Twilight Princess lacks the subtle atmosphere, magic and freedom that made Zelda a classic.
First of all... where has the magic and charm of the series gone? Everything in Zelda used to be one big dream-like atmosphere, very quaint and silent. Each element succumbed to it. In Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time, the characters and scenes flowed under-the-surface in secret automatism, ticking to their own clock, their individual thoughts and actions undisturbed, becoming part of the world itself. These were whims that Link could curiously observe from his child-like perspective, explore around and find more of. No character shined more than the next, they were all intriguing and unique and heightened this foreign magical culture.
Twilight Princess broke away from Zelda's curious and mysterious subtleties in order to instill a program of show and drama, being as emotively stimulating as it had to be each moment in order to deliver the story to Link, instead of letting Link discover his own story, instead of letting the player make his own adventure. Link's personal adventure in a new lair was disturbed and discontinued by a rather burdensome sequence of in-your-face characters and linear requirements, all rather plain and a bit dreary. Everyone was on Link's case, and the prior wonder and curiosity of exploring around Hyrule was just not all there. Link should have been on his own, finding his own adventure, like he always has. In other words, I should have felt completely immersed in Hyrule, not skipping through cutscenes, caring about these lame side-characters, stuck in one menial task after another, stripping Link of his dignity and right to just "adventure." I am passionate about this major problem.
A number of characters and places were actually quite plain and ugly, both artistically and effectually. The game had low expectations after the Wind Waker's success because it forgot it was primarily fairy-tale like. Hyrule did not feel like a mystical other-world hidden away in fantasy. It took realism too literally and played up having this delicate ethereal nature. I was looking for the real Hyrule, the bold other-world full of magical oddities, secret places and intriguingly mysterious creatures and characters, ie. Tingle, the Skull Kid, witches, and dwarves, the Flute Boy, Tarin the raccoon, Kaepora Gaebora, etc. And location design was not nearly as iconic as Ocarina of Time, ie. outside the Temple of Time, Hyrule Castle, the Graveyard, Kokiri Forest, the Lost Woods. Quality must come before quantity.
There were not many things to do or places to go at any specific time during the game. That's not a real adventure game. The game offered little sense of child-like exploration. Link wasn't really free, and the basic quests to progress were pretty dull. At this point I expect Zelda gameplay to be more creative and rewarding. Maybe you'd appreciate them more when you're in the mind of a five-year-old, but it's not helping kids develop a sense of imagination.
Overall, the Zelda series needs its surreal sense of imagination back. Not the pretentious adventure and cliched maturity of every other game. Thanks for reading.