Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Perfect Compliments, Shovel Knight

For the last few weeks I've been bouncing back and forth between Mass Effect Andromeda and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I'm finding that the two compliment each other very well, Mass Effect being mostly a game about talking to people, and Zelda a game mostly about wandering around doing things. Each has a bit of the other, of course, but my experiences in each have fit together like yin and yang.

In Andromeda, I'm mostly following the main path so far, having now been to Aya, the home planet of the Angara, and having rescued one of their leaders from the Kett and their "Exaltation" practice of converting other species into themselves. I have to say, this is trending a little close to what the Collectors were doing on behalf of the Reapers back in Mass Effect 2. Now I'm on to investigating the ties a colony of exiles, both of Milky Way and Andromeda species, have to... I forget. Either the Remnant vaults or the Kett, I guess. But also some potential sabotage of the Nexus' efforts? Tonight is tentatively Mass Effect night, so I should probably make sure I understand the mission before commencing with it.

In Zelda, and much more simply, I'm on my way from Kakariko village to Hateno village to learn a little more about my mission and Sheikah slate, finding towers and shrines along the way. This is a game that's much simpler to talk about. In fact, there's really little to say, other than that I really like it, so far. It's fun and interesting just in its world and mechanics. If anything, I feel like this game fits more in a series with the first two Zelda games than anything that came after.

Starting with A Link to the Past, and later with Ocarina of Time, there have been two paradigms for Zelda games, top-down and third-person, each cast in the mold of its first, some might say classic, example. Breath of the Wild certainly owes much to earlier games in the series, especially Ocarina (as do most games that use lock-on, or "Z-targeting"), but feels on the whole so far more evolved past it as to be itself a mold for future games. And I think it goes one better than either aLttP or OoT in creating something a little further afield of the original Legend of Zelda. Either of those can be seen as 'the original but look how we can do it now'. Breath of the Wild leaves behind so many conventions of the series that it seems to me one of only three mostly unique archetypes of the series: the original, the side-scroller, and the free-form adventure.

Since I only had one game on the Switch, and Shovel Knight was released on it, and I had been wanting to try that, I bought the collection, and began playing the core game. It's pretty cool, so far. I've been through 3-4 stages, having beat Black Knight, King Knight, and Spectre Knight, if I recall. It plays like a kind of amalgamation of NES side-scrolling action classics like Super Mario Bros. 3, Zelda II, Mega Man, and Castlevania. The art and music are vintage NES, as well, and very well done. 

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