If the wait for the Virtual Console on the Switch is killing you slowly, maybe this can ease the pain. The Switch’s ever-expanding and, honestly, surprising library just got even better with the release of Ittle Dew 2+.
I remember playing the first Ittle Dew game several years ago and not being super impressed. It felt like a bog standard but serviceable Zelda-like with maybe a few too many block pushing puzzles. This one is different. When I think about Ittle Dew 2 in a handful of years, I know it won’t just be hazy memories of moving a block around a grid.
Ittle Dew 2 shares a bit of DNA with Breath of the Wild just as it does with its more obvious 2D inspirations, even though it predates the former by several months. You’re tossed into a huge world after a (thankfully) hasty introduction, and are told that you can go anywhere you want. Do the dungeons in any order. Discover secrets in any order. You’re permitted to explore any corner of the map you can get to, and to feel free to progress as you see fit. It’s a breath of fresh air, and one that Nintendo itself finally started to breathe in with A Link Between World’s openness.
You’ll rush your way through cavern after cavern, stumble across dungeons, find portals that take you to even secreter secrets, and more. Ittle Dew 2 never gives you a moment to get bored. You’re constantly finding new areas to explore, coming across a new mini-dungeon (very, very similar to Breath of the Wild’s shrines), or finding hint givers who nudge you towards something you might have missed. Nearly ever screen you happen upon will have at least challenge to complete, and I found myself losing hours just to find “one more cave”, which of course leads to another and another. Some puzzles you’ll blast through in seconds, others will give your brain a genuine workout to find the solution. The entire game is filled with so much variety that it’s hard to put down once you’re sucked into its delightful flow. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny at times, and has better writing than any actual Zelda game could ever hope for.
If I have anything to complain about, it’s the game’s bosses. The vast majority of them, especially the ones you’re likely to stumble across early on, are essentially just standard enemies with a bit more health. They don’t look cool, they don’t do anything particularly interesting… they just kind of stand there as you tank hits and stab them for 10 seconds. Then they die without much fanfare, you’re given your reward for finishing the dungeon, and you move on. Compare this to the fanfare and spectacle of any of A Link to the Past’s bosses, and it’s tough to gloss over. If not for that, I think this would be the essential modern 2D Zelda-like, joining the likes of 3D Dot Game Heroes and Anodyne, and even besting some of the games the developer obviously adores so much.
If you’re ready to play the second best Zelda game on the Switch (and it’s on everything else, too!), check out the game’s website here.