Thursday, June 30, 2011

Aonuma Famitsu June 2011 Interview


Aonuma talks about the Skyward Sword and there a good and bad news, like always. I'll just quote the important parts:

"The game starts in Skyloft, this city that's floating in the air, and you'll come back to this town multiple times," Aonuma said. "Things are always proceeding along in town, and in that respect it's very much like Majora's Mask. Like with Majora, there are a lot of game events involving the townspeople that get intertwined with the main story."

This is good news. I'm a big fan of Majora's Mask and it's Clocktown concept and it's great to hear that there will be finally a deeper level of NPC interaction again, which was just completely lacking in Twilight Princess for example. I guess that every NPC will have a daily routine, instead of staying in the same place all the time. The three day cycle was exclusive to Majora's Mask's time travelling system, so I don't think we will get something as complex, but probably more complex than what we got in other Zelda games. The Wind Waker also tried Lunar Phases, you basically had an entire week there. But it only affected the location of the Ghost Ship and what Legendary Pictograph would be available. Also, some treasures were only visible during full moon. The problem with the week system was, that it's just too many days. In worst case, if you need to get to a certain week day, you will have to play the Song of Passing 13 times. Of course they could just make a song, where you can select the exact date, which would make things much faster.

But this also adds to the fact, that this might be the "Aonuma Best Of". Visually it's a hybrid between The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, content-wise it got Clocktown from Majora's Mask, the ocean from The Wind Waker, the Twilight Realm from Twilight Princess, as well as the Phantoms and the "less but more useful items"-concept from the Nintendo DS Zeldas. I would call it a "Best of Zelda", like some people do, but I'm still skeptical if this game will succeed to capture what made the Zelda classics great and ideas like the ocean world or the Twilight Realm weren't really favored and won't ever contribute to a "best Zelda game".

Next quote:

"This game's plot is something like a school drama, you could say," Aonuma noted with a laugh. "The flying sequence at the E3 demo is Link competing against his classmates. One of them looks kind of a like a bad guy, as you saw, and he shows up in other ways in the game too, since he has a major thing for Zelda."

So, I hope Zelda will be a cheerleader then? The sluttier she dresses, the more I'm willing to rescue her! No, seriously, I'm trying to remain calm about these news and just wait how it will play out. After all Aonuma says this with a laugh. But we all agree, that nobody wants a Zelda version of High School Musical. But it came to my mind, that Ocarina of Time wasn't any different. The Kokiri Forest was one huge kindergarten, Mido was the bully, who was jealous of Link and that he was Saria's best friend and chosen by the Deku Tree. So, from kindergarten we now got to high school. However, at E3 2009 they showed this cool artwork of Link and everybody liked, how he looked more mature than any other Link before. But now Link will be some school boy, which is definitely disappointing.

But I'm more concerned about how much all of this will stall you from getting into the actual game. If it takes you longer than 15 minutes to get into the first dungeon, the game is broken. Majora's Mask would be the only exception, because this game was not designed around dungeon gameplay, but around Clock Town. Skyward Sword is clearly designed around dungeon gameplay, the entire overworld is said to be a dungeon before the dungeons. And I like how Skyloft will be your safe haven from the hardships in the world below. But it shouldn't keep you from getting there. It was a brutal mistake of Twilight Princess, that you had to endure tons of story setup, tutorials and forced sidequests like playing dumb minigames or feeding a cat before anything fun happened. It takes you like three hours to get into the first dungeon. This was terrible and Skyward Sword shouldn't do the same mistake. But we will already get the flying tutorial minigame, which is aweful. If I need to do a tutorial for anything, the mechanics must be broken and not intuitive. Tutorials should always be optional, like in Ocarina of Time. If you have problems with playing the game, there are signs and people helping you out. But if you know the drill, nothing stops you from getting to the first dungeon and kicking ass (except Mido, who wants you to collect sword and shield, but this is a fast task). Forced tutorials suck and only prevent you from having fast fun.

^who wants to take this test? Me don't.

Next quote:

"With previous Zeldas, the common pattern was that the really neat items wouldn't show up until later on in the game. You need to have the basic item set or it wouldn't be Zelda, so the new items tended to get shunted to the latter part of the game. [Shigeru] Miyamoto said that had to change, like 'This is neat, let's bring it out from the start.' So a lot of neat new items will show up pretty early on."

This is a good idea. In Twilight Princess we had the problem, that some items weren't used outside of the dungeons, where you would find them. The Spinner is a popular example. The Nintendo DS Zeldas tried to solve this problem by only having very few items with many uses, like in the first Zelda game. This was already not bad and Skyward Sword also only will have eight main items next to sword and shield. But getting all items earlier might be a fun twist. And remember, that each or at least most of the items will feature upgrades like the claws for the Beetle. So, there will be still new stuff to look forward to even later in the game.

There's some stuff about Link's red bird being special (of course!) and the Ghirahim fight, but I'll skip over that to the next quote:

"This game talks about the birth of the Master Sword, and it touches on why Ganondorf showed up. If you play it, I think you'll get some understanding on that. It connects to Ocarina, so if you play Ocarina of Time 3D and move on to this game, I think you'll catch on to a lot of things."

I can't wait to see how both games will connect in the end.

"The whole game is complete, and we're fine-tuning the balance right now. We were going to have it wholly done by around E3, but there's so much volume to it, neither I nor Miyamoto have gotten to fully play out every aspect. The non-English localizations are proceeding along now, and we're trying to make this a simultaneous worldwide release. You have to put Zelda all out at once or else the story's going to get spoiled -- although, really, there's a ton to enjoy here even if you know a little about the story beforehand."

Best news from the whole interview. The game is finished and they are polishing it up right now. Well, after five years it should be finished, I was expecting a holiday 2010 release after all, the game is at least one year late. And there's so much content, that even the producers couldn't play it all! I guess the new director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, is a hardworking man. And a simultaneous worldwise release is important, I remember Youtube recommended me to watch the Ganondorf battle from Twilight Princess one month before the game was available in Europe, so it's good that we will get one.

Via Zelda Informer

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Wind Waker: Link's Logbook

Hahaaaa, surprise! I wasn't done with the Zelda mangas yet, this is a special extra episode! Actually this wasn't drawn by Akira Himekawa and that's probably what makes it so good and entertaining. It's not even your typical Zelda manga, it's a 4-koma, a collection of sketches following the plot of The Wind Waker. Basically each page is an individual sketch and they do a great job of parodying the game. Some sketches are just silly, while others don't work, because they use Japanese puns that can't be translated properly. But others will definitely make you smile, like this one:

And others are just hilarious. Some of them really made laugh, I had more fun reading this than reading the entire Himekawa collection. Seriously. And you can have fun reading it too, just by clicking here. I normally wouldn't promote any scanlations or other illegal material, but this book is not available in the US or Europe. If they also would release this here in Germany, I'd buy it.

Well, and because it was so much fun, here are some more random sketches as a preview:

I just love how they make fun of the game's ideas and mechanics. We all know the parodies, where Link runs into a house, destroys all pots and then just leaves without saying anything. But this book really takes it further, it deals with ideas like "what does Zelda do when she has to wait all the time?" And they make good use of Toon Link's face, he just looks so silly some times, but it really fits the 4-koma style.

Four Swords Manga

Last but not least I will talk about the Four Swords Manga. Well, it's called "Four Swords" in Germany, but actually it's based on Four Swords Adventures or "Four Swords Plus" in Japan. And it's okay. It does the right thing by focusing on having four Links, that's pretty much the main feature of the story. Like Ocarina of Time, this manga comes in two books.

It starts with Link, who's already a hero, but also a blockhead, who only fights on his own. He doesn't want to work together with his father, who is a knight of Hyrule, or anyone else. Of course this ultimately leads to the problem, where he has to work together with three other versions of himself in order to defeat the bad guys. The moral of the whole story is pretty much just about team work. Link got split up in four personalities, the red Link is the cute optimistic guy, the blue Link is hot-tempered and the purple Link is the thinker. And don't how to describe the green Link, he's pretty much just normal. However, naturally they struggle to work together for a while.

They all get split up and have to find each other again. However, they get split up by some force, which is never really explained. Green Link lands in the Desert, Red Link at Kakariko Village, Blue Link in Frozen Hyrule and Purple Link somewhere else (I won't spoil his part). But they find each other again really fast, they somehow get teleported all over the place, which is really weird. But okay, they get teleported to their next destinations in the games, too.

There was one scene, where two of the Links fight each other in an arena placed on lava. This totally reminded me of the Shadow Battles mode and the whole concept of this fight probably came from there.

Well, and then there's Shadow Link. Unlike in the game, there's only one of him, he's an individual in this story. And in the end he even joins the good side, but his role was never really convincing. I prefer the Dark Link, who doesn't talk and just faces Link in a duel or does nasty stuff.

After reading nine Zelda mangas I got my hopes up, that Tingle won't be in any of them. But my hopes were crushed immediatly at the beginning of the 2nd part of Four Swords, where Tingle finally appears. He's all about Force Gems, but luckily he doesn't have many scenes in the manga.

What I really liked about the manga was that it made me wanna play the game. This was not the case with any of the other mangas, but when reading Four Swords I really wanted to replay some of the levels. And I probably will do that later as part of my 25th Anniversary replay orgy.

Well, this is the end of my Zelda manga review special. I hope that some of my shared thoughts were interesting. However, this will probably not be the last manga from Akira Himekawa, Spirit Tracks would be a possible candidate or Link's Awakening, which was recently re-released on 3DS Virtual Console.

Oracle of Ages Manga

The Oracle of Ages mangas continues the story of Oracle of Seasons. Sadly the lovely Din doesn't appear in the manga except for some short flashback, but overall the story was much more smartly written, so the manga ended up being quite enjoyable as well.

Link became a skilled knight by now and at the behest of Zelda he and Impa go to Lybranna to escort Nayru back to Hyrule for her own safety, because Zelda saw shadows surrounding her. However, Veran takes over Impa's and then Nayru's body and the chaos begins. In the past Link meets Raven, who his ancestor. Link recognized him from a painting in grandfather's house. He's a knight in the house of Queen Ambi, but he also cares for a hidden village, where he brings the innocent people, who where supposed to be executed. And there's this little girl with a sapling, which later gets important and stuff. Well, Himekawa added a lot to the overall story, but it works fine and makes it much more alive and believeable. The time travelling mechanics and effects don't make much sense, but it was the same in the original game, so I don't blame Himekawa for that.

There's also the plot hole, where Veran zips into Ralph's body for quite a while. In the meantime Nayru should have been able to save herself... but oh well, it's by far not as bad as the plot holes in the Majora's Mask manga.

Link doesn't really have a party here, but Raven and Ralph join forces with him to defeat Veran. There's a funny twist, how they got Ralph back into the story. At the beginning Link takes the Harp of Ages from him and says good bye. But he then loses the harp and Ralph finds it in a Magic Shop four hundred years later. I thought that was funny. Also, at the end Link returns to his grandparents only to discover, that there's a painting of himself as a knight from the Queen Ambi times. His grandfather then tells him, that he was named after that Link and that this guy should be his hero. That was kind of funny and a nice conclusion for the manga. The grandparents helped to keep both mangas together, as a prolog and epilog basically.

Well, it's like I said at the beginning. The Ages manga lacks the beauty of Din, while Nayru can be also very charming, she's possessed by Veran for the most time, but on the other hand the overall storyline is much better than the simple "go from A to B"-plot in Seasons.

Now only the Four Swords manga is left, which is a two-parter.

Oracle of Seasons Manga

That's more like it. I guess the less story there's in a game, the easier it is for Akira Himekawa to make a good manga out of it. There they can amplify and change the story to their liking without hurting the game's original framework plot. It might even be the reason, why Himekawa chose to make mangas for games like Four Swords Adventures and A Link to the Past over games like The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. There they have the necessary freedom to write a good story and come up with their own ideas.

I have to say that the Oracles manga is definitely my favorite of the bunch. It's not perfect and I've read far better stories, but it's overall enjoyable and made good use of the game's original plots.

I'll admit that the main reason why I like this manga is the beautiful portrayal of Din. She's just magical and you really can't blame Link, that he immediatly falls in love with her, though she's probably too old for him. But if this would be adult Link, I'd say she's the perfect girl for him, she's something special, but also a lot more down-to-earth than let's say a princess. The manga is also the reason, why Din became one of my favorite girls in the Zelda series, even though she's not doing much in the games. But Link fells for her anyway and really wants to save her. Can't think of a better motivation.

What's also cool is, that Link basically builds up a party like in some JRPG or other Japanese fantasy stories. His first companion is some chicken, I'll get to that later. Then there's Ricky, though he's basically the Jar Jar Binks of this story, he's really annoying. I thought he was much cooler in the game. Then they are joined by Maple, who wants to get the Rod of Seasons for herself. And in the end there's also Moosh. No sign of Dimitri in both mangas, however. Well, there's one cool scene, where the entire party is surrounded by tons of monster including several bosses like Gohma, Gleeock or Aquamentus. That panel was pretty epic.

Well, the story completely skips over the dungeons, only some of the bosses appear as the bad guys. And I think this was the right choice, it would be boring to watch Link collect some essences. Basically it starts out with Link living by his grandparents, his grandfather really wants him to become a knight, but Link rather wants to live his own life. So, he leaves and ends up going to the knight qualifying test in Hyrule Castle Town anyway. There he gets in some trouble and somehow ends up by the Triforce. It sends him to Holodrum, where meets Din and gets the hots for her. So he joins the gypsies, but at some point they arrive at the Temple of Seasons, where Onox awaits Din, captures her and sinks the temple. Link decides to rescue her, meets up with Ricky and they accidently get caught in a portal to Subrosia, where they find the Temple and Maple. Equipped with the Rod of Seasons, they cut their way to Onox's castle and save the day. At the end Zelda appears and confers knighthood on Link. It's a simple story, but it works.

Well, there's also some weird stuff. One is the "Navi Chicken", I call that chicken that way, because it's basically a Navi replacement. I guess there's no way Link could survive without a sidekick, who tells him what to do. At the beginning it's just some normal chicken, but because of the Triforce Link can suddenly understand what it says and even gets awefully lots of knowledge about everything because of the Triforce. It doesn't make sense at all, but it's by far not as bad as some stuff in the Majora's Mask manga. Also, the Maku Tree appears, but unlike the Deku Tree he doesn't talk, but Link reads his mind... wtf? I guess Himekawa didn't get, that this was basically another Deku Tree, just watching over Holodrum.

I will continue to talk about the Oracle of Ages manga in my next post.

Majora's Mask Manga

I don't know where to begin... I don't even know, if Akira Himekawa understood anything in the game. It's not like they just did the usual plot transforming like in the other Zelda mangas, most of it doesn't make any sense at all...

It starts with Deku Link confronting the Skull Kid on the tower. There the moon crashes into Termina, but for some totally unexplained reason the clock was turned back for some minutes, Link wonders why the time skipped back and THEN he gets the Ocarina of Time to play the Song of Time, which warps him back three days. But what was that time skip before? It just happened for no reason. And when Link arrives back at the beginning of the three days, he just loses his Deku form without any reason. It just happens without any explanation. The Happy Mask Salesman is there, but he only asks Link to get Majora's Mask back. He didn't help him with the Deku form (which was the original deal between the two in the game) and the Song of Healing is not part of the manga. Link just randomly plays something on his Ocarina, when the souls of Darmina and Mikau are manifested in masks. Epona gets stolen by Skull Kid at the beginning, then she doesn't appear in the entire story, only to appear out of nowhere at the end of the manga. "Hey Epona, there you are! Hahahaha!" Lot's of stuff just happens without any reason or explanation and it's a giant mess. I would even go as far and say that this is worst of the mangas yet, because the other mangas' stories at least made sense.

Also, except for the unexplained time skip and the Song of Time session at the beginning of the story, there's no time travel. None at all. He just repeats those three days once and in these three days he explores entire Termina setting all four giants free. You can do that in the actual game, but you need to be REALLY good. And Himekawa saved himself/herself/themselves (how am I supposed to refer to a female mangaka couple that goes under a male name?) the trouble of dealing with the issue of repeating three days and watching the world go down over and over again. Which was one of the central dilemmas of the game. It's like a dark, psychological and epic version of "Groundhog Day". In the manga there's only Anju, who interacts with Deku Link in the first cycle. And in the second cycle Link is sad, because Anju can't remember him. THAT's IT! That's the whole time travel dilemma in the manga, Anju can't remember Link from before... How sad! How terrifying! How overwhelming! I guess the only thing, that was overwhelmed here, was Akira Himekawa. He/she/they probably couldn't comprehend the whole thing. You help people, they become happy, but then you return to the first day and everyone is in despair again. Like nothing what you did mattered. But you can't rescue everyone in this game, you have to focus on the greater good of stopping Majora and the moon. But you have to deal with this problem as the player and it would have been nice to see how Link struggles with this psychological dilemma in the manga. But they totally avoid the whole problem. They took the easy road for this manga and that's lame.

But this wasn't the only thing avoided. Ikana, which is one of my favorite parts in the game, got completely fast forwarded. I guess a society of ghosts and undeads were not interesting enough. And the Romani Ranch got left out completely. Nothing about the Romani Ranch is in the manga, like I already said, Epona just appears out of nowhere at the end of the manga. I guess cow abducting aliens were not interesting enough. However, Akira Himekawa of course had enough pages left to draw a side story. Actually it's a back story, which tells the origin of Majora's Mask. It's supposed to be meaningful and full of symbolic character. However, it doesn't make any sense at all and it completely contradicts with what the Happy Masks Salesman tells you about the origins of the mask in the game. I guess Himekawa wasn't listening at that point.

Damnit, I just don't know what good points I could tell you about the manga, so instead I post a panel of a lovely Gerudo pirate for your enjoyment. At least Himekawa can draw women, sometimes...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another Amazing 25th Anniversary Fan Art

After spontaneously posting the Duel Link art, I thought I should show this master piece here as well. J2Dstar made this one and it's really awesome. Sometimes I wish I could draw like that, but it's probably really time consuming, so I stick with blogging about Zelda for now... but the scroll is really detailed and features many villains, bosses and enemies on one site and different incarnations of Link on the other. We got Ganondorf, Ganon, Agahnim, Dark Link, Vaati, Gleeock, Volvagia, Patra, a Stalfos, a Bokoblin, a giant Chuchu, an Okotorok, as well as soom Keese and Deku Scrubs on the side of the bad guys. And both versions of the Hero of Hyrule, the Hero of Time, Deku Link, Link from A Link to the Past, the Hero of Wind, three different colored Links from Four Swords using the Roc's Cap, Ordon Link, Wolf Link with Minish Link riding on him and even Link riding on a bird from Skyward Sword on the other side. I guess this would be one epic clash. Nice scroll, you can even buy it in the link printed on the picture.

Via Zelda Informer

Duel Links by Winter-Artwork

One nice fanart from Winter-Artwork, Link and Dark Link card style.

Via Kotaku

The Linearity Plague

If you've read some posts on my blog, you know that I'm a huge supporter of non-linear game design and that I despise it, when they make the Zelda games more and more linear. However, this is not a problem with the Zelda games alone, a lot of other genres suffer from that as well. For example First Person Shooters, take a look at the graphic, which I took from here:

This couldn't be more true. Modern First Person Shooter games are more like movies, where you occasionally get to shoot something. It's linear, it's scripted, it's full of cutscenes, it's boring. But games used to be different. When we talked about video games in my childhood, one regular question would be "did you see that?" - we were talking about all the cool stuff, which we've discovered by ourselves. That's not a question you ask about a modern video game. Of course you've seen it, since the game guided you there. A more appropriate question about a singleplayer game would be "how many hours are you in the game?" - just answer that and you know everything you need to know about what the player has experienced so far. Games became more and more like a movie. A movie is a passive form of entertainment, you just lean back and enjoy the show. Games used to be the opposite, you take on the action. You steer, you explore, you fight, you think, you do. But in a lot of modern games this is not the case, they want you to watch cutscenes and to follow a linear path. And if you're lucky, you get to shoot something in the mean time, but that's mostly a no brainer. Duke Nukem Forever would be a current example, from what I've heard.

The problem lies in the developers. They spent most of their life making all these cool things for their next video game and they're going to make sure, that you'll see it! Bit by bit. They forgot that it was much more fun, when you discover things by your own. They also forgot, that non-linear level design full of secrets adds immensively to the replay value. A linear game might be fun the first time, but the replay value is usually very low, because you've experienced everything already and there aren't any interesting choices to make. Another problem is, that it's much easier to make a linear and scripted game. To wrap the player in cotton wool and guide him through every part of the game, so nothing can go wrong. You don't have to double check for what happens, when a player finds the Level 8 dungeon early. Just make sure, he does everything in order and takes always the same route. Making linear games is easy. And video game developers can be lazy.

But facing the success of games like Minecraft, where the gamer is placed in an open world ready to be explored and where he follows his own goals, this attitude might change in the future. It already might be changing for Zelda. Some of the later Zelda games including The Minish Cap, Spirit Tracks and above all Twilight Princess became much more linear completely defying what defined the classic Zelda game: freedom and exploration, non-linear gameplay. But in a recent interview with Miyamoto he stated:

What I’ll say about Skyward Sword is that there’s a tremendous amount of places you can go and things you can do in that game. It’s very open world, and I would encourage everyone to go and explore every nook and cranny of that game as well.

This sounds great! This sounds exactly like what I want from Zelda! They promised at some point that they would focus on what made the classic Zelda games so fun and I'm glad that they discovered, that freedom and non-linearity played an important role. All demo material of Skyward Sword also supports this fact, so I'm really looking forward to this aspect of the game.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ocarina of Time Manga

Why is it, that Ocarina of Time is usually called the best Zelda yet? Is it the gameplay? The story? The atmosphere? The music? The level of freedom? The world and dungeon design? The combination of all these factors? No, actually it's none of this... the true answer is, that this game is in the Harem genre. Every halfway attractive girl is a possible love interest for Link. Guys dig that anyway and female Zelda fans love to write kinky fan fictions, of how a certain relationship would have turned out. And there's something for everybody, the farmgirl next door, the dolled up blonde for those who like trouble, the never aging childhood friend for pedophiles, the fish girl for zoophiles and an entire tribe of hot Latina thieves for those who just can't get enough. That's the whole secret of Ocarina of Time!

Unfortunately the manga doesn't play out that card too well. Actually I would have thought that the whole love interest thing would be intensified, but girls like Malon or Ruto give up like after one panel. There isn't even anything going on between Link and Nabooru, who looks really cute in the manga, even though the game there originally played its "suggestive themes".

Well, I'm just kidding here. ... or am I? However, Ocarina of Time was Akira Himekawa's first Zelda manga and it is probably the most well known one in the series. But it's certainly not my favorite Zelda manga. The problem is, that the original game's plot is already quite good. You can amplify the story, add more details to it, but there's no real reason to change anything. But that's what Akira Himekawa did in a lot of occasions. Too many occasions.

Okay, there's some stuff to add more emotion to the story. For example Young Link buys Volvagia as a baby and they become friends, but then as an adult he has to fight the same dragon. Well, but does Link really have to connect with a dragon on an emotional level instead of being badass slaughtering the evil creature? On the one hand his relationship to girls like Malon or Nabooru isn't really developed - actually there's more going on in the game than here in the manga. But on the other hand he starts befrieding with man-eating dragons? What happend here?

And they changed so many things. The Shadow Temple or Bongo Bongo don't appear in the manga, but instead Link fights Shadow Link in Kakariko, who came out of the well. He also finds Epona in Kakariko and the whole story around the Lon Lon farm got changed to the worse. It all reminds you of the old Zelda cartoon, the Ganondorf's minions including Ingo report to the King of Darkness in his castle and of course he doesn't always like what he hears. Among those minions is Shiek, he works for Ganondorf now as a double agent and gets caught up between the fronts a lot. He then reveals his true identity to Link at the Spirit Temple, where they fight against Twinrova. Zelda has pretty much taken Nabooru's place there, except for the part, where she gets brain-washed and stuffed in a Iron Knuckle's armor. And Link never travels through time, he gets send back at the end, but he does never time travel on purpose. But why is he even called Hero of Time then? Because he likes to waste time fishing? (He actually does that in the manga, I'm not kidding!) Well, I could go on and on about the changes... after Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask Himekawa focused more on the handheld releases, the side projects. Games like Oracles or Four Swords don't have much story going on during the game, so it's easier to change and add stuff without destroying the original game's plot. I remember that I really liked the Oracles manga, when I read it about seven years ago. But I'll see if it lives up to my memories soon.

However, the second book got two extra chapters. The stories are terrible, yet those chapters are really interesting, because they somehow foreshadow and foretell stuff from upcoming games. Young Link's story focuses on his friendship with the Skull Kid and features a lot of masks. Okay, there's also the bad Bagu Tree, who is the Deku's Tree rival, and stuff, but overall it looks likes this is feels like a bridge to Majora's Mask. The manga was published in 2000, so it might not be all too surprising, that they added something like it. But it gets more interesting. In adult Link's side story, he meets the bird boy Roro from the Watarara, a tribe of bird people. He's the prince, but he has yet to grow his wings and face adulthood. Does this remind you of anything? Like for example the Rito and prince Komali in The Wind Waker? Well, the design of the Rito is far more developed and likeable, however, you have to pay your respect to Akira Himekawa for coming up with very similar ideas long before Nintendo. Aonuma even acknowledges this in an interview with Himekawa at the end of the A Link to the Past manga.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bugs & Glitches in Ocarina of Time 3D

In the latest Iwata Asks interview featuring Ocarina of Time 3D Grezzo stated that they actually kept some of the original bugs in the game and treated them like features, because they were fun and part of the original game's experience. It's something you share with other people, if you've discovered it. You might think, this is crazy, but there actually some diehard fans, who wouldn't like to see certain bugs go, because they could be used to do speedruns and alike. And sometimes bugs turn into valuable features, for example the strafe jumping in the Quake series was originally just a bug, but it became a recognizeable standard in the series and other Quake engine games. So, this is nothing unusual.

It even looks like Grezzo included new glitches on purpose. There's a weird glitch, where you start a new game with the Master Sword in Young Link's hands. This only happens after beating the game once and he holds the sword in an awkward stance, which doesn't appear anywhere else in the game. The sword disappears as soon as you get the Kokiri Sword and this really looks like Grezzo actually placed that there. You can also now enter Jabu Jabu's Belly as Adult Link, which is really cool. I'm looking forward to try out that one.

However, Grezzo also removed some bad bugs. This includes the nasty glitch, that prevented you from getting a Deku Nut capacity upgrade. I've written an article about missable items in Zelda earlier this year and I was hoping, that Grezzo would fix this, and according to reports from various Zelda forums they indeed did. It appears, that nothing is permanently missable in this version of Ocarina of Time and this is great news.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

UberVice Zelda Remixes

DJ UberVice asked me to promote his latest EP, which contains three Zelda remixes, dubstep remixes of the Fairy Fountain theme and "The Last Hour" from Majora's Mask, as well as a House remix of the Romani Ranch Alien Attack. I have to admit, that the Fairy Fountain and Romani Ranch tracks are not really my thing, but I really like The Last Hour. It's truly a great remix and a very cool choice. Well, you can download all three tracks for FREE, so you should get and listen to them anyway.

Here's a link to the EP on Ubervice's site or you can directly download the songs from here. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Link to the Past Manga

Instead of randomly picking a manga, I decided to read them in the chronological order of the games from now on, so A Link to the Past was my next choice. However, this was actually one of the later mangas made by Himekawa, following the release of the GameBoy Advance version. Himekawa's first Zelda manga actually was Ocarina of Time, which I will read next.

Overall the manga got a much more serious tone and Link is also a more serious character than in the mangas featuring Toon Link. They added a larger personal vendetta against Agahnim, he actually kills Link's uncle at the beginning of the story and banned both his parents into the Dark World, where they died. A Link to the Past originally didn't have a sidekick character, so the Himekawas thought they just should add one. There's a thieving girl named Ganti and she's following Link. She turns into a wolf in the Dark World, actually Link does the same at some point instead of turning into a bunny...

The healing apples, which were more or less just a fun feature in the original game, became very important to the story. Link even got his own apple plantation.

The manga pretty much avoided all dungeons except for Hera's Tower. And the bosses in the dark world were all people, who entered the Dark World and got transformed into beasts, who match their personality. It was actually quite weird, but it also gives a deeper meaning to the bosses. The ending was different, because the King and the Uncle weren't resurrected with Link's wish and Zelda became Queen of Hyrule. While it was nice to see Zelda becoming Queen, it was a bold move not to resurrect anybody. But I guess Link's resurrected parents wouldn't have fit so well into the story...

Zelda and a TV Wii Channel

Today the free Kirby TV Channel launches in Europe, which will stream an entire Kirby TV series to your Wii. I couldn't stand watching even one episode, but I also couldn't help thinking, why not do the same for the Zelda? As part of the whole 25th Anniversary celebration, they should release a special Zelda channel, which offers a retrospective of the entire series and streams the 13 episodes of the old TV show, which ran as part of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. I wouldn't say that the show was good, but it definitely was entertaining in its own way and sometimes even hilarious. "Excuuuuuuse me, princess!"

It's always a problem, when Link starts to act and talk and is given a personality, because as a Zelda player you're not used to it. You're Link and your personal reactions count. For example I always thought that his (sometimes dumb) reactions in Twilight Princess were already too much, I'm not doing a stupid face, so why does Link do so in the game? However, you can't have a TV show or a manga with a protagonist, who shows no personality at all. You need to find the right balance here, Link should do something, but it should always mirror how the normal audience would react, so they can identify with Link easily, like they do in the games. But so far we got fairly underdeveloped Links in the mangas and extremely exaggerated Links with the TV show and the CD-i games. But it still can be entertaining, how Link tries to hit on Zelda, if you don't take the whole thing too seriously. And I like how Zelda is portrayed with a strong personality.

Of course the show is over 20 years old and completely outdated. It didn't even get the fact straight, that there are actually three of the TRIforces, even though Zelda II was already released at that time and the show even features enemies from that game... to dig up this old corpse probably would be a bad idea and you can't really compare this to the Kirby show, which isn't as old and even reached 50 episodes. Still I wanted to discuss this possibility, even though it's unlikely and probably not a good idea.

But if you're interested you can always watch the Zelda TV show on Youtube.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Minish Cap Manga

Reading a manga is actually quite a fast task, it might even take longer to write this review than reading the manga. Well, not really, but let's skip right to the good part. Link tries to look up Anju's skirt as a Minish, but nearly gets stepped on during the process. Hahaha, that scene was so out of place, I don't know, highlight of the entire manga...

And that's not saying much. Actually the manga starts pretty good, it even got scenes from official artwork redrawn and it features the Deepwood Shrine in unusual detail. But then the whole thing went down the non-canon road. It started with Melari refusing to forge anything, because his wife died in a conflict with the Forest Minish... I mean, how were the Mountain Minish even able to lumber a large enough amount of the forest, so the Forest Minish would actually bother? We're talking about real tiny beings here... And the Temple of Droplets was just some gathering place for the Minish, where they watch a "dayfairy", a fairy who only lives for so long, die. What the fuck? However, the whole story ended with ignoring the fact, that the "Sacred Blade" actually was the Four Sword. No Four Sword mentioned in the entire manga, Link didn't need to split up to defeat Vaati or anything. And then Vaati just returned back to normal, apologizing for being the bad guy and that's it. What the fuck? No, weird female mangaka couple, no! I just recently played the game again and this is not how it happened! You should have known better, after all you made the FOURS SWORDS manga before this one! The Minish Cap started the whole tyranny of Vaati until he became just another random subordinate of Gannnon.

What was cool though, next to the Anju upskirt peek, was Link defeating the Gyorg couple by confusing the eyes of the female (the bigger one was the female, right?) ... similar to those eye puzzles in Skyward Sword. Now you know where they got the idea from!

Next manga will be... I don't know yet, call it a surprise.

Phantom Hourglass Manga

Okay, this was the first manga in my new collection, which I decided to read. I had never read this one before, so this was actually a new experience. This is also the latest Zelda manga from Akira Himekawa.

Like in most of the mangas the story followes loosely the game's plot. But only two dungeons are mentioned, the Temple of the Ocean King and the Temple of Fire. Cyclok and Crayk are faced outside of dungeons and nothing from the eastern part of the sea, like the Gorons, the Anouki or the Cobble Kingdom and bosses like Eox or Gleeok, is featured in the manga. Jolene is getting the Phantom Sword from Zauz, which interestingly doesn't need any special metals or the Phantom Hourglass to be forged, while Link fights Phantom Linebeck at the bottom of the Ocean King Temple without the Phantom Sword. This is definitely messed up and overall the manga felt completely rushed. For example all of the bosses including Bellum were killed with one strike, which made them look really pathetic. "Oh, there's a boomerang!" *throws* -> boss dies. Also, they made a big deal out of the whole dynamic between Ciela and Linebeck, but to be totally honest, it was much more entertaining in the game.

I will keep these reviews short. There isn't much to say about the mangas anyway and I will probably just repeat myself.

German Zelda Manga Collection

The Zelda Mangas from Akira Himekawa were all published by TOKYOPOP here in Germany. I knew that the Ocarina of Time mangas were released in 2009, but I just found out recently, that by now all the Zelda mangas are available. So I went to the local book store and bought them. All ten of them. At once. Well, there are two mangas for Ocarina of Time, two for Four Swords and two for the Oracle games. A Link to the Past, Majora's Mask, The Minish Cap and Phantom Hourglass all got one volume each. TOKYOPOP made them all in the same design, which definitely looks nice in your book shelf. Here are some photos:

I've actually read most of them online before, so I more or less just bought them for my Zelda collection. But I guess it can't hurt to read them again. And I think reviewing all the mangas could be a nice feature for this blog, so I'll do that in the near future, one post per game. Akira Himekawa, which is a female duo of comic book artists, usually does a good job at turning the games' story into something readable. I especially liked how the Oracle mangas turned out. But of course using the mangas as a story guide or counting them as canon would be a terrible idea, these are just for your entertainment. And usually it feels weird to have Link act and talk...

Majora's Mask 3D: Speculations

I haven't played Ocarina of Time 3D yet and I already speculate about the next potential remake? But this is really a no-brainer. A Majora's Mask 3D practically would develop itself. The original game could be developed within a year, only because it reused nearly everything from Ocarina of Time. Gameplay, graphics, items, characters, ... not counting Ancient Stone Tablets this was the first Zelda game to do this, but not the last. The Oracle games, The Minish Cap, Link's Crossbow Training and Spirit Tracks are all based on one of their previous games. Reusing a game engine and the content from a previous game saves a lot of time, time that can be spent to develop new ideas. Even crazy ideas like a Zelda game, which focuses on sidequests and where a moon crashes onto your head. And now with Ocarina of Time 3D GREZZO made everything needed for a remake, because Majora's Mask reuses most of Ocarina's content. The only thing they would have to add for Majora's Mask 3D would be some new textures and models. And the game would benefit from the 3D even more than Ocarina of Time, the pressure of the moon closing in was always important for the game and this surely would look even more impressive in 3D.

However, one of the problems with Ocarina of Time 3D is the lack of new content. But at least it got Master Quest, which was originally only available on a bonus disc for GameCube. Master Quest was something, that only hardcore Zelda fans would get and play. Which is why a lot of people haven't played it yet, which is why for a lot of people Master Quest might be a good reason to buy Ocarina of Time 3D, because it really adds something new for them. However, there was no such thing for Majora's Mask. And a boss challenge mode would be pointless, since you can replay every boss anyway and sometimes you even have to. Also, most of the boss fights aren't really fun, especially Gyorg can be a pain in the ass. Unless you got the Fierce Deity's Mask. Of course they could always add Sheikah Stones, the first vision should be Link playing the Song of Time backwards... most people didn't really understand the time system and thus got time pressure (if you play the game right, you will never have any time pressure), maybe the Sheikah Stones could show people how to really play this game.

However, Sheikah Stones alone won't make an impressive list of new features for a remake. There was no Master Quest for Majora's Mask and a Boss Challenge would be pointless. So, this prevents them from adding "new content", that isn't really new content. But a remake needs something more than just better graphics, which is why they would have to add something...

One idea would be that they just simply make a Master Quest for Majora's Mask. They could start by mirroring the game (yikes!) and adding double damage. There aren't many dungeons, but you could still revamp them in the style of Master Quest's dungeons. In case of doubt you can just make the dungeons harder by adding Iron Knuckles in every corner. Imagine Iron Knuckles in Woodfall Temple, this would already be an entire different level of challenge. And next to the four temples there are also lots of minidungeons. The two Spider Houses, the Secret Shrine of Ikana, Beneath the Well, Ikana Castle and the four minidungeons on the moon. They could also revamp all of those. I don't think that this would be much effort, after all they got a lot of time for this remake and most of the work was already done with Ocarina of Time 3D anyway. And a Majora's Mask Master Quest would be a definite reason for every Zelda fan to buy this remake.

And there could be a secret bonus dungeon hidden somewhere... yes, I'm not giving up on the bonus dungeon idea, Nintendo! And I will continue to bitch about how Ocarina of Time 3D is not a perfect remake, because it doesn't have one.

I don't expect any new items though, especially after Ocarina of Time 3D got TWO FREE SPOTS in the items menu and didn't use them. And in case of Majora's Mask 3D the menu would already be filled. Let's do some math, the original game got 24 items and 24 masks, that's 48 items alltogether. However, the Ocarina will probably get its own touch button again and the three magic arrows will probably be combined with the Hero's Bow. So, that's four items less. And because four items are always assigned to buttons, we would "only" need space for 40 items. That's twice the size of the item menu in Ocarina of Time 3D. I guess you could just make two pages and you switch between the pages by pressing the item tab again. Or there could be a scroll bar. However, the separation between items and masks won't work in the style of Ocarina of Time 3D's item menu. Just imagine you got the Hookshot equipped to X and now you want to assign the Bunny Hood on the same button. Then the Hookshot would wander into the mask menu... so, that's why there probably will be just one big menu for all items and masks.

They could include the Shard of Agony from Ocarina of Time 3D though. Originally in Majora's Mask the Stone of Agony rumbling feature near hidden grottos and secrets is a default ability in the game, probably taken over from Ocarina of Time, though the Stone of Agony itself is never mentioned in the game. They can't just remove it, but they can't just give you the Shard of Agony from the start without any explanation either, because this new version is somehow more obtrusive. But it could be a reward from a secret bonus dungeon...

The moon is closing in and we want to see it in full 3D, Nintendo. Like I said this remake would really be a no-brainer and most of the work was already done with Ocarina of Time 3D. But it would be interesting to see, if they add new features and what those features could be. Here a Master Quest / 2nd Quest made for Majora's Mask definitely would get a lot of attention and would be the ultimate addition.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Replaying The Minish Cap

It's the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda franchise and my way of celebrating is (re)playing as many Zelda games as possible. I replayed Spirit Tracks last Holidays, because I only had played the game once at that point. Then I replayed A Link to the Past, because my Virtual Console copy still remained untouched. I also checked out the newest version of Ancient Stone Tablets after that. Then I decided to replay Twilight Princess, because I had played the Wii version only once so far and I wanted to deal with the mirroring again. It was also a preparation for Skyward Sword. Of course I've also beaten Link's Crossbow Training one more time right after Twilight Princess, after all those two games share a lot. The Wind Waker was my next choice, there I wanted to get 100% including a full figurine collection in a normally started game without the help of the 2nd Quest. After that I replayed Link's Awakening, mainly because it's short, but awesome and because it offers tons of replay value. And lately I played some rounds of Master Quest to remember some of its crazy dungeons and to get a final impression of the original Ocarina of Time, before I play the 3DS version. And it doesn't stop here, I will try to play more Zelda over the entire year.

I would actually prefer playing something new instead of replaying old games, but there aren't many options, I already 100%ed the entire series with the exception of Four Swords and Ocarina of Time 3D. I still need a Nintendo 3DS for the latter and a second player for the former. Well, there's still the Game & Watch Zelda left for me, but that's not too much fun, and the Japan exclusive Tingle games, but these are hard to get and I don't speak Japanese. But there will be Skyward Sword coming out this year, I can't wait for that. And at some point I will definitely get a Nintendo 3DS and with it more Zelda.

So, my next choice was The Minish Cap. Actually there wasn't any good reason to replay this game. I mainly did it, because I like the style of Four Swords and the news that this game will be re-released as DSiWare motivated me to check out its successor. This is actually the 6th time I've beaten The Minish Cap, I played my GBA copy four times and two years ago I played the US version on emulator, because it got an additional bomb bag upgrade. This time I played the US version on emulator again, so I could make many screenshots. It's still a weird choice, there's a fair chance, that this game will reappear on the new Virtual Console anyway and I already played this so many times. This is my third most played Zelda game after Ocarina of Time and Link's Awakening, which is weird, because on the paper it doesn't have many replay value. It's not as short as Link's Awakening and it's very linear.

But this game really lures you in. It's a nice little game and it wants to be replayed. The game is really beautiful and joyful and it doesn't let you go so easily. You just play a couple of minutes and you already want to climb that beanstalk again. It was definitely Capcom's farewell gift and their only "simple" Zelda game. You can say about Capcom's team Flagship what you want, but they definitely had guts and experimented with the Zelda series a lot. With the Oracle saga they tried to link multiple games. While this added tons of initial replay value, when the games originally were released, I lost interest in these games when I was fully done with them. There's no quick entry here, there are many choices to make and no definite way of playing these games, which makes it difficult to reexperience everything. After the Oracle games Capcom made Four Swords, the first multiplayer Zelda experience ever. However, it can't be played alone. With The Minish Cap on the other hand Flagship took all their experience from making the Oracles and Four Swords and used it to form one last normal Zelda game.

But you have to say, that this game really feels like Capcom took a giant pot and just threw tons of stuff from all previous Zelda games in it. It took the graphics, gameplay and style from Four Swords, which tried to fuse the older GameBoy Zelda games with the style of The Wind Waker. For example you'll instantly notice the sound effects for solving a puzzle or the Sword Beam from Link's Awakening, but you'll also notice how the enemies and characters look like they are taken from The Wind Waker. But the game also features lots of characters and music taken from Ocarina of Time for example, there's something from every Zelda game thrown in here. Well, maybe nothing from Zelda II. The only big original idea was the Minish world, but of course the basic idea of the Minish Cap was already featured in Four Swords as the Gnat Hat item...

^remember that room from Link's Awakening?

And while this game is really beautiful, I think Flagship played it too safe here. This game is very linear and easy. The only non-linear dungeon is the Fortress of Winds, but even this one gets boring after a couple of playthroughs. And while the dungeons are all really beautiful in design and all have nice music, they are not really hard, especially compared to some of the dungeons Flagship made for their Oracle games. Remember Jabu Jabu's Belly there? I played through the Oracle games four or five times and I still can't fully warp my mind around that dungeon, it's still more try and luck. Or the Hero's Caves were kick ass. Take the blue to red tile puzzles for example. There are two of them featured in Dark Hyrule Castle, but they are a joke to compared to the later of these puzzles in Oracle of Ages. As an Oracle veteran The Minish Cap fails to challenge you.

So, what is it, that motivated me to replay this game? What lured me in? Is it really just the game's beautiful style? No, it's the Kinstones! Getting Kinstones just feels awesome, especially at the beginning of the game. You cut some grass, it plays the Get Item theme and you got a Kinstone. Combine this with some White Picolyte for pure awesomeness. Ta-da-da-daaa! Ta-da-da-daaa! Ta-da-da-daaa! Ta-da-da-daaa! Ta-da-da-daaa! ... Hell, yeah. I just love this feeling and fusing Kinstones always feels so rewarding, even though collecting Kinstones and finding 100 people to fuse with is by far not as challenging as collecting all 64 rings on Oracles for example or finding all 100 Skulltulas in Master Quest. But you fuse a piece and a treasure chest appears somewhere, a new cave opens or some other cool stuff happens. I loved the Kinstone feature ever since I first played it in the E3 demo at the German Games Convention 2004.

For some reason I always bother that there's nothing in the menu, that tells you that you got the Jabber Nut, the three Joy Butterflies and the upgrades for the Spin Attack and Split Gauge. You just get these things and the only way to know that you got them is by performing certain actions. Okay, they did the same with the Magic Spin Attack in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, nothing in the menu tells you there, that you got it. But here there's just so much stuff, that I wished, that there's something more in the menu.

In a recent Iwata Asks interview about the music of Ocarina of Time Koji Kondo mentioned that it was very important, that the Hyrule Field music changes a lot, so it doesn't get boring. I wish Capcom knew this, because the Hyrule Field music in The Minish Cap really started to annoy me this time around... though I have to say that this game also got its fair share of awesome tracks. The Above the Clouds theme alone is magical, but I also like the remake of the Zelda I dungeon music in the Royal Tomb, the Caster Wilds music and the Sky Palace song.

^I always thought that it was a missed opportunity that they didn't expand the Royal Tomb to a full dungeon. I love how they made this minidungeon in the style of classic The Legend of Zelda dungeons. They even got the sounds for appearing items, pure awesome.

However, this game got one huge replay killer. The figurine collection. Getting a full collection might be fun the first time, but it's just completely boring and annoying in every single replay. The main problem is that it interrupts the game. You want to do some nice sidequests or play the next dungeon, but then you notice, that you already got 999 seashells. If you'd now find a treasure chest containing 200 seashells, those would go to waste. Which is why you have to skip your current mission, go to Hyrule Castle Town and start playing boring lottery for a while, even though you don't want to. And of course you just don't want to set dozens of shells at once, you have to play more strategic or otherwise you'll have to farm tons of extra shells at the end of the game. Which is why those figurine collecting pauses might take a while. And after you've finally wasted enough seashells to continue the game, you get yet another two treasure chests containing tons of seashells and it all starts over again... Luckily this is not an issue on emulator, I can just use Gameshark codes to get full 999 seashells or even an entire figurine collection without doing anything. This saves me the effort of doing something again, which I don't enjoy to do. However, this won't work, when this game gets rereleased on the Virtual Console...

Another replay killer are always bad minigames. I just hate playing bad minigames again, for example each time I'm replaying Ocarina of Time or Master Quest, I could rage about the stupid Bombchu Bowling... Ahhhh, those Cuccos, I hate them!!!!! Well, there's only one bad minigame in The Minish Cap and coincidently it also has to do with Cuccos. They took the awesome Cucco gathering sidequest from Ocarina of Time's Kakariko Village and transformed it into something horrible. It's not really hard, I can beat all of the tasks in my second try. It just sucks, it's not fun and you have to do it like ten times until you finally get the Piece of Heart. Having to beat a minigame two times already stresses it usually, but ten times is just too much. However, the game makes good for it with the awesome "Dungeon Simulation" minigame. I could play this many, many times and it never gets boring. Each Zelda games should have something like this.

And what's up with the Mirror Shield? Why do I get it, when there's no use for it at all? Okay, it was actually useful in my first playthrough, because I still got lots of sidequests left including some Golden Oktoroks. Killing those using the Mirror Shield is fun. But normally you would get the Mirror Shield after finishing everything else... why? Why can't I get the Mirror Shield earlier? It doesn't have any use, when there's nothing left to do!

So, these were my thoughts about replaying The Minish Cap. I don't know what will be next, but maybe I'll return to the NES Classics. Replaying Four Swords Adventures from start to finish would be another option, I usually just pick one or two levels, replay them and then leave the game alone once more. It's the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda franchise and I celebrate by playing Zelda!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bloody Shadow Temple

Welcome new Zelda fans, who experience the amazing Zelda franchise for their first time by playing the amazing Ocarina of Time in 3D. Did you know, that this game was actually a remake of a game from the Nintendo 64? And did you know, that the Shadow Temple there actually was scary?

Look at this picture, it got blood stains all over the place! But fear not, you won't have to face these scary impressions on your shiny new 3DS version! You're safe, Nintendo keeps you safe!!

No, seriously, they removed the blood stains in Ocarina of Time 3D's Shadow Temple and Bottom of the Well dungeons. And I don't like it. They added so many nice details to the game, but on the other hand removing details like the blood just makes me want to play the original game again. Like it or not, this was part of the creepy atmosphere in these dungeons. That Nintendo would go as far as adding blood to the walls was something special, but now it's gone... They probably removed it to score a lower rating, but most children get their games bought by their parents anyway and in that case it doesn't really matter if it's 10+ or a 12+. Actually when I played the game as a child, I never really bothered about the blood, the whole place was already scary enough (there could be Redeads behind every door!), but it really got my attention when I played Master Quest just recently. So, I wondered if the blood stains are still in the game, but it appears they aren't. I guess Nintendo thought seeing blood on the walls on Virtual Console is fine, but seeing it in 3D would be too much for their customers...

And I think that Dead Hand also looks less creepy:

What's this, jellyfish-color?

But at least it seems like they kept the green blood effects (which were originally red in very early versions of Ocarina of Time on the N64). They could have removed those and replaced them with unicorn-colored butterflies, which pop up with every sword strike! Yay.

Master Questing

So, I was playing Master Quest the other day... you know, the "original" version for Gamecube, the one which isn't mirrored and doesn't deal double damage. I don't have a Nintendo 3DS yet to play the new version, so that's fine. And I didn't finish the game, nor did I start it. I just picked up some older savegame to re-experience some of the Master Quest dungeons and to get a final impression of how Ocarina of Time used to look like, before I get my hands on the fancy new 3DS version. That way I will appreciate the graphics even more, after all the updated graphics seem to be the most important feature of the remake.

So, why am I telling you all this? Well, I was experimenting with the game's flow al little bit to see what level of freedom you have in the Master Quest version, which is different from Ocarina of Time, but still offers some interesting choices. Non-linearity and freedom make replaying a game always much more interesting. You try beating dungeons out of order, which is fun. And only a few people notice this, but Ocarina of Time is actually the most non-linear Zelda game right after Zelda I. The child part is pretty straight forward and after that most players tend to follow Navi's guidance, so they never noticed, that the adult part of the game is very non-linear. Okay, most people notice, that you can switch between Shadow and Spirit Temple. There's no Zelda board out there, which doesn't feature a "which comes first? - Spirit or Shadow Temple?"-thread, because Nintendo decided to put the Shadow Medaillon next to the Light Medaillon, probably just because it looks more meaningful. But this led to much discussion, whether the Spirit Temple comes before the Shadow Temple or not, even though the Shadow Temple comes first in all official and ingame guides...

But this is not the end of the flagpole. In both version you can play the Ice Cavern at the beginning, so you get the Iron Boots and Zora Armor early. In both version you can play the Bottom of the Well at any point after the Forst Temple until you really need the Lens of Truth. In the original game you can play the Fire Temple before the Forest Temple or the Water Temple before the Fire Temple (but I believe you need the Bow in the Water Temple). This is not the case in Master Quest, because you need the Bow in the Fire Temple. But you don't need it in the Water Temple, so this time you can play this one at the beginning.

And this is what I did. I played Ice Cavern, then I've beaten the Water Temple, then I played the Forest Temple, so I could return to the past and enter the Bottom of the Well, because I wanted to go to the Spirit Temple next. Okay, very experienced players are able to cross the desert without the Lens of Truth, but I'm not good at that. Then I've got both the Silver Gauntlets and the Mirror Shield from the Spirit Temple, but I couldn't finish it, because you need the Megaton Hammer for two rusty switches. Luckily you the the Hammer right at the beginning of the Fire Temple and entering the Fire Temple with the Mirror Shield equipped looks really cool.

Experimenting with the order of the dungeons and items like that is not only fun, but it also might be a huge help in the new version of Master Quest on the 3DS, where you have to face double damage. Especially receiving eight hearts damage from the Iron Knuckles must be a pain. So, try to get certain items earlier to receive an advantage. For example the Longshot makes playing the Forest Temple much more comfortable. You don't have to go far into the Water Temple, because you get the Longshot right at the start. So, you don't have to face Dark Link without the Hammer, which can be a little bit more difficult (or wastes tons of magic), if you don't want to. And if you go to the Desert Colossus early, you get Nayru's Love early, which might be a huge help for fighting Iron Knuckles, if you're not good at fighting them. You can get Nayru's Love even before facing the first Iron Knuckle in the Fire Temple. So, if you're stuck in Master Quest 3D, try going to different places and get useful stuff in advance.

Nichts Neues in Hyrule

Okay, so Ocarina of Time 3D was released worldwide by now and various reports and reviews flow in. And I want to be totally honest, I was hoping until the very last second, that there would be still some unannounced new content, like a secret bonus dungeon. But there's nothing of the sorts, this is most and all a graphical update of the game coming with a few tweaks in the interface and the gameplay. There is also Master Quest and the Boss Challenge and Gauntlet modes, but while both of this is really nice, it doesn't offer any real new content.

Don't get me wrong, I never had any unrealistic expectations about this. There are Zelda fans, who when they first heard about the remake instantly dreamt about getting all the originally planned content for the game and its Ura Zelda version, like the Temple of Light, the Unicorn Fountain, the Sword Beam, melting Zora's Domain or Horse Combat. I never expected any of this, I based my expectations entirely on the previous "remakes", Link's Awakening DX and the GameBoy Advance version of A Link to the Past. Both of these enhanced versions got a new sidequest and an extra dungeon with some new items as a reward. A Link to the Past got the Riddle Quest, which gets you the Hurricane Spin Attack, and the Palace of the Four Sword, which leads to a new dungeon. Link's Awakening DX got the Photo Quest, where you get funny pictures for your GameBoy Printer, and the Color Dungeon, where you can unlock different tunics. This is not much, but it is better than nothing. All of this was a nice bonus, in order that the remakes offer a little more than just better graphics or gameplay. And I expected something on these lines for Ocarina of Time 3D.

Actually there were only two things, which I wanted from this remake. That they include Master Quest and that they'll add some minor new content. And they did a great job with Master Quest, the even made it more challenging and confusing by mirroring the game and adding double damage. I like that. But they completely failed at the new content front. I would even go as far and qualify the Boss Challenge as the new sidequest, though there isn't really anything new here, for me this is more like the first step to a solid replay mode. But I would have liked at least a new dungeon. Even a freaking Cave of Ordeals clone would have been fine. This would have even made sense, after all you're now able to replay all the bosses. So, why not add something, where you can replay the minibosses like Dark Link as well? Maybe they feared, that new content would have destroyed how the game used to be. After all this is a faithful remake (except for the blood stains...). But I'm not talking about the Temple of Light here, they could have easily hidden the new and entirely optional dungeon somewhere. The Color Dungeon in Link's Awakening DX was hidden under a tombstone and for the Palace of the Four Sword they just added another hole to the Pyramid of Power. Even if there are people out there, who just happen to totally hate new content, they could easily ignore an hidden dungeon like that. I would have hidden it inside a secret grotto in the Desert Colossus area, because that's one of the last places, which you discover in the game and which you can both access as Young and Adult Link. Hiding some hardcore Cave of Ordeals type dungeon like that somewhere even makes it scarier. "Hey, I just found that really crazy hidden grotto, it scares the hell out of me! What is this thing?!"

And there should be one or two more items. Coincidentally there are even two free spots in the item menu and people are wondering why... There are many options. Pegasus Boots to run faster (like the Bunny Hood in Majora's Mask) for example would have been awesome and a nice option. I would like to try them for Dampé's grave race or the running man contest. Or a telescope / the Hawkeyes, so you can get an even better look at the 3D world. And even two more bottles would have been fine, it's better than nothing and I guess you could use those extra fairies well in Master Quest. By the way, I would have turned the Biggoron's Sword into a normal item, like the Great Fairy's Sword in Majora's Mask. I always liked that you could instantly switch back into sword & shield style by simply pressing B. And since there are two free spots, the Biggoron's Sword would have fit easily.

So, I'm disappointed, that there's no new content at all. Especially since I never expected much, just a small new dungeon, where you get some optional item and that's it. Was that too much to ask? I don't think so.

Of Course There's No Anniversary Collection

Recent news (example) reported that Nintendo said no to the idea of a Zelda Anniversary collection. Mainly because they did the same for Mario last year with the re-release of Mario Allstars.

This is no surprise at all. Why? Because there's the Virtual Console and Nintendo wants to sell the games there. It got all the classic console Zelda games already with the exception of Master Quest, which reappears on 3DS anyway. And by now there's even a Virtual Handheld on the Nintendo 3DS for GameBoy games as well. Link's Awakening DX is already there and the Oracle games will most likely follow. If they add GameBoy Advance games somewhen in the future (they probably will), all Zelda games are somehow playable on the current systems, Nintendo Wii and 3DS. The Virtual Consoles prevent Nintendo from making any new collections. All the old games are there and they want to be downloaded, collections would completely kill this service. Mario Allstars was a different case, because it never was available on Virtual Console and now probably never will be.

Also, there's the remake of Ocarina of Time and Nintendo wants to sell it. Who wants to buy the remake, if you can buy a compilation of lots of Zelda games including Ocarina of Time for the same price? Since Ocarina of Time 3D doesn't offer any new content and the graphics are not that important, this is a deal. But when they made the Collector's Edition for Gamecube, they left out A Link to the Past, because they just released the new GameBoy Advance version. If there would be a new Collector's Edition, then Ocarina of Time might get the same treatment. But who wants to buy a Zelda collection, which is missing the best Zelda game?

Talking about the Collector's Edition (was released on GameCube, see picture above), some people suggested to simply re-release the Collector's Edition for Wii. But this is a terrible idea, the collection is completely outdated, it was lacking A Link to the Past and Majora's Mask tends to freeze, unlike the new Virtual Console version. And who wants to play a demo of The Wind Waker and watch a trailer of it, if the game is already eight, nine years on the market? And of course the video covering "all" of the Zelda series is absolutely outdated. To have this bonus disc was really, really cool back then on the GameCube, but simply re-releasing it is not an option.