This article is about 6 years too late but I'm going to write it anyway because I think The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess is one of the stronger games in the post-Ocarina console Zeldas.
NB I have only played Ocarina, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. I never got a Wii so the last two were played on the Gamecube. I did dabble in the oracle games and Link's Awakening but I think it's a stretch comparing those games to the console ones.
Ocarina of Time was a game that blew my 7 year old mind back in the day. It set the standards of what a game should be and what Zelda should be. Hence I was a little disappointed when the Wind Waker made it to the Gamecube. I disregarded my friend's, my family's and various magazine's support of purchasing a Xbox or PS2 in favour of Nintendo's console because I had so much fun with Zelda and Smash. I was also older and expecting a more "mature" Zelda with realistic graphics and epic huge monsters.
This was the reason I prefer Twilight Princess over Wind Waker. It was what my teenage self had wanted and instead it got Wind Waker.
The cartoon aesthetic, although was very pretty and will age much better than Twilight Princess did not encompass the epic and adventurous nature introduced by Ocarina. It was more colourful, whimsical and fantasy compared to high fantasy and eerily dark of Twilight Princess.
Midna is another reason why I love Twilight Princess. It wasn't because she turned out to be smoking hot in the end or that I found her chibi form attractive. It was because I hated her design when I first saw it. I hated how she controlled a wolf Link who was confused and uncomfortable as I was when controlling the canine (one of the few times I empathised with a main character through control and story).
And again through the story and gameplay I gradually grew to like Midna as Link did especially when she was attacked by Zant and the possibility that she was just using me/ Link to get all the pieces of the mask.
The themes of light and dark in Twilight Princess is supported by the scenery and appearance of Hyrule. The wash of bleakness that covers Hyrule making it look like a blurry water colour painting contrasts with the Twilight Portal.
The appearance of the Portal makes it seem alien due to it's linear design and two colour decoration compared to the blur of colour and detail seen in Hyrule.
The blurriness of the textures in Hyrule I'd like to think of as the consequence of the Twilight realm corrupting Hyrule and the absence of Zelda from Hyrule.
Finally it feels like a homage to Ocarina but differs enough to not feel like a remake or carbon copy. Twilight Princess references familiar areas despite not looking similar making it seem more connected to Ocarina than Majora or Wind Waker, it heavily features Gorons and Zoras like Ocarina did and feels like a natural sequel to Ocarina. You obtain the slingshot first in the forest village but you also go to a city in the sky and snowboard down mountains.
Wind Waker took a drastic step and suffered from it in the minds of narrow minded gamers but Twilight Princess played it safe and experimented enough to keep it fresh.
Twilight Princess was the last game I completed for the Gamecube and was the perfect send off for the system personally. It was the game I bought the system for and I am glad I got closure for my decision.
I've never quite grasped why developers think it’s a good idea to have multiple endings to 10 hour games especially when there is only one “true” ending. The fact of the matter is that if there is only one “true” ending, it would make the other endings redundant and pretty much useless. I've been playing Cave Story + on steam for the last two weeks and was loving the metroidvania gameplay, cute characters and interesting story but I got to a point where it was impossible for me to obtain the true ending as I did not fulfil certain criteria.
It really bugs the hell out of me when I invest so much time into a game only to ultimately receive the bad ending because I did not fulfil certain arbitrary criteria throughout my play through. Without a walkthrough, I would be replaying the game and searching every nook and cranny to ensure I get the best ending.
Does this mean it has replay value? Yes to an extent but it doesn't necessarily mean I will have fun playing through it again. With Cave Story +, the story was my driving motivation in completing the game as the gameplay, whilst serviceable could still be tedious with the micro-management of weapon levelling. I did not want to replay the game just to get the “true” ending.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night pulled the same thing with a wide expansive world that takes hours to complete but requires a certain area to be found before obtaining the real ending and the second castle. This is possibly the most famous example and has been praised for implementing it. It follows the Metroidvania Doctrine; Exploration is rewarded but there is a tipping point of exploration and endless backtracking. The problem I find with exploration is that I keep thinking that I could be wasting time looking for clues that might not even be there instead of progressing with the actual game.
Games with clear branching points that cannot be avoided such as the Persona games, Metal Gear Solid and Star Fox do true endings correctly. The choices cannot be missed and are given to you on a platter. Despite it being very binary, it does also mean that you are not wasting time not progressing in the game. I feel short games like Star Fox do the multiple endings better than longer games especially longer games with that binary choice. It is one of the worst feelings having to go through the entire game to reach up to that one dialogue box to decide whether you would like to have the happy or sad ending.
With the advent of moral choices in games; these have been the deciding factor of the games ending. inFamous, Prototype and Black and White are examples of how the player through their gameplay style can dictate the way the game ends. I would consider this also to be a good method of having the multiple endings in a game but almost 100 % of games state that the good ending is the true ending making the evil or neutral ending redundant. The “true” ending syndrome cuts even deeper if there is a sequel and only one ending is chosen. At least if it was a stand alone game, the universe in the player’s mind can end with the ending they obtain.
NB I don't think I've found a game appealing enough to replay through twice to get different endings apart from Wario Land 4 on GBA and that solely depended on how quickly you defeated the final boss.[/font][/size][/color]