Why The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the Most Legendary Game on the Switch

It’s no secret that Zelda fans have been waiting for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (TOTK), the sequel to Breath of the Wild (BOTW)  to drop, after all, it won the Game of the Year award in 2017, and is considered to be one of the best Nintendo Switch games you could play. After seven long years of waiting, we finally have the game in our hands to play. Is it any good? Is it worth the wait and money? Is it better than BOTW? To answer all of those questions, I say yes!

Story Synopsis

Tears of the Kingdom starts us off under Hyrule Castle, maybe 3-ish years after the events of the last game, exploring the depths because of a substance called Gloom was making people in Hyrule ill. After a little of exploration, you as Link find murals that depict an ancient civilization called the Zonai, and how they played a major part in the creation of Hyrule.

After reading these murals and traveling the depths, you reach a mysterious room where you see a corpse attached to an arm on its chest. The corpse wakes up, starts talking directly to you, and attacks you, which leaves Link’s right arm swallowed in Gloom and the Master Sword shattered. Then the corpse lifts Hyrule Castle into the sky, which sends the corpse and Zelda plummeting down below. You try to reach out for her to no avail and you are saved by the mysterious arm..

You then wake up on an island in the sky with the arm attached to your right arm to make your arm functional again. The arm belongs to a Zonai named Rauru, and he tells you to explore the sky islands, defeat the awakened Ganondorf, and find Zelda.

Gameplay

The fundamental gameplay in TOTK is (surprise surprise) about the same as it was in BOTW, with major new additions. The physics, weapons, armor, food, sprint, and health bar are all the same. They did, however, throw in a lot of major gameplay mechanics to spice things up.

Ultrahand:  Ultrahand is a fun new upgrade from Magnesis in the previous game, but works with any non-living objects. You can put things together, like logs and wheels, to create basically anything you can think of! I will admit, it does require a little bit of getting used to, but once you master it, you can become as creative as you mind lets you! This is easily one of the most fun gameplay mechanics in this game.

Fuse:  Have you ever wished your weapons would be stronger in a game? Maybe you wanted to get creative and mix together weapons? Well now you can with the Fuse ability! You’re allowed to fuse any weapon or shield to practically everything else! And yes, you can use it on your arrows too, which gives your arrow shots special abilities and deal extra damage.

Ascend:  They may have taken away the champion abilities from the last game, but don’t cry over Revali’s Gale, because Ascend can do just that, but way better! Using Ascend lets you dive straight up into any solid surface, and you emerge on top of it. Have you ever gotten stuck in a cave or room? Just use Ascend to end up on the roof!

Recall:  Last but certainly not least, there is Recall. Recall lets you reverse the direction or movement of basically anything in the click of a button. It can come really handy when you are wanting to return to the sky, because you can use Recall on rocks that have just fallen from the sky to ride them back up!

There is one more ability to use, but it is optional and satisfying to find, so I won’t spoil that just yet. With your abilities you are free to explore and interact with the massive sky, surface, and depths of Hyrule at your own pace! We have only scratched the surface of what this game can offer (pun definitely intended).

Shrines and Dungeons

Shrines are back in this game, with a major design overhaul and creativity surge. Shrines in Tears of the Kingdom can be used to teleport back to places you may want to return to later, but also beating them will give you a Light of Blessing. When you have collected four of them, you can go to a statue and pray to unlock a new heart (max 40) and part of your stamina wheel (max 3). There are 152 shrines in this game to unlock, so you already have plenty to do off the bat!

When you have collected four of Light of Blessings, you can go to a statue and pray to unlock a new heart (max 40) and part of your stamina wheel (max 3). There are 152 shrines in this game to unlock, so you already have plenty to do off the bat!

A major complaint in Breath of the Wild was the lack of traditional Zelda dungeons, which were replaced by mediocre boring puzzles that all had the same design. Well, you may be happy to hear that this game has actual dungeons again, although not traditionally styled. Each dungeon has its own design theme being based on a different element and requires you to solve rather tricky puzzles about 4-6 times to unlock your way to the dungeon boss. The way that its not considered a traditional dungeon design is because its more open and not linear with keys and specific objectives. Each one is so much fun and really requires you to think hard about your next move.

Overworld Bosses and Enemies

The enemies in the overworld areas contain the same monsters from last game, but heavily evolved over the time skip, and new enemies entirely. There are also Zonai Constructs lurking in the sky for any intruders. The enemies can also team up with entirely different enemy life. For example, I have seen multiple times that an Aerocuda would carry a Bokoblin or Lizalfos to make for a deadly air-drop combo. This game is also way more challenging than BOTW, and everybody will swing at you and will not pull any punches!

There are also new overworld bosses to fight. Boss Bokoblins lurks with a group of Bokoblins and will act as the ringleader of the bunch. Lynels return and are just as challenging as they were in BOTW, so keep your reflexes sharp, as well as your sword. My favorite new overworld boss has to be the legendary Gleeoks returning from the first Zelda game, but with a massive buff. I always get scared of these giant three-headed terrors!

Overall Thoughts

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is easily the best game you could play on the Nintendo Switch. It has amazing and almost endless gameplay, beautiful graphics as well as a masterful environment, and a very emotional story. I highly recommend that you play it if you loved BOTW, because this game somehow makes it look like a beta version. This game took me a whole week to beat, and it is genuinely impressive how there is always something to do at all times when playing this game! My only complaint would be that there are some parts where the frame rate would get bad, but that is because of the hardware it is on; they actually did an amazing job working around the limits of the Nintendo Switch! Definitely worth the $70 price tag this time around!

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Top Ten Mario Video Games

With the stunning success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie it’s a great time to look back at the Nintendo franchise that inspired the film and rank them in order of awesomeness! How does this list compares to yours? Be sure to drop a comment.

10. New Super Mario Bros

As Mario’s first new side-scrolling game in several years, this title was released for the Nintendo DS and brought a new visual style to the series that was continued for many games after it and was highly influential. It was a return to Mario’s roots after many 3D games were released, with fun 2D levels and multiple power-ups and secrets to explore.

9. Super Mario 3D Land

This title for the Nintendo 3DS has Mario going through familiar 3D levels, but the action is similar to his earlier 2D side-scrolling games, and it has the return of his iconic raccoon suite from Super Mario Bros 3. The levels are great fun to play and are an inspiration for the later 3D World game.

8. Super Mario Land

Mario’s first portable game for the Game Boy is simple, but incredibly fun and shows how easy it is to pick up a Mario game and have a great time. Based on the NES original, the levels are short, but exciting and challenging. The game even has side scrolling shooting levels, which provides a unique experience in Mario games.

7. Super Mario Bros 2

Mario’s second NES game is in some ways the most unique. He travels to the  dream world of Subcon and battles a new enemy named Wart and his shyguy minions. The action is different from every other title and features his brother Luigi and his friends Peach and Toad as playable characters for the first time. The ending sequence is also a fan favorite, which reveals it was all a dream.

6. Super Mario 3D World

An evolution of the earlier Super Mario 3D Land, having Cat Mario running through fun and exciting levels in a 3D world is something every Nintendo fan should experience and the cat suit is perhaps Mario’s best powerup, The remaster of this title includes Bowser’s Fury, which is the first foray into an open world Mario game that is a fun hint of things to come for future Mario games.

5. Super Mario Bros 3

Mario’s last NES title was his best on the console. This title featured a return to the Mushroom Kingdom and showed for the first time, Bowser’s kids, such as Lemmy Koopa, Wendy O Koopa, and Ludwig Von Koopa, to name a few, who have become fan favorites in their own right and have appeared in many other games, as well. This game expanded on the original game in a huge way, with an overworld to go through, and new power ups such as Mario’s raccoon suit that enable him to fly. Taking off and flying above your foes is an epic moment in Mario gaming!

4. Super Mario World

The high point of 2D mario gaming, this launch title for the Super NES had Mario’s dinosaur pal Yoshi appearing for the first time running through beautifully designed areas in Dinosaur Island while battling Bowser and his offspring, the Koopa Kids. This game perfected everything that came before, such as an interactive overworld, a Superman-like cape to fly around, and a huge amount of levels to explore.

3. Super Mario 64

This was the first and arguably the most influential 3D game of all time. Being able to move Mario in a fully immersive 3D world changed video games forever and had you going though varied and exciting levels while battling Bowser and his minions. The first time you were able to move Mario in any direction and explore Peach’s castle is a moment that so memorable and is just one of many such moments that Mario games have provided.

2. Super Mario Bros.

The original that reinvigorated the video game genre after the Atari crash of 1983, this side-scrolling classic introduced Bowser, Princess Peach, goombas and the Mushroom Kingdom that are now icons for all gaming. The numerous levels and secrets in each world were groundbreaking at the time and made Mario a household name.

1. Super Mario Galaxy

The pinnacle of 3D Mario gaming, this adventure has Mario soaring through outer space in wildly inventive levels that changed how 3D platformers were played. The sheer fun and excitement of this game is what makes Mario an icon who long ago surpassed his gaming roots and now is a movie star.

C.S. Link

The SUPER Mario Movie We’ve Been Waiting For

(SPOILERS WILL BE FLAGGED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PARAGRPAHS CONTAINING SPOILERS)

It is finally time that the Super Mario Bros. franchise gets an ACTUAL movie (don’t bring up the 1993 live-action one…), but is it any good? Critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic gave the movie a 55% and a 47%. Those are low very low scores compared to the audience scores, which are a high 98% and an 86%. Why are the critic scores so low? This will be discussed later in the article; anyway, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, in my opinion, is a fun and referenced-packed adventure that can be watched by all ages, but is especially more enjoyable for the biggest Mario fans. Of course, it isn’t perfect. As my main issues are with the general pacing which leads to lack of substance in some scenes, as well as other scenes being pushed down to compensate with the little time the movie has.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie begins with out two brothers, Mario and Luigi, living in Brooklyn, New York struggling to get their new plumbing business off the ground and running. Their family do not help them at all, giving them words of scolding rather than encouragement. After seeing on the news that Brooklyn is having a massive plumbing problem, they rush to the scene, desperate to get their names out there. They arrive and pull some shenanigans, which then ends with them underground in a pipe maze. They find our iconic green pipe and get pulled into this warp dimension; Luigi gets sent to the Dark lands, and Mario to the Mushroom Kingdom.

The voice acting in this movie was stellar and I definitely owe everyone on the VA team an apology for my past pessimism when they were announced, especially with Chris Pratt as Mario. He was definitely one of the best performances in this movie, followed by Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, and Anya Talor-Joy as Princess Peach. How could we talk Mario without his original voice actor, Charles Martinet? It was confirmed that he would be in this movie, but I really wish we got to hear more of him, honestly.

The animation in this movie was stellar and groundbreaking compared to what Illumination usually churns out. You could really tell they improved a lot and cared about making this movie the best they could produce. The animation truly compliments the brilliant settings designed for this movie. But there are some parts where you could really tell that this was an Illumination film, not that that’s a bad thing this time around.

(SPOILERS) I will now talk about the number of references that I noticed in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Despite not being a big Mario fan, I was still able to pick out a LOT of fun refences sprinkled into this movie. My favorites being references to other Nintendo games, like Star Fox and Punch-Out, and the worldbuilding and designs in this film. The Mushroom Kingdom was amazing and masterfully crafted with Easter eggs of the past Mario games; the Mushroom Kingdom was definitely my favorite place in the whole movie. Then there were Easter eggs to Super Smash Bros., which keeps the tradition that the Sonic the Hedgehog movies started of referencing the classic games that inspired the films.

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The Last Of Us Is First As A Faithful Adaptation

The television adaptation of the video game The Last of Us concluded its first season on HBO Max. Ever since it premiered this past January, the TV show has received widespread acclaim from critics and fans for being both a faithful adaptation and for its quality.

The Last of Us stands apart from your typical post-apocalyptic fare in many ways. For starters, despite its premise being similar to other post-apocalyptic yarns, it does not involve undead flesh-eaters. It is more contemplative and offers richer character studies as the main characters face moral dilemmas every moment of their fragile existence.

The Last of Us takes place in an alternate world where a fungal infection that started in 2003 destroyed our society as the parasitic fungus, called Cordyceps, altered the brains of its victims and turned them into mindless savages. Their humanity gone, the infected victims ran rampant through society as they infected others though bites and savage attacks. During the outbreak, the world descended into anarchy and the United States basically became lawless as murderous gangs and warlords rule the land except for certain cities that are run by the tyrannical FEDRA (Federal Disaster Response Agency). FEDRA is barely able to maintain some meaure of order through an iron fist and are opposed by a rebel group called the Fireflies. The show picks up twenty years later and stars Pedro Pascal as Joel an embittered survivor who lives a hard existence in the crumbling remains of Boston, which is barely controlled by FEDRA.

Joel is hired by the leader of the Fireflies, Marlene (Merl Dandridge, who is the only actor to reprise the same role from the video game), to transport a young teenage girl called Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the country to a Firefly-operated medical facility. Joel soon learns that Ellie is immune to the Cordyceps and is humanity’s only hope to recover from the pandemic. At first distrustful and hostile towards each other, the two gradually form an intense bond as they travel through the hostile continent.

While it is true the basic premise strongly echoes that of Pedro Pascal’s other popular TV show, The Mandalorian, The Last of Us differs greatly because of its themes and dark nature.

At its core, The Last of Us is a character study of two hardened survivors and the emotional trauma they suffer and how they rely on each other to heal emotionally.

From the very first episode, we see the start of the pandemic and its immediate and devastating effect on our society as we follow Joel, who lost his daughter Sarah (Nico Parker). This event nearly destroys Joe,l who became hard, bitter and even cruel. We get hints that he did evil things in order to survive and his only goal is to reconnect with his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna), who is located in Wyoming. Unlike Joel, Tommy is shown to be more idealistic and was a member of the Fireflies. Joel, who is desperate to connect with a family member agrees to take Ellie with him from Boston to her destination out west.

During their journey, Joel and Ellie encounter different types of people who have fascinating and even tragic stories. One episode (“Long, Long Time”) was nearly devoted entirely to a survivalist named Bill (Nick Offerman) who finds a renewed purpose in life, which is to protect and love Frank (Murray Bartlett), a survivor that made his way to Bill’s fortified territory. While that episode showcased the good in humanity, the penultimate episode “When We are in Need” showed us the worst as Ellie is captured by David (Scott Shepherd), a monster who poses as a pastor and is a would-be savior for a desperate town.

Unlike the video game, which was more devoted to accomplishing tasks (get certain items to enter a room, as an example) or battling the infected or FEDRA, the TV show focuses more on exploring the characters and themes, such as collectivism versus individualism. This theme is very central in the last episode “Look for the Light” as we see that while Joel and Ellie are able to heal from their mental wounds they still deal with ethical and moral issues, especially Joel. The actions taken by the characters are very morally dubious and leave you wondering about their moral centers.

While this more nuanced and layered exploration of characters and themes will be appreciated by many seeking something different from all the recent zombie shoot-em-ups, it may leave fans of the classic video game disappointed. It is very faithful to the video game, with it even lifting entire lines of dialogue, and it has tons of Easter eggs and references to the game. However, at times the TV show is light on action scenes as the infected barely appear in some episodes. They do not feel like a constant threat like in the game or your typical episode of The Walking Dead, nor is it as violent. Instead we see the impact of the Cordyceps infection in the ruined landscape of America and how the pandemic brought out the worst in people.

It goes without saying that Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey are the highlights of The Last of Us as the two have a natural chemistry which made their characters so endearing. Bit by bit, we see Joel quietly dropping his emotional barriers and rekindle his humanity as he forms a parental relationship with Ellie. She too, undergoes an emotional transformation as she learns about survival from Joel and looks up to Joel as the father figure she never had and needed. Through their ordeals, the two find a renewed purpose in life. For Joel his goal is to protect this young girl as he transferred his feelings over Sarah to her and in a sense accomplished with Ellie what he could not with Sarah. For Ellie, she becomes a Moses-like figure who is resolved to be able to lead humanity out of darkness with her immunity to the Cordyceps. How well they accomplished their purpose made for a wrenching finale as its emphasized how fragile and flawed the two really are.

The Last of Us is as captivating and intense as the classic video game. It also demonstrates that it is possible to be able to faithfully adapt engrossing video games into live-action media, as by the last seconds of the final episode, we’re left wanting to see more of this world and its characters.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Films & TV Shows

It’s 2023! A new year means listing which are the most anticipated upcoming films and TV shows. Keep in mind that several of the entries on this list will probably be delayed to next year or so. Also, note that not everything on the list will turn out to be any good (Transcendence anyone?), and some properties that don’t make the lists will be among this year’s best offerings. So with that…

2023 Films

10. Evil Dead Rise

The newest Evil Dead film has a new and interesting twist with its setting in an urban environment instead of the usual remote woods as seen with the previous films.

9. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

One of the first of many films delayed from last year will also be the final film of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Jason Momoa reprises his role of the Atlantean ruler and superhero for the last time.

8. The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The trailers blew away many fans of the beloved video game franchise with its dazzling visuals that accurately adapted the fantasy world of the Mario Brothers. Let’s hope the actual film delivers an epic animated fantasy as promised by the trailers.

7. The Flash

Long delayed and hampered by behind-the-scenes calamities, The Flash will bring back Michael Keaton as Batman and probably set up a new cinematic universe thanks to the time traveling antics of the title hero.

6. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) kicks off with the third Ant-Man film that will be a huge event as it introduces the next big MCU uber foe, Kang the Conqueror.

5. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

It’s the final outing for the great Harrison Ford as the legendary archaeologist. Taking place in the 1960s and featuring Nazis and mystical MacGuffins, this film looks like an exciting conclusion to the Indy Jones saga. However, without Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, the film has to deliver, but it probably will.  

4. 65

Adam Driver stars as a space explorer who crash lands on a primordial world and struggles to survive. The catch is he is on Earth 65 million years ago and dealing with deadly dinosaurs and the incoming doomsday comet that wiped out all dinosaurs. It’s a great concept for a film that promises lots of thrills and adventure.

3. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

The sequel to the classic animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse looks like an even wilder journey into the multiverse. The recent trailer had Miles Morales meeting more and fantastic versions of Spider-Man, including Spider-Man 2099. If it can match the groundbreaking nature of the original then we’ll have another animated classic.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3

Director James Gunn bids farewell to the MCU with his conclusion to the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. The trailer had many viewers reaching for their hankies as they beheld the final shots of the beloved and goofy Guardians. The film will close chapters with the Guardians while potentially opening up new ones with new heroes and villains.

1. Dune, Part Two

Visionary director Denis Villeneuve concludes his two-part adaptation of the classic Frank Herbert novel about Paul Atreides and his ascendance into a spiritual warrior and savior in the far future. Dune, Part One was instantly recognized as a groundbreaking and immersive sci-fi epic that properly captured the scope and nuance of the novel. We can only expect more of this with Dune, Part Two.

Other Upcoming Films:

Beau is Afraid; Blue Beetle; Distant; Elemental; Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel; Haunted Mansion;The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes; Knock at the Cabin; The Marvels; Shazam! Fury of the Gods; True Love

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