IGN, Polygon, GameSpot, Game Informer, Destructoid, Nintendo Life: 10/10. Famitsu: 40/40. Giant Bomb, GamesRadar, Game Revolution, Eurogamer: 5 Stars. It’s safe to say the The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a pretty good game. My personal stance is that while BotW is not my personal favorite game (Persona 4/Smash 4 for me), I believe it is the all-around best game I have ever played. It’s a similar feeling I get towards The Beatles. They are not my favorite artist, but when I look at them I really don’t have anything truly bad to say and feel comfortable saying they are one of the best Rock bands of all time.
As listed above, every outlet has been detailing what makes the latest Zelda a masterpiece, so I decided to exercise one of my favorite pastimes in this piece by playing a little bit of Devil’s Advocate. Before I go any further, I feel it is important to state that I firmly believe Zelda has deserved all of the praise it has gotten so far and that the following points are nitpicks of a game that has come incredibly close to being part of the pantheon of video game perfection.
Because I wouldn’t want to risk spoiling this game for anyone, I also feel it is important to say that a few of these points contain minor spoilers while the last argument contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the game. So, without further ado, let me don my horns, tail and pitchfork as we dive into the dicey world of nitpicking a masterpiece.
Nitpick #1: The Controls
This issue became apparent to me fairly quickly into the game. Nintendo has never really been one to provide custom button mapping to their games, however, they did feature the ability to switch the X and B buttons to change which runs or jumps. This concession in controls I feel really made the minor problem more prevalent because in switching those buttons, I noticed that they really didn’t solve any of the incorrect habitual button presses I made early in the game. In my perfect setup, I would’ve loved to have the attack button mapped to A or B instead of Y, and then have run and jump mapped to either X or Y. I found myself too often using a claw grip on my controller trying to get a running start before I jumped as there really wasn’t an easy way to quickly go from X to B on the controller. Having a run option on the Y button would have made it so much easier to slide my thumb over to do a running jump or a dash attack more comfortably. In the end, I ended up just adapting to the layout Nintendo gave me as I always have for their games and by the time I finished my playthrough I had gotten a pretty solid grasp on controls no matter how awkward my hand position was.
Nitpick #2: Cooking
I have no problem with adding cooking to Zelda. In fact, I loved it, particularly being able to eat your cooked meals at any time. This new feature led to moments that gave a feeling similar to solving a puzzle, without the problems being presented in a tradition puzzle format. There was immense satisfaction in eating a stamina restoring elixir as your stamina bar was about to go out when trying to tame a wild horse or scale a particularly tall mountain. So then what’s the issue with cooking? Well to put it simply, Link doesn’t carry a recipe book with him. It would’ve been incredibly convenient if once you cooked up a new meal, the recipe for that meal could be saved somewhere for reference later if you needed to make something with those specific attributes again. Coming off Final Fantasy XV, I felt that the cooking system was more well done there and that BotW would have been a little more convenient if it had taken cues from it and many other games with cooking/synthesis.
Nitpick #3: Quick Menus
The menu shortcuts were great when you needed to swap out your Sword, shield, bows, arrows and Shieka Slate powers on the fly. Now I understand there may be an issue with running out of buttons to go any further, but I can’t help but feel that the quick menu could have been made even more convenient if it allowed us to shortcut to custom load outs or items. It was always annoying to reach an area that was freezing cold and having to pause everything in order to switch into warmer clothes or pausing to switch to Zora clothes to use it’s abilities only for a brief second. Being able to create outfit sets or weapons to go with certain outfits would have come in handy many times during Link’s long journey.
WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
Nitpick #4: The Final Boss
If there were one point I felt strongest about that would lead to me give BotW a 9.99/10, it would be this one. The entire massive adventure (assuming you were like me and took the time to adventure around Hyrule to a large extent before taking on Hyrule Castle) was vast and epic. The story kept things pretty simple with the same broad premise of “Ganon is back and you’ve gotta stop him”. However, it highlights Ganons malice by allowing you to explore just how much destruction and just how many lives were taken as he took over Hyrule. So you get to the top of Hyrule Castle and you are ready to rumble!
Battle 1: This battle is one of if not the most epic in the entire game. Calamity Ganon is a grotesque amalgamation of his “Blight” counterparts with limbs spewing from all parts of his body making for quite the terrifying and intimidating foe. The battle is epic but I couldn’t help but think it felt off. As I bested Calamity Ganon, the next battle began, a showdown in the field on horseback with the massive pig Beast Ganon. I loved seeing Ganon’s beast form in the game as it is obvious BotW alludes to many assets of the original NES Legend of Zelda and this felt like a great homage. As I raced around and shot the glowing spots on the pig beast, he finally went down. As I watched the life bar hit zero, I showed no sign of relaxation, being ready for the big conclusion…except…that was the big conclusion. I was left with the worst feeling at the end of a game that a game could have, the “that’s it?” sensation.
While Calamity Ganon was intense and intimidating, I feel that it being a mix of all the “Blight” forms of Ganon led to a lack of its own identity for the boss. But the biggest sin has to be the last stage of the Fight. Battling Beast Ganon has always been iconic throughout the franchise, but every Beast Ganon fight more or less had one element that made the formula strongest: A 1-on-1, close quarters, fight to the death between Link and Ganon. Instead, we rode on a horse…
While having its shortcomings, I have to say that one reason I give Twilight Princess a lot more credit than it deserves is due to its climax. The Final boss in that game was PERFECTION to me. Phase one: a twist on an iconic fight. The first battle was incredibly reminiscent of the first Ganondorf fight in Ocarina of Time where you played “lighting ball tennis” except this time you were fighting a possessed Zelda which gave the fight an unsettling feel. Then came Ganon’s Beast form. While some bash on Link’s Wolf Beast form, I LOVED the clash of Beasts in this second phase of battle as it took the old image of pig Ganon and spun it into a modern twist by making that form the heel to Link’s Wolf form. That fight felt like two animals going at it, and I thought it was brilliant. The next phase took a very similar approach to BotW’s final phase, as it saw Link on horseback and featured Light Arrows, however it acted as the perfect build up to the final showdown, where as BotW gave off that same build up feeling, but with no final showdown. Finally, there are few fights in the entire series for me more iconic than the 1-on-1 sword fight with Ganondorf at the end of TP. Now it was Human vs. Gerudo, Courage vs. Power, Swordsman vs. Swordsman and the entire fight had me on my toes.
THAT is what I expected after I took down pig Ganon in BotW. From the second I heard Urbosa mention that Ganon was once a Gerudo, I was giddy with the idea of seeing Ganondorf in his BotW form. I thought for sure the fall of the pig Ganon would leave his simple Gerudo form as his last line of defense and Link would hop off horseback to stab him in the head or chest like the good ol’ days, but that payoff never came.
Nitpick #5.5: The Master Sword
The previous point bugged me so much that I even thought of ways they could have done the fight better and I’m curious to hear your thoughts on my version. For my vision, everything stays the same except that there are two possible scenes that occur once you slay Ganon’s pig form depending on whether or not you were able to find and pull the Master Sword before heading off to fight Ganon. If you did not have the Master Sword, pig Ganon would have diffused into the shadowy state he was seen as before and the game would end, but with Zelda or Impa stating that Ganon’s presence still lingered and that only the “sword of evil’s bane” could truly seal Ganon away. This would be considered the “Bad Ending”. If you had the Master Sword, then you would be treated to pig Ganon falling and Link taking out the Master Sword to seal him away only for Ganon to transform one last time into his Gerudo form of Ganondorf. Ganondorf would summon his sword and use dark magic to create a barrier blocking out Zelda as seen in previous fights and to corrupt all of your inventory so that you can’t use it, only leaving the Master Sword as your weapon as evil cannot touch it. While you could argue that this destroys the open-endedness of BotW’s combat and theme, I feel that it would actually make the fight much more intense. There were only certain enemies I felt I ever had to lock on and sidestep or back dodge in order to get in on them and for the few there were, I actually really like it as it made it so that I couldn’t just go in with my strongest weapon or sit back and try and snipe the enemy long range. There wasn’t a massive emphasis on the Master Sword in this game and I felt that it was a bit of a bummer. After taking down Ganondorf with the Master Sword, you would then get the “True Ending” and be satisfied with a worthy conclusion to an incredible game.
Those are just some of my thoughts and I’d love to hear if you had any small gripes with the game or if you agree with my adjustments. Either way, I hope you all are enjoying The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, especially those playing on Switch….cus it may be the only game you have for awhile…