I've been planning on doing a series called "Why I Still Love..." where I look at the criticism that game has received and talk about why I still enjoy the game despite its problems. I was planning on using a different game first, but Twilight Princess HD just came out and I've been playing it constantly, so this happened.
When Twilight Princess came out I was a silly teenager who didn't have much of a critical eye. I loved the game when it came out, but I also enjoyed and regularly tried to defend the Star Wars prequels and that should be enough to ruin the credibility of teenage me. With the small amount of wisdom gained since the days of my youth, I feel I have learned how to see quality in something a bit better, and so with Twilight Princess HD's release I thought to give the game another try to see if I still loved it or if I was just being a stupid teenager. It is somehow better than I remember.
Twilight Princess is a great game that has a lot of things going for it. Midna is the greatest Zelda companion character, Link can fight on horseback, and it has some of the best boss battles in LoZ history (I'm looking at you Stallord). If Wind Waker wasn't a thing, it would be my favorite Legend of Zelda game. It does have a lot of fair criticism surrounding it though, and most of that criticism is centered on the opening act and a few kids.
These kids to be exact. Also that Colin kid, but I couldn't for the life of me find a picture of all four of them. These kids are Talo, Malo, and Beth. According to the internet, they are the worst things in the history of things that suck. Or maybe not, I just see a lot of people complain about them. I understand why they complain too, these kids can be annoying. They serve as a basic sword and slingshot tutorial early in the game and you have to save/protect them several times. Some people also just really don't like kids, these characters play children pretty convincingly. Except Malo, I'm not convinced that Malo isn't some pygmy demon.
So anyway, a lot of people really don't like these kids. They might be my favorite thing about the game.
I'm not trying to explain why the people who dislike the kids are wrong for doing so, instead I want to simply show why these characters really resonated with me. As a teenager playing this game I was easily entertained and so I didn't dislike the kids, but I didn't care much for them either (except for Colin, he was a shy dork like I was/am, so I always liked him). As an adult, my situation in life has changed dramatically. I'm an uncle now, and holy cow these kids helped me relate to Link like no other Link.
I have nieces and nephews who seem to be the same age and act the same way that the kids do in Twilight Princess (again, except for the pygmy demon). When the game is tutorialing you, these kids are there watching and freaking out because they think Link is just the coolest thing to ever happen. When I became an uncle I did my darnedest to make my neices and nephews think the same thing about me, and I've done a pretty good job at it. I am the coolest uncle they have and they act around me a lot like the kids in TP act around Link. I was instantly able to put myself into the story and I was Link showing off for my nieces and nephews. The silly tutorials became fun. The quest to save the kids after they are kidnapped became compelling. I wanted to save these kids, not because it was the next obstacle on the way to the next dungeon, but because I cared about them and I knew that Link did too.
The most poignant so far for me has been when Link saves Colin from King Bulblin. Colin finally grows a pair and pushes Beth out of the way of the fat green goblin thing, but gets taken instead. I remember that moment being cool as a teenager, but it meant a lot more now. I may have projected one of my nephews into Colin and so when he turned to save Beth I was so proud of him. When he was taken I immediately felt the need to save him. I was invested and I urged Epona on like my life depended on it. It really made the battle afterward on the field and on the bridge feel more real and dangerous. Saving Colin was one of the best feelings.
So that is why I still love Twilight Princess. What might be the game's biggest complaint became my favorite element. I completely understand why people don't like these kids though, it's a very subjective part of the story. What about you? Did you hate the kids? Did you like their inclusion, or did you forget about them the moment they stopped being on screen?