One Week in Hyrule

12 March 02017 (4 months ago)5 minutes of your time

It’s been about a week since the Nintendo Switch was released and (apart from a weekend ski trip we took IMMEDIATELY after unboxing the darn thing) about a week that we’ve had one plugged into our media ensemble.

At this point we’ve bought just three games: SnipperClips (a kind of two-dee puzzle game like you might find in an iPad app that Claire paid for with some money she earned), 1-2 Switch (a get-off-the-couch and shake your booty… a little too much and too literally sometimes that Claire loves) and Zelda…

Ninety percent of the run time of our new console has been on Zelda.

And it’s a good thing that we’re having an epic mid-March cold snap (minus 25 Celsius anyone?) because I’d probably feel a little more guilty about the fifteen or so hours I’ve put into this game in that aforementioned single week.

First of all, some housekeeping.

1) The console is pretty cool and we haven’t had any of the technical fubars that seem to be haunting social media. No dead pixels. No screen issues. No connectivity issues. It works fine.

2) The console is not perfect. For example, it has no web browser… to which you say, so what? To which I say, just trying signing into one of the thousands of wireless hotspots around town without a web browser. At Starbucks to play something: Click “Accept” to… oh wait. Ain’t gonna happen. So that needs to be fixed.

3) The only way I currently have of extracting screenshots from the Switch is by tweeting them to myself, so if that annoys you ignore my twitter for a while because I’m going to be spamming it with screenshots… which are dumb-simple to grab as your playing.

4) The other two games are fine… not awesome, but interesting enough to get some play time. I’m waiting for a couple other releases this summer –MarioKart 8 and Splatoon which I’ve pre-ordered– but for now Claire is happy enough with her games and she’s even dabbled in Zelda a bit too.

5) Zelda is frigging tough. I mean, brutal hard. I’ve seen the “You’ve Died.” screen too many times to admit, and usually once or twice per play session.

So, yeah… Zelda.

On the one hand it draws you into the exploration of this massive world, a world which I’ve just barely glimpsed a fraction of, and tempts you to reach just a bit more… a bit more… one more hill… BAM! Something shows up and electrifries your brain before you can turn around to see what creepy is looming over your dissolving corpse.

It’s an RPG, but it introduces a bunch of new mechanics that are messing with my old-school RPG XP.

Like that. There’s no XP. There’s no grinding. There’s no leveling up. At least nothing obvious. Like other Zelda games I suppose, but I don’t feel all that improved in my skills after all this playtime. You just acquire more health and stamina, and then after a particularly draining fight you’re standing beside a river in the middle of nowhere with no weapons –because they all broke in the battle– no more arrows –because you used them all– and a blood moon rising because the game just wants to mess with you a little more. So you teleport-travel the hell out of there and go back to the town where you try to pick up the pieces of your adventure seemingly no better off than the day you stepped from the tutorial screen.

But yet you keep playing.

Overall, as the first time I’ve stood among the console early adopter set, I’m excited to part of the mid-release culture of game, exploring it along with millions of other people instead of three years from now from a bargain bin.

The gaming review sites gave The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild an average Metacritic score of 98%… which is like saying that this is the best damn game you’ll ever play, probably, because it will suck in your soul and consume every waking and dreaming thought until you wake up in the middle of the night haunted by the howl of a silver bokoblin climbing in your bedroom window…

…or something like that. I mean, I’ve heard.


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