One of the first video games I ever finished was the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. It wasn’t even my game; it belonged to a friend - and I borrowed their Game Boy too. But despite that, I fell in love with it.
After Links Awakening I didn’t think much about Zelda until The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out on the N64. This game consumed me. I played it obsessively, spending hours exploring its vast world and solving puzzles. I was so obsessed that I even wrote about it for my university coursework. On more than one project.
After completing Ocarina of Time I was sold, and became a diehard Zelda fanatic and made sure to buy all the main Zelda games on release day. However, while there were many good games over the years, none truly captured that same sense of wonder as Ocarina did - until Tears of the Kingdom came along.
Even though the prequel, Breath of the Wild, was highly acclaimed, it didn’t quite grab me in the same way Tears of the Kingdom has. As I’ve grown older, my gaming habits have changed, and most of my console gaming these days involves playing games with my son. But Tears of the Kingdom has successfully pulled me back in, and I’m really enjoying it.
One aspect that adds depth to Tears of the Kingdom is its inclusion of caves. I missed these in Breath of the Wild, there were a few of them but did notice their absense. Hearing they would be added to Tears of the Kingdom made me very happy. I remember reading an interview with Shigeru Miaymoto where he said the inspiration for the first Zelda game was his childhood exploring fields and caves. Tears of the Kingdom captures this really well.
Additionally, sky islands and building mechanics were features that I was worried would be gimicky but they are really enjoyable and work exceptionally well within this game’s world.
The one thing I am not keen on is the combat, I just don’t find it enjoyable. I struggle with the timing of parrying and dodging and so I prefer to avoid it as much as possible. I’d much rather the game focused solely on exploration and puzzle-solving. But to tackle tougher enemies, a little practice with combat is necessary. It’s something I need to work on, even though I’m not particularly excited about it.
Nevertheless, this minor setback doesn’t change anything for me - Tears of the Kingdom has become my new favorite Zelda game.
Looking ahead, I am intrigued to see where Nintendo takes the franchise next. It’s hard to imagine how they can continue without incorporating elements like building mechanics or caves - removing any of them would feel like a step backward.
But if there’s one thing I have learnt about Nintendo and their long running franchises is that they don’t like to keep repeating the same things. They have consistently demonstrated their ability to innovate so if anyone can improve upon Tears of the Kingdom, it’s definitely Nintendo.