Tag Archives: Zelda

Let’s all go exploring with Breath of the Wild

It took me a little over four hours to complete the initial opening chunk of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m talking about the part when Link, after emerging from the mystical cave of resurrecting people after 100 years because it’s cool to do so, must go complete four shrines to acquire all the necessary powers and hang-glider to start him proper on his journey to destroy Calamity Ganon. I’m not mad. Really, not even the slightest. Those opening hours helped teach me tricks and techniques that I’m still using currently to survive and puzzle my way to victory in Hyrule, some twenty-ish hours later.

Right. I got a copy of Breath of the Wild for my Wii U back in June, after I finally finished putting together the second chapter of my ongoing journal comic project Death, Divorce, and Disney. I’ll use this very sentence to plug it hard, so please click and read away. I’m not going to talk too much about the game’s plot, for two reasons. One, from a summary stance, it’s pretty bare bones. And two, there’s a lot I don’t understand yet, like Link’s relationship to Zelda and Hyrule’s people or why these shrines exist, and so on. That all said, we’re playing as an amnesiac Link, who awakens from a hundred-year slumber to a mysterious voice that guides him to defeat Calamity Ganon before he can destroy the kingdom of Hyrule. It’s not too far off from A Link to the Past, where a non-amnesiac Link awakens during a nightly thunderstorm, summoned to the castle by Princess Zelda’s voice to stop…uh, Ganon.

Back to my original point, about how long I spent in the “tutorial” section of Breath of the Wild. I got hung up for a while on how to access the two shrines located in the colder, snowy section of the Great Plateau. I assumed I needed better clothing to keep Link warm, and I was mostly right. It turned out I needed to figure out a recipe for the helpful Old Man and, once satisfied, he’d pass over some magical shirt to keep Link from freezing his nipples off. The problem was I didn’t know how to cook, and in a very non-Nintendo way, the game did not provide me with a hand-holding walkthrough to ensure I knew how to do this. I figured I just walked up to a pot on an open flame and there would be a prompt waiting for me, kind of like what happens in Fallout 4. Nope. All I kept seeing was “sit,” and so I sat, stuck. Turns out, you need to go into your inventory, pick a bunch of ingredients to hold, exit the menu, and then stand by the pot to get the prompt–so far, it’s one of two things I’ve had to look up for the game, and I deeply regret it.

I’m now much deeper into the story and map, but also totally not. It just feels that way to me because the hour count on the game’s save slot has gone way up. There’s still a lot to discover. In truth, I’ve completed a smidgen of shrines, found a few Korok seeds, climbed a couple tall towers, unearthed three lost memory spots, and haven’t taken down a single Divine Beast, though I do have the quest from the shark-people to do so whenever I please. But that’s up to me and my discretion. Personally, I like the less intense side quests, like finding horses or returning chickens to a pen, or just collecting ingredients to try my hand at cooking. Also, taking pictures of weapons and bugs and flowers to fill out the Hyrule compendium is good, wholesome fun that reminds me dearly of Beyond Good & Evil.

When it comes to waging war, I’m not great at combat, and part of that is me feeling like I’m missing a dodge button or something. Early on, I remapped the jump button, and that has helped a bunch, but timing your way around an enemy’s attacks is still a bit tricky, which has, naturally, made me rely more on loosing arrows from afar and being a sneaky elf. Y’know, just about how I play every RPG I get my grubby mitts on. Like many, the idea of breakable weapons breaks my heart, but at least unlike in Dark Cloud, Link isn’t far from a full inventory of things to use when one weapon breaks. It does, however, mess with your head a bit because you’ll find a cool, powerful weapon as a reward in a shrine and then be reluctant to use it in the field because you don’t want it to disappear. I don’t know. It’s a weird system, and I need to learn to not love my gear because nothing is permanent.

Also, Breath of the Wild is the game that actually got me to admit defeat and buy one of these plastic things:

I kind of want more, which is a dangerous thing to say out loud. And not just because they make a magical chest full of fish and raw meat fall from the sky once a day. I have a love for tiny figurines.

Anyways, Breath of the Wild. It’s really good, and I’m completely content to take my time with it. Sometimes I’ll play it for several hours in a night and then not return to it for a few days. That’s okay. Despite having a quest called “Destroy Ganon” since the start of the game, the in-game world is seemingly in no rush to see that actually happen. At least that’s the vibe I’m getting. If anything, my current adventures are leading me far away from Calamity Ganon for the time being and into the fins of a bunch of shark-people that taught me how to swim up waterfalls.

Stuck fast in the puzzle mire that is Paper Mario: Sticker Star

paper mario SleepingWiggler

What is wrong with me? I’ve traded out one extremely challenging game for the time being–Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked–for another. Namely Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Though those two games differ quite dramatically in what makes them challenging: one demands a clearly strategic mindframe that needs precise execution to equal success, and the other asks you to know things you probably couldn’t ever know unless you looked them up in an online walkthrough. Like I did last night. To find the third Wiggler segment, so that I could keep playing. Whatever.

Originally, I purchased Sticker Star the same time I got Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, with Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion following shortly thereafter. That was both a great and troubling time for my Nintendo 3DS, as it meant I had to pick something to play and stick with it lest I fall down the rabbit hole of dabbling in everything, but getting nowhere. At this point, I’ve now completed Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (yay!) and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (boo!), but that didn’t mean I jumped back into our paper-thin Mario’s latest adventure. No, instead, I journeyed through Pokemon White 2 and then made the, as readers know, futileness attempt to get further in Devil Summoner Overclocked. But since that last game has broken my spirit a bit, I’m now back to peeling stickers off walls and filling out the museum like an addict.

Despite my save slot showing that I have logged around eight or so hours, I am not very far in Sticker Star. I’ve opened up the forest world on the left and the desert world to the right, but only have one collected jeweled crown in my book. As well as one piece of “scrap” and three pages of random items, like a lighter, boom box, and giant fan. I’m unsure of how to progress further in the desert-themed levels, especially how to get to the alternate exit in one specific level, and so instead of just spinning my wheels there I popped over to the forest world to see what still needed to be done. Seems like that adorable Wiggler is still missing two segments to his body, and one of them is located in the Bafflewood level, which riffs heavily on Zelda‘s recurring Lost Woods; it’s a giant maze, one that is endless unless you know the right path to take, which you can highlight by place stickers next to specific path exits. I already beat this level, having marked the true path, but no matter how many times I went through it or tried a different way to move here or there, I could not locate the Wiggler’s body segment. For the previous two segments, you could always spy them hiding in the open. Boo, wah.

And so I was forced to look up an online walkthrough, which told me that to locate the Wiggler’s third body segment you have to first go right, then left, then right, and then right once more. Not sure how I was ever in the world to know that, unless a Toad said something I missed. If I did miss some key dialogue, then sure, my fault. I came back to a videogame I haven’t played in a few months and acted a fool. I also had the sound lowered as Tara was watching her new Netflix obsession Monarch of the Glen, which means I might have bypassed some audio clues. However, if not, that kind of puzzle solution is just obtuse. There are no clues, no nudges in that direction; the entire time you explore the Bafflewood, any exit that is not the true exit drops you back to the beginning, and so you are taught early on to follow a single path. This puzzle breaks that mentality, but doesn’t tell you. Just assumes you’ll do it eventually.

Anyways, after all that Wiggler-rebuilding (the fourth and final segment was easy enough to find and rescue), I was able to get up to the third world’s boss, which is a large, poison-filled squid with something like 300 HP, only to have Mario’s butt kicked swiftly and efficiently. The squid’s poison attack not only weakens Mario, but also obstructs the screen, kind of like it did in Mario Kart DS, to the point that it’s hard to tell how much HP Mario has left and whether or not using a Mushroom is needed this turn. Not sure what I did wrong attack-wise, but I suspect I need stronger, shinier stickers to really make the damage count early on. Will try again, and then I guess it’s back to the desert world unless a fourth world of levels opens up after taking down the squid boss. Until then…

30 Days of Gaming, #30 – Your favorite game of all time

Well, this has been a long-time coming, but here we are, the final topic. “Of what?” you ask, looking around with wide eyes, a dribble of drool leaking down your chin. Clearly you’ve forgotten. That 30 Days of Gaming meme that I started back in…oh gawd, March 2011. With the new year swinging on in, we’re almost at the 365 days mark for a meme meant to be completed in thirty days. Thirty topics for thirty days. Don’t label me a slacker just yet as I was totally honest about this meme in that it was going to be a slow crawl, a thing I went to here and there to fill in the gaps when all I could find inside my cranium were dustbowls and old photograph albums. In truth, the final few topics have been pretty tough to nail down, and I’ve been less interested in thinking about them discerningly.

And the final topic is the topic, the one that puts it all out there. The kicker: name your favorite game of all time. OF ALL TIME.

::inhale::

::exhale::

Right. It’s actually quite easy to name my favorite videogame of all time. That’d be The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I mean, the image on Grinding Down since its very birth has been the Master Sword in all its forest-hidden glory. Should’ve seen it coming, people. The hard part comes with writing about it, as it’s a game so close to my shaping, a game so perfect in memory and nostalgia that I am scared if it’s even possible to express so with an ounce of success. Guess I’ll give it a shot. Maybe even a hook shot.

I don’t remember how A Link to the Past ended up in my SNES collection. I don’t remember saving up money as a kid from mowing the lawn or washing neighbors’ cars or my allowance in general to pay for it. I don’t remember trading with friends or borrowing it from a friend and then just keeping it like a horrible goblin. I don’t remember getting it as an older boy, a teenager, or a man, meaning it had to come into my hands around the time it came into many others’ hands, near its launch date of late 1992. I don’t remember how I got it, but I’ve had it ever since, as it’s one of the few SNES carts that did not get traded in when I was young and dumb. I do, however, remember playing it. And playing it again and again.

For those that don’t know, A Link to the Past is a coming-of-age tale where a young Link has to save a princess and defeat Agahnim not once, but twice and then slice Ganon apart for peace to return to the land of Hyrule. To do this, he has to travel between a Light and Dark World to collect the Master Sword and three mystical pendants, as well as uncover the Seven Sages. In between all that, you’ll explore villages and dungeons and rivers and forests for items and people to help you along the way.

There was a time when the Internet didn’t spoil videogames for everyone, and during that time I played A Link to the Past. I found my way into the castle during a rainstorm via a hole in the ground without anyone pointing it out to me. I attacked chickens until they attacked me without knowing that would happen. I made it through the Ice Palace dungeon without a walkthrough. I totally cried in frustration when I couldn’t figure out how to beat Moldorm, and it knocked Link off the screen for the umpteenth time. I helped the lost old man on Death Mountain without knowing whether it was a trick or not. I revealed a monster with sunlight, I blew apart cracks in walls, I dashed into a tree to unleash a swarm of bees…I…I…

This is a videogame stuffed to the brim of little moments, tiny secrets, and gleeful nods. And that’s a big part of why it’s so special to me. The “main quest” of stopping the evil overlord is by the books, but it’s all the little moments that make the adventure so spectacular. And the music. And the fact that there’s an entire second world to explore, which comes seemingly out of nowhere, and you can flip to and from it with ease, on the fly, giving you freedom to explore and try things out. And the graphics, the kind that are ever-lasting, the kind that evoke warm feelings upon seeing them today, tomorrow, and years down the road.

I love it immensely, though the last time I sat down to play it on my still working SNES was many moons ago. Maybe even in the early 2000s. I’m probably overdue for a trip down memory lane with a game that has still not been reproduced today. There is nothing else like it, not even other games from The Legend of Zelda. Though the DS ones come close in spirit.

So there ya go. My favorite videogame of all time. A Link to the Past. I probably didn’t do it enough justice, but whatever. This isn’t a college thesis here. Agree or disagree or move on silently to something else on the Internet. We’re done. Though there’ll be a roundup post on the 30 Days of Gaming meme soon, too. Until the next meme, I guess!

Games Completed in 2011, #34 – The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures Anniversary Edition

This year marked the momentous 25th anniversary for The Legend of Zelda franchise. Nintendo celebrated with elaborate symphonies, commercials purporting that Robin Williams and his pixie-haired daughter Zelda Williams gamed together, and a free copy of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for those rocking a Nintendo 3DS. Hey, I’m one of those! A 3DS owner, that is. Not Robin or Zelda Williams. Snartleblast, I know.

Some history first. Four Swords Adventures was originally for the Nintendo GameCube and, while containing a lot of familiar faces and gameplay aspects, was a little different than Link’s previously traditional treks to save the princess. This time, it was all about multiplayer chaos, with multiple Links having to work together to solve puzzles and at the same time trying to one-up each other in terms of collecting the most rupees. If you had friends and a lot of systems/cables, you had a solid Friday night. I never got to play it way back when, but it sounds like a fantastic party game, with plenty of room for hijinks and backstabbing.

The 3DS version–well, it’s actually available as a piece of DSiWare, meaning gamers with either/or system can play–was redesigned slightly to include a single-player mode, as well as new enemies, maps, and puzzles. Thank goodness for this. I’m sure many of us went into the freebie with high hopes of playing with friends over WiFi, but the 3DS is still not a great system for online play. I have one person on my 3DS friends list that I know also downloaded the game, but for us to communicate and set up a gaming time session would probably be more hassle than fun. So yeah, more like The Legend of Zelda: One Sword Adventures. Eh…Two Swords, really.

If you don’t have anyone to play with and you’re going the single-player route, the game tosses in a second controllable Link. If you’re familiar with using the Phantom Knight from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks for solving puzzles then you’ll pick up the pace pretty fast here. A lot of switching and throwing each other at levers. Strangely, at the end of each level, the game still tallies how much your Link earned rupees-wise versus how much the second Link did. Either way…um, you’re a winner. Unless you picked up too many rupoors.

So, there’s three main worlds to traverse across, split up into different levels. I’d say that each averages around 15 minutes to complete. End bosses have a pattern to discover, and there’s also a main end boss who is not named Ganon. Sure, it’s weird, but it is what it is. After completing the game, a new world opens up, the Realm of Memories, letting Link hop into theme-based worlds of Zelda yore. The one based around A Link to the Past is simply fantastic, mainly from a visual standpoint. I am now just daydreaming about getting a 3D version of it down the line. It’s okay, Nintendo. You can charge e-money for it; I’ll pay. Oh, I’ll pay.

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures was a free download, and I had a good time playing it. Alas, I’m not getting the mileage from it that Nintendo probably hoped for, but it’s a great experience nonetheless. Get it before it stops being free.

Link’s first outing in The Legend of Zelda is full of hard times

My first experience with The Legend of Zelda series was on the SNES in 1993 with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. In that one, Link, a young boy, awakes from sleep, contacted telepathically by a kidnapped princess named Zelda. He then to journeys through a rainstorm and into secret pits next to the castle’s walls to rescue her, eventually trying to track down the Master Sword. It’s a fantastic journey, full of surprises and a killer soundtrack. I’m fine with this being my first taste, genuinely pleased to have such a perfect game start it all. It’s like if the first piece of bacon you ever had was wrapped around succulent lobster and personally served to you by Gordon Ramsay while high as a kite. No bacon could ever beat that bacon.

And so, with the 3DS Ambassador program that gave us early adopters 10 free NES games, I was looking forward to experiencing where it all truly began, back with The Legend of Zelda, no freaking subtitle needed. Little did I expect it to be so…difficult. It’s a challenging game. It’s hard because you only have three hearts to start out with, and each screen you encounter is filled with enemies, the worst being those sandbugs that burrow beneath Link’s feet, surfacing the moment he walks over them. It’s hard because it is unclear where Link should go first, often wasting time exploring the overworld and losing precious hearts. It’s hard because you only have a sword starting out, and to kill enemies you have to get right next to them (unless at full health when you can fire a projectile from the sword), a risk in that if you miss and they move a fraction closer, Link loses some health. And then there’s the dungeons. Fear Wizzrobes (blue and red) and Wall Masters.

Heck, even series producer Eiji Aonuma has never completed it. Yeah, that’s kind of crazy.

At least dying doesn’t truly restart you from square one. Instead, you revive back at that initial overworld screen, that one we’ve all seen time after time after time, with all of your items still in your inventory. Well, I think you lose your dungeon keys though. Can’t confirm that. And so back into the wild Link and I go, nervous yet aware, trying to find some kind of clue as to what’s really going on, and hoping we can at least make it into a dungeon with full health and a couple of bombs…

Why yes, Fallout: New Vegas, I am a stim-ply amazing desert survivalist

Unlocked two Achievements last night in Fallout: New Vegas, and they’re both tied to one another in the form of healing X amount of health points:


Desert Survival (15G): Healed 10,000 points of damage with food.


Stim-ply Amazing (15G): Healed 10,000 points of damage with Stimpaks.

For the Desert Survivalist one, I was playing as Zelda, my character specifically crafted to eat a lot of food and rough it in the wild. By the time I had finished up the Dead Money DLC, she had already healed around 8,000+ points of damage, and so I stocked up on some free food from the kitchen area in the H&H Tools Factory. Then I had her head over to the Samson Rock Crushing Plant where I had her continuously climb up to the top of one of the buildings, jump off, and damage herself. Don’t worry…she had plenty of crunchy squirrel bits and InstaMash to make her feel better. This went on for some time, and while it wasn’t the most exciting way to go about it, it would’ve taken a lot longer to do by trying to find enemies to fight.

For the Achievement tied to using Stimpaks, I switched over to my original, first playthrough character Jareth since Zelda barely used any during her 30+ hours in the Mojave Wasteland. He, too, was around the 8,000+ points healed amount, this time for Stimpaks, and he was just lounging around in his fancy casino suite, looking bored. Checking his inventory, I found around 56 Stimpaks just begging to be used–but how could I do so quickly? I decided to throw karma to the wind and have him attack everybody on the New Vegas strip; this incited all NCR troops and RobCo security bots into attacking Jareth, damaging his health fast and constantly, and within a few skirmishes, he had healed more than enough to ping Stim-ply Amazing and earn an extra 100 XP. Double win!

I’m probably going to start a third playthrough soon, with a character focusing on explosives, energy weapons, and sneaking (for pickpocketing purposes). Feel free to suggest a name. Not sure if I want that playthrough to also be the Hardcore mode one. Need to consider what factions I want to side with, and who would make virtual life in the harsh wild easier.

Feel the Wrath of Chickens, or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

It may sound funny, but one of my all-time favorite gaming memories involves chickens.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a classic. I don’t mean that in a way to say it’s old (it was released for the Super Nintento Entertainment System in North America in 1992; still a teenager, truthfully), but rather that it’s eternal. There’s moments and scenes in this game that can never be duplicated or truly re-experienced. From the rain-laden search of the castle grounds for a secret entrance to the first time you ever switched from Light World to Dark World and saw just how twisted the map screen became, it’s no surprise this game is on my gamers’ top fives, top tens, top fifties, top one hundreds, and top whatevers. It is simply great, with mindful pacing, brilliant action, tons of secrets, and…retaliatory chickens.

Yup, you read that right.

Shortly after you sneak Zelda out of Hyrule Castle and safely deliver her to the sanctuary, you’re given freedom as Link to explore the nearby lands on your quest to destroy Agahnim. One of your first stops will be in Kakariko Village, a colorful spot with lots of interesting characters and secrets to unearth, and there you’ll also find a few chickens hopping about. I immediately went over to one, scooped it up high over my head, and tossed it at the boy to no effect. Well, the chicken was pretty flustered and tried its best to stay as far away from me as possible. Then I remembered something I overheard at school, something about hitting them with your sword. A lot. And so I did. Slash, slash, slash, back that chicken into a corner, slash some more. Those kids at school were right; this is fun and funny.

But then it all changed. Out of nowhere, a swarm of chickens come flying at you to protect their fallen cousin from any more danger. They swoop down in a thrum of feathers and bah-clawk clucks, angry as chickens can be, and they actually damage Link. Only one way out, and that was to run. Once you’re a little ways away, the chickens relent, and you’re safe to wander back over…to do it all again.

There’s lot of other great moments in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but this is the one that makes me smile the most. The fact is, these chickens exist in this world just to be abused. I know PETA won’t like that. I’m sorry, but there’s no other reason for their existence, and even though the gameworld could ultimately go on without them, I think it’s better that they are there, now and forever, those classic little chickens that take a beating and keep on clucking.