Williams Family: The Journey From Skylanders to Zelda
The very first game my son and I played together was Skylanders Spyro's Adventure back in 2011. He would have been five years old at the time and Skylanders with it's simple hack and slash gameplay and two player co-operative mode was the perfect fit. The toys were obviously a big draw, but the Skylanders series of games are incredibly well polished and do a lot to introduce young gamers to concepts found in many other bigger, more mature games, games like Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series.
As a parent who also likes to immerse himself in all things gaming I'm very familiar with Zelda, but it's a series of games that as a family we've only ever dabbled in. Phantom Hourglass on the DS was my first, but more recently I've spent some time with the excellent Wind Waker on Wii U. As for my son, I'd originally bought Skyward Sword for him, before realising it was a PEGI 12, so he had to settle for A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS. The size of the games has always made them a challenge for someone with limited time, but even more so than Skylanders, you can feel the quality of their production in every aspect.
Could The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild be the perfect fit for me and my son?
Fast forward to 2016 and the launch of Skylanders Imaginators, the best of the franchise to date and the one with the most RPG-like customisation. Another incredibly polished release that my son and I both enjoyed, but one that is clearly limited by the younger market it's targeted at. After playing a little Portal, The Witness and No Man's Sky, it was clear that as good as Imaginators was, my son was now demanding a bigger, more mature challenge. Could The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild be the perfect fit for me and my son?
Available on Nintendo's Wii U and new Switch console, Breath of the Wild combines the freedom, puzzle solving and action of many of my son's favourite games. As a family we decided to hold off on buying the Switch and instead chose to play on the Wii U, but that does mean my son and I have to timeshare with the console so that we both get to play. Fortunately, as with No Man's Sky previously, Zelda's vast, lush open world, presents players with the freedom to pick and choose how they approach the game; and similarly, provides each player with a unique experience they can share with one another.
Breath of the Wild combines the freedom, puzzle solving and action of many of my son's favourite games.
Breath of the Wild (PEGI 12) isn't just a kids' game, but it is a game that kids can play and get huge enjoyment from. While it provides both moments of brain teasing and heart pumping challenge, it blends those with an incredibly chilled out and beautiful explorative experience.
I have a feeling Breath of the Wild will be the seminal gaming experience of my son's youth and one we talk about for years to come.
I would love if there was a co-operative element, but equally, the stories my family share about the game provide an ongoing engagement lacking in those kinds of experiences. While Skylanders will always have a place in our hearts on pure nostalgia alone, I have a feeling Breath of the Wild will be the seminal gaming experience of my son's youth and one we talk about for years to come.