Traveling Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Goron City)

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A few disclaimers before we move forward:

  • Traveling Thoughts is a means of putting down my thoughts in a bit-by-bit process that will eventually lead up to a formal review of the overall subject. These posts will be more personal than objective, though one should expect a good amount of both as is my personality of habit.
  • These posts will absolutely contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I would also like to state before continuing that this post will not cover the Divine Beast or the things pertaining to its conditions for entrance. I will dedicate an article to the Divine Beasts in general at some point in the future.

At this point, I had enough experience with the game to have some confidence in my ability to overcome any challenge. I knew how to cook stuff, effectively decimate any enemy, had full control of Link’s mannerisms and weapon abilities, and while it’s hard to explain to non-gamers, I just had that feeling of “This is my domain” while playing it. That sort of unsaid and often times unnoticed quality when a game simply becomes second nature, where one doesn’t have to remember how to do something or what that something does. After Zora’s Domain, I was deep enough in the adventure to have myself be comfortable with the road ahead, with little hesitance lurking within me.

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Funny that I happen to pick the volcano right after the luminous lake. Almost like going from Kyogre to Groudon. Yin and Yang. Of course, I knew that was where the Goron lied, and the Goron have always been one of my favorite LoZ species. The path to Goron City, or Death Mountain, was one I found to be even more perilous than the path to Zora’s Domain. Two major reasons for this: one being the heat, which requires a few bottles of heat-resistant potion to travel across safely (Pro tip: speaking to an inhabitant of a stable before the path’s start will net you three of these potions for a low cost). The other being that there is a Guardian walking around the path. Not the ones planted to the ground, but a fully functional, spider-like Guardian that will wreck your shit if you’re unprepared. I, like the unprepared player I was, avoided it at all costs, which I managed to do by exploiting the fact that Link can damn-near climb anything.

Otherwise, the road to Goron City is laced with lava pits, red Lizalfos, fire Keese bats, fire Chuchus, and fireballs that rain from the sky (easily avoidable and incredibly situational). Basically, fire, fire, and more fire. Wooden weapons are going to be one’s downfall and ice arrows will be your safe bet. Unlike with Zora’s Domain, one doesn’t even see a Goron (aside from a traveling merchant) until one is about a five-minute jog from their major capitol. It creates a sort of isolated distinction among the species that, while I found curious at the time, realized it’s kind of the same for every major species aside from Zora, so it’s not that interesting anymore. Speaking of not very interesting, here is where the bad starts to flow.

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The “Sidon” of Goron City is a weak, sniveling coward who is a direct descendant of Darunia (Remember him, Zelda fans???). His character is a by-the-numbers caricature of the “Weak coward eventually becomes stronger by overcoming adversity and showing courage in the appropriate manner” trope that has become so overdone by this point that I couldn’t help but despise him. It doesn’t help that his voice is horrendously annoying. It also doesn’t help that on top of the trope of “Weak coward becomes hero,” he also has the trope of “Weak coward is the direct descendant of a natural leader and species icon—ISN’T IT IRONIC???” At the very least, the conversations with Goron around the city don’t kick him while he’s down with gratuitous lines of “He should be more like his great grandpappy and stop bein’ such a puss!” That would’ve completed the cliché cannoli and ruined the experience almost altogether for me. Needless to say at this point, the narrative surrounding this particular area did not excite me all that much.

Here’s an embarrassing fun fact: this was the only part of the game (aside from near-end Shrine hunting) where I looked up a guide on how to progress through the game. It involves the process of boarding the Divine Beast, so I won’t go into much detail, but we’ll just say that my perception can be hilariously lacking in various moments. I’ve found in my lifetime that I can become so taken by the objective at hand that my peripheral vision becomes essentially moot, never piecing together the importance of various circumstances surrounding the objective unless I actively think about it from that perspective. I’ve found myself trying to think more outside the box from this instance alone, but it can still hamper me in puzzle games. But this has little to do with the topic at hand. The point was to show that this part of the game may be hard for those who can’t figure out context.

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Aesthetically, there’s a little less variety here than with Zora’s Domain. There’s Death Mountain—an active(-ish) volcano—and mountains that accompany it, lava streams, rocks… mines… Yeah. It’s just a big mountainous region with the glow of lava and a heated, semi-dusty atmosphere. I think it more than justified the feeling of heat, but didn’t do much for the immersiveness of the Goron like in prior games. The Goron themselves are definitely varied in appearance and personality, more so than the Zora, but the world around them becomes all the more dull. Aside from the mining area, there wasn’t much of a sense of the Goron interacting with their environment, with all of them being placed there for convenience. The world didn’t come alive, and became one of the least enjoyable places to revisit for me (until a certain other area I’ll get into later on).

I ended up a little disappointed after leaving the Goron zone. There wasn’t as much personality present as I would’ve expected from a fun-loving species. That, and the overabundance of clichés made me groan every time they attempted humor in conversations (Ha ha, the old guy’s back always hurts!). I wouldn’t say the majority was an overall negative experience, but being so ravished by Zora’s Domain, Goron City paled in comparison on almost every front. And with this environment conquered, I hoped I would be able to rekindle some of that potential for immersiveness as I felt with both Zora’s Domain and Kakariko Village. I also hoped I would escape the heat. That didn’t happen.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of, once again, MKIceAndFire.)

Traveling Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Zora’s Domain)

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A few disclaimers before we move forward:

  • Traveling Thoughts is a means of putting down my thoughts in a bit-by-bit process that will eventually lead up to a formal review of the overall subject. These posts will be more personal than objective, though one should expect a good amount of both as is my personality of habit.
  • These posts will absolutely contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I would also like to state before continuing that this post will not cover the Divine Beast or the things pertaining to its conditions for entrance. I will dedicate an article to the Divine Beasts in general at some point in the future.

My first time playing Breath of the Wild, I stumbled upon the trigger to Zora’s Domain by accident. Playing around in the wilderness, killing Bokoblins and hunting for goodies, I saw a shrine in the distance. Naturally, I darted for it, and after completing it, I wandered the area when I came across a bridge, glowing with a pristine silver blue. Stepping on a certain spot, a cutscene occurred, introducing me to the first of four major characters that act as the catalyst to Link appearing before the Divine Beasts. Sidon, prince of the Zoras, flashed that overconfident grin and I immediately became hesitant of his character. As it continued, though, I became smitten with the prince, slowly melting the assumptions made about up-and-coming royalty with his sense of bravado and cheesy sense of justice.

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The path traveled just getting to Zora’s Domain was a journey in and of itself, as I had little experience with what was to come; most notably, the future was to become shocking. A pleasure it was to cruise through a winding path that gave a variety of different platforms. Rivers, Lizalfos camps, bridges, mountains, and ruins. Every five minutes, the layout seems to change just enough to provide a sense of variety for the player to acclimate themselves to. Not to mention, aside from Lizalfos, the enemy variety is also fairly astute. Basically everything is present at some point or another, including a lone Wizzrobe. This sense of building was, once again, a nice transition from simply playing the game to being immersed in its environment. Like being in the tranquility of Kakariko Village, the path leading to Zora’s Domain gave a world-building experience worthy of its challenge.

Being perfectly biased, Zora’s Domain is essentially my dream world’s perfect aesthetic. Glamorously shiny, structures adorned with the same glowing silver blue that various parts of the preceding path had, and almost Atlantic-like in appearance. Water seeps in from all directions from rivers, streams, and large waterfalls. And, flashing some light on my preferences, the sky is fairly dark and gloomy, allowing the ebbing translucence of the domain to stand out even further. Sweeping corridors without roofs meet in the middle to a main living space which houses the King of the Zora. When first arriving, I was bewitched by the visual spectacle. Even coming back to it, after seeing everything else the game has to offer, I still feel a little in awe.

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What’s interesting about the Zora is that they have incredibly long life spans. So long, in fact, that despite the fact that Link has been asleep for over a hundred years, many of the Zora present upon his arrival recognize him almost immediately. Whether old or semi-old, many will greet Link with statements such as “Link! It’s been so long! Do you remember me?!” This allows the player, despite not knowing any of these characters, to see Link as a different entity, as a character of his own with his own perspective. These Zora have a history with him, and the familiarity immediately makes the place inviting to explore, if only to see who else recognizes him and how they’d react. Even without calming the Divine Beast, there is a reason to be invested with the world present in front of the player. Creating a legacy from scratch is fine and dandy, but interacting with those who knew the character from before the amnesia provides a lot of intriguing possibilities to the character’s growth and behavior. If only Link actually had a personality…

Even the King of the Zora recognizes Link, who laments that he does not recall anything of his past, including his late daughter, Mipha. Mipha, in all respect to her character, is one of four token “spiritual guides” that appear once Link has ventured inside a Divine Beast, but more on that later. It is revealed that the Divine Beast’s wrath has caused an overflow of rain to plague Zora’s Domain, causing massive bouts of floods that, in all honesty, don’t look too alarming. It is up to Link to appease the Beast and stop the rainfall that it seems to be causing. But first, he needs to talk some sense into some old asshole who holds a grudge against him because he believes Link let Mipha die. Mipha, you see, was apparently the belle of the ball in the Zora’s land, and every boy had the hots for her. Seeing as she was one of defenders of Hyrule against Ganon, she went off to try and fight him alongside the other defenders, Link, and Zelda, only to fail, and die. Clearly, it’s Link’s fault.

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On the very edge of breaking my own word, to appease the Divine Beast in this region, it is recommended that the player collects a load of shock arrows, most prevalently found at the top of one of the mountains surrounding Zora’s Domain. It is here where the player, assuming they haven’t explored much of the world, faces off against their first Lynel. And boy, was it a huge bitch for me the first time around. Their behavior patterns are a little tricky to pinpoint, and they have a massive amount of HP. You can’t even cheese it and shoot them from a distance, as they’ll pull out a bow and arrows and shoot you right back! It ended up becoming one of the more memorable situations while within Zora’s Domain, with the promise of fighting more had me uttering grievances under my breath.

Without going any further, Zora’s Domain ended up becoming the first of four areas where Divine Beasts raged wild that I inadvertently chose to pacify, and during my second playthrough, ended up being the last. Fun fact: if you arrive at Zora’s Domain without triggering the cutscene where one meets Sidon at the bridge, the cutscene won’t ever play, and the game will carry on with Sidon having no idea who you are. Which, in hindsight, is kind of a letdown, as Sidon’s charm is a better improvement of the experience of Zora’s Domain. With aesthetic details to die for, a reason for Link to care about those present (if not for his current mindset), and a likable cast of characters, Zora’s Domain is a high point in the game in both gameplay and narrative gusto. I really do think it would be a great starting point for any beginning player.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of, once again, MKIceAndFire.)

Traveling Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Hateno Village)

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A few disclaimers before we move forward:

  • Traveling Thoughts is a means of putting down my thoughts in a bit-by-bit process that will eventually lead up to a formal review of the overall subject. These posts will be more personal than objective, though one should expect a good amount of both as is my personality of habit.
  • These posts will absolutely contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I could have added this bit to the disclaimer, but I felt it too much for one bullet point. Since my last post on this subject, I have switched to the Switch version of this game and have gotten farther in the game than with the Wii U version. Needless to say, that means I have played over these oncoming events twice over, so the stories and situations I share will become muddled with oversaturation. While there’s no real need to distinguish the two playthroughs, know that I’m a lot more experienced with the game than I was since starting this collection of Traveling Thoughts.

Though I still haven’t beaten the game. Trying to find all those shrines. I’ll likely have them all by the time I write the next entry.

Now then, on the journey from Kakariko to Hateno, the range of area to explore rivals that of when one leaves the Isolated Plateau. Link is tasked with finding a Sheikah researcher named Purah, who is capable of repairing the Sheikah Slate to its full potential. (A device I never mentioned once until now, despite it being the first item the player receives in the game. Oops.) Essentially, the Sheikah Slate is the tool to end all tools, capable of allowing Link to use runes (another thing I neglected to mention once; supernatural abilities spanning from bombs to a time-freezer), look at a map of Hyrule, collect info from shrines and towers, take pictures (no selfies included), warp to established shrines and towers, and pinpoint specific locations for future perusing. Really, the more area that’s explored, the more of a Godsend the Slate becomes. At its state upon leaving Kakariko, however, there are still functions missing (such as the camera). Purah is the only person for the job.

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One little note to make is that while this becomes the main objective, it doesn’t technically have to be. After visiting Impa, Link is told of the Divine Beasts originally created to combat Ganon—and their current rampage upon Hyrule—whom then become objects targeted for the main quest. If the player chooses to go calm them, they’re free to do so without going to Hateno. In hindsight, going to Hateno isn’t drastically important, as the upgrades provided are more for extra security than anything else. For the purpose of consistency, as both times I went (relatively) straight there, I’ll continue the path that way.

Along the way, I recall in my first playthrough finding the first of many Stable areas placed throughout Hyrule. One can register their horse there (if they choose to tame one), collect side quests and info on the land, and collect essential goodies from the area. As stated previously, I felt a certain sense of joy discovering even more humanity present within the land, though this was far less impactful. A few quips here and there, and characters that will eventually become standard when visiting more stables, it was a cozy, albeit short break from the wild. I also discovered that every Stable has a shrine next to it, presumably to ease players into having a horse at all times.

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Contrasting from Kakariko Village’s serene and traditional atmosphere, Hateno Village is more cozy and homeland-feeling. Kids run around, people work on their farms, architecture looks more Western, and the musical score is cheery and almost child-like. The people are more outspoken and varied, almost as though they come from a number of different places. Some of them are even mean. And socially awkward. And fedora-tippers. I-Is this a statement of some sort? Certainly more pleasant in tone, but something was missing. Perhaps the emotions felt by Kakariko made my expectations too high for other places, as Hateno felt a little more “sideshow” than “main event.” Despite this, Hateno Village ends up becoming one of the more frequented areas in the game, even now. Whether it be praying to the Goddess Statue for extra hearts or stamina, dyeing my attire different colors, or showing a kid weapons I spend hours trying to find so he can give me the American equivalent of ten bucks, it’s a nice home base.

To make up for the lack of personality with Impa, Purah is a delightful little ball of energy that I can’t help but wonder was affected by her latest experiment. The situation goes that Purah is over a hundred years old, yet looks like a big-headed child. Some nasty side effects from an experiment caused her to reverse her aging to the point where she looks (and acts?) like a kid. Better than nothing, I suppose, as her voice (no talking, just grunts) is cute and her dialogue is all the more. While getting somewhat tedious after a bit, her background information is present in a diary at the top level of her research laboratory, which highlights a lot of the details left out by conversation, something I’d recommend reading.

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What’s a little disappointing is that, adding to the “sideshow” feel of the whole village, Purah is only important for this one time, as all future visits are the same old dialogue with nothing new. Link can ask her assistant for an optional side quest, but that’s the bulk of the priority for them. Once the Sheikah Slate is repaired, she has no use. Not as a person or a partner. She’s just there. I suppose with Impa, there’s a little more to her place in the game thanks to the multiple amounts of times Link can speak with her that provides new dialogue. Purah, in compensation for her enthusiasm, is almost like a one-track record. I really wish she were implemented more into the story.

As a little cubbyhole in the gargantuan mass of Breath of the Wild’s scope, Hateno Village is little more than an escape from nature. Its usefulness and simplicity provides a place to come back to when all’s said and done—the player can even buy a house there! There’s just not much more to it than that. Lots of side quests, along with shrine quests for areas yonder, but nothing that really makes it feel as though it’s a people-driven environment. Most won’t have a problem with this, but after experiencing the loveliness of Kakariko Village, I’m left emotionally unperturbed. I can be glad the town isn’t full of annoying main quest dribble, thankfully.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of, once again, MKIceAndFire.)

Traveling Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Kakariko Village)

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A few disclaimers before we move forward:

  • Traveling Thoughts is a means of putting down my thoughts in a bit-by-bit process that will eventually lead up to a formal review of the overall subject. These posts will be more personal than objective, though one should expect a good amount of both as is my personality of habit.
  • These posts will absolutely contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

It’s been some time since my last post on this subject, but don’t let that imply that I’ve run out of motivation to write about it. I just forget it even exists! …Is that worse?

After acquiring the paraglider, the player is allowed to explore wherever they want. This is where the game finally becomes so engrossing to play, as the feeling of exploration finally kicks in. As stated in the last post, the Isolated Plateau didn’t really feel all that adventurous because it was so limited and restrictive, coming off as an obligatory “Trial Sequence.” I didn’t have a lot of fun with it and began to wonder if the game would even be worth it. After some poor voice acting from the Old Man-turned-King of Hyrule, I was given instructions to find Impa, who conveniently rests within a small, mountainous region called Kakariko Village. My map popped up and showed a shiny yellow dot about 100,000 miles away from me (which made me udder a “Ho-ly…”) as to where I was supposed to go. Naturally, I ignored this for a good while and explored the now completely open world.

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I remember quite vividly exploring a body of water with some small islands scattered within right next to a giant bridge. It was here I found myself face-to-face with Lizalfos for the first time, and to my horror, they were capable of one-shotting me. Now being careful, and exploiting the use of BOMB SPAMMING, I killed all of the Lizalfos around the island, collected their loot, and found a hidden Shrine within the biggest island. I even discovered a wandering Zora as I found myself examining the look of the species in this game. Nothing really came of this, but I remember it for being the first thing I really did outside the main objective.

After some more meaningless exploration, I set out for Kakariko, hitting all the open Shrines and Towers along the way. Something humorous to look back on, I didn’t approach the village by conventional means. I’d assume most would take the straight path that curves around and leads upward, meeting the Korok that expands your inventory along the way. For me, I took a back route and CLIMBED A TON OF MOUNTAINS to get there. Essentially, I arrived backwards, taking the most difficult path possible for absolutely no reason at all, completely out of ignorance. I wasted a lot of time fighting off hordes of Bokoblins, exploring forests, and cooking foodstuff to even notice that there should’ve been a much easier way to reach the village. By the time I got there, I left the village the way I probably should’ve arrived there.

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As for the village itself, Kakariko is something of a special segment for me per my enjoyment of the game. It was the first time I was surrounded by a stable amount of civilization. There were people to talk to, buy from, and do sidequests for. It was also the first time I really paid attention to the soundtrack of the game, as for the most part, it was just calm and atmospheric. Kakariko Village’s themes, both day and night, bring me to a distinctively different place, something that really rubbed off on me and gave me an impression of the culture of the village. One could see it from the villagers and their actions throughout the day, but the music drives it home. It’s nothing short of beautiful, really. This was the place in Breath of the Wild where I felt that sense of wonder others likely felt upon coming out of the Chamber in the beginning. Kakariko Village was where I realized that this game was really something else.

This placement of priority says a lot about what I find important in games and the like. Seeing the vast landscape and scope of what’s to be uncovered? Meh. Battling against a number of different dangers with sticks and rocks and clubs? Meh. Being a part of a small society where characters can express themselves and shape the culture they’re a part of with perfect accompanying music and imagery? I’m oozing. I enjoy characters, character interaction, character quirkiness (to an extent), and the impact they can have on an otherwise bland and typical story and premise (see: Undertale, Custom Robo, Katawa Shoujo). Breath of the Wild, in my mind, is at its best when I can interact with the people within those small pockets of civilization. Exploring and discovering secrets and various environments is nice, but it’s nicer when I have a reason to care about any of it.

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Still, Kakariko Village is somewhat hampered by its commitment to the major plot, which comes off as boring and overexplanatory. Impa herself is rather chatty, though integral within the world as one of few people to live through the calamity that occurred 100 years prior. Her connection to Link is a figment of his uncalled past, causing a disconnect for her character as nothing but… just somebody that you used to know. Aside from that, she has no personality. Her role is to provide information and give Link stuff, and point him in the direction of other people. Her granddaughter is a lot more charming than she is (I may have become infatuated with her). This is more noticeable when I began to fall in love with most of all of the other characters within the village, including her granddaughter, a little girl named Koko, and a recently divorced male villager who is obsessed with his cuckoos. For a long while, I never left the village because I wanted to find out more and more about these characters’ lives and behavior.

The first village is noteworthy for being the first in a long line of places Link must explore throughout his journey. It was also the first time playing the game where I had three hours pass and thought to myself, “I can’t wait to play this again!” I was excited to see what other places had in store for me, and if they would all feel as open and alive as Kakariko did. Spoilers: They don’t. I was more determined than ever to get to the next village and explore even more of the vast world that awaited me. All because one little pocket of civilization made me care about the world I was preparing to save from the ultimate evil.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of, once again, MKIceAndFire.)

An Ode to Yoshi

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This is a somewhat odd subject to write about, as as strange as it sounds, Yoshi was kind of my identity for a while in my early video game experiences.

Let me explain, Yoshi is a character I related to a lot when I was young. As someone who’s fond of reptiles and the like, his design immediately stuck out. His character is almost never in the limelight, always sitting in the second chair to other more prominent characters such as Mario. I’m the type of person who enjoys being second-in-command; not having to take on all the responsibilities alone, but being confident enough and power hungry to be able to lead on a sparse basis. Yoshi, as Mario’s sidekick, had this similar, strangely psychological connection with me. I can’t help but love the character, despite typically being the world’s best sacrificial character.

What’s most notable within my experience with this green dinosaur is how often I would play as him in Mario spin-off games. If I’m playing Mario Party (particularly the older versions), Mario Golf, or Mario Kart, Yoshi was my character. Always. I played through the game as Yoshi and Yoshi alone. He was my guy.

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I recall playing Mario Party 4, going through the “Story Mode” of the game, getting gifts for Yoshi’s house after defeating each party host in specific, unique mini-games. That meant so much to me, thinking I was getting a more in-depth look at Yoshi’s personality and priorities. I don’t remember anything he got now, but back then, it was my duty as Yoshi’s human counterpart to give him the best little house possible. It remains my favorite Story Mode-esque feature in a Mario Party game to this day.

When Yoshi does get a main series game, it’s always packed with colorful, almost serene artistic exaggeration. There’s a good atmosphere whenever he’s involved, though the easy choice for the best example of this is in Yoshi’s Island. That game is a fantastic example of what Yoshi can do in center stage. Much like the rare occasion where I take charge, Yoshi splendidly holds his own compared to greats such as Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3. I really need to replay Yoshi’s Island. Real soon.

Not too long of a post this time, as there’s not much one can say about a single side-character that doesn’t receive a lot of attention towards his development. He, like most others from the Mario series, serves his role to the best of his abilities. That’s all one can really ask for with Mario characters, until the day comes when Mario becomes an RPG. Hehehe… Oh, wait…

An Ode to Super Mario World

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It’s intriguing to me that it’s taken me this long to look at one of the games that made up my very early childhood. Comprised of this, each Donkey Kong CountryMega Man 7, and Super Ghouls & Ghosts (with various others), my first experience with the world of video games came in the form of the Super Nintendo, with Super Mario World heading the charge.

One of the first questions that comes to mind when looking back at this game is how it’s held up, if the game has become dated with time, seeing as it was released over twenty-five years ago. The most dated thing that can be applied to the game is its presentation, which all things considered, is excusable due to limited hardware. I don’t mean its spritework, by the way, which is fantastic to this day. I’m referring to narrative presentation, the sort of linear perspective of level-to-level, world-to-world process that would be somewhat dull to new age players. Looking at gameplay alone, the game is polished, innovative, and a shining example of Nintendo in their prime.

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Nostalgic gauges pumping their pistons within my inner mind go into a systematic overload whenever the colorful images or catchy tunes of Super Mario World invade my imagination. A wave of happiness overtakes my usual resolve and reminds me of a time when video games were my reason to get up everyday, looking forward to getting further and further into the colorful crusade. It was my first taste of the Italian plumber and his Goomba-stomping adventures through the worlds that embody or surround the Mushroom Kingdom. Better this than Mario Is Missing!, I’d say.

As a kid, I would never get past the third area in the game, the Vanilla Dome, as I would lose the motivation to trudge through the rising difficulty with the game. Something about the levels involving flying Cheep-Cheeps always got to me. I’ve beaten this game before as a small child, I know I have. The brazen image of Bowser flying off and Princess Peach floating gently to the roof below her is a moment I will never forget. Remembering the joy I felt as I screamed to whoever would listen that I finally beat the game. Thinking about it logically, I likely hopped onto my father’s file and just went through the final castle until I could figure out how to beat Bowser. That, or I used the Star World to my advantage and warped all the way to the final world. Nice of the game to let the player exploit it like that.

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Something that wasn’t as noticeable to me as a kid when playing it now is how slippery Mario handles as a character. Controls are tight to some extent, but Mario is human, and he needs time to steady himself. The biggest difference between this and the original Super Mario Bros. is that Mario looks like a normal human being. The butter underneath his signature brown shoes is just as prevalent here as in games prior. While annoying, it’s nice that a player has to take his somewhat wobbly movement into consideration when timing jumps, running, and platforming. The emphasis of making the game a tad more challenging makes the platforming all the more rewarding for elite players, who dedicate themselves to things such as speedrunning. Extra stipulations to various levels also give a nice spin to the variety of possibilities within.

For me, Super Mario World was an excellent platform into the world of Nintendo’s flagship franchise. I would absolutely recommend anyone (roughly six people on Earth) who hasn’t played any Mario games to start with this title, as its the perfect creation of accessibility and challenge that Nintendo used to master effortlessly with their games. It still looks great, it still plays great, and if one can overlook the incredibly limited fashion of linearity, it can provide a lasting impression, one that’s touched millions of people worldwide. Regarded as a timeless classic by many gaming veterans, Super Mario World is one of many games from Nintendo’s heyday that made them the gaming empire they are today.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of SaikyoMog.)

Traveling Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (The Isolated Plateau)

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When it came time to start a new Traveling Thoughts subject, I was stuck on what to do. What is something that I could play through that could take up a large portion of my time, interests me, and can be split up into various parts for further exploration?

Then, I looked down at the controller in my hands, looked up, and saw the remains of a Lizalfos camp up in Gerudo Highlands. Duh.

So we have the first edition of Traveling Thoughts with our current subject: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (for Wii U. Felt that should be pointed out). This first post will include the ins-and-outs of the first area of the game: The Isolated Plateau. What it contains, my own experience with it, and my criticism and thoughts regarding its entirety. As always, by the end of this chain of posts, I will write a review for the game, hopefully giving me more clarity by that point. Two quick notes of clarification; as of my writing this, I am not yet complete with the game. I still have one more Divine Beast to conquer, and I’ve found myself exploring and Shrine-seeking more than anything. The other thing is that, as always with these posts, there will be spoilers.

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The story begins with you waking up in an illuminated cave. A female voice is calling out to you. It gives you directions as to how to proceed and that you’re the hero the world needs and all of that “Been there, done that” jargon of Zelda lore. Immediately after leaving the cave, Breath of the Wild reminds you that it is big, with a full view of exactly how much the player is free to explore (and more to come). This sense of freedom is one that has been welcome to fans of Zelda in most games, however this entry gives them the liberty to search anywhere they want at any time, regardless of how difficult the zone… after going through the trials of the Isolated Plateau.

Something I wasn’t expecting with this game (though I really should have) is that it doesn’t just throw you into the wild for you to explore and learn at your leisure. Its first area serves as a trial basis for what to expect from the rest of the game—teaching the player about the base necessities of survival and the ultimate goal of the adventure. With every new weapon, item, or maneuver received, the game will instruct you on what buttons to press and useful tips as to what they can be used for. In addition, the entirety of the Isolated Plateau is essentially cut off from the rest of the world, hence the name Isolated Plateau. One cannot get off of it without death, so the player is trapped there until they can manage to do all that they’re required to do.

While I acknowledge that this is simply a stepping stone for players to get accustomed to the game, it also defeats a lot of the purpose of the game’s selling point: freedom. Once again, the game bogs you down with (subtle) tutorials and constant messages and pop-ups about various things. It gives you the freedom to explore the Plateau, but there isn’t much there to behold, mostly the remains of a ruined civilization and some foreshadowing of what’s to come. Not to mention, the Old Man who accompanies you throughout this first step process is basically a teleporting tutor, jabbering on about things to know and the importance of your survival. It makes the opening shot to the rest of the world feel like a cocktease, knowing full well you’ll need to spend an hour or two tumbling around the Plateau before you can get to that. And due to this, I was kind of bored with the opening sequence. It didn’t really grip me as much as it could have. My pleasure with playing this game didn’t come until after I flew the coop, but more on that for future entries.

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Of course, many would see this as nitpicking, as its simply the start of the game and the creators didn’t want the players becoming so lost that they die continually until they get somewhat decent. For me, the beginning of a game is important—it serves as the hook, the gateway into what the player will be looking forward to doing. And though I openly state that the game becomes far more fun afterwards, does that mean I can disregard how “Meh” I felt while on the Plateau? Some would say so, though I can’t quite overlook it. A lot of that “Meh” feeling for me came in the form of the Old Man.

He serves as a handholder. Fine. He supplies you with the items you need to make the game more accessible. Fine. He tells you about how Calamity Ganon destroyed the world and that you’re struck with amnesia (Initial reaction: Ughhhhhhhh). Fine. What caught me off-guard was how long he would go on for, how trivial the story was, and how terrible the voice-acting is. If the Old Man were cut from the Plateau altogether, I’d likely have a better time with it. I didn’t mind him so much guiding me around and giving me tasks, but once push came to shove and he revealed he was actually the long-passed King of Hyrule and Zelda’s father, accompanied by a horrendous vocal performance, I zoned out. It’s one thing to have a boring story told to you, but to have a boring story told to you by a boring (and borderline cringey) voice is next to torture.

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Negatives aside, my experiences within the Plateau were generally positive (and frustrating). I found myself awakening Stone Talus within the woods, only to die against it about six times because I don’t know how to quit. After finally taking it down and realizing it only provides me with various ores, I became incredibly disappointed, because I saw no use in ores at that time. “A lot of effort for some rocks. Thanks, game,” I thought to myself. If only I knew. As sad as it may sound, I literally had to be told how to cook things. I didn’t think “Hold” was something that would eventually lead me into cooking. It took me a while to get the hang of the Option menu, too. One of the other major changes from the Zelda formula is how frequent the player has to go in and out of the Pause menus. Checking the map, organizing items, recovering hearts and adding stat boosts; cooking, changing weapons, clothing, and shields. It was something of a disruptive change, but I found the comfort of perusing items and doohickeys to be rather accessible and non-intrusive. I never even received the Warm Doublet, or cooked the recipe the Old Man wanted. I just cooked up some Spicy Peppers and blazed my way through the icy mountains naked (Okay, not naked, but may as well have been).

Something else of note is the change in combat procedure. There are only two variations of weapons: one-handed and two-handed. There are also elemental rods, but I’ll get into those later. One-handed weapons are quick and allow Link to use his shield in combat, but are generally weaker. Two-handed weapons are stronger, but are slower and don’t let Link use his shield in combat. One’s best means of attack is spamming the attack button, because there’s little else to really do with it, aside from holding down the attack button or throwing it. This little variation in combat is disheartening, though it’s never really bothered me. I find the variation between primary weapon, bow and arrow, and SPAMMING THE SHIT OUT OF BOMBS to be enough to hold me over. Combat also isn’t something that comes across too often—not like in past Zelda titles. Enemies (up to a certain point) don’t feel like nuisances, but rather something one has to strategize for in order to defeat them as effectively as possible, which is a huge plus. What Breath of the Wild lacks in intricacy it makes up for with effective simplicity and making the enemies genuine threats to your safety. The Isolated Plateau serves as a great starting point for taking down red Bokoblins with basically sticks and clubs as weapons.

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One annoying thing is weapon durability, which I’ll get a little more into in later posts. Many of the weapons will break upon defeating three or four enemies in combat, assuming one only uses their primary weapon. I understand the logic of wooden weapons and rocks not being too durable, but to some extent it gets irritating to always have to switch out other weapons in the middle of a fight. And the constant fear of running out of ammo, which is better suited for early segments of the game, only becomes a drag in harder zones.

Looking back, this post is a little unorganized, and I started criticizing things that don’t necessarily correlate to the Isolated Plateau. Nevertheless, I hope I managed to clarify that the Plateau is the “Obligatory Training Section” of the game, and that the best things are yet to come. Overall, if not for the Old Man, I would have no major issue with it, despite feeling like a rat in a cage. It wasn’t until after flying from the Plateau that I eventually stumbled upon… well, in due time.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of MKIceAndFire.)