Saturday, March 12, 2016

Twilight Princess: The Nuance of Hyrule

Today's post comes from user Refreshment.01, highlighting the attention to detail in Twilight Princess, the 2006 Gamecube and Wii entry in The Legend of Zelda series. How many of these details were you able to notice while playing the game? Did you, for example, know that Midna speaks in scrambled English?


-Global Lighting and Atmospherics.The game's lighting implementation shades the ground depending on the sun's angle. A good way to see it in work is by standing between two tall structures like in the canyon area after exiting Kakariko. This is one of those hacked and very specific lighting systems we used to see back when hardware wasn't powerful enough to have more realistic realtime lighting and shadows.

By virtue of the above lighting technique, the game creates a very cool black silhouette look for objects, in the opposite face of the setting sun.

Some metal items, like the Gale Boomerang, Sword, or Ball and Chain will glow with different hues during different times of day. At sunset, the glow is of an intense pink/orange. During nighttime, it has a blue tint. In daytime, it is a normal, not so glowy silver look.

There's also rolling cloud projected shadows that shade anything below them. This is most noticeable in Hyrule Field.

Character shadows get subdued when the sky is cloudy, during rain, and get more accentuated when lighting strikes.

-Rain. There are various degrees of rain intensity and in some cases it's accompanied by lightning. There's also an effect in which the rain changes its angle according to the speed Link moves.

-Mist. At the early hours of the day a veil of mist covers the environments. This remains true for all places, save for the desert, where it it wouldn't make sense due to how dry the environment is.

-The mist reacts to the wind's direction and intensity. This is easy to appreciate in a place like Kakariko Village, or in some rooms in the Forest Temple.

-In the desert, during daytime, due to the amount of heat, the distant horizon is involved by haze. The effect is turned off at night, which makes sense, as the temperature gets colder.

-In the desert, during the game sequence to reach Arbiter Grounds, waiting for nightfall reduces the enemy view distance and numbers. The tower guards can't see far away unless Link is very close, and under a light source. Some ground guards are sleeping.

-In daytime, in various places of Faron Woods, it is possible to see sun shafts filtering through the tree canopy. The effect disappears during night.

-In Ordon Ranch, when Link gets possession of a wooden or normal sword, it is possible to attack the goats. This will cause the animal to strike back, knocking him down from Epona.

-In dungeons, the first time a door is opened, debris and dust will fall from its frame. During the same play session, this visual cue will not repeat.

-Zora's Domain. Zora Rider. Why bother with the Clawshot or Wolf Jump when there's no need for Link to go through much effort to reach the top? At the base of the main waterfall, there's a Zora that will offer to take Link to the main hall entrance. Link hops on the Zora's back, and this agile creature will gracefully swim up the waterfall in a few short seconds.

-Peak Province. Upon arrival, this area is covered by a perpetual blizzard that extends from the mountain base up to the Snow Peak Ruins dungeon itself. The blizzard is so dense that it is not possible to witness the passage of time, as celestial bodies are covered by the strong wind and snow. Once Link retrieves the mirror piece, the blizzard subsides, and we are graced with one of the best vistas at the peak's summit.

-Snow Peak Ruins. Another very clever detail is that throughout the mayority of the dungeon, there are no heart drops from enemies or objects. The idea is for Link to use the evolving Yeto soup as his only way of healing.

Snow Peak Ruins' Destruction. This is one of the most interactive and destructible environments in the Zelda series. Once Link gets his hands on the Chain Ball, he can wreck different objects that he couldn't otherwise. Wooden barrels, boxes, chairs, benches, tables, armors, ice walls, etc. There's even a place reminiscent to a church, full of wooden benches everywhere and Chilfos for Link to level.

The Mini Freezars are an enemy that shows of quite well the physics engine. It quite cool (literally) to see multiple of them bouncing around between themselves and the environment.

-Hyrule Castle Town. Once in a while is possible to see a citizen carrying a shopping bag from the store. When Malo takes over the place a lot more people will be carrying bags around.

Different from Ordon or Kakariko, the passing of time doesn't stop when entering Hyrule Castle Town. So it's interesting to watch how the amount of activity and pedestrians varies as the day goes by. Early morning sees some people moving around, noon until night is at peek and after twelve almost no one is around save for the patrolling guards that move around all day.

Agitha's Castle in Hyrule Castle Town. The more bugs Link brings her, the more populated the place becomes. Here's is easy to see the effect the Lamp has over insects. When brought out some flying ones will even latch to it.

-Star Game.This one is quite unique among Zelda's mini games, since it allows for experimentation and trusts the player in figuring things out by themselves. It can be played as soon as reaching the Castle Town in human form, and even without the Clawshot. Upon completing the game one time, a second more difficult round can be played that is supposed to use Double Clawshots to conquer. However, with enough skill this challenge can be overcome with just one. A clever player will figure out by himself that is possible to equip the Iron Boots in conjunction with the Clawshot, making the orb gathering process more efficient. Wining the game will make Link the object of affection of the three lovely ladies that hang outside the tent, chasing him around and dropping hearts when they get excited.

-In Ordon Village, Kakariko and Hyrule Castle Town, these places react adversely to Wolf Link's presence. While in places like Goron Mountain or Zora's Domain, he just seen peacefully without the inhabitants over reacting.

Hyrule Castle.The Throne Room. The area is surrounded by Pillars. During the Beast vs. Beast fight, the pillars can get destroyed, turning them into debris. The debris remain in the ground as an interactive objects that can be kicked around as the fight progresses.

-Hena's Fishing Hole.

The amount of care put into this area and side attractions in amazing.

  • As many know, the four seasons are replicated. The season affects the type of fish available, as well as its biting habits. Also, the water conditions are affected by time of day, season and weather conditions; it can be clear or murky.
  • Spring: The trees blossom with pink cherry petals that litter the ground. The sky is usually clear with little clouds.
  • Summer: The trees, pasture and grass are of an intense green. There water tends to be crystal clear so is easy to see the bottom of the lake.
  • Autumn: Trees, ground and grass has a brownish hue. Maple like leaves fall everywhere and insects become more common. It also produces the most colorful sunsets seen in the game.
  • Winter: Trees turn white and the ground is covered with a slight frost. The sky tends to get quite cloudy during this season.

There's also a random generated rain in the fishing hole. The Water visibility changes in this climate, so is harder to pin point the fish location.

If you enter Hiza's cabin during the rain and look through the window, she'll comment about the lousy weather, but how it's a good time to go fishing since the fish are more active.

During Autumn, if Link casts the line and leaves the Fishing Pole still, after a few seconds, a dragonfly will pose itself over the pole.

During Spring or Autumn, the petals and leaves that fall from trees will float in the water. The ones that are in the ground or in mid air can be flustered by doing a spin attack.

There's an area of the pond that says "no littering allowed." Fishing near here causes some surprises. Link can potentially fish a variety of garbage like cans, wheels, boots. But also valuable stuff like a money sack or a bottle.

Almost all items inside Hena's cabin can be inspected when watching it in first person, a rather interesting way to interact with something for the Zelda series. The carpet, canoe, fish tank, Roll Goal, multiple pictures, pots. There's even fishing informative comments if you look at the lures and books, which describe "The Legend of the Twilight Loach."

Besides using first person view, the other main way to interact with objects inside Hena's cabin is by using Link's Forward Roll. Almost every object has a reaction animation when Link bangs them. And some of them even cause Hena to react and scold Link in different ways. Forward Roll enough multiple times and she'll get angry, ending up with Link thrown outside and only letting him in again until he apologizes.


-Reactionary Hood. Special attention has been paid to this piece of clothing. It reacts to the wind's direction and intensity, or even the explosion of a bomb. In most cases it obeys the law of gravity like when dropping from high places, sinking on the water or when upside down. Though, for some reason, it glitches out when walking on some Goron Ore ceilings in the Mine Dungeon.

Just like the hood, Link's hair and sideburns is affected by the winds direction.

-When getting an item, Link's facial expression changes according to it's relevance.

-Link's facial expression also changes depending of what type of thing he catches with the fishing pole. For example, bracking a new record with a fish catch causes a big smile while catching something like a boot is greated with a marked disappointeent.

-Link's tunic gets wet in three different ways, depending on how much of it's body enters the water. Or if he rolls in a shallow pool of water some times just the torso part of the tunic will gets wet. Also after some seconds in the rain the tunic will dampen.

-Zora Tunic. A very small detail is that Link slips up a "mask" to actually breath underwater with this tunic. Once leaving the water it slips off automatically.

-Failing to land Final Blow will cause a delay since the sword gets stuck in the ground and Links takes some time to get it back.

-When aiming with the bow, Link squint he's eyes.

-Realistic Climbing Debacle. Links climbing animation was deliberately made slow in some surfaces to clearly convey a sense of effort. This is also shown in the animation where he first secures his grip with each hand and pulls himself up. This clearly contrasts with his ladder animation were the ascension is faster and more relaxed.

-When Links subdues a Goron or wins in a sumo match, he froths his hands like he just took out the garbage. Same applies when dropping a goat.

-Developers took the time to add a different animation when Link carries and throws a very heavy object. It's a bit interesting since, save for one big rock in Ordon village, I don't remember any other place where the animation is used.

-Drowning causes an instant Game Over.

-After disturbing a hive, the quickest way to get rid of wasps is to jump into a pool of water or transform into Wolf form.

-Link the chicken or: A commentary on animal abuse. This game breaks the tradition on what reaction happens when disturbing Cuccos. When hitting the creature several times, instead of a Cucco mob pecking Link around, actual control of the Cucco is assumed. My interpretation of what this actually happens is because the developers wanted for the player to be in the abused creature's skin to gain some perspective. This seems plausible, since there's an underlying animalistic theme in the game.

That Wolf Chain. It's interesting to note the amount of care invested in these three small chain links. First, it has a very well done collision box, since it's rare to see any visual artifacts like clipping the ground. It reacts pretty realistically to gravity. The faster the Wolf moves, the more apparent the metal "cling" sound becomes; however, if moving in a pool of water, the chain won't emit any sound.

-When in Wolf form, Midna will open any dungeon door using her shape shifting pony tail.

-There's an easy to miss animation in Wolf form. Get wet and exit the pool of water. If, in the exact moment Wolf Link gets out, he doesn't move, then the Wolf will shake itself to dry up.

-Failing to land a Final Blow in Wolf form causes the animal to bang it's head on the ground and get stunned for a second.

-When in Wolf form, is actually possible to approach a whistling grass patch and use the wolf voice as an instrument. Singing Epona's song will summon her. It's something put in there without much purpose, but easy to miss.

-Another easy to miss ability and very nice attention to detail of the Wolf form is that it doesn't sink in deep snow. On the other hand, Link human form ends up moving even slower than with the Iron Boots equipped.

-Taking a walk through town. Reactions upon entering a town in Wolf form:

When Wolf Link enters Ordon the first time, if seen, Hanch will use a Hawk to attack him, and Russel will chase him out with a lighted torch. When visiting the town again, everyone will run out to their houses.

In Ordon Goat Ranch, Fado runs from Link's beast form, and goats start to attack him. Sometimes, a whole group of goats will gang on him.

In Kakariko, Talo will give an alert from the highest point of the village, and everyone will take shelter in their homes.

In Hyrule Castle Town, everyone runs for their lives. A phalanx of guards form behind Wolf Link, cowardly chasing him out with spears.

- When engaging in a fight, Epona reacts to enemies raising her two front legs. If this happena when an enemy is near, this will knock him down, giving Link a chance to use a finishing blow.

-Mounting Epona from the back will cause Link to do a quick hop and boost instantly.

- Dismounting Epona while an enemy is around causes Link to do backflip to quickly engage in combat.

-Ganondorf. The man has a very impressive cape, yet as the decisive encounter progresses, the cloth will accumulate more visible tear and damage.

-The Ordon kids are programmed to react to sword or projectile items. They will quickly dodge any incoming agressions.

-TrillCoro's bird runs a shop near Forest temple. There are a various interaction possibilities:

  • Link can steal the items, causing Trill to peck him until the debt is settle.
  • Link can pay less than the value of the item, causing Trill to call him "Cheap."
  • Link can pay more than the item value, causing Trill to call him "Generous young man."
  • Trill also attacks any near by Bokoblins that come close to his store.
  • Trill has a very specific animation that is easy to miss. He can be seen turning on or off the lamp of the shop as day time changes.

-Iza. Destroying the yellow pot in Iza's place will make her angry. Doing it again will cause her to charge Link 10 rupees. It is possible to refuse payment, but she won't let Link ride the canoe until the debt is settle.

-Agitha. This NPC has various special details. First, it has a "one time only" dialogue interaction. She will compare Link to a different type of insect depending of what tunic he's wearing the first time they met. If Link leaves her place with a complete pair of insects of the same species, she' ll get mad and scold Link for hiding something. This is explained by her own claim that she can smell pheromones. Also, she's one of the few characters that have some sort of Majora's Mask level of schedule, as sometimes is possible to see her in Hyrule Field near one of the Castle Town entrance.

-Barns the Fireman. In the Bomb Shop, if Links takes out the Lantern, Barns will bang the counter, dropping a water bucket on Links head.

-The "Courageous" Hyrule Town Guard. There's a very concentrated effort in making the Royal Guard look like a bunch of incompetent tools, be it getting trounced in the Hyrule surrender cinematic or being presented as cowards in the sequence preceding the escort mission. Not to mention their behavior when they see Wolf Link.

-The Postman. Nintendo had some fun with this character, making him appear in the most unexpected places throughout Hyrule, always with a different remark for each place he pops in. He is always shown reading a piece of paper. The actual texture of the letter is readable even in the lower resolution of the original Wii/GC versions. Upon close inspection, it is noticeable that its just an inscription of the Hylian alphabet.

-Fairies. Different from other Zelda games, fairies don't get consumed when Link approaches them with full health. Due to this, is possible to move them around the environment using the Clawshot or the Gale Boomerang.

Letting Link idle (in either form) will cause a Fairy to pose itself on his head. Taking the sword out will cause yet another Fairy to sit in the swords edge.

-Goron Sumo match. The usual thing is to get caught off guard and initiate the "right of passage" sumo match without wearing the Iron Boots, which makes it impossible to win. This is so common that one could assume is the intended way for the game to proceed. But it is totally possible to equip the Iron Boots and defeat Gor Goron in the first match. Really handy knowledge for repeated playthroughs since it saves a little time.

-Some Anthropomorphic type enemy characters, such as Bokoblins or Bublins, run away from bombs when near them.

-Archers are programmed to get some space when fighting Link. So if he gets close they'll run away and shoot an arrow.

-The Bublin Riders. These NPCs typically ride a Bulbo in packs of two. One will be controlling the animal, and the other attacking either with a bow or mace. Taking out the driver will cause the animal to lose control, crashing with obstacles or hitting the ground. In some cases, they can even fly off a cliff. If the rider survives, he will stand up on the Bulbo again, trying to ram Link if he is alone.

-It is actually possible to fish Bomb Fish in Lake Bed Temple, or in some Grottos in Hyrule field. It won't be added to the fishing journal, as it's against the law to catch them, but it will be added to the water bomb count.

-In many places, it is possible to catch Skullfish. These ones also aren't added to the Journal.


-Sign Posts. Like most Zelda games since Ocarina, some sign posts can be sliced in different ways depending on the direction of the sword swing. But in Twilight Princess, Link can pick up the pieces and throw them around. The pieces also float in water.

Throughout Hyrule, there are sign posts textured with actual readable Hylian. Some of them are found in these locations:
In Kakariko, Barn's Bomb shop, the Hotel, and various entrance signs.
In Hyrule Castle Town: the meat, bread, hot spring water and the fancy store ones. Also the hospital, the circus tent and the cafe.
The Mail man Flag reads: "Postman."
The Pedestal at the temple of Time reads: "Master Sword." Then, in various places, there's a generic sign post that reads: "Sign Post of Hyrule." (Editor's note: How creative.)

-Coro's Nasty Soup. A drink of this lovely elixir will deplete Link's health by one heart. But drink this soup when the heart counter reaches one, and all the health will be restored. And it is free of charge.

Yeto's Soups. Yeto Soup evolves the more Link progresses in to the dungeon. From "Simple," to "Good," all the way to "Superb." Not only the healing effects and appearance changes; when looking at the cauldron itself, the number of ingredients and color changes. Another clever touch is that ingredients that go into the soups can be seen throughout the kitchen: garlic, potatoes, carrots and fish. Funny enough, Oocco is tucked away in one part of the Kitchen, makes one wonder if Yeto was thinking on trying something aviary in Yeta's diet.

-Lantern. In Arbiter Grounds, there are small insects that attach to Link and slow down his movement. The light from the Lantern keeps this plague at bay in a perfect concentric circle away from Link.

On the other hand, collectable bugs are attracted to the Lantern's Light. So if by any chance a bug is giving a hard time to grab just take out this item to make thigs more easy.

-Bottles. Pouring bottled water over a pumpkin plant will make another pumpkin sprout.

-Dungeon Maps. Every dungeon map has the name of the place written in actual Hylian.

-Overworld Map. The provinces and places of interest names are written in actual Hylian.

-Fishing Pole. When raised in the air Link's head and gaze will follow the hook position. The same applies to whatever thing he might catch with the rod as it swings around dangling from the line.

When taking the fishing pole out in a windy place, one can notice how the line and the lure react properly to the wind's direction and intensity.


-Most items and equipment have a distinctive sound coming from the Wii Remote speaker. Here are some interesting ones:

  • The cork of a bottle. You can actually differentiate between corking and uncorking them.
  • The "Cling" sounds when swinging the Lantern.
  • Midna's laugh, indicating that is possible to Wolf Jump.
  • Both unsheathing and sheathing the sword have distinctive sounds.
  • The swing of the shield bash, Jump Attack, Spin Attack and the normal sword swings have very distinctive "Woosh!" sounds from one another. 
  • The fishing rod's reel clicking sound.
  • The Bob fishing pole's line sound when casting it and the sounds of the lure when leaving the water.
  • The string of the bow or slingshot while pulling them. And another soubds for when they run out of ammunition.
  • The Clawshot has a variety of sounds. A sound for the extension and another for the contraction of the chain. A sound for the expulsion of the hook portion. And by pressing and holding the B button the sound of the Clawshot's hook arming itself."

What an attention to detail! Twilight Princess has recently been re-released in HD on the Wii U, so if you want to revisit the game or experience its highly detailed world for the first time, I would recommend the HD version!

No comments:

Post a Comment