Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 15, 2016

Breath of the Zelda… or Link of the Wild? Zelda: BOW

Nintendo’s E3 is so lame, it is not even worth mentioning. There is no E3 ‘show’. It is just Zelda. So here is the trailer for Zelda on the Wii U.

Reggie Fils-Aime interrupts this blog post:

“That is not the Zelda trailer for Wii U.”

But you are wrong, Reggie. It IS the trailer for Zelda on Wii U. Zelda looks badass then. But we have something very different today.

You know one reason why that trailer is awesome? It is because of a battle. Link is fighting a Giant Enemy Crab.

Reggie: “It’s a Gohma!”

Above: “Biggest crap I’ve ever caught!” “It’s a Gohma!” “You’re doing well, boy. Kill Ganon so we can get back to fishing!”

So here is the ‘new’ trailer for Zelda for Wii U.

There is not much fighting in it, Nintendo. And, frankly, I don’t want to open my eyes. This is not Vanilla Sky.

Breath of the Wild? What type of lame subtitle is that? It sounds like a Mentos commercial.

Above: Imagine Aonuma rolling around on that bench. Zelda: The Freshmaker!

Above: Breath of the Wild.

Before, the subtitles were about the fantasy. Breath of the Wild doesn’t work because it sounds like a nature documentary like in the above video. Marketing team, you guys are fired.

So I decided to turn on the Treehouse stream to watch the game in action. Nintendo highly recommended to me that I do this. So there I am, minding my own business, connecting to the Treehouse Stream. There, I find two girls giggling and cackling as they torture poor Link by stripping him without a shirt and making him climb a mountain in the snow and chilly ice air. Link is literally freezing to death so they make him eat spicy food which somehow warms him up (!). Then the girls laugh some more at poor, poor Link. I think they get at the spirit of what Zelda games are truly about: torturing Link. Next Zelda game should be nothing but a Duck Amuck of torturing Link. This would explain why it is truly called the Legend of Zelda (and not Link’s legend).

The problem with Zelda: BOW is we still do not know much about it. I can only talk about what is known… what was shown on the Treehouse stream and all.

But first, let us hear a word from Miyamoto:

Above: He speaks!

As the series progressed,there were more – added features. As we started doing that, we realized that the game was becoming more and more sequential. We really wanted to go back to the original spirit of Zelda, which is freedom.

Miyamoto just used a big word that is too much for the hardcore gamer: sequential. It is based off of the word of sequence… meaning a logical order of events. In other words, linearity.

I’d like to throw up Orson Scott Card’s M.I.C.E. quotient as it gives a framework to this. In Card’s view, there are only four types of stories as represented with the M.I.C.E. M stands for Milieu which is a story about the world around the character.  An example would be a time traveler who goes to the future to explore the world around him. Another would a survival story. I stands for Idea. This is a story about conveying information to the reader. A parable is a good example. C is for character. Why does a character do what he or she does? What is the nature of that character? E is event as in WHAT happens and WHY it happens.

When it comes to video games, you could argue that all games are ‘character’ in that the games explore the nature of the character of the player. However, exploring the nature of a video game character always ends badly (looking at you, Sakamoto!). Outside the player, the indie games that no one buys might be around an idea, most games made are around events, but the classics are always around the world.

Most people hate how games are running down a corridor to get a cinematic and do one damn thing after another. These event driven games are you going through someone’s scripts.

But here is the question: was Super Mario Brothers game experience about getting to the castle or about using and exploring the world around you? There were many, many Mario clones. Only a few succeeded. Super Mario Brothers thrilled so much in that you could break the blocks, go through pipes, climb vines, you interacted with the world. Super Mario Brothers was far more than just moving to the right side of the screen! The classic Zelda games (first four) also were like that. I remember people saying when Ocarina came out that ‘you could do anything!’ You couldn’t, of course, but gamers were digesting the game not through going through scripted events, of one damn thing after another, but of consuming the world itself.

One of my favorite games is Ultima VII: The Black Gate. The game is a classic but not for the scripted events (there are very few). The interaction within the world is massive in that game. It could be argued that Ultima, one of the longest running PC RPGs, was about fleshing out the world and exploring it and enjoying it.

Do you remember Vanilla World of Warcraft?

This is from E3 2004. Look at it, reader.

What they are showing is not the battles, though those are shown somewhat. They are just flying through the world. The world is MASSIVE. At the end, it goes to an icy vista and then flies off a cliff showing you the vast world around. It is the Milieu that sold World of Warcraft, not the events of the damn raids. It was the world, not the warcraft.

Minecraft has probably sold more than every Zelda game combined. I am sure Nintendo thinks it is ‘doing good’ by making this huge overworld. It is a step in the right direction. But when you look at that Minecraft video, you realize just how SMALL the ‘Breath of the Wild’ is in terms of imagination. A large nature overworld is awesome. But where are the more fantastical elements? Perhaps they haven’t been shown, but with the subtitle being ‘breath of the wild’, I do not expect to see the fantastical. Nintendo. You need to do the fantastical too. Zelda is a fantasy game, not a nature show. Imagine how much more powerful some fantasy or even high tech environments would be in such a massive overworld. There is a reason why Final Fantasy became so popular, and it wasn’t just because it had traditional fantasy overworlds. In Final Fantasy IV, they were going underground, inside giants, to the moon, etc. Hell, even Minecraft has a rich underground and an alternate dimension. What does Breath of Wild have? Nature walks?

But I rant and cut off the Miyamoto. Let him continue:

In past Zelda titles, there was a tendency for NPCs to explain everything about the world. We went back to the origins of Zelda, where [starting the game] you don’t know who you are, what you are supposed to do. In this new game, as you interact with nature and the world around you, you learn who you are.

This is good not so much of you exploring and doing it on your own but that it cuts out ALL THE EARLY CRAP, I mean all those stupid ass tutorials that have plagued Zelda. If that Nintendo made the original Zelda today, it would look like this:

Above: This is how most 3d Zelda games are.

In the Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter, Legend of Zelda was trumpeted to the world as a hybrid game, as a ‘best of both worlds’. The first was the world of the PC RPG. The game would be vast, large, much exploring, where you would accumulate more upgrades and better weapons. The second was the world of the arcade where combat would be fast paced, not turn based. The popularity of Zelda is accredited in the 1980s and early 1990s as being action orientated which enthralled Western gamers who found the ‘turn based’ gaming of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy to be boring. I know. I was there.

The exploration part is good. I hope that there are nasty enemies about where you need to go to dungeons, caves, and such and get treasure where when you emerge, you are STRONGER than before and can DO MORE than before. By more, I do not mean ‘puzzles’. I mean a boomerang in order to help kill stuff. I mean a better sword, better armor.

We do not know if Zelda: BoW will have that.

What most concerns me is the combat and the monster design. The guardians fight OK, I would have to experience that in person. But the moblins are so awful, no one enjoys fighting them, why can’t we fight something cooler at the beginning? I do not want comedic enemies. I want nasty enemies. I feel more like a hero killing nasty enemies, but a jester killing comedic villains.

In the old Zelda, there was an image, an illustration that we started with, and you kind of had to put that in your imagination. Now, you don’t need that. This vast world surpasses the illustration, and you can walk and do things in this world that’s come to life.

This is the image Miyamoto is talking about:

Not bad. I have been posting manual images from old Zelda games for years of how we thought Zelda was, is, and ought to be. That is a very good image there. But there are more images, Miyamoto. What did you think of them?

Look! Link is going to battle Evil Monster! Aonuma needs to run and hide. No puzzle is depicted here. Sword and shield are ready and looks to be used. Masculine energy here. Warrior spirit!

Link is helping the NPCs. All well and good.

Now this is awesome.

Go Link! Go!

This is my favorite image from the original Legend of Zelda. It shows the vast world here.

Zelda 2 has great images as well.

Link is a badass.

The enemy is nasty and evil!

This is my favorite one from Zelda 2 manual. This image is about an intense battle where the traditional fantasy turns bizarro sci-fi with the flying knight head breathing fire. It’s awesome!

So my verdict of Zelda: BoW…

Very cautiously, I like it. I like how I am in control of my game experience. I like the exploration and the ‘open world’ (oh, that word!). I think this is the right direction for Zelda to go in, but Nintendo needs to wake up if they think having a massive overworld will satisfy the ‘overworld’ craving. No. We need fantastical too. Twilight Princess pulled it off with, say, the Flying City. We don’t know much about the game, of course.

I haven’t been this enthusiastic about a new Zelda game since Twilight Princess. Take that for what you will. But I am very cautious! The Aonuma Factor weighs in heavily, and I am sure will stink up the game! (Such a brilliant video whoever made it…)

Look at 1:50 on the above video. We’ve done it, readers. We are making progress! If they can fix the overworld, maybe they can fix the rest.



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