Once more, the events of my life have conspired to leave me emotionall drained, exhausted, and on the downswing of my depression wave (and I was doing so well over the last few days!), so let’s return to the one topic that will ALWAYS cheer me up: The Legend of Zelda. In Breath of the Wild, I’ve been doing a Master Mode play-through. The plan originally was to find all the koroks, do every quest, and absolutely 100% the shit out of the game this time. Just go all-in. Unfortunately, since this is my 5th full-play through (not counting two I started but never finished), I’m finding myself having a difficult time staying engaged.
On one hand, that’s great. I can play it right before bed and doze off while I play it, which can have some funny effects like me realizing I have no idea where I am, Link falling off cliffs, and needing to get new fairies every night because my dozing gameplay spent them all on fights with white bokoblins that I accidentally wandered into and never ran away from. Or even fought back against. I keep the volume pretty low so I can focus on whatever podcast I’m listening to, so I don’t always notice when Link cries out in pain as he gets absolutely tackled by a bunch of spunky blue bokoblins.
Other than increased difficulty in battle (enemies are a tier higher than in the base game and they regain HP if they’re not hit every few seconds), there aren’t a lot of differences between the standard mode of the game and master mode. Some extra items and enemies on floating platforms scattered around the map in a mixture of random and incredibly strategic locations. But it’s mostly the same game once you get through the first few fights and have access to the resources to deal enough damage or heal yourself through the fights.
Master Quest (specifically, the one on the 3DS since I never got the GameCube version to work without game-breaking glitches), though, the slightly modified version of Ocarina of Time, was different. The first major difference I noticed was a flip of the world maps. No big deal, though, you know? Everything was just mirrored. I made a few mistakes based on habits since I knew the original game so well, but everything was fine.
Except every single dungeon was re-designed. It took me a bit, since I was so used to the pattern of the old dungeons and all the simple shortcuts you could take to move through them quickly, but I got through them. The Deku tree wasn’t that hard, but it did change the general pacing and pattern of running through the dungeon significantly. Dodongo Cavern wasn’t super different, or at least I don’t remember much, but then I was always doing that one all over again, I could never really remember it no matter what since it was all the same color. Even Jabuu’s Belly wasn’t that difficult. All of it was managed without great trouble, and I was able to move on to Adult Link.
The Forest Temple was actually easier, since there’s one spot in the original dungeon that always trips me up because you have to sort of return to an old area and use something you just got to unlock a path that isn’t immediately apparent. I always think I figured it out and then realize I was wrong about where this stumbling block was. But the Master Quest version was much more linear, so I had no problem. At that point, my confidence was at its peak and I was looking forward to the challenge of the Water Temple since that is, habitually, the most difficult dungeon to complete in your mid-series Legend of Zelda game.
Turns out the developers anticipated this and made the Fire Temple the most difficult one in the game instead. I bashed my head against that one for a couple hours before I eventually figured it out and finished it. It’s like they took the thing I stumbled over in the Forest Temple and combined it with the pain-in-the-ass-ness of the different water levels from the standard Water Temple just for the Master Quest Fire Temple.
After that, the rest of the game went pretty smoothly. The main differences were new dungoens and a mirrored world-map (which made Big Poe Hunting a pain in the ass), but outside the dungeons it was largely the same game. It was fun to have the familiar trappings of the game I’d enjoyed for so long to go back to between the more difficult dungeons. Doing anything like that for Breath of the Wild would have been far outside the scope of the game and any of its DLC and I’d rather have Breath of the Wild 2 than 120 new dungeons in Master Mode of BotW, but it would have been fun if they included a few additional changes to the world and maybe even story in it.
Still, aside from the Trials of the Sword which are a huge pain-in-the-ass to do when everything recovers HP and you have incredibly limited access to weapons, food, and armor, this is my preferred mode for playing the game nowadays. I actually have to take some fights seriously in Master Mode, or else I might wander into a Lynel’s hunting grounds and wind up dead before I know what hit me.