Tag Archives: Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch & Wii U)

Developer(s) – Nintendo EPD

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Hidemaro Fujibayashi

Producer – Eiji Aonuma

Our years in development, and released as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, as well as being the last game to be produced by Nintendo for the Wii U, and met with an overwhelming amount of critical acclaim, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild retains some conventions of the Zelda series, but gives players a much more open-world and open-ended experience than ever before. It also incorporates elements new to the series, such as breakable weapons, cooking food and brewing elixirs, using a variety of different armour sets and a massive variety of things to do and quests to complete, which puts many open world games to shame. Whilst this isn’t my favourite Zelda title (that honour would go to Ocarina of Time), Breath of the Wild has unanimously cemented itself as, in my opinion, one of the greatest video games ever developed, and most certainly worth the amount of praise it has been given worldwide.

Graphics – 10/10

Incorporating cel-shaded visuals reminiscent of games in the Wind Waker series, as well as Skyward Sword, Breath of the Wild takes place in a post-apocalyptic Hyrule, which is mostly abandoned countryside with the exception of a few small settlements and towns, including Gerudo Town, Rito Village, Goron City, Zora’s Domain and both Kakariko and Hateno Village. Despite the devastation that ravaged Hyrule a century prior to the start of the story, the in-game world looks captivating to say the least. Hyrule still retains a staggering level of natural beauty, as well as curious ruins and additional places to explore.

It’s also interesting as a Zelda fan to be able to identify the many different buildings that have appeared throughout the series that now lie in ruins, such as Lon Lon Ranch, the Temple of Time and the Bridge of Hylia. The game’s soundtrack also does extremely well to add to the atmosphere o this new Hyrule, as well as fit in with each respective situation the player may find themselves in, be that either simply travelling throughout the land in peace, or when battling monsters or mini bosses. It’s also refreshing to see that the conceptual design of the series in general has undergone some dramatic changes, concerning elements like Link and Zelda’s conceptual design, as well as the elements of futuristic technology that existed in mass before the events of the game, such as the Guardians, the shrines and the watchtowers scattered throughout Hyrule.

Gameplay – 10/10

The gameplay has also been dramatically changed to give players a Zelda experience like no other since. The main objective is of course to defeat Ganon, but players may choose to either put this off for as long as possible and go off and do many other things there are to do in the game, or they can even choose to go straight ahead to the final boss from the get-go. Either way, players will not be at a loss for how best they wish to approach the game. Players will also not find themselves with a lack of things to do, since there are a wide range of different side quests and collectible items to find, such as building your own house, completing all 120 shrines, finding all 900 Korok seeds, finding Link’s lost memories, filling the Hyrule Compendium and conquering the four divine beasts to name but a few. As far as gameplay goes, it is unanimously the most extensive Zelda game in terms of things to do, and I was thoroughly impressed from start to finish.

Controls – 10/10

In terms of controls, I also didn’t come across any unnecessary complications. The climbing system is actually reminiscent of what a lot of people tend to do when playing games such as Skyrim and Oblivion; trying to find the best route to climb up mountains despite how steep they may be. In Skyrim and Oblivion for example, players do this without the game encouraging them to do so, but in Breath o the Wild, this is actually an integral part of the gameplay, and is widely encouraged. The combat system can also present a welcome level of challenge in my opinion; especially against multiple enemies.

Lifespan – 10/10

With a massive amount of activity to engage in, Breath of the Wild can easily be made to last over the 100-hour mark, which dwarfs the lifespan of every other major entry in the Zelda series, as well as a vast majority of video games in general. Zelda games would generally last a long time prior, but the sheer scale of this game puts every one of them to shame in this respect.

Storyline – 10/10

The place of Breath of the Wild in the Zelda timeline is uncertain, as Nintendo have not revealed that, but the game takes place in the land of Hyrule 10,000 years after Calamity Ganon had attempted to invade the land, but was thwarted by Link and Zelda, with the aid of four divine beasts and futuristic technology developed by the Sheikah race. A century prior to the start of the story, Princess Zelda conducted further research on Sheikah technology and chose four champions to pilot the divine beast in case Ganon were ever to return. Upon Ganon’s return, he turned the divine beasts and the Sheikah technology against Hyrule, using it to ravage the land, while he remained confined to Hyrule Castle. After fighting the menace, Zelda return to Hyrule Castle in order to ensure that Ganon is kept confined there, whilst link is taken to the Shrine of Resurrection to awake 100 years after Ganon’s return, when he is then tasked with freeing the divine beasts, and to finally defeat Ganon, and drive him out of Hyrule once again.

Being the first main entry in the Zelda series to include voice acting, the story is a lot more emotionally charged than ever before, and it offers a much newer perspective on each character, excluding Link, who is still the same silent protagonist. Although the voice acting is a little below par, the game’s story is a welcome departure from many conventions of past Zelda titles; the portrayal of Princess Zelda herself, for me, being the best feature. Players are sternly reminded of the reason why the series is named The Legend of Zelda, since she carries an aura of mystery and beauty, and to a much greater extent than before, a great depth to her character that Shigeru Miyamoto was inspired by in the first place when naming her after Zelda Fitzgerald; the wife of the American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Originality – 9.5/10

Breath of the Wild is definitely much more evolutionary than it is revolutionary in my opinion, which is why I would personally place it beneath Ocarina of Time. Regardless, the game takes the concept of open world gameplay, and introduces a wide range of new ideas and gameplay elements, making it one of the most unique titles of the eighth generation. It seems Nintendo has looked at a lot of limitations in open world gaming, and developed on them, such a in the case of climbing mountains compared to The Elder Scrolls games. I’ve heard people complaining that there isn’t enough in Breath of the Wild to make it seem like a Zelda game, but to me, that’s a reason that makes the game stand out so much in a positive way, since Nintendo have become accused by critics of merely recycling the games, and giving them a new coat of paint; particularly where games for the Wii U are concerned. But to me personally, the departures that this game seem to have taken from the rest of the series are positive ones, and it makes for the best Nintendo gaming experience in a very long time.

Deliirious

Overall, Breath of the Wild is most certainly one of the best games Nintendo have ever developed, as well as being one of the best games ever developed in general. There is a great deal of things to do, the world of Hyrule has never looked so compelling, and layers will be engaged in the story on an entirely different level to anything seen in the series before.

Score

59.5/60

9.5/10 (Outstanding)

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Nintendo Entertainment System)

Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D 4

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Tadashi Sugiyama & Yoichi Yamada

Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto

Released the year after the original game, and to universal acclaim and sales eventually peaking at over 4 million units worldwide, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link made many radical departures from the first game. Whilst exploration and travel was handled using the top-down perspective synonymous with the first Legend of Zelda, combat was represented through a 2D side-scrolling perspective, and working very similarly to games such as Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, thus joining a class of NES sequels that were drastically different to their predecessors, alongside Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters and most famously, Super Mario Bros 2. Personally, I found that although this formula has never been able to quite match the same level of enjoyment with the classic top-down Zelda formula used in the likes of A Link to the Past or A Link Between Worlds, I still found the first game extremely entertaining, and a strong entry in the series that still holds up even after almost 30 years.

Graphics – 8/10

Making a significant departure from it’s predecessor, the second game in the Legend of Zelda series displayed many improvements in visual presentation from a technical standpoint. Sprites and scenery are much more detailed, and there is an abundance in enemy variety; some of which have gone on to become stables of the series, such as the Moblins, the Iron Knuckles and perhaps most notably, Dark Link. In the timeline of the series, this game is the latest following the game over scenario in Ocarina of Time, which lead to the decline of the land of Hyrule, so like many of the games in the series, it has a level of conceptual design that has since continued to deviate away from many familiar elements like Hyrule Castle and Kakariko Village, and thus, it still continues to stand out in this respect. It’s also interesting to consider how the names of towns in this game were later reworked into other entries; most notable, Ocarina of time.

Gameplay – 7/10

The developers adopted a style of play for the second Zelda game that went against almost everything the original game was based on, and a style of play that has not really been seen in the series since. Instead of the game solely focusing on the bird’s eye view synonymous with 2D Zelda games, the developers instead opted to use 2D side scrolling mechanics for the combat side, and even incorporated a classic RPG style of play whereby Link would level up in order to become stronger overtime. Whilst Nintendo have never chosen to focus on this style of play again (and most definitely for the better in my opinion), it still made for a particularly fun game; certainly one of the better titles on the NES. Combat is addictive, as well as challenging. Whilst it may not have been innovative for the time, since it was largely based on games such as Castlevania and Faxanadu, it still worked surprisingly well.

Controls – 9/10

Since both styles of play portrayed in the game were quite prominent at the time, especially 2D side scrolling, there are no problems with this game for the most part. The mechanic of the player having to periodically switch between both was seamlessly handled, and combat was handled almost as well as most other games it was based on. The only bad thing I would say about it, as was indeed the case with a fair few side scrollers on the NES (most notably both Castlevania and Mega Man) is that the controls can at times be a little bit stiff and slow to register player commands, which adds an unnecessary degree of annoyance. Thankfully, since this game is much accessible than both the aforementioned examples, it doesn’t cause anywhere near as much of a problem.

Lifespan – 8/10

In all, Zelda II can take around 3 and a half hours to complete to 100%, which by today’s standards may seem like nothing, but it was exceptionally long for the time. Generally, games took little more than an hour or to complete, but there were exceptions made to this rule in titles such as the first two Zelda games, as well as Metroid, Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. Though it may be understandable to wish for a longer lifespan, since the game is certainly addictive enough to warrant at least a few more hours of play, hardware limitations at that time should be taken into consideration.

Storyline – 8/10

The story of the second game takes place some years after the first game during the era of Hyrule’s decline. Princess Zelda has fallen under a sleeping spell, and it is up to Link to seek out Zelda’s caretaker Impa to find a way of breaking the curse, as well as stopping followers of the evil wizard Ganon, who plan to kill Link and use his blood to bring their master back to Hyrule. Interestingly, I found that Zelda II introduced many darker aspects of the series that would also be seen in later entries, such as mature themes and hints of ritualistic behaviour reminiscent of the likes of Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess. It’s considered a black sheep of the series in terms of gameplay by most fans, but I believe it can also be considered as such in terms of story too, since it has a fairly prominent dark undertone to it. Although games at the time generally relied on players reading the manual for the most part, it of course adds to the experience to look for things like this within the actual game.

Originality – 8/10

As I previously mentioned, Zelda II belongs to a group of sequels that were drastically different from their predecessors, and consequently, this game stands out much more than many others at the time; but in all, in a positive way. Though there would be many future games in the series released that would surpass the quality of this entry, it’s still an extremely pleasurable experience in its own right, which is owed largely to how much it stands out from the rest of the entire Zelda saga.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a very strong entry, both despite of and because of how different it is to any other Zelda game, and I would recommend it like I would recommend most others in the series. Exploration is rewarded greatly, combat is very addictive, and in my opinion, it is a game that is likely to hold up for another 30 years.

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

Developer(s) – Omega Force & Team Ninja

Publisher(s) – Nintendo & Koei Tecmo

Director – Masaki Furusawa

Producer(s) – Hisashi Koinuma, Yosuki Hayashi & Eiji Aonuma

Hyrule Warriors is a title that combines elements from both the hack and slash gameplay from the Dynasty Warriors series and the world of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series; as well as its many RPG aspects. Going into this title, I was instinctively sceptical, since the Zelda series is one of my favourites and I saw the entire joint venture as a huge gamble on Nintendo’s part. However, I was quite surprised to find how good a game it actually is.

Graphics – 6.5/10

In lieu of Zelda tradition, the game is conceptually diverse. It incorporates not only a plethora of different elements from different games in the series, but a lot of the different visual styles of the different games too. The in-game visuals are very reminiscent of the likes of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, and some of the cutscenes take on a style more akin to a cartoon, similar to Wind Waker. There are also a lot of nice-looking FMV sequences throughout the game to accompany all this. It makes me wonder why Nintendo have Scarcely approved of the use of FMVs in their games. After all, they also worked pretty well in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze too. Some of the new characters do a good job of keeping the series fairly free too. The best example of that to me is Volga; an enemy character based on the boss of the Fire Temple in Ocarina of Time; Volvagia. The issues I have with the graphics stem from the technical side of things. I have spotted a good few glitches while playing, and sometimes the frame rate can drop when enough enemies are on the screen, which makes me question the hardware capabilities of the Wii U.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

Despite the fact that the game is very repetitive, as the main objective is to simply dispatch everything in sight until each enemy base is taken, its also very addictive. Omega Force have had a lot of experience developing games in the hack and slash genre l, and they are good at what they do. The popularity of Dynasty Warriors in Japan, as well as its spin-offs, speaks volumes. There are multiple game modes to choose from, giving players plenty to do throughout, and a great amount of in-game incentive for doing it, including new weapons, items and characters. The fact that there is also a substantial amount of playable characters also gives the game a fair bit of variety. I think Team Ninja have made a much better job of collaborating with Nintendo this time around than what they did during the development of Metroid: Other M, anyway. Hyrule Warriors is much easier to enjoy to me, because not only is it much easier to get to grips with than Metroid : Other M, but because it doesn’t feel like too radical a departure from the main series; as indeed was one of the biggest concerns I had before playing it.

Controls – 8/10

The quality the controls depends largely on what peripheral is used. Playing the game on the Wii U GamePad, as per the developer’s primary intention, does come with its limitations. Not only do the GamePad’s facilities not truly add much to the gameplay, with the exception of displaying previous progress notifications and players being able to use the touchpad to select secondary items, but after a while, playing the game with the GamePad can end up causing pain in the hands if players aren’t careful. I feel as if it I important that I address this issue to anyone who is looking to play the game, but may only have the Wii U GamePad to play it on. Since the gameplay in Hyrule Warriors is very intense and action-packed, players may end up tensing their hands across the side of the GamePad, and doing this can cause quite a bit of pain after a good few hours. My advice to players would be to make sure that they try and keep their hands relaxed, and be careful to not tense them up around the GamePad regularly. Most game controllers are designed for players to naturally wrap their hands around, but the Wii U GamePad’s design makes doing this considerably harder. All that being said, however, there are no issues with the actual control scheme of the game itself, and since it centres mainly on button- mashing, I find, mastering the basics won’t be too much of a problem.

Lifespan – 8/10

Though gameplay remains the same throughout, there is still enough things to do to warrant around 30 to 40 hours of playing; maybe even longer if players wish to achieve 100%. There is enough intense and action-packed combat, as well as there being both a strong RPG presence, and enough in the way of having to level up each individual character and gaining new weapons and abilities, to keep players interested for an extraordinarily long time for a game of its kind. Out of all the elements of the Legend of Zelda series present in Hyrule Warriors, a delightfully long lifespan is one that I am particularly happy to see attained by the developers.

Storyline – 6/10

Taking place outside of the official Zelda timeline, the events of the story follow Link, who with the aid of several other characters from across the series such as Impact and Sheik, must work to eliminate a new three headed by the sorceress Cia, who intends to revive Gannondorf in order for him to lay waste to the land of Hyrule and usurp the throne from Princess Zelda. The game works better for fans of the series in a lot of different ways. But no truer is this than in the narrative. It helps to move the plot forward if players already know who everybody in the game already is, as they all come from several different games in the series. If not, some characters will inevitably come off negatively compared to how they were portrayed in previous games. For example, the character Agitha had a fairly subtle role in Twilight Princess, but in Hyrule Warriors, she comes off as considerably less subtle and more unintelligent; and series newcomers will not understand the references to her character in Twilight Princess that are present in Hyrule Warriors. I won’t give away exactly what happens, but one thing that won’t work quite so well for fans of the series is that one in particular plot thread is repeated from another game, and thus discounts one fairly major plot twist. However, having addressed all these issues, I didn’t find the game’s plot to be terrible by any means. Although it still follows the same basic premise that the series has done for almost 30 years now, all the different elements from different Zelda games have been brought together nicely to make for a fairly well written new story. It goes to show at least, that Nintendo are indeed willing to break traditions and take their franchises in new and different directions.

Originality – 6/10

Though for the most part this game draws is heavily influenced by pre-existing elements from 2 different video game franchises, I found that both of these concepts have been taken into fair consideration by the developers, and the result is something, which is somewhat unique in its own right. It may not be the most original end result to spawn from Nintendo collaborating with another developers, but I think if either party had strayed too far from either concept, the game may not have turned out to be as good as it is.

Happii

Happii

To summarise, Hyrule Warriors, despite its flaws, is a very addictive game and is most certainly worth investing a good hours in. Even in spite of the many times that Nintendo have either teamed up with, or handed over some of their longest running series’ to other developers, I was worried that something terrible may have come of this in particular endeavour. But much to my delight, I was proven wrong.

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

(Written for http://darkzero.co.uk/)