best before 02.08.2019

by Hartigan Malchop

Far to Climb and All the Time in the World

Heck, where has the time gone? To talk straight with you fine folks, your pal Harty has never been the best at keeping an eye on clock or calendar, and must blush and come clean that being so bad at handling time has made all kinds of small troubles over the years. But I sure have been making an effort lately, writing things down and leaving myself notes so I don’t miss no appointments or forget when I’m supposed to be where. This humble Malchop hideout of mine is decorated all over with the little yellow leaves of stick-on notes, and your pal Harty, much against his sleepy nature, is even learning to listen to them little yellow leaves a’rustling about the house. Still, it’s a darn funny thing. I may have whipped the old organization into some sort of shape, but I don’t seem to have any more time for all that.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself scratching my head and wondering about where all my time gets up and vanishes to. I’m a little stumped, y’see, and when I cast my mind back to being a little Malchop, it felt like time stretched out forever in front of me and my pals, and there weren’t enough play in the day to make it an inch smaller. I guess that’s all part of growing up. A kid don’t got to do much but be a kid, and sure there’s maybe a few things here and there where you get cooped-up and squirming, at school, maybe, or out at Church, or being made to go and visit with some old people you don’t hardly know, but there was so much more time to have fun. ‘Course, when you are a little Malchop, you don’t realize that you’ve got those vast plains of time to yourself because almost every thing that ain’t no fun is done by your Ma and Pa Malchop. Gittin’ growed up means having to do all them tiny hundreds of chores for yerself. I reckon that must be where the time goes when you are grown. Even myself, a sorta grand duke of delay, has spent the last week doing things like taking my car to get checked and washed, filling in paperwork for insurance, buying shirts, finding some vitamins for when I forget to eat right, cleaning the bathroom, doing some more papers to do with taxes, helping my sister move some boxes, gittin’ rid of some old books, and replacing my toothpaste. It don’t add up to much, but it also don’t leave much time for playing about.

‘Course, there’s one thing that can go in the good side of being growed up, and that is you get to make dang fool impulse decisions for yourself. Your pal Harty has only decided to go and be an adult and buy hisself one of them new-fandangled Nintendo Switchs. The ole monolith Xbox 360 has done some fine work over the last couple of years for me, but I thought it was maybe time to try some more recent games. The Switch is a neat lil’ idea, and while it ain’t going to be outlapping the big new consoles for grunt, you can plug it into a dock and play it on your big teevee, or carry it off on your travels as it’s just so darn portable. Also, and this ain’t no small matter, I wanted a game system you could play while lying down in bed, because you don’t get to be the local branch president of the Society for Puttin’ Off and Layaboutery without gitting the hours in, let me tell you.

Here we see the Nintendo Switch resting cautiously in its natural habitat.

“But Harty,” I hear you worryin’, “The whole deal of your gosh darn fool little columns is that you write your ramblin’s about them old computer games – this ain’t Best and Freshest Video Games!” I hear you, folks, and I appreciate you worryin’, it’s real sweet, but you don’t got to be concerned. Ain’t no way Hartigan Malchop could get a hot and speeding bit of writing out to you about the latest game, not when I’m the sort of guy who ain’t never remembered to finish a cup of coffee before it got cold. To prove it to you all, I ain’t here to go on about some bright new game. Naw, I’m going to be talking about a game that came out on the Switch two years back, and one that was the whole reason for my wanting to get this neat little gadget – Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Link! Fill Up Your Hearts! So you can shoot! Your sword with pow-er!

I ain’t played a Zelda game since there was one back in the days of the Super Nintendo, but that version of Zelda (A Link To the Past) was, along with Super Mario World, one of Lil’ Harty’s favorite games of all time. The years have gone on by, an’ some things have changed since that last game. In Breath of the Wild, Link wakes up after one hundred years have passed in the land of Hyrule and he finds a big wide world to explore. When Link rouses hisself, he realizes he has gone and lost his memories while he’s been out for the count, and as he goes out wanderin’, all about the land are these half-buried signs of ruins, and strange, rusting mechanical hulks. The wild grass has grown up around these remnants of past battles, so while you quickly get the sense that something bad happened here long ago, there’s also kind of a peaceful calm you get when nature takes its time to cover and heal the painful past. In every village the locals worry about the strange goings on that threaten a return to bad old days, but they’re also mostly just going about with their business, or getting Link to help them with their chores and cookin’ and such when he comes a’visiting.

Mastersword Chef.

There’s a little bit of easin’ you into the world of Breath of the Wild, but it don’t take much time before the whole sprawling land is open to you in everywhich direction. Natcherly, Hyrule is full of critters an’ villains who ain’t too keen on Link, and it so happens that most of these monsters are a fair bit taller than you. ‘Course, that’s before we get to the fact that Hyrule stretches out in towering mountains an’ deep valleys, but Link never seems to fussed about being the smallest explorer in Hyrule, like it just means there’s all the more for a guy of his stature to overcome. Ain’t no cliff-face he can’t scramble up, no angry giant that the little rider of the plains can’t defeat.

A postcard from a Guardian on holiday, which reads:
Wish you were here, so I could zap you.

You don’t have to go in one particular direction, but when you first get on up from your long nap and you are all new and unsure as a new-born calf, you’ll probably head towards the things that you think you can manage. Breath of the Wild does a kind of gentle shepherding like this – you meet people who suggest where you might want to explore, and you know for sure that you probably don’t wanna tangle with the big shadowy castle at the center of the map, cause there’s spooky swirling black evil-looking stuff all about the place there, and if you decide to mosey thataway, you’ll soon run into some one-eyed mechanical hulks that ain’t so rusty and will cook up Link with an eye laser faster than my Uncle Geronty can deep-fry a turkey. But mostly, the game expects you to get out, climb that cliff, investigate that bunch of strange lookin’ rocks, and jump straight into that waterfall, and see what you can find.

In the mean streets of Hyrule, when all the other cops have given up,
Detectives Elflad and Laser Elephant are still on the case.

Now, on the one hand, Link’s main job is to go help poor long-sufferin’ Princess Zelda, an’ aim to clean up that swirling muck by defeating the low-down Calamity Ganon, but that’s just the end of the game. The most important part of Breath of the Wild is whatever you an’ Link decide to explore and investigate beforehand. You can find ice fields, giant statues half-buried in desert sands, and misty mystic woods. I got to likin’ gettin’ myself a good horse an’ just riding on out looking for adventure, new landscapes opening up in front of me to the rhythm of my horse’s hooves an’ the occasional gentle tinklin’ breeze of the spare music. Playing Breath of the Wild, well, it’s kinda like time just slows on down for you. You’ve got a whole beautiful world to ride through and clamber over and run about, an’ all the time in the world to do it.

Watch this, we’re going to do some awesome doughnuts.

Lil’ Harty could scamper up a tree without even takin’ the time for a thought. When we are young, we are bold and light, ready to explore from the tips of our fingers to right down to the end of our dancin’ little toes. There are a lot of good things about gittin’ older, but one of the trade offs is that you get solider (and I don’t just mean in the belly after a good couple of Malchop family dinners in the festive season). Being all growed up has a weight to it, where you are close to the ground, strong and tough enough to walk slow and careful through the little blows and tangles of the grown-up world. Link reminds me of when I was small and light, when the world was so much bigger than me, an’ mysterious, and maybe a little scary, but exciting and waiting for me to climb up and explore it.

As the woodsy type, Link had some novel techniques for drying his washing.

There was an old scrapyard near where I grew up. It was the sort of place your parents would tell you not to go and mess about in, but that’d make you want to do it all the more. That scrapyard had been left so long that the green and spreading trees and bushes and weeds were covering it all up, but every now and then a rusty red metal pole or sheet of metal would poke out of the leaves and you’d wonder what old and lost machine that metal piece had been part of. The Hyrule of Breath is kinda like that, a magical, overgrown lost place that gives me the same wonder an’ curiosity I had then, but Breath of the Wild is bigger than one scrap-garden, and so much wider and taller and deeper, and best of all, I ain’t got the time to go wandering in overgrown ruins in my growned-up life, but I can explore Hyrule whenever I get a fancy.


You can email us at bestbefore@subsidingsun.uk


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