Breath of the Wild’s Puzzles Are Better Than Portal 2’s

I might regret that title, but let me talk it through. Are Breath of the Wild’s puzzles better than Portal 2’s puzzles? I love the puzzles in Portal 2! It’s almost a perfect game and now I’m questioning how good it really is? How did I get here?

Core to the enjoyment of solving a Portal puzzle is the satisfaction felt at the end of a level. At the outset, everything you need to solve the level is in front of you. The tools are dead simple: two portals. You, your portal gun and your wits (and maybe the occasional Companion Cube or two). As you go along, additional tools are added, but they only serve to enhance the portal principle. Pure satisfaction is yours when you reach the end, feeling like you’re the only person that has ever solved this puzzle in the way you did. It really taps the brainzone where pleasure and satisfaction is registered. As the levels progress, the ideas and solutions build upon themselves until (spoiler alert) you’re opening a portal on the moon. Each step along the way is another accomplishment, success building on another success until you finally make it to the end.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has tapped into that same brainzone for me, to the point that I’m wondering if BotW’s puzzles are better than Portal’s. But why?

In BotW, you have a few more tools at your disposal. The runes on your Sheikah Slate give you more options for solving a particular puzzle, along with your weapons. It’s up to you how you use them, as most puzzles can be brute forced. But solving a puzzle with an elegant solution feels infinitely more satisfying.

Case in point: there is a puzzle where huge metal balls are tumbling down a sloped surface that is interspersed with blocks and obstacles that impede the descent of the metallic balls (think a giant pinball machine, and you’re half-way there). There is also water falling over the back wall and down the slope. You, being a brute, could use magnesis (the rune that allows you to manipulate metal objects) to freeze one of the pinballs and force it near the end of the slope. But you’ve got to maneuver the huge pinball while avoiding the other pinballs that are tumbling around you. One false move and your precious pinball is going to miss the last obstacle and tumble over the side, with no other pinballs left to manipulate. Brute force is doable, but not easy (and I would assume, not as satisfying). I know it’s not easy because I tried it. Over and over again.

The elegant solution is to use crynosis (the rune that allows you to create up to three pillars of ice out of water) to deftly guide the ball to its destination, gently moving it down the slope into the awaiting receptacle. The solution presented itself to me as I was about to give up after the fiftieth attempt to brute force my way. It was an “a-HA!” moment of the highest order. Elegance in and of itself is a reward. There’s an added satisfaction that you figured out what the level designer had in mind. He deemed you smart enough to eventually figure it out and rewarded your superior intellect with an extra satisfying ding at the end. Your brainzone was touched. You didn’t get an extra spirit orb for doing it “right”. You didn’t get a rupee bonus. The feeling of accomplishment is a reward all its own.

This experience happens over and over again. Some puzzles are easier, some are less elegant, but all end in a feeling of accomplishment.

And that’s not even mentioning the puzzles contained in each of the four Divine Beasts. Not only are you manipulating the physics around you but you are also physically manipulating the level, rotating it or turning it on its side. It’s an added layer that magnifies the difficulty and demands more of the puzzle solver. But again, elegance is found in the solution.

So why am I feeling like BotW’s puzzles are better than Portal 2? I think part of it is the variety. Puzzles in Portal are the game. They are the means that lead to your escape. The puzzles in BotW are both essential (solving the Divine Beasts) and superfluous (you could ostensibly finish the game without completing every shrine). There are also hours of the game spent not solving puzzles. The crafting, exploring and fighting space out the puzzles at a reasonable pace that allows for puzzle satisfaction to come at regular intervals.

So maybe I’m saying The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is just a better game than Portal 2. Because it is. But in the end, I think the puzzles are superior, too.

Weekend Gaming

2017 has been a pretty decent year for gaming with a lot of good games already out and even more on the way, including a couple very big releases that have a surprising thread running through the two of them:

Seriously, though, in the Buttonmashing household, this is going to be a great weekend (minus some funeral stuff, but that’s neither here nor there). We’ve got Super Mario Odyssey downloading on the Switch, a HUGE OSU Football game on Saturday and STRANGER THINGS 2!! (Oh, and the Buttonwife is auditioning to be on Family Feud with other members of the family including fellow Buttonmasher James). It’s a cornucopia of good content waiting to be consumed.

Pile on top of that the Steam Halloween Sale, and you’ve got yourself quite the gaming weekend.

Steam Halloween Sale

I think I’ll be spending the majority of my time with the Switch playing Super Mario but I’m sure we’ll sprinkle in some Dota 2 and other PC gaming.

What are you playing this weekend?

In My Hands

In my actual freaking hands!

This has actually been in my hand since yesterday, but life has been getting in the way and it’s still not set up. Tomorrow, for sure, and then we’ll be Weekend Gaming, Switch Style!

There were some cosmic forces at work getting to this point. Last Saturday, I went to Best Buy to get my son a birthday gift. Having procured the gift, I was perusing the Switch section when I was approached by a salesperson, asking if I needed help. “Yeah, you got any Switches in stock?” I asked, knowing full-well they didn’t have any in stock. “Yeah, I’ve got two right now. Want one?” Caught flat-footed and not ready to commit, I told him I was joking and moved on with my day. But for the next couple days, the feeling of “you should have bought it when you had the chance” gnawed at my mind.

I checked the Best Buy stock online Wednesday and everything was sold-out. On a whim, I swung by the store and lo-and-behold, there was the Switch you see above. I told the salesdude my story and he replies, “Yeah, this Switch showed up today and noone knows how or why. It wasn’t on any orders and we weren’t expecting new stock for a while.” Lucky!

Clearly, the Universe wants a Switch in the Buttonmashing household.

The Friends of Nintendo Humble Bundle

The Friends of Nintendo Humble Bundle is currently available, offering a number of Nintendo Wii U and 3DS games.

I could be mistaken, but as far as I can remember, this is the first time Nintendo games have been available as part of a Humble Bundle. And it’s a great deal — 13 bucks gets you everything, including Street Fighter IV for the 3DS and Darksiders 2 for the Wii U.

Four Swords Free for 3DS (until Sunday)

Thanks to a tip from Laughter, I was pointed to a post over on Wii U Daily that Nintendo is giving Zelda Four Swords, the Gameboy Advance multi-Link Zelda game.

According to the post on Nintendo’s site:

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is GameSpot’s 2013 game of the year! We want to celebrate all things Hyrulian, so for a limited time we’re offering The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition for FREE!

I played a little of Four Swords back when it came out but never got a chance to play it very much. Now that we have four 3DSes in this household, we are always looking for ways to play something together. Having a little four-player Zelda should be great.

History of Handheld Systems

DS Lite

Some cool scans of Club Nintendo’s “History of Handheld Systems” over at The Bit Beacon.

Super Mario Soda Display

I’ve seen some cool grocery store soda displays (mostly football oriented) but this one is very impressive:

(via @darrenrovell)

It worked every time

You used to blow into your NES cartridges to make them work (even though it was probably nothing more than the Placebo Effect). Now you can make some sweet music with your very own Custom Nintendo Super Mario 3 Harmonica!

Wii MotionPlus is A…Plus

On a whim last week, we purchased Wii Sports Resort and an extra Wii MotionPlus controller. Due to some family commitments, we didnt crack it open until this last Tuesday.

Our Wii has not been off since.

I dont know how Nintendo did it, but they have definitely improved on the control scheme of the device. Almost every game in the title is excellent and fun to play. Two of the biggest hits have been the airplane and sword fighting games.

LucasArts, Nintendo beat you. They beat you bad. Its a shame, because you have the property for it. At any rate, it made me look forward to this game:

redsteel2 I didnt play the first, but apparently it deals with guns and swords. If Ubisoft can translate the controls well, itll be a blast. The cell-shaded style is a plus in my book. Look for Red Steel 2 in 2010 I believe.

Team Ninja+Nintendo=buhwah!?!?

Heck, yes. It does.

We’re all fans of the recent Metroid games here. This one looks like Ryu is in the suit. Please, no waggle.

If you’re a feed reader and don’t see the vid, please come over to our house to play.