Game Review Series: Zelda
Nintendo has been making and publishing new and exciting games since 1889; the Japanese company has since taken the world by storm with more than 100 million players annually. From Zelda to Mario, Nintendo has done it all, even making their own consoles along the way! But, sometimes, it can be confusing to know what to start playing when you have decades worth of games to choose from. Even if you're not a new player, these games pack plenty of action to entertain even the most experienced players who are looking for something new to master. Fear no more, anonymous reader, the Last Word has got your back! Here is the first article of my ‘Top Nintendo Switch Games to Play in 2023/24’. For part 1, we’ve got a game that is among the greats: Zelda (Breath of the Wild & Tears of the Kingdom).
Where to begin with this game? Designed by Eiji Aonuma and Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Zelda topped the charts as soon as it came out. Breath of the Wild (BOTW) is the first instalment and was an instant hit. It alone has won 189 ‘Game of the Year’ awards from companies such as BAFTA, ACTRA and SXSW Gaming. Tears of the Kingdom (TOTK) came out in May and topped charts around the world. I could talk forever about the awards and accolades this game has, but I’m guessing you want to know more about the game, so let's start unpacking.
The franchise itself has come out in many versions, but one thing is always the same - a knight is saving a princess. But don’t mistake this as a soppy fairy tale; both these versions of the game are centred around a knight named Link who battles his way to save the princess of Hyrule (the game’s setting). Along the way, he meets various friends (who come in all shapes and sizes) that help him on his journey; he also encounters foes who terrorise him and the kingdom altogether, such as the minions of Ganon (e.g. bokoblins, lizalfos and lynels). The main antagonist is a creature of terror and destruction called Ganon or Ganondorf. He is the antagonist in both BOTW and TOTK, but appears in different forms.
As you play as Link, you not only complete a complex and exciting storyline, but also undergo side missions that grant you rewards, ranging from the poop of a tree spirit (don’t ask) to armour that makes you invincible. Or, if you’re looking for puzzles to put your maths skills to work, then look no further: both games feature ‘shrines’ that give you puzzles of varying difficulty. And guess what? Those give you strengthening rewards as well.
For all the attention-to-detail people out there, let me tell you that the graphics are out of this world! From the grass to the mobs, you can see every wrinkle, bug and scratch in this fictional world. Even the sound is produced with concern for every detail - you can hear birds singing in trees! It’s hard to believe that there’s so much gameplay to enjoy, so many side quests to complete (76 in BOTW, 139 in TOTK), places to explore and mobs to defeat. In fact, BOTW takes 190 hours to fully complete and TOTK takes nearly 245 - you’ll be entertained for a while. I won't bore you for much longer, but there is one other thing I must mention, that is of particular importance in TOTK. Many players find themselves confined to a small space when playing a new game, but in both games (once you complete the tutorial) you don’t have to complete the story straight away - you can explore the huge map at your own pace. But you may say: “that sounds boring.” Don’t believe it for a second - the map has 5 different biomes to explore in BOTW and 3 whole different maps (Land, Sky and The Depths) in TOTK. Additionally, so you don’t have to spend half an hour crossing the whole map, there are multiple ways to travel: from teleportation to horseback and even on a legendary motorcycle, there are many core modes of transport in the franchise. In TOTK, though, they introduce ‘building’, letting you make anything from a hover bike, to a monster that vanquishes creatures invading Hyrule. Your imagination is the only limit!
There is a reason that this game series finds itself in my number one spot. It’s not about how long it has entertained me - or, if I’m being honest, how great I was at it - but it’s actually the time and effort required for its creation. From the graphics to the characters, there was so much emotion and work put into every element - I enjoyed every cutscene, every battle and every shrine because you felt like this game could be a real place. That’s why, if you’re looking for a new game, you should jump into the Legend of Zelda and let your imagination run wild.
Writers Note: Hey reader! Thanks so much for supporting me by reading my article - I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, remember that this is only part 1 of my game review series so make sure to come back for more!