The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Switch Review

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Switch Review

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It took me over four months to finish it but I finally reached the end of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’m not 100% done with the game — there are so many shrines, side quests and a true ending to see – but I’ve played more than enough to render a verdict. There was so much to love and a handful of design decisions that assaulted my patience but in the end I ended up enjoying my time with Breath of the Wild and intend to return to Hyrule. 
  
There’s a level of expectation that comes with Nintendo first party efforts with regards to polish; everything needs to work well. Cramming a bunch of systems into the game and having them all interact with each other seamlessly may seem like a simple expectation but when I see the likes of Skyrim, Fallout, The Witcher 3, and other open world games mill about with its share of “jank”, I know it’s not so easy. 
  
The very fact that Link can climb anywhere and nearly anything was a mind blowing addition. He’s only restricted by his stamina gauge and if I decided that I didn’t want to wait until I leveled up my stamina gauge to climb a tower, I could cook cup a bunch of stamina food or potions and brute force my way up tower or mountain. It may seem like I’m pulling a fast one on the designers, but they really did fabricate a game where Link and I can go or do anything we want however we want.  
  
The unfortunate side effect to this open ended approach was the less than optimal experience for me early on. I ignored the Kakariko Village objective and bumbled my way through the most punishing Divine Beast who dwelled in Gerudo. I didn’t have any meaningful armor, didn’t realize I could parry attacks, didn’t get the camera, missed the ability to unlock additional inventory spaces, missed out on armor enhancements, and missed out on easy shrines to bolster my health and stamina. I may have made it more difficult for myself by ignoring the main objective for so long but I’m so glad Nintendo allowed me to make the journey so arduous for myself.  
  
Setting things on fire is fun and it’s about time Nintendo embraced that past time. I don’t think setting wooden weapons or arrows on fire and subsequently using them against Bokoblins ever got old for me. I also loved the fact that if I equipped a fire sword, it would keep me warm in the frigid lands of Hyrule. Systems like those kept me on my toes. What did wear out its welcome quickly was the weapon breakage and cooking.  
  
I felt weapons shouldn’t have broken so easily on the flesh of Moblins or other fleshy enemies. If I were striking rocks, shields, or the undead, I can see why my swords and spears would shatter in time. Thankfully as I unlocked more and more weapon slots, I was no longer fumbling around for weapons as frequently.  
  
Unfortunately there wasn’t much of a reprieve from cooking. I understood the need to combine different ingredients to create a dish or potion for Link to consume but it wasn’t necessary to force me to do that each and every time. If I discovered the recipe once, I should be able to select it from cookbook and be able to create whatever dish I had ingredients for with a press of a button. I wasn’t being more creative with my cooking as time wore on; I was becoming lazy and just tossing in the same ingredients over and over again.  
  
I cannot say I had a consistently enjoyable time with Breath of the Wild but such is life in the real world or Hyrule. For every piece of meat that I had to roast there was an awesome moment of floating through the sky or shield surfing down some slopes in Hedra. For every broken sword, there was a brilliant little puzzle shrine to be found and unravel. These aren’t the gives and takes that I’m used to encountering in a Legend of Zelda game and that alone makes it very special.  
 
Verdict: 
I like it 

Ratings Guide
 
 

Checkpoint: Switch Reveal Edition

Checkpoint: Switch Reveal Edition

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Nintendo’s Switch presentation was a bit of a downer, if I’m honest. The hardware didn’t surprise me because of the early leaks. The software lineup was shockingly scarce and the price was far too high compared to its contemporaries. But then there was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey which captured my attention. 

The Price

Let’s address the elephant in the room right away: the price. $399.99 is far too much for the Canadian market. This is well beyond impulse buy territory and into “compare & contrast before I buy” territory. If I didn’t own any of these new consoles, why would I buy a Nintendo Switch when I see Sony and Microsoft offering console bundles with games at a lower price point. At the time of writing, I can buy the PlayStation 4 Uncharted 4 Console bundle for $328.96 — that’s a more powerful console with a quality game for $70 less. Then I can use that $70 to buy another game. For nearly the same amount of money as the Switch alone, I could be playing two games on a PlayStation 4.

Nintendo are asking a lot out of parents and neutral gaming fans with the hardware price.

But let’s say you’re a Nintendo fan and love their first party efforts and don’t mind paying more for a console class portable. Nintendo aren’t playing nice with the accessory pricing either. A Pro controller for $89.99. A pair of extra Joy Cons for $99.99? Apparently, Nintendo believes its ardent fans have deep pockets. The extra Joy Cons are a nice luxury but I feel the Pro controller is a borderline must with certain games. The lack of proper d-pad on the Joy Cons is reason enough to pick up a Pro controller. The Joy Con Grip configuration may be sufficient but it appears very unorthodox and for the sake of comfort in character action games and shooters, the Pro controller may be superior.

Then there’s the matter of paying for online services. The company who notoriously bungles online implementations at every corner is attempting to charge a fee for online services. Good luck with that. And offering a month of access to an NES and/or SNES title is an insult considering the competition’s offerings. 

The Hardware

It’s not as powerful as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One so anyone expecting third party developers and publishers like Electronic Arts or Activision to bring their heavy hitters to the Switch shouldn’t get their hopes up. That FIFA title for the Switch — EA’s sole Switch title — is presumably based off the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game aka “Legacy Editions”. I believe that’s also the case for 2K’s NBA title as well. 

I’ve seen plenty of photos and videos of the hardware in action and in human hands and I honestly think it looks well made. There’s an elegance to its design that makes it look like hardware targeted at older demographics. Moving away from glossy plastics was a wise move on their part. 

The Software

  1. Super Mario Odyssey
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Those are the three titles that I have intentions on buying. Two Wii U “ports” and a new Mario game that won’t see the light of day until Holiday 2017. That’s not a strong lineup whatsoever and if I wasn’t a gaming dork with disposable income, I wouldn’t be able to convince myself to pickup a Switch. I would have waited until the launch of Super Mario Odyssey.

The rest of the lineup doesn’t look too compelling either. Enhanced port of Mario Kart 8 is welcomed but for $79.99? And what about their new title Arms? Is it a $79.99 title as well? The same question could be laid at the feet of Skyrim if it fails to match the offerings of the Skyrim: Remastered which many were able to get for $30 during the holiday sales. The most egregious example of wacky pricing is Puyo Puyo Tetris which sees the Nintendo Switch version command a $54.99 price tag when the PlayStation 4 version sits at $39.99. 

I’m also genuinely shocked by the lack of pack-in game for the Switch. 1-2 Switch seemed like the perfect successor to Wii Sports and Nintendo Land but instead of sweetening the launch of the platform with a hardware bundle, they’re going to charge $64.99 CAD for it. 

Switch Pre-ordered

Despite my misgivings concerning the price, I decided to pre-order one. I would like to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey and it is unlikely that Nintendo will budge on the price between then and now. If they do decide to drop price like the Nintendo 3DS, I expect them to conduct another “Ambassador” program

I may pick up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe after trading in my Wii U copy of Mario Kart 8 for $33. Something about a portable version of Mario Kart 8 is compelling to me. 

It may be a long drought between launch and the holidays but as a Wii U owner, droughts like this are par for the course.

LTTP: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

LTTP: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

I may have appreciated The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past more if I played it on back in 1993. But with limited funds and information sources, I made my video game purchasing decisions based on small screenshots on the back of boxes or cover art. As a result, I passed on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past because they didn’t look appealing to me. I gravitated towards titles like Super Metroid and Mega Man X instead. It wouldn’t be until the Nintendo 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time before I realized A Link to the Past was so revered by video game enthusiasts all over.
My Zelda history is brief; I’ve only finished Wind Waker twice (second time via the HD remaster) and A Link Between Worlds. Both titles were positive experiences, so I was curious what the other titles in this long running series were like. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was the obvious candidate to check out first. However, having finished A Link to the Past, I don’t know if I want continue down this path of Zelda discovery.

I don’t like the fact that Link can only reliably attack in four directions while enemies are hopping and firing from all every which way. It’s not an impossible to fight back but it makes it an annoying game to play. I felt restricted which often lead to frustration as I’m taking unnecessary damage. As a result, this is the first Zelda title where I relied on bottles filled with potions and fairies. I enjoy challenges but not when they appear to be annoying limitations.
It’s not the game’s fault though. It’s the restrictions of the era. I dabbled with the NES classic for a bit and similar complaints can be levied on it as well. They gave Link’s sword swipes a wider reach compared to the original Legend of Zelda but it wasn’t enough to instill confidence for me to use it. I was more comfortable lining up directly.

A Link to the Past offered a level of challenge that I didn’t experience with A Link Between Worlds or Wind Waker HD. Recovery hearts were uncommon which was jarring at first but I grew to appreciate its scarcity. I never played Hero mode in other Zelda titles before, but I suspect that mode made those games more akin to A Link to the Past. The limited hearts pushed me to find more heart pieces and play with more care. Unfortunately, it also contributed to my growing hatred for the 4-way combat.
This was also the first Zelda title that allowed me to reach two boss fights without the necessary equipment to finish it. That’s unheard of in modern gaming let alone modern Nintendo. Even Bloodborne gave you all the resources necessary to fight a boss. It was possible for me to run out of magic and not offer any replenishments, leaving me to dodge snowballs till the end of time. I could have fought Ganon forever as well if I didn’t accidentally fall into the dark pit and picked up a clue.
It was also an asshole move to make nearly every dark pit lead nowhere and then suddenly throw in a couple of curveballs which lead to vital locations. It rewards experimentation but since health was a precious commodity, I wasn’t a fan of flinging myself into bottomless pits just at the odd chance that it would lead me to someplace rewarding.

I spent a lot of time wandering through the Light and Dark worlds looking for answers and the next step to take. The accidental discovery of fast traveling made it more convenient to retread old light areas to explore but it wasn’t applicable in the Dark world. I like the idea of using the Mirror to traverse between the worlds, but it was annoying having to look for the ideal teleportation spot so I didn’t materialize into a wall or a tree. Why not highlight a teleportation friendly area? It truly was a first generation idea with its share of problems to iron out.

If it wasn’t for my grievances with the core gameplay, I would have thoroughly enjoyed The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The challenge and obscure nature of the puzzles gave the game a sense of mystery that modern Zelda titles simply don’t embrace anymore. I wish the items and equipment were more than glorified dungeon keys but it was unique and that’s my take away from this game. For better and worse, it was different compared to Wind Waker and A Link Between Worlds.

Verdict:
It was okay

Ratings Guide 

Checkpoint: Not So Rosy Tinted Glasses Edition

Checkpoint: Not So Rosy Tinted Glasses Edition

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I finally crossed off The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past from my list of gaming omissions. I didn’t like it very much. It was okay at best and annoying to play at the worst. I caved and used the Virtual Console’s save state to mitigate the annoyances. The source of frustration was Link’s inability to reliably attack or defend in eight directions. I didn’t like how enemies were able to attack Link from an angle where he couldn’t retaliate from. It’s not the game’s fault though; I’m just too used to games where you can move and attack more freely. Remember: I played games like Phantom Hourglass and A Link Between Worlds first.

I have other gripes against the game but I’ll leave them to a proper review.

With A Link to the Past done, I’m finally spending time with my Xbox One. I use that thing so infrequently that it’s gotten to the point where every time that it’s turned on, I have an update to install. Hopefully that will change now that I decided to crack open Sunset Overdrive.

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