In the previous game, 2017’s Breath of the Wild, once you tame a horse and register it at the stable, you can give it a name and call on it at various stables throughout the region. Riding the horse helps you traverse the game a little more speedily and also, in retrospect, helps you to marvel at the fact that there are no loading screens as you move from one side of the map to the other. But I digress.
My son helped me name our first horse, House. Yes, he wa absolutely certain that he wanted to name the horse House, and after checking an absolute third time, House is what we named the house, er, horse.
So imagine my happiness upon realising that House (and his companion Sally) were doing well in the stables of Hyrule in Tears of the Kingdom when I played the game this week. It’s such a little touch in a massive game, but sometimes little touches are what can make a large difference.
Since introducing my son to the Nintendo Switch, he’s taken an interest in more than Mario Kart. He likes to navigate the user interface on the Switch (and most other devices he has access to), and has found the Mii creator to his liking.
When I first brought home the Switch, I also had The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which I tested playing at the table. Tanooki took one of the Joy-Con controllers and was helping to push buttons as we went along through the world of Hyrule for five minutes or so. However, after we encountered some monsters to fight, I soon changed my mind about him having access to age-appropriate titles. As a three-year-old, he doesn’t understand his own emotions and how to express them yet, let alone comic/fantasy violence.
He’s allowed to look at an older Zelda (Wind Waker, originally a Game Boy game) on the 3DS, purely because of its simpler interface and inability to really convey violence or scary enemies, but I digress.
However, one day I had my Switch out on the counter, and had been collecting various food stuffs in-game to craft food and potions for my Zelda adventures later on. Different combinations of the varied ingredients available in-game grant the player various status-augments (such as stealth) as well as replenishing hearts and stamina. The player has to go through the motions of selecting up to five ingredients from inventory and combining them in a pot (the fire which they may have to find a way to light themselves). It’s not overly-complicated nor tedious, and the mechanic has real in-game benefits for the player. My son was naturally curious to what was on the Switch so I switched it on to show him.
Making Apple Pies
To make something like an apple pie in-game, you need the following ingredients:
Apples (up to 2)
A little short of ingredients, we travelled to the village of Rito, where we could purchase what was missing.
Now, I’m not “every moment has to be a teaching moment” Papa, but I figured this was probably an opportunistic moment to show the little guy how much things cost. In the game, to purchase items in shops, you simply approach them at a table and select them. Your display changes to show more details about your choice, including how much in-game money you have (in rupees), the price of the item, and how many are in stock.
Looking at the display I can ask him what ingredient we are buying, how much it costs, and how much money we have left. If anything, he’s getting a sense for what the number represents in essence, and definitely not what the mathematical (or financial) impact is, but I think it’s good exposure.
After collecting our ingredients, we warp back to Link’s house in Hateno Village.
My son sometimes likes to have a look inside the house, but what we’re really looking for is the big cooking pot outside the house (side note, we can technically cook at a stable or town etc but there’s something familiar about going back to the house at the end of the day and doing it there).
He helps me go through the (extensive) inventory, then presses the button on the correct ingredients to hold them in Link’s arms.
After that, we put it all in the pot to cook…
… and then nom!
Now at the weekends we kick off the gaming half hour by spending a little time cooking with Link! It’s great fun to watch him experiment and I’m never quite sure what dishes I’m going to end up with in my inventory.