Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hyrule Warriors: Boss Pack & Version 1.6 - First Impressions

Loading times back to normal, baby! That's probably the best thing of the update.

As I had expected, 255 will be the final maximum level. Called it! It's basically another small 8-Bit reference, since 255 is the highest number you can get with 8-Bits. With that it was also the maximum number of Rupees in The Legend of Zelda (NES).

I'm a little bit disappointed with the new potions. They should be really helpful with both the Boss Rush mission and the new Boss Challenge. But I was hoping for a defense potion and also for new potions using silver materials, because I got so many by now, while my bronze materials get used up a lot by now. However, with the new anti boss mixture I was finally able to A rank the Boss Rush. Good thing that I have waited for the last update. :D

The rest is pretty much a major expansion of the Challenge Mode, which they added in version 1.2, but then neglected. The new game modes from the Boss Pack actually a part of the Challenge Mode, which now has three categories: Battle Challenges (the free ones), Boss Challenges and Ganon's Fury. They added two cheap alibi challenges for free to the old challenge mode, one "Rack Up Your K.O. Count" and one "Defeat 800 Enemies in 10 Minutes" mission taken from Adventure Mode. The original challenge mission was a lot more interesting and even used unique game mechanics, so it's kind of sad that they didn't have any better ideas.

I was hoping that A ranking all three challenges with one character would unlock the dark costume for the character. But that doesn't seem to be the case, which is a shame. I don't see a reason, why they shouldn't let us have all the dark costumes. And yes, they should be for free, since they were included in the original game. But right now you're only A ranking the challenges for the sake of A ranking, which is a little boring.

And it appears that the new color costumes are based on the bosses. Lana has one based on King Dodongo and Cia one on the green Manhandla. So, Cia basically got another green costume instead of a red one, as I was hoping. But at least the new green costumes looks better than the old one...

The Ganon Challenges seem to be quite interesting and crazy. He plays very different from the normal characters, which is why he isn't part of the roster. Instead of the usual bomb, bow, boomerang and hookshot items you collect the individual boss attacks, like King Dodongo's fireball. You can smash boss enemies around, which is fun, but normal enemies now can be a pain, because they are hard to target and they can hurt you quite badly. No wonder that Ganon loses to Link each time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D Collector's Guide

As usual I also got the Prima Collector's Edition guide for Majora's Mask 3D. This is the first one, which doesn't have the Hylia emblem on the front, but Majora's Mask instead:

The gilded pages are not sticky for the first time, which is nice. Pages also seem to be thinner than usual. It has the same number of pages as the guide for The Wind Waker HD, but it's a lot thinner. Also, the lettering on the book's spine is slightly crooked. I heard that several copies have the same issue, so this is a bigger production flaw. But it's only noticeable, if you put it beside the other guides in your bookshelf.

The extra also seems somewhat cheaper this time around. In the past we had cloth maps, poster maps and bookmarks. The A Link Between Worlds guide had this beautiful lithograph. This one... well, this one got stickers:

They remind me of a set of old Club Nintendo stickers I got for Ocarina of Time, which also went for some darker foes. I put a Redead on my graphical calculator for school and Poe sticker on my semi-transparent purple Nintendo 64, which both still looks awesome. So, it brings back some memories and I kind of like them, but those should have been in addition to some nice Termina cloth map, instead of being the main extra.

Content wise the guide is flawed as always. I really disagree on when they do certain sidequests. For example they wait with the Swamp Spider House until they get the Hookshot. Of course many players do the same, but you can actually beat the Swamp Spider House even before entering Woodfall Temple. You don't even need the bow! And the guide should guide you through things as early as possible and go for the intended solutions.

The guide is also lacking with the new content. It doesn't have a map of the new Zora labyrinth on the moon and the new Fishing Holes, but it does have a map for absolutely everything else. And there's only very little on fishing. They added a simple check list for the fish, which doesn't even seem all that accurate or helpful.

But as usual this is not about the content, but the collection value. I wonder, if they will release another Zelda Box in a couple of years. We already got two collector guides, which are not part of the first box: A Link Between Worlds and this one. Add Zelda U later this year and we will have three. Four, if they also use the Hyrule Warriors one and give it a new cover. So, calling it now that there will be a 2nd Zelda Box with the guides from A Link Between Worlds and later around 2017.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D: 3rd Spider House Ideas

So, Majora's Mask 3D is done. And as the 3D remakes before, it reeks of missed opportunities. I already gave a big list of ideas in past and some of the wishes in that post and its comments became a reality, even if it's just the smaller things.

One of my favorite ideas from that list is the third Skulltula house and I still feel like this would have been a great addition, because the Spider Houses always have been one of my favorite parts of the game. They are very atmospheric minidungeons, where you constantly feel rewarded and awesome. A third Skulltula house should have 40 Golden Skulltulas to collect to increase the total number of Golden Skulltulas to the classic 100.

And I would probably place it in the Snowhead region for two reasons. One is that Snowhead is the only of the four temple areas, where you don't find an optional minidungeon. The swamp has a Spider House, the ocean has another Spider House and then there's the Secret Shrine of Ikana. But Snowhead didn't get anything.

Now the second reason is that it always bugged me, how the Mountain Village is called a village, while there's only really one building there, the smithy...

They could have added a second building somewhere around here, acting as an entrance to the new Skulltula house, which probably would have been a nice addition.

The Spider House itself would focus on using the Goron, as well as Skulltulas hidden under snow, ice and rocks. Similar to the Swamp Spider House you can already beat it before the temple, which will give you more of a "challenge", where you have to manage Hot Spring Water. But the Fire Arrows then make things a lot easier, as soon as you get them.

The only real problem would be the reward. In the past I opted for the Shard of Agony, but they gave this function to the Mask of Truth, which was a very smart move and makes a lot of sense. I support giving existing masks new purposes and utilities over mindlessly adding new masks, though having both would be fine as well. They could always add a bigger wallet, but they Ocean Spider House already gives you that, so that would be a boring reward...

If you have any good ideas for rewards, let me know in the comments! I might also update the post later on.

Majora's Mask 3D Fishing Journal, Entry 1

This will just be a short update on what I have achieved so far. I mostly played the Ocean Fishing Hole and got all regular fish there, as well as one boss fish, the Grand Swordfish. I caught one on the third day using Fierce Deity Link, but you can also use Goron Link. He was quite annoying, because he kept moving around and despite his size he was very hard to see in the murky waters. So, I kept losing track of him and had to search for him under water using Zora Link. Not much fun.

He also broke the line once, when I tried to move him out of the water on one of these pillars, which didn't go too well. It's best to wait for them to jump and then try to move them on land.

Someone asked me in the comments to give some tips about fishing, but to be honest, I don't really know, what I'm doing. It seems to be a lot easier than in Ocarina of Time, where I constantly had the issue of fish breaking lose. But in general I'm just holding A and keep moving the slide pad left or right, depending on where the fish goes. You want to hear the fast reeling sound. Whenever the fish jumps out of the water, I press forward. I don't know, if this is required, but I think it was the same in Twilight Princess, so I just keep doing it. I never have any problem with the small fishes and even the Swordfish went in relatively quickly, so I must be doing something right. But sorry, if I'm not of much help here. But the real fault probably lies at the game, because it never really explains how to catch fish properly.

Well, these are the fish, which I have yet to catch:

  • Cuccofish
  • Ferocious Pirarucu
  • Colossal Catfish
  • Savage Shark
  • Great Fairy Fish

So, it's mostly the boss fishes and one regular fish. Though the Cucco Fish seems kind of rare, since I still haven't found one yet. It's also my major issue with the fishing game: it's all random. You leave the fishing place, you enter through the door again. You check whatever fishes there are. Repeat until you find a new one. There should have been a slightly better solution.

But my main goal is to catch one of each type. I don't really care too much about records, especially since the sizes seem to be messed up between all languages. But in general I really like that this minigame gives more uses to certain masks, that's probably the best part of it. That and they did a great job with putting the fishing places into the world.

Hyrule Warriors: Boss Pack Recolors

So, the upcoming DLC pack will include five more costumes: one recolor for Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Lana and Cia. And this is pretty nice, since there were still some recolors that I would like to see, especially a red costume for both Lana and Cia, so that they have one color for each of the three goddesses.

For Link and Zelda I was thinking that they could give them classic NES colors. So, Zelda would have red hair and a red dress or just a red dress, which might look really good. But lots of reds with these costumes. And Link getting a classic NES color palette would pretty much give him all of his Super Smash Bros. skins with the exception of the Skyloft one. Well, Toon Link got the NES skin, not the normal Link, but still...

Ganondorf could have Ganon's colors. Or maybe also Ganon NES colors. I'm not too excited about him.

  • Link: NES Colors
  • Zelda: NES Colors
  • Ganondorf: Ganon Colors
  • Lana: Red Colors
  • Cia: Red Colors

This is all speculation and we'll see the actual costumes in three days, unless they are really hard to unlock, which I don't hope. Usually on the Adventure Maps the costumes never required A ranks, so I hope they won't let you struggle too much and have the game modes more for the fun of it and for scoring records.

I could also imagine them adding a medal for collecting all color swap and mask costumes, similar to the medal, where you have to collect all 8-Bit weapons.

And it would be still awesome, if we could unlock the dark versions of everyone... but maybe in the updated challenge mode. It would make sense. Since those skins were already part of the main game, Koei shouldn't charge people for them. And you can unlock the costumes for your DLC characters (Twili Midna, Young Link and Tingle) without buying more DLC.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mask of Truth Replaces Shard of Agony in Majora's Mask 3D

I didn't know this yet, but they made it so that the Mask of Truth shows you the location of hidden holes:

There were only two holes, which you have to open with bombs, but it's nice that they didn't just cut this feature out alltogether. It fits the Mask of Truth perfectly and now I want to run around with this mask looking for other hidden holes, I might have missed... :D

Of course there also goes my idea of the Shard of Agony being an additional reward, but this is also a good solution.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hyrule Warriors: Ganon Pack and Version 1.6 Infos

  • New Boss Battle Mode
  • New Ganon Mode, where you play as Ganon
  • Level cap raised
  • New mixtures
  • New medals
  • Challenge Mode update
  • New Challenge Mode missions
  • Loading times fixed

Good stuff! As you might know, I was fully expecting another raise in the level cap, since the DLC characters had still five missing hearts. I guess, the original characters won't get any new hearts and the maximum level might be 255 as a throwback to The Legend of Zelda (NES), where your Rupee maximum was 255 also.

It's a blessing that they fixed those loading times. I wasn't able to play the game now anyway, so it's good that I essentially skipped over 1.5. The level raise might also come in handy with the Termina Map, which I still have yet to beat.

Ganon Mode sounds like a lot of fun and you can even battle the Great Fairy for the first time. Before she never appeared as an enemy. And essentially you get a new playable character with this, though I wonder, if Ganon will have levels and different weapon tiers. His weapon seems to be the Trident. Boss Battle Mode looks like hell. I never really enjoyed the Boss Rush mission, but this looks even worse.

However, you can unlock new costumes for Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Lana and Cia in these modes... I was expecting to get the dark costumes for everyone, but I certainly don't mind getting fresh costumes. It still would be nice to get all the dark costumes at some point... maybe in a final free 1.7 "thank you" update, which also includes the Fishing Rod weapon? :D Or you can already unlock them in the updated Challenge Mode. We'll see.

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Final Day

Here we go. I've completed the game, all Hearts, Masks and whatever. The only thing left to do is the new fishing, but I'll write a separate journal about that.

On the moon they changed the Zora labyrinth. Or you could say they completely replaced it. There's now more skill involved, because you have to get all these dolphin jumps right. I always jump out, where the vortex is. This seemed to get the job done. And the right path is marked by fish, but of course you have to find the Piece of Heart first.

It's kind of annoying, how it keeps showing you the sequence, where it opens the doors. Because this interrupts your swimming every time. But it looks like they didn't only want to ruin the swimming, but also taunt you with it. The old labyrinth might have been too simple, but it didn't need to change like that.

It's almost worse than the Goron labyrinth, where you now have the problem of the slide pad with 360° "precision", which gives you a hard time going straight forward. That wasn't a problem with N64, GCN or Wii analog sticks for sure, which were optimized for eight directions.

Well, trading all masks finally gives you the Fierce Deity's Mask again, which now looks a little bit edgier. He certainly looks a lot better in Hyrule Warriors or the artworks. But the new whirling sword beams are cool and even a lot stronger than they used to be, it only took a couple of hits to bring each form of Majora down. Wow.

But they're entirely useless pretty much everywhere else. The only boss that still goes down nicely against Fierce Deity Link is Goht. Odolwa blocks the sword beams more aggressively now. You can land some hits, but he takes a lot more damage and overall the fight is not as satisfying as it used to be.

Blasting Gyorg with sword beams from on top of the platform still is very satisfying, but he now ends the fun and Fierce Deity Link sadly is only prey in the water. And the 2nd phase of the fight involves a lot of luck, so that the fight can take its time... no fun to have here.

Twinmold doesn't work at all as Fierce Deity Link. You might score some lucky hits against some of the eyes on the blue form, but the red worm seems impossible to hit. You can fight the "small" enemies though, but overall Fierce Deity Link is of no use here. Well, the original Twinmold also wasn't easy to fight as FDL, but at least it was possible.

And this is my biggest complaint with the remake! I can live with the magic swimming, I can live the castrated Ice Arrows, but that they made Fierce Deity Link look like an useless joke, that's unacceptable. Instead of actually giving this transformation some more action, as I had hoped, they took away from him! Thank the goddesses for Hyrule Warriors, because at least there I got to have some fun with Fierce Deity Link. But Majora's Mask 3D is simply broken and easily my least favorite remake, despite all the good improvements like the Song of Double Time. But turning Fierce Deity Link from a boss killing machine into a fisherman was the worst thing they could have done to the game.

Bad job, GREZZO.
Bad job, Nintendo.

Also, if you do pretty credits and have two screens, put the names on the other screen and let us watch the beautiful scenes without your names obstructing the view... you have two screens, use them!

Ah yeah, no Hero Mode or Master Quest unlocked, but we knew this already. A cheap Hero Mode like in Skyward Sword or A Link Between Worlds, where the damage simply gets multiplied, wouldn't have been a good idea anyway. This game is mostly about the sidequests and either you still have some left to do or you don't really feel like doing it all over again. Majora's Mask doesn't really have immediate replay value, plus you can replay every dungeon any time anyway thanks to the 3 day cycle. However, they still could have given a Hero Mode option like they did in The Wind Waker HD. And in three years they could have developed a full blown Master Quest with all new dungeons. This would have been a lot better than ruining the bosses. They could have even made it so that you fight the original bosses in the Master Quest Mode...! That would have been a solution.

One last thing, this is how I organized my items:

I love it, when you can chose your own order. This is supposed to be symmetrical. Bottles on the right and items with counters on the left, mirroring each other. Solid items in the center. I kept the bottles right, because I like to put them on the touch buttons and this keeps the distance at minimum.

Well, thanks for reading! And stay tuned for my fishing journal.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 4.5

After clearing Great Bay I went on today with completing Kafei's quest, which goes down really fast now thanks to the amazing improvement to the Song of Double Time. No annoying waiting times! Even better: you can now save right before doing Sakon's Hideout and just load your last savegame, if your screw it up. This always was my greatest fear, that I would fail retrieving the mask and then would have to do the whole quest all over again including all the waiting!

And I actually did fail the room with the block puzzle at the end. In the original it showed you in what directions you could move the blocks with the patterns on top of the blocks, but they changed this here and then I tried to push the wrong block, while standing on the red switch... which then resulted in a failure. Though it has been a while that I witnessed this event. Kafei simply gets trapped and you have to leave him. How sorry.

Ikana has always been the most atmospheric part of the game, but also the most cumbersome. But in the remake they changed bits and pieces to make things a little more convenient here and there.

Beneath the Well you now always only need one of an item. I went in there prepared with five Magic Beans and a Blue Potion, which was the requirement to enter the dungeon on the N64. But I only needed one Magic Bean and a Red Potion would have been fine, too. They also made some of the Gibdo's riddles easier and more obvious. Like the guy at the end, who wants milk, asks you now "give me what cows give you, if you play a certain song to them", instead of "give me something, which is good for your bones". So, he basically explains to you, how to get milk from cows. I really do miss the times, where games were about exploring and challenges. Today everything needs to be handed on a silver platter or else people will get impatient and consult the internet.

At Ikana Castle they changed the room with the falling, hot platform. In the original you had to quickly get to a Deku Flower and fly to a switch, before the platform drops. The timing was super close. Now you only have to get to the Deku Flower and then you can fly over the platform to the switch. This came in handy, because I fell down twice at the upper castle and had to go through this room a couple of times...

The Redeads inside the castle are probably the fastest source of money in the game. They always drop between 15 and 20 Rupees. There you can collect 500 Rupees in a short time, which allowed me to get to the 5000 Rupees at the bank and secure the Piece of Heart there.

Then comes the part, where you climb the Stone Tower. The Elegy of Emptiness always has been the most cumbersome thing in the entire game, having to play a song to do what you could do in a single swing of the Cane of Somaria in 2D Zelda games. You can walk out of the creation of the statue by pressing A, but this causes the switch below to be deactivated shortly. And then it shows you blocks moving back and forth several times...! Not improved at all...

At least the song is now easier to remember for me: YXYRYAX ...! I didn't even have to look it up. In the original it was just all some yellow notes, like with the Bossa Nova I never could remember the song well. But with the different button placement it was easy for me to remember. And I like, how it plays more like an actual instrument with these buttons.

It's also noteworthy that they added some Gossip Stones on your path up the tower, giving you hints about the Ikana River, what lies behind and ahead its stream. But it seems like the game now places you next to these Gossip Stones, if you happen to fall down the abyss. I'm not sure, if the original did that, but I believe you had to do it all over again, if you ever fell down...

The Redeads at the side are also now more silent. You can only hear them, if you go to the edge, where they are standing, using the Scarecrow's Song. In the original you could hear them most of them time, which always gave me this chilly feeling and I kept wondering, where they would be.

Now the Stone Tower Temple got some small tweaks here and there. They removed the small crates from the 2nd room, where you have to use the Elegy of Emptiness, and replaced them with one block. Originally you could mindlessly destroy the boxes and then get stuck, but they fixed that. They also changed the central water room, so that you can climb out of the water. But you also have to reach a switch using a dolphin jump, which can be annoying, if you don't have enough magic - another good example, where the force magic swimming simply fails. (Update: actually you can also reach the switch as the Deku, so never mind.) Also, the hand enemy in this place originally was supposed to help you out by throwing you back on land. Both in the normal and the twisted version of the temple. But now the hand just throws you away into the abyss...

They also enhanced the flying time of the Deku in the room right before the Garo Master, where you fly above the lava. In the original it usually took me a couple of tries until I got it right, but there it's easy. What wasn't so easy though, was the room before with the mirrors, which you have to load with light. The one, where you have to load two mirrors in a row, gave me some trouble, because no matter how long I would load the 2nd mirror, it only gave me light for a short moment... It took me a few tries to finally remove the block.

The Garo Master is also somewhat harder to fight than I remember. He's now nearly impossible to hit until he does that jump, where he disappears for a brief moment. You can abuse Deku Nuts, which I then did in the Secret Shrine of Ikana, but in the temple I didn't have any.

They moved the red emblem in front of the temple above the entrance, instead of behind the blocks. This is a lot more convenient, so I like it a lot.

But with all the changes, they at least kept all the Stray Fairies, where they originally used to be. This is surprising, after they made some of them easier in the first two temples. Stone Tower Temple definitely has some of the trickiest fairies, where you have to go back and forth between the two different versions of the dungeon. Great Bay Temple also had its fairies unchanged, I think, except for maybe one in the first room - I don't remember. But overall it seems like only three or four fairies got changed in total.

The new Twinmold fight was awful, I didn't like it at all. In the original you could either shoot the ends of the worms with Light Arrows or use the Giant's Mask, a simple but epic fight, now it's just some annoying mess. As a giant it keeps pushing you over, which is not fun at all. And the stupid 2nd half with the wrestling also took a long time to beat, at least five of those finishing moves, while the red worm also took tons of punches, before he came down... I doubt, you could do anything with Fierce Deity Link here, but I'll try.

New masks:

  • Couple's Mask
  • Gibdo's Mask
  • Giant's Mask

After defeating Twinmold, I quickly cleared the Secret Shrine of Ikana and thus completed everything you can do on earth, except for the new fishing. But I'll save that for later. However, for some reason my Bomber's Notebook didn't get a "complete" sigil yet, though I did all the sidequests... but I'll figure it out. Eventually you get it on the moon, which will be my next stop. I'm already fully prepared and I didn't even start a new cycle, so I'll just keep going.

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 4

Next destination: Great Bay. The original Mikau looks really great in here, which makes me really want him for Hyrule Warriors 2.

But this is where I could test the new swimming at first hand. I have to say that it's a good thing that they added the new swimming speed, because it makes navigating the Pirate Fortress or the Great Bay Temple a lot easier. Outside the dungeon areas it's a shame thought that you can swim fast using the magical barrier. What were they thinking? The original game was not balanced for that and now you constantly get a magic problem, unless you use a Chateau Romani. While I do that, you still get the annoying electrical barrier sound and view. Especially in the Beaver Race this was annoying, because you had a blue overlay on the red and white rings. This causes some optical issues and in combination with 3D it's even worse... So, there should have been a different solution other than wasting your magical barrier. Like tapping A twice to swim faster.

The soldier with the Stone Mask now moved into the Pirate Fortress. While this kind of rubs the main use of the Stone Mask right in your face, it's not a bad change. Now you actually have to dodge some pirates for real, before you can use the mask. And you can't forget the mask in advance. I also like the new sequence, where the soldier flees the fortress.

The Gerudo Guards (the ones fighting with scimitars) felt a lot easier to beat than originally. It only took two or three hits with the Gilded Sword. They also removed the Shell Blades from the tanks with the Zora Eggs, but this is a welcome change. Those things were terribly annoying in such a small space. However, they also could have removed those fish. It actually happened to me that I caught a fish instead of the last Zora Egg and then teleported out of the fortress in a rush. You can imagine my unpleasant surprise, when I noticed that I had to return to the fortress all over again. But luckily I also forgot to take a photo of a pirate, so I had to go back anyway.

Apropos photos... it's interesting how the Bomber's Notebook also lists some side quests, which don't yield any meaningful rewards. Like giving one of Lulu's fans a picture of her, lighting up the Zora hall, playing the small boomerang minigame at the coast or winning the lottery. These are things, which I only ever did once and then completely ignored in later playthroughs, because they weren't important to a complete savegame. But now that the Bomber's Notebook keeps track of them, there's a reason to do all these things with each playthrough, which I like. It adds more to the 100%.

I'm positively surprised about the whole Bomber's Notebook. I was afraid that it would hand hold you through all sidequests, but what it actually does is compiling a check list of all the things you've completed so far. The Bomber kids are now also very useful, because they tell you "rumors" about sidequests, which you have yet to do. And this is a very good system. It tells you what things are left to do, but it doesn't tell you, how to do them. That you still have to figure out for yourself.

Now after I got all Zora Eggs, I focused on some minigames and sidequests including the Beaver Race, which used to be my nemesis in the past. And with the already described optical issues and the slide pad, this didn't go down so well. However, either you swim a lot faster now and the clock is ticking slower than on the Nintendo 64. Because despite making a couple of mistakes each time, I still made all four rounds on my first try. I remember that on the N64 version, if you wanted the Piece of Heart, you could not make a single mistake. It was really cut close. I'm not complaining though. I used the Chateau Romani and they made it probably easier, so that you can go for the pots with magic.

I also took a sneak peek at the ocean fishing area and it looks amazing. You can even catch a giant Swordfish like in Phantom Hourglass. Overall it seems like they combined aspects of all the fishing from previous Zelda games: Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass. The fishing pond in Ocarina of Time was used as the prototype, naturally. From Link's Awakening you get fish hiding in alcoves and the legal use of a sinking lure. Also, now you actually can fish at the ocean, which is also where the big sea fish from Phantom Hourglass come in. From Twilight Princess you have the idea of using different lures for different fish, however, instead of actual lures you use different masks and songs, but it makes good use of everything in the game, which is nice. And you also have the system, where different times and weather result in different fish. The only thing missing would be fishing from a boat.

I didn't actually try out the new pond yet. Because you need all the different masks, I feel like this is an endgame feature, where you spent some time, after you've completed the original game. And with that the fishing ponds are certainly a great addition, which will keep me playing for a while, instead of simply completing Majora's Mask for the sixth time and be done with it.

After visiting all of Great Bay, I started a new cycle to play the Ocean Spider House, my favorite part of the game. However, the large, steep stair case there looks really bad now, because they still only use textures for the stairs. This was one of my major complaints in Ocarina of Time 3D with the graphics. It's all in stereoscopic 3D now, but they didn't bother with modelling stairs? It just looks weird.

I also did most remaining side quests like Deku Deeds, getting the All Night's Mask, listening to grandma and even the new side quest, where you get an extra bottle with Mysterious Milk from the Gorman Brothers. I don't really want to know what he put in that milk... but they used the spoilable item timer system from Ocarina of Time for this and you can't warp or use the Goron. But Clocktown is not far from the race track and you can easily do it with the Bunny Hood.

The only major side quest I didn't complete before playing the Great Bay Temple is Kafei's Quest. I usually wait, until I have a warp point in Ikana for the sake of convenience. However, you really need the Ice Arrows now to enter the main area. Previously you could hookshot from the right angle to the dead tree at the other end of the river, but they fixed this. And I'm not all to happy about it, because it makes the game more linear than it has to be... and you don't really need the Ice Arrows in Ikana anyway, so why force them?

New masks:

  • Zora Mask
  • Troupe Leader's Mask
  • Stone Mask
  • All Night's Mask

I also did the frog choir, when I played the Great Bay Temple. This is actually a nice tip for everyone. Whenever you are about to play the Great Bay Temple, initiate the frog quest first. So, beat Goht again and get the first three frogs. If you now meet the frog in the Great Bay Temple, you can complete the quest and get your Piece of Heart afterwards. That way you never have to return to the Great Bay Temple, which is a hard to navigate dungeon thanks to its currents.

I like how the dungeons are a lot brighter in this game, especially with the Great Bay Temple. I always despised the dark and gloomy waters, it makes the dungeon a little bit more friendly... or maybe you could see this as a bad change, because it takes away the dreadful atmosphere of the temple.

However, the 3D in this dungeon was just terrible with all the water and electric barrier effects going on. It hurt my eyes, so I had to turn it off several times. This never happened before on the 3DS, I usually play with the 3D on and turn it only off, if I'm using the gyro aiming. But in Majora's Mask 3D sometimes you get a lot of annoying effects popping in your eyes, sometimes you have clipping errors where things in the environment pop out of the screen and completely ruin the 3D view. I don't think this ever happened in Ocarina of Time 3D, which makes it even weirder.

And man... why did they have to ruin the Ice Arrows? This was the only time in a 3D Zelda game, where the Ice Arrows were actually fun and useful. And now they limited them to the few points, where you had to use them. That's really boring and it's not like they're easier to use now. You can still miss those sparkling spots. It's just that they removed a feature, which had game breaking qualities, instead of taking the three years of development time to fix it.

You can still use them freely in Gyorg's chamber, interestingly enough. Though I didn't understand, if they had any purpose there. Maybe to attack his eyes with the sword, while it's floating in the water...

The revamped fight is all right. You have one phase, where you snipe him from the platform, and one phase, where you "fight" as a Zora. I get that they wanted to emphasize both ways of fighting him, instead of giving the option to do it either way. It still sucks and the 2nd phase is now a pure puzzle fight, which feels like a hassle and takes way too long.

And... you can't use Fierce Deity Link in Gyorg's 2nd phase anymore. And neither in Twinmold's from what I heard. And that stinks. The whole point of that mask was blowing away boss enemies. That's the only real thing you could do with it and they took it away? Come on! It supposedly still works on Odolwa and Goht and these are the bosses, where defeating them really changes the environment. With Gyorg you only get the rehearsal and the jumping minigame. And Ikana was cursed anyway, so defeating Twinmold only changes the color of the sky... So, yeah, with these two bosses it's not important to have short cuts. It still would have been nice, if they had found a way to let Fierce Deity Link fans still have their fun with the bosses. They could have given Fierce Deity Link an Iron Boots effect, where you can fight Gyorg under water. But taking things away like that is a bad solution.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 3

This is not exactly "day 3", since I'm writing about my progress from last night and I also will be playing some more later today. However, it felt right to have one blog post for each significant chapter of the game. I've cleared Snowhead, Romani Ranch and the Ikana Graveyard. And I wanted to write about this, before moving on to Great Bay.

Goron Link now punches differently, it feels more quick and dangerous, but they are not as massive and fiery as they used to be. You also don't have to hold A now for rolling, which feels different, but it's not necessarily bad.

I like how they added a fence right before the entrance of the Snowhead Temple. In the original this was a tight curve and I would usually fall down, right before getting to the entrance. So, this is a good change. Inside the temple they moved only one Stray Fairy into a more visible position. They still kept the very difficult ones, so it's not a big deal.

The new Goht fight is also pretty good. If you hit him after a jump, it exposes the giant eye, which you have to shoot with arrows. If you use Fire Arrows, it adds a nice burning effect to the whole Goht. But you can also have Goht crash by attacking him side ways, which exposes a smaller eye at the side, so you can attack it with punches. This feels a little more like the classic approach. So, from the tactic alone, it feels a lot like the original, it's just that they make you use the bow in one case. However, Goht also gets some new moves. Now he sends rolling boulders after you and you can even have entire clusters of stalactites falling down. And that's in addition to the bombs and all the other craziness you had before. You can now even spot, how the bombs come out of his body, which is a nice detail.

I even played the Goht fight twice in a row, because after the Snowhead Temple was done, I devoted my next cycle to getting the Gilded Sword. I feel like the one thing in the game, which they really could have made easier, was the Goron Race. It still feels unfair, but it's doable. The cycle after that focused on the Romani Ranch and the Ikana Graveyard, clearing both at the same time, though this was not a good choice, because I had to go the graveyard twice. It's better to devote one full cycle to the graveyard simply staying there, especially now that you can skip time so efficiently with the new Song of Double Time.

Not getting a bottle at the third day of the Graveyard still feels wrong though, since it added variety to the daily rewards there and the puzzle with Boris always has been a hassle, where you should get a better reward. Though they might it easier. Now you simply have to target him and Tatl hovers in front of him, so that he will move into your direction, where ever you are. On the N64 it was really easy to lose him or to have him run in the wrong direction (even jumping down, when he shouldn't). It's good that they fixed this, but they should have kept a bottle there.

The Gorman race track is now a lot shorter by the way. Or at least it feels like it. There's only a small sequence of fences right before the goal, but I remember that in the original there were a lot more fences at the end. But I never liked this race, so I don't really mind it being shorter. It also became harder at the same time, it took four times to beat it. I'm not sure about the new Garo's Mask. I like it's design, but the original Garo's Mask was one of my favorites. It makes more sense to have the mask of a Garo Master though.

And for some reason I couldn't find Cremia on the first day. She used to hang outside on the fields, tending to some cows. But I couldn't find her anywhere. I hope this is not a bug in the 3DS version, because this would be a huge oversight. Update: But she should be there, because Nintendo released this screenshot:

Maybe I was blind. Or it really is a bug and she is gone, after you play the horse target practice minigame... I don't know.

New Masks:

  • Goron Mask
  • Don Gero's Mask
  • Garo's Mask
  • Romani's Mask
  • Captain's Hat

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 2

Today I focused on clearing the Swamp area and on the swampside fishing, as well as other minigames, which became available with the Bow.

I'm not exactly sure, how many times I've beaten Majora's Mask now, but this should be the sixth time. This does not include replaying parts of the game for the fun of it though. As a kid I didn't have much money for video games, unlike today, but I made my games count and played them thoroughly. On the Nintendo 64 I only had four games, which includes both N64-Zeldas. But especially Majora's Mask kept me entertained for a long time, since I could replay every part of the game, whenever I wanted, thanks to the three day cycle. And one of my favorite things to replay were the Skulltula houses:

I love this so much! Awesome atmosphere, fun collectible mini quest, I could do it over and over again. And I did. Best mini dungeons in the entire Zelda series. It's just so much fun collecting all the spiders.

The fact that you get one bottle earlier now with Koume's target shooting actually improved the experience, because you can already have three empty bottles, unless you decide to play the Spider House before Woodfall Temple. But you didn't have to run around as much as you would with only one or two bottles. I still don't like that they took the bottle from the graveyard, because it added more variety to the rewards there and it was handy for the Big Poe. It also was another good reason to visit the graveyard before going to Great Bay.

There's an interesting change at the Deku Palace: the cave with the Bean Seller now has a 2nd exit at the spot, where you need to plant the beans. I wonder, if you actually still have to go through the palace gardens and dodge the Deku guards... I haven't tried this out, but theoretically you should be able to just use the back entrance. Unless this hole only appears, as soon as you bought the beans...

They changed the Stray Fairies in Woodfall Temple, both their color and some of their locations. The green fairies are definitely a better fit for the Woodfall Temple and I like getting the double Magic Meter earlier. Originally I would always leave Snowhead Temple before the boss fight, deliver the fairies and then fight Goht. But that's a hassle and it's good that they changed it.

But it feels weird, how they made finding certain Stray Fairies easier. I always liked in the original, how some fairies were really cleverly hidden. It made me feel special. Like this one beehive, which used to be in the background, it now is directly next to the door, looking very suspicious. But I suppose they made it so that you can get all fairies without the Great Fairy Mask or potentially drowning yourself in poison water.

The new Odolwa was good. I suppose, he's actually more difficult than in the original, where you just had to spam arrows and hack. There's more strategy here and Deku Link is actually useful in the fight, which is nice. I was worried that I won't like the changed bosses and I'm still worried that you can't defeat Gyorg and Twinmold as Fierce Deity Link anymore, but let's see...

New Masks:

  • Mask of Scents
  • Mask of Truth

Now off to minigames: gyro controls for the win. In both the Swamp and Clock Town Shooting Gallery I scored a "Perfect" twice on my first try! I was always pretty good at the swamp gallery, but the town one usually gave me huge troubles. Check out this blogpost, where I played the Wii version of the game. I actually made a list next to my TV with all the Octorok locations to make the game easier. That's not necessary here. Gyro aiming is just so much faster.

Apropos minigames: I spent more time with fishing and I really enjoy it. This is what I catched today:

  • Termina Bass: 13cm (61cm)
  • Termina Loach: 22cm (79cm)
  • Groovy Carp: 5cm (39cm)
  • Fragrant Reekfish: 10cm (53cm)
  • Postal Salmon: 42cm (108cm)

Interestingly enough if you switch the language from English to German, these values are completely different. It still uses cm as the unit, but the numbers are all off (I put them in brackets). This is really weird and I can't really explain it. Maybe the game uses simple size units for the fish (like 1 to 10) and the actual size is dependent on the translation. But I don't know how gradual this is. Can you catch a 62cm Bass in German, but he still will be 13cm in English...? It's quite confusing, why this is so different.

I also had a big catch today, but this is spoiler territory:

Got Majora's Mask 3D Special Edition + New Nintendo 3DS XL

Got lots of goodies yesterday:

You could get the Skull Kid figurine in Europe as a preorder bonus. Some shops also sold it separately, even though they're not allowed to. However, we also have the Special Edition with the pin, steelcase and poster (not pictured). It's nothing special and I would have been fine with only getting the Skull Kid figurine, which is really awesome, but for the small extra price it's nothing too shabby.

And of course I couldn't resist buying the New Nintendo 3DS XL for some reason:

Buying the Nintendo 3DS XL, which came with A Link Between Worlds (the upper one), actually still feels like it was yesterday. And I didn't use it that much. Some games like Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS are certainly better played on the larger screen. And it was nice to have a 2nd 3DS for fake Street Passing in A Link Between Worlds. But for the most part I kept using my normal Nintendo 3DS (the Ocarina of Time 3D Edition), because the display is much nicer and the slidepad glides a lot better on the shiny surface.

I don't know, why I expected this to change here, but I really was planning to use this New Nintendo 3DS XL as my new main system. I even bought a 32GB Micro SD card along with it. But... I still can't let go of my first 3DS and if you ever do a System Transfer to the New 3DS, there's no going back. So, I can't even try out, how my GameBoy VC games would look on the bigger screen, but I'm afraid it's best to keep them, where they are.

Nintendo really has to update their account system. You should be able to user your NNID on multiple systems and to share save data. If that would be the case, I wouldn't have a problem. I simply could use whatever I system I feel like, instead of being limited to one choice for my downloaded games. It's kind of weird, how Nintendo expects you to buy a new 3DS system every two years, but on the same time they only let you use one actively.

And design wise this one is also probably my least favorite. The outside is nice, but on the inside it's just a regular New Nintendo 3DS XL without any Zelda decals or golden buttons or whatever. I especially don't like the colored buttons. I get that they are supposed to be a SNES reference, but if I buy a Zelda edition, I want Zelda references. So, put a Triforce somewhere and make those buttons gold.

Now... the C-Stick feels weird, the system doesn't really feel much faster and the extra shoulder buttons probably won't ever see much use. And there's still no excuse, why these buttons weren't already featured on the Nintendo 3DS XL two years ago. I also don't like how many critical things are at the bottom side of the system, mainly the on/off switch and the game cartridge. I usually support the system with my ring fingers while playing, which now might accidently remove the cartridge or turn the system off... that's a big design flaw. But the biggest problem are probably the hinges of the top screen, they feel very loose and the screen keeps wigging, when you move the 3DS system around. Very annoying! So, for now this most likely will just be an expansive collectible until I get an exclusive New 3DS game. I almost feel bad for buying it, because yet another Zelda Edition 3DS was absolutely unnecessary, both from my part and Nintendo's end.

And I know that I always sound like a giant hypocrite. I complain about these ongoing Limited Edition bundles, while at the same time I buy them. There's this giant conflict between my inner Zelda fan, who wants to collect all the nice Zelda things, and my voice of reason, who really knows that I don't need three 3DS systems. But my inner collector always wins, because I have the money and I could always sell it later even for a better price, if I really don't want it anymore.

Update: By now I could convince myself to do a System Transfer and I've been using this New Nintendo 3DS XL as my new main system without regret, so the purchase was actually worth it. :)

Majora's Mask 3D Daybook, Day 1

Usually when a new Zelda game or remake comes out, I was blogging here about my progress. I couldn't do this for A Link Between Worlds or Hyrule Warriors, because I got review copies in advance and was under an embargo. But not this time, so I guess I can return to this little tradition.

First impressions of this remake are really positive. It's of the same quality as Ocarina of Time 3D and even better when it comes to certain aspects (see my previous post). However, the graphical enhancements don't feel as big this time around. It probably has to do with the fact that Majora's Mask on the N64 already looked more detailed than Ocarina of Time thanks to the Expansion Pack. Or maybe it's because I didn't have the time to play the original again, because then the difference is probably more striking. Or maybe it's because I've gotten used to the quality of Ocarina of Time 3D. In any case the game looks really good and fluid, so I'm not complaining. It simply doesn't have the same awwww-effect on me that Ocarina of Time 3D did.

When it comes to Zelda, I'm a sidequest junkie and I usually try to get every optional item as soon as possible. The challenge here lies in remembering, where you can get what item, and with that Majora's Mask is probably the supreme discipline, because this game was really designed around the sidequests. But it also has a lot of frustrating minigames, which can give you a hard time, especially in the original.

So, in my first cycle as Deku Link I tried to make use of the time and beat the Deku jumping minigame, which you can find in North Clocktown, right away. Now... it didn't exactly go so well at first. In fact I was horrible and kept missing the platforms. Now you can actually look down by pressing R, but I didn't know this yet (I think Tatl teaches you this new feature in the Deku Palace). So, I kept losing on the 3rd Day, kept grinding Rupees and I started to get really frustrated with the time running out. And when I was about to finally win the minigame, the game really screwed me over. I was about to land on the last Rupee, when the movie of the clocktower coming down started. This dropped me right of the minigame and I rage quit... :D On my next try I beat the minigame pretty fast, probably I had the practice, but it still was quite a comical moment to remember.

After the initial cycle I kept hanging around Clocktown, Termina Field and the Romani Ranch, collecting various masks, Pieces of Hearts and whatever you can get right now. Kafei's Quest is now so easy and quick to follow thanks to the new Double Song of Time, I actually already got the Postman's Hat and a first bottle from Madame Aroma. It's so quick now, I have no problems with doing this quest three times altogether. In the past I would get one of these items first and then make the 2nd choice, whenever I have access to Ikana and can actually complete the whole quest. Because waiting for the right times was really boring. But now you're in full control and the time sensitive sidequests play so much better.

What's interesting is that you now can only steal the reservation from the Goron, if you're actually a Goron yourself. That's smart and I didn't know that you don't even need the reservation to start Kafei's quest. I got so used to making a reservation at this point that I started to believe it was necessary, while it actually isn't. (Though it's weird that Anju expects you to visit the kitchen at night, when the lower door is locked... she even throws you out of the house!)

And with that I have to say that the new Bomber's Notebook really gives you a better idea, what quests are connected and where you still can find rewards without spoiling the actual time frames. But for example some minigames give you multiple rewards, some don't. Some minigames have to be played each day, some don't. And the only way to figure this out in the original was to keep trying each minigame or to use the official strategy guide. But now you have sort of an ingame checklist, which let's you keep track of what Pieces of Hearts and Masks you got, while it also tells you, where you can still find things, without telling telling you how to get them. It's actually pretty smart and I like it.

This is my list of masks that I got on my first day of playing:
  • Deku Mask
  • Great Fairy Mask
  • Kafei's Mask
  • Blast Mask
  • Bremen Mask
  • Bunny Hood
  • Kamaro's Mask
  • Keaton Mask
  • Postman's Hat

Quite a lot already. My favorite masks are the Blast Mask and the Bunny Hood, so I always try to get those as soon as possible. Very useful masks, which I always have ready to quickly get the 200 Rupees hidden in East Clock Town (one in the sewer, the other one above the target shooting).

I also tried out the fishing and it's a nice addition. Before I got the game yesterday I actually played the fishing minigame in Ocarina of Time 3D again to compare. And that one feels like a terrible demo of the new fishing in Majora's Mask 3D. First of all the fish are much easier to catch, they don't fight you for hours or suddenly break lose. Or at least I didn't have these problems yet.

And for the first time ever the Sinking Lure is a legal tool used to catch fish at the bottom. The Swamp Fishing Hole actually reminds me a little bit of the fishing in Link's Awakening. The lure sinks and you have like these little alcoves deep in the water with fish behind them!

To make things more interesting, you have lots of different fish. It seems like instead of different lures like in Twilight Princess, you use different masks to catch them all, which is a nice idea. I wonder, what Fierce Deity Link will catch... :D

Nintendo Should Update Ocarina of Time 3D

After spending some time with both Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D today, I really feel like they should release a patch for the former game to have it on par with MM3D. It's just so much better in many details.

First of all the map: you get an animated map of your current location on the bottom screen, the way it should be. OoT3D only had an overview map on the bottom screen, while the animated map was on the top screen, very tiny but still blocking the 3D.

I also like how situational items get stored under the Gear screen, while the Magical Arrows are back to having their own item slots, which makes switching them more comfortable. You can even assign different arrow types to different buttons! If you would remove the trading item from the Item screen in Ocarina of Time 3D, it would have exactly three open slots for the arrows.

Then add a row for four items, so that changing items and arranging them works exactly like in MM3D. I really prefer the A Link Between Worlds style over the Link's Awakening style of item arrangement, because it's so much easier to organize your items, when it keeps the order.

What else? They could add the C-Stick functionality and Circle Pad Pro support. It's a little bit sad, how in the Iwata Asks the C-Stick ended up being the biggest feature of the remake, but whatever... it's nice to have.

Small things, but it would improve Ocarina of Time 3D tremendously. But... probably won't happen, since releasing updates for games costs money. And from what I've heard, they are not even producing Ocarina of Time 3D anymore.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Too Much Majora's Mask 3D Marketing

Wow, Nintendo seems to put more money into marketing this remake than into the actual remake. I don't have the game yet, but I'm already sick of it. As much as I love Zelda, with each new release it just gets too much. From the limited special editions, over the hype up to showing everything the game has to offer in advance. And it's all over the place, you can't escape it unless you stay away from the internet.

By now it would be refreshing, if Nintendo simply focused on making a good Zelda game for once without all the bloat surrounding it. Making a good game is all that's necessary. It will sell on reputation alone. Big marketing and internet hype are only necessary for bad games. They had three years for this remake, but it seems like 90% of the budget went into marketing this 14 year old game, but not the actual remake. And that's quite worrisome.

With Ocarina of Time 3D and the Wind Waker HD I was already disappointed that they didn't add any new dungeons or new quests, but at least they made the definitive version of the game. If you have these remakes, there's no reason to go back to the original, because it's all better for the most part. Majora's Mask 3D now added something new for the first time in a 3D Zelda remake with the fishing ponds, but it also looks like they improved lots of things for the worse.

They broke Zora Link, they broke the Ice Arrows and it seems like they also broke the bosses. I'm really worried that you can't use Fierce Deity Link on Gyorg and Twinmold anymore, because of the way they changed these boss fights. But hey, you can use Fierce Deity Link now at the new fishing ponds, yay! Remember, how I wanted them to do more with Fierce Deity Link in the remake? Well, this is not what I had in mind...

And I'm sure that they meant well with changing Zora Link and the Ice Arrows, but it's both a terrible solution, which takes away a lot of the freedom and fun you had in the original game. If you don't know, what I'm talking about: Zora Link can now only swim faster using the electric barrier and the Ice Arrow platforms can only be created in specific spots.

The reviews for this game don't make it better. They all read like reviews from 14 years ago, only with much better scores. But rarely any review cares about the quality of the remake, they only talk about the original game and how great it was. And it certainly is, it's still my one of my absolute favorite games of all time. But the remake did so many things wrong. The only site that got that right, was GameXplain. Definitely check out their review.

As a side note: unlike Ocarina of Time 3D they at least managed to fill the menu with an extra bottle. It always bugged me, how badly the item menu in Ocarina of Time 3D was handled and had open spots, but they did it much better this time. The improved item menu is probably the thing I look forward to the most.

We also didn't hear anything about a 2nd Quest or Hero Mode yet. But if there's one, they probably would have showed it already for their marketing. Or it's simply a lame double damage Hero Mode with nothing else, which they kept as a "surprise". A full blown Master Quest would be a very positive surprise and a must have for every Zelda fan, which is the reason why there won't be one. It would be too good to be true. To lure the Zelda fans, they don't have to make good additions to the game, they only have to make Limited Editions and appeal to their collector's urges.

So, lately it feels like Nintendo has gotten a lot lazier with making games and a lot more aggressive with marketing their products. They might as well call themselves "EA" by now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Got A Link Between Worlds Club Nintendo Soundtrack CDs

Club Nintendo will be closed later this year and especially in Germany it had quite its history, even before it went all digital. It started already back in 1989 with the Club Nintendo Magazine, which was amazing. It was a free Nintendo magazine, which got released every three months, full of biased "must buy" reviews, but also detailed solutions with full maps, lots of artwork, letters from readers and ways of getting goodies. I even got some Club Nintendo soundtrack CDs for the Nintendo 64 Zelda games back then, which are still in my collection. And it's nice to have this cycle closing with yet another Club Nintendo Zelda CD in my collection:

I still have over 5000 Stars left, so I'm hoping that this won't be the last Zelda item until October.