If you thought you had Link all figured out, it's time to think again. Sure, The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess is packed with series staples—a robust main adventure, plenty of side quests, a long line of memorable dungeons—but this is a much darker Zelda. The land of Hyrule has been conquered by an evil new king and is being overrun by the Twilight Realm. Once again, a young boy named Link must save his kingdom, this time with the help of Midna, a small, spunky sprite with glowing blue tattoos and adorable demonic curves. But there's a catch. When Link set foot in the Twilight Realm, he was transformed into a wolf. Now, switching between his human and canine forms, Link can use old weapons and new wolf senses to fight off Shadow Beings and restore Hyrule and Zelda, the Twilight Princess, to their former glory.
Beyond the game: For a next-generation title, Twilight Princess initially has disappointing graphics, but they get downright stunning as the game goes on. Sometimes it's hard not to stop and marvel at wolf Link's doggy movements, at the gorgeous water effects, or just at human Link as he transforms from "I got dressed in the dark" country boy to green-tunic-wearing hero.
Worth playing for: The creatures. Twilight Princess is being hailed for its "realistic" style, but its enemies, non-playable characters, and spirits are far from it. Cleanse the spring of an enormous monkey god; fight vicious dark-matter blobs. Nintendo's colorful imagination from The Legend Of Zelda: The Wink Waker has found a satisfyingly spooky home.
Frustration sets in when: The new Wii controls can be a mixed bag. Though certain actions, like shooting a bow, have become much more intuitive, others feel like shallow ad-ons. In theory, moving the remote to swing Link's sword makes sense. But in practice, it's often just a pain—especially for pre-Wii Zelda fans, who are bound to give in to their baser button-pushing instincts.
Final judgment: Fifty-plus hours, an immense adventure, and a sexy new style? Twilight Princess may not perfect, but it's darn near close.