Anticipation for the Wii and its ‘killer’ game Zelda: Twilight Princess had ‘unreasonably raised expectations’ written all over it. What creative game developers will be able to do with the wiimote is still in the stage of preliminary sketches, and it does look promising. The new Zelda game is not one of those games that anticipates that promise.

As everyone points out the game was originally designed for an earlier console. so yes, the Wii-ness of it is underwhelming. There are lots of special moves that don’t resort to button mashing. Replacing buttons/combos with gestures is sort of a winner, but it’s not very satisfying.

That said, it is a good game — but still not great as the initial over-excited reviews were drooling. I’d give it a 7 or 8/10, or 4 stars or whatever, and tell you it’s great value. It’s got the same mawkish character interaction and lovely touching cinema (though these are unevenly distributed, possibly again due to its uneven development), and the added graphic effects are nice. There’s a lot more playing with shadow and light, sunbeams filtering through trees sort of thing — in keeping with the usual Japanese ‘tone’ of these games. (From a tech point of view there are more complex 3d things in here — cliff edges, holes in objects and so on*.)

Being a Zelda game it does have the familiar structure of all the previous games. But this time there’s something missing, and though it may be nintendo-fanboy treason to say so, I am a little disappointed, because there isn’t a new trick here. Every game in the franchise has moved things on a little, and had a distinctive USP. Though the games over the franchise have always felt like remixes of each other, with cute variations, special weapons etc, all the 3D ‘big console’ games through Ocarina-Majora-WindWaker have had some cool new feature to get into. And crucially hang a review on and sell it to punters. This is just another 3D Zelda game, and it pulls no suprises.

Not to say there is nothing new — there are unfamiliar weapons and equipment to master, plus new ways to use old favourites. The upshot is that the game is, in the end, still very enjoyable. Though thankfully it is not as long as the 90 hours that initial review estimates imagined (due it taking about 6 or so hours to get to the first dungeon). I’m pretty hot on the Zelda games and I got to the credits at hour 46, so work out how your own mileage varies from that.

The other indicator of fun is that I do want to go back and find all the extra stuff in there. That familiar nagging feeling that though you’ve completed the central task that that is only 50% of the fun to be had in Hyrule. For starters, I have to find all those blimmin cats…

*Talking of more complex 3D objects… SPOILERS the Twilight Princess has boobs! Zelda herself was always more 2D than 36D in that department. Now that’s progress!