Switching to a more social Link (gb.21)

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Perhaps I went dark a little longer than I should. As you know, last weekend was the launch of the Nintendo Switch, and though I don’t necessarily indulge in launch day shenanigans of consoles, I got caught up with the hype and ended up buying one. (Though the hype was more for Breath of the Wild than the Switch itself, but if I was going to play “The best Zelda game ever made” then I might as well ‘go for broke’ to play it.)

The night before launch was a hassle that seemed to get increasingly stressful over time. Thanks to pre-orders there didn’t seem to be a lot of places where I felt a ‘walk-in’ was a very good option.

But then right around 10 at night (I guess, I just know it was some time late in the evening) I had it in my head, thinking that a place like Walmart was going to be overlooked. I mean, I sat there stressed out about the idea of waiting in line at a Best Buy or EB, wondering if getting a Switch at launch would even be a possibility. To sit there and think “what if, nobody went to Walmart.” was like an epiphany. As if I somehow convinced myself that I would be the only one in line.

But being realistic here, the line in front of the store was actually quite modest. More or less 10 people sat there. Some looked as though they were out all night, some brought the comfy furniture to sit on, others (like me) probably just arrived.

What a relief, to see that I was kind of right.

From there it was a matter of patience. Us older folks waxing poetic about Nintendo consoles of old. (Which I’m sure was unintentional, but here we were waiting. What else were we going to do?)

When the doors opened, I walked in like the poor boy who had saved up just enough money for the Switch + Zelda, and a ride home.

Now, having this console for a week I can say that it’s pretty good despite a small amount of flaws. My gigantic hands were a number one concern given the baby-sized joycons. But the grip is comfortable enough, as well as holding that thing in ‘portable mode’.

That first weekend seemed impossible to connect the thing to wifi, but suspiciously has sorted itself out since then. Or so I’m lead to believe. There was a period over the weekend where I wandered around downtown Vancouver looking for hotspots it might be able to connect to (even one I found that was suspiciously called "Nintendo"), yet I haven’t really done much aside from tweet or window shop at the store. But we’ll see how bad the problem really gets when the Splatoon 2 multiplayer demo hits.

...But a lot of the problems with the hardware have already been talked to death, and it wouldn’t be constructive of me to just say, “I also have a joycon that disconnects when I rest my feet on the coffee table, getting my knees in the way of the controller,” But I will say that the Switch isn’t as bad as a video going around youtube is leading some to believe. But, I mean, all I can really do is say that my experience with the console has been pretty great so far.

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But let’s talk about Zelda. Yeah, I want to talk about Zelda. Sure It’s the “Best-Zelda-Ever-10/10-buy-twelve-copies-cheeky-monkey!” But everyone has been finding their own reasons as to why that is. Sure, I get lost in the overworld map, constantly changing directions on my way to the objective to see what else I can find. Sure, implementing a more ‘puzzling’ mechanic has put a unique twist on the experience. But the thing that really gets me, is the thing that I’ve wanted since they’ve started making these Zeldas in 3D.

Despite, Zelda games always pining to be an experience like any other, they’ve always been so devoid of life. I suppose I need to be clear given that there’s been villages since time immemorial. Most NPCs in Zelda games do not feel like they inhabit the world that they were put into. A small handful around 2-3 houses to give you the illusion that you’ve walked into a village. Then when you are done, and you move out into the field, there is nothing. An empty planet.

Twilight Princess is an example, wherein Hyrule Castle boasts an ever busy town square, but not a lot of people talk to you, nor do they go anywhere. Kakariko village is incredibly misleading in the sense that it’s more of a hamlet (Or whatever you can call something smaller than a hamlet).

Well.. I guess Majora’s Mask has a good argument for a living breathing world considering the NPCs in that game have 3 days of activities, but I never played that game, so I’ll have to take your word for it.

The point is, Breath of the Wild is a gigantic world inhabited by so many people. I’ve played this game for a week and I’m still bumping into characters I’ve never seen before. Characters who have their own destination, their own reason for venturing out in the world like you. Whether they’re looking for a mate, scavenging forests for hearty truffles, or they’re just so dang proud of their donkey.

There’s a bunch of examples that I get excited about, when I think about them. Paya being a strong example, of someone that continues to develop over the course of the game. A Teen who deals with emotions and infatuation in the most innocent way. She updates her diary throughout the course of the game, and it fills with the perspective of a young person going through the paces of her own thoughts about a guy she just met.

Going to the Zora domain and being taken aback by the fact that they know who you are. Experiencing the culture of the Gerudo while they in-turn experience you.

Or even this delightful exchange with a man on a bridge.

The thing is... I could go on just as much about the exploration, the shrines and dungeons and whatnot, but I’ve longed for a civilization in Hyrule that isn’t just bubbles in between vast empty territory. Breath of the Wild takes place in a world where a calamity happened 100 years ago, and actually continues to live.

So yeah, every single NPC has been the coolest part of BOTW for me.

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If you really think about it, This is all I've given myself time to play. I have been playing Mobius Final Fantasy on the side, and once I'm done with BOTW I will be running head first into Nier: Automata. but dang guys, too much games to play. TOO MUCH.

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