Twilight Princess: It’s the sign posts, stupid!

Whenever I want to voluntarily give myself a migraine, I go and read a post by Joystiq’s Vladimir Cole. After that, I’m out for a good three or four hours in the fetal position in a soundproof room with no sunlight.

Now, my newly reformed objective self allows for some criticism of Nintendo. I realize they aren’t a god, and that they make some mistakes (VC pricing, lack of N64 VC rumble, and Wii Memos come to mind). However, when someone dismisses and entire game on the basis that they cannot read the signposts, and instead must go up to them and push a button, I find my hands drifting towards the keyboard for the inevitable rebuttal.

So, let’s go on a point by point journey through Vlad Land, shall we? Don’t forget your boots, kids, it gets pretty deep.

All the leaves are brown. (And the sky is grey.) Imagine being a freshwater fish after a heavy rain. All around you: brown. Zelda’s like this. The game’s muddy color palette doesn’t sparkle in the way that previous iterations of the venerable Zelda series sparkled.

Oh Vlady Vlad, didn’t you play Gears of War? Taupe is in! Did you confusingly try and place Wind Waker in the Wii and mistakenly put in TP instead?

But wait, there’s more. Twilight Princess doesn’t just “fall flat” because of graphics, or the fact that it’s built on a GameCube engine (this is news?!), but because you can’t read those infamous sign posts that have been with Zelda since The Adventure of Link.

“In the latest Zelda, the game’s designers have been forced to sabotage game play to atone for the console’s graphical shortcomings. Example: roadside signs are illegible. In Zelda, merely reading signs becomes laborious and annoying. You must first walk up to the sign. You must then press the controller’s “a” button. When you do this, the game zooms in on the sign (taking a moment to do this). The game then shows you the text of the sign. Finally, having read the sign, you must hit another button to zoom away from the sign and regain control of your character. If your character were blind and had to read via Braille, then bumping into signs and fumbling a button would be appropriate. But such a kludgey mechanism merely rankles here, because most modern games have legible signposts.”

I’m digging the teenage angst AND the subtle attempt at humor in this section. Note the word ‘attempt.’ Vlady von Outtolunch also criticized the fishing in TP, something I’m sure will tick off Blake, who loved this mini game at E3.

Vlad’s posts have become fewer and farther between as of late. Personally, I can only hope this is because Joystiq’s higher-ups have reigned him in a bit given his tendency to post wildly off topic rebuttals to his own articles, which themselves were either confusing or wildly biased to begin with (I can relate, but then again, I’m not getting paid or getting free Wii’s in the mail from Nintendo).

So, to recap: TP fails because of signposts and enhanced GameCube graphics. I think it’s a grossly unfair assessment, given the positive hands-on impressions from so many other outlets (including C. Grant of Joystiq), and borders on “personal vendetta” territory. This is an important launch title for the Wii, maybe even the most important. Is the criticism fair? Do you want more from your Zelda? Regardless, who’s jumping on the Vlad wagon? Shotgun!