TSM Episode 419: The Excellence of Zelda

The most competent 3D Zelda since 'Wind Waker'--and maybe even better.
Far more than just a pretty place.

Download: Released 2017.03.06

When The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild finally launches on Nintendo’s Wii U and Switch systems, Lusipurr and SiliconNooB examine it and discover to their (continuing) surprise that the game defies series expectations by delivering excellence.


  1. It’s a pity there’s no strong theme music like Ballad of the Godess- but that said, I have been enjoying the game’s soundtrack. It’s really subtle, which kind of fits here.

    I think this might turn out to be my favourite Zelda.

  2. One thing I neglected to mention on the podcast is how HUGE this game feels. And it is not huge in some contrived or empty way. FFXV somehow doesn’t feel huge–it feels like a few points of interest separated by vast expanses of absolutely meaningless road. In FFXV the distance is just a hurdle you have to leap in order to get to where you actually want to be.

    But in this game, the distances are filled with objects of interest, hidden items, camps of monsters guarding treasure, secrets, vantage points, shrines, statues, animals for hunting, rare ores, and dangerous guardians waiting to awaken from a century-long slumber. It is absolutely jam-packed with interesting material. And, as you are traversing it yourself on a horse rather than being driven from point to point in your car with your MP3 player blaring into your headphones and your annoying black-clad friends taking stupid selfies from the back seat, you don’t look like a wincing ponce whilst you do it.

    I was thinking last night as I was playing Zelda that we have finally found the game that could have ‘saved’ the Wii U. “Breath of Wild will save the Wii U!” and it would have been true, I think. This is a system-seller, and along with the rest of the Wii U library it would have put Wii Us into the homes of consumers. Unfortunately, perhaps perversely, it is the game meant as a send-off to the Wii U. So, it is too late to save the Wii U with this title. Yet, Zelda alone is not enough to ‘save’ the Switch either, because it is all there is going to be for a long time, and because it is available–of course–on the Wii U itself!

    That said, I’m glad that it was not made a Switch exclusive. I would have been annoyed to have had to buy a Switch for this one title. Although my wife wanting to play this game (in the living room–the Wii U is in the library) may mean that I end up with a Switch sooner rather than later.

  3. I am absolutely in love with Breath of the Wild. It might be the closest to a perfect open-world game I’ve ever experienced. My favorite video game used to be Wind Waker but I think Wild has replaced it. As to the soundtrack, it was jarring at first, but the familiar tunes are there, hidden away. The classic Zelda theme actually plays in a very subtle piece while riding horseback, and there is a remix of Dragon Roost Island that is my favorite track.

    If only hardware Nintendo were as innovative and great as software Nintendo. I won’t be getting a Switch until Mario Odyssey launches, so I hope all their issues are ironed out by then.

  4. @Lusi: The irony wasn’t lost on me. This is the first piece of Wii U software that doesn’t feel like a rehash of something else. There is literally a new discovery to be made around every corner, which makes gameplay addictive. If more open world games were like this then I’d have more appreciation for the genre, because on Nintendo’s first attempt they’ve made a masterclass in open world game design.

  5. With the Switch and the Wii U console being the same price, is there any benefit to one over the other?

    I don’t intend to buy a single console for a single game, mind everyone, because I think BOTW will be emulatable within the year. But for other readers who might not have bought into Nintendo’s ecosystem, what’s the smart money play?

  6. 1) The Wii U game library is now complete, so the games available (and VC) are a known quantity, and everything is available for purchase right now. It’s not an amazing library, but there are some fun titles available. Hopefully the Wii U and its games start getting discounted.

    2) The Switch has no games coming out for the first year, and the library it will eventually have is an unknown quantity. At the moment one is pretty much paying for unrealised potential. There are a couple of very interesting looking games in development. The Switch may be the same price as the Wii U (in the US alone), but the peripherals are much more expensive, and a Pro controller is an absolute must. Outside of the US the console is even poorer value. I got my launch 8gb Wii U for $300, whereas the Switch is launching here for $470. It’s like Nintendo are charging Australians the combined price of a home console and a handheld.

    Oh, and the Switch has crippling connectivity problems with the left Joy-con, so it is best to wait for a hardware revision if at all possible.

  7. I don’t think I’ve played an open-world game other than Skyrim, so that aspect of Breath Of The Wild feels very fresh to me. The art style reminds me of Studio Ghibli, I like the more ambient-minimalist music (which is so good and fitting when there, I wish there was more), the combat (and approach to or avoidance of it) feels natural… everything about this game feels so good. I’ve played for hours, searching and trying everything I can, haven’t even gotyen off the Great Plateau yet, but not once felt bored. Something about the Sheikah Slate and the Shrines reminds me of Metroid Prime, and I can just imagine what the team behind this might do with a Metroid game. For as much shit Nintendo puts out with their consoles, they are still able to make really wonderful games.

    @Lane: What SN said about WiiU vs Switch is very correct, and while I love all the games I have on WiiU, you have to look at what it offers and if you care. So you’ve never played Smash Bros 4, Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario Maker, or Splatoon? These are all wonderful experiences, but also past their prime and new versions (or new games in the series) will be released on Switch. All of the really good indie games on WiiU are also available on PS4 or PC. Maybe you don’t give a shit about any of these, or Nintendo games in general, except for Zelda, in which case you could probably find a cheap WiiU soon (although you should get a Pro Controller for it too).

    I’ve bought into Nintendo’s ecosystem every time, but only a couple years after a system releases. This game feels to me like a fitting send-off for the end of the WiiU for those who stuck it out. But for other people who sat out the WiiU, it might feel like a reason to get into Nintendo again and buy the Switch. And if that becomes the only Nintendo console/handheld going forward, then there will be plenty of good games for it eventually.

  8. @Lane: They aren’t really the same price. A ‘refurbished’ Wii U can be had officially from Nintendo, and ordered directly from them, for just under $200. These are, in fact, new systems. They are not refurbished. And given the large library of Wii U titles already out there (I love my Wii U, as I’ve said before), my advice is to get a Wii U and wait for the eventual software refresh as SN suggests.

    That said, I will have a Switch this week, because having HAD a pre-order, I cancelled it when my wife said she didn’t want it either. Then she saw me playing Zelda and now she wants to play Zelda too, which means either buying another Wii U, or getting a Switch. And since I will need to buy a Switch eventually, and the price cut is not likely to be $200 off, it makes more sense for me to :sigh: buy a Switch.

    I did ask her, repeatedly, if she was going to want to play Zelda on it and she was entirely uninterested. And then she saw Breath of the Wild, so I suppose that tells you something right there.

  9. I maintain that there is not enough music in this game. The plucking, note-at-a-time stuff, very occasionally, when riding around on one’s horse, is insufficient for ‘overworld’ music. I do like the tension music for combat (OoT having begun that tradition and WW having perfected it, it is expertly deployed here).

    There are some nice touches that have been done with boarding a horse (you can board a horse even if the horse is far away, you can retrieve it even if you boarded it elsewhere) that are very anti-realism but massively improve the playability of the game. Well done to Nintendo for knowing when to jack-in realism when it would have been an impediment to enjoying the world.

    I still hate weapon durability. The barely-there music is not a disappointment so much as a missed opportunity: a place where the game could have been *even* better, but which doesn’t *hurt* the game as such. But the weapon durability is annoying as fuck.

  10. The weapon durability does suck. It makes me wish that Action Replay devices were still feasible for modern consoles, since I’d love to be able to play with infinite durability.

  11. I am fortunate enough that I could afford to make a costly mistake with the Switch, but I know while I would doubtless enjoy BOTW, my slate is currently full of work, work, and more work, topped off with my other hobbies and with a slight sliver of an opening for playing video games, and I’ve chosen that particular horse to ride in on for the nonce. There being no pressing need for a new system around the Laneschloss, the Switch shall remain un-purchased.

    Although I do feel keenly the matrimonial desire to purchase baubles and gewgaws for the fairer, fickle sex. It’s why there is an HDR-capable TV in the workshop in addition to the living room.

  12. @Lane: I predominantly do my gaming in the library, where there is a launch PS3, a PS4, a Wii, and a Wii U. My wife does her gaming in the living room where there is a PS2, a PS3, a PS4 Pro (and now a Switch).

    Then there’s the bedroom, where we have a PS2 and a PS3. We play a lot of video games. Also, PS3s make excellent and inexpensive blu-ray players.

  13. The PS4 in our master bedroom functions as the Blu-Ray player and occasional use for me for gaming in the bedroom, for those lazy days I cannot be bothered to roll out of bed.

    I do most of my gaming in the home office on my PC. I have an Xboner “S” in the living room which functions as my (slightly cheaper) 4K Blu-Ray player device and occasional Lost Odyssey/FFXV player. My wife’s gaming is restricted to a “RetroPie” station plugged into the TV in her workshop, but she’s more a “movies and TV” type than a gamer.

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