Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Game: Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

Rated: E for Everyone

Status: Worth Playing

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You can see more about it here.

Overview

Zelda’s been around since I was a kid, so it was fun to share it with my almost-kindergartner. She loves the game.

I’ve heard it called Skyrim for Zelda, and that’s not an inaccurate description.

 

Pros

  • It’s E for everyone, so the violence is cartoon in nature (think Road Runner or Bugs Bunny).

 

  • Bad Guys – Anything Link kills looks like a monster. These monsters come back alive at the next Blood Moon, so they don’t truly stay dead.

 

  • Not Scary – My daughter can be scared by My Little Pony. There was nothing in this game that truly scared her until we got to Gannon at the end. She would occasionally get frustrated with the puzzles in the game, but that’s okay.

 

  • Puzzles – The puzzles are challenging and thoughtful. Not something DD1 could solve on her own, but it challenged her to come up with ideas as even DH and I weren’t able to solve all of them easily.

 

  • Memories – We all enjoyed collecting “memories” (Link has lost his) and seeing what happened that led up to the post-apocalyptic world you start in. It let us get to see the way Zelda and Link went from an adversarial relationship, to friends, to something much deeper.

 

  • Environment – Environment becomes a factor to consider rather than just a backdrop: skeleton monsters come out of the ground at night, rain makes climbing more difficult, the sun rises and sets, the moon rises and sets, there are phases of the moon, etc. Many of these things actually feature in the gameplay, such as being properly equipped for the freezing mountain temperatures.

 

  • Load Screens– The load screens reasonable in length. Bethesda could learn a few things about this.

 

  • Armor Sets – DD1 loved the fact that Link could change his clothes, and she was very mindful that he didn’t overheat or freeze. These outfits were all upgradable, and really needed to be upgraded as you faced tougher monsters.

 

  • Rewards Worth the Challenge – Some things were always a challenge. Lynells and guardians, for example, are never a cake walk even at end game. You are rewarded for the effort with amazing weapons.

 

Cons

  • Gender Roles – It reinforces traditional gender roles. Zelda is the one who can’t master her power. Zelda is the one who falls crying to the ground. Zelda is the one yelled at by her father. Link is the one that has to save her. Blah. I almost didn’t buy the game because of this. Little girls get enough of this garbage without stuff like this reinforcing it. The game was originally going to feature the ability to choose whether you played Zelda or Link as the hero. I hope they release DLC that allows this. It wouldn’t be that difficult of a change. Not really. And it would let little girls see a girl kicking Bokoblin butt. I’ve tried to convince DD1 to think of Link as a girl, but she’s having none of it. Already. This is why not giving girls the option to play a girl is so awful.

 

  • Graphics – Enough said.
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Frankly, the graphics from 2006 Twilight Princess were better.
  • Ending – I won’t spoil the ending, but we were disappointed. Not with the game play, per se, but I wanted the traditional cathartic release you expect at the end of a game. Especially a game this long. I didn’t get it, and I didn’t get to keep playing to finish up all those armor upgrades. Once you defeat Gannon, the whole thing is over even if you haven’t finished exploring. Hoping for a DLC on this where you can have Zelda as a companion and keep investigating the world. Seems wrong to leave the princess in the tower holding Gannon at bay while I explore the expansive world.

 

  • Controls – Unlike Mario Kart that my almost-kindergartener can not only play by herself, but give her father a run for first place, the controls for BOTW (Breath of the Wild) are complex. Even my husband had some issues at times. This was not a game DD1 could play on her own.

 

  • Tedious Upgrades – Some of the clothing upgrades grew tedious. How many times do I really need to camp the dragons to shoot some part of them?

 

  • No Real Story – There main story is pretty sparse, though the memories help. It’s really just: defeat Big Bad or else he will unleash total devastation. No explanation as to why, no character development, not even for Link or Zelda. And there’s clearly a huge opportunity with this with all Zelda has to do to unlock her power. Not even any really good side stories for Link to get involved in as he tries to regain enough strength to defeat Gannon. I suppose this is par for video games, which is really sad. They have the opportunity to do so much more.

 

All in, if you aren’t worried about the gender stereotypes, it’s well worth a play through.

Endings Suck

As humans, we aren’t really wired to cope with endings. For much of human history, food was scarce and predators a very real threat. We had to seize the moment. Eat whatever food was available. Fend off immediate threats.

Think about it. There are no “good” endings.

  • The end of a relationship, even if we’re the one that ended it.
  • The end of a candy bar
  • The end of a book
  • The end of life itself

While ending a book isn’t anywhere near as epic as the end of life itself, a reader has invested many precious hours of their life into what I’ve written.

They deserve a good ending. When they don’t get it, fans riot.

Remember Mass Effect? If you never played it, many of the fans of the game were angry at how the writers ended the trilogy. We’d invested ourselves in three full games, only to be cheated at the end.

I suspect they ended it the way they did to lure players into a MMO that they were planning.

Instead of launching that MMO, they ruined their brand, and many players, myself included, haven’t touched the game since.

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As an author, ending the story is as important as beginning it. Maybe more important.

If the writer kills off the characters to get that ending, don’t expect to see me investing my time in another one of their books. I don’t just expect happily-ever-after, I demand it. This is my escape. If I want sad, I have the Economist for that.

I’ve heard the excuses:

  • But it doesn’t give me the impact I want. I need a Romeo and Juliet ending.
  • I have a message, a happy ending doesn’t convey it
  • But some stories just don’t have a happy ending
  • I need a jump-off to my next novel (which is a fast way to make me angry. Give me a whole story, a complete story, and let the next book(s) stand on its own)

 

My response to these excuses:  Get more creative.  I want better. I want an ending worth the time I invested.

With these thoughts in mind, I started to edit the ending of my current novel. After a couple of hours, I knew the ending sucked. Not Mass Effect sucked, but it was still bad.

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My beta reader was right. It needed something more. Something epic. A man has to choose between right and wrong, and his choices dictate not only his life but that of a kingdom. This should grip the reader and make them anxious before resolving it.

I cut over 8,000 words. That’s 10% of my novel. And I started over to write a better ending. To write an ending that would make the reader do a fist pump. To write an ending worthy of the time the reader spent in my world.

Yeah, it’s hard to cut that many of my darlings. Again. But I hope it’ll be worth it in the end.

 

How about you? Do you prefer a happy ending? Do you demand it? Ever do a massive rewrite and watch a huge chunk of your story disappear behind the Delete key? Ever have to rewrite a whole ending?

 

 

Losing the Magic

Revision is sucking some (or all) of the magic out of writing.

Writing isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, but there is something magical about bringing characters to life and seeing them through their trials.

Revisions are necessary, and I am the first to admit that I need revisions. Lots of them. I rely on them to take my work from words thrown on the page to something (hopefully) better and understandable by brains other than mine. Whether I am revamping character arcs, removing unnecessary that’s, or trying to show rather than tell, there is something about the mechanics that eats the story.

I’ve heard other authors say the same thing, sometimes a bit derisively toward new authors. And no, I don’t think writing is meant to be rainbows, sparkles, and fairy feathers. But how much it loses was brought home to me when I came across a piece of my old, badly written work. I didn’t remember much about the story when the Word file lit up my screen. Checking the date on it, I last saved it eight years ago.

Not even sure why I started reading it, but I did, and I was hooked. I wanted to see what happened. I learned to love these old and forgotten characters all over again. I wanted to see them succeed even through the grammar mistakes, typos, and some areas written so badly I cringed and skimmed through them.

I must have struggled with the ending eight years ago as there were four different ones (labeled as such). The last one I settled on was by far the best. Glad I didn’t stop with the crummy first one.

I hope I feel that same elation, that same need to know what happens, (although I hope I’m not cringing at sections) about the current story I’m working on when I go back and read it with fresh eyes. I have been so lost in polishing it I’ve started to wonder if the story itself is worth telling. Will anyone care what happens to the protagonists? Do I care anymore?

I can’t answer for others, but for me, the answer is yes, I do care about them. I’ve just lost the forest in the, well, not even the trees. More like the branches and leaves.

It also gives me a little hope. My older work may not be very good (and this was clearly a rough draft as it doesn’t look like it was even spell checked), but I cared about the characters. I slogged through a lot of stuff that needs work because I wanted to see what happened.  I even stayed up late one night because I wanted to get to the end and know how things worked out for them. I loved them and I had to know how their story ended. (I was pretty certain it was going to be a happy ending because I know me and I wrote it).

Magic returned.