. The music falls a bit short since the arrangements are not orchestral, but rather just polyphonic midi tracks. With all the resources Nintendo has at its disposal, and since it is not limited by space on the Wii disks, this is just not acceptable.
Nintendo has clearly outdone itself, putting out a highly sought-after console and incredible software to boot, leaving other competition in its wake. Fully embodying the Wii experience, "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" immerses gamers into a 50-plus hour adventure worth shelling out $300 to partake in. Get in line, pick up a console and get gaming, this is one revolution that nobody should miss.