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Hugh Likes Video Game: Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Published by Nintendo
Played on Nintendo Switch

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The Skinny: I don’t know what to tell you. if you haven’t heard of it by now. It’s really good.

So, yeah, Zelda Breath of the Wild has been out for a year, and praise has been heaped upon it. And it is well deserved. Like most of the core Nintendo franchises, Zelda games tend to iterate on a formula. Installments have stayed closer or farther from this formula, but in general, the pattern of travel around a persistent map and complete X number of elemental dungeons before fighting Gannon persists. Breath of the Wild reduces the dungeon count and instead focuses a bit more on the sprawling map, that is none-the-less filled with things to do.
Zelda BotW takes several design cues from Western RPGs like The Elder Scrolls in that there is always something interesting around the next corner. It also follows the design choices of A Link Between Worlds in that it gives the player his tools up front, and lets them tackle the game’s challenges as they wish, although there does feel like an ideal path.
While the game doesn’t offer the robust character development you typically see in Western RPGs, it does have a huge map full of things to do. Breath of the Wild replaces the hidden heart containers from previous games with Shrines, little formalized puzzle rooms scattered throughout the map, which also function as fast-travel points after you activate them. There are lots of mountains to climb, stuff to collect, and monsters to fight, and it rarely feels like a chore.
The four main quests do feel somewhat repetitive, as they each have the same basic structure, although the design for the dungeon-sized Divine Beasts are quite cool. The game has a very aggressive weapon and shield durability system, which will mean you will be spending a lot of time collecting replacement swords rather than relying on the familiar Master Sword. Fortunately, there is a huge variety of new ones to collect, so it does add some variety to the experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a huge, beautiful adventure with a new surprise over every ridge. It brings back a refreshing sense of freedom to the series, and is a must-play, in my opinion. You can find it for the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Wii-U.

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

 

It has been said that Nintendo is a company stuck in the past. That they retread old ideas and characters, plying on nostalgia rather than innovation. And while there’s truth there, when they get it right, OH MAN do they get it right.

“The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” is a 3DS sequel to the Super Nintendo’s “A Link to the Past.” Old School fans of the series will find the maps, designs and plot familiar. Mysterious figure arrives in Hyrule, is immediately revealed to be a bad guy, Link has to collect three pendants and the Master Sword to follow him to the other half of the game.

While it looks like “A Link to the Past’s” Dark World, the other section of the game takes place in Lorule, a more developed mirror kingdom complete with its own Princess and villagers. And Lorule is, for reasons that remain unclear until the end of the game, being torn apart.

Link can travel between the two dimensions using the game’s key new ability. Thanks to a magical bracelet he acquires early in the adventure, Link can change himself into a painting, and walk along walls. It’s a strange ability, and not particularly intuitive at first, but it is masterfully executed in the game, and provides a whole new set of puzzles to solve.

The other major change is that Link’s tools lack ammunition. Instead, Link has a stamina bar that slowly refills, and is shared by all of his rods, bombs, and ranged weapons. Link has access to most of his standard equipment very early in the game as well. This makes “A Link Between Worlds” a much less linear affair than previous games. Link has the ability to tackle dungeons in any order he likes.

The design of the dungeons is quite good, although some of the puzzle solutions felt a bit easy. Since the player has to do a lot less hunting for rupees and equipment, the game seems a bit short.

The artistic elements are reminiscent of the super nintendo, but trades sprites for nicely rendered 3d models. Although most of the game is seen from the top down, a few cut scenes switch to a perspective closer to the ground, and show off the 3DS’s horsepower. The actual 3d is possibly the best I’ve seen on the system. The terrain of Hyrule sinks into the screen, and enemies leap out. This is the first game where I honestly preferred to keep the 3d turned up the whole time.

“A Link Between Worlds” is a great game for players who are new to Zelda, and it rewards fans of the series with plenty of easter eggs, like Majora’s Mask, which can be found on the wall of Link’s House, but unfortunately, can’t be worn.

The game is a wonderful update on a classic, with an amazing twist ending. I highly recommend it.