Zelda for Mario players?
February 11, 2018 2:12 PM   Subscribe

I have a Nintendo Switch and love Super Mario Odyssey. Should I get Zelda BOTW? I'm a complete Zelda newbie.

Could someone describe Zelda BOTW from the perspective of someone who's played and loves Odyssey and Super Mario 64, but has no Zelda experience at all? (If I've never played any Zelda, is this a bad idea?) The reviews are all super positive but given that (unlike in the 1990s) I am now paying for my own video games, I'd like to know a little bit about what I'm getting into!

Things I like about Mario/Odyssey:
- Expansiveness of the worlds and the feeling that every time you go there's something new. In addition, the sheer variety of the worlds. (Any other New Yorkers who are loving Metro Kingdom?)
- Sandbox format, but not completely without direction -- Myst in the 1990s was a little too free-form and frustrating for me. I don't like it when it feels impossible to know what to do next in a macro sense.
- Forgiving in terms of lives/difficulties -- It's rare that dying punishes you to an extreme and I like that moons range from super easy to super difficult in terms of video game techniques; I'm not the most skilled controller user so I appreciate that everything doesn't require split-second timing or reflexes
- Variety of ways to get moons -- the hint art puzzles feel really different from the timer challenges, which feel different from the "poke around and bam! there's a moon!", which are different again from discovering warp paintings.

The only thing I feel "meh" about are boss fights -- I know they're a core part of Mario games, but I view them basically as a way to get to new worlds/new parts. For example, [MILD SPOILER] I probably won't do any of the boss rematches after finishing the game because I just don't care that much.
posted by andrewesque to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
Based on those criteria, yes. I think you'd enjoy it. The difficulty ramps up certainly, but nothing crazy, at least with how far I got.
posted by pyro979 at 2:22 PM on February 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

A lot of what you like about Mario Odyssey also exist in Breath of the Wild - many of them even more so! The world is bigger, and more open (you can do what you want). There's even less penalty for dying (like none), and there's a lot of challenges you really can do in a ton of super different ways. Mario builds all that around platforming, Zelda builds that all around action RPG gameplay. Meaning the core way you interact with stuff is using weapons, equipment, terrain, and magic.

I think it's safe to say Zelda is more combat-oriented than Mario. Breath of the Wild has fewer bosses than previous Zelda games, but the non-boss monsters around the world are much more significant than in Mario Odyssey.

Breath of the Wild certainly doesn't have any prerequisites in terms of Zelda knowhow - in a lot of ways it's a big departure from Zelda games of the past. There's some stuff you'll recognize if you've played other ones but a lot of the time it's pretty recontextualized to fit into the new system.

I haven't really heard anyone saying they don't like Breath of the Wild, so probably it's a pretty safe recommendation.
posted by aubilenon at 2:24 PM on February 11, 2018

I haven't played Mario Odyssey yet because Zelda is still keeping me entertained, but yes, get BOTW. I always loved Mario games -- I'd say Mario 64 was my favorite game ever until BOTW -- and BOTW reminded me a lot of Mario 64. It's a huge open world and you can just explore and explore and explore. Out of 120 shrines in the game, I've gotten 110, I've beaten the final boss and I've logged 175 hours of playing according to my Switch, but I am still finding little pockets on the map that I've never been to yet.

Per your criteria:

Expansiveness of the worlds and the feeling that every time you go there's something new.

Yep, yep, yep. Exploring is my favorite part.

Sandbox format, but not completely without direction

Yep. The game gives you quests to direct you to certain things, but you don't have to do anything in order. If you want, you can try to go to the final boss and beat the game immediately -- you will of course die, but there is no restrictions or set order things must be done.

Forgiving in terms of lives/difficulties

Yep. If you die, it's not like the game ends. You just continue from where you were. If you encounter an enemy you can't beat that will kill you, you can just flee. You will never be stuck and be forced to try over and over to beat something you can't beat.

Variety of ways to get moons -- the hint art puzzles feel really different from the timer challenges

Moons = shrines in Zelda. Every shrine is different. And what I love is that you actually need to think. They are mostly puzzles ranging in difficulty and requiring you to use your brain. But some shrines are just combat tests. I agree that boss fights are meh in games, but I'll say Zelda has some interesting approaches for divine beasts so it's not just "tap button over and over." Combat with the enemies in the world are less interesting, but if you want, you can just bypass them usually.

I was worried it would be like Skyrim: Elder Scrolls. Everyone raved about that game and I thought it was super boring. I've never actually played another Zelda game through -- little pieces but I didn't come into BOTW remotely a Zelda fan. But BOTW turned out to be as fun as it sounded. I would absolutely recommend.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:45 PM on February 11, 2018

Oh! I was going to say I don't have much experience with RPGs but I also played Pokémon Yellow on the Game Bay Color (the last handheld console I owned before the Switch!). That's an RPG right?
posted by andrewesque at 3:19 PM on February 11, 2018

Mr. Brilliantine hasn’t played odyssey yet (though it’s definitely on the list!) but given your parameters he agrees with what people said above - it’s a very accessible action RPG and the exploring is pretty excellent. I’m not a super skilled player when it comes to quick reactions and he thinks I could manage it, so you’re most likely ok in that regard. I’m all about Stardew Valley at the moment but I’m planning on playing it eventually. We’re also really excited about Odyssey after playing a demo.
posted by brilliantine at 4:20 PM on February 11, 2018

BotW is very friendly to Zelda newbs. There are a lot of things that turn out to be in-jokes but are cute/interesting world building if you don't pick up on them, and not a lot of things that are impossible to know if you're not accustomed to Zelda style puzzles and dungeons. It's very good at slowly ramping up complexity and building a vocabulary of play. If you run into a block, chances are you missed something earlier that explained the mechanism/logic in a simpler way because you were distracted by something pretty in the distance.
posted by Mizu at 5:43 PM on February 11, 2018

I have played and loved BotW as my very first Zelda game. I am also someone who traditionally HATES boss fights and anything fast-twitch -- and was very impressed by how the game slowly taught even me to be fine at the fighting parts. It's huge, beautiful, and has plenty of interest to sustain play over hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of play. Got Mario Odyssey afterwards, and in my opinion, everything you like about it is available in BotW but better.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:22 PM on February 11, 2018

My 8yo son just finished Mario (with a bit of help from Dad) and has about 400 moons. I gave him Zelda today and we just started playing. Biggest difference to date is he cool stamina meter that shows up when climbing, swimming, running and fighting. It makes things more real and actions have more consequences, but it’s not to the point where it becomes frustrating. It’s definitely a beautiful world to explore but there’s a similar map for guidance, a radar and the ability to plant markers, and you can jump to past key locations. I don’t doubt that you’ll enjoy it. We’re loving it.
posted by furtive at 6:47 PM on February 11, 2018

I have a switch, have played Super Mario Odyssey, and the last/only time I played a Zelda game was on Gameboy.

Yes, get BOTW!

It's immersive, expansive, and fills a lot of the same urges as Mario. Can I jump on that? Can I climb up to there? It also constantly saves and is very forgiving. It accepts a lot of different tactics to defeat the various foes, from run-in-and-whack to sneak-up to attack-from-afar (with bows or conveniently placed large rocks).

My husband has played more Zelda, so he catches the references to old stuff that I don't, but you aren't missing anything by not having that background.

Also ps there are always secrets under the bridge, whether in Mario or Zelda BOTW.

BOTW reminds us of Minecraft, too, with the cooking aspects and how open things are. There's not a time pressure either. So if you've ever played that and enjoyed it, that's another point in its favor.
posted by bookdragoness at 9:39 AM on February 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

BOTW is unlike any other open world game I've played before. Play through the opening 3 hours or so and you'll be granted all the freedom you need to explore the entire map. Even if you *never* do another objective-oriented thing with the game, that's at least 40-50 good hours.

If you do hop on the main path, you can do it in any order and at any pace. It's not *easy*, but it's fair. Much more about puzzle solving than combat. If the combat is still too tricky, figure out food and armor solutions and you're almost guaranteed success.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:07 PM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you run into a block, chances are you missed something earlier that explained the mechanism/logic in a simpler way because you were distracted by something pretty in the distance.

Just like me in real life!

This is months later, but for future folks ... I also got BOTW recently, and I think by the above criteria it would be a great next game.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:44 AM on May 18, 2018

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