Zelda: Breath of the Wild @ Nintendo Switch
Emoji summary: ⏳⚔️🐉
I am VERY pleased to be reviewing a video game here on the white pube. And like, i know this website’s where you come for ~ art reviews and institutional hot-takes ~ but for me it’s the place i write about the things i encounter. This is mostly art, ye, but i’ve reviewed theme parks, restaurants, an app and even a wedding in amongst those exhibition reactions, so from where i’m standing video games slot right in. Except more so than the others, games have a personal nostalgia attached to them for me, as well as some old relief. I stopped playing anything as soon as I stopped being a teenager because I started to feel too much guilt / had these real sharp feelings in my belly that I shouldn’t be playing something because it meant I was not doing anything productive, was being too indoors, antisocial, and tbh a little uncool. I was listening to a podcast the other day that described going the gym as an instrumental activity, because you go so that you can do other things. But it can become pathological for people when they go so much that they don’t do anything else, or they train so hard they injure themselves n again, can’t fulfil the reason they’re even there. I wonder, looking back, if that was why I put my DS and wii deep away in a box, because gaming had become pathological - I had been playing to unwind and entertain myself, but I got to a point where I was playing so much that I was always un-wound and entertained and I really had no boredom to come up from. Stopping might have been guilt or maybe playing things didn’t make an impact on me anymore because I’d got rid of the balance that necessitated it in the first place. Either way, i think these feelings were a bit gendered looking back because all the boys around me continued with cod, assassins creed and red dead un-self-consciously. It seems a waste now to have held onto weird guilt when I’ve known all along it’s fine to do things which are both fun and pointless. like, true capitalist work ethic never completely hypnotised me - downtime between stopping and starting gaming has been filled with food, travelling, sex, becoming obsessed with claw machines and learning how to do eyeshadow. which is to say, I’m not a complete piano lesson, and I could have been regretting buying a Wii U along with the rest of the world if I’d have been more myself. But we’re here now, 2019 is the year i bring it back. I have decided this is a part of my personality again. And that return is happening all of a sudden because i’ve reached my limit of being bored on trains up and down this country & post-therapy i am comfy-happy with myself. To mark the occassion, 2 months ago I dramatically sold my entire childhood to CEX one saturday afternoon, and then nipped next door to GAME with all the cash to buy what felt like a massively discounted Nintendo Switch. i wanted to feel okay playing games so bad that I bought an entire console because I know i’ll feel *worse* if I don’t play it multiple times a week to get my money’s worth. I can’t believe i tricked myself like that, changed the goal posts for my own guilt lol.
The actual console itself is genius and i gotta explain incase you aren’t familiar. You know how you can either buy big chunky xboxes and playstations which get plugged into the telly and that’s that, they live there forever? And on the other end of the spectrum, there are handheld consoles like gameboys and DSs so u can walk round tesco playing pokemon, following your mum’s lead by pure peripheral vision? Nintendo Switch is BOTH, hence the name. physically it is like a smoother, longer PSP tablet shape. And the switch?? Say you’re playing it on the bus home from work and you get in and wanna continue playing - you can SLIDE OFF the controllers from either side of the console screen itself and plop the screen part into a HDMI dock connected to the telly and play it that way too. As in, the TV becomes the screen and u hold the controllers sat on ur couch feelin smug @ this literal innovation. excuse the pun but it has / changed the game /. It’s so functional that it is one of the best + fastest selling consoles of our generation, still going strong even tho it came out early 2017. If you’re sat at a table you can even pull off the controllers and stand the screen up and play it freely that way; or alternatively attach the two Joycons into a grip dock so it feels like an xbox controller. It’s throwing all the options at you like a hotel buffet. the generosity, i stg. the flexibility keeps it fresh, like you have multiple consoles for the price of one. i had thought it was expensive but it’s fair value for money. Off the dock, the charge is about 2 hours which is my only complaint but everything else stands up so i’ll allow it.
now, the game i wanna talk about, the thing that’s taken over my life and gotten me in hot water with my boyfriend bc i’m giving it more attention than himmmmm, is Zelda: Breath of the Wild. am flustered getting to this part of the review bc I don’t know how to express how much i am enjoying this game. Story goes: main character Link (looks like an elf, canonically trans/nb if you’re interested, occupation: hero warrior protector to princess Zelda, peace sign) has been woken after an induced 100 year sleep and everyones like ‘ok u had a rest but please come and help us fight. Link, look at the state of the place, monsters everywhere, can’t get rid of them. and by the way the princess is still in the castle trying to hold final boss Ganon’s evil within its walls so it doesn’t get loose but quick, she can’t hold on much longer. She’s been there for 100 years, Link. get the fuck out of bed.’ you get given a ‘Sheikah Slate’ that conveniently looks like a wooden nintendo switch. It stores the map, helps locate things and gives u some extra powers, but basically, it’s off you go and save the world. There is the Main Quest of a big big fight in the castle to contend with but you can also, like me, take the long way around and get really overly prepared for it instead. You can complete 120 Shrine levels which are fun intricate puzzles or sometimes just a full on fight, and as you complete those you can get more hearts and stamina. Main Quest is supplemented with 76 Side Quests which are anything from ‘oh my gaad me and my boyf have travelled to this windy tower full of birds that talk and we’ve had an argument and i just really want a baked apple or I’m going to continue to throw a tizzy-’ to ‘find the white horse on the top of a hill northeast of here because actually its Zelda’s horse from 100 years ago and I don’t know how it’s still alive but maybe you can ride it for a throwback thursday.’ i love them all.
I am taking the side quests incredibly seriously because < i DON’T WANT TO FINISH THE GAME >. I’ve travelled so much over the past 2 months that I’m on 70+ hours of gameplay, but also bc when I’m on it I am just slow motion ENJOYING THE VIEW, taking my time SMELLIN THE FLOWERS. It was hard when i started but unfortunately the longer I spend in there, the better I get and the quicker it’s all going to come to an end. i’m getting too good tbh which is partly why I wanted to stop and write my review here in the middle, to get this feeling across of how nice it is to stay / wait / marinate in a game world; where I can write about its presence instead of its memory, because it is such a beautiful, graphic place. BOTW’s aesthetic is maybe pretty cyber steampunk which isnt something I thought i’d be into but it really supports the narrative, and actually allows for a lot of creativity in the monsters, materials and mechanics of the game, of which there are many. It is so fulllllll. beyond even surviving, there are things hiding under the rocks you pick up; u can bake cakes; or dye your horse’s hair and make it wear a Lana Del Rey flower crown (I have three horses: kevin, pedro and ponyta ha ha ha). Can dye my clothes too, fly off mountains using a paraglider, and catch slow glowing fairies near giant decorated women living inside flowers ? i kno ? Sometimes stars fall out of the sky, or the moon turns red, and there is even a dragon at the edge of the world that ripples past every so often and if u hit him with an arrow big glowing scales fall down onto the ground. There are orange foxes on the hills, and pale blue and pink ones in the snowy mountains. The design comes together in this big dreamy mood that’s pleasant and magic. the way the story moves isn’t that didactic, so i’ve enjoyed trying to piece it together and intuit a way fwd. Like, I know Zelda is probably sweating in the castle and fuming that I haven’t shown up yet but i’m in no rush to finish the thing, the girl can wait. The fact you can get through the story in any order you want makes space for this indulgence and takes a bit of the pressure off the player too, which is what I think has made BOTW the perfect game to get back into playing. Thats not to say this game is easy - like all your weapons wear down and break very quickly, even the Master Sword, so ur constantly on your toes trying to make do. And just an fyi if you’re playing and freaking out at how impossible it is to kill Guardians: get out any shield, even a pot lid, LZ lock onto them, press A exactly when they start glowing blue to shoot a laser and the shield will deflect it right back at them. it takes a bit of practice but wow. My cousin told me this and i will forever be grateful bc now I just walk up to them like, go on, i fuckin dare ye.
its good its good its just so good. And i know they are not totally comparable but in the grand scheme of 2019, there’s no way an exhibition is going to top the full bodied experience that BOTW is giving me. U can keep ur artists, your boring paintings and long moving image work. Installations, what are those?? This landscape is where I wanna spend my time, and this story is what I want to hear / bit by bit forever (I need more). Instead of a gallery visit, I would rather see what happens when big teams spend 4 whole years developing single games, writing characters and creating new physics or puzzles for the player. I know there are loads more Nintendo Switch games to engage because I’m arriving 2 years in, so pls expect more game reviews. fine art is paling in comparison, and i am glad !