The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild arrived at a tricky time for me.
It was the launch title for the new Nintendo Switch (though it was also simultaneously released on the Switch’s predecessor console, the Wii U), and it was unquestionably a system-seller. A new entry in the Zelda series is often a milestone in gaming, and Breath of the Wild — or BotW henceforth — has proved to be no exception. I’d diligently cleared my schedule, and was ready, months in advance, to take a three-day weekend of indulgence when both the Switch and the game were released.
Then we decided to get a puppy. We saw the ad, drove 45 minutes or so south to take a look at the litter of ten, and we immediately picked out our little guy. He was named Whisky then and there, and we arranged to return four weeks later (when he’d be eight weeks old, and ready to leave his mother) to collect him. It was only when I put the date into my calendar that I realised we’d be picking him up the day after Zelda came out. My little sister called the date Switchmas Day, and Whiskmas Eve.
As I write this, that was more than nine months ago. The little puppy who I carried in a pack on my chest has now turned into thirty kilograms of crazy labradoodle, who can easily leap my full height straight up in the air, and whom I could almost put a saddle on and ride through the park. Toilet training is long in the past. He sleeps through the night, every night. He’s great on long car journeys. He’s a huge enrichment to our lives, and very much a family member.
He also has a habit that he formed on day one in our home: when the Switch goes on, he curls up beside me to watch — at least for a while.
I’d read reviews of BotW before I played it. I knew that it was different to virtually every previous Zelda game. I knew that it played with the mechanics, and the patterns, and the hallmarks. I knew that it largely threw the formula out the window. I was nervous about that. But it was Zelda! One of Nintendo’s crown jewels. They couldn’t possibly mess it up. It would be great, and I’d grasp the wisdom of the changes straight away — especially as someone who’s played every previous game, on every platform, to death; a life-long fan. I’d get it, and I’d love it, because they knew what they were doing, but also because I wanted to. That’s what I told myself.
It was a real surprise to me when I actually hated a lot of it.