My Son Has Ruined Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

My Son Has Ruined Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
Image: Nintendo
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In the past couple of months there’s been a phrase that haunts me. It reverberates in my dreams and my darkest nightmares. It’s the first words I hear when I arrive home from work. It’s the first words I hear when being woken up at 530am on a still-dark Saturday morning.

“Daddee. DADDEE. Can I play YOUR game.”

My game means Zelda: Breath of the Wild. More specifically it means my 140 hour deep play through of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The one where I had hundreds of arrows, all the powerups and a melange of high powered weaponry.

Key word here: ‘had’.

Friends, my four year old son is single-handedly ruining my Zelda game.

A few details before I go into precisely how my son is ruining my Zelda game. A few answers to questions I suspect you might ask.

Firstly why is my son playing Zelda? I dunno. It just happened and now it keeps happening. Secondly, why is playing my game and not his own game? Simple answer: I’ve got all the cool power-ups and the cool weapons. His chances of actually inching his way through and earning those rewards at four years old are at monkeys writing Shakespeare odds at this point.

Thirdly, why do I keep letting this happen?

Love, ladies and Gentlemen. Love.

Love is awaking at 7.30am, seeing your 50 strong collection of Guardian Arrows reduced to three, and summoning the courage to not savagely strangle your own flesh and blood in a fit of righteous rage.

Children are a joy people. An absolute joy.

It Begins

This is how I know my son has been fucking with my Zelda game.

Every. Goddamn. Time.

The Gerudo mask. It’s the first thing he changes. It doesn’t matter if he’s in the desert, the forest or the snow. The conditions don’t matter. The boots and the body change, the face remains the same.

Gerudo mask. Every damn time.

“Daddy it makes him look like a Ninja.”

My son is obsessed with Ninjas. Last night my wife decorated his bedroom ceiling in those glow in the dark stars. She spent hours getting it just right. We lay him in his bed, turned the light on and awaited amazement. A heart warming parent/son moment was incoming. My tear ducts were ready.

A pause. We wait.

Another pause.

“Mummy, do you have any glow in the dark ninjas?”

Bye Bye Arrows

The next step is the arrows. I always check the arrows.

Before my son discovered Zelda I had near infinite supply of every arrow in the game. I had about 200 regular arrows and around 50 of every other type. I had 50+ Guardian arrows which are super rare and super expensive.

I’ll never forget what I woke up to the day after I showed my son how to use the bow and arrow:

No. Dear God no.

Later he admitted he used all my Guardian Arrows shooting at Bokoblins. The weakest enemies in the game.

After he used up all my Guardian arrows, he got to work on the rest.

Last weekend I loaded up my game.

Yep. Every single arrow.


All gone.

And The Weapons…

Dear God the weapons.

Towards the endgame of Breath of the Wild and beyond, most players build up quite the arsenal of weaponry. It makes sense. Endgame weapons take longer to break, and you’ll almost certainly have the Master Sword at that point, which regenerates. It makes sense to use the Master Sword till it’s out of energy and use the other weapons until the timer ticks over and the Master Sword is available again.

Good stuff.

But that doesn’t work when you have a kid with a rudimentary understanding of how numbers work. He doesn’t care that my Claymore does plus 60 damage. To him there’s no difference between that weapon and the rusty traveller’s sword he picked up.

This is where I was at pre-four-year-old wrecking ball.

This is where I’m at right now.

My son is literally replaced my Guardian Swords++ with a SOUP LADLE.

A fucking soup ladle people.

My son has learned to navigate Zelda’s menu system to the point where he can literally throw away all my good shit in order to pick up every piece of trash he finds. I’m almost impressed.

Don’t Save Me

Zelda’s save system is pretty good. It allows you to track back your last six or seven saves, but it doesn’t go back further that that. That’s fine, but in my current situation it’s a living, breathing nightmare from which I will never wake.

Some context. I finished Breath of the Wild a long time ago. I’m in the process of milking every last drop from this game. I have around 10 shrines left to find and conquer. Breath of the Wild has a huge map and these things are a complete bastard to find.

So here’s what my son does: he turns on the game. He doesn’t load the most recent save. Oh no. He scrolls through the saves and finds the one with the coolest image — usually a save near Death Mountain with lava and shit cause my son loves lava.

He then proceeds to overwrite the last six saves by jaunting all over the map on his merry way, firing Guardian arrows and accumulating soup ladles.

What does this mean? This means that I will quite regularly lose my last two hours of gameplay and when you’re in the process of meticulously making your way through the map looking for shit that is incredibly, incredibly frustrating.

What Shrine did I do last? Where was that Shrine? Do I have to do it again?

Quite often the answer to all those questions is: “I don’t know”.


Ah Well

That’s how my son plays video games. The little dude lives on the edge. I laugh every time I see this photo.

Do I want my son to stop playing? Do I want to deprive him of this pleasure? Of course not. I love that he’s playing Zelda. I love that I’m sharing this video game with him. I love that Breath of the Wild is such a well designed game that both he and I can enjoy it in completely opposite ways.

That’s nice.

But losing all of your Guardian arrows in a random Bokoblin fight. Finding a soup ladle where your Guardian Sword used to be?

Yeah, that’s less nice.

Don’t have kids.

This story was originally published in July 2017


  • If you will let your young child play your save file, don’t complain that he ruins it. When you’re feeling under pressure, do something different. Roll up your sleeves, or eat an orange.

  • Thanks for the laugh.

    2 of my kids play botw (7 and 4 year old) so I can relate to elements of this article.

    My kids are actually quite good, but it’s because they have been coached by me. They know what wasting arrows is, they know how to save properly and they definitely know that Dad’s game is a no go zone.

    I love coming home from work to “Dad I got 5 new shrines today” or “Dad I found the climbing clothes!”, and all without the worry of them messing with my game because they know better.

    Parenting resposibilities don’t stop when it comes to gaming.. get that foot and stamp it down.

      • I had to actually do this for my kid the other day! It’s in one of the shrines in dueling peaks, called something like “Timing is critical”. You get the ball to roll down the ramp, then step on the button at the last second to flick the ball over the gap. Keep an eye out for the chest near the last ramp.

  • There’s a phrase I have for when I get (almost daily) stories from my coworkers about the stuff they go through with kids, might be relevant to you dude.

    Should’ve got a robot.

  • Thank god I don’t have to worry about this for another few years with my little girl. She’s only 10 weeks old so long time yet. Will however kiss my Lego collection goodbye as her cousins and all my wifes friends with little kids love my collection of Star Wars lego. Got to get the UCS stuff on shelves ASAP along with the Saturn V. The regular playsets I don’t care so much about, just my UCS.

    • I believe you underestimate the frantic energy, attention lapse and amount of free time a child possesses. He could not only break CDs as fast as he squanders rare arrows in game, he could do both things pretty much at the same time.

  • Later he admitted he used all my Guardian Arrows shooting at Bokoblins. The weakest enemies in the game.
    He’s clearly wasting them on the peasantry to ensure he is challenged when the more robust enemies arise.

  • You can create a separate user profile for your son to use. Apparently you can create up to 8 user profiles on the Switch.

    • Secondly, why is playing my game and not his own game? Simple answer: I’ve got all the cool power-ups and the cool weapons. His chances of actually inching his way through and earning those rewards at four years old are at monkeys writing Shakespeare odds at this point.

    • Yeah he has that. But he wants to play my game because I have all the ‘powers’. And I don’t REALLY mind the consequences.

      • Sorry, missed that bit of the article; must’ve been the phone call I took while reading.

        There’s been some confusion regarding BOTW and save games in the past, so much so that Polygon wrote an article about it a few months back.

        Really wish Nintendo would allow the option to back up saves to external storage, or implement a cloud-based solution.

        • If there is a kind of nonsensical mechanic which is consumer unfriendly and stupid. Nintendo (or Apple) will come up with it.

        • Wait, what? There’s no cloud save on the Switch?! What happens if your console dies or gets lost or stolen, which is a real possibility with a handheld? How can any console not have that? It’s 2018, people! 😛

          I still have nightmares about the time my PS3 died and took my 200 hour Oblivion save with it. After I got a replacement console, I was never able to bring myself to go back to that game. I got a PS+ subscription soon after. It pretty much paid for itself when I accidentally attacked a merchant in Dark Souls after which he refused to sell to me anymore. I forget what he was selling, but it was something that I needed a lot of 😛 Being able to go back and grab the previous day’s save from my PS+ cloud storage was the only reason I didn’t give up on the game there and then.

      • Yes true same here. I get a little upset but at the end of the day, my lad enjoying one of if not the best game made is well worth it.

  • If you were to let your child play Breath of The Wild then I would recommend setting up Nintendo Switch Parental Controls to see how much your child plays and how much time you want your child to play until their time is up.

  • Don’t worry. Some day he will grow up and you’ll be all, hey, he is grown up and looks after discs and saves in his own profile now, isn’t that great! What a relief. Finally. But then a new Zelda game will out that you really want to play but will buy for him out the kindness of your heart (and to stop the begging), thinking he will return the favour from his childhood and share the game with you to remember the good old days when you both played the same kind of games, but then he will once more crush your gaming heart… by never letting you play it, because its HIS game and he doesn’t want you ruining it. Ha. Kids, am I right? *manic laughter*

  • I am not a dad, BUT I am the oldest of 10 kids. And so, as a 28 year old with an 8 year old brother, I have always found that showing him things is the best aproch. Simply explaining that the Soup Spoon is worse is not enough. He is 4, not dumb, and explaning how to tell what dose what, and the daege things do to other things is a good way of getting over this problom.

    For example, if you show him how he can tell whats better, you will find that you will, at the very lest, get less soup spoons. Also, explaing how the save games work, and why its best for him to go from the top one would be a good thing…

    As for the Ninja stuff, show him Naruto. He wont be playing Zelda if hes watching 1000+ eps of cool ninjas…

  • Daughter number 1 found our Animal Crossing cartridge when she first started using the 3DS, she chopped down every single tree in the town.

  • no sympathy here. i dont even let my almost 5 year old play video games. and IF i did, snowballs chance in hell i would let her use one of my saves. she’ll will be learning to work hard at things, in ALL areas of life, games included. is it really love when you set high expectations for future events that cant be maintained?

    • Congratulations, Mr Father of the Year! I see you had an extra bowl of self importance for breakfast this morning.

      • thanks, glad someone noticed.
        sorry for having an opinion. ill go sit in the corner now. thank you for putting me in my place.

        • Implying people dont really love their kids just because they let them do something like use a save game is a whole lot of shit talk if I ever saw it.

          So you talk shit about people, get a negative response, then play victim.

          Thanks for the laugh, sir.

          • geez, people really need to internet-up today. i think we all just need a bong and a crepe.

    • So true. Spoiling kids can lead to them reacting badly when you deny reasonable requests later on in life. “Why can’t I drive your 1964 Corvette Stingray Dad!? You let me play your Zelda save file! I hate you forever!!!”


      • this guy ^^
        hey gets me.
        never a truer word spoken.

        “Be on the look out for things that make you laugh. If you see nothing worth laughing at, pretend you see it, then laugh.”

  • If I were you, Mark, I’d demand a DNA test.

    I hate to be the one to break it to you but, from reading this article and other articles you have previously posted, it sounds quite likely that your son was, in fact, sired by Satan himself.

  • Eithe wait for him to grow tired of Zelda, find another game for him to obsess over, or start another user profile and another save file either for yourself to complete the game or for him to ruin. I mean, he doesn’t even need to know about the second save file.

    The fact that you let him do it shows you’re a good sport about it, even though it is understandably aggravating. If I ever lose my mind and somehow end up having children then I hope I will have the patience to endure this sort of thing. I will, actually, probably abandon consoles entirely and just play games on my PC away from my children.

  • I keep my kids one console generation behind and just let them go nuts with all the games and all the saves

  • I’m surprised he wears the Gerudo Mask to look like a ninja, when there’s an actual ninja mask in the form of the Shiekah Mask…
    But then he is 4 years old…

  • it all comes around.. one day we will all end up 120yo cyborgs going senile wanting to play our grand kids games

  • I have the SAME PROBLEM Mark!!! Hahaha, I had to explain to my 4 year olds kindy teacher what a ‘Shooter’ (Guardian) is!!! He now has Links sword and shield (birthday present from his nanna from eBay!!) and runs around the back yard being Link and fighting ‘Gamom’ ‘in the ‘Gungeons’ (dungeons) tummy !!!! (the elevator in the shrine goes to a tummy apparently!). Being a daddy is hard work but a wonderful thing 😉

  • I’ve noticed a lot of problems parents find with their children can be solved by saying the word ‘no’ occasionally.

  • Gamers awaken!
    If you don’t want your kids playing your games it’s very simple!
    Take the game, take the controller, unplug the system.
    On the other side of the coin do what real parents do take your kid out side and play with them.
    Until then no one wants to hear you cry about a game that you yourself is letting your kid destroy your the parent act like it.
    B4 you say it yes I have kids, yes I’m a gamer, yes I have over 1000 hours in game time, NO not one of my 3 kids has ever destroyed one of my games.
    Make a change or stop crying about it!

  • why wouldnt you, just take a clone of the switch’s sd card (which im assuming contains savegames). and mark it, give it to your kids and let them play it with no impact to your game, which you access by switching in the ‘adult’ sdcard.

    • Does the Switch come with an SD card? I doubt it, saves are stored in the Switch’s internal memory (or perhaps the cartridge itself, but again I doubt it, at least in the Switch’s case, if it was the 3DS it would be a different matter).

  • You have made a simple mistake. I made my 3 use the own saves and they watched when I played. This had the effect of inspiring them to learn the games so they could have what I have. You have severely underestimated your child’s ability to learn and play games. In fact you might have changed his expectations in playing games and be shaping the types of games he plays in the future.

  • I see you had a time on GAF this morning @markserrels any chance of a follow up piece on why people hate fun? 😉

  • Sorry to be the one to tell you this Mark… the manual save slot doesn’t get overwritten by autosaves.

    Also, go to Kakariko and get your son the actual Ninja armour!

  • When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to play some games because my father knew I’d fuck up his game. I’m talking way back in the early 90s. I got to sit WITH him and watch. That was enough for me. I never got bored once. Just another show that parenting has gotten lax.

  • I started letting my 4yo play the other day he used magnesis and created a bridge across the river to get his horse across. I was in the other room and came back and his horse was across the river. I asked him how, he said he used the magnet. This was within his first hour of playing the game. That one blew my mind!

  • I love this article. So many people took it as a complaint. It clearly wasn’t. These are the things you do as a parent. These are the sacrifices you make. I have three children. 11, 8, and 4. The 11 and 8 year olds have their own Zelda profiles they are very protective of. My 4 year old plays on my 100% complete profile. However, I personally load the save and I personally close the game. He never loads or saves himself; and doesn’t play unsupervised for more than a few minutes (he’s 4…so is rarely unsupervised regardless). It’s an extra layer of admin, but it’s the best of both worlds. My child gets to benefit from everything I’ve earned in Zelda (including the Master Cycle Zero), but I don’t risk losing anything.

  • yay kotaku, repost a 6 month old article over the xmas and new year period to make it look like there is activity…..

  • You do know that if you go to options and click manual save it will never get overwritten that way when your son has finished destroying your weapons you can go back to your manual save with all weapons intact .. j have a 3 year old boy myself so I learnt that long time ago …

  • The game is rated ‘M’. Why in the name of the Elder Gods are you letting your 4 year old play it?

    Tell him ‘No’, and get him started on Minecraft, Mario or My Little Pony Adventures.

  • Sorry but that’s q very good example of really BAD parenting.
    Your child is at the right age to start learning about boundaries and respecting them.
    He clearly learned boundaries, it is “your” game, but you are really failing to teach him how to respect other’s property.

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