Breath of the Wild and Nintendo Switch: A Legend Five Years in the Making
Let the New Legend Begin.
The wait is almost over. It has been a long road but we are almost finally there. We are on the final weekend before what probably is the biggest double release of the year in the gaming industry: the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
For fans of the Legend of Zelda, myself included, it has been a long wait and there is no denying that. For me, it began six years ago in 2011 after beating the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Personally, Skyward Sword was one of the most polarizing experiences for me. On the one hand, the game was critically acclaimed (getting perfects scores by several major gaming outlets), it had a compelling story which gave Zelda, the titular character, a more personal relationship with Link; it had one of the best, if not the best, uses of the Wii Motion Controls; and amazing art style. However, some character models diminished the scope of the game by making it feel too childish. Skyward Sword felt at times like a page straight out of a Sesame Street book. Not to mention that it was probably the most linear Legend of Zelda game ever.
I'm looking at you Big Bird
As a big fan of Nintendo, I know how the company operates. They release their big first party titles, such as the Legend of Zelda and Mario Kart, once a console generation. This meant that there would not be another game from the Legend of Zelda until at least half way into the Wii U's life cycle because of the timing of the release of Skyward Sword. Which was at the end of the Wii's life cycle. However, there seemed to be hope of a short wait when Eiji Aonuma announced in January of 2013, that the next entry for the Legend of Zelda was in development for a 2015 release. This hope faded rather quickly when at E3 2014, Aonuma announce that Breath of the Wild (Zelda U at the time), would be delayed until 2016. Then when 2016 finally arrived, we were once again asked to wait one more year, until 2017.
2016 seems so long ago.
As for the Nintendo's consoles, gamers and critics alike never seemed to accept the Wii U fully for what it had to offer. Nintendo has always been a company based in innovation over stagnation. Thanks to that philosophy, they were able to save single-handed the gaming industry in the late 1980's with the release of the Famicon (JP) or Nintendo Entertainment System (NA). But Nintendo never stopped innovating, every single iteration from Nintendo saw either an innovation, or a perfection of technology that has became the norm in today's gaming industry: shoulder/bumper buttons, rumble, trigger buttons, analog stick, true 3D environments, wireless controllers, and the list goes on. However, Nintendo is not perfect and has had its share of commercial failures like the Virtual Boy, and now considered by many, the Wii U.
For many, the wait for the next "great" Nintendo console that exemplifies Nintendo's excellence in the gaming world has being long as well. Judging by the reactions from gamers, industry, and critics alike; there is a high sense of hope for the Switch. Whether they admit it or not, everyone knows deep inside that in order for the gaming industry to survive, Nintendo needs to survive. This might be a bold statement but I am not alone. Even the president of Sony Entertaiment Computer, Sony's division in charge of the Playstation, stated that he is the owner of two Wii U's and that Nintendo helps teaching the importance of gaming to younger generations. This might seem like a statement on Nintendo being a children company but, where did we all start as gamers? I know I started when I was 4 years old playing in the arcades with my father. Teaching younger generations is crucial in the continuity of the industry.
Going back to Switch, now the time is finally here. We're on the final weekend prior to the release of Breath of the Wild and the Nintendo Switch. The excitement is overwhelming and tensions are high due to high expectations on both, the game and the console. The last time Nintendo released a new console along with a new Legend of Zelda game was 10 and a half years ago with the release of the Wii and Twilight Princess. After the commercial failure of the Wii U and the long wait for the next new Legend of Zelda console game installment, there is a lot riding here for Nintendo.
Will Nintendo repeat history with the Switch by having a successful successor after disappointing sales from its predecessor (GameCube/Wii)? Or will Nintendo continue to struggle in the console market by alienating third party support in the pursuit of innovation versus raw power stagnation? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, in the words of the late Satoru Iwata: "Above all, video games are meant to be just one thing: Fun. Fun for everyone."
My body is ready... is yours?