Sunday, April 21, 2013

Timeline Placement of A Link to the Past 2

I'm not much of a timeline guy, but as a huge fan of Link's Awakening this is an interesting question.

After A Link to the Past Link goes on his journey, where the Oracle of Ages & Seasons stuff happens. At the end of the Oracles he goes out at sea, where Link's Awakening takes place. At the end of Link's Awakening we see Link lost at sea - and we never learned if he made it back to Hyrule alive or not! Link's Awakening basically ended on a cliffhanger that never got resolved in TWO DECADES. Maybe twenty years after the release of Link's Awakening we'll learn what happened to him. Hyrula Historia only added a little teaser at this part:

He set sail on another voyage, and his further whereabouts are unknown.

The book states he set sail on another voyage, instead of just saying he was lost at sea! This is a connection point, an open point for a new Zelda game to fit in. Maybe Aonuma already knew that they were doing an A Link to the Past sequel at the time, so he rephrased the part accordingly.

The game could also explain, how Ganon finally came back to life!

What doesn't fit, is the original artwork of A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening, where Link clearly was older, while in the 3DS game he looks and sounds like a kid. However, they already screwed this up with the Oracles, where they portrayed him as a kid as well.

Magic Meter and Items in A Link to the Past 2

So, let's analyze and predict a little bit with this new Zelda game for 3DS. If you've seen the footage, you might have noticed the magic meter in the bottom left corner of the screen:

It works a lot different from the magic meter in the original A Link to the Past. Some people even mistook it for a Stamina Meter, while it doesn't seem to be. While it's indeed self regenerating, only three actions in the demo were draining the meter: hammering, shooting arrows and using the new wall merge main gimmick. The latter drains it constantly until it runs out, similar to the Cane of Byrna or the Magic Cape. And here we already have the reason, why the magic meter is self regenerating: if it wasn't, you would constantly get stuck in places. And doing a spin attack does not drain the meter, which is why this probably isn't a stamina meter, but in fact still a magic meter.

The Hammer was called "Magic Hammer" in the original, while it never really used magic. Seems like Nintendo finally made the Magic Hammer get true to its name. As for the bow it's interesting that it doesn't seem like there are any arrows in the game. Instead of using arrows, the bow drains your magic meter. I bet it's called "Magic Bow" or something similar in the game.

Now with self regenerating magic some of the original items in A Link to the Past would become somewhat overpowered, especially the Cane of Byrna and the three Medallions. Well, actually they were already overpowerd in the original game. Your natural instinct of not wasting your resources was just countering this. The typical "I don't use the bow often, because I don't want to waste arrows" feeling, even though that's bullshit. But add some Infinity enchantment or self regenerating arrow counts and you start playing Rambo. It's like missiles in Metroid: Other M - you can always refill on the spot, so you were using them all the time without hesitation. That's why something like the Bombos Medaillon wouldn't work with the new system. You would terribly abuse it all the time. Just wait a couple of seconds and you can wipe the screen again.

So, the Medaillons as well as some of the other magic items will probably not make a return to this new game. And a look at the inventory screen supports this assumption:

There are only 20 slots. A Link to the Past had 24, using the GBA version as a basis, where each bottle has its own slot and the shovel doesn't get removed. I'm pretty sure each bottle will get it's own slot in this menu, so it's only 16 items really then. But subtract the three Medallions, as well as the Cane of Byrna and this already fits. And I'm pretty sure the Magic Cape will be gone as will, because the new wall merge feature basically covers the main idea of the item. You can effectively dodge traps and enemies by staying inside a wall. Also, the Book of Mudora never really was a real item, this can move into the status screen. So, we already made plenty of room! In fact there's already room for two new items! However, the Pegasus Boots on the other hand will probably just turn into a normal item like in Link's Awakening or The Minish Cap. So, there goes one open slot already. I wouldn't wonder if the Pegasus Boots use up the magic as well.

And don't be afraid that every original magic item will go. The lantern will definitely stay... :D

Just kidding... Fire and Ice Rod should work fine with the new system. In fact it should even nerf them. In A Link to the Past they could become really overpowered, because you could use them with rapid fire. The new system probably prevents spamming, so shots with the two magic rods will have to be timed much more. They'll probably use up half of the meter with one shot. The Cane of Somaria, as well as the Magic Powder should also go well with the new system.

Thinking about this new magic meter (or "item meter", not sure what this will be called), makes me really like it. It's a lot simpler then the previous "collect bottles or trink potions to refill" system while at the same time you have to balance your actions a lot more. It removes unnecessary bloat, while making the game more of a game. Me likes.


Let's take a look at the remaining items: (Magical) Boomerang, Bombs, Shovel, Ocarina, Bug-Catching Net and Magic Mirror. The existence of the latter depends on the question, whether there will be a Dark World or not. Storywise there shouldn't be, but you'll never know. They also said the "Master Sword will sleep forever" and we all know how that turned out.

I guess, the Magical Boomerang will also use up magic now, it would fit. But I wonder about the bombs. I can imagine myself some magical bow that creates arrows from magic, so you wouldn't have to collect arrows. But getting bombs out of nowhere would feel a little weird...

Shovel and Bug-Catching Net could get some more uses. On the SNES the shovel disappeared as soon as you found the Ocarina. On the GBA they tried to do more with the shovel, but there wasn't much room for potential. But in the 3DS game there is. I would like to see a nice 3D effect when actually digging deeper. I always loved how Link sunk in a dug hole in Link's Awakening - that was such a nice detail and I hated how they removed this in the Oracle games. With the 3DS game they can finally turn shoveling into something that feels real.

The Bug-Catching Net got used in the GBA version for an additional sidequest - the Riddle Quest. I could imagine that they'll use it for sidequests here as well. A new bug collecting quest or something similar.

There's definitely a lot of potential to make the old items feel fresh and exciting. They demonstrated this with the Hammer and I'm eager to see how the final inventory will look and play like. For new items I could see something like the Gust Jar from The Minish Cap to make a return.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Legitimate Step Backwards

When looking at the 3DS and the Wii U one thing immediatly striked me: for Zelda they will abandon their previous innovations in favor of new ones. Their praised touchscreen and Wiimote controls will have to go for 3D visuals and the... you know... this GamePad thing. And I wasn't sure how they were going to pull it off. After all they praised their new innovative controls so many times and one of the reasons, why Nintendo DS and Wii became so successful, was the easy to use interface.

You can't do touchscreen controls on the 3D screen. So, there was simply no way to mix the Phantom Hourglass style gameplay with the 3D gimmicks they had planned for Zelda. So, they had to abandon them.

However, the touchscreen controls received many negative waves from the fanbase anyway. I personally liked them a lot, but there are many who refused to play the games for the controls alone. So, Nintendo could have used this as an argument already. But they found an even better way: making a new A Link to the Past style game - the retro style demands classic controls!

It also looks like the Nintendo 3DS' Slide-Pad offers the same amount of precision as the Stylus did. The touchscreen controls on the Nintendo DS couldn't have been replaced with regular button controls. The D-Pad didn't offer the same amount of precision and control. Especially in bow play. But if you take a look at the A Link to the Past 2 trailer, you can clearly see how Link can fire in 360° without the use of a Stylus.

And you can still use the touchscreen for drawing on maps and similar features! So, yeah, I guess a lot of fans might be happy with that development. If you despised Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks for their controls: there might be hope for you! I could imagine that at some point Nintendo offers graphical enhanced remakes of the Nintendo DS Zeldas using traditional controls.

While I'm fine with the development of the Nintendo 3DS Zelda style, the Wii U still worries me. When advertising Skyward Sword, they even came up with this little story, where Aonuma wanted them to keep the Wiimote for the Wii U, so he could use the controls in future Zelda games. But we all know that's not going to happen. They just HAVE to use the GamePad for Zelda and all their new main games to show the world how "awesome" the Wii U GamePad is. If one of their main games abandoned the GamePad idea for classic Wii controls, it would be like saying that the GamePad is not better at all. (Which it is, but Nintendo put themselves in a bad situation here. They make you buy this expansive thing, so they have to make good use of it or otherwise the customers will feel "betrayed".)

But I liked the Skyward Sword controls. A lot. They felt great, powerful. It was they way how they used the controls that make it all feel awkward and less enjoyable. All those "slice in the right direction" enemies. Put the controls in a game like Twilight Princess or Ocarina of Time, or simply have more natural sword fights and the controls would be great. And I would like to see that.

I hope that they fully utilize the GamePad in The Wind Waker HD, which makes sense here, and then return to explore the Wii controls in the new Zelda game for Wii U... But if they abandon the Wii controls, they better come up with a good way to make this step backwards look legitimate.

Four Swords and the 3DS

The new "A Link to the Past 2" engine (which looks like a polished Phantom Hourglass engine) naturally invites to remake games using the old A Link to the Past visuals. However, there was only one other main game that did that: Four Swords Adventures.

But it might be that Nintendo decides to re-explore the Four Swords idea. The old games suffered from the sole problem that it wasn't easy to find other players AND all the necessary hardware. Now with online capabilities things are a lot different and there are a lot of possibilites. So, it might be that they make another Four Swords title after they are done with "A Link to the Past 2".

Or they are already making "Four Swords 3", adding it to the game. Similar to the original Four Swords that got bundled with the GameBoy Advance port of A Link to the Past. Both Nintendo DS Zelda titles got a separate multiplayer mode, though these were only small Battle Modes. However, the Shadow Battles mode from Four Swords Adventures was really fun. If they make something like that it could become my favorite 3DS online game.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Zelda 3DS Announced

Yesterday I made a post about how excited I am about today's Nintendo Direct - we might get to see the new 3DS Zelda there. But I made a similar post before the last Nintendo Direct and thought it was stupid to still have hopes, so I deleted it - oh, how silly I was! Last minute announcement! (Edit: I recovered the post. Thank you, Google Cache!)

But to sum it all up in one word: predictable.

There were several clues about how the game will look like. Small but meaningful. Aonuma told us that "3D will matter" and that it's going to built on the engines of previous Zelda handheld titles. 3D only matters when you got a fixed perspective. Ocarina of Time 3D is nice and all, but the 3D doesn't make a difference here. I already covered this topic a couple of times and predicted that the 3DS Zelda will have a fixed perspective, probably the traditional bird's eye view. I used the Super Mario 3D Land Zelda stage as an example.

And Miyamoto told us several times, he wanted to do something with A Link to the Past... so, here we go:

I'm glad, it's not full remake, but offers new story and dungeons. It reminds me a little bit of Ancient Stone Tablets for the BS-X - there they reused the A Link to the Past overworld, but told a new story and added fully new dungeons, which were a lot easier than the orginals. But the 3DS game will probably as easy...

I'm thinking that they probably started to make a full A Link to the Past-remake, but it changed into something more at some point. It's similar to Oracle of Seasons, which started as a remake of The Legend of Zelda (NES), but then transformed into a different game with a unique story...

Just instead of changing seasons we get... Paper Link! Wtf... I'm not sure about this new main gimmick, actually I'm unhappy that they approach a classic such as A Link to the Past with a main gimmick, but of course the game NEEDED some quirky 3D feature. It's just how Nintendo rolls.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Zelda 3DS Announcement Overdue

Since end of 2011, the release of Skyward Sword, Aonuma's team has been working on an exclusive Zelda title for Nintendo 3DS. And it's likely that the we learn about the title this year, maybe even hold it in our hands. I expected it to be announced already. GDC was my best guess, but Iwata didn't hold a keynote this year. The last Nintendo 3DS Direct was also a possibility, but nothing happened there. This Wednesday another Nintendo 3DS Direct is taking place and naturally I just assume they drop the Zelda bomb there. If not, there's still the E3 in June... xD

I expect the 3DS Zelda game to use a classic topdown perspective, even though this might sound paradoxical at first. But Aonuma wanted to make a game, where "3D matters" and that's not the case in a free camera game like Ocarina of Time. Only with a fixed perspective you can play with optical illusions, see Super Mario 3D Land as an example.