March 14, 2017 What’s different about gaming on the Switch?

Yeah, you can take it in the bath but that’s not the hot take I’m talking about here.

I’ve drifted in and out of Nintendo fandom over the years. While some people have become hardcore Zelda fanatics, knowing everything there is to know about alllllll the games that Link’s waved a sword in since 1986’s The Legend of Zelda, I’ve been happy to wave a Wiimote at a mate’s place or hum the Mario theme tune when I’m running for a train.

So anyway, I bought a Switch. And one of the only games that’s available for it – Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’m not here to repeat what everyone else was saying within five minutes of opening the box: that it looks amazing, is heaps of fun, has so much going on that it’s almost weird, you play on the TV then take the console to bed with no loss of awesomeness, etc. There’s something else going on here, and I didn’t notice until a week in.

It happened on Facebook. Someone posted a picture of their Link riding a horse, and they had so, so many heart containers. Like two rows’ worth. Meanwhile, I was still slouching around the place with three measly hearts, and hadn’t even seen a horse, much less ridden one. What a shameful state of affairs.


That’s when I realised what’s different about the Switch. There are no trophies, no achievements and no obvious way to compare your gameplay to all those faster/stronger/better people on your friends list. So when I’m taking my time to pick apples and cook them in a pot, or use my new sword to “mow the lawn” by cutting down patches of long grass, there isn’t some constant reminder that everyone else is already arguing with fish-headed guys about their lost memories or taking on horse monsters in a ruined arena while they laugh at the idea of five hearts’ damage being a problem.

In the end, removing those “social” elements from the system has also removed the stress of pointless competition as well – leaving me free to enjoy Breath of the Wild without chasing achievements like “Collect 50 Bokoblin Horns” or “Paraglide 500 Metres”. It’s a relief that I didn’t even know I was experiencing.


Oh, and I have a horse now. And four heart containers, but I’m working on a fifth. Please don’t tell anyone.

Shane Cubis
is a contributor to A•STAR