Alongside Breath of the Wild came something else – something I had craved since I first learned its true nature back in October. Previously known as the NX, Nintendo gave a glimpse of the Switch, a tantalising look at their home/handheld hybrid console.

Early reactions were cautiously positive. Nintendo, who would often try out new ideas with varying results, were at it again. Just as the Wii was a radical departure from the power battle raging between Sony and Microsoft with its unique new approach, the Switch would attempt to once again redefine the console genre. It’s a clever idea – but does it work? The short-term answer is an emphatic yes! It’s far too early to say what the long-term prospects are, but the Switch has enjoyed a solid debut, and Nintendo have done a much better job marketing their new creation.

In terms of raw power, the Switch is miles behind the PS4 and XBone, but specs have never concerned Nintendo. What the Switch does is different – the Joy Cons can be directly connected to the console itself and the console can be held quite comfortably in two hands – or the Cons can be connected to the Grip, with the console slotted into its docking station (that connects to the TV via HDMI). The switch (get it?) between the two modes is pretty seamless, and there is more. The Cons can be unclipped from the console, which can be stood up on a kickstand, and you can play like that (or pop the Cons into the Grip and use the kickstand. Or hold the Cons and play via the TV). I’ve yet to put it to the test (I don’t have the right games), but you can use a single Joy Con for some titles, and some multi-player games require each player to have a Joy Con. Though the individual controllers are quite small, they are surprisingly easy to hold either vertically or horizontally.

So already Nintendo have scored points for creativity and versatility. What other pluses are there? Well, the Switch is, as to be expected in this day and age, equipped with wi-fi, and can therefore be used for multi-player gaming online. In a move that Nintendo have previously shied away from, a paid-for subscription service will soon be required to access most multi-player gaming experiences, and the details of the cost are not yet known. If this allows Nintendo to develop a more robust system then so be it.

The graphics of the system are surprisingly good, at least in respect of the one game I’ve played in earnest, Breath of the Wild. Nintendo’s flagship franchise is a powerful showcase for the Switch and looks gorgeous. It must be noted that this game was originally designed for the Wii U, so as good as it is, there is almost certainly more to come from the Switch in terms of performance. The interface is easy to use and links in nicely to the Nintendo eShop service. Sound quality is good, even when the console is used in handheld mode. The one main bugbear (and to be honest, one that hasn’t really been an issue for me) is that the battery life, when the console is used in handheld mode and when playing games like Zelda, is around three hours, which isn’t spectacular. This may well prove to be a limiting factor behind using the console during long trips – though I suspect most people would pack the charger.

Another gripe is less to do with the hardware and more the price of the add-ons. The Grip doesn’t charge the Cons – only the console itself does that. An optional charging Grip exists, but it’s not exactly cheap, and nor is the Pro controller. Additional Joy Cons are expensive, and the games are pretty pricey too. The cartridges that the Switch relies on are apparently even more expensive to produce than blu-ray discs, and the eShop prices match the retail prices.

Cost aside, the Switch is a clever, unique system that has the potential to open up new avenues for Nintendo and for gamers. The casual appeal is immediately obvious, whilst Nintendo have been trumpeting their third-party support for some time. If this takes off, it could be as successful as the Wii – a major accomplishment.

It’s been nearly a month since I got my grubby paws on the Nintendo Switch and Breath of the Wild. Nearly a month to savour the experience that I had anticipated almost breathlessly since the first trailer for the game dropped last year. Breath of the Wild was a game that I was prepared to get a Wii U for, but thanks to my amazing Mum, I was able to get it on the Switch instead. As such, any thoughts and observations are based on the Switch version, which has slightly different controls to the Wii U version, so if you’re reading this, please bear that in mind.

So, where do I start? I’ve defeated Calamity Ganon twice, but doing so doesn’t mark the end of this particular adventure, thanks to being able to reload the game from an earlier point and carrying on. There’s still so much to do that I don’t know if I will ever be done. Breath of the Wild  is the Zelda game that redefines the genre, and gives future developers of open-world games a lot to think about. Let’s start with that particular point.

The very first Zelda game, all the way back in 1986, offered players a freedom to go more or less anywhere, right from the start. This wasn’t necessarily a good idea, given the challenges that awaited the player, but the option to go anywhere and do anything was a liberating one. Since then, Zelda games have become increasingly formulaic, with The Ocarina of Time in particular accelerating this trend, pushing the franchise into a linear path. There’s no denying that The Ocarina of Time was a ground-breaking, brilliant game, but Nintendo became single-minded in their efforts to repeat that success, and whilst a number of the entries after that were good, they became stuck in a safe rut, which culminated in Skyward Sword. With Breath of the WIld, Nintendo have broken the formula.

After years of hand-holding in the form of various ‘assistants’ for Link (such as Navi, Midna and Fi), Breath of the Wild chucks players in and says ‘figure it out’. Whilst still in the Great Plateau I had a little assistance from the old man you meet, but after asking him the same question for a second time he firmly rebuked me – the message was clear – this game is going to be different.

Those differences are profound. Gone are hearts and rupees in the traditional sense. Killing enemies yields things that can be used in elixirs, and hunting animals and foraging for things to eat is a big part of the game. Experimenting with different ingredients is key to restoring more health or staving off extremes of temperature. Some foodstuffs can enhance Link’s stamina – others grand defensive or offensive boosts, among other things. Discovering these things for yourself is a lot of fun and feels very rewarding.

Another big change is the nature of the open world – you can go virtually anywhere that you can see, though some areas will be tough to get to without having first visited a few Shrines – Shrines are the means to expanding your hearts and stamina, so unless you’re a sadist (you can go from the Plateau to the final boss straight away if you want) it’s worth seeking these out. Related to the Shrines are the Towers – activating these reveals more of the game map, which in turn helps you to find points of interest. The Shrines are quite varied, with numerous challenges that require a bit of thought to figure out, but with all of them, the answer is usually hidden in plain sight. Any problem can be solved with a bit of patience – part from the combat challenges – these, naturally, require a bit of brute strength. Some Shrines are easy to find, whilst others require you to solve a puzzle just to find them – a great challenge involved giant statues of knights in the desert – I found this purely by looking at the map as I sought points of interest – as was the case with a few Shrines.

With tremendous freedom to go anywhere and do anything, came the challenge of how best to tell the story of this game. To that end, Nintendo have injected a few ideas and pointers that the player can choose to seek out, if you’re willing to put in the time to find out all the details. Some characters will tell you more of the history behind how Link ends up sleeping for 100 years – whilst you can also unlock forgotten memories by finding certain locations. The end result of this is quite revealing but I won’t say too much here.

Controlling Link and his various new abilities (like being able to climb and jump) takes a little getting used to – but given that you’re relearning pretty much everything else about the Zelda franchise, this is not necessarily a bad thing. You can still target enemies, but the manner in which you can control the camera and your weapons is a little different, especially if you’ve gotten used to the Wii’s motion controls. Once mastered, the game feels smooth, and handles quite well.

There’s not a great many different types of enemy in Breath of the Wild. Instead, there are variations on themes. The Bokoblin is the most common form of bad guy you’ll find, and they vary in strength, but the key factor is the weapon they use. They can pick up just about any weapon, and even throw rocks at you, plus they can carry shields, so be prepared for a variety of attacks. Plus, they will attack in groups as well. Often I would choose to avoid battle completely, given the odds, but you can exploit various things (from the landscape to the abilities of your Sheikah Slate) to deal with baddies.

Other enemies include the Wizzrobes (which date back to the very first Zelda title), Moblins (bigger Bokoblins) and Lizalfos, to name a few. Wizzrobes have different attacks depending on their type (electric, fire and ice), as do the Lizalfos. There are also ‘boss level’ enemies that you can stumble upon quite easily – which makes the game all the more entertaining – you have no idea what might be waiting for you at any given point. The gigantic Hinox is  a sight to behold, and how about the Stone Talus? Those things do not go down easy.

Because the AI behind the enemies is smarter, you have to be too – as mentioned, sometimes it’s better to avoid battle completely, and I did this quite often. Of course, sometimes it’s fun to fight – and I did this too. The great thing is, you have the freedom to do either – the game doesn’t funnel you down a specific path.

There aren’t many dungeons in this game – depending on how you define dungeon. I would say six, but given the relatively small scale of them, I’m tempted to say there are no true dungeons in the game (if we go by typical expectations of dungeons). In one sense this is refreshing – and you don’t have to do any of them (save one) to complete the main quest. However, having something meaty to sink one’s teeth into might have been nice. This is a minor nit-pick – the nature of the dungeons themselves is quite unique, involving manipulating the layout of them, and you can tackle them in more or less any fashion you wish. Each one has a boss fight at the end, but none of these were especially challenging once you figured them out. Since Breath of the Wild dispenses with the classic dungeon/item/boss relationship (you know the key item from any given dungeon is the means to fight the final boss in most cases), you have to think your way around the boss instead.

Can I take a moment to describe how beautiful this game is? Bearing in mind the Switch is not remotely as powerful as a PS4 or Xbox One, Nintendo have done a remarkable job in crafting a huge world, that is filled with various landscapes that feel alive. There is wildlife everywhere. Trees and bushes and grass that flows in the wind. Snow-capped mountains and scorching desert. Incredible landscapes marked with lakes and waterfalls and beaches and villages and monsters. Considering this game looks almost as good on the Wii U as it does on the Switch, Nintendo have shown developers of future adventure games like this what you can do if you push yourself. The graphics are married to atmospheric sound – creeping through The Lost Woods was a nervy moment, that looked and sounded every bit what you might expect someplace like that to be.

There’s so much more I could say. I could wax lyrical about this incredible adventure until I was hoarse. I still have a long way to go before I can say I’ve 100% completed this game. If you get the chance, play it, and do me a favour – make your adventure unique to you. That’s something that’s a possibility on Breath of the Wild – every choice you make, every direction you turn, is up to you. You won’t be steered into a particular path. Instead, take control and go wherever you want, when you want. In giving players that freedom, Nintendo have made a Zelda game that finally knocks A Link to the Past off its perch – which given how much I love that game, is no mean feat. If this is the future of Zelda, it’s a bright future.

 

The dawn of a new era in Formula 1 began this morning with the promise of faster cars and more durable tyres – this proved to be more or less true, as did pre-season predictions about team pace – Ferrari are back, and they mean business. In qualifying the story was a familiar one from Lewis Hamilton – the Mercedes driver put his car on pole, albeit not by an especially huge distance from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. Hamilton out-qualified new teammate Bottas by a fair margin, whilst the second Ferrari of Raikkonen lined up in fourth. Home favourite Daniel Ricciardo had an accident in Q3 that would force him to start 10th, and 10th became a pitlane start following problems with the car – with things only getting worse from there. Ricciardo didn’t get going until two laps had already passed, and faced a huge battle to even make the points.

At the start (which was actually at the second attempt) Hamilton led Vettel away and Bottas remained ahead of Raikkonen. Verstappen briefly threatened the Finn’s Ferrari but after that settled in behind. Despite the promise of difficulties in following another car, Vettel was able to keep to around 1.5 seconds behind Hamilton, and was showing the pace that Ferrari had threatened to show. Before too long, the ultra-soft tyres of Hamilton began to show signs of wearing out, and Hamilton had to make a decision – pit, and risk the over-cut, or stay out and risk the under-cut. In the end, Hamilton pitted first, and crucially, came out behind the Red Bull of Verstappen.

Max was in no mood to move over, and here is where a potentially critical weakness of the Mercedes was exposed – aside from the difficulties in overtaking that the new designs represent, the Mercedes struggles when following other cars (a weakness we’ve seen before). Hamilton was frustrated, and this would have been a bigger problem when he saw Vettel emerge from the pits, just ahead. The lead was lost, and with it, the race. Verstappen would soon pit, but Hamilton lacked the pace to catch the Ferrari. Behind him, Bottas started to close in, posing the possibility of a battle for second that Hamilton didn’t need. A combination of traffic and (possibly) Hamilton simply nursing the car kept Bottas at bay, but the real winner was Vettel, who secured an ultimately comfortable win that laid down an important marker. Ferrari looked quick, and Mercedes will have a fight on their hands. Intriguingly, Vettel finished 23 seconds ahead of fellow Ferrari man Raikkonen – is that gap between the two really that big?

Elsewhere, Verstappen settled for 5th, with veteran Massa 6th for Williams. Perez was 7th for the pink-liveried Force India, and there was a double points finish for Toro Rosso, with Sainz leading Kvyat home in 8th and 9th. The second Force India of Ocon claimed the final point, though for a while it seemed as though the McLaren of Alonso might take it – until almost inevitably, the car stopped working. His teammate Vandoorne was the last classified runner, finishing 13th.

Both Haas retired, as did Ricciardo, and Palmer, and Ericsson, and Stroll, for Redbull, Renault, Sauber and Williams. The new era of F1 has proven tough on the cars, at least to start with.

So, Ferrari have drawn first blood. In just over a week F1 rolls into China. Will the different nature of the track play into Mercedes’ hands, or will Ferrari continue their early form?

I was facing a choice. Did I take my time and continue to explore? Did I seek out all the memories and mysteries this vast game still held? Or did I take on the big bad?

To begin with, I looked for memories. I poked around for dragons. One of my finds was a skeletal Hinox – that actually broke off chunks of its own ribcage to throw at you. As I was doing this, I felt a desire to move forward, to head to Hyrule Castle.

If I were to do this, I would first need to stock up on a few things. Hyrule Castle crawls with Guardians, and this includes the fully mobile kind. The best weapon for dealing with these things is the Ancient arrow, but these don’t grow on trees – and ironically, to get the parts needed to make them, you need to take on and destroy Guardians! I tentatively did just that, actually cutting a few legs off one that I lured toward a small forest – and stocked up. I was committing myself to a particular course of action, even as I found another couple of memories.

I had already poked around Hyrule Castle once before, but this time I was going to be bold and march in through the front door. What would this be like? Well, the Castle wasn’t the labyrinthal structure I had hoped it would be, but I still had fun using my cryogenic power to scale waterfalls and bypass several Guardians. Not every such Guardian could be avoided, but the Ancient arrows proved extremely effective at handling these beasts. I did however, manage to get myself trapped with one of those horrible centaur things – this was a horrible fight, and I ended up using a fair bit of food to maintain health as I fought it.

Beyond that, this was not too much of a challenge – a few narrow scrapes with Guardians, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I had been drawn, instinctively, to Calamity Ganon – would I be able to beat him?

As I arrived, Zelda’s power failed. Ganon broke free of his prison, and the battle was on.

What can I say? Ganon is UGLY. He is a mismash of forms, and the stuff of nightmares. However, the end result of tackling all four Divine Beasts? It was an impressive and powerful barrage that blasted Ganon and gave me a fighting chance.

So, what was it like to fight this thing? Well, Ganon was armed with several weapons and moves. He wielded a huge sword, had a spear too, and pincers – plus, he could throw explosive fireballs at you, ice blocks, mini-tornadoes, and after enough damage, make himself invulnerable. Oh yeah, and he had a Guardian cannon. And he would routinely scale the walls to get out of harm’s way.

So perserverance was the key. A steady supply of food too. It was a case of wearing down Ganon and keeping a safe distance when warranted.

This took ages. Every now and then the chance came up to launch a flurry attack, but for the most part this was a lengthy slog. It was hardly surprising that it felt pretty satisfying to finally beat the fiend…

But recall what I’ve said throughout this story? This is a Zelda game. When you think it’s over, it’s actually not. Ganon’s essence left the Castle and Link’s swiftly followed, with both being deposited on the plains outside Hyrule Castle. Zelda spoke of the courage of the hero, and handed a Golden Bow with the famous light arrows – and it was time to face the final battle.

At first glance this looked like it was going to be horrific. Ganon was huge, and he would spit huge beams of energy that would set fire to the grass. My trusty steed Shadowfax was by my side, but how could I fight this thing? Well, Zelda would use her power to cast golden points upon Ganon – weak points that I had to shoot with golden arrows. Leaping from Shadowfax, time would slow, and I would shoot these weak points, until only one remained – a glowing golden eye that would open as Ganon prepared to fire his weapon.

With that final blow, Zelda burst forth, and lit things up. Her power swept away the weakened Ganon, ending his terrible reign.

So, that was it. Hyrule and Zelda were saved. Ganon was destroyed. The story finished – but the adventure? That continues. How you might ask? Well, I simply reloaded the game from an earlier point and carried on exploring.

But, coming back to the story. How did I feel to have done it? I actually felt a little empty. Link had not recovered all his memories, and the end sequence was all too brief. It’s my hope to uncover other details and then, complete the game again. We’ll see what impact that has. In the meantime, that’s it – that’s my story, from start to finish.

Back to Breath of the Wild

We last left Link facing giant balls (ahem) that would crush him if he couldn’t find a way past. It turns out this Shrine, as with so many of them, was deceptively easy, and the combined use of magnetism and stasis allowed me to grab the metal ball and use it to bulldoze a path to safety. With yet another Shrine completed, the next point of note was to head back to the volcano and unravel the mysteries of the final Divine Beast.

Firstly, I also made another key discovery, one that should help me very much in the long-term. A science lab is to the north east and this offered up the potential to reward me with new weapons, in exchange for Guardian parts. A trip to get the blue flame needed to fuel the manufacturing process proved more eventful than expected – quite a few bad guys – Moblins mostly – were keen to interfere with my journey.

Once I’d successful run this particular gauntlet, I was able to acquire a new shield, a new sword, and some Ancient arrows (which would prove very useful later). After this, it was time to return to the volcano.

Armed with elixirs that would offer resistance to the intense heat, I moved more deeply into the lava-filled region and my Sheikah Sensor began alerting me to a nearby Shrine – a Shrine that just so happened to be right by the Goron village. Wasting no time, I found the Goron leader and he asked me to go to the mines and find a descendant of Daruk, the Goron Champion. This kid had been sent to the mines to get some pain killers for the boss – and hadn’t returned.

This is where I discovered several cannons, that you can arm with remote bombs. Aside from randomly blasting things, this proved most helpful in blowing away a blockage that kept this descendant from me. From there, we took a trip to Death Mountain, and faced the final Divine Beast. This one took the form of a giant lizard with flaming feet, and the idea was drive it up the mountain, by using the Goron as a cannon ball (don’t worry, he had a protective shield!) to pummel the Beast. I only found this out by accident – at first I’d climbed as high as I could, and along the way destroyed or avoided sentries deployed by the Beast (you would whistle to get the Goron to either move or freeze). This is where the Ancient arrows came in handy!

Once I realised how to drive the Beast higher, I kept shooting at it until it finally broke down. Now it was time to Enter the Dragon! Err, lizard…

To begin with the area was pitch black, save for a blue flame, which quickly became the source of light for my torch. A couple of pesky little Guardian fights and a few lit torches later, I’d found the map terminal and turned the lights on. As with previous Beasts, I had to seek out five terminals, and as before, this involved manipulating the Beast. On this occasion it would either be laying flat on its belly or tipped to one side, as though against the wall. A few well-timed jumps whilst repositioning the Beast, a few arrow tips set on fire and shot through holes, and the use of flame to reveal objects of use (such as giant metal blocks), and I had this dungeon figured out. It was time to head to the master terminal and awaken whatever nasty critter Ganon had left there.

Fireblight Ganon was easy once I figured out how to beat him. His first attack was pretty basic – swiping with a giant sword. Easy to avoid, and the Master Sword took chunks out of him. At the halfway point he started to draw in the superheated air and shoot easily-dodged fireballs at me, but was unreachable and seemingly immune to the handful of ice arrows I had. At first I had zero clue how I was going to kill this thing, but Daruk offered up some advice – bombs. At first I took this to mean bomb arrows, but these detonated in my face due to the heat. Common sense eventually prevailed and I used my remote bombs, which got sucked in along with the air. Setting these off brought Fireblight to his knees. With the Master Sword in hand, I smote Fireblight and consigned his ruin to the ether.

With all four Divine Beasts back under control, I had some choices to make. Initially I set out on a memory quest – and gave serious consideration to seeking out the other dragons. There was though, the temptation to go back to Hyrule Castle, and confront the Calamity. Which path would I take?

To Chapter 10

Back to Breath of the Wild

It’s back! The long wait is over, testing is done, and it’s time to see what the new cars can do. Melbourne Australia is the venue for the opening round of the 2017 world championship – will Ferrari take the fight to Mercedes, will Red Bull shake things up, and will McLaren even finish? 


This popular venue contains many fast patches and some meaty corners, which under the new designs should be even more of a test for the drivers. The idea that Ferrari may threaten Mercedes was weakened a little by the practice runs – Hamilton was half a second quicker than Vettel (and interestingly, half a second up on Bottas too) – but none of the cars will yet be in their fastest configuration, so who knows? Key overtaking opportunities will probably be at turns 1 and 2, plus turn 3. Chances may also exist at turn 13 – the brave and the good might be able to find other chances elsewhere, though the new designs are expected to make overtaking more difficult. 

There are as yet a lot of unknowns heading into Sunday’s race. Let’s hope it’s a good, close-run, exciting contest! 

Back to F1 2017

I struggled to name this chapter. I couldn’t think of a coherent title that would fit the nature of it. In the end, I sort of kinda came up with something that vaguely makes sense. Bear with me here, as this chapter is somewhat disjointed.

I’d previously taken back two Divine Beasts and claimed the Master Sword. A brief foray toward the volcano proved fruitless, and a trip west yielded more, err, fruit. I managed to get to another couple of Towers and pick off a few more Shrines – including the Thunderball (not its real name) Shrine, which involved placing colour-coded balls into pedestals. A raft voyage to a distant island also took place – and I dare say this is where the game draws upon Survivor for this bit! The spirit of the Shrine stripped me bear of all my equipment – to complete the trial, I would have to place three orbs into three recepticles – my first attempt at this did not go too great. A great big Hinox (the giant Oblins dotted around) held one of the orbs – I actually managed to kill this one, but the orb seemingly vanished – so I was unable to proceed!

Returning to the mainland, I took off for the mountains near Hateno. I wanted to see about the spring of the Goddess that was meant to be up there. What I found was a corrupted dragon, and a spring. The dragon had been infected by the malice of Ganon, but a few choice moments spent gliding and shooting cleared this malady from this beautiful creature, and the spring was cleared – paving the way to a Shrine.

I also found yet another Shrine by slaying three Hinox within a small set of ponds – each one held an orb, and they were reasonably fun fights. From there, I headed west.

What was west? Well, this is where I finished off the Thunderball Shrine, and made it to the top of another Tower – and from there, I continued west. The Rito were in sight, as was their Divine Beast. This place was amazing. It is unsurprising, given their avian nature, that the Rito built their village in an upward spiral. Nor was it surprising to learn that the glider comes in handy here.

A young Rito had tried, in vain, to stop their Divine Beast from shooting Rito out of the sky. Reluctantly, he took my offer of help, and here began what has so far been the easiest of the Beasts so far. Using the glider and switching to the bow meant shooting out cannons with bomb arrows – and this managed to be pretty straight forward, proving to be the means of knocking out the Beast’s shields. Once aboard, the dungeon was once again pretty straight forward, with some puzzles involving freezing time, opening up wind tunnels, and the clever use of bombs and balls to unlock doors. Some platforms could be moved by angling the wings of this Beast to tip the main structure – as with the previous Beasts, this was key to getting everywhere.

Windblight Ganon was also pretty easy – the first attack involved blasting at me with a large energy cannon, which were easy to avoid. Once he’d fired off a few rounds, he’d tire, and a combo of bomb arrows and sword slashes weakend him, until his health was depleted and he’d unleash round two. This involved mini cannons that were pretty inaccurate – a few more arrows and sword strikes and this thing was toast.

The Rito Champion’s power? The ability to create an updraft anywhere, allowing for easier air travel. The Rito also gifted me a fine bow. Afterward I spoke to a few Rito, and discovered a new Shrine quest that I will go back to at some point (as I will with a few of them).

My next big mission was to head to the cold snowy peak that was just to the north of the Rito village. I’d purchased snow-weather clothing from the Rito, so I could freely traverse this otherwise treacherous mountain, and in the process uncovered (literally, for it was buried in ice) a Shrine. I was quietly pleased with myself for using flint and my firewood to melt the ice. Unfortunately this was a major test of combat, and I didn’t have the weapons to defeat this particular Guardian – I’ll have to go back to it eventually.

My Sheikah Sensor alerted me to the presence of another Shrine or two but I couldn’t actually find them. Leaving the snowy mountain, I quickly travelled to more familiar territory to the east of the peaks, and learned from an old man in a stable of a great canyon where a friend of his had likely perished. The map revealed a point of interest within the canyon – ruins of some kind – so I glided down to check it out. What waited for me was one of the more intense challenges I’ve faced so far.

By now, if you are also playing this game, you’ll be  familiar with the Guardians and how powerful they are. Well, imagine running a gauntlet of these things. With several of them (thankfully they were all immobile) targeting me and trying to blast me, there was nowhere to go where I was safe from all of them at once. My only option for proceeding deeper was to ride air currents, and to do so quickly. Rapidly gliding and falling appeared to upset their aim, and I only got hit once on my way through! Yay! At the end? A Shrine and a Goddess statue. I never want to do that again.

What was next? Well, the volcano remained a place I had yet to visit, and would have to visit if I were to find the final Divine Beast. Another exploratory venture into the region once again saw me forced back, so instead I went north, creeping around  the edge of the volcano and picking off a few bad guys here and there. What I found has potentially given me an ‘in’ to the volcano – fire-resistant lizards, cooked with ice-tail enemy parts, has yielded a new elixir that should get me closer. I haven’t put this to the test yet. Another few Shrines were also polished off – including a Goron challenge involving climbing a rock face within a time limit whilst gathering 100 rupees, and a Shrine perched on the top of a rather tall rock.

I pushed as far east as I could, which led me back to forests and grasslands, that reminded me of an autumn day. Another Shrine, a stable, and a curious spiralling arrangement in the water were all points of interest – the spiral ended with a receptacle for an orb, but no sign of an orb – a bit frustrating after the battles I had to go through to get there! Afterward, I headed up to an ancient and decrepit castle, surrounded by the purple goo that Ganon had spewed forth at some stage. A couple of aerial Guardians also floated around – so I had to be sneaky to get to the Tower above it. The sheer presence of the goo seemed to be a block at first, but the updraft power took me to the top, nice and easily.

This chapter ends with me stuck in a Shrine involving giant balls – more on that next time!

To Chapter 9

Back to Breath of the Wild

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I mean, come on people. This is where the surge to right-wing populism is heading. Donald Trump is the embodiment of what is wrong with this worrying trend, and he keeps demonstrating what this does – his latest move? Accusing Obama of spying on him, and implicating Britain, a long-time staunch ally of the US, of being involved.

What a complete moron. His bluster and his incompetence (and that of his administration, if his cronies are anything to go by) is going to be damaging for years to come, and we don’t yet know the extent of this. The only upside is that the Republican party will be taken down with him – and even that isn’t an upside, since for any system to work, the opposition needs to be strong. Trump is a short-term and long-term mess.

His notion that the UK (at the urging of US intelligence services no less) would spy on him is the latest in a string of stupid statements and ideas. Remarkably, his supporters are bedding down, and all I can ask is… how?! How can people repeatedly turn a blind eye to the lunacy that’s taking place in the US? Urgh, just talking about this idiot makes me angry. I wish he’d piss off!