Review

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

 

 

 Game: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch(reviewed), Wii U

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017

Price: $59.99

In 2017, it is fair to say that The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that Nintendo has kept pretty close to the chest.  While they’ve never turned out something truly horrible, the past ten or so years have seemed somewhat stagnant. Windwaker is a fantastic game with some slow points, Twilight Princess has some amazing Dungeons, but it’s bleak and dark art design left me wanting. While other titles like Phantom Hourglass tried too hard with gimmicks like touch based controls.  Most of these games are fantastic on their own merits, yet still, stick to concepts and gameplay elements Nintendo had been using since the era of the SNES and A Link to the Past.

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I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

 

After multiple delays on Breath of the Wild, which many had begun to speak of as Zelda Skyrim, I was starting to doubt how open or impressive the title could be. Well, Nintendo didn’t just tweak the formula of one of it’s oldest series. It threw the whole recipe out, and the result is a beautiful, breathtaking game, that feels like a new experience littered with charm and familiarity in the form of a few base concepts that still make it feel like a classic Zelda adventure.

The most obvious and arguably most welcome change to Breath of the Wild is how little it holds your hand at the start. Skyward Sword, the last big release in the franchise has a solid two or three hours of heavily scripted tutorial based gameplay. In Breath of the Wild Link wakes up from his one hundred year slumber briefly gets some direction from a cloaked old man( it’s dangerous to go alone, take this) and you’re thrown out to explore Hyrule at your leisure.17349714_1476346705711018_9193550976783032304_o

The first hour or so of the game does take place in a slightly more contained area. On the Great Plateau, the aforementioned old man will ask you to gather treasure from four shrines. Each shrine is essentially a mini dungeon that provides you with a rune that grants you a new ability. These abilities, include bombs,  the power to stop time, create columns of ice from water, and a magnet based ability for moving metal objects. A puzzle in each shrine will force you to prove you can use each rune competently. Once this is done, you’ll be granted a paraglider and turned out to Hyrule with a simple task, defeat Ganon.

These four core abilities will replace the old Zelda system of finding new tools and weapons in dungeons. It’s easy to be skeptical of this change, at first I was worried that with all of these powers front loaded that sense of discovery would be lost. The feeling of realizing you can hit a distant switch with the boomerang you just acquired would be gone. Instead, I found over time that the sense of discovery comes from other places. With these four runes, you can solve the puzzles in all of the Shrines, there are over 100 in total.

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Keep an eye on that stamina wheel

 

With these runes in hand and the paraglider at Link’s disposal, the game essentially tells you “here are the tools, go explore this world.” You’ll find that the only thing stopping you from going where you want is Link’s stamina meter. The little green circle is something you’ll constantly have an eye on as it is important for almost everything you do. Stamina is drained when running, climbing, swimming, and paragliding. It’ll recharge after a brief rest, but you don’t alway have that option. Mountains that seem insurmountable can be tackled early on if you’re smart about looking for outcroppings to rest at on your way up.

What you will be climbing most is the Sheikah Towers. These towers glow bright orange and fill in portions of your map and turn blue when activated with your Sheikah Slate. These towers don’t fill in your map in the traditional open world game sense, and that may be one of my favorite things about Breath of the Wild. Sheikah Towers will only fill in large map features like mountains and bigger bodies of water. You’ll have to spot things like Shrines and villages from these and other vantage points. This task is easily accomplished using multiple pins and stamps available through the map screen. I used these tools a whole lot to mark shrines, as well as, mineral deposits, enemy camps, and places that just looked interesting. Unlike other open world games Breath of the Wild doesn’t populate your map with a million things to do. This feature of spotting and manually marking encourages more exploration and is a ton of fun.

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The Zora Prince is confirmed best character

 

More changes come in the form of Heart Containers. While you’ll still receive Heart Container(the item that increases Link’s overall heart count) for defeating dungeon bosses, Heart Pieces are gone altogether. For those who have played past Zelda titles, you’ll know that finding four pieces of a heart( five in Twilight Princess) out in the world would add another heart as well. In Breath of the Wild, you will receive Spirit Orbs every time you complete a shrine. For every four you acquire you can visit a Goddess statue to upgrade either your hearts or stamina pool. These Statutes can be found in most towns, as well as the Temple of Time.

Weapon degradation also presents a new take for Zelda. Swords, shields, and bows all degrade and break over time. For this reason, you’ll wanna be grabbing anything you can get your hands on early on. From Travelers swords to Bokoblin clubs, grab whatever you can. Armor, however, is forever. Some armor is acquired through story quests, and other sets can be bought in towns.  Link’s clothing factors big time into the weather system of the game. Wearing metal in a lightning storm can result in an electric shock, having wooden equipment out in the heat of Death Mountain can cause it to go up in smoke. You’ll also have to dress accordingly in super hot or cold environments, or Link will take damage over time. You can also buy or craft potions to resist the heat or cold temporarily.

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Sneaking up on foes deals extra damage

 

Cooking adds an interesting but not overly complex layer to surviving in Hyrule. You’ll no longer discover hearts out in the open to refill Links health. In place of this Link will have to eat like the rest of us. Raw materials will work just fine, but to really fill up those hearts and maybe add a little bonus effect, up to five ingredients can be cooked in a pot over a fire. Cooking isn’t exactly complicated, raw meat plus rock salt equals salted meat. While combining a Moblin horn with and Octorock tentacle will result in something barely edible.

Breath of the Wild, for the first time, features, cutscenes with full voice over, with the exception of Link himself. These bits of story are shelled out from flashbacks that Link can experience via twelve memories locations that will cause Link to remember events from 100 years ago. These sequences are great and lend themselves to the incredible writing of the game. Even in basic conversation NPC’s are loaded with smart, funny things to say instead of one generic comment. They’ll react to Link based on what he is wearing or doing making them feel more alive. Link doesn’t speak aloud ever, but his dialogue options are often quippy dry humor that I enjoy quite a bit.

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Am I a chef now?

 

Dungeons have been altered in a large way. In addition to exploring the fields of Hyrule taming horse and finding Shrines, there are four main dungeons you can conquer before fighting Ganon. Staples of the series like the Big Key and compass are gone completely. Your first task upon entering is to obtain a map. Getting the map gives you special control over each dungeon that I won’t spoil for you. It is also worth noting that each dungeon is 100% optional. You can take on Ganon without doing these but don’t expect that to be easy. Beating each of these weakens him significantly.

It can’t all be sunshine, Breath of the Wild does have its problems. For one, inventory management feels like a mess. Moving ingredients around and moving in and out of the menu to drop weapons when your inventory is full is a hassle. In addition, you’ll occasionally see some frame rate issues when playing in TV mode. Thankfully a frame drop here or there is far from game breaking, and the great moments I’ve had with Zelda far out way any of these minor gripes.

I explored Hyrule’s sprawling fields and mountains for close to 100 hours before I finally put Ganon down. I felt a slight disappointment in ending my adventure so I find myself going back to look for secrets and shrines I may have missed. I didn’t think that I’d be able to recapture the magic that games like A Link to the Past held for me as a child, but Nintendo made me a bright-eyed child again in my mid-twenties. Breath of the Wild is a game changer for Zelda as a series, and hopefully just the first steps in a renaissance for one of my favorite series of all time. Whether it’s on the Switch or Wii U, everyone should check out this fantastic game.

Score: 10 out of 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quick look

Thoughts on my first few hours with the Nintendo Switch

I’ve had a full weekend with my new Nintendo Switch now and even between working and gearing up for PAX East I’ve found plenty of time to get aquatinted with the hardware. I’ve also become thoroughly familiar with a particular piece of software *cough* Zelda. The success of the Switch seems vital to Nintendo after the Wii U being generally regarded as a failure and I feel confident in saying that at the very least the Nintendo Switch is a competent piece of hardware with a small software line up.

The hardware looks nice; it’s sleek, and doesn’t look like a cheap toy, my biggest complaint about the Wii U tablet. It feels good in your hands when in tablet mode, and removing the Joy Cons are simple. It is worth noting that the Joy Con strap locks which attach when you’re using the controllers independently can sometimes be a real pain to remove, be sure to take it slow to avoid breaking them. The Switch also includes a grip to slide your Joy Cons into while playing in TV mode. While this is certainly serviceable, it is far from ideal. The Switch Pro Controller is pricey coming in at about $70.00. It’s expensive, I know, but if you can afford it, I would highly recommend it. I can’t imagine playing Zelda in TV mode without it.

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The Pro Controller

 

 

The Switch Dock serves a multitude of purposes. It’ll charge your Switch, connects your Switch to the TV via HDMI and also houses three USB ports, two on the side and one in the pack along with the power adapter plug and HDMI port. The Switch slides in and out of the dock super easily; but you run the risk of the dock itself scratching up the screen over time, so a screen protector is a must. The Switch kickstand is also flimsy at best, I just don’t trust that damn thing.

The Tablet screen is sharp as hell, and although I haven’t had much use of the touchscreen as of yet it, it’s been responsive. As far as general performance goes games look incredible both on the TV and tablet. Zelda did seem to occasionally drop a few frames in TV mode but nothing game breaking. Battery life appears to be somewhere around the three-hour mark when playing a demanding game like Zelda, so smaller games have nowhere to go but up.

The user interface or UI is the cleanest I’ve seen from Nintendo to date. A simple taskbar similar to the PS4’s UI is present over a plain white background from which you can easily access accounts’ installed games and the Eshop. The Eshop has no catchy music track R.I.P.

On the software end of the spectrum, it’s more quality over quantity at this point. Zelda is the flagship title and in the course of one weekend has drained about thirty hours of my life, and I’ve only completed one dungeon, the game is massive and beautiful. Super Bomberman R may seem a bit pricey but is a fun and challenging competitive game both locally and online. I’ve also played around with Snipperclips, an awesome co-op puzzle game exclusive to the Switch and Fast RMX a pretty damn fun stand in for that new F-Zero game we’ll probably never get.533265-nintendo-switch

Should you rush out to by a Switch? If you’re a Zelda fanatic, it might be worth it for that alone especially if you don’t have a Wii U. I always rush out for day one hardware, but it might be worth waiting to the average gamer. Holiday 2017 will surely see some bundles including one with Super Mario Odyssey. The Switch is a solid piece of hardware, and I love it but unless you’re clamoring to play Breath of the Wild on the preferred platform then waiting may be your best option.

 

 

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News

Twas the night before Switchmas

As I am writing this, I just got back from an excursion to my local Gamestop to check out their midnight launch for the Nintendo Switch. I pre-ordered the Switch on Amazon, so I can look forward to it in the morning. I did, however, neglect to pre-order a pro controller and thought I’d take my chances with the crowd.

Much to my surprise not only was I able to get my hands on a controller but they had plenty of Switches available for walk-in customers. A friend who was with me for the same reason was even offered a Switch mistakenly as he was being rung up.

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That’s about a fifth of the line outside my local Best Buy

 

Maybe my little local Gamestop was overstocked, or maybe we really won’t see another console shortage from Nintendo. It looked like another story when I drove by my local Best Buy to see the line, good luck to those folks.

At any rate, I can’t wait to share my thoughts on the Switch and good luck to those attempting to get their hands on one.

 

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News, Uncategorized

I Am Setsuna Moved Up To Switch Launch

Of all the criticisms surrounding Nintendo’s  latest console its launch line up of only five games was probably the most founded. Well, it would appear we can now bump up that launch number to six.

Square Enix has confirmed that I Am Setsuna will be available day and date with the Switch Console, March 3rd, 2017.

So for those of you not up to date the Switch lineup is now as follows.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • 1-2 Switch
  • Super Bomberman R
  • Skylanders Imaginators
  • Just Dance 2017
  • I Am Setsuna

So we have a pretty great old school RPG up for Switch day one. If you’re unfamiliar with the title, you can check out my review of the PS4 version here.

 

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The Switch Is Coming

Tonight is the big night. At 11:00 PM EST we will finally learn all about Nintendo’s new console the Switch. I’ll be bringing updates once the big reveal is over and you can even watch it right here!

Until then all we can do is speculate and hope for an awesome line up of games, Mother 3, please. Let me know in the comments what you hope for the Switch while we wait for the big reveal.

 

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Nintendo Themed Attractions Coming To Universal Studios Orlando And Hollywood, Fun Will Ensue

If you recall, last year Universal Studios Japan announced it would be getting attractions based on Nintendo properties. Well, it seems they are coming to Orlando and Hollywood as well, and Miyamoto assures us it will be fun.xzdlrlciwfr6b7sadcdc

Nintendo makes sense here, their characters have fantastic worlds to explore. From Peach’s Castle to DK’s Treetop home. We don’t have any information on what exactly we’re getting or when we’re getting it but below is a video of Miyamoto and some guy from universal telling you how much fun this will be.

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Review

Review: Owlboy

Game: Owlboy

Developer: D-Pad Studios

Publisher: D-Pad Studios

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows

Release Date: November 1st, 2016

MSRP: $24.99

When Owlboy was first brought to my attention, I found myself racking my brain. It was a name I knew I had heard before and there was a good reason for that, the game in question has been in development for nearly a decade. It’s one of those titles you’ve almost certainly heard about sometime over the past few years but can’t put a finger on where or when.

 

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You sound just like my dad

 

After a night of research, I came to the simple conclusion that a friend simply must have mentioned it to me in the past but Twitter was abuzz with news on the game, so I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. After all, I love a good old school platformer, and the character design seems downright adorable. After my first hour with Owlboy my one fear that a game that’s been in development for nearly ten years could be a broken mess, however, it seems D-Pad Studios time went into polishing up what turned out to be an amazing experience.

In Owlboy you play as Otus, a young owl in a not so great situation. You see his teacher and mentor is a kind of a jerk. He along with some of the other owls in training, often mock Otus for general incompetence and for being mute. Poor Otus just wants to make everyone in the village proud, but bullies will be bullies.

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Buck up pal

 

Otus’ journey begins when he is swept up into the adventure of a lifetime. Getting a hold of three ancient Owl relics before the evil pirate Maelstrom and his crew can get a hold of them to use as weapons. The plot is full of twists and turns, so I won’t spoil that here, but I will make mention of a few things Owlboy does incredibly well.

For starters, Owlboy’s character animations are second to none. They really help you get a sense of each characters personality for example Otus himself will often stare at his hands a twiddle his thumbs evoking his timid demeanor while Geddy, Otus’ first ally and friend can often be seen flailing his arms in a panic(Geddy is a bit of a coward).

Storytelling, as well as pacing, is another element that the team at D-Pad Studios nails. Owlboy doesn’t take its time getting you swept up in it’s 8 to 10-hour story. I’m not ashamed to admit I beat the game in roughly two sittings. Owlboy follows a rather linear path but keeps you interested most of the way through. It’s puzzle filled Zelda-like dungeons blend in seamlessly with the story-driven path and creates a feeling of intimacy I haven’t felt with a game in a while. It’s hard to put down.

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That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me

 

Gameplay comes as platforming with a twist; Otus can fly which would typically make any platforming scenario a breeze but Owlboy’s incredibly vertical design and use of moving obstacles and variables like wind currents make for some interesting play. Otus has a basic spin attack that can be utilized simply to stun enemies but must rely on his allies to attack. Otus will gather three allies with unique combat abilities on his journey. Otus can carry his allies while in flight in order to take down enemies. Each character is equipped with a unique firearm, the first of which, Geddy carries a basic pistol for taking down enemies but later introduced characters like Alphonse feature more distinct weapons that will also help Otus with environmental obstacles.

So should you pick up Owlboy? If you’re looking for something to scratch that old-school, itch while still expereincing something entirely new and unique I’d say yes. For a completely excellent platformer, I’d say it’s worth the $25 price of admission. D-Pad Studios, if you’re reading, I’d like a sequel now.

Score: 8 out of 10

 

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