Nintendo Switch celebrates its third anniversary this month, which means it’s also the third anniversary of the system’s signature launch game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, an exquisite open-world adventure that remains. , arguably, the best title in the console library. Much of Switch’s early success can be attributed to Breath of the Wild, as it gave the unorthodox system a must-have and alluring experience from the get-go, but perhaps more importantly, the game was responsible for infusing new life to the beloved-but- aging Zelda series.
Prior to the arrival of Breath of the Wild, the Zelda franchise was sort of in a rut. The series had spent the past two decades struggling to emerge from the monolithic shadow cast by Ocarina of Time, which is still widely regarded as one of the greatest video games ever made. Ocarina’s influence on the medium cannot be overstated. In the booming days of 3D gaming, when many developers struggled to bring their franchises to the third dimension, Ocarina was a landmark title – a sprawling adventure that seamlessly reinvented the world of Hyrule and set the standard for all. action-adventure games that would follow.
Since then, the specter of Ocarina of Time inevitably hangs over the Zelda series. Producer Eiji Aonuma has often expressed an Ahab-type fixation on overtaking the game. “[The goal of] every title I’ve worked on … is to go beyond Ocarina of Time and create something bigger than that “, he said in 2010. Two years earlier, he told Nintendo Power:
“I’m glad that a title I worked on some time ago [Ocarina of Time] remains highly regarded to this day, but it also shows how none of the subsequent games in the series have surpassed it. As someone who is still working on the show, I have mixed feelings about it. Because I haven’t passed it yet, I can’t stop. “
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – Video Review
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And yet Nintendo’s attempts to outdo Ocarina of Time often amounted to simply replicating it. Every 3D Zelda game that followed (except Majora’s Mask) used the same rough model as Ocarina. Link begins his adventure in a sleepy village in a remote corner of the world, collects three ancient elemental-themed dungeon relics, acquires the Master Sword, and probes another handful of dungeons before finally facing off against the evil antagonist (usually Ganon). Each game has mixed the formula slightly by introducing a unique gameplay wrinkle (motion controls, navigation, lycanthropy), but the underlying structure has remained essentially unchanged for over 20 years.
With Breath of the Wild, however, the developers no longer care about replicating Ocarina of Time. It freed their creativity from the confines of convention and allowed them to explore new ideas and reject old ones no matter how entrenched they had become in the series at this point. No convention was sacrosanct. Ideas that seemed inconceivable for a Zelda game (such as Link jumping freely without the aid of an item or degradable weapons) have become essential gameplay components, while long-standing elements have been changed or abandoned altogether. . The result was not only the most recent Zelda game since Ocarina, but one of the most daring and ambitious titles Nintendo has ever produced. There’s a good reason Breath of the Wild is one of the few games to earn a rare 10/10 from GameSpot.
Another notable aspect of Breath of the Wild is that it will be one of the few Zelda games to receive a direct sequel starring the same Link. We don’t yet know when that title will arrive or even how it will continue the story, but that Nintendo has decided to follow Breath of the Wild with a sequel rather than an all-new unrelated installment, as it traditionally does, is one. further proof of the importance of the game to the series. It may have taken nearly 20 years, but Zelda has finally set a new benchmark to surpass.