Riding the Backlog - Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Part 6)

By Chris Pranger

Session 6: The Path to Hateno Village

Greetings, travelers! I’m riding my exercise bike here through Breath of the Wild, commenting on things I do and see, and you’re just in time to join me! In the last session, we made it to Kakariko Village and restored a Great Fairy, enhancing my trousers. Will my trousers be enhanced further in Hateno Village? Let’s find out!

First, as always, is the day’s amiibo spoils. Ganondorf grants me a significant weapon drop so early on in the game with a Knight’s claymore, a double-handed weapon with an attack power of 38, plus an increased chance for critical hits. Not only that, one of the usual barrels he dropped for me delivered a silver Rupee, worth 100. Not bad, Ganon!

Zelda and Toon Link did their usual thing, not really offering anything too significant, but Adult Link came through with the Cap of Twilight, a true green hero’s cap with the proper Link hair and everything. No more climbing bandana for me! At least, when I’m not worried about climbing of course.

The defense difference is unfortunate, dropping me from a +5 hat to a +3 hat. This felt like the perfect opportunity to test out the quick travel option, so I warped myself over to the Great Fairy fountain by Kakariko, just to see if she could enhance my hat. She could not, running into the same limitation as the Tunic of Winds. Namely, I need some star fragments, which means I need to watch for shooting stars and then capitalize on those hard.

Resetting back to the beginning of my current task, I’m once more at the fork between Kakariko and Hateno Village. Taking the path to Hateno starts to look pretty dire the more you look at it. While the fields are beautiful with lush green grass and cool pools of water, the plain is littered with rusted, deactivated Guardians. The closer you get to the checkpoint before the woods, the more the reality dawns on you.

Reaching the checkpoint pings it as Fort Hateno, now little more than an archway and some ramshackle ramparts trying to stave off impending doom. This was clearly the site of a decisive battle from 100 years ago, and the decision was in Ganon’s favor. Guardians lay strewn about, though some of them are half way up the devastated walls. You can see the number of lifeless robotic drones that died in the fight, but not the number of Hyruleans. You’re left to guess at the number, concluding that it was somewhere north of “staggering.”

Up on top of the archway is a little pinwheel, blowing in the wind for no apparent reason. Standing next to it and looking off into the distance, I’m able to see what look like little nuts or something getting chucked around the treetops a good ways from my vantagepoint. After at least 20 or more arrows, I manage to tag both targets, causing a Korok to appear. Now we know that these pinwheels mean Korok tasks and that some of those tasks involve trick shots.

Just past the Fort Hateno wall is dense tree covering and a warm little cabin. Inside the cabin is a man named Calip. Dr. Calip, to be precise. At least, that’s what he wants people to call him. He talks at Link for a bit about the research he’s done, attempting to decipher a riddle he learned that says something along the lines of “shoot the eyes of a glowing statue when darkness touches it,” or something similar. The riddle should be extremely simple for longtime Zelda fans or adventure game fans in general. I can’t wait for the remade VR version of Breath of the Wild in 10 years where I can talk directly to characters and be like, “So, there’s a statue nearby that’s eyes glow at night. Shoot that with an arrow, gotcha.”

While I’m in Dr. Calip’s cabin, I take the chance to sleep in his bed, which is very rude considering I was never invited to stay the night. Then again, Link is a degenerate who steals apples from anyone and anything, so just barging into this guy’s house, solving his ancient riddle, and sleeping a full 24 hours in his bed are par for the course. Sleeping in beds fully restores your health, making it a good option if you want to conserve a little of your resources.

Through the woods I see a Bokoblin camp on the opposite side of a river, so, because I am a degenerate, I swim over and begin to pick them off in the cruelest ways possible. I shoot a lookout in the conch right as he’s trying to blow it for help. I huck a bomb next to some exploding barrels and let Mother Explosion do my work for me. I slash at some blue Bokoblin with my sword, then hurl it in his face since it was about to break, take his now dropped sword, and kill his friend. I also let the last remaining Bokoblin fire arrows at my feet just so that I can pick them up and use them to kill him in an instant. Farming for arrows seems like a pretty wise skill, though I think the game cuts off the amount of arrows you can farm this way to five. Spoil sport.

Right as I collect my bounty, the music for the area turns deathly eerie and red particle effects begin swirling through the air. I look up just in time to see it: a blood moon. Curses! My sins have come to haunt me at last!

The blood moon mechanic is BotW’s way of accounting for the need to potentially refarm some enemies for important things such as weapons, teeth, and guts. It’s cool to clear a pathway of monsters, making the area safer to dink around in. Part of me really thought that it’d be possible to murderize all the monsters throughout Hyrule, making Link a truly fearsome being of destruction, but the blood moon undoes all the hard work, periodically occurring at midnight to resurrect absolutely every enemy you’ve killed. Sure, I see the necessity, but it still takes away from the satisfaction of potentially helping the land. I guess the only permanent solution is the one the game originally gave to me, which is to kill Ganon. Fine, be that way!

Back on the pathway to Hateno I spot a woman sort of whimpering by the side of the road. I ask her what’s up and she says she needs a seared salmon, which seems like a very Zelda-like sort of request, but then breaks her act and reveals herself as a Yiga Clan member. All this means is I get another cool scythe and some bananas. Good going, idiot! I’m a degenerate that will absolutely eat a dead woman’s bananas! Ya died for nothing, lady!

A small diversion off this main path brings me to a dead end filled with small ritualistic statues of some kind. I’m assuming they’re something akin to the Japanese funeral statues called Haniwa, but because I’m also a degenerate, seeing so many little figurines at night, my only thought is, “Which one of you little bastards has glowing eyes…?” Sure enough, one is glowing, so a quick arrow to the eyes busts it and reveals the Kam Urog shrine, thus completing the side mission from Dr. Calip. I’m really disappointed that I don’t have to tell him what I found. Seems like a pretty important aspect, yeah? Oh well, his loss, my gain.

Inside the shrine is the Trail of Passage, presenting one big setpiece to navigate, that being a large rotating...thing. Not really a clock and a bit too open to be considered a room. The point of this shrine is just to figure out how angles shift as something rotates, so letting the room rotate and scoop you up using a block from one side then becomes a platform to jump to a chest or something like that. It’s all very “Developers First Dungeon” sort of stuff, not complicated, but still with some earnest charm. Unfortunately, the bonus chest in this shrine is a dud, filled with a weapon half as strong as my current collection. What a waste. Chests like these should scale as well, but eh, I’m just looking for things to gripe about.

Back outside the completed shrine is another set of figures with basins in front. One has an apple, the other does not. Placing the apple in the empty basin reveals--you guessed it--a Korok. After getting my Korok Seed, I take back my apple. And the other apple that someone else offered in respect. I’m a degenerate, so it’s not like I care.

My shrine sensor is still going off, which is a weird sort of feeling when you just exit a shrine, so I turn around, equip my climber’s bandana, and scale the cliff to get a better look. While the view is pretty, and I can see quite a bit of the path I’ve taken as well as the path I previously took to Kakariko, there’s nothing at the top of the cliff, so it was all for nothing more than a place to jump and glide from. It’s the waterfall climb all over again.

At around this time I remembered a feature of the game that I’d ignored the first time around: the pro hud. For those who’ve never heard it out loud, a game’s hud is just the visual interface that presents important details such as health, map, total rupees, etc. For Breath of the Wild, a beautiful game, you have the option of switching to the pro hud which removes everything save for your health meter. This makes screenshots look less cluttered, for sure, but also removes my map, so I either have to rely on my sense of direction or continually pull up my map menu. From here on out, I’m going with the pro hud, just for an added sense of something new. It’s not like I really want to know the weather or the time of day anyway. That’s why the camera lets me pan up!

The trees remain pretty dense, but now so are the enemies. I’m finding more and more Bokoblins of the red and blue variety hidden around random trees. At one point there are a bunch hassling who I assume is a farmer considering the Bokoblins are wielding farmer’s hoes and pitchforks. Surprisingly, the farmer’s hoe, a double-handed weapon, is also far stronger than it has any right to be. It’s also very brittle, which makes sense considering it was never meant to be a weapon. The pitchfork, conversely, isn’t as strong but has a fair bit more durability. You make do with what you’ve got though.

While fighting the Bokoblins throughout the woods I find a pair of truffle hunters knocked out by the monsters, laying on the ground with stars spinning around their heads. Defeating the surrounding enemies allows the two women to recover, but I’m disappointed yet again when they just go back to their scripted task of searching around trees for truffles. No thank you, no reward. Just leave the truffle hunting to the pigs, ladies!
Another fork in the road appears, with the left path pointing me to Hateno and the right path to the equestrian practice area. I can also see, just on the other side of the fence into the practice area, is a deer. I have decided, I want to ride that deer. I jump the fence, completely neglecting the group of Bokoblins and Moblins hanging out right there.

At last, I’ve encountered a Moblin! Moblins go all the way back to the first Legend of Zelda, being Ganon’s primary foot soldiers in any conflict. While they pivot between looking like pigs and looking like bulldogs, in BotW they’re super tall, super lanky, and have long pig-like snouts. Pig Moblins it is for BotW!

They’re very intimidating enemies, both from their size and from their strength. They have a lot more range than the typical Bokoblin as well, though that doesn’t really help them since they reach out so far. Close combat actually breaks their aim as they can’t pull their arms in close enough to properly attack. These are just red Moblins though, the base variety, so they’ve got some room to grow when we find the blue kind. Right now the hierarchy is red Bokoblins, blue Bokoblins, and now red Moblins.

After running throughout the little practice area, all the enemies are defeated, but my antlered deer is nowhere to be seen. I look around, eventually finding a doe, but before I can jump on her back, yet another blue Bokoblin pops out from behind a tree and messes everything up.

I’m really sad that a place called the equestrian training area doesn’t have horses nearby, honestly. It seems like a pretty big blindspot in design, if we’re being honest. The nearest horse stable is a ways back, and the nearest pasture of wild horses is right next to that, so unless I want to hoof it all the way back, I’m just not going to get to ride a horse around these training grounds. In protest, I walk the trail and shoot the targets as I go. This is ultimately unrewarded, just like so many other things you do just for the sake of doing them. It’s a metaphor for life, really.

Another buck is hanging out just before I enter Hateno, so I make a mad dash between yet more enemies and hop on its back. Success! I shall ride it! Except I first have to tame it, and it is having none of that. My stamina wheel is drained entirely, throwing me from the beast as it prances off in some unclear direction. Curse you, deer!

Defeated, I trudge into Hateno Village at long last. My spirits can’t help but recover as Hateno is a big, bustling town with lots of houses and tons of life. I see an armor shop, and a general store. It’s late still, so most of the town is asleep, but I’m a degenerate, so I can still kick open their doors and poke at their sleeping children, just to see what they’ll mutter. Hmm, this one is talking about a girl in his sleep, and the word “girl” appears in red. Bold red. Who is this girl he’s dreaming of? None of my business, so when he walks up, I’ll give him hell until he tells me. That’s what degenerates do!

Conveniently, there’s a shrine right inside the village’s borders, the Myahm Agana shrine. This one is home to Myahm Agana’s apparatus, which is a fancy way of saying “a shoehorned motion control puzzle.” Gotta get that motion control in since this is a Nintendo game!

The puzzle in question is a ball-tilting game, previously seen in Twilight Princess. A glowing orange ball falls into a little maze platform that you move by tilting your controller around. The goal is to guide the ball safely through, at which point it can roll out and down a slide into a hole to open the gate to the Sheikah Monk.

First off, tilting the platform just right and then disengaging puts it at an angle that Link can hop on. This is how you grab the shrine’s bonus chest, which contains a Phrenic Bow, also known as a sniper’s bow. Why it wasn’t just called a Sniper Bow I’ll never know because pulling out the bow allows you to zoom your aim. Very useful for difficult target practice or pegging an enemy from a greater distance.

Back to the main puzzle, I think the motion controls work fine, but are a bit slippery for my liking. It’s rough that I’m not holding a tangible thing in my hands to feel the weight and the ball rolling around, a giant misstep for a console touting 3D rumble as a big damn feature. My secret to this puzzle? Flip the controller over. I actually love that the developers allowed this as a cheat since it gave me a nice aha! moment to ruminate over and feel superior to the challenge at hand.

With another Spirit Orb gained, I’m feeling pretty good. I notice that there’s a nice house across from all the little cookie-cutter houses, so I go check it out. What I discover is that the house is slated for demolition by Bolson Construction.

Ooh, Bolson. I love Bolson. He is what real men should strive to be. Bolson is an effeminate carpenter with two other men under his care, and his fashion sense is excellent, made only infuriating in that Link cannot ever wear the same outfit. A real misstep. Bolson works hard, is kind, and shows that he really does care for his employees. Bolson is a good guy, hands down.

Since he’s such a good guy, Bolson makes me an offer. Despite the house scheduled for destruction at the cost of 50,000 Rupees, he offers to sell it to Link for only 3,000 Rupees and 30 bundles of wood. Sold! Er, well, sold as soon as I come up with the goods. I only have 21 wood bundles and 777 Rupees. There’s no rush here since demolition is halted while I come up with the money.

Side note here, there’s a little quick aside as to what happened to the house’s previous owner. He reportedly left Hateno Village quite a while ago for Hyrule Castle and has been gone so long that the village came to a decision to just destroy his house. That is all kinds of crazy. “You hear about Frank? Dumb schmuck went over to that cursed castle where the ultimate evil is visibly flying around. Yeah, he’s probably dead. Wanna go smash his house?”

I may not be able to buy a house (too real, game), but at least I can buy some armor. I make a pitstop in the clothing shop and spring for the full set of Soldier Armor, which isn’t flashy but will make me more or less unstoppable once I start upgrading it with some help from my Great Fairy friend. This leaves me with less than 100 Rupees, so, uh, maybe there’s a reason I don’t have a house in real life either.

Nearby is a new type of shop that specializes in dying clothes. More accurately, agreeing to dye your outfit dunks Link in a tank abruptly, changing the color of whatever he’s wearing to the desired shade. Frustratingly, not all pieces of armor can be dyed, so as much as I’d like to have my classic Zelda series tunic and hat turn purple, I can’t. Boo!

Heading through the village eventually leads me up toward a building overlooking everything. On the way, I find a small farm suffering from regular monster attacks from Hateno Beach down a nearby path. This adds a side quest to my log, so I’ll take care of that later. In the meantime, a big tree in the center of a small lake seems too alluring to ignore, so I hop a raft and breeze on over. The top of the tree is home to a single rock. How did this rock get in a tree? I pick it up and, oh, there’s a Korok hiding under it. Gotta pick up every rock now!

The closer I get to the building at the top of the hill, the more signs warn me not to bother the residents. There are even kids along the path that keep talking about the girl who lives inside but won’t come out, so of course they just want to nothing more in this world than to see her because kids are the worst. Bunch of degenerates.

At last I reach the doorstep of the Hateno Research Lab, which is where my bike ride for today ends. Add another 90 minutes to the log, and come back for session 7 where we go inside the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab and find out who this girl is that we’re hearing so much about!
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