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.

Elves?

As I mentioned in my post on dragons, the novels I write are in a fantasy world. While each novel is a standalone story, all of them take place in the same world.

So far, all four of my WIPs take place in the human country of Tamryn. I’ve established that magic is real. Vampires are real. Knights smite evil and liches haunt the living.

I have not yet brought it elves. But elves sorta have a but of a reputation…

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Given some of the writing I’ve seen, that reputation isn’t exactly unearned. And I’ve gotta admit, coming up with elven-sounding names is the bane of this fantasy romance writer.

I’ve mentioned them in passing in my work, but I haven’t yet written a story about them much less set one in their magical home of Tanalear.

Part of the lack of story writing is me trying to figure out how to add them to my world. Do I just jump right in and give readers a story in Tanalear? Or should I write a different story that brings an elf to the human city.

Bringing an elf into human lands creates all kinds of issues for me. See, I’m not entirely sure I buy into this half-elf business. If you aren’t the same species, you can’t procreate. There would be no half-elves.

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Nope, not buying it. Not even beer can change the fact species can’t procreate.

While I’m a romance writer, and I can imagine a scenario of an elf and human falling in love, I promise my reader a happily-ever-after (HEA) ending by virtue of writing a romance novel. So, I’m hard-pressed to view a HEA with a hero and heroine where one of them is going to die in seventy-five years, and the other is going to spend the next thousand mourning them.

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Basically, I’m considering if I need to craft some sort of adventure that features an elven protagonist before jumping into the elven world?

This is even harder than the challenges I face as a romance writer because the Tanalearian elves are isolationist and xenophobic, still turned inward even after their empire collapsed thousands of years ago in the Great Cataclysm.

The last remaining vestiges of their once-great empire are protected by ancient magics. Part of their story will be re-assimilating back into a world that now contains humans.

So, yeah, it sort of feels like the elves meeting the humans should be a big, climactic thing.

But I don’t want to confuse readers, either. Readers are smart, but if they’re expecting knights and dragons, I don’t want to disappoint with elves.

I also worry that lots has been written about elves. I sometimes wonder if your civilization collapsed, if the archaeologists piecing it back together would think elves were real.

Given that so much has already been written, I need to give it a fresh enough spin. I like to think I have this mapped out in my head. Besides, it’s not like many stories are truly unique. Amateurs borrow and professionals steal, as the saying goes.

I have given a lot of thought to their queen (Tanalearian elves have a matriarchal monarchy), her son, and some of the new mages. Even a major villain has been knocking around in there.

But none of them want to come to Tamryn. None of them see the point. They have yet to see beyond their crumbling cities.

Hmmm, perhaps we shall have to have an inciting incident…

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How about you? Do you like elves? Tolkien or otherwise? Read any stories that take place in an entirely elven world? Did you like it? What do you think of half-elves and half-orcs? Is my science brain thinking too much on this?

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye is hard. Really hard. The longer you’ve known someone, usually, the harder it is to say goodbye.

As illustrated by the Harry Potter cast.

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Same is true for me when I finish a story. Whether a rewrite or a first draft, there’s a bit of sorrow that casts its shadow on the accomplishment.

So, yes, I finished the most recent edit of “Crowned Prince” that I started on October 24th. It took me eleven weeks to finish, and in that time, I was able to dedicate some pretty serious hours to the revision process. Interesting, as the first draft only took me eight weeks to write.

On this rewrite alone, I’ve traveled with these character for almost a quarter of a year. I’ve spent much of my free-time with them and many hours thinking about them. Working through their foibles, their defeats, and their victories. Seeing them change and grow. Falling in love with them along the way.

As I reread the ending for the eleventh time last night before finally sending it off to my beta readers, I knew I was going to miss these characters. Finally, at long last, they had each other and their happily-ever-after. They’d earned it, they knew what I cost, and they were both willing to fight to keep it.

I lingered with them a while, and then I closed the file and cracked open the novel I finished in October. Best way to beat the sadness of saying goodbye to one set of characters is to become invested in the next set.

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Years ago, when I finished writing my first book (that the Doubt Demon eventually stole), I actually cried when I was done. I had put over two years into the story, and I never thought I’d be able to write another. Took me a lot longer back then to realize I had more than one story in me. Once I realized I could write more than one book, and started work on the new one, I felt much better. Completing it made me feel better yet. (Yeah, Doubt Demon got that one, too).

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I’m not a big fan of book series that feature the same characters as the “leads” over and over, but I do love series that let me go back to the world the author created. Especially if I get a glimpse of some old favorites living their happily-ever-after while becoming invested in new characters.

Perhaps this is why all three books I’ve written so far stand alone, but they’re all in the same world. While you may never “see” the characters from the previous novels “on screen”, you hear the new characters reference them as appropriate. It gives me a little hug of feeling, reminding me I didn’t really say goodbye. I just said until later.

 

How about you? Ever feel sad when you come to the end of a book, whether reading it or writing it? If so, how do you overcome the sadness? Do you like series that feature the same characters? Same world(s)? Why or why not?

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?

 

 

Learning Curve

The next couple of weeks are going to be filled with book reviews so that I can “catch-up” on posting reviews. Once I’m all caught up, I’ll go back to my posting 3 times a week.

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As I’ve been reading these books, I’ve learned a few things about what I don’t like. Things that turn me off to the book, make me roll my eyes, or make me want to put it down altogether.

If I am writing for myself, or other readers like me, it’s a starting place for me to consider what not to have in my own work.

  1. Sad Ending. The book better not have one. If it doesn’t have a happy ending, I won’t like it. As a matter of fact, I will probably actively dislike it. I see enough sadness in the real world. I want my escape to be a place where happy endings are guaranteed.
  2. Unearned Ending. The ending still needs to be earned. I feel ripped off when a happy ending just sort of lands in characters’ laps.
  3. Rape. Sex that isn’t consensual is rape and it’s not okay. I wish it didn’t happen in real life and I have no desire to read about it.
  4. Stupid Characters. I don’t like them. More than that, I actively dislike them. No matter how lovable or endearing an author tries to make them.
  5. Characters that make bad decisions. I can’t feel much for them. I get that we all make mistakes. A character trying to climb back from a bad choice in their past I can cheer for all day long. A character that keeps making bad decisions so there’s a plot? I stop caring about them quickly. Sort of a “what did you expect”? For example, it’s easy to feel sorry for Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle when they buy droids that end up leading to their deaths. They didn’t know the droids were wanted by the Empire. But if they had bought them knowing that the droids were being actively sought by Darth Vader, you get a whole different feeling for them and the beginning of Luke’s epic journey.
  6. Characters who don’t talk to each other. I hate plots that could be resolved with a 5 minute conversation. I hate misunderstandings because two adults can’t act like adults.
  7. Plots that aren’t. Have one. Make sure it’s clear what it is. Make sure it’s an actual problem.
  8. Unfulfilled romances. If you’re going to put a romance in your story, point #1 above applies to the romance. I am beginning to find I can’t tolerate a series of stories about the same character. Why? Because the author can’t let them settle down with their love interest. After four or five books, to keep the lovers apart, they have to bring in a rival. And then another. And, of course, the rivals have to be amazing. If you’ve read the Laurie Hamilton series about vampires and werewolves you’ll get what I mean. Regular girl suddenly has every studly vampire, shape-shifter, and serial killer in love with her. If that’s your cup of tea, this is a good series for you. But it’s not for me. Probably related to my love of romance novels. I want the couple to get together as part of my happy ending.
  9. Uncertain humor. I guess I don’t have a mainstream sense of humor. I probably knew this already as I don’t find sitcoms or romcoms funny. Never have. I also don’t find the following funny:
    1. Financial troubles, especially after 2009.
    2. Inappropriate use of firearms funny.
    3. Pregnancy scares.
    4. High school rivals coming back to haunt a grown adult
    5. Transvestites funny.

      The list goes on and on. Do I have a sense of humor? Certainly. I couldn’t stop laughing at Lewis Black’s commentary on candy corn. A little smile tugs my lips thinking about it even now. When an author can make me laugh, they have me hooked. When an author tries to make me laugh and fails, they get an eye roll at best.