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So where do I rank it? Oh, boy, that’s a question. It’s better than Phantom Hourglass (a good game, but the series at its most blandly self-derivative), but I can’t say it’s as good as Spirit Tracks (an excellent game with some infuriating issues). So that puts it in somewhere with the NES games and Four Swords Adventures – really good games, but I don’t count them among my favorites in the series  for various reasons , and that’s about right.
At long last, I’ve caught up after 25 years of neglecting the series! Well, mostly. As of this writing, I’m not quite halfway into Skyward Sword HD, trying Cadence of Hyrule for the… fifth time, I think , and still yet to seriously tackle Age of Calamity . So I’ve got more to write on, and of course Zelda 20: 2 Breath 2 Wild is coming Soon™, so I’m not quite ready to put the Master Sword back in the forest and retire just yet.
 Spirit Tracks, Wind Waker, Breath of the Wild, Ocarina of Time, and to fill out the top five… Twilight Princess, I guess.
 I could definitely see him getting annoying, but he doesn’t last long enough.
 It has not escaped my notice that my ten favorite Zelda games are the nine single player games from A Link to the Past to Twilight Princess, and the one that reimagines A Link to the Past.
 You could argue Spirit Tracks is in this tier, but my issues with that game don’t drag it down as much as, say, the grindiness of Adventure of Link.
 Rhythm games and I don’t get along, apparently. Which is kind of embarrassing, because I was a percussionist once upon a time. The fixed-beat mode and I do fairly well, except I don’t like not being able to sit with my shield out to reflect something, and then I end up getting overconfident and impatient.
 Curse the lack of Zelda-style controls that the original Hyrule Warriors had!
Playing the game after Ganon is defeated, the world is in the state it was right before Link’s battle with Ganon: Malice, hostile Guardians, Blood Moons, etc. Link doesn’t keep the Bow of Light, but any other changes to his inventory during the battle carry over; in particular, there are three Compendium pictures (Calamity Ganon, Dark Beast Ganon, Bow of Light) that can only be taken during the battle. Symon is impressed that Link has completed the Compendium, and fumbling for a reward, gives Link a Classified Envelope with “a picture of a beautiful young woman of the Sheikah tribe.” He has a trailing thought about who the woman in the picture could be, probably thinking it’s someone familiar: Purah, simultaneously younger and older, most likely.
The map now displays a completion percentage: there are 1,250 things tracked, and each counts equally. Because 900 of those are the Korok Seeds, the seeds make up 72% of the total. The 120 shrines add 9.6%, and the Divine Beasts – the main thrust of the game – add less than a third of a percent. The rest is filling in map labels; there were about 10 I missed, which meant a lot of comparing the map in game to a completed one to find the few little waypoints not filled in. There are individual rewards for completing all the Koroks (well, it’s sort of a reward) and all the shrines, the Divine Beasts have very powerful individual awards (and with The Champion’s Ballad, completing them all is a gateway to further power), but the map has no reward aside from having it done.
Finally, Kilton offers medallions if Link defeats all of each type of boss monster in the game. Guardians aren’t bosses, nor Lynels (even if they’re harder than the three boss monsters). There are four Molduga (the Molduking doesn’t count), all in the desert, and forty each Hinox (including Stalnox) and Talus (including all variants except the Titan). When I first visited Kilton, I was one Talus short – if you know the game and noted that I didn’t mention the Talus among the enemies in Hyrule Castle, that’s why. Back to the castle, find the area I didn’t explore thoroughly enough, pop the Talus, wait for night, find Kilton again, get the medal, done.
[youtube IPWNhgq5h30 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPWNhgq5h30 youtube]
The credits roll with a series of pictures of key places, people, and items from the game. For each of the four non-human races, we first see their main city, Link’s ally in tackling the Divine Beast, the Divine Beast, and the Champion. Most of the important characters are shown here, but I think Kass and Master Kohga got snubbed. The credits end, of course, with a shot of the Master Sword sleeping in the forest.
After the credits, Link and Zelda stand before the gates of Hyrule Castle before turning to walk away. From over the castle, the spirits of King Rhoam and the Champions look out over Hyrule one last time before disappearing, finally able to rest in peace. There’s one final scene, with Zelda talking about rallying everyone to restore Hyrule to what it was before, or even greater . As she and Link set off to start their work, the camera pans out, ending on a shot dominated by a single Silent Princess flower.
Next: There’s actually a fair bit to wrap up after the game.
 At the start of the scene, she’s talking about examining Ruta to understand why it’s stopped working, and it was nice to see that with Ganon gone and Hyrule safe, she’s finally able to pursue her own interests, no longer forced into the role fate gave her.
In Kakariko Village, Impa tells Link, now that he’s visited and relived all twelve memories, that there’s one more. The final memory is located in the Guardian graveyard, east of the Dueling Peaks stable. As I was headed there, I ran across some Bokoblins and shot one, forgetting I was still using Ancient Arrows. Bit of a waste – Bokoblins are easy – but then again, I don’t have anything to save them for, so I’m more amused than annoyed. In the memory, Link is barely standing as multiple Guardians run about, but he refuses to run and leave Zelda. When it looks like a Guardian is about to finish him off, Zelda steps in front of him and finally unleashes the power of the Triforce of Wisdom, destroying all the Guardians in the area. Link’s injuries and exertion get to him and he collapses. Zelda thinks he’s too far gone to save, but Fi speaks to her to tell her he just needs his batteries recharged. A pair of Sheikah show up; Zelda tells them to take Link to the Shrine of Resurrection while she takes the Master Sword to the Great Deku Tree and goes to face Ganon.
Now it’s back to the castle to finish this up. Along the path from the front gate to the castle Sanctum where Ganon’s waiting, there are two gatehouses. As Link enters each, the gates close and a Lynel drops to face him. And just like with that Bokoblin, I’m so used to leading off Lynel fights by Majora’s Masking and shooting them in the face when the magic wears off that I shot the first Lynel in the face with an Ancient Arrow. So much for that boss. Also, while every other Lynel in the game except the tutorial one on Ploymus Mountain has been upgraded to Silver Lynels, these are Blue and White Lynels, respectively, so Link can get pictures of them if he needs .
Finally, Link reaches the Sanctum and enters for the final showdown with Calamity Ganon. If Link missed taking control of any of the Divine Beasts, he first has to fight the respective Blights. Then Zelda’s power finally fails and Calamity Ganon unleashes lasers that break him free, and as he lands on the floor, it collapses, sending him and Link falling to the basement. As Link and Ganon prepare to face off, the Champions unleash the Divine Beasts, blasting the castle with energy that knocks off half of Ganon’s health. Calamity Ganon is a spidery creatures that wields the weapons of the four Blights, plus a Guardian laser. He’s really not hard, especially if you’re good at deflecting the laser because he keeps going back to that.
 I’d say it feels weird to have the two in the endgame area be the ones that don’t upgrade, but the others are easier to avoid and/or get away from.
 Back row: Twilight Princess*, Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword*; front row: Wind Waker, Adventure of Link. (The ones with a * are in their starting outfits for some reason; I guess to make it easier to tell them apart.)
The final twenty-five Koroks are in the castle as well. As this is the final area, some of these are really tricky: a long archery shot (well, this would be worse without the Twilight Bow that shoots in a straight line), a “match the offerings” puzzle where the offerings are hard-boiled eggs (fortunately instead of bowls, the eggs go in hot spring pools which boil them), and so many spires. When Link finds the last Korok, a special message pops up saying he’s done so and can go tell Hestu the good news, which, sure, I’m done collecting.
Hestu assumes Link must have had an army of people looking for all the Koroks. It’s not entirely untrue – I found many of them on my own (Korok Mask counts as “on my own”), but I think if I were averse to using a guide, I’d either still be at it  or have given up long, long ago. (Anyone who truly gets all 900 Korok Seeds on their own has my admiration and my sympathy.) The reward for this… is poo. Hestu’s Gift, a golden poo  that “smells pretty bad.” The true reward is [X] never having to find another Korok , and a trophy is pretty much in line with my expectations, but that it’s a trophy poo has me stunned . Hestu will also do any of his unlocking dances on command, and I didn’t even realize until now he had different dances.
Next: I remember the time I knew what happiness was / Let the memory live again!
 I am writing this post approximately eleven months after beating the game.
 Inspired by a Japanese good luck charm. But still, poo.
[X] IntenseDebate has apparently decided it doesn't like strikethrough text, so I'm moving the bit I struck to a footnote: "the friends we made along the way"
 Until… unless… I play it again.
 Although… looking at the Korok Seeds with their “distinct smell,” it seems Hestu’s Gift is just a giant Korok Seed from a giant Korok. So they’ve all been poo.
Before starting Hyrule Castle, I need to note that I missed documenting two memories in the Ridgelands area. One is mostly lighthearted as Zelda muses on flowers being useful for cooking and catches a frog and demands Link eat it. In the second, Zelda contemplates her impending seventeenth birthday, which means she’ll finally be able to visit Mount Lanayru’s Spring of Wisdom, which she hopes but doubts will give her a better result than the other two.
I decided, for the final dungeon of the game, I would restrict Link to using only iconic items – the Hero of the Wild armor set , Master Sword, and Hylian Shield  – with two exceptions: Link can use the Climbing Set if he needs to climb and it’s raining and the Thunder Helm in a thunderstorm. Since there’s no iconic bow (well, there’s a slot saved on the bows inventory page so there may be, but in any case, Link doesn’t have it yet), Link can use whatever bow and arrows he likes, including Ancient Arrows since there’s no point saving them anymore.
Hyrule Castle has some special rules of its own. It’s treated like a dungeon, which means the map is the spectacularly useless 3D rendering (even though there’s no moving parts for Link to manipulate)  and Link can only quick travel by leaving the area, getting dropped outside the front gate. (He can, however, set the Travel Medallion location inside the castle and teleport there from outside.) Also, even in the outside areas of the castle, Blood Moons are disabled. Finally, the Champions’ abilities recharge three times faster, and this stacks with the bonuses gained during The Champion’s Ballad. So Revali’s Gale recharges in forty seconds, and even Mipha’s Grace is under three minutes. (The Master Sword is powered up in the castle, but because I completed the Trial of the Sword, there’s no difference.)
The castle has both indoor and outdoor areas. Indoors, the enemies consist of Moblins and Lizalfos, Keese, and Pebblits. There’s a single Stalnox in the castle’s dungeon, that I fought long ago to get a Hylian Shield but the Blood Moon has long since brought back. Outside, the castle is watched by Guardians, including Turrets and Skywatchers. And, of course, with Ganon in the castle, there’s Malice.
 I’d go with the Champion’s Tunic if I could dye it green.
 I know, it’s such a drag having to use great items that never break .
 Well, hardly ever, in the case of the Hylian Shield.
 I suppose I should be grateful Link doesn’t have to get a map, then unlock the five seals, all while Zelda coaches him along.
(Source: @mmimmzel on Twitter.)
I got a bit longwinded on The Champion's Ballad, so I'm back to wrap up Breath of the Wild this week. It'll probably be three posts:
Monday – Ulehyr Pnfgyr
Wednesday – Pnynzvgl Tnaba
Friday – Cbfgtnzr naq Jenchc (may get combined with Wednesday, but I doubt it)
As I said two weeks ago, this won't be the end of the road, but I'm going to take some time off to figure out what I'm going to do with Cadence of Hyrule and Skyward Sword HD , get going with Age of Calamity, and maybe actually remember that my archive needs a lot of attention.
 Current progress: Started the third dungeon. Going very slow. (Spoilers through start of fourth dungeon (Napvrag Pvfgrea).) V xabj jura V svavfu guvf qhatrba V unir gb svtug gur Vzcevfbarq, qb n Fvyrag Ernyz, zrrg gung qnzarq ebobg naq Sneba, tb onpx gb gur svefg qhatrba, naq cynl gur pybja pnaaba naq sfpxvat unec zvavtnzrf orsber gur arkg qhatrba. Fb V'z fgnyyvat.