The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has launched to near-universal acclaim and is already the fastest-selling entry in the series. But the game isn’t perfect, as it’s retained one of the most annoying aspects of Breath of the Wild: the dreaded Stamina Meter. Making its unwelcome return, managing stamina makes TotK much worse.
The Legend of Zelda series features different iterations of Link – a warrior reborn throughout time to act as the holder of the Triforce of Courage and battle evil whenever it veers its head. This isn’t to say that each Link is created equal, as some possess greater capabilities.
There was one Link in the chain who was weaker than the others, and that’s the one that appeared in Skyward Sword. He was the first iteration of Hylia’s Chosen Hero, but he was also the first to possess a Stamina Meter, meaning he could only run for a short period before needing a rest. And this trait was inherited by Link in Breath of the Wild, where it became a major annoyance.
The Stamina Meter Only Slows Down Tears Of The Kingdom
The Stamina Meter was bad enough in Skyward Sword, but at least the areas in that game were small, and there were often fruits spread around that could quickly refresh Link and keep him on his feet for longer. The introduction of stamina as a mechanic was annoying. Still, it was a minor problem in the wake of the game’s other issues – at least in the original Nintendo Wii version – and it often got ignored in the face of the motion controls.
The Stamina Meter isn’t easy to ignore in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, where Hyrule is a massive open world with scarce settlements among the plains, rivers, and mountains. It’s here where the Stamina Meter becomes a limitation, restricting Link’s ability to run, climb, swim, and glide. Link must stop after running for a few seconds, will drown only centimeters from the shore, and plummets off the face of a cliff just before reaching the summit.
It’s possible to expand the Stamina Meter by completing the Shrines in both games, but this means selecting the upgrade over Heart Containers. Link is very squishy during the early hours of the game, and casual players will want to beef up their health as soon as possible. This means many players will want to prioritize their hit points, condemning themselves to stop and starting until they feel secure enough to start pumping upgrades into the Stamina Meter.
Having A Better Mount System Would Alleviate The Need For Stamina
It’s understandable for there to be some restriction on swimming or climbing, but the Stamina Meter is mostly a nuisance when applied to running across Hyrule. The developers seemingly had a mechanic in place to make traversal easier, as there is a mount system in place in both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Outside of amiibo-specific horses, like Epona, Link needs to capture a wild horse out in Hyrule by using stealth, register it at a stable, and build up its affection to get it to follow his commands.
This involves soothing the horse, which drains stamina. The horses can also die and then need to be revived before they can be used again. Until the horse is fully affectionate, it will resist the player’s ability to ride them.
The mount system in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom is good for the special beasts that Link can acquire, but in practice, it’s a major pain. Hyrule has so many high and low places alongside numerous bodies of water, meaning it’s often easier not to bother with horses or wildlife and instead rely on Link’s poor feet to go the distance.
Say what you will about Roach glitching around the place in The Witcher 3, but at least they always showed up on time and were quick to propel Geralt across the land. Link isn’t so lucky in Tears of the Kingdom due to how annoying the mounts are, to the point where you might want to just run, even with the Stamina Meter.
Gliding Deleting Stamina Also Slows Things Down
The other frustrating aspect of the Stamina Meter is how it’s tied to gliding. When Link leaps off a cliff and starts gliding to a new location, the clock turns on, and the Stamina Meter starts ticking away, letting players know just how long they have for Link to reach his destination or plummet to his death.
The reason why this is so annoying is that there is already a limitation to gliding: gravity. As soon as Link starts gliding, he starts dropping, so the deciding factor of whether Link can reach his destination should be whether the player can successfully judge the distance rather than Link’s arms being tired.
For me, one of the most disappointing aspects of the Sky Islands in Tears of the Kingdom was how inaccessible they were whenever I was shot out of one of the towers. During the early hours of the game, I’d see all of these fascinating locations in the air, but I had to ignore them as I didn’t have the stamina to get there. It reached a point where I was too afraid even to try, as I’d need some residual stamina in case I missed my mark and was sent back down to Hyrule for an emergency last-second glide.
One of the best aspects of Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom is the ability to spot something cool in the distance, mark it on your map, and start running to check them out. This isn’t the case with the Sky Islands in Tears of the Kingdom, as that dastardly Stamina Meter always kept them so far out of reach that I’d forget about them and leave them unexplored.
The Stamina Meter Vs. Weapon Durability
Some would argue that the weapon durability system is the worst aspect of Breath of the Wild that carried over to Tears of the Kingdom. Still, at least you can defend it by saying that it encourages the player to experiment with new weapons and adds an interesting resource management aspect to the game. The addition of the Fuse ability in Tears of the Kingdom also expanded what your blades and arrows could do in combat.
In contrast, the Stamina Meter is just an anchor around the neck of the player: a constant annoyance that slows the game down for no benefit other than to give you a reason to visit the Shrines. If Tears of the Kingdom could be influenced through some Nintendo Switch version of the Game Genie, or if it was somehow moddable, I’d disable the Stamina Meter and never look back.