By Matthew Whitaker
On March 3rd, Nintendo released its new video game console, the Nintendo Switch. The console’s main feature is that it is both a portable and home console, as it can be played on the go or while connected to a TV. This allows players to enjoy games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the comfort of their homes or on a crowded Metro North train. As an owner of the console, I have had the pleasure of experiencing both options. I picked up the Nintendo Switch on launch day, and bought Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman R the next day. Setting up the Nintendo Switch was very simple, and I was playing Breath of the Wild within minutes of powering on the console.
The Nintendo Switch offers three styles of play, those being TV Mode, Handheld Mode, and Tabletop Mode. So far, I have been playing mostly in TV Mode, which offers superior graphical performance when compared to the other modes. As a commuter, I spend a lot of time on Metro North trains, so when Monday came after Switchmas weekend, it was time to try out Handheld Mode. After accidentally falling off a cliff in Breath of the Wild, I pulled my Nintendo Switch out of the Nintendo Switch Dock, and the console seamlessly switched to Handheld Mode, with Link continuing his plummet from the cliff on the console’s screen. The transition was so smooth that I had time to save Link by pulling out his paraglider, sparing me a repeat viewing of the Game Over screen. After placing the console in my backpack, I hopped on a Metro North train to Fordham and continued my journey in the land of Hyrule during the ride. The Nintendo Switch feels great to play on the go, and has added plenty of fun to my daily train rides. Whether I play my Nintendo Switch on my TV at home or in the McGinley Center, it is always a fun experience.
Most of my time with the Nintendo Switch has been spent playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. (No spoilers in this article, I promise!) To put it simply, I think Breath of the Wild is the best Legend of Zelda game Nintendo has ever created. It breaks the conventions of the Zelda series in the best ways possible, offering newfound freedom in any way you can imagine, except for petting dogs. You can’t do that, but you can play with them. In past three-dimensional Zelda games, the game world was made up of separated areas with defined borders, limiting the player’s freedom in exploring Hyrule. Breath of the Wild breaks this convention by following one rule: if you can see it, you can get to it. In one instance, I noticed the orange glow of a Shrine at the top of a snowy mountain on the horizon, and spent two in-game days traveling to it, facing strong monsters and freezing weather on my journey. Breath of the Wild’s best experiences are the ones the player creates, like my adventure to reach the Shrine atop the mountain. The game’s open world offers countless hours of exploration, as the map is bigger than The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess combined.
Breath of the Wild gives the player freedom in much more than just exploration. The game redefines puzzle-solving in the Zelda series, allowing the player to find several solutions to one puzzle. A puzzle I had trouble with required the player to burn a trail of leaves leading to a wooden barricade blocking a door, with hanging metal lanterns located above the leaves. The first solution I found was to use Magnesis, an ability which allows Link to move metal objects from a distance, to smash a lantern against a wall, causing its flame to fall on the leaves. Another solution was to shoot a bomb arrow at the leaves, igniting them without breaking a lantern. Also, I could have placed Red Chuchu Jelly near the leaves and struck it with an arrow, blowing it up and burning the leaves. Most puzzles in Breath of the Wild offer the player this much freedom in solving them, making the puzzle-solving fresh and exciting.
Freedom is prevalent in all aspects of Breath of the Wild, and its story is no exception. The player is free to choose the order in which the story is experienced, if the player chooses to even experience it at all. After completing the tutorial on the Great Plateau, the player can travel anywhere in Hyrule and immediately face the final boss without completing any other objectives. In my playthrough, I decided to complete all objectives related to the main story before facing the final boss. I think that this is the best way to experience the game, as the game’s backstory came together in pieces as I completed all the main story objectives. The story is aided by cutscenes with full voice acting, and can get very emotional at times.
Playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch has been lots of fun over the past few weeks. I think the Nintendo Switch is off to a great start, with plenty of great games like Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey coming this year. Overall, the Nintendo Switch has a very promising future.