I completely forgot that I proposed finishing off a video game each month at the beginning of the year, so it’s just as well I pretty much completed one on Sunday anyway. I can’t recall if it was technically 2021 when I finished The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch, but I haven’t much to say about it anyway: it was cute, it was fun, graphics and sounds were charming, laugh-out-loud funny at times, and a nice (re)addition to the franchise.
I also played more Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which I’ve ended up enjoying more than I anticipated. Seeing video footage of tracks that straight-up change the way gravity works felt a little too strange, but upon playing, it actually ended up working well. The tracks are very fun – particularly those that are one long track, rather than a series of laps – the graphics are so, well, normal, and the updated soundtracks on some of the classic tracks, like Super Circuit for Game Boy Advance, are incredibly satisfying to hear. After playing Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart Double Dash for so many years, it’s great to have new tracks to play, as well as new vehicles and characters, of course. The Koopalings seem to be my favourite.
For games I actually started in January, after taking a break with the ease of Link’s Awakening, I finally began the game I was most looking forward to on Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Unfortunately, a Joy-Con issue that necessitated sending my only controllers in for repair meant I couldn’t put too much time on it, but I played enough to immediately fall in love.
When Twilight Princess was first advertised prior to release, I remember it being pitched as a different kind of Legend of Zelda. Yet, when I actually played it, I found it just another Zelda game. It had a darker mood than many games, sure, but the game play and the way the story unfolded was very much the same. Same with Skyward Sword and even Wind Waker. The way you get around the map may be different, but overall it’s the same type of game. Not that that’s bad, just not what I was expecting.
Breath of the Wild, on the other hand, is a totally new type of Zelda game. The open world, of course, along with entirely new mechanics like the variety and durability of weapons, stamina gauge, and eating/cooking give it a very fresh feel while still providing the same classic adventure and game play that always draws me in to the series.
In addition to that, the graphics are gorgeous, the minimalist soundtrack is ethereal and atmospheric (when it’s even there! the silence of the open fields is both stark and calming), and the history that has been set up is already providing more of a different feel to the game than Twilight Princess did.
I started with Link’s Awakening after Christmas because I wanted something a little lighter before delving into the beast of this game, but now I can’t wait to immerse myself in the story and the world. But, before I did that, despite getting my repaired Joy-Cons back much sooner than I feared, I dove back into a game I’ve been working on for years.
Despite my dedication to the original anime series and my daughter’s obsession with all iterations of the series, Pokemon Ultra Sun is the first console Pokemon game I’ve ever played. So, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
Turns out, it’s 100% side quests. It made the game very easy to pick up and put down, the latter which I’ve done months at a time, even over a year when I put off getting my Nintendo 2DS repaired for fear of cost involved*.
While I was waiting to play my Switch again, I decided to jump back in to Pokemon Ultra Sun rather than start a new game on PS4 (or pick up one of the several other 3DS games I also still need to play). I ended up putting a total of ninety hours into the game before month’s end before finally beating it. More than a little of this month’s worth was spent grinding to evolve the various lower form Pokemon I had acquired throughout the game, but then, I’ve never had a problem with grinding.
To be honest, I got so used to the idea of the game being nothing but side quests that by the time it tried to introduce some plot into it, I was kind of annoyed by the change. Still, it didn’t really change the game’s dynamic, and it does offer a convenient stopping point when one isn’t really that concerned with catching ’em all. (But gosh darn it, I want my Eeveelutions.)
Knowing that this was the first game in 3D, I’m impressed by how well the graphics and gameplay translated, better than some remakes I’ve seen/heard of recently. Admittedly, I don’t know the difference between the regular and ultra versions of the game, but as a new player, it felt very natural and smooth.
Overall, it was a fun game, if more of a casual pick up and go rather than a deeply involved experience like Breath of the Wild.
Oh, and while I don’t play it that often, my inner twelve year old still absolutely loves Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit.
Aside from the simple novelty of the game and the fun you can have designing your own courses with things in your house, the creators actually did a really good job of making the different “tracks” very interesting, engaging, and challenging. I haven’t even played all of them yet but I have a lot of fun with each one. And, of course, the cats’ reaction is just as entertaining as the game itself. I do recommend vacuuming before you play, however, especially if you have pets. Ask me how I know.
* It turned out to be very reasonable and I have nothing but good things to say about Nintendo’s repair service. I highly recommend them if you have any issues with your software or hardware.