The Past-Due Zelda BotW Review: The Final Battle
--Pulled from the Imperial article archive on Scarif for your re-enjoyment!--
The Final Hour
Let me start with a little story of how I completed this game. The high of that experience made me want to write this article in the first place.
Our last Divine Beast on Death Mountain, which I will always want to call Mount Doom, was finally behind us (my girlfriend played vicariously through me every moment of our play-through). We looked at each other and knew; the time had come. The final preparations were on us. We had unlocked each memory already, taken the Master Sword for our own, had climbed every tower, and found…well not even half of the shrines. There’s 120, what do you want from us?
I knew there would be plenty of Guardians, Sentinels, and those flying bitches along the way. I traded for some extra ancient arrows to clear a path to Hyrule Castle. I hunted a few extra moose…meese? Mooses? Huh. Anyway, I cooked up some prime meat and discovered you could, in fact, reach a capacity of the meals you could carry.
Now, with pockets stuffed with brisket, fairies, and lizard tails, I called my trusted bright blue horse to my side. Sonic, because of course that’s his name, did not appreciate having to be the one to put his life on the line at the end of all things. Well, sorry Sonic, but our emo horse Splooosh sure as hell is gonna be kept safe. Plus he’s slower than a drunk Hinox, so excuuuse me, princess.
My plan was flawless: I charged directly at the front of the castle, quoting Theoden King as Sonic galloped through the heavy rain. (Yes, I was lucky enough to have the weather start pouring as I approached the castle).
I blasted right past the Guardians in the field, went through the ruins of the castle town, and suddenly reached that purple goo that had bubbled out of the main approach of the castle, like Ganon-brand molasses. I leaped off Sonic, only to watch him stupidly press forward right into the slop. He seemed fine, but my girlfriend would not abide him standing there like an idiot at the brink of disgusting doom. So, my epic march was interrupted by Sonic being backed out of there like a truck stuck in the mud, Guardians crawling nearby and overhead.
Once Sonic was safe, and out of the way, I began my climb over the ridge to the moat surrounding the castle proper. I spotted a waterfall and planned to swim right on up with my Zora armor, but of course it was the one waterfall not quite real enough to do that. I guess Ganon likes his aesthetic waterfalls around his corrupted castle.
I hiked around the wall to finally find a tower to climb. I busted up a few sentinels, using way too many arrows in the process, then followed the wall around to the side of the castle. And, bam, I was there. Huh. I didn’t expect to get up here so quickly. Ocarina of Time had a full dungeon that forced you to utilize all the skills you developed to reach the Phantom of the Opera-esk Ganondorf. This was basically like walking up a long porch that had a couple of gnomes that had fallen on the cement.
I entered what was called the Sanctum, and all my complaining immediately ended. Zelda, trapped somewhere in a disgusting glob of the center of all that Ganon syrup, was crying out about how she couldn’t hold him back anymore. Then there were some blasts from the center of the egg sac, which is the only way to describe what the hell it was, and Guardian laser beams shot off in every direction. Then the horrifying figure of Ganon broke loose, destroying the floor I stood on, taking me with him down some pit into the unknown. “Fly you fools!” I cried, for good measure.
The cutscene continued, as Ganon gathered himself at the bottom and I floated down on my glider, ready for whatever awaited at the bottom. Ganon was in rare form, instead of some pig-like visage, he had taken the shape of a spider-wasp monstrosity. It took everything not to say, “Sorry Zelda, I’m out! Good luck and all.”
I stood before it, and as I literally screamed at the TV “Where the fuck are those Divine Shits I worked so hard to get?”, those aforementioned Devine Shits blasted Ganon down to half health. Now we’re talkin’.
And so it began. My first strategy was to run around like a dumbass as Ganon kept firing off that Guardian laser. Then he proceeded to throw all the different boss attacks at me. Most of which I handled, but those bomb blasting fireballs kept me nice and toasty through the battle. I tried perfect dodges and realized I’m pretty horrible at them. Flashes of my clash with the Lionel struck me. Spoiler alert: it mostly didn’t go well.
Then I remembered I had them awesome Champion powers. Daruk’s Protection stopped him dead in his tracks, and I ripped through him with my Master Sword (phrasing). The electric storm of Urbosa’s Fury did some good work too, and I got Ganon to start his second stage attacks. Good ol’ Zelda series, never disappointing me with how the boss battles go.
This was when I thought I would fail. I would burn through the meals, the fairies, Mipha’s Grace (which I somehow still had), and be done, making this way less epic if I had to try again. My girlfriend noticed his impenetrable armor blinked away for a split second when he attacked. Seriously? I tried to time it just right, and I did manage to get some hits in, but they didn’t do all that much. I still felt like the end was drawing near for poor Link, mostly on fire and constantly running out of stamina.
Then my special abilities came back. Had it been a half hour of running around? Or did they recharge faster in this most desperate hour? Who knows, but I had a chance. The shield broke his defenses, and I did my best to take him down. It wasn’t enough. So lightning then. Using the Gerudo ability was poetic, allowing for some payback for that little time Ganon brought about a lot of stereotypes and hate against their people.
Shown: Racist cartoonists depiction
The last electrical surge hit him as he sliced me to the ground. Link, always one to get up slowly, made it to Ganon just before he got back up. One more hit was all it took.
Ganon oozed purple goop in his death rattle as my girlfriend observed “Rated E for everyone.”
Out Here in the Field
But as diehard fans of the series, we knew not to trust what felt like an end. Suddenly, I was whisked out to the field where the spirit of Ganon was unleashing his final desperate attack. The pure embodiment of all hatred and evil in the world in the shape of the iconic boar. (Why the creators hate bacon so much, I’ll never know).
Riding Sonic, who was perpetually unhappy about the whole ordeal, I fired my newly acquired light arrows where Zelda told me to. (Because the point of the series has always been to learn how to LISTEN!) I circled the giant pig like a Snowspeeder around an AT-AT. I even shot it right up the ass just because I could.
The final attacks had to come from right in front of him, where his freakishly horrid Babe breath destroyed all in its path. The last shot had to be taken flying off the back of the horse, shooting from mid-air in the most kick-ass killing blow.
Then Zelda decided she could show up, finally, and use some kind of tri-force-like power to clean up the left-overs. Was it really an end to Ganon, or was he sealed away for later narrative convenience? We may never know (but probably will).
The world returned to peace, the castle was a fixer-upper, but all that disgusting Ganon seed was gone. The spirits of the Champions looked on, proud of the good deeds done with the absolutely necessary powers they gave me.
And now for a hero’s reward, a little sugar from Zelda, am I right? Nope, still just her errand boy. She said thanks and put me in the friend-zone of wisdom.
When All is Said and Done
Long story short, the ending was epic. Ganon was an actual challenge, even after you figured out what you needed to do. I also, apparently, could have done a perfect guard and reflected the Guardian beam back at him, but I have a good feeling of how well that would have gone.
Even though the giant boar part was far easier, it was a hell of a lot of fun. I’m so glad I had no idea what Ganon would look like, or how that battle would play out. The grand adventure that led to this was properly honored in one fantastic battle that forced you to utilize the tactics you did against the other bosses. I was also happy to see no ping-pong between Ganon and Link, for once.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @chrismlaporte