A lot has changed in a decade. Suddenly I’m holding a baby and the world is mirrored. I must be getting old too, because my movement feels sluggish. It takes me longer to stop, and I can’t even walk and aim at the same time. It’s like my legs lock into place, I can’t move anywhere until I pull the camera back. I feel sorry for whoever has to stare at my butt while crawling.
Okay, time to shut up Link. Open your eyes. Get a grip. You’re a HERO, remember? Let’s reboot this game.
That’s more like it! After struggling to adapt to the “normal” mode in Twilight Princess HD, I found my calling as a Hero. Starting on Hero Mode to replicate the Wii version has been a breath of fresh air. All the crappy control changes are still there, but I am used to this game being mirrored from the Wii version, and it finally feels “comfy”. I am so glad I tried this, not just because I can enjoy the game again, but because Hero Mode is turning out to be legitimately interesting.
To explain the mode, Hero Mode changes the difficulty so you now take double damage from enemies, and to make things even harder, there are no more heart refills to pick up from grass, enemies or rocks.
Suddenly, harmless interactions in your own village become an actual threat. I ran into Colin’s Dad and he took a whole heart away from me. No big deal, right? Everything is a big deal when you can’t refill your hearts. I’ve got 2 hearts, not just now but for the next few areas. Best just to run for now.
I ran all the way to the Ordon Spring and discovered something magical. The spring heals you! I knew about springs like this in Zelda games, but I honestly did not know this one functioned liked that. It must have always restored hearts, but I just never noticed because it wasn’t important with the early part of the game being easy. I kept going and got hit by a deku plant, then discovered something else. The Tears of Light also restore a heart when you kill the bugs and pick them up. I never noticed that before either, and suddenly they became more valuable and I got a bit more confidence when they were around. I’ve made new friends too.
You’ll definitely see me again, this milk tastes amazing. With no hearts around, suddenly these refills become white gold, with two helpings per bottle. This little shop in Ordon became a new reference point for me, and the old cat-lady was grateful for the business and the company. With my bottle taken up by milk, I now had to be more careful with my lantern usage, so I could keep more milk in a bottle instead of lantern oil. Another knock-on effect is I have less rupees from having to buy my health.
With town formalities providing an exciting glimpse of the life of a hero, the first real test would be the first dungeon. As I entered the Forest Temple I felt a little nervous. A lot of things here can kill me now and I’ve never really taken them seriously before, so I didn’t know every enemy pattern or hazard. I approached the spiders very slowly, and started looking at the ceilings in every room I entered. Those walking bomb things made me anxious, even holding bombs felt dangerous now. On a positive note, Ooccoo would prove more useful. Even creepier looking in HD, too.
I pushed onwards and rescued some monkeys. I beat the baboon mini-boss without taking a hit, just rolling and slashing in perfect harmony. I knew exactly how to play this game. I was being a hero and loving it. With my confidence high, it was the perfect time to meet my first death.
It all happened so quickly while fighting a spider. It wasn’t the spider itself that killed me, but a bomb-eating plant next to it. I had knocked the spider to the ground, and pressed A to execute my finishing attack. Sure thing, right? Unfortunately Link jumped into the bomb plant, and it throw me out and ate my last heart with it.
Game Over! Oh well, lesson learned. I was relieved to find Game Over wasn’t even a big deal, as I emerged in the same room with 3 full hearts. Approaching the room again, I made sure to lure the spider FAR away from the bomb plant, and navigate slowly and carefully. The position of Link and all the enemies are important, so random shit is less likely to happen. Spacing had become another new friend.
I was near the end of the dungeon and doing well, but I faced the possibility of another death with my hearts slowly taken by normal encounters. What should I do, monkey? Should I drink my milk now? What, no! You can’t have it!
I ran around the dungeon and backtracked through a few rooms to find a piece of heart. These are always exciting, but now they had the added benefit of refilling my hearts! I felt a new emotion when getting the Heart Piece; relief. With 3 whole hearts I approached the boss door with a spring in my step.
I’m proud to say I beat the boss without taking a single hit, but it still felt intense. I didn’t rush anything, and waited for the giant eyes to lunge before throwing any bombs. I was methodical and defensive, and it was the first time I’d ever used patience in this fight.
That’s where I’m at now, still very early in the game but I just had to write about how much I’m enjoying Hero Mode. It changes the way you look at everything, and I’m grateful to have another reason to replay one of my favourite games ever. I still think it’s a slight downgrade in controls from the Wii version, but it has its own comforts with GamePad item selection and looks amazing. I’ll keep going and keep you updated when things actually get hard. I have a feeling wolf combat is going to be awkward, but there’s nothing I’m really afraid of. I’m a hero now.