Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 22, 2016

Email: Good Feels About BoW “WOW!”

Hey Master Malstrom,

First off, I just wanted to point out that Zelda is not Dark Souls. If it is, then Shovel Knight is also the true spiritual successor to Zelda 2. It’s not. Easier games can often be better games, as seen with Mega Man 1 vs. 2. Heck, Zelda 1 ain’t too hard once you know the secrets of the map. If BOW has varied, challenging combat throughout the game I’ll be satisfied. Challenging does not have to mean draconian.

The emailer who was at E3 cited my main concern, that the enemies might be too few and far between. Of what we’ve seen, though, there’s little reason to think all the enemies we do encounter will be pushovers. I understand keeping expectations to the dirt, but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what we see.
Now I’m a bit positive about this game for several reasons:

1. The game looks fun!

2. You’re positive. You’re usually on the pulse of good games well before they come out.

3. Skyward Sword’s marketplace failure. When Nintendo fails, watch out, they might bring their A-game next time.

4. New blood. There are a lot of new, young Nintendo employees working on this game, and Aonuma has implemented their ideas. Also, 100 employees from Monolith Soft are also helping out, which makes sense of how Nintendo could jump from Skyward Sword linear and small to Xenoblade Chronicles open and huge.

5. Nintendo is changing Zelda traditions away from Puzzelda towards Classic Zelda. Aonuma has mentioned, “breaking traditions,” and he went into some detail on what that meant. In the past, “breaking tradition,” meant taking the GOOD parts of a Zelda and subverting it into Puzzelda. The sword in Skyward Sword is a textbook example, something meant primarily for combat is turned into a puzzle device.

Today, Aonuma saying “breaking tradition” means making the game open-world and changing a lot of rules that make no sense for good game design. Not having a jump button makes sense in 2D Zelda, but in 3D Zelda the lack of a jump button is the root behind a lot of the environment’s linearity. In past 3D Zeldas, they had to design the environments in very specific ways for platforming to work. Now they don’t have to worry about the quite dated way of designing things for the silly no-jump-button “tradition.”

6. The Guardians are the new version of Octoroks. Aonuma thought making a giant slimy land-octopus would be “gross” so he made them machines haha. But whatever, the menacing cold-killer look of Guardians is SWEET!

7. The words “Zelda” and “Puzzles” are no longer used as if they were synonymous. Everyone’s going on and on about the WORLD, not “puzzles.” Case in point, here’s an article I drew from for this email. It is Aonuma talking with Time about Zelda BoW “WOW!”, and he does not say the word “puzzle” even once!:
Thanks for blogging,
The Fortunate* Reader
*P.S. Fortunate in the sense I was fortunate to find your glorious little blog years ago. Not only has it been exceedingly interesting to read, but a bit of your life advice has helped me out.


There is so much E3 information that I missed that Aonuma interview. It’s hilarious that Aonuma sees Breath of the Wild as ‘destroying Zelda traditions’ while I see it as restoring Zelda traditions.

It is also interesting that while Breath of the Wild is about the ‘nature’ and surviving in the world, there seems to be much futuristic technology. Did Classic Zelda have futuristic technology?

Look! It is a Hover Horse! While I am not as familiar with the 3d Zeldas, Zelda 2 has tons of futuristic technology.

The Doom Knockers seem like robots that throw… something that wasn’t made in a barn.

The Blue Fokka still scare me to this day. What the hell are they? They jump all over, shoot lasers with their swords, and are a PAIN IN THE ASS. They seem futuristic. Hell, the entire Final Palace seems futuristic.

Here is what I like with BoW “WOW!” so far…

  1. Open World in that Link does whatever he wants.
  2. An actual rich overworld out there.
  3. Physics in the world.
  4. Interaction with the world.
  5. Combat means you have to jump around, dodge, and is intense.
  6. Can wander somewhere outside your league and get easily killed. I think this was lost in LTTP but was present in Zelda 1 and 2.
  7. Futuristic technology. I like this.
  8. Apocalyptic feeling. I never thought about this feeling with Zelda 1 and 2, but I suppose it was there. I just associated it with ‘Zelda’. LTTP, while a great game, seemed too ‘happy’ and ‘cheery’ to me but we all loved the Dark World. We cannot feel like a hero unless we deal with evil. You cannot have ‘evil’ if everyone is happy.

If I was a young programmer on the Zelda team, I would tell Aonuma-san that “These bosses that just sit in a room at the end of the dungeon… why does it have to be like this? Why don’t the bosses roam? How about bosses that roam the outside world? MMORPGs have some of these. You cannot defeat them unless you get something from inside the dungeon.” Stuff like that.

I cannot wait to play this game. I am only cautious because I have been let down so many times by Aonuma.

I think the most important thing, out of all, is how you can interact with the world. Guys, this is huge. Interaction with the game world is very, very hard to do, but it is so very rewarding.

In this Bill Trinen video, the other guys throw in Half Life 2 and other games about interacting. When I think of a game of interaction, I think of Ultima VII. I would say Ultima VII is the flagship of an interactive open world. I still play that game to this day, shocking to think how it came out before the freaking Super Nintendo did.

Minecraft is also very much about interaction, but it is all block based. I do not find Minecraft that immersive. I am hoping Zelda BoW “WOW!” is immersive. It is hard to judge from just the plateau.

Come to think of it, my original playing experiences of Zelda I, II, and LTTP was about the interaction. In Zelda 1, we were trying to burn every bush and bomb every dungeon wall. Repetitious today, but consider gaming back then. In Zelda 2, I would try to turn myself into a fairy and fly to places I should, attack walls with my sword hoping they would break, and so on. Link to the Past, who did not get delighted being able to run through the grass with your sword which would mow it down or bounce off a tree and have fruit fall off it? But is the game about cutting grass? No. But the game IS about interacting with the world. I think the mistake was that Aonuma and others liked the cutting grass and put it in every Zelda and missed the lesson: it was about interacting with the world, not cutting the grass.

Aonuma: “OK Malstrom. You are playing Breath of the Wild. It is time for you to get the item and go to the first dungeon. Go on now. Go, go!”

Screw that! I want to hop about for half an hour chopping down these trees.

Old Aonuma would say: “Outrageous! How dare you defy my direction. You must stop what you are doing RIGHT NOW and go to the dungeon.”

New Aonuma would say: “Do whatever you want. The game is about YOU having fun, not about ME having fun.”

Well, I would hope Aonuma would say that today.



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