It's fair to say that this month's Twilight Princess HD announcement left hardcore Zelda fans on different sides of the fence. Some were happy to see such a title receive a HD makeover, while others were distraught at the arguable lack of a visual overhaul. Although the game's aesthetics have certainly been improved in the footage shown (made even more apparent by direct comparison videos), it definitely wasn't anything like the Wii U tech demo footage we've all been drooling over since E3 2011. Sure, that degree of a facelift may be asking for too much, but it can't be ignored that many were left with sour tastes in their mouths - even though the Wolf Link amiibo is to die for no matter which way you cut it.
With that out of the way, YouTuber Tomoya Hamasaki has been working on his own version of Twilight Princess HD - which was in development before Nintendo's announcement - and it's really quite something. Since posting his first video in early October, he's gained quite the following and now has a team working with him to complete the project. Most of his videos are lengthy streams of him and his team working on the project (accompanied by stunning progress footage), each one revealing more additions to the recreation than the last.
Speaking exclusively to Nintendo Life, Hamasaki claims to have started the project as an April Fools' joke. However, after meeting an individual he calls "the graphics guy", he realised his somewhat ambitious task was actually very possible - especially due to possessing his own skill in texture art. Before long, a team of two evolved into a dedicated group consisting of programmers, game designers, musicians, and the like. We then asked him why he chose Twilight Princess as his game of choice, to which he responded:
Twilight Princess was too ambitious for the hardware at the time. The game had vast landscapes with nothing to do in them, the difficulty was too easy for many, and the wolf form felt like a sequence rather than a mechanic that is important to the game - such as the transformation masks in Majora's Mask. There are many other issues with the game, but those were the most important ones.
For the tech-savvy, we asked what software his team is using to work such magic:
Mainly the textures and graphical effects like screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO), depth of field (DoF), crepuscular rays, motion blur, distant fog, and many upcoming effects like dynamic shadows, reflections, global illumination, and HD models (including map design). Gameplay and engine changes are done through C+ and Assembly. Texture work is done using Photoshop CS6 for environments and PaintTool SAI for characters. The upcoming HD models and animations are done through 3DS Max and Blender. Ishiiruka is the emulator that emulates the Twilight Princess GameCube ISO and provides the modern graphical enhancements.
The likelihood of Nintendo shutting down the entire project is a lingering thought shared by most of us (given that this recently happened with the Super Mario 64 HD fan project), and so we asked Hamasaki's views and plans should this unfortunate situation become a reality:
I'm not concerned since this project is basically heavily modding the ISO and emulation. Our project is just going to be a huge patch that requires you to own the physical copy of the game (either GameCube or Wii). If we receive a C&D (cease and desist), let's just say the project will finish one way or another.
Hamasaki went on to say that Nintendo's announcement of their own Twilight Princess remaster did not alter his team's vision, but instead would motivate them to work harder. In fact, his team have extravagant future plans for the project:
The new lighting system is definitely something we want to inject. Hyrule Field is another issue we want to fix; making it more vast and bursting with content. After the graphics and important issues are fixed, we plan on polishing the game with new gameplay mechanics and creating a whole new dungeon (perhaps more than one).
So in fact, this project is more than just a HD buff, which alone is very impressive so far - Hamasaki and his team are planning on adding new features and improvements into the game.
Do you like what you see here? Is this more of the high-definition remake you were expecting to see during Nintendo's reveal, or are you happy with what we received? As always, sound-off below!