Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - The Year of Rupees

Another year passes by, time's running fast and as Zelda fans we look back to what I dub the "Year of Rupees". It's the year of rupees, because in the two new Zelda games that were released in 2013 - The Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds - Rupees are very important and because this year unleashed a giant attack on the wallets of the Zelda fans. I'm not kidding, when I say that this was the most expansive year to be a Zelda fan and collector. It makes the 25th Anniversary two years ago look fairly moderate.

Actually the year started with the aftershocks of the 25th Anniversary with Hyrule Historia getting its English release. It's the bible for every Zelda fan and it's nice to have it for the timeline section alone. Also, the Symphony to the Goddesses came to Europe with concerts in London, Paris and Berlin. I visited the one in Berlin and it was an unforgetable experience. In North America the 2nd Quest of the concert started shortly after and there were concerts in Australia as well. So, probably many Zelda fans worldwide visited the event and might count this as one of the most exciting days of the year.

While in 2012 it was totally silent around Zelda, we didn't have to wait long in 2013 to get our first Zelda announcement. Already in Januar Mr. Aonuma presented the first images of The Wind Waker HD, which would be released later this year.

In April we then got our first on the new handheld Zelda game, which was later titled A Link Between Worlds at E3. As I expected last year, they handled the newest Zelda handheld installment similar to Spirit Tracks: show the game in Spring, big presentation at E3 and then release the game before the end of the year. Nintendo likes to keep their games close to the chest lately. But it also turned out to be much more traditional than expected, while the 3D got utilized in a topdown view, the game also returned entirely to the world of A Link to the Past.

To bridge the time until the new release, we got to enjoy some old Zelda games again. Oracle of Ages & Seasons were re-released for their first time on the 3DS Virtual Console after 12 years and there are probably quite some people out there, who actually got to play these game for their first. I personally used this occasion not only to replay these games, but to compile the first thorough Ring Guide for the games, because it was about time that someone did this. I only played two Hero starter gamers though and I plan to replay the Linked Games in 2014 and also collect all 64 rings again for the first time since playing the original games on the GBC!

After the adventures in Holodrum and Labrynna gamers returned to the Great Sea in September/October, but this time in HD. With the Wii U Nintendo decided to take similar paths with Zelda as on the 3DS. They remade/updated an older Zelda and bundled it with special black hardware decorated with golden ornaments from the game. This time with The Wind Waker HD and the black Wii U Gamepad, which nicely matches the black 3DS from two years ago. The game alone probably wouldn't have lured all too many Zelda fans in, since it lacks any new features, but with the bundle one or the other Zelda fan might have bought a Wii U this year. I'm actually one of them. Though I haven't used my Wii U all too much after finishing The Wind Waker HD, however, next year looks quite promising for the Wii U. And if you're still interested in the "limited" bundle, you can still get it pretty much everywhere, which is a little sad.

Harder to get might be the Limited Edition of the The Wind Waker HD, which came with a special Ganondorf figurine. Since Nintendo doesn't bundle physical games anymore (the Wii U bundle only has a download code), the whole thing was a pure collectible item for people, who want the game with disc, box and cover together with something special.

The game itself did a great job to streamline the original The Wind Waker experience. It's all faster and more fluid, mostly thanks to the new Swift Sail. Another new addition are the selfies for the Pictobox and the Miiverse integration via Tingle Bottles, which led to a new and fun way to communicate with other Zelda players. The HD graphics are beautiful, though it doesn't feel as fresh as Ocarina of Time 3D did. Also, you only need to pay for three Triforce Charts this time, so Rupees aren't actually as important in the game as they used to be.

But Rupees are very important in the new game, A Link Between Worlds, which got released at the end of November for the Nintendo 3DS. While it features some new ideas like renting items, it's overall a back-to-the-roots Zelda experience close to A Link to the Past. It's open, non-linear, heavy on exploration, fast paced and lots of fun to (re)play. I like to call it the best Zelda game since Majora's Mask. As a fan of the classic Zelda games, A Link Between Worlds is the answer to all my prayers. Many years I have talked about the issues of linear and slow Zelda gameplay of the recent installments in the series, but A Link Between Worlds is finally a Zelda game that does everything right. Or at least most of it. This makes me really happy and this also marks the year 2013 as the return of classic Zelda.

It's still the "Year of Rupees" though. While Ravio takes all your money ingame, Nintendo and Prima Games aimed to empty your wallets in real life. As if the Wii U bundle wasn't enough, Nintendo also bundled A Link Between Worlds with a 3DS XL. And it's not half as good as the 3DS bundle for Ocarina of Time 3D was (which actually had the game in physical form, an AC adapter and other accessories), but still more expansive. Also, Nintendo released a small treasure chest with sounds to store 3DS cartridges (in case you actually got the game as a cartridge and not as a mere download), which depending on where you live could be quite hard to get. In Germany it was only available in Club Nintendo and sold out after less than 7 minutes.

Another treasure chest got released by Prima Games with the "Zelda Box", literally the heaviest Zelda collectible yet. It contains six of their collecter's edition hardcover guide books, one of them new (Ocarina of Time 3D) and one of them expended (Skyward Sword). They also released new hardcover guide books for The Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds, the latter not included in the Zelda box.

If you add all of this together, Hyrule Historia, tickets for Symphony of the Goddesses, two special hardware bundles, the Wind Waker HD Limited Edition, the Zelda box, other guide books and collectibles, then that's more than 800€/$ spent throughout the entire year on Zelda alone. This is ridiculous, it even makes the 25th Anniversary look cheap. Needless to say that there are probably many Zelda fans, who missed one thing or another, because they simply couldn't effort it.

However, the big storm should be over now. With the exception of the 2DS there's a limited Zelda edition of every current Nintendo hardware out there and considering how badly the current Wii U bundle sells, they probably won't make another Zelda themed bundle for the Wii U. The Zelda Box from Prima Games should be an one time thing (they made make a second box in the future though, starting with the A Link Between Worlds guide). And the Symphony of the Goddesses is on pause next year, so things should go back to normal, where Zelda things are rare and never too expansive and where the wallets of Zelda fans have a chance to regenerate.

And it's nice to see Zelda getting so much stuff and attention without any special occasion like the anniversary.

Monday, December 30, 2013

My little contribution to Zeldathon St. Jude

So, I donated and joined the Minecraft creative server and made a little pixel art:

Nothing special, but better than nothing. There's a miniature version of Mabe Village right next to it, which is pretty cool.

Overall the server and the Zeldathon stream are really cool. I've been following the stream for most of the time and it's really enjoyable to watch. There are some fun guys there and they do a lot of fun things to keep it interesting.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Zeldathon St. Jude

... starts in about 75 minutes!

Maybe not the best timing considering that there already has been another Zelda marathon two weeks ago, but whatever... I didn't follow the TSG marathon all too much and the new Zeldathon has a nice concept, where they are streaming two different games at the same time. So, if one game bores you, you can switch to the other, which includes some fun stuff like the CD-i games or Minecraft.

McGamer set up a Minecraft server just for this marathon, so you can even play with these guys. And since he's part of the Mindcrack network, even Minecraft developer Dinnerbone might join the fun (he even donated at the last marathon). So, for me as a Zelda and Minecraft fan this is pretty interesting.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Got the Zelda Box

Look what was under my Christmas tree this year (even though I put it there myself, lol):

I love it! When they announced it, it first felt like a rip-off, but for the current price (around 110€ on Amazon) and its quality (you get six 300+ pages books in color), I have no complaints here. The box is sturdy with a glossy outside, the golden bookmark looks amazing, the certificate is high quality and its nice to have all the books in absolute perfect shape. And I can always sell my old guides to get most, if not all the money back.

But one book is new and the other one half new: Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyward Sword:

With the original Skyward Sword Collector's Guide I had various complaints and it feels like this new version was completely overhauled. They didn't just add lists for the Pieces of Hearts and Goddess Cubes, they also improved many sections of the guide. For example the Imprisoned now has the shortcut strategy, where you jump on its head instead of attacking its feet, which is vital for the Lighting Round.

I don't have the original version at my hands (it's in my flat, while I'm currently back home), so I can't draw direct comparisons between the two versions, but just by skipping through the guide I can see that they put a lot more effort into it than with the original.

Completely new is the Ocarina of Time 3D guide in purple. It comes with its own section for Master Quest, where they even have all the mirrored maps for the overworld and new Skulltula lists. It's a really good one, but again I can't really tell the difference to the original paperback version, because I don't have it. It does have new 40 pages though, so there's new content.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hyrule Warriors Announced

Well, I was hoping that they would reveal DLC for A Link Between Worlds on today's Nintendo Direct (for example a boss battle mode), some people hoped for Majora's Mask 3D, but instead we got something that probably noone saw coming... Hyrule Warriors. The new Warriors game taking place in the Zelda universe.

Last year the Dynasty Warriors series already got a Link costume, but looks like this collaboration just entered a whole new level... I haven't played any game of Tecmo Koei's Warriors franchise yet, but the One Piece game looks not too bad and I will probably get Hyrule Warriors, since I do have the Wii U and it looks somewhat fun.

But it also looks very cheap. The way they threw in all the models from Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess... ouch. It doesn't look very appealing and I'm not happy with the fact that Nintendo sold Zelda to a 3rd party developer like that. The only similar spin-off to Zelda would be Link's Crossbow Training, but this was just a small side game developed by Nintendo. Hyrule Warriors seems to be the next big game from Tecmo Koei, maybe even their biggest hit yet.

And that's not even all... Sonic Lost World will get a Zelda themed level...! Seriously? What's next, Zelda Kart? It seems like 2014 will be the year for bad Zelda crossovers, lol.

Friday, December 13, 2013

72 Hour Zelda Marathon for Charity

In about three hours the guys from TheSpeedGamers.com start a Zelda marathon raising donations for the MercyCorps, who are currently responding to the recent typhoon disaster in the Philippines.

I kind of enjoyed the last Zeldathon hosted by McGamer, so I'm eager to see how this one will be like. But you guys should check it out, you can even win cool prizes, if you donate 10$ at the right time:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

99999 Rupees in A Link Between Worlds

I played so much Rupee Rush that I maximized the Rupee counter at the end of the game, lol:

I tried to get above 1000 Rupees in Rupee Rush and kept playing the game for a while. Actually it doesn't take all too long to get 9999 Rupees in this game, once you know the tricks. Maybe not even 30 minutes. Whenever I play through A Link Between Worlds again, my first stop in Lorule will probably be the Rupee Rush... ah, no, you need the Sand Rod, so my first stop will be Thieves' Hideout and then this minigame. And you even have the Rupee eating fairy next door, I could feed her up with 3000 Rupees very quickly. This minigame is really imba.

My current record is 993 Rupees, so close to the 1000:

But you have to be quite lucky to get so much. It really depends on how many of the purple Rupees you're able to get. But I bought about five golden Bees now in the shop for 9999 each, just to get rid of all the Rupees... :-D

Miiverse posts:
99999 Rupees
Rupee Rush (Lorule): 993 Rupees

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I love Rupee Rush in A Link Between Worlds

I think, this is becoming my favorite minigame in Zelda. Usually I lose interest in the minigames, as soon as I got the price, but I can't stop playing this game. It has everything, a good minigame in Zelda should have.

1) You don't have to beat multiple difficulties to get the price. Just the one game, no tedium.
2) It's not mandatory to beat the game. You can just ignore it.
3) It's a lot of fun and has potential for always making new records without any ridiculous unlockables. (I'm looking at you, Cucco Run...)

The concept is simple. Just run around and collect as many Rupees as possible within 30 seconds. Estimating the 30 seconds is easy by simply listening to the music. The music goes exactly 20 seconds and changes the melody right before the 10 second mark. So, let the music run one time and then end the game right at the time, when the music changes in the middle of the song. If you got the right point, it's very easy to get the x3 multiplier in each game.

However, you can only swap items with quick swap, because going into the menu makes the time stop and therefore changes the timing of the music. So, it's best to select the best tools before the game and never change them. In Hyrule that's the Tornado Rod for the tiles and the Hammer for the rock in the northwest.

This is my current record in Hyrule.

In Lorule I got 915 Rupees. Lorule is somewhat different, because three items are useful here. Sand Rod, Hookshot and the Hammer. I suggest either using quick swap (which is bad though) or ignoring the Hammer. It's possible to navigate the entire area by using Sand Rod and Hookshot alone by using the stairs in the northwest. There's a big purple Rupee i the center, one on the pillar in the north and one on the pillar in the south. However, sometimes those are Rupee Likes (you can spot them by the larger shadow). But if you're lucky, they are all normal Rupees. Also, the pond in the center spits out about two purple Rupees per match.

I usually can score about 600 Rupees in the Lorule version and simply playing this game brings me from 0 to 9999 Rupees in a short time. I'm buying Golden Bees for 9999 just to get rid of all the money... :D

Overall this is a great minigame and probably one of my favorites, if not the best. Yes, it is random, but the good kind of random, where it always stays interesting. It's never frustrating, which I think is important with a minigame. For me it's a nice distraction from all the super frustrating rounds of Cucco Run's endless mode...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

100 Hours of A Link Between Worlds

My Nintendo 3DS tells me that I spent over 100 hours with the game now. This includes two full playthroughs, one through normal mode and one through Hero Mode. Two half playthroughs, one for checking, if the chests in Thieves' Hideout are missable, and the other one I just started for fun. Also, lots of time battling Shadow Links and collecting all 50 medals, both in normal and Hero mode, as well as playing the endless Cucco Run minigame and other minigames. Well, and quite some time, where the game simply was idle, lol.

But after so much play time, I think it's time to finally share some impressions about the game. To say some good things after all the nagging about the Cucco Run. This post contains spoilers for those, who haven't completed the game yet. So, don't read on, if you're in the middle of it.

Usually with a new Zelda game I blog about my progress each day. This started with Spirit Tracks, but I also did it for Four Swords (Anniversary Edition), Ocarina of Time 3D, Skyward Sword and The Wind Waker HD. But not this time. This time I got a review copy from Nintendo (thanks a lot!) for ZeldaEurope.de about three weeks in advance and naturally blogging about the game wasn't possible.

I didn't even write down all too much, which is a shame, because I don't remember my initial dungeon order anymore. Because this is one of the things that makes this game so great: the non-linearity, the freedom and the exploration. A good Zelda game is heavy on exploration and the previous games, especially Skyward Sword and Spirit Tracks, really lacked the exploration factor. They were very linear Zelda games with little freedom. A Link Between Worlds is the exact opposite and this really makes the game exciting. Thanks to the freedom every player has his own story, his own unique path through the game. And every story can be interesting.

As for my part, when I first arrived in Lorule, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the freedom. In a good way though. What I did was exploring every region first, even going to every dungeon entrance and then decide, which dungeon I would play first. But my first big goal was getting the Titan's Mitts. It's like the biggest item throughout the game, since you can rent and buy all others early. Only the big rocks (and the desert) remain as an obstacle. I even thought, they were required for the Skull Woods dungeons, because I missed the other path through the woods. So, my first goal was Thieves' Town, I think, because in A Link to the Past it was the dungeon that gave you the Titan's Mitt. But to my surprise you didn't get them there, but the Sand Rod at the end (at that point, I didn't know that the Master Ore would count as the dungeon item).

My next thought then was that each sage would give you a new item. After all you got the Sand Rod from one... so, I assumed that Rosso will give me the Titan's Mitt. Also, I wanted to upgrade the items, before I head into a dungeon that requires them. The first item, which I had bought, was the Fire Rod, because of the bigger discount. You save 600 Rupees instead of just 400. It was also the first item that I had upgraded. So, my next goal were the Ice Ruins. With about ten hearts, only some red potions and no stronger armor. And oh boy, I can tell you that was fun. I was close to dying a couple of times and I kept wandering around the dungeon, because it was so complicated. My favorite room was the one with the fairies, because I needed them quite often. It felt like a classic Zelda dungeon maze challenge!! It's definitely my favorite dungeon in the entire game and the only dungeon that comes close to the A Link to the Past quality of difficult maze-like dungeon design.

I don't remember the exact order after this point, but needless to say that all other dungeons paled in comparison after the Ice Ruins. I think, the dungeons were too easy with the enemies. A Link to the Past's dungeons had strong enemies and traps everywhere, but the dungeons here go very easy on you. It already started in Eastern Palace, where you can't find any Eyegors. And normal enemies from A Link to the Past often get treated as minibosses, which is a joke. I was hoping that Hero Mode would fix this and while the quadruple damage indeed provides a good challenge, the dungeons remain the same. It wouldn't have needed Master Quest style dungeons, but at least stronger enemies here and there would have been good.

Interestingly enough the overworld has tough enemies everywhere. I would even say that it's more dangerous than in A Link to the Past. For example you can run into Lynels really early, which is cool, because they're finally using strong enemies as an obstacle again. The overworld is also what makes you feel great about becoming stronger. The enemies in Lorule can dish it out and take in. And getting a stronger sword now becomes meaningful again! Finally it takes only half the hits to beat them. This is good classic Zelda design, which is still superior in every way. The Wind Waker was the first game to remove optional sword upgrades, where the difficulty progresses with the story and the story would give you a stronger sword at the right time. You can't feel the upgrade this way. And that sucks, I prefer the traditional Zelda, where sword upgrades were hidden and meaningful.

But A Link Between Worlds brought it back! But it didn't stop there... nearly every item receives an upgrade in this game and it's awesome. Collecting all the Maiamais is definitely the most rewarding collectible sidequest in the entire Zelda series so far. Sadly finding them all is a little bit too easy, but whatever.

The selection of items in this game is probably the best yet. I really enjoy the four different elemental rods and the other items, especially in combination of the new energy meter. Usually I try to save my arrows, bombs and magic for when I really need them (even though it's silly, because when you need them there's usually pots around). But I'm just this ammo saving type, I guess. However, with the energy meter I can use all items to my heart's content. And it doesn't feel cheap, because you can't spam the items. It's a great system that definitely has a bright future in the Zelda series. I never enjoyed all the items as much as in this game.

However, I spent quite some time looking for things that weren't there. Especially a 6th bottle. The inventory leaves a spot open, which is reserved for the Bow of Light, but I didn't know that and I really wanted to get everything before heading into the final battle. So, I kept looking for another bottle, which wasn't there. I think, I spent a couple of hours just running around and exploring every nookie until I finally had the thought I might get something in the final dungeon. Though I thought it would be the Light Rod, because it would have gone quite well with the theme of the game.

I wasn't able to look it up, but that's a good thing. Usually there's the temptation to look up the solution in the internet, if something is unclear or if you get stuck. Because it's fast and easy. I usually try to avoid this, because I usually hate myself afterwards (the last time I did this was with one chest in Hyrule Castle Town in Spirit Tracks), but this time there was nothing to look up. And I enjoyed that, because the game had some really clever puzzles.

My favorite puzzle is probably the one in the Palace of Darkness with the Master Ore chest. I thought this was genious. I know that some people hate this particular puzzle and say that it was unfair or even against Zelda principles, because it made them look up the solution in the internet (like I said, don't do that!), but I personally enjoyed discovering the solution. There's quite some logic behind it, even though some people pretend like it's the most random puzzle ever.

But puzzles like that really bring me back in the days of playing my first Zelda game: Link's Awakening. Sometimes I got stuck for WEEKS, because I couldn't figure out a puzzle. There was no internet and I didn't want to buy the guide book from my pocket money, so it was either figuring it out on my own or "lose" the game. I remember that it took me a long time to get behind the "eyes" of the mask in Level 6, Face Shrine. At that point I was under the impression that every room in the dungeon is on the map. And I was really playing with the map the whole time. I didn't play The Legend of Zelda before, so I didn't know that the maps usually have shapes and that the "eyes of the map" were hidden rooms. So, I couldn't find the Power Bracelet L-2 or the miniboss and I got stuck forever. But did I complain that the game cheated or tricked me, when I found out the solution? No. I was happy that I finally figured it out. And I got smarter on my way.

Zelda needs more crazy puzzles like this, because usually the puzzles aren't really puzzles, but chores. You don't even have to think about it, you know the solution right away and just move the block on the switch. That's only natural after 16 other Zelda games. So, I love it, when a new Zelda games brings some fresh puzzles. And the best way to design puzzles now is to go AGAINST the Zelda fan's intuition. Do the opposite of what a Zelda fan might expect. This way you can make it hard for longtime Zelda fans, while new players might find the puzzle not too hard, because they have a different view on things.

The best example for this would be the Pegasus Boots in A Link Between Worlds. In A Link to the Past you needed them to chase the running man through Kakariko. And naturally you would assume the same for this game... but no! There are even Zelda fans, who didn't get the Pegasus Boots until the end of the game. It's hilarious. And I say Zelda needs more puzzles like this.

Overall I have to say that this was the best Zelda game in about 12 years. I'm more a fan of the Zelda classics, especially A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. They have the exploration, the optional upgrades, the clever dungeons, the high replay value and so on. And A Link Between Worlds really took me back to the level of quality of traditional Zelda. So, it joins my top 5 together with these games. I'm really, really happy with this new Zelda game. It feels like the majority of the prayers on my blog have finally been heard. And if it's any indication of what Zelda U will be like, then I'm really looking forward to it. Zelda is officially back on track.

Miiverse on 3DS

Ah, this is great! Having quite some fun with this. Here are some of my posts:

My Shadow Link
Battling Gramps 1
Battling Gramps 2
Fully Grown Apple Tree

Also, Miiverse is the best platform to let Nintendo know, what you want. So, I will praise the game there for its classic approach and the non-linearity, as well as occasionally complain about the Cucco Run's endless mode reward. :D

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Link Between Worlds Missing Energy Meter Glitch

It appears that there's a glitch in A Link Between Worlds, where the energy gauge will never be displayed throughout the game (see here). I'm hoping that Nintendo might consider to release a patch for the game to fix this.

Because if they do, they can also change the Cucco endless mode to unlock the Giant Cucco after 100 seconds, the way it should be. So, in case Miiverse launches on 3DS soon, make sure to complain about the ridiculous Cucco challenge to let Nintendo know. :-D The giant Cucco actually appears during the credits, throwing hearts at you, so if you want to have the best ending for your game, you'll need the Cucco. I'm usually not someone to complain about a challenge in a Zelda game, quite the opposite (Hero's Trial ftw), but Nintendo has never done such an extreme requirement for an unlockable in a Zelda game and the minigame is near impossible to beat. Hitboxes are huge, you don't have any chances/lives and it gets worse with every round. I've seen hardcore completionists, who even did the 100 super jumps in Super Mario RPG, struggling with Cucco Run's endless mode.

I used pause buffering (constantly pausing the game to create a slow motion effect) to get around the 350 seconds mark, however, at this point the Cuccos become so fast that even pause buffering isn't helping that much. Also, I fear that I will wreck the Start button of my 3DS, if I keep doing this. The 3DS is not exactly the sturdiest Nintendo system...

It's very unlikely that Nintendo listens to the complaints and fixes the game, but now that there is at least one glitch to fix, there's little hope.

A Link Between Worlds and DLC? Boss Challenge and Online Battle Modes!

This June Aonuma suggested in an interview with NintendoLife that they are looking into ways how to add content to a Zelda game in the form of DLC. Naturally DLC isn't an easy feat with Zelda, because you can't just add some new levels/areas to the game, unless you hide them under a tombstone like the Color Dungeon in Link's Awakening DX. But additional quests and dungeons also should yield a nice reward, which shouldn't be a bad afterthought.

However, A Link Between Worlds leaves certain interfaces for add on content, which could easily work and might even sell well. First thing is the absent Boss Battle/Gauntlet mode. After Spirit Tracks offered the possibility to battle all bosses again, Nintendo turned this into its own mode in Ocarina of Time 3D, which then made a return with the Lightning Round in Skyward Sword. And fans loved it! Battling bosses against the clock, going for highscores, battling all bosses in a row... Or alone the option to replay a boss whenever you want. It's great and every new Zelda should have it.

But... A Link Between Worlds didn't have one. In fact this is one of the very few complaints I have about this near perfect Zelda game that you can't replay the fun boss battles. I thought the bosses were great and the option to replay them is dearly missed. Also, battling all bosses in a row is always a nice challenge, definitely a lot more fun than some 17 minutes dodging minigame. So, where is it?

However, I can't help but feel that this was entirely intentional from Nintendo's side. A boss battle mode would make great extra content. I would easily pay 5€ for this. And maybe this is Nintendo's big plan here. Make the fans wish for a boss challenge mode and then release one as paid DLC.

The other obvious thing are online battles... the StreetPass feature is nice and all, I had a lot of fun with it, but overall it feels like another step back. The first game to have a battle mode was Four Swords Adventures, which had probably the most fun battle mode with "Shadow Battles", but it could only be played locally. Phantom Hourglass then offered online battles, which was great. But the gameplay of the battle mode wasn't as fun, nor the most Zelda'ish gameplay. However, it was online and connected many Zelda fans world wide. Spirit Tracks returned to a more fun concept with its battle mode (even though it wasn't nearly as great as Shadow Battles), but they cut the online. Again it was only local...

And now A Link Between Worlds finally returns to the great fun that Shadow Battles offered, but you can't even play against other people. It's only StreetPass and you fight bots. While the bots are really good (probably some of the most impressive AI from Nintendo) and the battles can be A LOT of fun, once you learned how to outsmart the AI, it's getting boring fast. I enjoyed the StreetPass battles for many, many hours, but after a while you just want a real opponent. Who does mistakes, but who also adepts. You want to play with friends and you also want to play online with people from Zelda message boards.

To integrate it, you would just talk to Gramps that you want to battle Shadow Links online. Maybe the bounties might be a problem, in case people are losing willingy to give you endless Rupees, but you could just leave the bounty rewards out. And have no penalties (like a counter how many games you've lost). If there's nothing to lose, less people will skip a match just because they're about to lose.

Also, they could add new arenas to the package. The five normal arenas are great and add to the replayability, but after a while you want some fresh places. New maps usually breath new life into an online game.

An online mode is probably not as likely, because Nintendo doesn't have the greatest affinity for online gaming, so this might remain a wet dream of mine. However, I could see a boss challenge mode happening via DLC in the next weeks.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

So Many The Wind Waker HD Wii U Bundles...

This must probably be the most unlimited limited edition of something Nintendo ever since the Limited Edition of The Wind Waker (though it was nice to get a new version together with Master Quest three years after the release for 25€... :-D). I went to an electronics retailer and they are absolutely everywhere. Piles of them! It's so sad, either Nintendo overestimated the demand or noone's buying them. Probably both.

At least this gives me the hope that buying this bundle wasn't a mistake that gets punished by some golden Wii U bundle later, when the new Zelda game gets released. Because whenever that might be, they'll probably still have to get rid off the Wind Waker bundles...

The 3DS Zelda Anniversary bundle with Ocarina of Time 3D on the other hand was sold out quickly and quite some Zelda fans didn't manage to get one, so there was actual demand for golden 3DS XL, which seems to be selling out as well. When they first announced the second 3DS bundle, I wasn't happy about it, because I felt betrayed as an "early adopter", but I grew to like it. It's nowhere as good as the first bundle with Ocarina, but it's nice to be able to play my 3DS games on a bigger screen and it allows me to fake StreetPass hits, which was very useful with A Link Between Worlds. So, the golden 3DS XL prove to be useful after all and not just a mere collectible, so I can somewhat justify the purchase.

However, it would be hard to justify buying a second Wii U, unless you live in a big house and want a second one for your bedroom. Also, I'm rarely using the first one. After The Wind Waker HD I stopped using the system alltogether. Mainly because of A Link Between Worlds, but overall there aren't any must-play games for me. The Mario games are certainly nice and I will probably play them some day, but after the mediocre Marios on the 3DS I'm really sick of Mario games right now. I tried Nintendo Land, but I don't like it at all. I'm anticipating Mario Kart 8 and Retro's Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but I'm not even done with the predecessors. I'm still missing some golden kart parts in Mario Kart 7 and in Donkey Kongy Country Returns I stopped at 160% or so. The completionist in me wants to finish those, before starting the new ones.

I think the first big must-play title for me will probably be Smash Bros. And I'm eager to learn, how the Zelda game will look like, of course.

Got my A Link Between Words Treasure Chest with Sounds

I just got this send from the UK yesterday:

The first 1000 registries of the game in the German Club Nintendo after 12AM on the launch date were rewarded with one. I've heard, the 1000 chests were gone after about 5 minutes, so you had to be really quick to get one.

This was the only way to get this chest in Germany without importing it. No retailer had it as a preorder bonus, which is a shame, because it was a lot easier to get this chest in other countries of Europe. But I'm happy that I got one. I love the sound effect, when you open the chest.

I will now use this to store my 3DS Zelda games. I have two copies of Ocarina of Time 3D due to the late bundle and one copy of A Link Between Worlds... that leaves space for two more 3DS Zelda games, Nintendo! *hint, hint* But I'm confident that the chest will be filled eventually. Majora's Mask 3D simply needs to happen now after all these Majora teasers and A Link Between Worlds is predestined to receive a great follow-up in the next two years.

The chest also stores DS games, so I could fill it with Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, but I honestly feel like those games don't deserve the chest. :D

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Link Between Worlds StreetPass Guide Version 1.1

Check it out!

I've teamed up with avengah and Petter1789 from the GameFAQs board (as well as some other people) to bring the StreetPass guide for A Link Between Worlds to the next level! It now includes an exact bounty calculation table, a list of all 20 pre-generated Shadow Links and their data, as well a list of all possible Shadow Link locations and the corresponding arenas. The arena gets chosen based on the Shadow Link's location and it's usually good to know what's coming.

I think the guide now covers absolutely everything about the StreetPass feature and was quite a piece of work. But similar to my Oracle of Ages & Seasons Ring Guide this is a much more complex side activity that is basically its own "Zelda science". Everyone can compile a Piece of Heart list, but these guides are full of extensive research. I'm proud of them and I hope that they will help you in the future.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Someone beat the 999.99 seconds in Cucco Run Endless Mode in A Link Between Worlds, Giant Cucco unlocked

This is from an anonymous poster in the comments, not my achievement:

Wow...! A part of me was still hoping that the giant Cucco unlockable wouldn't exist. :-D Thanks to the guy, who gave me the pictures. Here are his or her holy words:

after countless days of trial and error, endless frustration, anger and patience, I'd like to present to the Hyrule Blog with this:
proof that the Giant Cucco exists.

Yes this is real, and I did it all on my own along with my own research I did on how to beat it. I've achieved what everyone is saying here is the impossible, and I'm posting this to at least show the Zelda Community that this is possible and can be done with lots of patience.

The Cucco will be also shown during the credits, throwing hearts at you. So, this is basically required for the "best" ending.

I kept practicing the game the entire last week, but I'm just terrible at it... never made it past the 300 seconds so far, even though I played hundreds of games. But I never played games like R-Type in my childhood, so I still have to develop the required synapses, lol. But then again even R-Type isn't probably as unforgiving as this game.

By now I can beat the first phase for the majority of the time, so at least I'm getting my money back. The second phase is just a giant blur for me, but I'm getting better at it. There's usually an open area in the field and I just keep aiming at it. However, it's very easy to miss one of the small slowly moving Cuccos. Maybe I need to play this on the 3DS XL to have a better view on the playing field, but my otherwise completed savegames are stuck with a download copy on my normal 3DS and I don't want to do a system transfer. The third phase therefore isn't as bad for me, because it's hard to miss a giant Cucco, however, there it's very easy to get cornered with no way out.

I was about to give up after reading the latest Iwata Asks, where they state that noone in the development team or the Club Mario was able to do it. And we're talking about crazy Japanese here... So, for the sake of my sanity and the condition of my slide pad, I decided to stop this for a while. But after seeing the reward now, I fear that I won't be able to enjoy A Link Between Worlds ever again until I got that stupid chicken. :D So, I will keep practicing every now and then, you can only get better at it.

But some strategies and videos would be helpful, especially a list of what every phase does. It seems like the final phase has a mix of small and giant Cuccos, oh joy. Sadly the anonymous poster didn't leave any of his insights, but maybe he decides to change that! Or ideally someone finds a nice glitch that let's you survive the 999.99 seconds without any efforts, like they did with the 999 hits in Spirit Tracks, that would be the best case scenario for me. :D

But I'm still very unhappy about this. And I'm probably not the only one. Many people play Zelda for completion and this counts, so Nintendo's decision to include the most atrocious minigame accomplishment ever wasn't the best one... and on the other hand collecting all 100 Maiamais is probably the easiest collectible task ever in Zelda... what's with those extremes?

Dear Nintendo, if you ever decide to provide a challenge in Zelda, please try a boss rush/gauntlet mode or something like the Hero's Trial, but not some insane minigame reward... and not every counter in your games needs to be filled with 9s, thank you very much. ^^

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cleared all 50 StreetPass Challenges in A Link Between Worlds' Hero Mode

Cleared all StreetPass challenges a second time, this time in Hero Mode. It took me a lot longer, because I wanted to test for my StreetPass Guide, if using the Sand Rod on sand counts for the challenge. However, the sand arena wouldn't show up... it's only availabe in the desert, probably because the game wants to make sure that you bring your Sand Rod.

But having a second 3DS really came in handy with clearing all challenges, which makes me feel not as bad about buying the second Zelda bundle. It does have its use. :D

The fights in Hero Mode cause quadruple damage on you as well. So, the fights against Gramps are four times as difficult. It's a good challenge, but you have to handle them differently. The time limit is the best example. In normal mode it usually comes to your favor, but it here it does not. He does four times the damage and that counts, so he will win at the time limit. He also LOVES to use the Purple Potion, which gives him eight hearts of a head start. And you have to be very careful with Great Spins, since they can cause eight hearts of damage as well.

Of course you only cause normal damage. One strike from him costs you two hearts, one strike from you costs him half a heart. So, you have to hit him four times as often to win the match!

Usually I love to use the Hookshot in the fights to counter him, but this technique turned out to be too slow and inaccurate. Also, if he simply blocks and doesn't do anything, you can't hookshot. It's very difficult to defeat him in Hero Mode and it took me a couple of tries. You might also want to bring a blue potion, which further limits your possibilities in battle... Your best chance is probably in the ice arena, because this is the place, where the AI constantly hurts itself.

My new weapon of choice here is probably the Nice Sand Rod. The Nice Hookshot is better at stunning, because you will be drawn to your opponent and it also damages him per stun, which is nice. However, the Nice Sand Rod is easier to use. Also, you can counter Great Spins by releasing your own Great Spin about a split second later, which is a good opportunity to damage him.

It's a really good challenge, which I enjoyed (unlike some other Cucco game....), but also a very cheap one.

But because of that I like that I cleared all challenges in both normal and Hero Mode. I like the challenge in Hero Mode, but the fights are more fun in normal mode, because they are fair and balanced. They have the better replay value and offer the feeling of playing against another player. So, I can only advise everyone to clear all challenges first in a normal game and then later do the same in Hero Mode. Even if it takes a long time to do so.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Go Cucco Yourself, Nintendo!!

I'm seriously mad right now about this stupid Cucco minigame. I've played it for more than 200 times now and I don't seem to get any better at it. I never made it past the 200s mark, I can rarely survive the 100s. The hitboxes are ridiculous and you really need to stay focused for a long time here. I regularily lose the game by just scratching the Cucco's shadow... come on!

Why did there have to be an unlockable? Why? If there wasn't any, I could just ignore this alltogether. And if you want to show off that you can beat the full 999 seconds, you always can simply show the record. Nintendo has a serious issue with maximizing all digits to 9s, because this wouldn't be the first time they rewarded something like this...

I was seriously was considering that A Link Between Worlds could become my new favorite Zelda game, but this is a big flaw. I'm not kidding about this. A good Zelda game doesn't have any bullsh*t like this. I always go for the 100% completion rate in video games and I like Zelda games, because usually they don't have ridiculous requirements for completion, but there's still enough to it. And when I replay a Zelda game, I always try to get the 100% again. But now A Link Between Worlds sunk from "best replay value in the Zelda series" to "prepare to play HOURS of Cucco Run"... no thanks.

Whoever thought it was a good idea to demand surviving this ridiculously unfun minigame for about 17 minutes needs to be fired from Nintendo. And this needs to be PATCHED. Add three lives to the minigame or unlock the chicken at 100s. I don't care, but this is a serious flaw with the game.

I seriously hope that Nintendo NEVER EVER adds anything like this to their Zelda games again. It just ruins the replay value for completionists.


Yes, this whole post is very unreasonable and it's just some stupid chicken, so I probably shouldn't get so angry. I still am though and needed to channel my anger somewhere, sorry...

Also, please understand that I'm not complaining about the challenge, but the fact that it was put into a questionable minigame and that it hurts the replay value for 100% runs. I'm determined to beat this sooner or later and I will keep practicing. But it's definitely not something I want to do over and over again with each new playthrough. Also, if Nintendo wants to add a challenge to Zelda, they should consider a boss rush mode and not a minigame, where you have to dodge chickes for 17 minutes straight. I would love to spent my time practicing all the boss fights, but instead I'm dodging chickens. And I'm not happy about that.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Call Me Rollgoal Master (Twilight Princess)

Remember Rollgoal? No? Well, that's the marble slalom minigame found at the fishing pond in Twilight Princess:

If you've never played it, it's probably one of the worst minigams ever in the Zelda series. It has every criteria in the book of a bad minigame. It's more something that belongs into Wii Play, but not into Zelda. It's not much fun because of the frustrating controls and you have to complete it staggering 64 times in order to get everything.

Well, I only ever beat the first eight levels to get the frog lure and then ignored the game. All it does is repeating it's eight levels over and over again with a stricter time limit. However, if you beat all 64 levels, you get a nice level select. And for a true 100% completion this counts (since there's something unlocked here).

Because I'm trying to truly complete all Zelda games (not just all items, but basically every small unlockable like with the 999 hits in sword training or the 999 seconds in Cucco Run) and this was part of it.

And actually it wasn't that bad. I always hated that game, but I guess you can grow to like every minigame in Zelda, if you play it long and often enough. As soon as you get better at it, it's starting to be "fun".

Well, at first I did the GameCube version about two weeks ago. The controls are more precise, so it was more a matter of getting the right timing for the slopes. It didn't even take on hour to complete all 64 levels, so I even completed it a second time on another savegame.

Today I decided to complete the Wii version as well. I feared, it would be absolutely terrible because of the controls, but then I found a nice trick. Actually I used the same trick, when I completed the game for the first time on the Wii. Don't hold the Wiimote in your hands. Place it on a flat surface and only tilt it to the sides. Use the analogstick to change the camera and with it your directions. Basically what I did was just holding the Wiimote to the right and steer with the analog stick.

The trouble with the Wiimote controls is always tilting it forward and backward. That's a lot more imprecise and can cause the ball to roll off many times. You might even accidently change the stance and screw up. Tilting the Wiimote only to the sides is a lot more precise. I even found it easier to control than the GameCube version! And with the Wiimote laying flat, it can't accidently cause your ball to roll off. And you even get an higher time limit on the Wii. On the GameCube you have to beat the levels 8-1 to 8-8 in 30 seconds. On the Wii that's 40 seconds, which is enough to beat the levels with my method. So, I can only recommend this playstyle. I did the whole 64 levels without any trouble. It went so smooth that I even beat level 8-8 on my first try! And now finally after seven years I fully completed both the GameCube and the Wii version of Twilight Princess! Yay.

So, the only things left for me to do in Zelda are the 2nd Quest in The Wind Waker HD (I'm going to save this for next year) and the Cucco Run 999 seconds record in A Link Between Worlds... I'm not sure what of these two things will happen first.... :D So far I was able to find nice tricks to overcome these ridiculous minigames, but with Cucco Run this is going to require lots of practice (and abusing the Start button).

2014 Zelda Calendar

Okay, this should end my Zelda shopping spree for this year. It's the 2014 Zelda calendar:

Or actually it seems to be the Ocarina of Time 3D calendar, because eight months are covered by that game...! What the fairy...? I liked the 2013 calendar more, it had more variety to it. For example this one doesn't even include Spirit Tracks. And it looked richer, this one just seems to be simple character arts with nothing much to it.

Also, while I can understand that Nintendo only wants their latest titles, they do have the Virtual Console and adding those games could be a good idea as well. So, why not add some motives for Link's Awakening or the Oracle games? And it seems that these calendars get produced way too early. They weren't even able to add The Wind Waker HD? For the 2014 calendar you'd want the latest games from 2013. I want HD Toon Link! I want awesome Ravio!

Well, hopefully the 2015 calendar will have all that. Because I wouldn't want another year filled with Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyward Sword.

Amazon is ridiculous. This 10€ calendar they sent me in a HUGE box (I was thinking I'm getting a new computer or something) padded from all sides... lol. But when I order a 220€ highly limited collectible, they put it in a paper bag. What's wrong with their brains?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Majora's Mask References in A Link Between Worlds

Aonuma teased at Comic Con that playing A Link Between Worlds actually would show us that they haven't forgotten about Majora's Mask. And they sure haven't. There are plenty of references to the game to find.

The most obvious one is probably Majora's Mask hanging inside Link's house. If you merge with the wall behind it, you can make it look like Link's actually wearing the mask, which is pretty cool. Also, this leaves lots of room for speculation. Like how did he get the mask?

The second reference would be the return of the Milk Bar with Talon being the owner. Though Phantom Hourglass did have a Milk Bar as well, so this doesn't necessarily have to be a direct Majora's Mask reference.

The big thing for me were the people in Lorule. Not only were they all counterparts to the people of Hyrule, they also started to wear masks. So, I actually believed that Lorule would be revealed to be Termina at some point of the game. Termina even had the hidden Triforce symbols in the Stone Tower Temple, which lead to a theory, which actually fits the story of Lorule quite nicely. But while this has never been confirmed ingame, it's still entirely possibly that Lorule and Termina are actually the same. The state of Lorule with all the giant chasms splitting the country could have been caused by the moon crashing on the lands...

The last reference happens in Hero Mode, it's the secret that you can find. I was asked in the comments, what it would be, but it's better to post this in a spoiler box just to be sure:

So... after all these teasers I'm ready for Majora's Mask 3D, Nintendo! Actually a MM3D release next year would be perfect. Something to do before Zelda Wii U comes out. Since it most likely would be done by Grezzo (a separate team), this is not unlikely, since MM3D could be developed independently from A Link Between Worlds and Zelda U.

A Link Between Worlds Collector's Guide

Got this today:

This won't be part of the Zelda Box (which also got released now), so if you want the 7th book, you need to buy it separately. It's weird that they didn't include this one as well, but whatever...

Naturally there's a nice extra, but this is the first time, where they didn't add a map of some sorts. This time you get a framed litograph, which looks absolutely gorgeous. Other people have pictures of their family on their desk, I have the Master Sword... :D

The guide itself is 320 pages thick, about the same size as the Spirit Tracks guide. It follows my principle of doing all sidequests first, so they basically clear all areas before they head into the dungeons. I did the exact same thing on my 2nd playthrough, so I approve. Except for some differences in the renting prices I didn't notice any mistakes on my first look. Usually I'm able to spot a bunge of things, but it looks like they did a good job overall. And it was interesting for me to learn the names of the new bosses... here they are:

Margomill (the eye on a pillar)
Zaganaga (the desert boss)
Knucklemaster (the Wallmaster boss)
Gemasaur King

I love the names. Nice mix ups of the original boss names. Argghus and Moldorm only returned in their original form and name.

What the guide is missing is any info about StreetPass. They tell you how to set it up, but that's it. Nothing about the Shadow Link Battles, nothing about the challenges, nothing about the arenas. For example the Phantom Hourglass guide actually had an entire section just about the multiplayer arenas, which was cool. Maybe they only had one copy of the game and couldn't really test it? Luckily I did their job in my StreetPass Guide, so check it out, if you need any help with that!

I also got the Zelda Box today, however, it was delivered to my home address. So, I will have to wait until Christmas to check it out... should be a nice Christmas present though. :D

Monday, November 25, 2013

StreetPass Guide FAQ

My StreetPass Guide on GameFAQs just got released! Check it out. It contains all info about clearing all StreetPass challenges, battling Shadow Links, etc.

Actually I made guides for absolutely everything in German for ZeldaEurope: Heart Pieces, Maiamais, bottles, items, Master Ore, minidungeons, minigames, Hero Mode ... I've written many guides for ZeldaEurope already.

Sometimes I also release guides in English, but then it has to be something special. Something not everyone can do like my 64 Ring Guide for Oracles or the TotoK Speed Guide for Phantom Hourglass. I felt like the StreetPass functionality was special enough to make fledged out guide for it. It's funny how it's the first guide there, even before Pieces of Hearts or Maiamais... but I let someone else have "fun" with those.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cleared all 50 StreetPass Challenges in A Link Between Worlds!

Now I only need the stupid Cucco to 100% the game...

But it's really nice. If you clear all 50 challenges, you are able to battle Gramps whenever you want. He will have the best possible gear and two random items to provide a nice challenge. The battles are really fun, I wish you could play this mode with other people online. The fighting system with the energy gauge is really great and I could see this working in multiplayer just fine.

How did I get all 50 medals in just three days? Well, I used the golden 3DS XL and my second copy of the game to set up three dummy savegames with weak Shadow Links. It's easy to kill them and score the more difficult challenges. Yes, I cheated, but I wanted to know what the reward will be.

Shadow Links also appear randomly after a certain amount of play time for anyone, who doesn't get StreetPass hits. But that is taking way too long, where the game should offer you the possibility to buy Shadow Links with Play Coins from Gramps. That's what Play Coins are meant for after all.

I'll also submitted a StreetPass Guide to GameFAQs with all medals, arenas, strategies, etc. Should be online tomorrow, unless someone beat me to it.

999 Seconds in Cucco Run Endless Mode???

Ah, come on, Nintendo...!

Lately I've been trying to truly 100% all Zelda games. What's the difference between 100% of all items and a true 100%? Well, the latter includes everything that is possible to unlock. Even small changes and silly rewards that noone else would care about.

Luckily this was kept within limites in the Zelda series. At least so far. I already did the ridiculous 999 hits thing in the sword training of both the Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks. There are special tricks for that, so it's somewhat possible.

Next step was Rollgoal. You know, the terrible marble track minigame at the fishing pond in Twilight Princess. Clearing all courses once unlocks the Frog Lure, so that was basically a must. But I never bothered with going beyond the Frog Lure, as any sane person would do. However, I lost my sanity a while ago and clearing level 8-8 unlocks a nice level select, so if you truly want 100%, you need to clear all 64 levels. Have fun... Well, I already mastered this on the GameCube. Got pretty good at the game and it took me about an hour to beat all 64 levels, so it was not as bad as expected. But I probably will never attend a 100% run of Twilight Princess ever again (something likes this truly kills the replay value for 100% runs) and there's still the Wii version left to complete, where Rollgoal has motion controls... oh, joy.

But after the Wii Rollgoal madness, finishing the 2nd Quest in The Wind Waker HD and clearing all StreetPass challenges in A Link Between Worlds, I was supposed to be done with everything...! To have cleared every Zelda game! I was actually looking forward to this... but then I learned of the newest horrors in A Link Between Worlds.

There's an unlockable for staying alive or 999 seconds in the endless mode of the Cucco Run minigame... you get 3000 Rupees and a stupid large chicken appears that can heal you. You can compare it to the unlockable cow in Link's house in Ocarina of Time... Why, Nintendo, why...? Why can't it just be the 3000 Rupees? Because then it wouldn't unlock anything special and therefore wouldn't count... Or why not unlock the big chicken after 100 seconds...? Why the full 999? Why did this have to be? Why is it called "endless mode", if you actually have to beat it?

And the minigame is so unfun and frustrating... after a while I enter zombie mode and just do it without thinking. However, one small mistake and you get ripped out of it. I can easily see myself being hit in the 996th second or something... I've once written an article about minigames in Zelda and how bad minigames can ruin an otherwise perfectly fine Zelda game. And the Cucco minigame is a great example of this can happen.

A Link Between Worlds has such great replay value, I actually saw myself playing this over and over again. But as a 100% guy this is bad. Really bad. I know, I shouldn't let myself ruin it all by such a small, insignificant thing. But I just can't help it. Call it an "itch" as Sheldon Cooper would describe it - if there's something left to do in a Zelda game, I feel an itch until I got it done. And now the game turned from "fun to replay many times" to "if I replay this, I have to go through the endless chicken hell again"... great, Nintendo, just awesome! I'm sick of you adding ridiculous 100% chicanes. Please patch this.

It also takes A LOT of time to deal with this. 999 seconds is about 17 minutes. But of course you won't do it on your first try. It probably takes many hours of practice to finally beat it. Urghs... Well, looks like I won't be buying Super Mario 3D World then, because I will probably be busy dodging chickens for the next months... Too bad. :D

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Got the golden A Link Between Worlds Nintendo 3DS XL

The most expansive Zelda year continues. I got this yesterday, but I waited for some daylight to make the photos.

And it was a somewhat stressful day, because Amazon failed me. Amazon is always hit and miss. Others get the game and the 3DS XL two days before launch in top shape padded in paper or maybe even bubble wrap in a solid package, where nothing can happen. This is the ideal case and what you would expect, if you're a prime member and preordered on day 1. Well, I'm a prime member and I preordered on day one, but they didn't bother sending it to me before launch and they didn't bother with protecting a collectible item like this, they send it to me in a cardboard bag without any padding. The 3DS XL box was completely wrecked, which is unacceptable for a collectible like this. I want the box in good shape.

So, I went to the shops to find one. The big eletronic retailers also treat their products like crap, they put these straps around it damaging the box as well. However, I finally got lucky in a drug store(!) near my home, they had only one, but it was in perfect shape. And they even gave me a 7€ discount.

The day before launch I also had to track down a copy of the game in the shops, because Nintendo had a Club Nintendo registration thingy going on. The first 1000 to register the game from 12AM on will receive one of those treasure chests with sound effects for storing 3DS cartridges. I wanted one badly, but that was the only way to get one in Germany.

So, because of Amazon I had to go to the stores twice... and the main reason, why I use Amazon, is because I don't want this stress. Usually they send the stuff in perfect shape and in time. Luckily Nintendo was nice enough to provide me with a review copy for ZeldaEurope, so I was already finished with the game before release this time, because otherwise I would have probably raged about the situation even more. You want to play the game, not search through shops all day long.

But enough whining, here are the goods:

Just to clarify, the retail game was not part of the bundle, but here you can see how the game looks with the inverted cover. This is the golden system:

You can compare this to the golden GameBoy Advance SP that came with The Minish Cap. However, it doesn't have any decals on the inside. The GBA SP also had a Triforce Crest next to the start button and on the inside the golden 3DS XL looks somewhat boring.

But it's a lot sturdier than the normal 3DS, which I like. The normal 3DS always feels like it breaks into pieces if you're not really careful. Also, the upper screen is actually protected well enough from the lower screen. With the normal 3DS it can happen that the touchscreen borders eat into the upper screen, which is bad. I always keep a soft cloth between the screens to prevent this. And the three buttons for Start, Select and Home are actual buttons, not those weird inlays like on the 3DS.

On the other hand I like the shiny 3DS more. While you don't see any finger prints, on the matt XL the slide pad feels rougher to use, it doesn't slide as softly as on the 3DS.

Well, this is how the golden XL looks compared to the black Zelda 3DS from two years ago:

I think I will keep using my normal 3DS. I don't really need the large screens and the games look pixelated, because they are only upscaled. I think A Link Between Worlds looks best on a normal 3DS. And of course the system is more portable and I have all my savegames and downloaded games already on there. I guess, I will use the XL to replay some selected games on the large screen.

Overall the "bundle" is a joke compared to the 25th Anniversary Ocarina of Time 3D bundle from two years ago. Just look at it:

It's not even half the size...

The black 3DS Zelda bundle cost me 200€, it came with the game in an actual box with a special dual sided cover and the cartridge. It also had the cradle for the 3DS and an AC adapter. The golden XL bundle costs 20€ more, but it doesn't have any of the extras. There's only a download code for the game, there's no AC adapter and no cradle. Also, the black 3DS looks a lot more exquisite than the golden XL. I don't know, how expansive the Nintendo 3DS XL is to make, but it all feels like a rip-off compared to the first bundle.

Well, if you don't have a 3DS yet and you're a big Zelda fan, it's maybe worth a shot. But I can only advise you to compare it to a normal 3DS first. And seeing how the "limited" Wii U bundle for The Wind Waker HD doesn't sell AT ALL (the shops are filled with it), I hope that Nintendo will stop producing such ridiculous bundles.

However, right now the second 3DS system has a good purpose for me except for being a collectible. A Link Between Worlds doesn't have SpotPass (bboooooo, Nintendo, booooo!!!) and to get all 50 StreetPass medals I set it up with three dummy savegames. Now I can farm medals every 12 hours in my existing savegames for the true 100%. Already got 26. It's a fun activity, but I wish it also supported SpotPass to receive Shadow Links from the internet. Even better would be a multiplayer battle mode in the same style... but I'll talk about that later.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Link Between Worlds full Review (German)

My review on ZeldaEurope is out! It's probably the most thorough review yet, but I kept it spoiler free.

I've been playing the game for over two weeks, about 58 hours by now. Beaten both normal and Hero Mode with all items collected. Still need to get all the StreetPass medals though, so there's still something left to do for me for the true 100%.

Overall I've really enjoyed the game and still do. The replay value is great, probably the Zelda game with the highest replay value. In terms of non-linearity and world design it has everything I wished for over ten years now. It's open, it's fast paced and it even offers some good challenges. I love the items and the upgrade system. Upgrading your items really means something in this game and finally optional sword upgrades are back. It does so many things the right way, which have been wrong in the Zelda series for so long. It's non-linear, open, there's no hand-holding, it's fast paced, there are no hamster-wheels or anything big that might slow you down, optional upgrades for swords and other items really mean something. ... it's pure classic Zelda!

And because of the replay value it might become my favorite Zelda game (only time will tell), but definitely top 5, among A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. It's imho the best Zelda game since those games.

Of course it's not perfect. My main concern was that the dungeons could have been more hazardous, especially when compared to A Link to the Past. There are too few and too weak enemies inside the dungeons. The overworlds is much more dangerous than the dungeons actually. And sometimes regular enemies from ALttP are treated like minibosses, which is a joke.

And there's no boss rush/battle mode, I hate that, because the bosses were really fun and great. But besides these two downsides the game is overall really great.

Some (fun) facts:
I calculated for the review that there are 5040 possible orders of the dungeons. It's the most non-linear Zelda game yet, beating The Legend of Zelda with 672 orders. A Link to the Past offered 66.

You can skip all heart containers and there's only one missable chest with some Rupees, everything else can still be gotten at the end of the game (including all StreetPass medals).

Hero Mode does quadruple damage... sadly it doesn't change the dungeons (adding tougher/stronger enemies would have been enough), but the damage values are insane. It's two hearts in the beginning, eight hearts per hit in Lorule... crazy! A worthy challenge.

I'll add some of my experiences with the game and further impressions later to my blog. Right now I just want everyone to enjoy the game on their own! Have fun!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

999 Hits in the Sword Training of The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks

Oh, the sword training... The minigame itself isn't that hard and even getting the Heart Piece/Container is not a big problem. But to truly 100% the game, you have to go a little bit further. Well, at least in The Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks that is. If you score 999 hits in The Wind Waker, Orca stops the game and now keeps calling you "Master" by title, whenever you talk to him. And in Spirit Tracks scoring over 900 hits (you might as well go for the 999 maximum) makes you the commander of the guards. They will then call you captain, which is kind of funny.

While normally minigame records like this don't count torwards the 100% rating, in this case they do, because they unlock something new to the game - a title and different reactions from people. Years ago I didn't count these things as part of the 100% rating, because you didn't get an item from it (and because I hated the thought of playing these terrible minigames for so long). But since I always claim that I 100%ed all Zelda games (which is a very fishy statement to begin with), I decided to catch up on these records after all. Luckily there are tricks, which make these games easier.

The Wind Waker:
The trick is to use the shield. Hit him until you hear the counter attack sound (whenever the A-button appears on the screen), but instead of countering you simply use your shield to block his attack. Repeat until you get the 999 (might take a while...) It worked best for me by pushing him into a corner, but be careful not to hit things in the environment. Works both in the GameCube and the HD version.

Spirit Tracks:
Watch this video. You have to get the attacking guard get stuck on the wooden posts in the lower right, while you attack one of the guards in the lower left. The third guard remains passive, because he waits for the stuck guard to attack. This only works before getting 60 hits, because otherwise the other guard will attack you as well. It's hard to pull it off at first, but as soon as you get it right, you can quickly score the 999 hits in a couple of minutes by just mashing the touch screen.

It happened to me twice that like after 500 hits the captain complained about me leaving the room and put me in the center. If this happens, it's Game Over. You have to try to keep the input on the touchscreen at a steady rate, which can be hard, but don't give up.

Phantom Hourglass is probably the only of the three sword training games, where it's not a problem to get the 999 hits by playing the game as intented. However, there's no reward for scoring 999. He doesn't treat you different, you don't get a different name or title, he acts the same way as he would when you score over 200. So, there's no need to score the 999 here. One of the many reasons, why I prefer Phantom Hourglass over Spirit Tracks... less bullshit.

If you add minigames, try at least to make them fun and don't add any ridiculous unlockables for ridiculous scores. Thank you, Nintendo.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hero Mode again?

In Aonumas interview with Gameswelt it sounded like A Link Between Worlds would get an actual 2nd Quest instead of just Hero Mode... however, it seems like he only meant that it won't be an option like in The Wind Waker HD, because Nintendo just confirmed Hero Mode as the 2nd playthrough in their latest press release:

For those who can’t put down this latest title in The Legend of Zelda series, once a player has completed the main game, a Hero Mode will be unlocked, in which Link takes greater damage from enemies when hit. Intrepid explorers may even find a small hidden extra waiting to be found somewhere in Lorule during a second play through…

I hope this "small hidden extra" is a new dungeon... :D

I'm a little bit disappointed that Nintendo contents theirselves with the simple "double damage" thing. The difficulty of a Zelda game is more than just damage values. It includes enemies, puzzles, secrets... Which is why the original 2nd Quest in The Legend of Zelda and Ocarina of Time's Master Quest are the only truly satisfying higher difficulty levels.

You need stronger enemies to appear. Imagine Eastern Palace plastered with Eyegores. You need more complicated puzzles. Like the ones in Master Quest. And things need to be more hidden. Like the dungeons and many caves in TLoZ's 2nd Quest. With a topdown Zelda game changing the dungeons should be a lot easier to do than in a 3rd person Zelda. So, I was actually hoping that they would consider doing this in A Link Between Worlds.

Of course having Hero Mode is still better than nothing. It's just that it would probably have been better to make this available from the start like in The Wind Waker HD. But I'm eager to see what this "small hidden extra" will be.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Link Between Worlds: Preview & New Details

Yesterday I had the chance to playtest the game for ZeldaEurope.de at a press event in Berlin. I played it for about 3,5 hours, enough to test the first three dungeons and pay attention to many details in the game. My full German preview can be found here.

My overall impression is very positive. The game is everything, Aonuma promised it would be. It's very open, there's lots to explore, there's nearly no hand holding, there are puzzles that can you get stuck, etc. It's also very addicting and should offer good replay value. Can't wait to play it again!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Maiamais in A Link to the Past?

This Thursday I might get the chance to play A Link Between Worlds for the first time, so I'm currently replaying A Link to the Past to freshen up my memories of the game, before touching the all new sequel for the 3DS.

It's mostly the usual business. I've played the game several times already and therefore know it quite well. However, there's one thing that really caught my attention in the Dark World, in the cave, where the Sanctuary would be:

Is that a small versions of Mother Maiamai? Looks just like it. I completely forgot about this thing!

I wonder if it was already called "Maiamai" back in A Link to the Past and the character in A Link Between Worlds just was based on this one. Also,now I think that the Maiamai cave in Lorule is at the exact same spot (it was said that Mother Maiamai travels between the dimensions). This would be a nice reference. I imagine that there will be some people, who would be surprised about that, if they happen to replay A Link to the Past after A Link Between Worlds. Or play it right now like I did.

But I guess, it might even make more sense to replay A Link to the Past AFTER finishing A Link Between Worlds, because this might not be the only insignificant thing in the game that became important in the sequel.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Link Between Worlds Features a 2nd Quest!

According Gameswelt.de Aonuma told them that A Link Between World will unlock a higher difficulty level, when you beat the game once. What would be changed, he wasn't saying.

I really hope that they did more than just another Hero Mode, where you take double damage and find no hearts. Because that should have been implemented as an option similar to The Wind Waker HD. And with a topdown Zelda game it's a lot easier to change to environment and dungeons to offer a true 2nd Quest / Master Quest experience.

By now Gameswelt has released a video version of this interview, where Aonuma says that this 2nd playthrough won't be the same as the "Hero Mode" in The Wind Waker HD.

Maiamais & Upgrades in A Link Between Worlds

You've probably seen this before. If not, let me introduce to you what could potentially become one of my alltime favorite collectible sidequests. Maiamais are basically a mix between the Secret Seashells from Link's Awakening and the Gold Skulltulas from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask and the upgrade system in Four Swords Adventures. There are those little shell creatures hiding in the environment, making whiny noises. And you have to detach them from the walls using wall merge or Pegasus Boots and bring them back to their mother, who lives at Lake Hylia. For every ten Maiamais you can chose one of your items to be upgraded. Nintendo showed us the bow upgrades, which shoots three arrows at once.

The upgrades seem to be similar to Four Swords Adventures, where you can give a Great Fairy an item and she makes it better. This is what the upgrades did, to get an idea what they could to in A Link Between Worlds:

  • Bow: shoots an array of three arrows, faster charge
  • Boomerang: greater range and speed
  • Bombs: four times the size
  • Hammer: bigger shock wave
  • Slingshot: scatter shot of three seeds
  • Fire Rod: Cane of Somaria
  • Roc's Feather: double jump
  • Pegasus Boots: air walk
  • Shovel: dowsing
  • Lamp: no upgrade

Well, some of these upgrades were mandatory to beat the game. Since the Maiamais are an optional sidequest, I guess that all of the upgrades are optional as well. So, you won't turn the Fire Rod into the Cane of Somaria, I guess. Unless of course there are certain mandatory upgrades received in other means. For example the shop in the Lower World could be an upgrade shop, if this does make sense. The upgrade for the Pegasus Boots is probably not an option though, since the wall merging ability covers crossing abysses in a way.

Skyward Sword had also certain upgrades, the only interesting one though would be the one for the Bug-Catching Net. I guess, it's safe to assume that we will get a similar upgrade for the net in A Link Between Worlds as well. For the bombs they could give them the "Remote Bombs" upgrade from The Minish Cap. Unless it's necessary to lay multiple bombs at once. I don't think that you can undo the upgrades.

I'm hoping that they find a nice upgrade for the lamp, which they weren't able to do in Four Swords Adventures.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Link Between Worlds German Cover

Yes, looks identical to the North American one. Usually we are getting something different, more colorful. However, according to Nintendo the European cover will be dual sided with a colored variant on the inner side.

The main reason, why I make this post, is that unlike the North American cover there's no Nintendo Network logo anymore... why's that? I was hoping for a new multiplayer mode in the style of Shadow Battles from Four Swords Adventures...

My best guess would be that they originally planned Miiverse integration, but the Miiverse update for the Nintendo 3DS won't arrive in time, so they have cut the feature or plan to add it as an update for the game.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Link Between Worlds Limited Edition Nintendo 3DS XL Announced

I miss the times, where they just release a Zelda game without any big limited stuff next to it. No big fuss, just the game... I don't want to buy a new console with every Zelda release (but I'm a collector, so it's hard to resist).

But it seems like Nintendo really, really wants all the money from Zelda fans this year. I'm not kidding, this already was the MOST EXPANSIVE year to be a Zelda fan, but now you can add 200€/$ to the equation. Hyrule Historia, the Symphony of the Goddesses, the Limited Edition Wii U, the Limited Edition The Wind Waker HD and now this. And from Prima Games there's the Zelda Box and one more Collector's Guide. The year of the 25th Anniversary was a cheap joke compared to this. You need a big wallet for all this stuff. That's 800€ spent for Zelda alone.

Well, I was flirting with the 3DS XL recently, so a part of me was hoping they would do this, because my rationality wouldn't let me buy one, since I already got the 3DS. But my love for Zelda outweights my rationality.

The problem with this thing is that there already has been a Zelda limited bundle for Ocarina of Time 3D. I even had to sell my previous 3DS to get it. And now it kind of looks like Nintendo is saying "Hey, Zelda fans! How do you like your 3DS? Want to buy a 3DS XL as well? Come on!"... Since the XL is a really different model, they might get away with this. However, I really hope they won't do the same for the Wii U. Like when the new Zelda game gets released, they release a fully golden Wii U or something. This would be terrible and a big kick into the balls of every Zelda then, who now bought the The Wind Waker HD bundle. I can have both a 3DS and a 3DS XL, many do, but buying two Wii Us is a differemt story. This thought scares me.

Of course they cleverly waited to announce this bundle until after the The Wind Waker HD bundle got released. Because now the message is "don't buy the remake bundles, the new games will get better looking ones". By now it's best to really wait many years before you buy a new Nintendo product. Really wait until the last minute. Otherwise they will find a way to punish you for early adopting.

The thing is that you can never know. It might as well be that they won't release a special bundle for the Zelda Wii U game and in this case you will regret not getting the The Wind Waker HD bundle. But in case they do release a better looking all golden Wii u system, you will regret buying the The Wind Waker HD bundle. As a Zelda fan you can't be sure anymore what to buy... it's frustrating. However, with Nintendo the safer bet now is that they probably will screw their early adopters. This has been the case for many years now. So, if history will repeat itself, you don't want to get a Wii U just now. You want to wait.

Of course the 3DS XL bundle is awesome for every Zelda fan, who missed the Ocarina of Time 3D bundle. I'm not saying anything against that. But all those bundles will have to backfire eventually. Nintendo is training their customers not to buy their products early.