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Origins of Wolf Link and how Twilight Princess shakes up the formula

When Link first enters Twilight Twilight Princess, he loses his familiar Hylian form and transforms into a new version of Link: Wolf Link. This is the most memorable and unique aspect of Twilight Princess as it introduces a whole new way to play the game. Rather than relying on sword skills, players must learn to attack with bites and the power of Midna. Outside of battle, they can see Hyrule through a whole new perspective thanks to Wolf Link’s heightened senses and explore new areas with his jumping abilities. Wolf Link does Twilight Princess one of the most unique games in the entire Legend of Zelda series due to all the new mechanics it introduces.

Source: Nintendo

The concept of Link turning into an animal did not originate in Twilight Princess. The earliest example of this happening dates back to A link to the past, in which Link transforms into a Pink Rabbit the first time he sets foot in the Dark World. Interestingly, in the manga of A link to the past by Akira Himekawa which was released just a year before Twilight Princess, Link briefly transformed into a wolf in the Dark World. Both the game and the manga dealt with Link’s transformation into an animal, a concept that would later be revisited for the franchise’s first game on the Wii.

When discussing the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD during a Miiting on Miiverse, Eiji Aonuma mentioned his inspiration for Wolf Link. He dreamed that he was a wolf trapped in a prison cell, which he thought was a great idea to put into a game. He stated that he never considered turning Link into another animal; a wolf was the only option. Although Aonuma didn’t specify it in his message, his imprisonment in the dream was probably the inspiration for the beginning of Twilight Princesswhen Link first meets his companion Midna.

An image of Wolf Link howling in Twilight Princess HD.

Twilight Princess starts out in typical Zelda fashion; Link begins by using a sword in the game’s tutorial section and uses similar mechanics to other games in the series. Then, just as the player gets used to the swordplay, Link enters the Twilight and transforms into a beast. This completely changes the gameplay, with the player now learning to attack with bites and using their new wolf senses to see things Hylian Link cannot. Wolf Link also gains the ability to dig and squeeze through small passages as well as the ability to use Midna’s aid to his advantage. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for puzzles and methods to reach new areas.

Wolf Link even helps Hylian Link learn new sword skills through the use of Howling Stones. After screaming a song, he encounters the hero’s shadow in his golden wolf form. The hero’s shadow then travels to an area where Link must go to learn new sword skills. However, the Golden Wolf isn’t the only character Wolf Link can interact with; he can also talk to other animals like dogs, cuccos and even Epona. Sometimes they give him hints, while other times they just have a meaningless conversation with him.

Official The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD art.
Source: Nintendo

Legend of Zelda games usually follow Link as he goes through dungeons or tries to reach dungeons. Twilight Princess also emphasizes dungeons but adds additional gameplay before them in the form of Twilight sections. When an area around a dungeon is covered in Twilight, Link is forced into wolf form and must collect Tears of Light to return the surrounding area and himself to normal. Once this is accomplished, the player must still look for a way to enter the dungeon as a Hylian.

Once Link gains the ability to freely switch between forms, the game makes the most of it. The first dungeon after this, The Arbiter’s Grounds, has several sections where the player must become Wolf Link to progress. Poes abound here, and there are even invisible enemies that slow down both versions of Link. Only Wolf Link can truly perceive these enemies. Outside of this dungeon, Wolf Link continues to hunt down Poes as a side quest. The game gives players plenty of opportunities to use their wolf form even when it’s no longer forced, so it still feels like Wolf Link is essential for Twilight Princess.

Twilight Princess not only reinvents Hyrule, but also Link himself. Players had grown accustomed to the sword-wielding hero and his signature look, only for it to be reversed once he entered the twilight. Wolf Link is the symbol of a new direction for the franchise; Twilight Princess is completely different in tone and style from previous Legend of Zelda games, similar to how Wolf Link is a completely different form of Link. He transformed from a typical hero of light to that of a dark beast, allowing both sides of the same coin to be shown in this masterpiece of a game.