The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' will be coming to the Wii U and NX in March of 2017, and what really stands out about this one is that for the first time in the series’ history players will be presented with a massive go-anywhere and do-anything environment. Fishing, foraging, hunting, climbing trees and rock faces, and being aware of environmental effects will all be a major part of Link’s adventures this time around.

Thinking about Breath of the Wild got me thinking about my first experiences playing the classic NES titles as a little kid back in the late 80s. Although I didn’t know it back then, I was actually playing one of the very first “sandbox” games. It’s true: The Legend of Zelda on the NES was very much an open-ended game that let the player explore the overworld in near-entirety right from the get-go, visiting whatever dungeon they chose first and ultimately experiencing the game however they wanted to. While at first it’s tempting to pick up the wooden sword from the eponymous Old Man in the very first cave and then slog right off to Level 1 (you know, that dungeon inside an old dead tree), there are actually several other good options to consider. For example, I’ve personally found the more efficient way to begin the game is to be gathering two heart containers hidden in the overworld, getting the White Sword (Level 2) from the waterfall cave, and then visiting some of the secret money caves to get enough rupees to purchase the Blue Ring from the hidden merchant. Some would say this makes the game a bit too easy, but it basically means starting the dungeon crawling with twice the attack and defensive power at your disposal!

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Zelda II: The Adventure of Link changed things up a good bit, not just because the game was more of an action-RPG with an overworld map and side-scrolling scenes, but because the game felt a bit more “on rails” than the initial entry. Although there were certainly a good few secrets in the overworld, this game definitely felt like it had a good bit of gated content to it. Each of the dungeons presented you with a treasure that you had to have to progress in the game, but unlike the original title, a lot of these items were one-and-done toys, amounting to little more than glorified keys. Later titles on the Super Nintendo and Game Boy/GBC would strike a balance between these two ideas, but it would be a little while before I felt like a Zelda game offered a truly open experience again.

When Zelda: The Wind Waker first hit the Game Cube back in the early-2000s, I was really intrigued by the open sea aspect of the game. At the time, this was certainly a novel setting for any game, let alone a Zelda one, and once you got the King of Red Lions (your trusty sailboat!), you could freely explore the Great Sea at your own pace. Sometimes there would be areas you would be unable to fully explore without a certain tool at your disposal, but overall the game did a great job of making you feel like you had a lot of freedom to go where you wished.

Nintendo must have shared some of my thoughts on the truly open experience of the first title because Breath of the Wild’s story and setting seem to be a throwback to that classic adventure. From what we can tell about the game’s story so far, this seems to be in the “Era of Decline” for Hyrule, set perhaps a century or more after the events of the two classic NES titles. The land from the original adventure (and where the Kingdom of Hyrule is centered in a majority of the other games) here is a somewhat wild and desolate region now known as the Great Plateau, with the run-down ruins of Hyrule Castle and iconic locales like Lake Hylia and the Temple of Time dotting the landscape. The Kingdom itself seems to have relocated north of the Death Mountain region (as evidenced by the towns and locations in Zelda II), and the Old Man in this game’s story even comments that this was once the birthplace of the Kingdom of Hyrule. Yet, according to Nintendo, the areas seen in the demo at E3 2016 only account for 2% of the overall game, so many people believe we will later explore North Hyrule and many other regions that we’ve never seen before.

Whether the open-world setting will be the best move or not will remain to be seen, but I am extremely hopeful that this will be a grand, fantastic adventure that will breathe new life into a series that has a tendency to fall into formulaic patterns. Call me nostalgic, but I’m really looking forward to diving into these classic lands again, enjoying both the new content and the throwbacks to my early childhood.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Thinking about the original Zelda title really brings about some good retro-gaming vibes with me, so I’d like to do some pieces on some of my favorite classic video game series, some hidden gems that you may never have played, and some long-overlooked game consoles that I think you guys would enjoy reading about. I’m someone that enjoys the classics just as much as the latest, greatest tech and gaming experiences, so hopefully we can get some retro goodness out there really soon!

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the topic. So please stay tuned for more crafty content coming your way, care of Jessica's Journey, as written by Joypad Jess from NerdyButFlirty.com.

ENTERING THE ZELDA SANDBOX ENTERING THE ZELDA SANDBOX Reviewed by David Andrews on August 03, 2016 Rating: 5

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