16/3/17

Dr. StrangeLink or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Zelda

View from the Temple of Time

Breath of the Wild is fantastic.

Not that I needed to even really say that, the myriad of 10/10s and 100% reviews tell you everything you need to know. Reviews though are just opinion; so allow me to put forward an incredibly unpopular one.

I've never really liked the Zelda series.

I never thought they were bad games, on the contrary — Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask are regarded as two of the best games ever made, and I wouldn't be able to find you a single person who considers themselves a "gamer" that hadn't played the original NES version at least to some extent. It was more that I never really grew up on Nintendo home consoles. Mine was a Playstation (and later Xbox) household (my PS1 was actually a hand me down from my grandfather) so I was raised more on the likes of Spyro and Ripto than Mario and Bowser, and by the time the PS2 rolled around, all my Nintendo-bred friends had sunk hundreds of hours into the Zelda franchise. It had defined their childhoods in the same way that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater defined mine.

Then came the Gameboy Colour. To this day, I can still pinpoint with striking accuracy where I first took the shrink wrap off a new copy of Pokémon Blue. Everybody remembers their first time. From then on I was hooked. Gameboy Colour to GBA, GBA to the SP, which I traded in for the original DS, then to the DS lite, before trading that for a 3DS, and later settling on the 3DS XL (phew!).

While I gave the early Pokémon games several days worth of my free time, try as I might, I couldn't get into the handheld Zeldas. It just seemed very "olde worlde fantasy", and I just couldn't convince my pre-teen self that it was worth any of my attention.

My first Nintendo home console though was the Wii in 2008. After playing friends' N64s as a kid, and getting obliterated in Timesplitters on the Gamecube as a teen, I wanted in. I begged and pleaded with my mother for the latest and greatest Nintendo had to offer.

I find it slightly ironic that Nintendo's most accessible console was the one that I found myself, a self-professed "gamer", unable to tear myself away from, but I'm not going to complain. It was a revolution (couldn't help myself... sorry!).

I bought a Wii U a year or so after launch, and while I might have been the only person I know who owned one, I still definitely consider it a worthwhile purchase with some killer new IPs; Splatoon might just be one of my favourite Nintendo multiplayer games ever (I said one of, put down your pitchforks), and one I'm definitely excited about getting the Switch treatment.

So when the Switch was formally announced and preorders went live, I know I wanted to get one, but when the launch window got closer and closer, and the list of launch games was essentially still just "New Zelda and Just Dance 2017", I got anxious.

I never really got Zelda — was I really going to drop a couple hundreds on a console who's first major — hell, who's only — game was part of a series I hadn't really spent any time with?

In the end I bit the bullet. And man, Breath of the Wild.

I can say without hesitation or conviction, that this is the first game Nintendo have put out that have made me feel "that feeling". You know the one. The Portal 2 feeling. The Last Of Us feeling.

While it's the best game I've played in a long, long time, I don't necessarily believe it's a full 100/100 game. The weapon degradation I feel could have used some tweaking, and the [game mechanic spoiler:] blood moon mechanic (which re-animates all the enemies you've killed since the last blood moon) while good on paper, sometimes feels cheap in practice.

So no, it's not perfect. But it's very, very close.

And all that's left to do is to say thank you Nintendo, for taking a relative newcomer under your wing and showing him everything that the Zelda series has to offer. I'll no doubt be digging back through the N64 classics after BotW has had it's way with me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I best be going.

These shrines aren't going to solve themselves...

— Charlie