By Celeste Roberts
I am a persnickety video game player; I will investigate every nook and cranny until my curiosity is satiated. Video games can be costly, and the developers spend an enormous amount of time perfecting their vision. I like to think I am honoring their hard work--and getting my money’s worth for a game--by making my characters act as tour guides and show me every aspect of their worlds.
Video games offer us a chance to immerse ourselves (albeit virtually) in fictional characters’ worlds and lives. Although I enjoy the occasional adrenaline rush from fighting a troublesome foe, hiding from my enemies’ line of sight, or enduring some sort of timed trial, I do love to simply explore the beauty of the settings in video games, especially as a way to wind down and relax.
The Zelda series is rife with calming spots, which is likely a godsend since vanquishing terrifying monsters has to shave years off Link’s life. Even the hardiest of heroes deserve a chance to catch their breath and rest!
Here are my favorite serene locations in the Zelda series (in no particular order).
Hena’s Fishing Hole (Twilight Princess)
Although I live in a coastal region, I never have gone fishing in real life (frankly, the idea of swatting away gnats and placing worms on fishing hooks before 5 AM does not appeal to me anyway). However, if a video game offers fishing as recreation, I am ecstatic. This mini-game tends to appear in a secluded area with but one other person (the proprietor), allowing players the chance to forget all about old what’s-his-name-with-the-Triforce-of-Power and focus on reeling ‘em in.
Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy is the first title in the series to feature fishing, but, in my humble opinion, Twilight Princess’ iteration of this pastime is utterly perfect. Each time Link enters the Fishing Hole, the season changes, as well as the types of fish available to catch. The music is soothing and perfect for unwinding, and players can rent a canoe from which they can catch fish (with or without Hena as a tour guide).
Whether you prefer fishing among falling cherry blossoms, during the heat of summer, beneath red leaves, or in a wintry domain, Hena’s Fishing Hole is one of the best locations in the series for those of us wishing to experience nature from inside the comfort of our homes.
Beaches in Breath of the Wild
Who else hates having to deal with sand in their swimsuits and on their towels after a day at the shore? It’s like glitter: you’ll keep finding bits of it months after you thought you removed it.
Fortunately, the beaches in Breath of the Wild allow you to walk leisurely along the coast at any time of the day in the game, catching the rays of a beautiful sunset or the sparkles of sunlight at dawn reflected on the ocean. Take some branches and flint and create a small fire at night; now you’re camping beneath the stars while the waves tumble in a pleasing rhythm.
If you’re someone who admires horses racing across the beach, know that you can reenact every epic movie scene without leaving your recliner (or getting sand stuck in your clothing). Sure, you may run into a Moblin or two on some beaches, but they shouldn’t have interrupted your peace.
Oh, one more plus of virtual beaches: you won’t have to worry about a present from an overhead seagull.
Lon Lon Ranch (Ocarina of Time)
Easily the largest private property for commoners in Hyrule, Lon Lon Ranch provides beautiful horses, delicious milk, and the opportunity to slow down and smell the hay (maybe a little manure, too).
The lilting sound of “Epona’s Song” greets visitors, and Cuccos flitter about as you head to the paddock, where Malon serenades her beloved steeds.
Pastoral areas are some of my favorites because I never had the chance to live on or even visit a farm (I took horseback riding lessons as a teenager, and I must admit this game influenced my desire to give that sport a try). I know animal husbandry is truly one of the most difficult jobs, but its portrayal in sleepy Lon Lon Ranch fills me with calmness and joy. Malon and Talon obviously care deeply for their animals and treat them with love and respect (Ingo’s disposition eventually improves), and I imagine the air is fresher and sweeter on their land (okay, okay—a whiff of cow patties might fill one’s nostrils).
Bamboo Island (Skyward Sword)
Yes, the mini-game “Clean Cut” on Bamboo Island involves hacking and slashing bamboo a record amount of times, which could incite some stress in players, but, honestly, this mini-game provides some outstanding stress relief for me. The setting is a gorgeous, lush bamboo forest, and the music creates the most Zen atmosphere in the game. I often listen to this theme whenever I am working, imaging myself on a small island in the sky.
My only complaint about Bamboo Island? Its lack of pandas (although I understand the Zelda universe has its own set of creatures).
Do you enjoy visiting any of these places whenever you want to take a breather and admire your surroundings? What are your favorite peaceful spots in the Zelda series? Let me know on Twitter!