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6 ways Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is different from the original

Almost 10 years after its original GameCube release, Nintendo has breathed new life The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess with a remastered version of the game for the Wii U. While a decade-old title doesn’t exactly feel “modern,” Twilight Princess is still technically playable on the Wii U assuming you still have your Wii Remote and nunchuck. So, what makes this new version special?

Rather than simply “uprez” an old game, Nintendo has tweaked and altered the original to create a slightly modernized, but ultimately true-to-form upgrade on the original. Here’s a breakdown of the features that should make Twilight Princess HD the best version of the game available.

Enhanced graphics (obviously)

It’s right there in the name: The Wii U version of Twilight Princess sports a visual overhaul to make it look good in 1080p. The new version has more detailed textures and improved lighting, including enhanced shadow animations. As Digital Foundry pointed out, some characters feature entirely new assets — Link’s hair has been completely reworked — and some areas feature new basic assets, such as extra trees. Here’s a video comparing the three versions, which shows that, while there was very little visual difference between the GameCube and Wii versions, the Wii U HD remake look much sharper in all the right places.

Zelda Twilight Princess HD: Wii U vs GameCube vs Wii Frame-Rate Test

There are some aesthetic changes as well. Zelda historians will be happy to hear that the world of Twilight Princess HD is based on the original GameCube version. (Yes, Link holds his sword in his left hand.) The mirrored version of the world, created for the Wii version to accommodate right-handed playing is also included in the game, but we’ll get to that later. Nintendo also leaned more heavily on the “bloom” visual effect seen framing the edges of the screen during cutscenes, giving the game a more distinctive “look.”

Wii U controller & Miiverse support

As usual, Nintendo uses the second screen on the Wii U controller to make your life a little easier. You can check your minimap on the screen, as well as switch items on the fly without pausing the game. If you prefer, the game also features Wii U off-screen support.

Zelda Twilight Princess HD: Wii U vs GameCube vs Wii Frame-Rate Test
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Nintendo has also sprinkled around collectible Zelda-themed Miiverse stamps, which can be used to add some flair to Miiverse notes.

Streamlined gameplay

As with the Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker HD remakes, Nintendo altered the game in spots, correcting common complaints from the original Twilight Princess, and generally made the pacing of the game more amenable to modern players. Switching between human and Wolf Link, for example, can be triggered with a single button press. In the original versions, you had to speak with Link’s companion Midna to trigger the transformation. Since you need to switch between forms frequently for both puzzles and combat, it should be a huge time-saver. Link will also have a larger wallet at the beginning of the game.

Other fixes apply directly to specific parts of the game. A new item, the Ghost Lantern, helps Link find lost poe souls hidden throughout the world. Though the ghosts are a collectible throughout the game, they are introduced during a specific, potentially frustrating mission. During an early section of the game, Link must collect “tears of light” to earn the ability to switch between human and wolf form; According to GamesRadar, the number of Tears of Light Link needs to acquire has been decreased from 16 to 12 in the Wii U version.

Hero mode

For veterans, Twilight Princess HD features a harder “Hero mode,” which can be switched on at the start of a new game. Hero Mode takes place in the bizarro mirror version of Hyrule from the Wii version of Twilight Princess, and enemies deal double damage and never drop hearts.

New dungeon: The Cave of Shadows

In addition to all the tweaks and improvements, Twilight Princess HD features an entirely new dungeon. If you have the Wolf Link Amiibo, which comes with retail version of the game, you can play a new optional dungeon called “The Cave of Shadows.” Rather than a puzzle-based exploration, the The Cave of Shadows dungeon offers a series of wave-based combat challenges for Wolf Link. And yes, there is a new item waiting at the end for players who complete it.

Amiibo support

Amiibo collectors can also use the other Legend of Zelda figures to give them a leg up or increased the challenge of Twilight Princess HD. Using the Zelda and Sheik Amiibo gives Link more hearts. Using Link or Toon Link gives him more arrows.

Using the Gannondorf Amiibo, on the other hand, makes Link take double damage and turns his hearts blue. This, combined with Hero Mode, opens up the opportunity for a Dark Souls-esque hardcore mode where Link takes 4x damage.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD hits Wii U March 4. Players can pick up the disc-based version, which comes with the Wolf Link Amiibo, for $60, or download it from the Wii U eShop for $50.

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Mike Epstein
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Michael is a New York-based tech and culture reporter, and a graduate of Northwestwern University’s Medill School of…
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