The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Plenty has been written about Breath of the Wild. It’s fantastic, and easily one of my favorite games of all time. That said, I’ve had somewhat of a checkered past with Zelda games so let’s recap:

Ocarina of Time (N64)

I was exactly the target market for this game when it came out, yet somehow it completely missed me. We must have rented it at some point, but I’m mostly bummed I never got to play it back when it was still technically impressive.

When the 3DS remaster came out in 2011 I put in an honest effort to make my way through it, but just couldn’t do it.

Wind Waker (Gamecube)

I loved Wind Waker all the way up until the final 1/4 with the protracted Triforce fetch quest. At some point I must have hit a wall and just figured it wasn’t worth it anymore.

Wind Waker: Remastered (Wii U)

Played it straight through and absolutely loved it. Some of the changes they made to quest structure and sailing around were 100% necessary.

Link Between Worlds (3DS)

Really enjoyed this one but eventually sort of fell off about 2/3rds of the way through. I should probably get back to it at some point.

Minish Cap (GBA)

I picked up an awesome backlit original Game Boy Advance , and started playing through Minish Cap. It was generally pretty enjoyable, despite some of the usual trappings of a Zelda game. I think I made it about halfway through before diving back into one of the Catlevanias.

Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Over the last 10 years or so, open world games have sort of bloomed into a weird genre of their own. The GTAs of the world present you with a [basically] open world where you can go and do whatever you want, whenever you want. Many games started to emulate this structure, and design tropes started to set in.

  • Climb towers to reveal parts of the map
  • Your map gets checkered with a bunch of boring crap to do
  • Nothing is fun, and none of it matters

Alright so maybe I have a chip on my shoulder, but I’ve definitely gotten tired of this style of game. Far Cry 3 was pretty good, but most of the recent open world games have been largely boring (Assassins Creed, Watch_Dogs (sorta), other Far Crys, Dragon Age: Inquisition, etc). I’ve learned that I just don’t really get any enjoyment walking around checking off pointless quests just to do it.

One exception is The Witcher 3, which was mostly exceptional.

Anyway, Breath of the Wild took a lot of those tropes and turned them in interesting ways. The whole world actually felt like it was worth exploring. I spent about 75 hours total in that game, primarily just climbing and walking around looking at stuff. The whole thing just oozes a level of craft you don’t normally see in games.

My only problem is that now that I’ve done all 120 shrines, I don’t really have much of a reason to go back to it. I mean theres no way in hell I’m going to find all 900 Korok seeds.

Tabletop RPGs



It seemed inevitable that after getting way into board games, I’d eventually end up interested in tabletop RPGs. I’ve always been sort of curious about them, especially after years of playing video game RPGs.


My first introduction to RPGs was with the Pathfinder Beginner Box. After comparing it to the similar D&D offering, it was clear that Pathfinder was the winner. It came with some great standees and a grid map for creating your own dungeons. Everything you would need to hit the ground running.

Problem was, when we tried it out we kinda hit the ground confused. Lots of mechanics to keep in mind, too much structural ambiguity for new players (and me as an inexperienced DM) – so that first time through wasn’t a whole lot of fun.

The bigger issue is that I basically have no idea where to start. Tabletop RPGs are a huge thing, and you can do practically anything you want. Unfortunately I kind of freeze up with that kind of freedom – especially when I’m not really sure what I’m doing.

Mouse Guard

After reading a glowing review of Mouse Guard, I decided to pick it up and see how it worked. The premise sounded awesome and the art was great – maybe this would be the ticket. On a weekend trip I sat and read through the rulebook, and about 75% of the way though I got really bummed out.

Despite the interesting theme and world, Mouse Guard really didn’t seem like it would be much fun to play. It seemed like many of the RPG systems had been abstracted out to be clunky and unintuitive.

Ultimately I was just disappointed. I thought if this wasn’t going to work, maybe I’m just not cut out for these sorts of games. Maybe the tedium is just not with it? I couldn’t really tell. I decided I’ll just have to revisit Mouse Guard after learning a different, more traditional RPG.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

After chatting with someone in my office about Pathfinder/D&D it struck me that I might have just made the wrong choice out of the gate. It’s my understanding that Pathfinder was created when D&D (now in its 5th edition) took a turn toward simplicity. While I can totally understand wanting to maintain a certain level of complexity – maybe D&D might be the right level of RPG to start with.

Last week I picked up the D&D Starter Set. While the set is significantly less flashy than the Pathfinder Beginner Box, it seems to be exactly what I’ve been looking for. Hopefully I can wrangle a few people together and get this show on the road.



My first guitar was a $100 Squier Stratocaster that came bundled with a tiny 15W Crate amp. Both were terrible, but they were enough to wail out some bad riffs in my friend’s basement. Eventually I replaced it with an equally terrible Epiphone Les Paul Special 2. The bands didn’t get any better either.

One band – named Alternative Ending for some reason – came to an unceremonious end after our bass player got a girlfriend. Following that I played in a string of metal and punk bands, usually in some sort of rhythm role.

I’m realizing now that I never actually put in any effort to learn how guitars worked. Learning guitar, as I understood it, was mostly just reading tabs and learning how to execute them with the right timing. Turns out this is a pretty limiting way of approaching guitar. When you don’t understand how everything fits together, it becomes much harder to branch out beyond the handful of songs/riffs you know.

At some point in high school I ditched the Epiphone for a much nicer, but sorta tacky Schecter C1 Classic. It actually fit in pretty well with the sorts of bands I was playing in at the time.

Schecter C1 Classic

Eventually I stopped being in bands, and sold that guitar when we moved to Seattle. Meanwhile I had started to really enjoy playing Kaitlin’s acoustic guitar. It was moderately comfortable and let me fiddle with something while working from home. Last year I went and picked up a classical guitar because I wanted a guitar that was A) smaller and B) had nylon strings. It’s perfect.

Now I’m pretty sure I want to get an electric guitar again. The only issue is that because space is a premium, I wont be getting an amp anytime soon. I’ve had decent luck with the Apogee Jam, but this time around I will probably upgrade to the iRig HD2.

In an effort to learn some more about music theory I’ve started working my way through LightNote. So far, it’s been exactly what I’ve always wanted – lots of visual examples and interactive tools to explain the concepts. Even with just the basics, it’s been super helpful for demystifying things about music/guitar that I never quite understood, but could tell I was screwing up.

I picked up a black Telecaster and couldn’t be happier. Most of the electric guitars I’d played in the past had weirdly thick necks and a set of super heavy guaged strings. I’m sure that was partially because I was playing in metal bands where you’re just thrashing on the guitar, but still. The neck on this Telecaster feels like the right size for my hands, and the strings are super easy to play on. Kind of a nice surprise.

The iRig HD2 & Amplitube have been good enough for what I need. It took me a while to find a sound I liked within all of the simluated amps, but ended up with some really nice ENGL stuff. I’m still impressed by just how good the digital amps can sound.





Nioh is a terrific video game. It’s definitely in that weird genre of super difficult, but rewarding games that beat the crap out of you. Calling it just a samurai Souls game undersells everything it brings to the genre.

Nioh treats the Stamina bar a bit like Active Reload from the Gears of War series. Blow a bunch of stamina swinging at a dude – then wait a split second and hit R1 to regain all of that stamina immediately. Early on, it becomes clear that you will need to be juggling this at all times – especially during intense fights.

To take it to another level, the enemies in Nioh can create temporary pools of stamina-regeneration-stopping Yokai realm. Then, if you nail a perfect Ki pulse the ground around you will clear any of those pools. The game is built around having you spinning several plates at the same time.

Bloodborne rewarded aggressive play by giving you back lost health if you kept swinging at enemies. This was a nice addition to the Souls formula, but Nioh’s stamina button feels much more active.

From Software’s Souls series has an endearing charm to them. Everything’s kinda janky, but the overall experience is top notch. The quality of Team Ninja’s Nioh is almost stunning. Moving around feels tight and deliberate. You can dodge in and out of encounters with confidence. The sort of thing that really matters in an intense action series.

One knock against Nioh is the lack of a large, interconnected world. Given the context of the story, it makes sense – but some of the isolated levels can be kinda boring.

Anyway, if you’re even remotely into the Soulslike genre, I highly recommend Nioh.