Thoughts on “Zelda: Breath of the Wild”

A little while ago, in anticipation for Nintendo’s presentation at E3 this year, I wrote a post detailing what I was hoping for in regards to the new Zelda game, which was going to be the main showcase at said presentation. Now, since E3 has come to pass and I’ve learned a ton about the new game, I thought I’d run through the list I wrote and talk about whether my hopes were met or not.

So let’s jump right into it!

When the live stream of Nintendo’s presentation took place, I wasn’t at home, so I just watched the footage later in the day when it was uploaded to YouTube. The first thing I watched was the official trailer:

And you can probably guess that my reaction was an embarrassing combination of big stupid grins and weird squealing noises. It was so much to take in! Voice acting! The gorgeous aesthetic! The glorious music! Link in a suit of silver armor! The wide, open landscapes just waiting to be explored! The new mechanics like cooking and the Sheikah Slate! And so on and so forth and what have you!

Watching the gameplay footage afterward was possibly even more exciting. I was positively floored by everything I saw, and according to Nintendo, they only showed about one percent of the whole game at E3. ONE PERCENT! I fully expect that this game is going to take me months to finish, and I’m sure I’m going to be fully invested every step of the way.

To elaborate, here are the bullet points of what I was hoping for and details on whether I got it:

“A title. I’m really, really sick of calling it “Zelda Wii U.” I’d like to know the final title, whatever it may be. I enjoy my Wii U and my games for it, but let’s face it: “Wii U” is pretty much the dumbest console name ever.”

Thank goodness! No more “Zelda Wii U!” The newest game in the franchise is officially titled The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. To be honest, my first thought about the title was something like: “. . . Really? That’s it? That’s the title for the new Zelda game? Breath of the Wild? What the heck does that even mean?”

As I examined the trailer more and watched the gameplay footage, though, the title grew on me pretty quickly. The game seems largely centered around the idea of exploring the wilderness of Hyrule. You fight for survival, you hunt and cook, you gather weapons and other useful items for yourself, and you have much more free reign on where you can go and when than in previous Zelda games. That’s incredibly exciting to me, and I think the title fits it perfectly!

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“A full trailer. I want to see the characters. I want to get an idea of the story. I want to see many, many more examples of what is going to make this game awesome and what is going to make it stand out in the Zelda series.”

Well, I definitely got a full trailer! I didn’t get exactly what I was hoping for here, though. You don’t really see any characters besides Link, and you just hear the voice of another, unknown character. As for the story, there are only vague hints about what it could be, particularly with that evil purple cloud thing at around the two-minute mark and the multi-legged guardian thingamawhatsits.

On the other hand, I did get many examples of what’s going to make this game awesome and how it’ll stand out! Everything from the hunting and gathering mechanics to little details like using different clothes for different weather environments to exploring the futuristic-looking shrines and giving your Sheikah Slate new abilities — it’s all so compelling even just to watch! Actually playing it, though? Man . . . I can hardly wait to experience that!

“Lots and lots of quality gameplay footage. I want to see this game in action. I don’t want to see TOO much for fear of spoilers, but I want to get a good idea of what it will feel like to play this game.”

Oh, yes. Heck yes. There were several videos — quite lengthy, too — that showcased the game in action, and I gobbled most of them up. To avoid spoilers, I didn’t watch one particular video in which the player journeyed outside the starting area. But my gosh, just watching all that gameplay in the first area of the game fascinated me. I can see myself spending hours and hours just exploring and messing around with the environment in various ways, let alone actually spending time trying to figure out how to progress the story!

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“A music sampling. This will hopefully come with the trailer, but I’d like to hear some of the music from the new game! The Zelda series is well-known for its excellent music, and I can’t wait to get an earful of yet another amazing soundtrack.”

Do I really need to elaborate on this one? The music in the trailer is fantastic. No idea if it’ll be like that in the game, since the music in the gameplay footage is pretty quiet and piano-based, but who knows?

“Reassurance. This is basically a summary of all of the above. After hopefully getting to see and hear all of this, I want to be reassured that the wait will, indeed, be worth it.”

The short answer: yes. I’ve been reassured. The wait will be more than worth it.

The long answer:

This game looks freaking incredible. Everything about it is utterly captivating. The visuals are stunning. The gameplay looks fun and fluid, and it appears to be keeping a great balance of familiar and innovative. It sounds great, both the soft piano music and the myriad of nature sounds.

But besides all of that, what makes me the most excited is this. I’ve seen just one percent of the whole game, and I’m already astounded by what I’ve seen. How many more amazing surprises will this game hold? We’ve only seen a small portion of the enormous game map. We haven’t seen any towns. We haven’t even had the tiniest glimpse of a dungeon!

Clearly, Nintendo is putting their time to good use with this game. It may have been frustrating having to deal with two delays, but after what I’ve seen, I’m completely willing to let that frustration slide. 2017 is quite a ways off still, but when Breath of the Wild is finally released, I’m sure we’re going to find that the wait was worth every second.

I’m pumped. This game is going to knock my socks off. I’m sure of it.

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I hope you’re as excited as I am! What are you most looking forward to about the game? Let me know in the comments!


NEXT TIME ON “OH, THE HUMANITY!”: I talk about Harry Potter and how it has inspired me and helped shape me into who I am today. Stay tuned!

The Moviegoing Experience

It might sound silly, but to me, there’s something magical about going to see a movie in the theater.

It often goes something like this. You arrive at the theater, get your tickets, and meet up with your friends. The group of you talk and laugh and share in the excitement of whatever movie it is you’re about to see. When the time is right, you enter the theater and do your best to find some really good seats. In the past, I liked sitting far in the back, but now I like to sit closer, so that the screen fills just about my entire field of vision. Less distracting and more immersive that way, at least to me.

You and your friends keep laughing and chatting until the previews start, which you quiet down for, but you still can’t help but make some commentary on the trailers that you liked or didn’t like. Then, finally, after the screen pleads for you to turn off your phone, the lights slowly dim down, and the film begins. Ideally, a hush falls over the crowd right at this moment.

Seeing the movie itself is magical (if the movie is good, that is), but that moment when the lights go down is really special in itself. To me, it’s just like when you go to see a play and the same thing happens. The dimming of the lights is like crossing the threshold from the real world into the world that the filmmakers have created, pulling you into an experience.

That’s what a movie is to me. It’s an experience. It’s not merely entertainment. Filmmaking is an art form, and sure, there are plenty of films out there that abuse the medium and are not worth anyone’s time. But there are also many films out there that are truly creative. Immersive. Magical. Timeless. Soul-stirring. Riveting. Even life-changing. Those are the kind of movies that I love seeing in a dark theater on an enormous screen with crystal-clear surround sound. I find that it’s the best way to experience the audiovisual art form known as cinema.

Anyway, if the movie is good, you keep your eyes locked on the screen, drinking it all in, enjoying the story and the characters, marveling at the technical skills being put on display, relishing the sound design and the music. Occasionally, you may whisper a reaction or a thought to the person next to you. Other times, you may laugh out loud, or cheer for joy, or even cry your eyes out. And when the credits start to roll, you stand and applaud along with everyone else in the theater. Then you all exit the theater and talk about the movie. And talk. And talk. And talk. You can’t stop talking about it, because the movie impacted you. It meant something to you.

Movies are powerful.

As I’ve said, if they’re good. And also if your theater experience is as sublime as the one I just described. Sometimes, you run into people who don’t respect the moviegoing experience. They range from mildly annoying (someone playing on their phone the whole time) to excruciatingly frustrating (people talking and reacting much too loudly). I feel sorry for these kinds of people. They just don’t seem to understand all the work, heart, skill, and passion that goes into creating a film. They don’t see movies as art. They see them as a fun little escape from the real world for a couple of hours, during which time they can act however they want, regardless of the people around them.

In a perfect world, everyone would want to keep the moviegoing experience magical. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. So what’s my point?

My point is that cinema is an art form, and one that deserves respect. Seeing a good movie in a theater with an audience that understands this is one of the most magical experiences this world has to offer. I only wish that more people saw it that way.


Well, that was a little more melancholy than I originally anticipated. Anyway, next time I’ll have a more enthusiastic post about my reactions to the E3 reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! Late, I know, but better late than never. Until then!

“Finding Dory” — A Film Review

*No worries. This review is entirely spoiler-free!*

I don’t know about you, but I vividly remember seeing Finding Nemo on the big screen back in 2003. I was eight years old at the time. Thirteen years later, it’s still one of my favorite animated films and is, in my opinion, one of Pixar’s best efforts. And here we are now with its long-awaited sequel: Finding Dory.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie. Normally, I’m pretty good at predicting whether a movie will be good or not by watching its trailer(s). But even after watching multiple promos and trailers for this movie, I couldn’t tell which way it would swing. I was equally skeptical and hopeful. I would just have to wait and see.

Well, I waited. And I saw it. Now it’s time to review it!

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The story, of course, centers around everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, Dory. It’s been a year since the events of Finding Nemo, and Dory finally remembers that she has a family out there somewhere. With the help of Marlin, Nemo, and a cast of other characters both old and new, she sets out to reunite with them.

Overall, I found the story to be well-done and engaging. The opening scene is very strong, pulling you right in and making you feel things (one of the things Pixar is best at). After that, though, things do get choppy and uneven for a while. One minute the movie is fast-paced and fun, and the next it gets lost in some awkwardly written dialogue scenes. Thankfully, the movie does get better as it goes on, but I did find it a bit unstable here and there. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why, but I think it was a combination of some of the dialogue needing to be ironed out, some pacing issues, and some trouble on the writers’ part figuring out how much they needed to re-establish the characters that we already know.

Most of those problems happen in the first act and (for the most part) diminish as the film goes on, thankfully. And in the end, I was satisfied with how the whole story played out. There were laughs, and there were also tears. The film has a great message about overcoming weaknesses, specifically disabilities; Dory, of course, has short-term memory loss, while other characters have a missing tentacle or nearsightedness. I do think the message could have been better-integrated into the plot, but as it was, it worked. I found the flashback scenes with Dory’s parents to be particularly touching, watching them do their best to care for their daughter and teach her to do things on her own despite her memory problem.

So, no, I don’t think the story is as good as that of Finding Nemo, but I do think it works well in its own right, despite a few problems.

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One of the film’s strongest elements is its characters. Dory is obviously a standout, both funny and endearing — more so the latter than the former in this film. Marlin is as great as ever, but sadly, Nemo doesn’t really have much to do in the story. He’s just kind of . . . there. It’s unfortunate, because one of the best things about the first film was how well it balanced its two plotlines: Marlin and Dory searching for Nemo, and Nemo’s experiences in the fish tank. Here, the focus is on Dory, and the parts that center around her are good, but whenever the film switched to a character moment between Marlin and Nemo, I didn’t find it to be particularly interesting.

On the plus side, though, we get some great new characters that are definitely worth remembering: Hank the octopus (er, septopus), Destiny the whale shark, and Bailey the beluga are the main standouts. They were great fun in different ways, and they stack up well with the memorable side characters from the original. Oh, and then there’s Gerald. Gerald is arguably the best part of the movie. Be sure to stay after the credits for more of Gerald. And hey, Pixar? How about Finding Gerald for the threequel? Please? Can you make that happen? I need more Gerald!

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The movie is visually stunning, as one would expect from Pixar. The water, the diverse ocean life, the movements of the characters, the lighting, the vivid colors . . . it all comes together in a beautiful package, doing a wonderful job of immersing you into its world. It sounds great, too, from the lovely score by Thomas Newman to the more subtle things like how the characters’ voices echo underwater. Great stuff.

So. That’s actually pretty much everything I wanted to say about this film! In conclusion, Finding Dory is a solid sequel. It sometimes has trouble finding its footing, but when it works, it really does work. No, it’s not as good as Finding Nemo, at least in my opinion. It’s not as moving, it’s not as funny, and it’s not as well-rounded a film. But it’s a good movie all the same, and one that is absolutely worth seeing. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts! What did you think of the movie? Leave me a comment!

Next time, I’ll have some reactions, thoughts, and general discussion about all the new information we got about the new Zelda game at E3! Until then!

 

The Next Adventure: Zelda at E3 2016

Depending on how long you’ve been reading my blog, you may or may not know that I’m a big fan of the Legend of Zelda series. Ever since I played The Minish Cap on my little Game Boy Advance when I was nine, I’ve been hooked on the sweeping, epic quests filled with monster bashing and puzzle solving that have been going strong ever since the original came out in 1986.

Naturally, when the next big installment in the series was first announced at E3 (that’s Electronic Entertainment Expo for you non-gamers who may be reading this) in 2014, I was pretty excited. Okay, really excited. I may or may not have let out a couple of squeals of joy.

That trailer, despite having a lot less information about the game than I was hoping for, was still more than enough to get me pumped. The new aesthetic style instantly appealed to me, and I relished the idea of more nonlinearity and an even bigger world to explore. At the time, 2015 seemed like a long wait. Luckily, later in 2014, Nintendo surprised everyone by showing some new footage from the game at the Game Awards — check it out!

Naturally, this only got me more excited. This was looking so good! I couldn’t wait to play it. 2015 wasn’t that much father away, was it?

Well, no, it wasn’t. But the problem was that the game got delayed to a 2016 release instead.

My first reaction was something like: Dangit! Why, Nintendo? Why must you make us wait longer? WHY?

My second reaction was a bit more reasonable: Well, I’m sure they have good reasons for it. They said they just need more time to develop ideas they’ve come up with as they’ve been working on it. I’m sure the wait will be worth it.

For a while after that, news about the new game was pretty much nonexistent . . . up until late April this year, when Nintendo announced that the new Zelda was being delayed a second time. To 2017. And it would be released on both Wii U and the new system, currently codenamed “NX,” which is also releasing in 2017.

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I have to admit that I was kind of ticked when I heard that. I still feel kind of conflicted about it. On one hand, they’re taking their time, so it (hopefully) means the game will be really, really good once it’s (finally) finished. On the other hand, according to my knowledge, every major Zelda game in the past has been delayed at least once, so I can’t help but wonder why Nintendo can’t seem to get an accurate idea of what timeframe they can finish a game in.

But hey, I’m far from an expert on how the video game industry works, so who am I to talk? All I can really do is just wait and see what they give us. And when they announced the most recent delay, they also announced that this year at E3, they’ll be focusing a lot on the new Zelda — in fact, it will be Nintendo’s only playable demo at the expo. That makes me happy, because it means (I hope) that we’ll be getting a LOT of new information about the game.

Here’s a a quick rundown of what I’m hoping for!

  • A title. I’m really, really sick of calling it “Zelda Wii U.” I’d like to know the final title, whatever it may be. I enjoy my Wii U and my games for it, but let’s face it: “Wii U” is pretty much the dumbest console name ever.
  • A full trailer. I want to see the characters. I want to get an idea of the story. I want to see many, many more examples of what is going to make this game awesome and what is going to make it stand out in the Zelda series.
  • Lots and lots of quality gameplay footage. I want to see this game in action. I don’t want to see TOO much for fear of spoilers, but I want to get a good idea of what it will feel like to play this game.
  • A music sampling. This will hopefully come with the trailer, but I’d like to hear some of the music from the new game! The Zelda series is well-known for its excellent music, and I can’t wait to get an earful of yet another amazing soundtrack.
  • Reassurance. This is basically a summary of all of the above. After hopefully getting to see and hear all of this, I want to be reassured that the wait will, indeed, be worth it.

That’s about it. Obviously, I’m not entitled to all of this just because I’m a Zelda fan, but at the same time, we’ve had two delays and very little news about the game ever since it was first announced. So, I think it’s about time we get the real scoop on what this game is going to be. Can’t wait!

Are you excited for the game? What do you hope E3 will bring? Leave a comment to let me know. And don’t forget that Nintendo will be streaming their press conference live from E3 on June 14th, 9 AM Pacific Time!

See you guys later! My next post will most likely be a review of the long-awaited Finding Dory. Stay tuned for that!

People

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a mission trip with a group of fellow Catholics to New York City. It was an incredible experience, and one thing we focused on a lot was homeless outreach. This, of course, required us to reach out to individuals who we might otherwise overlook. This taught me a few things. I wanted to briefly share one of those things with you today.

I can generally be pretty shy around people I’ve never met before, and even among people I do know. So whenever I’m in a public place, perhaps just strolling down the street or sitting in a subway in New York, my natural instinct is to keep to myself and my thoughts. Don’t talk to anybody, don’t even look anybody in the eye. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it often blinds me to a certain fact.

All these people around me, these people I’m avoiding eye contact with or just trying to forget they’re there? Well . . . they’re people.

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That sounds silly, I know. Of course they’re people, Matthew. Duh. But do you ever think about that when others are passing you by? Those are people. People with lives, with families (hopefully), with hopes, with needs and wants. It can be so easy to get caught up in ourselves, so much so that we don’t take proper notice of what’s going on around us.

See that homeless man sitting alone on the street corner? See that elderly woman on the bus with no one to talk to? They’re people. And people need love.

I’m not trying to guilt anybody. And no, I’m not saying that I think you should talk to every single stranger you run into. Sometimes people do want to be left alone, and other people just aren’t friendly at all. But I think there are definitely situations we find ourselves in from time to time in which we can feel a nagging voice in our heads. Go to that person. Talk to them.

The Holy Spirit works in funny ways, that’s for sure. And it’s usually a good idea to listen. Who knows? You might just make someone’s day.

That’s all. Until next time!

The Best Thing About “Star Wars”

Wait, it’s Easter! Why aren’t I writing a post about Easter?

Technically, I am. You’ll see. To start, though, I want to share what I think is the best thing about Star Wars.

Okay, so maybe it’s not the best thing about Star Wars, but it’s definitely one of the best things, because I find it to be very inspiring. And it’s this.

When the original film was being made, most people thought it was going to fail.

Many of the cast members were dissatisfied with the script. The studio executives were sure that such an unconventional film wouldn’t make much money. Even George Lucas himself was very disappointed with the film that he got versus the film he had in his head. As grand and exciting as the final film turned out to be, he had always imagined something even grander and more exciting. The technology at the time simply didn’t allow for it.

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“I was compromising left and right just to get things semi-done,” he said in an interview. “I was desperately unhappy.”

In May 1977, the movie opened in 32 theaters in the U.S. Just 32 theaters in the entire country! Crazier still, instead of attending the premiere, George Lucas took a vacation to Hawaii with his friend Steven Spielberg, because he was absolutely convinced the movie was going to flop.

The rest, as they say, is history. It was an instant blockbuster hit. And now, almost forty years later, Star Wars is just as popular (if not more so) than it has ever been.

So what’s my point? My point is that, sometimes, things don’t go our way. Sometimes our plans are destroyed by circumstances. Sometimes reality doesn’t meet our expectations at all.

Sometimes, it looks as though things couldn’t get any worse.

But then, lo and behold, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s a simple message that we’ve heard many times, but I think it’s worth repeating, especially at Easter time. (See, I told you this was actually a post about Easter!)

Happy Easter, and I hope you remember never to give up hope. Later!

Matthew Recommends: “Avatar: The Last Airbender”

I’ve been watching a show lately with the sibs. It’s a show that, when it was airing on Nickelodeon from 2005-2008, I had only heard of and never seen. This was mainly because we didn’t have cable. Plus, whenever I did happen to come across images of it, I thought it looked weird.

Oh, silly me. Silly, silly me.

Anyway, thanks to the power of modern streaming technology, Avatar: The Last Airbender is available for free streaming on Amazon Instant Video (free if you have Prime, that is). And thanks to friends of mine who recommended the show to me and my family, I proposed to my siblings one night that we watch the first episode. Give it a shot.

One episode quickly turned into two. Then three, then four. Et cetera.

We haven’t finished the series yet, but we just started watching the third and final season. And you know what?

This show is fantastic.

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It’s even more than that, really. It’s one of the best cartoons I’ve ever seen — heck, it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s aimed primarily at younger audiences, but like all the best entertainment, it’s done so well that adults enjoy it too, perhaps even more.

So what’s the show about? Well, instead of me telling you, just watch the intro from the show itself right here. (The first half-second or so is cut off for some reason, so you can’t hear the narrator say the first word: “water.”)

Seems intriguing, right? Well, just wait until you actually start watching the show. You’ll be hooked from the beginning, trust me.

And you know what the best thing is? It just keeps getting better. And better! Season 1 is great, but Season 2 blew me away even more. I can’t wait to see what further surprises await in Season 3.

So what exactly is so great about this show? Many things. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing the cast is, both the characters themselves and the people voicing them. They’re all so well-drawn, with faults and fears, with strengths and talents, and the adventures they experience together are never, ever boring. I can’t think of a single episode of this show so far that I haven’t liked.

The animation is great, too, taking a lot of inspiration from anime. It’s also funny. Like, really funny. Much funnier than I was ever expecting it to be. There’s not an episode that goes by in which my siblings and I don’t laugh out loud at least once. On the flip side, the show can also sometimes be pretty dark for a kids’ cartoon, and I love it — even if that owl from the library will forever haunt my nightmares, along with the Face Stealer. (Fans of the show reading this know exactly what I mean. It’s creepy as heck.)

But the best thing about the show is the storytelling. It’s so well-written that I almost can’t believe it was on the same network as Spongebob Squarepants. (No offense to that show, really. I like it, but Avatar is on another tier altogether.) Every episode successfully weaves a compelling self-contained story that simultaneously ties into the overall plot that’s building up over the entire series. It’s brilliant.

What else can I write without giving stuff away? Not much. Plus I’m too lazy to just keep writing about the show. So, ultimately, my point is this:

Watch it.

Please. You’ll thank me later. (And please, for the love of all that is holy, stay away from the live action film adaptation. *shudder*)

Oh, and have a GIF that makes no sense unless you’ve seen the show!

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