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Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild

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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews the Nintendo Switch and the latest Legend of Zelda.

Transcript Edit

I'm willing to bet it crossed Nintendo's mind more than once to call its new console the "S-Wii-tch", but thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and for once, we have a Nintendo console whose name actually means something! An appropriate meaning, as well, for a switch is another name for a beating stick with which one might conceivably flog a dead horse. Oh, and it also lets you "switch" between living room console and handheld, a service just as unasked for as it was when the Wii U tried it. But while the Wii U could switch from living room to handheld only if the handheld remained inside the living room, you can carry the Switch to the upper slopes of Kilimanjaro and still have a bit of a game, although you'd better hope there's some free power outlets up there.

I guess Nintendo is still employing a fleet of obsolete construction robots as QA testers, because the controls still favor geometric shapes over anything designed with human hands in mind, and using the thing in handheld mode with my massive, masculine mitts was as comfortable as wanking off a VCR. But hey, that's the point of the whole "switch" aspect: you play it the way that's comfortable for you and let all the other ways stick a U-bend on their todgers and piss up their own assholes.

I feel Nintendo are vastly overestimating its average user's tendency to leave the house, but if you are forced to do so because of a family picnic or because most of the couch is on fire, you can snap the controllers off like a big electronic Kit Kat, prop the screen up on a flat surface, and continue gaming as God intended, until the battery runs low, at which point we discover that some world-class intellect put the power input on the underside of the screen, so you can't plug the cable in while it's propped up on a table. You're either going to have to interact with nearby family members or rescue workers to pass the time, or carry around a large cordless drill. You've got two options once you detach the controllers: you can either continue waving the two ends around like a complete pillock with two garage door remotes, or you can give yourself a well-deserved slap, insert them into the special housing that turns them into a standard controller, and come and join us in the fucking real world. I say "standard controller", but only if the definition of "standard" now includes having a wireless connection that's more like a casual pen-friend relationship.

If there was anything between the controller and the console, such as part of my leg or an affectionate dog, then I'd get all kinds of sync issues; the game wouldn't realize I'd stopped pushing forwards and Link would walk straight off a tower to his death, which might as well transition us to the fact that there's a new Zelda game with towers in it, because this one's trying to be more of a sandbox and I guess Ubisoft must have taken Nintendo aside and given some advice. "Trust me, can never have enough towers; my games are full of them. I love towers! My dog is named Tower. I grind up towers and snort them. Sometimes at night, I'd take a little model of a tower and shove it--" Well, anyway! Breath of the Wild is a new Zelda most closely comparable to Zelda: Twilight Princess in that it, too, is being released for both a new and an old console and is most definitely a more advisable purchase for the old because the old has other games, not to mention a degree of backwards compatibility and isn't going to charge you a subscription to play the same old Nintendo tat you've been repeatedly buying and re-buying for the last forty fucking years. But I digress!

Link shows up in Hyrule and finds himself tasked to rescue the usual princess by getting the usual sword and slitting up the usual bastard; and in other news, the sky continues to be blue and the Trump administration fucked something up. What is interesting is that Breath of the Wild takes a decisively hands-off approach to structure; the traditional Zelda linear acquisition of useful stocking-fillers that gradually open up the map is nowhere to be seen. In fact, if you want, you can jog straight from the tutorial area to the final boss fight and take him on; you'll get fucking mulched, and you'll need to be conveyed back to the save point between two slices of bread, but it's nice to see Nintendo finally acknowledge the many obsessive psychopaths in their core fanbase. "Hey, bet you can't speedrun this game, you insane, beautiful bastards," says Nintendo with a sly wink, knowing full well the speedrun will be online inside a day, and by week two, they'll be posting blindfolded speedruns on Guitar Hero controllers using only their knobs. Everything else in the game is there to make the final fight easier: building up hearts and stamina, assembling weapons that don't break if you stare at them for too long, and the main point of doing the four dungeons is to enlist someone from each of the four major races of Hyrule to come and hold Ganon down while you give him a few free kicks to the goolies before the fight starts proper.

I like it 'cause it's organic game design; I like that you spot landmarks from towers by looking at them with your magic smartphone-telescope and marking them off manually, 'cause you know at that point in a Ubisoft game, the map would just spooge a bunch of icons like a highly aroused clown with confetti up his dick. I like how the only proviso for getting the Master Sword is having enough hearts to tank the massive, life-threatening hernia Link gets from trying to pull it out, 'cause it's as good a measure of worth as any, and you know another Zelda game would make us solve puzzles stolen from the back of a cereal box for thirty minutes. Which is not to say Breath of the Wild isn't above making us prove our worth every alternate fucking step. The main source of hearts and stamina upgrades are the 500 quintillion micro-dungeons that all have the exact same decor. Endless glowing cyan! It's like being stuck in Isaac Clarke's wardrobe during a rave.

Making the final boss easier isn't really your only motive; we also explore for exploration's sake, and the game world's size and repetitive scenery makes it a bit dull to get around. Then again, I'm always talking up Wind Waker, Wind "70% featureless ocean and 30% conversations with fish" Waker. Then again again, Wind Waker had character. In Breath of the Wild, Ganon - or rather, Calamity Ganon, which is his new title and not the name of a Nintendo-themed musical Western - isn't a character at all; he's a generic evil force whose job is to sit around inside a giant, pulsating bollock and wait to be killed.

Character may be what we sacrifice with the hands-off approach, although the exception is Princess Zelda; I liked what they did with her: an insecure nerd in so far over her head that she's giving the blue balls to deep sea angler fish. I've got some control problems, even beyond the controllers having more syncing issues than the fucking Titanic. The stealth element is a complete waste of space, and since weapons degrade like the atmosphere at a party after the cops show up, it'd be nice if the weapon selector didn't suck on old tea towels. But on the whole, Legend of Zelda: Death of a Salesman is, while a bit emotionally cold, a broadly absorbing open world that offers something for every flavor of lunatic Nintendo fanboy: old-school nutters will like the traditionalist feel, 100% nutters will like taking photos of every monster, animal, and air molecule, and as I said, the speedrun nutters will love it as soon as they figure out how to control it with a Fisher-Price piano and an egg whisk.

Addenda Edit

  • Breath of the dog: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Actually the syncing got better after the launch update but you might still have trouble if, unlike me, you have a living room larger than a sultana
  • And it didn't speed up the fucking climbing animation

Extra: Will Save the Galaxy for Food Edit

My new book, Will Save the Galaxy for Food, is out now! It's a sci-fi comedy with all the usual sci-fi comedy themes: redundancy, hopelessness, and existential dread. Available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook from all good retailers and some dodgy ones.

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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