After a spate of serious posts, comes something different. Something recreational that I am passionate about. Something in my view that could easily be considered ‘the greatest of all time’ in its category. Yesterday Nintendo unveiled the latest chapter in the Zelda saga, and I am already frothing at the mouth to get ahold of this beautiful game.


The hints have been that The Legend of Zelda will be returning to its roots with this title, and Breath of the Wild certainly appears to be doing exactly that. The sheer scale of the world created for BofW is said to stretch the Wii U to its limits, and it is by far and away the largest world ever created for a Zelda game. Every time I thought the map was maxed out, it got bigger, and the landscape on show as Link stood upon the top of rock faces and hills was breathtaking.

It looks like certain conventions of recent Zelda games are being broken. Non-linear exploration is going to form a huge aspect of this game, and Link can now seemingly make potions and craft objects to help him (as well as using the land to help him – at one point in the trailer he’s pushing boulders down hills to crush bad guys, whilst in another clip he’s setting fire to grassland). He can acquire axes to chop down trees and gain firewood, and he can steal weapons from vanquished foes.


Whereas previous games have tended to indulge in monologues to explain the story, this game isn’t going to fill you in. You will find out for yourself why there are giant mechanical machines lying in decay across the landscape. In short, it seems this Zelda game will start you with nothing, leaving you to learn as you go – which is fine with me.


It would appear you can go anywhere and climb anything. Link can also jump, and there’s some sort of bullet time thing going on with combat. Nintendo have also introduced voice acting – well, a voice over, possibly from Zelda herself. The standard dialogue box remains for the other characters met so far.


Breath of the Wild is a new beginning for Zelda, and also for Nintendo. It is pushing the Wii U to its limits – and it looks stunning – but what of the NX version? Everything from the demo came from the Wii U – they have revealed precious little from their new console.

The question now is – how can I afford an NX???


I wrote a review of The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword some time ago, and when I wrote this review I did so through the slight haze of time and nostalgia. Recently I’ve been replaying this game, and whilst there are certain elements that I have come back to and enjoyed, I dare say there is a darker side to my recollections that I’d shut out.

Part of this is maybe me. I’m writing this having had a long day where a few little things here and there have conspired to piss me off a little, and thus I’ve been ‘playing angry’. I am though, pretty sure that, upon reflection, some of the frustrations I am feeling now I felt way back when I first when through the game. As I’ve gone through it, I’ve been mentally listing the tropes that I feel were totally unnecessary and just plain annoying.

The Imprisoned


I get that there has to be an element of challenge to any game, or it just isn’t worth it. It makes the completion of said game all the more satisfying. However, going over the same steps again and again and again can swiftly feel repetitive and annoying, especially if the mechanics of the quest/boss aren’t straightforward. The Imprisoned is a good example of this, and highlights a few flaws in the game. He’s a big monster that can only be stopped by smashing a stone upon his head, and you have to bring him down first in order to do that – with each fight he takes on new characteristics – such as moving faster or climbing up walls, and all I can say is that I dreaded facing him – at one point I was inexplicably shoved onto a lower level (I wasn’t there before the cut scene) and had to repeat a chunk of the fight. I found the whole little saga to be quite irritating – and as said before, repetitive.

The Pirate Captain


In my view, this bastard is the most annoying fight in the game. Hit his defences in the wrong fashion and the mechanics here are such that no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to get your shield up in time. You’re on a tight walkway and you need to hit him so many times to drive him back but guess what? The Motion Plus makes it harder to score hits and his electric sword zaps you if your sword clashes against it (even during the second fight, when your sword has evolved). The somewhat unwieldy controls leave you hacking and slashing away more in hope at this point.

What’s worse, when you make your way through the final temple to find the Triforce, you have to fight him again. You’re the Hero of Legend that has just purified his sword and his spirit, facing all kinds of trials and tests to do so, before having to go back through pretty much every location you’ve already been to to complete a song, only to face another trial (see below), and as if that isn’t enough, you then face to face more traps and monsters once in the temple! The land is depending upon you to defeat an evil that could destroy everyone… So let’s make him face deadly traps that might kill him before he can stop this great evil! Yeah, that seems smart…

The Silent Realm


The first time you run into this alternate take on certain parts of the map, it’s actually quite good, but in the end it feels shoehorned in. You’ve searched high and low for Zelda, you’ve purified your sword and spirit, you’ve learned the Song of the Hero – and you still need to prove yourself as the hero? Methinks the Goddess needs to reevaluate her priorities – defeating the bad guy should take precedence over tormenting the hero!

Another good example of this is the pointless filler that comes with finding the parts of the Song of the Hero. I don’t mind the Lanyaru Gorge or Volcano parts – but when the water dragon decides you need to swim around finding all the notes to the song??? This is just tedious and in my view, a blatant effort to pad the game out when it wasn’t really required.

The Controls

I can understand what Nintendo were trying to do here. Creating a semi-realistic motion of weapons could have added to the game, but the unwieldy nature of the execution (including how it affects swimming, flying etc) means you feel like you’re fighting Link as much as anything else – he won’t respond to the controls in quite the right fashion a lot of the time, resulting in untimely falls or misplaced attacks.

The Verdict

Despite the problems with Skyward Sword, I still like this game. It is not a bad Zelda title. It is however, upon greater reflection, far from the best. It needed sharpening and it needed some of that padding removed.

Ok, so I don’t know if I can claim that this next piece of artwork is legendary. That may – just about – be a step too far. Whilst it is no doubt going to be well-regarded in the annals of history, it is not quite to the standard of say, a Leonardo Da Vinci or a Michelangelo.

That said, given this was drawn entirely from memory, I am pretty pleased.

DSC_0004For some reason I can’t rotate the picture, but I’m pretty sure I’ve captured the essence of Link’s heroism. Right?





I can’t believe I missed marking the 30th anniversary of a gaming legend, especially one that I personally have invested a lot of time and heart into over the years. I can’t believe The Legend of Zelda is actually 30 – I really can’t!

The Zelda series has to be my all time favourite saga when it comes to video games. My opinions are bound to break ranks with other Zelda fans when it comes to certain titles, but I can honestly say I have found most of the games to be immersive adventures on a scale few other games can match, and a new Zelda game is something to be hotly anticipated in my house!

ZeldaNES(where it all began!)

My first taste of Zelda was with the SNES installment, A Link to the Past, which is still my favourite (as well as one of my all-time favourite games full-stop). It wasn’t as linear as current Zelda games, offering a semi-flexible approach to the order in which you tackled dungeons and challenges, and the depth to the game (especially when you stop to consider the technology it was made with) was astonishing. A Link to the Past is where my love of Zelda began, so I owe this game a debt of gratitude!

The original Zelda game is one I discovered a bit later on, and whilst I dare say it’s enjoyable, I have never quite gotten into it. The completely open-ended approach, and the numerous hidden caves, are a masterful touch, one that (if rumours are to be believed) the next Zelda game might be trying to emulate a little. The second Zelda installment, The Adventures of Link, is one I tried to get into, but just didn’t enjoy.

ZeldaSNES(completing A Link to the Past for the first time was a great feeling!)

Ocarina of Time (the first of two N64 offerings) is often rated by fans as the finest Zelda game, and it certainly is very good. The story is quite compelling, the game is great fun to play and it really does feel epic in scope. Whilst it is not the very best to me, it’s still great!

The sequel, Majora’s Mask, is another title held up as being a marvelous game, but to be honest, I didn’t really like it. I never got the whole time travel element, which frankly just confused me (nor was I thrilled with the mask element). I will admit, I didn’t really play this one that often, so maybe I need to revisit it and give it another chance.

ZeldaMajora(Majora’s Mask just baffled me)

For the Gamecube, Nintendo went for a completely different look for The Wind Waker, abandoning the slightly more grown up look of the games for a more cartoony approach. The appearance divided fans a little, but I didn’t mind it – in fact, I thought the game looked good. I would argue The Wind Waker has the toughest final boss of any Zelda game.

ZeldaWindWaker(too childish or beautifully rendered?)

Not to give the hand-held games short shrift, I will mention that Link’s Awakening (which I have never gotten around to completing) and The Minish Cap are both good games.

The Wii would see two Zelda titles – the launch title of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Between the two, I prefer Skyward Sword, though the latter has some of the most frustrating (and in my view, unnecessary) tropes of any Zelda game (the Silent Realm sequences). Both games are quite beautiful, though Skyward Sword shows off the Motion Plus feature of the Wii Remote, allowing for more actually sword play. Both titles are, like all Zelda games, filled with dungeons, but both suffer from the problem modern Zelda games have – rigid, linear progression through the levels. It would be nice to have a little more control over how you face the dungeons and quests.

hookshot(Twilight Princess was pretty good!)

The Zelda games have left an indelible mark upon me. There is so much adventure to be had, across each and every game, and despite the problem of linear progress in the later games, there are still plenty of side quests and challenges to explore. I look forward to the next offering!

If the rumours are to be believed, Nintendo’s next home console, the tentatively titled ‘NX’, is due to be released later this year (whether that applies to the entire globe or whether it will be a staggered release remains to be seen). As a lifelong Nintendo fan, I am naturally pretty excited at the prospect of a new console, but these days that excitement is tempered by pessimism.

Why is that you ask? Chiefly, the main reason is the failure of the Wii U to appeal, not only to the wider market, but to me. Unless something drastic happens in the near future, the Wii U will become the first home console of Nintendo’s that I haven’t owned – it has its appeal, but not nearly enough to justify the cost. Nintendo dropped the ball with this one, and I just hope whatever strategy they have in mind with the NX, they bear in mind the problems of the Wii U – and not simply the hardware.

WIIU(Nintendo’s most recent offering has failed to deliver)

Whilst Nintendo have always striven to be innovative and unique, this has sometimes been their Achilles’ Heel. There is such as a thing as trying to be too different, and the Wii U somehow managed to be both too different and too similar to what was out there, at the same time (for reasons I shall come to in a moment). The enormous touch screen control pad was, looking back, ungainly (I tried one out in a local games store and it wasn’t awful, but certainly not great), and power-wise, the Wii U lagged some way behind the PS4 and XBone. In respect of third-party development, the console was never going to be as friendly as its competitors, largely due to the difficulties of incorporating the controller’s screen into the equation. With graphics being a key feature of a game’s realism (not to mention how good and powerful processors are vital to creating realistic effects and physics), Nintendo weren’t appealing to hardcore gamers. The Wii U will sadly go down as Nintendo’s worst-performing console to date, well behind the original Wii’s 100 million sales.

The frustrating thing is, Nintendo could yet reclaim their place as the top console maker if they were prepared to look at what other companies are doing successfully, and then marry that with their own strategy. They’ve done this before.

SNES(the Super Nintendo is still one of my all-time favourite consoles, hosting some of the best games ever made)

There was nothing radically different between the SNES and its fierce Sega rival, the Mega Drive, back in the early 90s. The two consoles were basically the same – cartridge-based games, similar graphics and performance, and they even shared some of the same games. Nintendo were making the family-friendly Mario and Zelda games back then – but alongside them, they also had titles like Desert Strike (also a popular Mega Drive game) and Street Fighter, big, third-party releases that were widely anticipated. Nintendo successfully merged their big names with mainstream titles and the result was that, by the end, the SNES had comfortably outsold the Mega Drive – Nintendo won the 16-bit console war.

I have to wonder if this went to the heads of the powers that be. Did Nintendo get complacent? Did they get cocky? Ironically, their next console was the most powerful one available when it was released – the N64, but whilst Sega (and newcomers Sony) were starting to use CDs for their games, Nintendo stubbornly stuck with cartridges.

N64(the N64 was not as successful as its predecessor)

A very different controller design was a bit weird at first, though this gamer will say it was actually fairly easy to adapt to. However, this is where, in my humble view, Nintendo’s relationship with third-party developers nose-dived. With everyone else going for CDs and conventional controllers, Nintendo were setting their stall out to be unique, but this will have likely made it trickier for developers, whose job of porting games from one console to another could not have been easier between two CD-based consoles, yet with Nintendo they had to go back to the drawing board. Whilst the N64 was not a failure, nor was it an unqualified success – Sony’s Playstation would dominate the market, thanks to their bold marketing and easy to use console.

Nintendo would repeat the N64’s mistakes with the Gamecube. This time, Nintendo had given up on cartridges and opted for discs, but for reasons known only to them, these were smaller discs. The ‘cube’s controller was more conventional, but yet again Nintendo were trying to be clever, whilst also failing to deliver features that were starting to become expected of home consoles (the PS2 and Xbox would feature things like CD and DVD playback, something the Gamecube couldn’t do).

GameCube(personally, I rather liked the Gamecube, and it featured some great games, but it wasn’t enough)

Until the Wii U, the ‘cube was Nintendo’s weakest-performing console, with around 20 million unit sold worldwide – a far cry from the SNES. The Wii would provide some good respite for Nintendo by offering the innovative Wii Remote controller, along with optional classic controllers as well, for older games released via the Virtual Console. Wi-fi connectivity meant for the first time (not counting the portable DS option), people could play Nintendo games against people from the other side of the world. I for one thoroughly enjoyed playing Mario Kart online – even if I did get a bit frustrated with it sometimes! It was vindication for Nintendo – years of trying to be different and clever finally paid off, with a console that sold 100 million units worldwide, and gave the company a much-needed shot in the arm.

Wii(the Wii has been an unqualified success story)

Perhaps that vindication would prove to be a bad thing. Buoyed by the unconventional success of a console not much more powerful than the Gamecube (and certainly behind the PS3 and XBox 360), Nintendo forged ahead with the Wii U’s ultimately unsuccessful system.

So what needs to be change?

Firstly, Nintendo need to make sure the NX has broader appeal if it is to be successful. Part of this means a less-complicated controller, that it is easier for developers to work with. Hardware improvements to bring the NX in line with (or even more powerful than) existing rivals would be a step in the right direction, and some of the whispers about the NX suggest exactly that.

Additionally, Nintendo need to consider a similar ‘entertainment system’ approach to the ones Sony and Microsoft have taken. The PS4 and Xbone can both act as movie and music players, access things like Netflix, and let you browse the web. People expect integration with their technology these days.

The NX project might involve something along those lines. Some of the suggestions and stories about the console imply it’s not just a console, but a system that includes a dedicated console, mobile phones, the DS/3DS, tablets and even the Wii U. Quite how this would all come together is unclear, and since so little is known about the NX at the moment, we can’t take any of this as gospel anyway.

If Nintendo can merge the success and appeal of their leading titles like Zelda with the popular franchises of FIFA, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed etc, then they are on to a winner. They just need to realise this.


Once in a while, a game comes along that defines its generation. A game so brilliant, that to give it 10/10 would be to underscore it. For me, A Link to the Past is that game.


It is a work of art in the 16-bit medium. This game is not only beautiful to look at (despite its age, it still looks fantastic, bright and colourful), but it still manages to sound good too.

Of course, graphics and sound don’t define games, gameplay does, so what can I say about it?


Firstly, I can’t think of any other Zelda game off the top of my head that has so many dungeons! There are 12 different dungeons to explore, each one with different traps and enemies, and nearly all of them have a big bad boss waiting at the end.

The only, tiny complaint I could make is that a couple of the bosses are a bit samey, and one or two are quite easy (though I might be saying that because I’ve played through it so many times!), but some bosses (such as the thief or the giant moth, to say nothing of the horrid worm-like thing!) are fiendish and devised by a deviant mind!


There’s a great deal to do that doesn’t involve dungeons too. You can travel between two linked worlds (light and dark) and actions in one can have consequences in the other. Indeed, there are points where you have to jump between worlds to get anywhere. The clever mechanics of this also encourage you to explore the world around you, without forcing you down a linear path (though there are elements of that).


The almost dizzying array of items gives you an impressive armoury (once you collect them all of course!), and you can use some of them in creative ways to further your cause. I tended to stick with the boomerang a lot of the time (a trusty sidearm, as it were), but you could pound things with a hammer, use bombs to open holes in floors, and even turn invisible. This game really did have it all!

Nostalgia isn’t always a good thing. It can make us see things through rose-tinted glasses. In the case of A Link to the Past, there is no need. This remains one of the greatest achievements in video game history.


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