Just thought I’d write a quick post about one of my favourite game series, which seems to be lesser known by non-gamers – The Legend of Zelda!
There is a new Zelda game coming out tomorrow, for the new Nintendo Switch console (also out tomorrow), but the game is also out for the Wii U. More on those consoles here! it is called Breath of the Wild, and reviews so far are already calling it probably the best game ever made. This is not a light statement to make, especially for gamers, who prize their own personal top ten games over anyone else’s, but among gamers the Zelda series is one which is much more than others on or near the top of most of their best games ever lists.
The Zelda games are kind of their own genre. They are mostly role playing, more or less open world, action adventure games, starring the hero Link (Zelda is the princess that Link has to rescue). They have been around for as long as Nintendo have been making consoles, with the first one being released on the NES. Although they are not quite as well known as Mario, they are one of Nintendo’s biggest game series, with at least one Zelda game released on each hand-held or home console (more or less..).
The first Zelda game I played was Link’s Awakening on the Gameboy. Even with its basic black and green graphics, the game still had the ability to immerse me in the fantasy world that it created and got me hooked for the series. Since then I have played several other Zelda games and loved each and every one of them.
As for playing together, even though the games are single player, in the same way as watching a movie together, the Zelda games can absolutely be enjoyed with others. I have played through at least half of the games with my wife, and that has only increased my enjoyment and given us an amazing shared experience. With this new game I am extremely tempted to coordinate time off work with her so that we can spend a whole day immersed in the land of Hyrule together with no other distractions.
Now I have kids, I have, of course introduced them to the series. We are currently playing through the widely regarded best of all, the Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. We are currently on the water temple, and fans of the game will know that we may be there some time.. it is great to see them as excited as I was for this game when playing it for the first time. Just about as excited as I am for this new game – The Breath of the Wild!
So, I wrote about the early days of Nintendo consoles in a previous blog post (check it out if you haven’t already), and here is the second part, looking at the most recent consoles and their very newest one, soon to be released – the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo is really the best console maker if you are looking for something to be able to play with others in the same living room. One console that absolutely mastered that aspect, so much that it ended up in almost every living room in the late noughties, was the Wii.
When this console released back in 2006, it caused a bit of a gaming revolution (coincidentally, this was the console’s codename before release..). It wasn’t the most powerful console graphics-wise, but it had a completely new way of playing: motion controls. Rather than trying to compete with the other main consoles of the time, PS3 and Xbox 360, Nintendo deliberately tried to market the game to absolutely everyone, in an attempt to increase the number of people playing games in the world rather than pleasing existing gamers – kind of what I’m trying to do with this blog! This approach, coupled with the super casual-friendly game Wii Sports coming free with the console was extremely successful, and the console has sold over 100 million in its lifetime.
For me, the Wii was the first console I owned as a married man (so, co-owned with the wife..). It was great to play with friends and portable enough to bring to family gatherings for Christmas Wii bowling tournaments. It continued the multiplayer racing excellence with the best Mario Kart ever (at the time), and it did have several other excellent games.
One of the best games on the console, and my personal favourite game of all time, was Mario Galaxy, and its sequel. This used the Wii remote controllers in an ingenious way and introduced asynchronous co-op multiplayer, definitely a mouthful, but a great way to play together! In this case one player controlled Mario, while the other used the Wii remote pointer to help by collecting power-ups, stopping baddies, etc. This was a great way to play for my wife and I, she was generally the helper as she wasn’t so good at the platforming, while I would never have 100% completed the games without playing together with her. I would say that this kind of gaming style is ideal for the type of couples I see where one is really into gaming and the other not (this does not apply to my wife, she loves games too!).
Then we come to Nintendo’s current console, well, for the next week anyway, the Wii U. Unfortunately, due to poor marketing (and naming) from Nintendo, people still believe that this is just a Wii with a new controller. It isn’t! It’s a new generation, the first HD console from Ninty. It came out in 2012 and unfortunately due to the above poor marketing it did not sell nearly as well as its predecessor. It is a really good console though, almost on par with the Wii, and now would be a great time to buy it, since it will probably be going cheap when the next generation comes out, and there is a good selection of games (also cheap now).
The games in the main image are some of the best the Wii U has to offer, and they are all up to Nintendo’s usual very high multiplayer standard. Again, Mario Kart 8 is the best Mario Kart, Super Mario 3D World, while not quite up to Mario Galaxy’s standard, is probably the best multiplayer Mario game. Splatoon is Nintendo’s take on an online shooter, and is fantastic paint splatting fun, and finally in that picture there is Rayman, not made by Nintendo but a superbly designed same-room multiplayer platform game nonetheless.
For me, this console generation followed the creation of my own generation, and was the first console we got after having kids. This is a great console to play with kids, as its any Nintendo console. We have had a lot of fun with our children playing Mario, Pikmin, Toad, Donkey Kong, Rayman etc. together, and I can see us still using this console all through this year.
So, what about Nintendo’s future? Well, on the 3rd of March 2017 they’ll release their next console, the Switch. As you can see from the image, they still don’t care about looking like the others and have gone for another strange design. The main feature of this console is that it works on the TV and as a handheld. You can switch between the two modes as easily as removing the tablet-like console from the main unit (hence the name).
Ninty have again prioritised playing together with this offering, as the included ‘joy-con’ controllers (red and blue above) can be separated and used as two controllers out of the box. Also, if you are lucky enough to have 7 other friends who also have the console (unlikely..) they can be connected in a local network for up to 8 player multiplayer!
Games-wise, this is looking good, but not from launch. I would recommend waiting until later in the year, maybe Christmas for this one, by which time there will be a very decent selection. At launch they will have the Wii sports equivalent minigame packed 1-2-Switch, the latest Just Dance and the amazing looking Zelda game, Breath of the Wild though, so it is quite tempting..
I can’t predict the future, but I really hope that this is a success for Nintendo. The reason I like them so much is that their attitude to gaming seems to be the same as mine – it’s better to play together – and I would live to see this kind of gameplay increasing in the world.