It’s official! I am so excited to finally announce my new YouTube Channel – Pandas at Play! You can find it here! http://bit.ly/2nvJ2Lu
My awesome wife (CrystalDragon) and I are co-running the channel, and we’ll be producing fun Nintendo video content, including:
Pandas at Play – A series where my wife and I play through Nintendo games together, letting our ridiculously silly personalities shine! Our first episode is posted below!
Reviews – Edited video review versions of the stuff I’m already doing here! Don’t worry, I’ll still be posting written reviews. My goal is to have the videos supplement my content here. The first review is posted below!
Discussions – Podcast-like dialogues, sometimes with guests, in which we discuss games we’ve played, upcoming games, or anything else related to the pasttime we love! A very fun discussion is coming up on April 6!
N64 Project – What? More teasing? This is probably how I first mentioned this overall project to some of you. I am happy to say that this is still happening, and I already have the first part of this mostly done. I’ll need some more time to complete it, but I hope you enjoy what was the impetus for this channel!
And more! Right now, the sky’s the limit for us! We’re looking to see what we can do and how we can better entertain and inform you with our fun Nintendo videos!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Video Review
Without further ado, I am proud to present the premiere video, one that I have worked hard on for the last few weeks. Here is my video review of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wildfor the Nintendo Switch!
This is a spoiler-free review, and there is no video footage of any major plot points. Hope you enjoy it!
Pandas at Play – Snipperclips Co-Op Part 1 – Stabby Sticks
Also premiering today is our first episode of Pandas at Play, where my wife and I tackle the first few stages of the ridiculously goofy and fun Snipperclips for the Switch!
We’ll be playing through the whole 2-player campaign of Snipperclips and uploading episodes on Mondays. Our goal is to produce video content biweekly, ideally on Mondays and Thursdays. We’re planning to post Pandas at Play episodes on Mondays (starting April 10) and other additional content on Thursdays. In the future, we’re hoping to post three times a week (Mon-Wed-Fri). We actually have a second, equally fun Pandas at Play game that we’re playing through. It’s a much longer game, and we’re planning to use it as our third weekly video.
Please check out our videos and let us know what you think here or on the video comments section!
If you’ve watched and enjoyed the videos and would like to see more, please subscribe by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/2oaYX1r
This YouTube Channel, as you have probably guessed, is the project I’ve been teasing for some time now. I’ve been hard at work developing this channel for the last few months, sometimes even losing sleep over it. There have been a lot of hardships during this process, and I’ve spent a lot of time developing new skills as a result of this endeavor. I’ve been especially antsy this week and am filled with glee that I’m finally sharing my videos!
I never planned on doing YouTube videos when I first started this blog. I’m a very shy, introverted person, and for my whole life, I’ve been convinced that my voice is secondary and generally unimportant. My wife, CrystalDragon, helped give me the courage and encouragement I needed to keep going both for this site and for the videos. I owe all of this to her, and I’m extremely glad that she will be a huge part of the channel. Thank you for showing me that my voice matters and helping me know that I matter. You’re the best!
I also wanted to give a huge thanks to my close friend christianrob90 for all of his assistance in planning this channel and getting it ready! He was an instrumental part in both starting up this channel and for helping me learn how to do it. He’s also been a great friend and support, and you’ll hear him in some videos in the future. Couldn’t have done it without him!
And a tremendous debt of gratitude to another close friend, Cherry, who is playing a big part in giving the channel its personality. Thanks so much for your support and creative assistance! I can’t wait to show you what she has cooked up!
Thank you so much everyone who’s ever supported me by checking out what I’ve done and encouraging me through your messages and friendship. As I’ve said before, you truly are a wonderful community, and we want to invite you to our gaming lives. I hope you enjoy my newest foray, and as always, I hope you will continue to support me. You all rock!
Finally, I’ve been telling some of you that I would subscribe after watching your great videos too, and that I needed to get my account ready. Truth be told, it was a complicated route figuring out what kind of account I was going to use before I settled on my own personal Mr. Panda account. I’m very happy to say I can subscribe with the account I will watch them in, and I will do that as soon as possible. If you have a channel you’d like to share with me too, please let me know, and I’d be happy to check it out!
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your support, everyone! We’re not sure where this endeavor will take us, but we’re excited to get on board either way! I sincerely hope you check out our videos! Let us know what you think! And most importantly, enjoy!
It’s official: Mr. Panda’s Video Game Reviews is one year old!
I want to extend my sincerest thanks to you all for your readership and support throughout this year. I’ve been incredibly blessed with a wonderful community of kind, intelligent, and fun gamers, both online and offline. I wouldn’t have made it this long without you all. You’ve all been amazing, and I will be sure to give you proper recognition by the end of this post. But before I do, I wanted to share a brief timeline in review for the blog as well as a special announcement tease.
Era of the Blog’s Creation
I first started this blog during a tough time in my life when I just needed to get away. It was a time when I realized I needed big changes in my life, and I wanted to do something more. I wished to follow my dreams. My incredibly supportive wife walked with me every step of the way in my crazy endeavors. I decided to write video game reviews with hope in my pocket and a passion to discuss my favorite pastime.
I already knew which three games to review first, the above 3DS games. Funny enough, I neither loved nor hated playing them. Rather, I had strong opinions about how average they were. As it turns out, though the games are just decent, I love where they brought me. Discussing them at length helped me develop my initial style and tone.
Era of Opportunity
I was happy to finally do something related to video games. Just having them available for others to see made me ecstatic, even if very few people noticed those early reviews. At least one notable person saw it though. None other than the wonderful Mike_Scorpio of Miketendo64 noticed and eventually gave me a big opportunity for collaboration. I am still very thankful for this partnership, and most importantly, that he cared to share my writing. Thank you very much, Miketendo!
Even though I love writing these reviews, I wanted to try something new. When Nintendo began making big announcements for upcoming games like Pokémon Sun & Moon and Breath of the Wild, I wanted to write about those, too. This led to some of my most exciting posts, previews, and analyses for these upcoming games. Both games have since released, but it was fun to speculate. Plus I guessed some things correctly, right? Maybe?
One of the most memorable moments of my life was meeting my childhood hero, the voice of Mario, Charles Martinet, whom I also wrote about. He’s such a fun guy, and it was a pleasure to see him.
Era of Experience
I soon found myself with even more prospects to write about games with DarkStation. I am very grateful to the site for giving me this amazing opportunity to review games beyond my usual scope. Although I haven’t posted many of them here yet (one day I will!), I wanted to share some of my favorite non-Nintendo reviews with you.
There are many times when I post and feel like I’ve made a mistake. Truth be told, there were times when I felt like this wasn’t worth it. These are hard devils to avoid, and although I struggle, I’m grateful for those that support me. I do my best with these reviews, but in the end, I know that they don’t define me. And there are those who encourage me unconditionally.
As I’ve said before, I owe so much of this blog to the fantastic community. It means a lot that you splendid people are willing to read and discuss video games with me. Even more, you’ve continued to encourage me, nominating me for awards. The internet can be a rough place, so I’m incredibly lucky to have met some of the kindest people on the web. I’m always flattered by the amazing things you say, and it is my hope that we can keep talking about this great hobby. And I hope I can share my own kind words with you all!
I have since been trying to improve myself and my writing style. With each review, I have felt sufficiently challenged, either attempting something new or changing up the style ever so subtly. I could literally go into the most boring commentary about each individual review, but I’ll just summarize by saying that I am constantly learning. I’m thankful that for every hardship I have come across while doing this, I’ve emerged learning important lessons about life and about writing.
My wife and I took a break a couple of months ago to take a dream trip to Japan. We got to engage in lots of fun shopping, eating, and sightseeing. As huge fans of video games and anime, it was one of the best vacations we had ever taken. We love sharing our adventures here. They’re video game-related, right? I’m still in the process of getting future photo posts up, and I apologize to anyone who’s been waiting for them. I have more planned, so don’t worry!
And finally, we’ve come to one of my favorite periods, a new Nintendo console launch! Having such a big system to write about has been a new source of invigoration, and I get giddy thinking about what surprises are in store for the Switch. Though I’m sure the system will have hardships, some of which I have noted in my articles, writing about it fills me with joy. The Switch has been an excellent system for me so far, and I’m happy to be able to write about it, whether hardware, games, or fun stories. This has culminated in one of my new favorite reviews that I’ve written: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
From my first review of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam to my latest review of the most epic Zelda experience to arrive on Nintendo’s newest console, I’ve had quite a year. It’s a very special journey, and one that I am glad to share with you. It hasn’t been the easiest, but it’s definitely been one of the greatest!
To cap off my first year’s timeline, I wanted to tease a special announcement. Very soon, I will be unveiling my newest project, on which I have been hard at work for a few months now. My goal is to finish within the next week or two. I know I’ve been teasing it for a while, but it’s finally coming and I’m happy to share it. Though I won’t say much about it until then, I hope you all will enjoy it! Look forward to it!
I want to extend a special thanks to the following people who have been amazing friends and supports for this site! You all mean a lot to me!
Thank you to:
My wonderful wife, to whom I owe this all. She already knows this, but I want you all to know that this wouldn’t be possible without her support, love, encouragement, and editing. She is an amazing woman whom I am very blessed to have in my life. Thank you CrystalDragon, my Mrs. Panda!
My friends outside WordPress, whom have not only supported me, but even helped me with various projects. Big thanks to gorgoalmighty, christianrob90, Cherry, ShadJV, Auradis, IsaMaLisa, for supporting my site directly with your readership and comments! Your encouragement and friendship never goes unnoticed, and I hope that I can show it outside of the site. Thank you for reading this!
Mike and Jack of Miketendo64 for allowing me to collaborate and share my writing to a new audience. Thank you for believing in me and for being great partners!
The awesome people at DarkStation for noticing me and giving me opportunities that I shall never regret. Truly grateful!
The Well-Red Mage for being one of my first followers, for nominating me for several awards, and for being a great gaming friend to discuss the hobby with. Also for the Arcane Trophy for being a regular commenter!
The Shameful Narcissist for consistently kind words and great gaming discussion, for nominating me as an Entertaining Blogger, and for a 1st Prize Ribbon for guessing characters correctly in her wonderful Final Fantasy Tarot series!
And to all you amazing followers and anyone else reading this! I know I missed some people, so apologies if I did. Please know that it means a lot already to me that you’re here!
Thank you again to everyone! If you’re a first time visitor, please follow me on Twitter @MrPanda2002 and on Facebook at Mr. Panda’s Video Game Reviews. Please feel free to support me by following me on those pages if you haven’t already!
My next post will be about my special project! Please look forward to it! Thanks again for reading!
The Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma introduced in 2013 a new project that would “rethink the conventions of Zelda.” Skyward Sword was a step in that direction, blurring the lines between dungeon and overworld. A Link Between Worlds further paved the way, allowing players to explore dungeons in any order by offering every item upfront. But that wasn’t enough. Aonuma desired to see a world that was open to you from the start – one with no single correct track. With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the team at Nintendo has achieved creating a fully open world that is truly breathtaking.
The theme of Breath of the Wild (BotW) is discovery. As such, I will avoid delving into any specifics, keeping this spoiler-free. Rather, I will offer the gist of what brings this game and all of its moving parts to life.
For the first time since the original The Legend of Zelda, BotW presents a world that is open to you all at once. You start your adventure on the Great Plateau, a rather large area that introduces you to the basics of open-world exploration and the tools at your disposal. Though this represents the tutorial, the game barely holds your hand, simply telling you what to do but not how. Once you are able to leave the plateau, BotW sets you free, not forcing you on any set path on your way to the final boss. It guides you and highly recommends quests for you to complete to buff yourself in preparation for the final confrontation. Otherwise, you have agency to do as you will and explore the world around you.
This sense of freedom may be a little jarring to anyone used to the scripted paths of most Zelda titles. The predetermined story markers are still there, except this time, you have the power to choose how to go about it. Do you follow the beaten path or climb the mountains surrounding it? From the start, you’re equipped to go anywhere. The only limit is whether you can survive that trek. At worst, you may lack the stamina – represented by a meter that depletes as Link runs, climbs, swims, and glides. But if you can persevere, you’ll find yourself reaching new heights overlooking a gorgeous backdrop. I took every opportunity to scale mountains, eager to see what surrounded me from a bird’s eye view. Jumping off high points and gliding down was a thrilling sensation every time.
The world is populated enough to provide personalized adventures. Although you may not find something new every minute, the environment is filled with enough variety to foster discovery. From an ever-changing topography to radically different climates to the series’ trademark bombable walls, surprises wait around most corners. There were many times where I thought I was heading towards one direction, then got sidetracked because something else caught my eye. By marking different areas on the map using stamps and glowing beacons, I could pin noteworthy areas. BotW never strayed from kindling my curiosity and wonderment.
If BotW is half-discovery, then the other half is survivability. Though skillful players may withstand every trial with the initial three health hearts and stamina bar, even the best of us will get a Game Over. In a game where you can accidentally run into enemies who take you out in one blow and where even the most dangerous mountains can theoretically be scaled, a “Game Over” just means you tried and didn’t succeed. In BotW, taking chances is encouraged. Following death, you simply reload at your most recent autosave or manual save, letting you have another go or retreat to better prepare yourself. Persistence after failure is a theme present through and through.
Breaking away from the precedent set before it by the first entry in the series, enemies no longer drop hearts. To regain much needed health, you are tasked with foraging and hunting for ingredients to cook restorative dishes. Although it’s tough figuring out what to cook given a blank slate, you quickly learn which recipes offer bonuses, such as an extra batch of temporary hearts or protection from severe weather. Keeping true to the notion of survivability, you must adapt to harsh conditions like the freezing cold, blazing heat that causes you to combust, and lightning that strikes your metal equipment. In addition to food, special armor sets give you the defense you need from certain settings while giving you the chance to dress Link up, which is always a treat. Affording armor and other items entails earning the standard currency of Rupees. As you’d expect, these don’t come easily either, and you’ll have to sell your resources for money. Though these new aspects paint a wholly different picture from previous entries, it drives home the concepts of hard work and survival.
With a world this vast, you’d think that it would be impossible to truly cover it. Luckily, a fast travel option allows you to warp to over a hundred shrines, crucial landmarks that I will explain soon. Aside from hosting special challenges, they also mark progress points that you can continue from if your current direction proves futile. You can also fast travel to tall towers scattered across the land, offering a regional map and a consistent vantage point from which to glide.
Of course, a massive open world means nothing if you can’t interact with it. Sneak towards a horse and mount it to reach blazing speeds. Strike rocks to set a fire and possibly an updraft that can soar you upwards. Ride your shield down hills and attack anything in your way. The sky’s the limit. BotW fosters an attitude of experimentation, telling you that it’s great to pursue whatever fun ideas you have.
BotW equips you from the start with everything you need to play in this gigantic sandbox. We’ve come a long way from taking a single sword when it was dangerous to go alone. Now you can wield a variety of weapons – swords, lances, axes, mops – to face both new and classic Zelda foes. In addition to special properties, each weapon has a unique weight to it: two-handed swords are heavy but more destructive; lighter scimitars are fast but less powerful. Combat may feel a bit different to series veterans, but it utilizes the standard L-targeting that has prevailed since Ocarina of Time. Jump attacks, side hops, and backflips are still possible, but making perfect guards with your shield and unleashing flurry attacks demand carefully timed offense and defense. Likewise, using your bow entails precision aiming, guided effectively by the Switch’s gyro controls.
I’m not as fond of the durability system, in which your weapons and shields break after repeated use, mostly because I wanted to hoard my best weapons. Again, keeping consistent with the open world, this system is in place to foster exploration. Most enemies are holding a weapon, and besting them in combat leaves you with the spoils. Stronger enemies hold better weapons. Though it was hard to accept, using up my weapons on these tough foes led to satisfying rewards.
Fighting enemies isn’t your only option. You can stealthily sneak past them, run away as they chase you, or find a different way to tackle them. For instance, you may see an enemy camp below you and choose to either run in swords-blazing, shoot down each enemy, fire at a nearby explosive barrel, or chuck boulders at them. There is always more than one way to approach a situation, highlighted further by Runes.
Runes, special abilities that you access from your handy technological Sheikah Slate tablet, emphasize resourcefulness. The game awards you these powers early on, but continues to test you on their applications throughout your adventure. The Runes are simple to learn: Magnesis grants you the power to manipulate metal objects, Cryonis creates ice pillars from water, and Remote Bombs give you a limitless supply of explosives. The most creative Rune, Stasis, freezes an object in time, allowing you to whack it repeatedly, resulting in a release of kinetic energy that sends it flying. The physics are more sophisticated than in previous Zelda titles, permitting you to test out possibilities that you would have never considered before.
Your abilities are put to the test in Shrines, puzzle-filled mini-dungeons. These are the same kinds of rooms you’d encounter in full Zelda dungeons, except broken up into bite-sized chunks, consisting of one or two puzzles that rely on your Runes to reach the end. Despite the separation of puzzles, the 100+ Shrines deliver consistently high quality brain teasers. In some cases, the path to the Shrine is the test, presenting a variety of distinct challenges and sidequests.
This brings us to one of the biggest elements of the series: dungeons. The dungeons are smaller but more open-ended, unlike the typical mazelike structure. Though that design may not sound as appealing, I found myself loving the dungeons even more in BotW. Instead of giving you a linear path to the boss, you can explore freely, utilizing your assets to reach cleverly placed switches. Like in Shrines, dungeon puzzles test you not on a single ability, but on all of them, leading to gratifying “Eureka!” moments. Dungeons take this concept a step further by hosting tricky puzzles based on spatial recognition and manipulation of your surroundings. Culminating in boss fights unlike any other, the masterfully crafted dungeons stand out.
Dungeons also tie into the intricate tale. Though I won’t give out specifics, the story is well-told, in a fashion that fits the game’s motifs of discovery and open-endedness. In BotW, you search for the story, finding fragments of Link’s lost memories. No matter when you find them, the pieces of the past complete a jigsaw puzzle of revelations. Each memory progresses your own knowledge of the lore, giving you a reason to fight and help the people around you. Its worldbuilding seamlessly weaves into the open-world gameplay. The major characters are relatable, and the added effort to finally include proper voice acting expresses their emotions in a powerful way.
The art direction is marvelous, with gently painted cel-shading that evokes a style similar to the works of the legendary Studio Ghibli. In what Nintendo refers to as an open-air artstyle, every landscape could represent a complete, gorgeous painting. In motion, everything carries so much grace, from the grass blowing in the wind to the wild animals. The HD resolution is beautiful whether on the television or the handheld Switch screen. The framerate stutters a bit, especially in areas with updrafts and fire, but I didn’t have too much of an issue.
Light piano music plays softly and intermittently as you explore the open world. Though calling it a lack of music would be an exaggeration, there are a lot of quiet moments. This is perhaps my least favorite aspect of an otherwise stellar experience. The music in bigger, populated areas is beautiful while referencing prior series overtones, and the main theme is a highlight. Although I appreciate the effort to prevent repetitive music and create an atmospheric vibe, I found myself wishing for a more complete auditory experience.
Telling an ambitious story that matches the breadth of its gameplay, Breath of the Wild interweaves a cohesive experience into Aonuma’s vision for an open-world Zelda. A curiosity to explore leads to discovery and necessitates survival. Hundreds of secrets populate the enormous world, and hours of playtime may only get you through one dungeon. But when the game’s physics provide so many opportunities for fun experimentation, it’s hard to regret any lost time. BotW throws tall mountains and vicious enemies at you, inviting you to rise to the challenge in ways you never thought possible. Once you’re on top, new opportunities continue to dangle in front of you, driving you forward on your epic journey. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild finally modernizes the original title’s adventurous gameplay, taking lessons from 30 years of Zelda and creating a new masterpiece that redefines the legendary series.
What are your thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Have any unique stories to share about your adventure? How would you like to see the Zelda series continue in future games?Please share any questions, thoughts, or experiences in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!