ZeldaBlog

The Characters of Twilight Princess (Part 1)

February 4th, 2007 at 5:58 pm by lord-of-shadow

I wrote this monster of an article awhile back, as the second of my series of Twilight Princess articles. It deals with the characters of the game. I hope you enjoy it, because I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this ;)

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Nothing beats a great story. A truly good story will sweep you up; immerse you in its depths so that you experience the fullness of its twists and turns. You don’t want to leave it, because the world and events that it weaves around you are so compelling that you feel the need to stay and see what’s around that next corner; to find that next revelation, that next detail that fleshes out the fiction and brings it to life.

Among Zelda fans, people often have a preoccupation with the story. Make a thread in a forum asking why people love the series, and you’ll get at least a couple fans saying that the story is the reason (I believe that this is usually a gross oversimplification which stems from people lacking understanding of their own love for the series… but I digress). But what is a “story,” exactly? What makes it good? You could have the best plot in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily make the story as a whole a worthwhile one. Conversely, an unremarkable plot does not always make a bad story.

The best stories are character-based. A story that deals with human, believable characters is the most engrossing, griping, and emotional one. As human beings, we identify with human-like characters, and the more we identify with characters, the more we are drawn into their world and lives. A character that possesses depth, motivations, growth, and a personality is truly a work of art. It is characters like these that are the building blocks of any great story, and it is the affects that events have on characters that gives them impact and importance. When a sad event happens in any story, you feel sad because you empathize with the characters that are experiencing this sadness.

The Zelda series traditionally has strong characters. Not as detailed as in many games, and you’ll never find as much sheer dialogue as in some other genres… but from a thematic and design standpoint, they are strong, simple characters. A perfect example would be Marin, from Link’s Awakening. She only has a few pages worth of dialogue throughout the entire game, but for years I have found her to have a huge depth of character and emotion. She was simple: a girl who dreamed of a world outside her small island, who sits on the beach and sings to seagulls. Into her world comes Link, a man from the outside world she dreams of. She falls in love – not with Link, but with what he represents: freedom and the wide world out beyond the confines of her life. That is it. Simple, but that simple, elegant concept is portrayed so strongly and subtly that to this day she is easily one of the best characters of the franchise. And ever since, Zelda characters have followed that mold: strong, simple, and memorable. Just look at the way people latch onto characters like Malon or the Windmill guy and remember them forever.

Twilight Princess’ cast of supporting characters is a masterpiece. I can say with confidence that (with the possible exception of Majora’s Mask) it is the best of the series. I was blown away with how good of a job the Zelda team did at bringing these characters and their interactions to life. I will even go so far as to say that the work done on the supporting cast was the highlight of this game.

The main reason for this is that they actually involved their characters in the troubles of Hyrule. Looking back over the series, it’s almost as if Hyrule is untouched by everything. In a Link to the Past, their King is dead, they’re under the rule of Agahnim, and Ganon is ready for a full-scale invasion. Yet, with almost no exceptions, everyone goes about their lives as if nothing is happening. It is the same in Ocarina of Time. Even in the future, when Hyrule is supposedly under the iron grip of Ganondorf, only Castle Town is really affected. The Gorons? They’re imprisoned and slated to be executed as an example, but once you free them they go back to life as usual. The people living in Kakariko? None of them seem to care about what’s happening in the world around them. The same detachment can be seen in the Wind Waker. Throughout the series, you never feel any real sense of involvement from the NPCs. Nobody reacts to the troubles of the world. Prior to Twilight Princess, the only real exception to this was Majora’s Mask. This is not how it should be. When a land is invaded or endangered, people should notice. Men should be taking up arms to guard their families. Merchants should be ripping people off and selling stuff at outrageous prices. The armies of Hyrule should either be destroyed or organizing some sort of resistance. Children should be kidnapped by monsters, leaving apprehensive and despairing parents left behind to try to rescue them. Hyrule as a whole, and not just a few central characters, should bleed and need a hero to rescue her. Not gratuitously, but enough that the world you play in can become a part of the story, something more than just a simple setting.

Twilight Princess is an enormous step in the right direction, one that the Zelda series has needed to take for years. The people are involved in the story. You get Rusl telling you that the forest has grown more dangerous. Monsters actually break into supposedly safe areas and kidnap children. When you return to Ordon village and sneak around as a wolf right after the children are all kidnapped, overhearing the reactions of these villagers trying to deal with the situation… it sent shivers down my spine. The whole situation is orchestrated beautifully, and the reactions of the villagers felt authentic. I absolutely loved the way that Rusl was wounded from fighting the bokoblins, and how, when he was suspicious that they were prowling the village again, he got back up and limped around with his sword, ready to defend his village once again. That is the sort of thing that breathes life into a world. It shows that, although Link may be the hero, others are affected and willing to fight for the cause as well. It gives our characters more dimension. Kakariko village is another great example; the scene when you first arrive as a wolf and see Barnes, Renado, and the Ordon children in the sanctuary was a very cool one.

I am a huge fan of involved characters, ones who are willing to put their resources to their fullest use to achieve their own goals, rather than just simply sitting back and absentmindedly letting the hero do everything. There are a variety of reasons for this. Being a hero who saves a bunch of helpless incompetents is all well and good, but a game can have so much more. If you have a bunch of other capable characters fighting the good fight, it puts the hero’s actions into perspective. It shows that you really are that hero, really are a step above even the best of what the rest of the land has to offer. Zelda games… rarely accomplish this. They tend to have a collection of NPCs who can barely tie their shoes, let alone help you save Hyrule.

The second major reason why I like involved NPCs is that they tend to be cooler, more authentic characters. Examples of involved NPCs in past Zelda games are characters like Sheik, Tetra, Darunia, Impa, Quill, Mido, Link of the Gorons, Malon, Ralph, and practically every character from Majora’s Mask. These are all characters that did their best based on what they were capable of, however little that might have been. They didn’t just stay in one spot and say the same thing over and over again whenever you talked to them. Of course, all of these characters actually played specific and relatively important roles in the main stories of their games. They’re not just random NPCs.

But that is the beauty of the NPCs of Twilight Princess; they’re not just random NPCs anymore, they’re characters in their own right. Like Majora’s Mask, actually. The developers managed to give a huge number of even minor NPCs some role in the story, even if it was only as victim. And they responded in kind; as victims, rather than just relocating to Kakariko Village and pretending nothing happened. In Ocarina of Time, the Castle Town refugees in Kakariko don’t act like anything happened; they don’t act like their home was destroyed and infested with the undead. But when all the children of Ordon village are kidnapped, not only does the entire village feel that blow, but many of the characters actively work to get the children back and prevent it from happening again. Remember Beth’s father? The lazy, no-good one who whines about his wife bossing him around at the beginning of the game, and who seems incapable of accomplishing anything? When you come back to Ordon as a wolf after the children are kidnapped, he starts summoning hawks and attacking you with them. It was a minor touch, but the way he talks when he does so shows a bit of depth and growth. Here was a minor character that was actually affected by the events of the story, whose attitude and actions reflect the changes in the world around him. The game abounds with minor details like that, at least during the first half. I was very impressed.

Not only does the home village of these children react accordingly to their loss, but when they arrive at Kakariko Village, the residents of that village respond to their arrival. They got involved, however briefly, with the events happening in their world. I’ll say it now; I wasn’t too happy with what the development team did to the atmosphere of Kakariko Village in TP. But I quickly looked past that, because its chief resident, Renado, was such a strong character.

These involved characters can be seen throughout the entire cast of Twilight Princess. Telma? She was a great NPC. She didn’t show much growth, but she had personality, heh. And she was a fighter; she sees Link as the swordsman he is, she got involved with Ilia’s memory problems, and her bar is the headquarters of a party of warriors that I loved. As I said earlier, a hero who has capable followers and admirers is more impressive than one who doesn’t, and the group that meets at Telma’s bar definitely gives Link a boost in that area. There is something about small groups of vigilante freedom fighters that attracts people. Robin Hood is a classic example. It has that whole roguish romantic hero thing going on.

So yes. The group that fights for Hyrule - Aura, Chad, and Ashei - was a nice touch to the game. The fact that Rusl turned out to be the fourth member was even better, further creating an interconnected web of characters. It showed that these NPCs are part of a wider world, rather than just remaining isolated in their corner of the game. Knowing that there were several other people fighting for the future of Hyrule, and actually moving around the world to accomplish their goals, definitely helped create that feeling of a cohesive world. I was very happy when they showed up in the final dungeon to save Link’s ass, too. Even a hero needs to be rescued very now and then, and I like it when developers remember that. It was disappointing that they didn’t show up again; that part of their involvement seemed like an obvious loose-end, something that deserved – needed – a conclusion.

I did think it was extremely cruel of Link and Midna to exclude Chad from the whole Sky Palace thing. The guy had spent his life researching it, and so had his father; the least they could have done with let him in on it. Bad Link, bad. Share the fun of seeing and doing everything with your poor little allies.

The epitomes of these involved characters are the children of Ordon Village. You all know who I’m talking about; Malo, Talo, Beth, and of course Colin. They are there from the very beginning, Links’ friends and admirers. They are also the most involved characters in the game. We get to witness the way their personality develops and gains depth through all the events that happen to them. At the very beginning of the game, they are normal children; they tease and bully, play, and look up to their hero: Link. They are simple, but strong and authentic. As stand alone characters, they are relatively boring, but when they are put together and begin to interact with each other and others, they shine. We get to see Malo and Talo picking on Colin, their excitement over Link’s new slingshot, their eagerness to beat monkeys to death… They all undergo a bit of growth after they are kidnapped. Not the usual lose-your-childhood traumatic sort of growth, but they mature a bit while retaining that childhood (Except Malo. He’s just bizarre, and awesome in a quirky sort of way.) An example of this would be the way that after Colin gets kidnapped a second time by the Moblin lord, Talo decides to do his part by standing watch up in that tower. It’s the sort of thing a kid would do, but it’s still a far cry from the way he bullied Colin at the beginning of the game.

Colin is interesting because of the way he idolizes Link. Talo looks up to Link in the sense that he thinks Link is cool, but Colin actually looks up to him on a deeper level as a person, too. One of the best parts of the kids is that they actively look up to Link; this is the first time Link really gets credit for his actions, the first time he gets any real admiration for what he does. This also helps give us a glimpse into the character of Link himself – more on that later.

Another thing I enjoyed about the kids was the way that their presence affected other characters around them. In Ordon, they are obviously the heart of the village, the hope of its future. When they are torn from their home, Ordon and its residents noticeably feel that wound. In Kakariko they made a difference, too. People act differently around children; they speak differently, they might act in a nurturing/reassuring manner. Having children around gives any writer an option to show us more sides of a person’s character. We see this with Renado and Barnes – having the children around gives us a better glimpse into Renado’s character. It’s also obvious that Barnes doesn’t know the first thing about kids – another part of his character that we wouldn’t know if the children weren’t there to reveal it. Telma taking care of Ilia and her lost memory gives us the opportunity to meet the true side of the barkeep. Children are a powerful story-telling tool, and I am glad to see the Zelda team using them.

Of course, human characters aren’t the only ones populating Hyrule. Twilight Princess has the series’ classic Gorons and Zora, and one new race: the Twili.

I’ll tackle the Gorons first. Visually, the design of these Gorons was incredible. They took the original Goron design, beefed up the race as a whole so that they were more warlike and imposing, and then gave them swirled tattoos that looked absolutely sweet. Gone are the spindly-limbed rolling rocks of prior games; the Gorons of Twilight Princess are modeled after Darunia and Darmani. The visual side of any character, their design, is extremely important in setting our view of them and their personality. The Gorons were a resounding success in that area, and their aesthetics went hand-in-hand with the general character traits that the development team gave the Goron race. They were portrayed in this game as a proud people, aware of their own strength and perhaps even a bit arrogant about it. They start the game angry and withdrawn from the Hylians of Kakariko Village, trying to sort out their own problems. You find that this is a recent development, and that the Gorons are usually a pretty open and friendly race. Once you rescue them, they return to that, and I must say, I thought it was pretty cool. In Twilight Princess, the Gorons are more than just golem creatures holed up in their own little city; they’re friends to Kakariko village, traveling entrepreneurs, and allies in your own quest. I greatly enjoyed seeing the way that the Gorons were a part of the world beyond their mountain. They show involvement in the world and the story as a whole, rather than act as an isolated piece of the game. There are many examples of this, but my favorite is the way that some of the Gorons wanted to help the people of Castle Town by helping Malo open his bargain-priced shop.

The Zora are very similar to the Gorons in many ways. They feature a sweet aesthetic look that takes the original OoT Zora design and runs with it, giving us those cool bits of Zora clothing and armor. For the Zora, getting their movements to look fishlike and slightly alien was just as important as the design itself, and I think the Zelda team nailed that, too. Sadly, I thought that the Zora race wasn’t as well done as the Gorons. With the Gorons, there is a distinct and immediately apparent racial personality, which is reinforced by the actions they take and things they say. I bet you that everyone who played through TP to the end could tell you that the Gorons are proud, strong and know it too, and that they like hot spring water. And that they have cute kids. But the Zora… there is nothing that people can really latch on to as definitive traits of a Zora. They are ultimately a flatter race than the Gorons; just kind of… there. And even that they did worse than the Gorons. I mentioned that the Gorons involve themselves with the world outside their immediate domain; they actually act as if they are part of Hyrule and have a stake in it. You can go to Castle Town and find that there are some Gorons there; selling things, talking to people, etc. But the Zora are nowhere to be seen. Even when the Zora prince is missing and the Zora should be sending out soldiers to locate him, search parties, envoys to Castle Town… there is nothing. You can talk to some of the Zora and they’ll talk about how worried they are for the prince, but you never actually see any action taken. It is possible for a group to be isolated and still feel like a cohesive part of the world, if they have reasons for it, or a history of being that way. But that is not the case here. Nobody ever mentions or talks about how Zora are reclusive and stay in their own little corner of Hyrule; there is no justification for that anywhere in the game. It’s not a terrible thing; most races in all previous Zelda games work the same way. But it is disappointing to see the development team improve one race so much, while letting the other one stew in Ocarina of Time-era isolation.

One problem that both groups suffer from and always have is that there is no individuality from person to person. Every Goron, with the exception of the named ones, looks the same. Every Zora, with the exception of even fewer important ones, looks pretty much the same. This problem is especially apparent for the Zora: only two Zora, the dead Queen and the little prince, stand out at all. None of the rest have names. None of the rest do anything. The Gorons, although not perfect, are much better in that regard. There are several Gorons that stand out from the rest, not because they look different or have names, but because they have specific roles or do specific things. There is the hot spring water merchant in Castle Town, the one that crushes through that rock barrier for you south of the Castle Town, some shopkeepers, etc. There are one or two Goron children, and they stand out by virtue of being kids. And pretty cute ones, considering they’re made of stone.

Outside of the unnamed members of both races, there are some more important members of each. The Zora, once again, failed to keep up with the times. The prince and his dead mother, although better than all the other Zora, didn’t do much for me. They were depthless. I don’t even remember their names. The Prince shows some growth at one point, but it’s pretty forced and unconvincing. Which is too bad, because I think that was a good opportunity for a great character. Ruto and her father were both more memorable than the Zora royalty of Twilight Princess… which means the Zora characters took a step backward.

The Gorons fare better. We get the four Goron elders: Gor Coron, Gor Amoto, Gor Ezibo, and Gor Liggs. None of them are hugely important or involved characters, but they have cool designs and, especially in Ezibo’s case, entertaining dialogue (“Brudda,” heh). And they’re memorable; unlike the two Zora characters, I actually remember their names. I especially liked Gor Coron, because it seemed like he exemplified everything that the Goron race was supposed to be in this game. On the other hand, the Goron chief, Dargus, was a let down. Previous experience with Goron leaders, such as Gor Coron and Darunia, lead me to expect a pretty cool guy. Dargus ended up being a dim-witted thug. It was also such a contrast to the other, intelligent Gorons that it was noticeably out of character for them to have a leader like him. On the Goron front, he was the biggest disappointment.

The Twili were utterly pathetic. I disliked their design; very ugly creatures. And if the Twili were descended from Hylians who were banished to the Twilight Realm by the Goddesses, than why look so bizarre? They certainly don’t resemble Hylians in any way. I wasn’t expecting the Twili to be as important as the Gorons or Zora, but I at least expected to be able to talk to them. No such luck. All I got to do was turn them from really hideous monsters into ugly monsters that still couldn’t talk to me. If it weren’t for the fact that Midna and Zant were Twili, then the whole race would have ended up a more colossal failure than the Zuna, from Four Swords Adventures.

There were other disappointments, too. Throughout this article, I have been talking about the way that Twilight Princess’ characters showed more involvement than the characters of previous Zelda games. The way that Nintendo managed to use the events that were happening to give added depth to even minor characters like Beth’s father. There are many examples of this, some of which I have already named, some not. This sort of thing greatly enriches the game and its characters, making it more immersive, giving us the sense that Hyrule and its people make up a living, breathing world… but it only does so for the first part of the game.

Twilight Princess suffers from one of the same problems that the Wind Waker had – it’s absolutely amazing until you reach a certain point, and then the quality suddenly drops off. In the Wind Waker, the whole game took a turn from masterpiece to average as soon as you finished visiting Hyrule Castle for the first time, and didn’t pick up again until the grand finale. Twilight Princess’ drop wasn’t nearly as drastic or damaging… but it was still disappointing to see its handling of NPCs take a turn for the worse as soon as you got the Master Sword or so. Past that point, the new areas suddenly become barren and lifeless – there is not a single person to talk to in the desert, let alone a bunch of characters to interact with. Snowpeak? Please. It’s a single linear path that leads straight to the dungeon. Aside from the two Yetis, there isn’t any character interaction there. No new characters are introduced, very few new events featuring characters you’ve already met happen, and on the supporting character front the game pretty much dies off.

The first three or four dungeons are spaced out by tons of stuff you can do with different characters, locales, and smaller quests. You have events like escorting Telma’s wagon, you get to see Renado and Barnes deal with the children at Kakariko Village, you rescue Colin from the Moblin lord, you free the Zora from the ice; the list goes on and on. All of this shows us other characters being involved in the game world… and it all stops after the Master Sword. You still get a little bit here and there, mostly during the sequence where you finally restore Ilia’s memory, but compared to the first half of the game it is miniscule. Which is really too bad.

On top of the poor pacing during the second half of the game, there were character-related problems elsewhere. As I said, Twilight Princess’ supporting cast is brilliant… what there is of it. Sadly, I found a distinct lack of interesting people in places like Kakariko Village and Hyrule Castle Town, despite the fact that cities and towns should have the greatest concentration of NPCs. Traditionally, Zelda games have always featured their strongest groups of minor characters in the villages. AoL’s characters were all in villages. Kakariko Village in LttP was the foundation that the series has built on ever since. OoT took that even further, and Hyrule Castle Town and Kakariko Village were packed with interesting people, nooks and crannies, minigames, shops, and buildings we could go into. We all remember the Skulltula house, Dampè the Gravekeeper, the Windmill guy, the woman and her dog Richard, the wounded soldier… the list goes on and on. The Wind Waker one-upped even that, in many areas; I never ran out of things to do and people to interact with in Windfall Island. The Minish Cap’s central town was simply amazing. And Majora’s Mask? Clock Town was the greatest town in any video game, period. A masterpiece. I certainly never expected Twilight Princess’ towns to compare to Clock Town, but I at least expected them to equal Windfall Island. What a surprise these developers had in store for me!

Kakariko Village was desolate. Empty. Devoid of life. There were a grand total of three characters living there. This is partially masked by the Gorons and Ordon children who are temporarily occupying the space, but they fail to truly hide the emptiness of this Kakariko. When you first arrive you overhear Barnes talking about how a woman is killed by the Twilight monsters, and how a bunch of the other villagers rush forward to try to save her – too late, of course. There’s a partial explanation right there; that the Twilight monsters killed off most of the population. But that doesn’t cut it. If that’s what happened, then why are there not more signs of it, more mention of the catastrophe that has befallen the town? Why don’t the surviving characters offer us some show of grief?

If Nintendo had depicted it as a small outpost, then it wouldn’t matter. But it is clearly depicted as a village, complete with multiple buildings, Barnes talking of other inhabitants, mention elsewhere in the world, a “village shaman,” a sanctuary with an ancient statue in the basement, and a graveyard that suggests a long history.

At least Kakariko Village had Renado and the Ordon children to tide us over and mask its emptiness. Hyrule Market had no such luck. It would be a mistake to call it empty, or desolate; it was actually teeming with more people than any village or town in Zelda history. But there is a catch: you can only talk to a small fraction of them. No, the Market was not empty, but it was soulless. Where are the interesting NPCs in every corner? The minigames? The sense of bustle… but with characters I can interact with? Where are my sidequests involving gossiping mothers, or the Elvis impersonator, or an awesome pictograph guy? Why am I stuck with only two alleys and a few buildings to go into? Hyrule Market is designed and presented to us as if it is a large town, but it is really the narrowest, smallest, emptiest town the series has ever had. Even the residents of LttP’s Kakariko were more memorable and enjoyable than this town’s selection.

And then there is the lack of public awareness in the town. Remember when you first meet Zelda in Twilight Princess, and there is a flashback to the invasion of Hyrule Castle? We see Zelda with her knights arrayed before her, ready to fight for the future of Hyrule. Then Zant and his monsters come in, crush the resistance, and force Zelda to surrender. Here, at last, was a sight of the Knights of Hyrule fighting or their Princess and their Kingdom. Here is our first glimpse of a Hyrule that is at war.

We never see that again. Throughout the game, as I traveled through the different areas and saw all the different denizens of Hyrule, I noticed that nobody seemed to remember that there was actually an invasion of Hyrule Castle, before the land was covered in Twilight. It didn’t bother me, because these people were either isolated and not really the sort of characters who would be concerned, or they had problems of their own. But the people of Hyrule Market lacked that excuse. Zant must have fought his way through Hyrule Market to reach the castle. Judging from the flashback, the Knights of Hyrule would have put up a fight at every step, before finally being forced back to their innermost sanctum. But where are the signs? Where is the talk? The NPCs in the market fall back to the old problems of being completely oblivious to the dangers that are befalling their kingdom. Not only is there no apparent memory of any attack amongst the populace, but even the soldiers that guard the Town act as if nothing has happened.

The pinnacle of this obliviousness comes a bit later, when Hyrule Castle is encased in Zant’s twilight barrier. You can see this barrier from miles off; it’s visible from almost anywhere in Hyrule field, in Zora’s Domain, on Death Mountain… and in Hyrule Market. But there is no mention of it. The people of the market are completely unaware of the fact that there is a barrier a mile high around the castle that overlooks their town. The castle that should be the center of their town, and a source of pride for them. There are exactly three people that notice, as far as I am aware. Two of them are the guards at the castle gates… and their reactions are hardly authentic, just puzzlement and the vague idea that they should keep it a secret. The third is a Goron, who expresses a bit of worry; a Goron who doesn’t even live in the town, and is just there to sell some things.

You almost wonder whether such absent-minded buffoons deserve to be saved from Zant and Ganon.

Twilight Princess had flaws on the character side of things. It had some flat characters, it had a disappointing town, some oblivious NPCs, and the later stages of its quest were less eventful than the first. And when characters become less believable, the player’s ability to stay immersed in a game or story is lessened. Such flaws certainly damage the game… but not enough to dim the brilliance of the Ordonians, or the Gorons, or characters like the children. Next to it’s successes, Twilight Princess’ character flaws fade to background complaints, mere annoyances that, although a bit irritating, can be brushed aside as inconsequential.

Finally seeing characters give Link the respect and admiration he deserves is a wonderful thing. Seeing the four adventurers storm into Hyrule Castle to save Link is something I will remember for a long, long time. Malo-Mart? Hahahah! Telma and her winking… The heartbroken reactions of the Ordon parents when their children are kidnapped is the stuff masterpieces are made of; simple down-to-earth characters that shine with a feeling of authenticity rarely found in the world of games.

Of course, supporting characters are only half the battle, and arguably the less important half… what of the main characters? How did Zelda, Ganon, Zant, Midna, and Link himself fare in this installment? I was originally planning on tackling them in this article, but I ended up writing a hell of a lot, and I suspect that those main characters are going to get several more pages out of me. I’ll deal with them later.

For now… Twilight Princess, I am proud to see you join the ranks of the Zelda series.

Filed under Twilight Princess, Spoilers

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24 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “The Characters of Twilight Princess (Part 1)”

    Comments

    Very good article, although while you are talking about Twilight Princess characters, I would like to bring up one more thing. One of the most interesting characters in the game for me was the moblin lord. His apparent intelligence and self redemption at the end of the game make him one of my favorite in the series. The admitting of having always followed who he thought strongest before submitting ot link and giving him the key was outright powerful for me.

    I have to object about Wind Waker dropping in quality after the first visit to Hyrule Castle. I submit the Earth and Wind Temples being a tag-team effort to complete as evidence in my defense.

    You ofrgot to mention Ooccoo (and the Oocca), the Mail man, the un ofrgetable Hero’s Shade and the Skull Kid (though I know there some of you who may not consider Skull Kid a character).
    I agree with your opinion about MM, after watching how the Charpenters and the soldiers fight in front of the Mayor makes you realize that people are not absent to this problem, we see people depresed and grim when the final hour arrives, my favorite ones are Momma and the Charpenter Boss (”Come on fall already” I love that frase, it gives the final touch to what that man is in those 72 hours)

    You know, in many ways, I don’t think that very many games to date have truly mastered the art of NPCdom. There are a few that shine out—particularly those like Knights of the Old Republic and off-the-wall games like Day of the Tentacle, but in the RPG genre, I’ve never seen a perfect one yet. (I think Tales of Symphonia is the best one I’ve experienced to date. I’d count Shadow of the Colossus, but it really didn’t have that many NPCs, so it’s kind of moot.)

    However, of all the Zelda games to date, I do believe that Twilight Princess has some of the best character development to date. The pacing you might consider to be a little off, but until people started complaining about the pacing post-Dungeon Seven, I actually didn’t mind it. Once I got to the Palace of Twilight, I was totally game on! I wanted to get the people of Hyrule saved, and I wanted to do it now. I felt this sense of urgency (perhaps fake) that told me that the time for Zant and Ganondorf to fall was right there and then.

    The Gerudo Desert was somewhat disappointing, but at the same time, it was also the grounds of the big enemy encampment, so I didn’t consider it a waste of space. Sure, the number of new characters to meet dropped dramatically once you got to that point, but at the same time, there was still a goodly amount of plot that took place between dungeons. Most of it was more puzzle-based and less exploration-based, but that’s the way it is sometimes.

    Regardless, I figure that a perfectly developed set of characters inevitably might be not be the best thing in the long run; it can leave so little to the imagination sometimes. Be that as it may, Twilight did a fine job, and it should be commended for having successfully going toe to toe with Ocarina for the first time since Majora.

    Wait, the Twili are Hylian descendants? I don’t remember seeing that implied in the game… But yes, whoever they are, they were disappointing. Maybe all those years stuck in Twilight have damaged their minds, so now they can only react to Link with suprised noises! I still hold Hyrule Castle Town inhabitants the worst offenders though, they might have spoken, but they were just as oblivious to all that was happening around them.

    I think I really do have to support the decision of not putting NPCs in the desert or snowpeak. These are desolate areas - the desert is certainly not the place to support life, plus the ruins there definitely imply whoever was there in the past, has upped and left (the fate of the gerudo, perhaps?). Snowpeak again is another harsh environment, the closest people living to it are the Zoras and its no wonder they don’t want to venture further. Perhaps Snowpeak could have been expanded a bit, it was really just a path to a mansion, but I have to say how many paths do you get to snowboard down in Hyrule? That is one cool path!

    Yeah there did seem to be a turning point in this game, for me it started much earlier though with the ending of saving Midna. I missed the darker tones the game had been promising me was to come, instead we went back to the same old gotta-save-zelda-and-beat-up-ganon. Yes it might not be Zelda without him, but they kinda neglected his character development until you met him…. (at least WW one upped TP on that one!). It is the same with poor Zelda, we hardly see her and are never given the opportunity to connect to her. Therefore saving her doesn’t seem that important (sorry zelda! lol)

    Dont you think that Chad was a bit of an English stereotype?

    you say that the Zoras didn’t send soldiers to look for the Prince. That’s not true. Two did lead you down a tunnel to Hyrule Castle during the third twilight realm bit while looking for him. He was just already gone and they assumed him dead.

    Robert-UK said:

    Dont you think that Chad was a bit of an English stereotype?

    lol i was thinking the same thing but i liked his character

    well,first of all I would like to point out why the zoras dont travel like the gorons do…..they would dry up -_- .they are fish and they even say they need to stay by moist environments.the only zora who does travel is one that sounds like its dying :) .

    the gorons were much better in TP than any other game I think,at least they wernt obsessed with eating rocks.however I did find there slight ego a bit annoying when it showed.but then,beating them up made up for it (I only wish you could do it more :D ).also,you said in your article that the goron leader gor-whats-his-face didnt fit in,but I think its better that he didnt have a guessable look or personality.thats what makes characters different and interesting.besides,I kind of liked him (but even more so I wanted to sumo wrestle him :P ).

    as for the kakariko residents,yeeeeah that was lame nintendo :? .one could think of reasons the villagers fled/died and left kakariko empty,but it should have been different.renado and barnes were interesting characters though.as for the kids,they annoyed me.malo was a jerk,talo was a brat,beth was a sickening character.colin was ok i guess.the way the villagers reacted to the kids being kidnapped made it feel a little more realistic,but they didnt seem to care enough to go looking for them if you noticed :) .

    finnaly I dont think the people in castle town even knew what was going on.other wise they would have been freaking out that they where spirits.I dont think zant would need to actually walk into the area he wants to take over,all he needs to do is zap close enough.so its possible the towns people didnt even know what happened.

    Mikaudes said:

    You ofrgot to mention Ooccoo (and the Oocca), the Mail man, the un ofrgetable Hero’s Shade and the Skull Kid (though I know there some of you who may not consider Skull Kid a character).

    my rule is that if you cant utterly and completely kill a zelda enemy its a character ;) .plus he talks so…..

    lets see… 1st of all i dont think goron kids are cute lol. the gorons were interesting in TP…they usualy bore me to death so interesting is pretty good :P . i liked the water goron, the one thats stuck in the zora area.i liked hyrules malo mart,the butler guy is funny. like my brother said “renado and barnes were interesting characters though.as for the kids,they annoyed me.malo was a jerk,talo was a brat,beth was a sickening character.colin was ok i guess” i agree with that. Illia annoyed me im glad she didnt have a huge part. the twilis..they looked like bugs.why didnt they look like minda? kakariko and the desert were blah..i liked the yetis though ;)

    oh yeah,thats what I forgot to mention:one thing I found interesting about the gorons is that they dont need to breath under water.you might think that sounds crazy but one of the goron kids says that no matter how long he stays under water he never feels the need to breath,and then theres the goron that ends up in zoras domain.I was expecting a cutscene with the goron getting out of the water really quick but there is nothing.so who knows? maybe the gorons live under water in the games you cant find them in :) .

    anyways,as far as the NPCs go in twilight princess,I dont think they are any better than NPCs from other games.final fantasy has some pretty good NPCs,and im not talking about the stupid ones that run around with only one thing of text such as “I want to be a blitz ball when I grow up” (dont ask -_- ….blitz ball is a game in FFX and well…they throw and kick a blitz ball……poor kid…).

    Why do the kids annoy you, Ninja Lord Kakashi? They grew up after Colin got kidnapped, and acted much more mature. I also wouldn’t say TP’S NPC’S are just like every other games. They are much better than some other games that I can think of.

    I agree with you, LOS.

    the kids (besides colin) annoyed me too… they just did

    Master Link said:

    Why do the kids annoy you, Ninja Lord Kakashi? They grew up after Colin got kidnapped, and acted much more mature. I also wouldn’t say TP’S NPC’S are just like every other games. They are much better than some other games that I can think of.

    I agree with you, LOS.

    well,malo is the kind of character you wish didnt exist.hes smug,annoying and……hides behind a DESK!?! (dont ask why that bothers me…).next is talo:hes your tipical 8 year old brat.hes arrogant when hes not in trouble but a total wimp when he is.finaly theres beth:the best way to describe her is that shes snotty….to a fault.I usually dont mind characters like that,serra from FE:7 is actually one of my favorite characters,La’rachel from FE:8 is fine,and a couple others I cant think of at the moment are fine too.but beth has NOTHING going for her.shes just a braty character with nothing really special about her.thus she looses her right to be snoty ;) .

    also I just dont think that the NPCs in twilight princess were better than the rest.one reason I dont care for them too much is because of a sort of “habit” nintendo has gotten into.by that I mean there need to make every character….ugly? you might say looks arnt everything but in a game they are :P .lets use FF Xs ending for example (ummm….needless to say this will be a spoiler to all who havnt won it yet :? ) :if we were to replace tidus with maybe…wakka or cid it wouldnt have such a strong effect when the main character (wakka or cid in this case) disappear.why? to be blunt….there ugly.or they were comical expressions to put it nicer :) .its the same in TP (and zelda and mario for that matter…but I digress ),all the characters are kind of funny looking exept for link,zelda,midna,and ganondorf depending on your point of view.therfore its hard to take any of them seriously and as a result,makes it harder to relate to them.its not that I dont like the NPCs in TP (exept for the kids…I still dont like them :P ),I just dont rate them high on my NPC list (not that such a thing exists mind you).

    The Missing Link said:
    Regardless, I figure that a perfectly developed set of characters inevitably might be not be the best thing in the long run; it can leave so little to the imagination sometimes.

    Ah, there you have hit the nail on the head. All these things: amazing characters, voice acting… they all make it cookie-cutter.

    I didn’t like the characters, honest. It was just annoying to me. Midna was a brat, like a 2 year-old. She wasn’t funny or anything, just a waste of energy. She apologized. It totally took away her attitude. Navi was annoying all the time, and that was ‘deep’.

    No one ever did anything. The mail man was the most dynamic character. Ilia was like “whatever” when she got her memory back. Renado can only say “thank you so much”. And that 1 girl spends 3/4 of the game standing in the middle of Kakariko. Zant was fantastic. His other form was splendid. It had personality. It wasn’t various shades of brown. Ganondorf and Zelda were great. Perhaps because of the nostalgia. On the other hand, there’s the stupid little kids that (stereotypically) get captured.

    The main characters.. i wasn’t feeling them. The classic 3, LZG, and Z, were the biggest, and they were indeed the best.

    Saria was replaced with a monkey. Ruto was replaced with a dead princess.

    Ninja Lord Kakashi said:
    also I just dont think that the NPCs in twilight princess were better than the rest.one reason I dont care for them too much is because of a sort of “habit” nintendo has gotten into.by that I mean there need to make every character….ugly?

    Well, they were made by Japanese people. It’s not Americanized, so perhaps those characters look better to them…

    The Zora Prince and dead Queen are Ralis and Rutela. And it’s not Dargas it’s Darbus. As for other stuff. I was severely disappointed with the Gerudo Dessert, I mean, sure maybe the Gerudo fled or were killed off by the Bulblin army(They are not Bokoblins, Bokoblins are the butt-ugly monsters you see in the begginning of the game, check Wikipedia) But still there should have been some Gerudo survivors or something but no, it was just a barren dessert. And Castle Town, when I first got there I was expecting to talk to a wholoe load of interesting people but no, they don’t talk at all! And all the the ones that do talk are boring! The only ones I do like are Ashei, Chad, Aura, Telma, Jovani(Wierdo), and even the Cats and Dogs(They’re adorable!) And by the way the Moblin lord is not called the Moblin lord, he is called King Bulblin.

    M Warrior said:

    The Zora Prince and dead Queen are Ralis and Rutela. And it’s not Dargas it’s Darbus. As for other stuff. I was severely disappointed with the Gerudo Dessert, I mean, sure maybe the Gerudo fled or were killed off by the Bulblin army(They are not Bokoblins, Bokoblins are the butt-ugly monsters you see in the begginning of the game, check Wikipedia) But still there should have been some Gerudo survivors or something but no, it was just a barren dessert. And Castle Town, when I first got there I was expecting to talk to a wholoe load of interesting people but no, they don’t talk at all! And all the the ones that do talk are boring! The only ones I do like are Ashei, Chad, Aura, Telma, Jovani(Wierdo), and even the Cats and Dogs(They’re adorable!) And by the way the Moblin lord is not called the Moblin lord, he is called King Bulblin.

    To go along with M Warrior’s post, yeah, the late Queen Rutela and Prince Ralis are the only memorable Zora (but I remembered their names, I forgot most of the Goron.) I was expecting someone to talk to in the desert, but only got the *sarcastically* best sages that have ever been in a Zelda Game. *sarcasm over* He’s right about the Bokoblins and Bulblin. The Bokoblin do not look like the Moblin race, but the Bulblin and their King look somewhat alike. Same here on the Castle Town comment, I expected more people talking to each other. One more thing, it’s Auru, not Aura. Add another “r” and you get something cool ;) .

    Scepia said:
    Midna was a brat, like a 2 year-old. She wasn’t funny or anything, just a waste of energy.

    Zant was fantastic. His other form was splendid. It had personality.

    you sure your not getting your characters confused ;) ? i thought midna was funny,and I found it really easy to get atached to her.and zant…well,he was a brat :) .anybody who says “its not fair” about three times in a row is.

    Scepia said:
    Well, they were made by Japanese people. It’s not Americanized, so perhaps those characters look better to them…

    im not sure that would be the reason.reason being is because if that were the case it would probably be anime style.I think the reason they do it is to make the characters stand out (which they do :? ).

    Jumanji Shishioh said:I was expecting someone to talk to in the desert, but only got the *sarcastically* best sages that have ever been in a Zelda Game. *sarcasm over*

    same here.the game would have been much better if they put more towns in some places (and not ghost towns either!).snowpeak and the gurudo desert would have been nice places to have a town or two (or even a hut or two :( ).hyrule field is so big you could probably fit something in there.oh yeah,and some NPCs that can actually say something would be nice too ;) .

    one thing I noticed about TPs NPCs is that they seem to care too much about whats happening in the world…to the point where they only really taked about your next mission.observant NPCs are fine,but not if all of them are observent.in OOT (I know everybody hates TP being compared to OOT but bare with me :) ) the NPCs interacted with you without rushing you into your next mission.I noticed the gorons,zoras,and the people in ordon village had nothing to say that didnt have to do with the plot.most of the people in hyrule town were the same as well.like I said it makes you feel rushed.

    hmmm,well my last post was some 5 days ago so i doubt anyone will mind a “double post” :) .

    since twilight princess had the best zelda NPCs to date (exept the bombchu girl :P ) im kind of curious:who was everybodys favorite NPCs? link dosnt count,zelda dosnt really count either since you pretty much control her at the end.midna dosnt count either.

    my favorite NPC in TP was probably either telma (shes funny),the yetis (also funny),or the fishing hole girl (what? shes cute ^_^ ).

    Mike Fireball said:

    I have to object about Wind Waker dropping in quality after the first visit to Hyrule Castle. I submit the Earth and Wind Temples being a tag-team effort to complete as evidence in my defense.

    you are right you go [girl or boy]

    Malo is my hero. What preschooler you know from a tiny secluded village has that kind of knowledge and attitude? What he does for Kakariko Village and Castle Town is awesome for a child his age.

    sniper said:

    Malo is my hero. What preschooler you know from a tiny secluded village has that kind of knowledge and attitude? What he does for Kakariko Village and Castle Town is awesome for a child his age.

    yet I cant help but feel hes in it for the money :P .

    True. He IS pretty smart. But, what do you think he’ll buy?

    He would definetly buy it.But then, Malo will just run around trying to kill little peeps with it -imagine little boy whacking ppls-…priceless

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