June 9, 2023

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The new Zelda trick is awesome in its simplicity |  column

The new Zelda trick is awesome in its simplicity | column

Not a kingdom, but a proper king

written by Erik Nusselder op

Things stick together. If you had told me a few months ago that this was the game’s big new feature, I probably would have looked at you with pity. But since the gameplay reveal for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is all I want. Things stick together.

Nintendo is a master at thinking of simple things that make incredibly logical sense, but apparently no one thought of. A console that you can use at home on your TV, but then take with you to keep playing: a very simple concept, but no one has done it yet. A controller that you can move as if it were a tennis racket, to play a game of tennis with: another simple idea, but no one has done it yet. Well, not as Nintendo can.

The new Tears of Kingdom trailer showcases a bunch of cool ideas, like floating islands and the ability to rewind objects. But I’m more impressed with something that seems so simple, it’s almost funny. You can attach different objects together to create something new. Three logs together become a raft to which you can then mount a propeller to sail. Or to fly with a homemade sail. Or make a car out of it, find out for yourself.

A laughably simple idea, but what makes Nintendo so powerful is that they then evolve that idea to perfection. To date, it is no longer simple, but remarkable in its complexity. Not only can you make a raft, you can literally glue everything together. The stick and grab together become a giant long rake, with which you can prick enemies from a distance. You can stick mushrooms to your shield, releasing a large cloud of germs upon impact. The possibilities are literally endless.

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Turns out, this simple idea isn’t that simple. Just consider it a developer at Nintendo: all those stupid combos players are coming up with soon, they should all work as you’d expect. All the odd vehicles with illogical shapes and oddly placed propellers should all function as the player intended. And I guarantee: five minutes after the release of Kingdom’s Tears, the first rod-shaped boat will have already been set up.

If it really works in retrospect, not only is it very smartly thought out by Nintendo, but it also shows that they listen to their players and know very well what makes their own games magically so beautiful. One of the reasons many people still can’t stop talking about Breath of the Wild is that the game was full of secrets and allowed players to try out unexpected solutions.

Or actually expected, because the world of Breath of the Wild makes sense. Metal sword that can conduct electricity. If you throw it to the ground, it will be struck by lightning during a storm. Enemies with metallic weapons also have trouble in thunderstorms. Breath of the Wild is the king of the genre with consistent rules that are implemented throughout the game. It’s the kind of logic we’re not used to as gamers, because most games don’t make sense. Nintendo’s logic ensures that non-gamers will also enjoy this game, because they can experiment to their heart’s content and achieve logical results. You can then use these rules to solve puzzles in unconventional ways. With new gameplay options, Tears of the Kingdom fully adheres to this idea. It’s almost as if Nintendo put their own tweaks into the game.

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That’s why it’s not fair for some people to complain that Tears of the Kingdom feels like a dlc in disguise, because it takes place in the same Hyrule as its predecessor. This new gameplay element gives the world a whole new context, allowing you to experience many new things.

Does every game have to be made from scratch to feel like a new game? If a new adventure with refreshing elements makes you look at the game world in a different way, isn’t that enough? If you can spend many hours fixing and experimenting, wouldn’t it be worth your money? Besides, if you thought this would be Nintendo’s only surprise, you don’t know Nintendo.

And that says someone who isn’t a fan of Breath of the Wild at all. I was one of those few people who got a little lost in that big world. What is my goal, what is my motivation? Why should I explore the world if all I’m rewarded with is a weapon that breaks anyway, or a seed I still don’t know what to do with? Where do I feel satisfied?

Nintendo is pushing its message once again with its latest game trailer: contentment must come from within. You try to build vehicles because you will have a fun car, not because the game asks you to build a tractor. You explore the world because it is a beautiful world and exploration is fun, not because it defeats great evil.