Oh, this is a mature self-discussion. Shield your children’s eyes.

These are personal thoughts as I replay BOTW to remember either why this is the best game, or if it was a great game that was driven up by circumstance and hype. I’m just gonna jumble them down as I go so there’s no linear reason to them beyond the progress I make. Part one will consist of Title Screen to Kakariko Village.

Opening thoughts: I have Zelda: BOTW and Horizon: Zero Dawn on equal grounds as the best games I have played this year. I don’t have a problem with this, but the social and corporate construct of today’s gaming media demands there be one better for the other. Unless Don Reece decides that this is no longer the case with PSVG, I will persevere to employ the devil’s advocate to the likely landslide victory Breath of the Wild will deliver. It is clear BOTW is at an advantage thanks to the fresh release of the Nintendo Switch console, as well as the forced strain of Zelda hype that Nintendo drew out longer than average.

In comparison, each Zelda game cycle takes about five years, whereas BOTW was delayed numerous times before being spontaneously hyped for almost five months. At the expense of turning the Wii U into an abandoned platform and the 3DS into a stepchild, this game was to be the crowning herald of a new style of gaming, to great success at this track of rate. Horizon: Zero Dawn, on the other hand, was contemplated murmurs about whether or not Guerrilla Games, usually making shooting titles, could possibly make an open world platform of the magnitude of what they were suggesting, and it wasn’t until release that the game was realized of its potency, three days before BOTW came out.

It is unfortunate that the two have to be compared due to general similarities; being one myself, rabid Nintendo fanboys have done the usual pinpointing of minor details of Horizon to say it is a lackluster game, while doing the same to praise why Zelda is the ‘supreme’ game (a popular term on the forums of this discussion). This has led to a rift between those who enjoy one or the other and has trickled down into some media. Having become impartial by loving most games, I tasked myself as to whether or not Zelda is great as people convinced me it was. Now that the talks and shouts have lowered, I am replaying BOTW for the third time to see if it’s as I remember it to be.

Thankfully, there’s nearly squat for spoilers beyond boss fight mechanics so I don’t have to worry about that.

Starting the game now.

Turned subtitles to Japanese because I am used to subbed anime and the English voice actors, with the exception of Zelda and Ravali, are lackluster and apathetic. I’m glad they never gave Ganon a VA; he probably would have sounded like Kurt Russell on both whiskey and cocaine.

Intro title is simple and impactful, amazing how the absence of productivity can still get the same results if done right.

Controller response to bass input of sound effects is freaking great.

They really do (although subtly) sexualize Link; however, I won’t complain, winky face.

Forgot how huge this map was… crap, why did I delete my save file? Now I have to visit everything again.

The SFX of getting an object is already getting old. It’s like hearing a gong for winning at bingo.

The anti-aliasing is terribad, more than I remember. Beats the heck out of Skyward Sword but-  *gets interrupted by game* why the **** is Zelda yelling at me for AFKing and telling me where to go?

Anyways, the grass textures have improved from a freaking WII GAME, but they’re just not that great. I’m guessing that if they made it any better detail though, the game would chug and drop frame rates even more, and we’d get a good glimpse at just how great the console performs. Oh well, the Wii U converted to PC emulation of the grass looks top notch! Shame that’s not the Switch though.

I forgot that I was paranoid that the old man was Ganondorf in disguise. Had the same feeling again, doh.

Just noticed Nintendo gave me a pity boulder to kill some bokoblins. Thanks, Nintendo.

Sneaking is scary as crap in this game. You never know the exact millimeter the thumbstick should go and it seems each enemy is differently suspicious of your existence. Sneakstrike is cool, but not exceptional. I’m used to whistling and luring monsters into bushes and breaking fool’s necks from behind.

I do appreciate that they tell you from the get-go that Calamity Ganon is a thing. I hate the last minute “but it is I, the final boss, Ganon!”

I’ll never understand why Link cannot sprint for more than fifteen seconds without dying. I understand how muscular dystrophy works but this is ridiculous.

They don’t really baby step you when it comes to shrines. I respect it. Magnesis was always a pain for me.

**** these korok seeds.

The blue bokoblin messed me up. Welp. Forgot how hard this was.

Blue bombs are awesome to have, both as a tool and weapon.

You know, I must have always done these shrines out of order. I usually do the snowy mountain one third and then backtrack to what I presume is meant to be the actual third. Oh well, hashtag go any way you want.

Snow area is the best area here on the Great Plateau. The cold mechanic is a bit lame but understandable. Freezing water is spooky as hell, don’t ever let me go, Rose!

These old geezers at the end of shrines seem out of place. Statues would make more sense.

The fact that Link can jump is still weird. Him being able to fly is probably the best mechanic in the game.

Wrapping up the Great Plateau, the story seems much more depressing than what I remember it to be, although the driving theme is definitely curiosity and wonder. I wonder if making me walk for five minutes to do something curious is enough to drive my patience. I did all of this already, so the thought of doing all 120 shrines is disheartening from the get-go.

Since I sold my soul for an expansion pass, I immediately went for Majora’s Mask since it was all of three minutes away from the Great Plateau. It serves as a pseudo easy mode since most enemies hesitate to attack you, and while I usually crave a challenge, enemies driving me to circle their camps was annoying and I like the idea of a lizalfos tasting me to see if I’m an enemy or not.

The shrines are a lot easier than I remember them. I suppose a lot of this game is meant to be a one trick pony, but once you figure the secret, everything goes to crap. Kind of disappointing how quick the magic is gone once you get a taste for the puzzles, but there are chunks of moments where I feel surprised, like a pleasant breeze in Chicago.

Looked at my amiibos and felt dread. Should I commit to a daily struggle of trying to get armor sets and a poop ton of food? Go even further and waste an hour by switching the clock a day ahead and redo the process over and over? Was it worth it? Hell no, but I wanted to do it anyways. I wanted to validate my amiibo purchases, although they look great on the shelf.

Starting to realize how much of a flying squirrel simulator would do nowadays as I continue to use the paraglider.

Holy crap, that shrine indicator is a teasing compass. Thanks for telling me there’s a shrine somewhere in the three square miles of this place.

#1 cause of death: standing too close to my blue bombs.

Shrine side chests after you complete the area often make you work harder than the main puzzle for something crap. Who puts a wooden spear on a ledge I have to waste 45 seconds for?

The bokoblin camps seem more tempting, more for the challenge than the prizes considering the best I got was five fire arrows.

I feel like I need to decide between getting hearts and braving the harder enemies or slink around like a frightened kitten and get stamina so I can traverse better. I love climbing stuff so I guess I either have to git gud or keep away from enemies that aren’t red for the first twenty hours of the game.

I remember how I wanted to get to each and every possible shrine I see, but now I see one and go “oh, man, I had to do *this* to get that one, it was annoying as hell”.  Haven’t seen any yet that said the opposite, but I know they’re out there. Known quantities in this game can break any enjoyment for a Zelda fan.

Cooked some food, as it was clear I was going to need as much as possible. Good money too, and I need a lot of it if I get half the armor I bought last time. Made the mistake of selling off gems when I first played. So stupid they don’t warn you how useful gems are when all they talk about is “oh man this is worth a lot of rupees!”.

Oh man, forgot about Beedle! I still can’t tell if he’s a money grubber that wants to buy the entire beetle kingdom or really likes to sell me arrows, but he’s a friendly and familiar face. I wish he continued with the flying shop contraption, but I suppose being a walking merchant is more reasonable in an environment where moblins kill anything that doesn’t have messed up teeth.

The struggle is real when you blow an enemy off a cliff and they survive. It’s like playing PLINKO with bombs trying to blow em up down below.

Catching a horse is a fun task. Enemies seem to want to ruin your fun, though.

Water graphics are amazing! I could stare at a river for hours. It also takes just as long if you try to swim across some of them.

Hello, Hestu. I seem to be in the minority in thinking that this whole expansion method is stupid. I like the collectible idea and using the currency for such things, but just… collecting golden turds by seeing what’s out of place in the environment, man… I just wish they were tokens shining on the ground in random areas that you see glint occasionally, almost Uncharted style. I do appreciate dropping the rock Koroks are hiding under on top of them and seeing them OOF at it.

Kakariko Village is a treasure mine of exploration, comfort, and story. Like, there should be at least a dozen of these cities at this size of the game. Yes, I understand they try to play off the “but Ganon’s lazer boys nearly destroyed everything” notion, but it’s clear they didn’t want to put too much effort in more side quests or story. What I would give for some human populations in the mountains. There’s what, six villages total? Six villages to visit and socialize over my 120 hours so far? They went for the silver medal by introducing horse stables which are essentially refuge centers, which, in the end, is all they really need to keep me in touch with survivors.

Hello, fairy fountain! Gosh, I love how there are sexual predator fairy women out there and no one bats an eye. You switch genders and giant hot studs are dragging Linkle into their lair to do their nasty things and it’d be an uproar. Oh well, #doublestandards #notmybattle

Paya is… alright. She feels like a Sheikah ripoff of Hinata from the Naruto manga in that she’s acting all hard crush on you and becomes viciously timid in your presence. Yeah, liking me is great and all that, but I have a Zora princess who gave her life fighting and dying for me, and Zelda is currently undergoing a 100-year sealing ritual while waiting for me. Do you think that your blushing and side glances are going to impress me? Get out of here, you think too highly of yourself if you think that’s how life will work for you. Go out and do something, get some scars or some crap.

I like the cuccos. They’re cute.

The Sheikah armor is so awesome!!! Too bad it’s incredibly expensive to get this early in the game and the effects of it are underwhelming.

I want to know what the formula for everlasting life is if multiple people lived well past a hundred years old in a post-apocalyptic world. I don’t mind they’re alive since they’re essential to the story, but how. Those Hylian shrooms do not lift the shadow off my eyes, let alone immortality.

That’s it for personal thoughts as I tear into Breath of the Wild again, hopefully reading these will jog your own memories and help you appreciate the game more (or less)! Let me know what I missed and tell what you think!