Sakurai Compares Zelda: Breath of the Wild And Horizon Zero Dawn, Reaches Conclusion

It's not often Nintendo developers dish out their opinions on other companies' games (presumably because, more often than not, they are forbidden from doing so), but Masahiro Sakurai is a different sort of Nintendo developer. Technically a freelancer via Sora Ltd. and not bound by the same chains as other internal Nintendo staff, Sakurai writes a weekly column for Famitsu and generally spills more thoughts and opinions than most high-ranking Nintendo developers would.

Recently Sakurai (of Super Smash Bros. fame, if you weren't aware) used his column to weigh in on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn, the two major open world releases of 2017. Though he had mostly positives to share about each, some of his points are quite interesting and, from my perspective, mostly accurate. After sharing a lengthy list of "contrasting aspects," he concluded the following.


Overall, Horizon is more stress free and Zelda is becoming a tiresome routine. However, if you’ve played Zelda, you probably understand this well: the chores of Zelda are the most fun part!

If a game is easy to play, that’s definitely a good thing.

Even recently, it has become a trend to take note of the amount of stress the player feels.

But again, comfort and the fun of resource management are two different things.

Purposely doing things in a roundabout way, or steadily doing things one at a time can be enjoyable, and leveling up your character’s stats creates a really good feeling on top of that. As a principle, I think both are the right answer.

Once you get used to each game’s bows, horses, and combat systems the confusion of switching between them is also a bit of fun.

I repeat, play them both if possible. So many well-made works lining up like this doesn’t happen often!

Sakurai's ultimate conclusion is that both games are superb, an assessment I suspect most gamers would agree with. Still, it's fascinating to to hear his slight criticism of Zelda, stating that it can become "a tiresome routine." While he does walk this back a bit by noting that chores can be "the most fun part," I must say I agree with his feeling about the game in that regard. Still, he is ultimately correct; the occasional slog almost always yields worthwhile reward.

Sakurai has plenty to say in his columns, but we haven't yet heard any rumblings about a new Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch. My take is that Nintendo ought to pursue a "Deluxe" strategy ala Mario Kart 8 – you can check out my case for such here.