Link’s Bad Day [The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild]

Having rescued a stray Goron youth at the end of an arduous day of blowing up tribes of lizalfos at the base of Death Mountain, Link was just about ready to plod off home for some fresh water (so thirsty) when his shrine alarm started beeping. Aw heck, he thought. I’ve just committed lizard genocide. What’s one quick shrine before I call it a day?

Oh, Link. You’re about to find out.

After fearlessly parachuting across an ocean of lava to reach the shrine’s modest island (seriously, dude, don’t be such an adrenaline junkie), Link stood proudly at the start of his latest challenge, chest puffed out, ready for action. This was the “blue flame” shrine, a room of puzzles dedicated to the problem of moving a blue flame from one sconce to the next amidst flowing water and impossible jumps. The guardians of old had generously provided Link with a single torch with which to carry the flame, and as he stopped to ponder what might happen should he have one of his occasional fits of madness where he throws his weapon into the wild blue yonder, he came to realise he would have to sacrifice one his previous weapons in order to hold the torch in the first place. Gently laying his Knight’s Sword down onto a metal platform, he vowed to return for it later, before heading off to complete the first hurdle of the trial.

Lighting the first sconce reset the positioning of the metal platforms, and Link turned just in time to see his trusty sword plummeting into the lava. Ah. Right. Bother. He’d have to be finding a new one of those. Well, at least he had a spare.

The next sconce appeared to be on a vertically moving platform many meters away, well beyond the reach of Link and his one torch. Aha! An easy one! Grinning wryly, Link reached for his handy bow and arrows- arrow. One arrow. One single normal arrow was all Link had left. Grimacing, he remembered his morning sniping at lizalfos with reckless abandon, not stopping to retrieve his arrows before moving on. Well, this vertically sliding platform sconce just got serious. Link squinted, took aim, and…

Aha! Bullseye! Link’s anxiety melted away from him as he charged up the stairs which had been helpfully lowered for him. He was invincible! Infallible! Indomitable! In-

Well, at least he was swiftly rewarded with a badass looking greatsword of flame! One that he’d… hang on… sorry, backup Knight’s Sword, looks like your turn is up. Just gonna… fling you into the lava myself. Right! Onwards, to the next puzzle. It looks like this one is solved by… firing your standard arrow through the blue flame to light up the two sconces ahead. Huh.

For those of you who aren’t aware, there are alternative arrow types in Breath of the Wild. For instance, Link is currently carrying with him some fire arrows, ice arrows, lightning arrows, bomb arrows, and even a rare type of arrow that is extremely powerful and probably not to be used on sconces. Thing is, none of these arrows will carry a blue flame. It has to be a regular arrow, the most common type of arrow, the type which Link acquires by the quiver, and currently has sweet sheiking none of.

Out of options, Link eyed up his only torch.

He eyed up the sconce.

He could hit the sconce from where he was standing, right? Then retrieve it, rinse and repeat.

Well. Time to die. Maybe when Link respawned he’d be given a new torch-

Link sat and meditated on what he had learned. Here he was, far underground, surrounded by lava in a trial built, supposedly, by some precursor race which were judging him based on his performance here. It is not a thought which sat well with his ego. Frowning, resistant to leave knowing the trial would reset when he did, he considered his options. He could… well, he had none. Grumbling, he brought his sheikah tablet up and teleported out. He’d go to the general store and load up on arrows-

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Minecraft: Survival Mode (1.9 Pre-Release 3)

There are two things I’m mostly excited for in the gaming world that will be releasing within the next week. The first is Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow releasing onto the 3DS eShop. (Bulbasaur REPRESENT.) The second is Minecraft 1.9, the first major update to the game since September 2, 2014. The Pokemon games hit on the 27th and Minecraft 1.9 is set to be released on the 29th, and since I’m an impatient bastard I went ahead and downloaded the pre-release version of the latter.

I’ve mentioned Minecraft briefly on this blog before, in my list of personal favourite videogames of all time. It sat at the bottom as an honorable mention, the reason being that “I don’t really consider Minecraft as a game so much as a creative platform for games. Sure, there’s the base survival gameplay, but I wouldn’t put that on my top ten due to lack of content.” And has that changed with 1.9? Well, no. Mostly because the enjoyability of vanilla Minecraft depends on two things: whether you’re playing with friends, and whether you have a good imagination and the attention span to carry out your ideas.

1.9, however, is quite the large update, most notably to combat. So without further ado, I launched the pre-release, created a new world and jumped in. And what did I find?

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Well, diamonds, actually, and within the first few minutes. This ended up being a vein of eight, which I had to return to mine after I’d found some iron.

But other than that, you may notice that I’m holding torches in my left hand. That’s the new offhand feature, used primarily for quick torch placement or the use of a shield, and switching out what you’re holding is actually less hassle than it seems when you get used to it. (If you press F, you switch what you’re holding with your offhand. I find that sandwiching a shield / torch between a sword and pickaxe allows for speedy switching between pickaxe-and-torch or sword-and-shield.) Combat now has more to it than simply spam-clicking with your sword; you must wait for it to recharge to achieve optimal damage output, and if you go up against a skeleton without generous employment of your shield, you can kiss your blocky ass goodbye.

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I never used to die much in this game. Full iron armour couldn’t save me from being trapped between two skeletons and a creeper, however.

Whilst some may mourn the ability to go up against hordes of enemies with ease, I welcome it. Not since my first delving into the game have I felt such unease at dusk, or felt the need to check behind me so often whilst spelunking. Open cave systems are now daunting as much as they are enticing. I’m enjoying single-player survival more than I have in months. It also helps that I spawned into a rather wonderful starting area, with plentiful coal, trees and greenery, and I must say I’ve been rather lucky with diamonds, too. If anyone’s interested, the seed is simply ‘1.9’, though I can’t say as to whether this will change what’s generated by release.

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They pushed me into a hole! I take it back! Bring back spam clicking!

I’d like to emphasise, though, that finding a good, medium-sized, vanilla server will work wonders for your Minecraft experience. Even if you’re not directly playing with others, simply sharing a world with them and talking as you play can eradicate the feeling of hollowness from the world. I play on a server which has a nice little economy system going on and allows you two personal teleport locations, one of which I share with my friend when we play together. When 1.9 releases on the 29th, I’ll probably go back to playing there, especially as we’ll be resetting the world (alongside most other servers, I expect).