Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Level 4+ Multi-Elemental Weapons

Starting with the Koholint Map, there will be a new line of Level 4+ weapons throughout the DLC. They are basically the replacement of the 8-Bit weapons from the Wii U version, though quite different.

They have a rainbow background instead of a golden one and the main difference is that each of them comes with a 2nd element, as I previously expected. Since all officers are weak to a specific element, you increase the range of easy targets significantly with this. They don't let you actually do elemental attacks of the 2nd element, unless they already had them anyway, but this means that they won't give any advantage over giant bosses. It's still a big advantage overall.

They also have prettier names. Instead of a "Triforce Harp++", you get a "Shining Harp" or the "Cutlass of Light", where both the Harp and the Cutlass now feature the Light element, which is a fitting choice. So, they are named after the additional elements in some way.

Ingame they also have an overlay effect that represents the new element with its color. You can see this in today's trailer, where the Gauntlets look red, because they now also feature the fire element. But I'm not a fan of this effect, because it looks rather ugly. The Power Gloves really looked nice in combination with a variety of costumes, e.g. the yellow tunic or Fierce Deity Link. Now it seems like it only looks good together with the new "GameBoy" color costume for Link... But unlike the 8-Bit weapons you can't just ignore them, if you don't like their looks, because the 2nd element gives a real advantage.

I'm just worried that some of the element combinations feel nonsensical. For example with Agitha you would expect to get a "Thunder Parasol", because the weapon always featured Light and Lightning element attacks, but instead they made it a Light Fire weapon. And that's just completely out of place. Koei can make some ingenious design choices, but also some really stupid and unsatisfying ones.

Anyway, the following characters seem to get upgraded weapons on the Koholint Map:

  • Link
  • Sheik
  • Lana
  • Darunia
  • Ruto
  • Agitha
  • Midna
  • Young Link
  • Skull Kid
  • Tetra
  • Daphnes

It's noticeable that Marin doesn't seem to get one. The same goes for Linkle's Boots. This probably means that all DLC weapons won't see any multi element upgrades, because they would have to be on the same map that came together with the new movesets, since the packs are still sold individually. Someone, who buys the Link's Awakening Pack, shouldn't have to buy the A Link Between Worlds Pack in order to get the "Boots of Fire".

But it was similar on the Wii U with the 8-Bit weapons. Only the original weapons got 8-Bit variants. These didn't offer any combat advantage, however, they were purely aesthetic, if you want to call them that.


Here's the full list of all the new multi elemental weapons on the Koholint Map with their elements. Source is JKiii on GameFAQs.

Hyrule Warriors Legends: 3rd SpotPass Gift

To celebrate the release of the new DLC, there was yet another SpotPass gift this morning containing the following:

  • A Fire Fairy (Great Sea design)
  • 500,000 Rupees
  • 10x Golden/Delicious All-purpose Bait
  • 10x Golden/Delicious Hyoi Pear

So, we got some stuff from the Great Sea Map for the first time, nice. The fire fairy is also one of my favorite designs, I used her for "Din". Her name is "Brandie" in German and "Scarlet" in English.

The fairy gift is a little bit confusing, however, because the update 1.4.0 comes with a new Light fairy as well:

She's called "Neris" in English and she's also found on the new Koholint Map. But if you don't have the DLC, you probably should keep her.

So, we basically got two fairies and with them two additional fairy slots at once today. Together with the slot that you get from beating the Koholint Map, there should be a total of 13 fairies possible now. And at least three more slots will be added later on. According to the Japanese update page there have been six different SpotPass gifts so far. All of them feature 500,000 Rupees and food. Only half of the gifts came with a fairy and today was another fairy-less gift in Japan. I suppose, it would have been smarter to only give us Rupees and food today as well and save the fire fairy for later. But it's not a problem.

And if all the DLCs are accompanied with SpotPass gifts, there should be at least eight gifts in total at the end. Maybe even another fairy.

Update: The Koholint Map doesn't give another fairy slot! You basically get its slots together with Neris.

Hyrule Warriors: Marin and Linkle's Boots Impressions

Before I check out what may as well be called the "Cucco DLC Pack" on the Nintendo 3DS, I returned to the Wii U version of Hyrule Warriors to try out the newest additions to the roster in pretty, featured in the Link's Awakening Pack. From today on you can also buy the Legends Character Pack, if you only have the Wii U version, so you might want to read my impressions about Linkle, Skull Kid and the Toon Trio as well.


Marin plays like a dream (pun intended). Her Bell has quickly become one of my favorite weapons and is probably the best water weapon so far. Of course all the water weapons have been fairly mediocre, so that's not saying much, but Marin seems like the real deal. Her attacks are fast, ranged and strong. Especially the Strong Attack can deal a high amount of damage and it works in a similar way to Twili Midna's Mirror, where you built up a meter by dealing damage. However, there is no real drawback to using it, if the meter isn't full - the higher the meter, the more bubbles will appear in front of you, up to five at once.

The C6, where the Windfish wipes the battlefield in front of you, is pretty amazing as well, though the K.O. count seems sometimes underwhelming for such a big attack. Similar attacks of other weapons have more power, e.g. Narisha, but Marin makes up for it with her speed. Her attack string is very fast, even more so during Focus Spirit. You can easily attack with two C6 on a downed boss monster. That might not be enough, however, Marin seems to struggle a little bit with weak point gauges of giant bosses, which eventually prevents her from being a top tier character. Without using any Special Attacks it is quite dependent on her C6 and fully charged Strong Attack, which is why she isn't as reliant as Cia for example.

The overall presentation of Marin seems to be pretty lovely. Link's Awakening was my first Zelda game and Marin was basically my first video game character crush, so she means a good deal to me. And she's well done here, she looks great, her weapon sound effects are awesome and she uses quite some comments from the game. It all seems pretty fitting. However, I have two complaints with the design choices.

One complaint is that you don't really get her to sing the Ballad of the Windfish that often. She does it during the Focus Spirit Special Attack, but only briefly. And it's not featured in her victory animation, where she bows in front of an audience of Cuccos. That does make sense, because she's a performer and she likes to perform for animals, but this way she only really sings in her intro animation. But you're not going to see that one on the Wii U...

The other complaint is the lack of any seagulls. I guess, having her transform into a seagull to fly over the battlefield as her "running" animation was asking a little bit too much, but it would have been nice to see her transform into a seagull in some way. The other Instruments of the Sirens are also absent, she's really only using the Sea Lily's Bell. I hope that she will get another of the eight instruments as a secondary weapon in a potential Hyrule Warriors 2. She could blow into the Conch Horn for example.

Anyway, in both versions she needs Link's materials, which makes sense, since he's her only reference point in the roster, but also King Dodongo's materials for some reason. Medli already used those as well on the Wii U and I ran out of crystals again... Luckily Marin is good enough that I could farm those with her in the first Boss Challenge battle. Also, from what I've heard, Marin does appear on the Koholint as a potential enemy and really does drop Zelda's materials. Nice reference.


Linkle's going full Sanji with this one, but it seems like an underwhelming weapon, especially when compared to Marin. It's weird to see a character in the game fight with his feet, the only other weapon that really does that is the Spinner and both weapons seem very similar, since they also share the same element type: Lightning. However, the Spinner has a very interesting mechanic with the little spintops that you can place around you and make them go crazy with various combos.

The Boots don't really have that. The Strong Attack does a small charge boost, where Linkle runs one meter and that's it. It does connect with larger enemies for an extended attack, but it makes the Boots feel very slow. They are supposed to be the Pegasus Boots, but like Epona or the Spinner they can't make you actually go faster, since every character is supposed to have the same speed. Maybe that's something that they want to change in a sequel, because actually running around with high speed would make the Boots so much more fun and interesting.

Out of the Combos I really like the C6, where Linkle spins vertically, stomps on the ground and creates a large blast around her, but that's something Link also could do with the Spinner. The Boots do play a little faster, so overall this new weapon feels like the "Spinner Lite".

The incorporation of Cuccos is very funny, however, they missed the chance to include the Flying Rooster... Which is disappointing, because it would have done more for the Link's Awakening theme of the DLC pack. Her victory animation, where a Cucco lands on her hand, is very charming though.

And Linkle's animation, when you enter Focus Spirit Mode, is also adorable. She looks like she's preparing for a 100 meter dash, it's cute. The 2nd tier of the Boots do look like the Iron Boots from Twilight Princess, which doesn't make any sense at all, because these are supposed to make you heavy, but it at least fits the electric theme. And the third tier, which is supposed to be the classic Pegasus Boots, looks quite crazy. It matches the Magic Sword in color, though in general the Link's Awakening DLC seems to have a thing for red and white color schemes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Termina Map Impressions

Just in time. Before tomorrow's release of the Link's Awakening DLC Pack, I'm almost done with the current Adventure Mode. I've just finished the Termina Map and got all Heart Containers, Heart Pieces, Level 4 Weapons, costumes and fairy clothing, which can be found there. Like with the Twilight Map there are still some of the 2nd Skulltulas missing, but I will hunt these now, while breaking the 2nd seal on the Master Sword, which now is possible after collecting all rank 4 weapons. However, it's probably best to wait for tomorrow's update for this, so Link can also gain more Experience after the raised the level cap. Killing three birds with one stone so to say.

I didn't play the Termina Map right after the Twilight Map, instead I focused on cleaning up some of the remaining things and powering my characters up. So, this was my checklist before approaching the Termina Map:

  • Got all hearts on the Adventure Map.
  • Got all hearts on the Master Quest Map.
  • Got all Hard Skulltulas in Legend Mode.
  • Got Medli's Level 4 weapon.
  • Got every character at least to Level 66.

As soon as I collect all the Skulltulas and clear the Rewards Map, I will have replayed all of the Wii U's content in Legends, so from this point on I can focus on character grinding, the DLC and maybe some other games for a change.

Replaying the Termina Map wasn't that much fun, though. Generally I like, how the map has a clear course that follows the path through the original Majora's Mask. You basically go for the masks and temples in order (the only weird exception would be Woodfall, where you need the Goron Mask) and you have to plan strategically on what to do next. But it's not stressful, because the 72 missions are more than enough to get to the Moon and defeat the Dark Ruler, while also grinding some item cards at the side.

But the item cards on the Termina Map are very annoying, constantly blocking you with everything. The three transformation masks and the Deku Stick are often required to continue. And nearly all the rewards are locked behind either Bombs or Ice Arrows. Half of the item cards have some other effects, where I'm personally not a fan of the Mask or Truth and Majora's Mask cards, because their effects should have been potion mixtures, or My Fairy Rental Skills or both. Especially the Mask of Truth, which boosts your defense for three minutes, doesn't make any sense at all, because the mask should have been used on Gossip Stones to unlock rewards. Only having Bombs and Ice Arrows for unlocking rewards gets stale very quickly, because you keep playing the same missions over and over again just to get more Item Cards.

And the selection of quick missions is quite bad. Many battles are "competitions", which was the cool new feature of the Majora's Mask Pack in its day. I always thought that this would have been better against actual players in a multiplayer mode, because fighting the AI isn't much fun. You have to fight over K.O.s or Rupees and there's often a fixed time limit for that, so you can't just replay them quickly, you have to wait out the 6 to 10 minutes. While the Twilight Map also kept asking for Item Cards, at least there you have some more variety and most of the challenge battles could be done quickly. And the double drops made it all feel more rewarding.

The Termina Map gives you double weapons instead, so you get up to six weapons per battle. Usually that's all just junk, but selling lots and lots of weapons all the time does raise your Rupee counter quite fast.

But overall the Termina Map is certainly the most rewarding one. It alone offers the biggest selection of individual costumes in the game. You can find all five Ocarina of Time costumes (Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Impa and Sheik), Link's Fierce Deity costume, Lana's Skull Kid costume and all the different mask costumes (15 in total). But still it would have been awesome, if they had added some more mask costumes for the new characters as well, for example a Skull Mask / Ocarina of Time version of Skull Kid would have been amazing.

And for a potential Hyrule Warriors 2 something like masks should be implemented as "hats" instead of just placing one accessory on the default skin. I want to use the Bunny Ears on Cia and Lana as well, for example. Of course some of the masks are really tailored towards the specific characters, e.g. Kamaro's Mask for Ghirahim, but it does make sense that each character should have his individual list of headgear. Take Cia for example, nearly all her costumes come in three variants changing the head - the Majora's Mask mask would then simply be a fourth variant that could be used in combination with all her color costumes. Just a thought.

To get all the stuff I had to use Double Bombos all of the time. I usually prefer Shade, but everything on the Termina Map felt quite tanky, even if you had the elemental advantage. I remember that on the Wii U it was only the giant bosses that had lots and lots health in Termina Map missions. Taking one down could take a significant amount of time. On the 3DS it never gets that bad, but everything can take quite some punches. It may be that the whole map is scaled towards Level 99 already and that my characters on Level 66 were still too weak, but Bombos always did the trick. It's just annoying that you really feel reliant on it and sometimes it gets frustrating, because you can't find any magic. It depends on luck really, you can cut all the grass and find nothing or get three small Magic Vials right away.

And inside the competitions you have to be very careful, because there are lots of (dark) enemies in Super Saiyajin God Mode around, who not only can take it, but also can dish it out fiercely. It never gets as bad as on the Wii U, where a single hit can cost you the A rank and where I constantly had to abuse the Item Power-Up Mixture to stay safe, but that's mostly because you can use fairies. It's fun to replay these missions, when you don't really have to care about the damage and can just go all out on multiple overpowered characters at once, but as long as the A rank is still on the table, you might want to prepare some curse words.

Also, there's some irony in the fact that this Adventure Map has actual Owl Statues on it, but rarely ever on its stages. And often you only get to use a single character this time, so there's some running around involved, which gets especially annoying with Skulltulas popping up or your base falling in danger... on the other end of the map! I seriously hope that all the upcoming DLC makes good use of Owl Statues. Why did they even bother with adding the Ocarina item, if they rarely ever let you make use of it?

The fairy items were a nice surprise, though. The Bunny Heads are lovely, where I wish you had them for all elements. And there's this amazing Happiness Dress, though it's an issue that full body costumes take away one cost reduction. You really want the Fairy Magic to only cost 3/5 of the Magic Bar, so all dresses are essentially useless for now. I hope that they might fix this in an update, because the Happiness Dress would look great on my Hylia.

The Fire Fairy on the Termina Map also looks cool, which I added to my collection of fairy companions:

  • Navi - Light Adventure
  • Taya - Darkness Twilight
  • Tael - Darkness Great Sea
  • Leaf - Fire Termina
  • Neri - Water Termina

I will add a "Ciela" Lightning fairy, as soon as one more fairy slot gets available. I don't have any intentions on building these additional fairies yet, because I mostly resort to my five established "goddess fairies" with double magic effects and useful Rental Skills, such as Water Wall or Repair Technician.

The most interesting part about the fairy stuff on the Termina Map was the food, however, where they used the five Magic Seeds from Oracle of Ages & Seasons, one for each element. So far that's the only reference to the Oracle games inside Hyrule Warriors and they completely renewed the designs, but it still shows that Koei Tecmo might be willing to consider content from the Capcom Zelda games in the future. We'll see.

Anyway, that's it for the Termina Map. Six Adventures Maps completed in total, three more to come. I've invested 260 hours into the game so far, which isn't half of the time that sunk into the Wii U version, which has less content. Less grinding and Fairy Magic make it possible.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Broken Master Sword

The Master Sword seems to be in a bad shape in Breath of the Wild. Let's hope that it doesn't break, because we all know, where this will end:

NO DIN!! Please, noooo!! NO! Noooooooooo~~~~~~!!!

(Yes, it's actually possible to have the Master Sword broken in a Linked Game of Oracle of Ages. Both sword upgrades are available right after Level 4. If you do the linked Quest first, you get the Noble Sword from Farore and the Broken Sword from the Zora Elder, which then will become the Master Sword after the repair "ceremony". Try it out.)

Lime of the Season

It's hot outside and I have the perfect summer music for you: "Lime of the Season" is the follow-up album to the amazing Essence of Lime, where this time they remixed songs from Oracle of Seasons, including the fan favorite Dancing Dragon Dungeon music.

This already got released in May 2014, so it has been out there for over two years now. It has been featured in the Link List on the right column of Hyrule Blog for most of this time, but I noticed that I never promoted this album via a blog post. And it's never too late to promote something awesome, so in case you've missed this so far, check it out:

Lime of the Season Site

Go to the above site to download the album and its lovely artwork for free!

(By the way, I also had a small conversation on Reddit with HylianLemon earlier this year, he seems like a cool guy.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Majora's Mask on Wii U Virtual Console

Majora's Mask gets released today on the European Virtual Console for Wii U and next week in Japan. I was actually anticipating this for a while and here it is. The only thing left for them to release on Wii U eShop would be Skyward Sword, but I'm not interested in downloading Wii games. In case of Majora's Mask I already own the Wii Virtual Console copy, but I can just upgrade it for 2€.

This will give me options for my 30th Anniversary Replay Plans. I've replayed most of the topdown Zelda games already and before Breath of the Wild gets released, I want to play through all 3rd Person 3D Zelda games again in order. And now I can do it all on my Wii U. Replaying the Virtual Console versions of the N64 Zeldas will also be quicker (since there is no Master Quest or fishing), while the Restore Points should give you a lot of comfort with Majora's Mask. It's not only helpful with stuff like Sakon's Hideout, it can also be abused for certain minigames.

Still, I also want to replay the 3DS remakes at some point and I might just play them this summer, nice and slow, because right now I prefer playing on my New Nintendo 3DS XL. And in Winter I will probably play Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker HD (2nd Quest), Twilight Princess HD (Hero Mode) and Skyward Sword (Hero Mode) on my Wii U in that order. Ideally I will be done with Skyward Sword around the time, where the 30th Anniversary ends (February 20th) or in the latest right before Breath of the Wild gets released (where they kept dodging the March 2017 release date at E3, so it might as well come out Christmas 2017 for all we know).

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Link's Awakening DLC Detailed

Koei Tecmo just released the update page for the next DLC, which will be released in one week, on June 30th in Japan. This is about half a month earlier than I anticipated, but here is a summary of what we will get:

  • Marin with the Sea Lily's Bell, calls Windfish
  • Linkle with Pegasus Boots, gets Cucco support
  • Koholint Map in NES 8-Bit style, mixed with some Link's Awakening DX sprites
  • Hearts and Weapon Upgrades for Marin are on the map!
  • New Level 4+ weapons for existing characters, have two elements
  • 16 new Color Costumes
  • 15 new Fairy Clothings
  • Level Cap increased...

There's also a translation and screenshots on Update: You can find a video here. It will also be released in Europe next week.

So, there are some good news and some bad news...

Marin really just has the Sea Lily's Bell as her weapon type, while I hoped that we get to see all eight Instruments of the Sirens in action, e.g. when she's calling the Windfish. At least this leaves the option to give her other instruments as alternate weapons in the future. Her voice sounds a little bit too childish for my taste, but overall she seems very well done. Can't wait to drop the Windfish on everything.

The Pegasus Boots (as well as the Roc's Feather) were a common guess on GameFAQs for Linkle's second weapon type. I personally had trouble imagining these items as weapons, which is why I focused on the companions instead, especially the Flying Rooster. But it looks like it's a combination of the two, she will be accompanied by Cuccos with the Pegasus Boots moveset and even fly with one, though it doesn't seem to be the blue Flying Rooster. Seeing the artwork now, the Pegasus Boots do make a lot of sense for Linkle, since she likes to run around a lot (aimlessly) and uses her boots as holsters. However, this kick-based fighting style feels very weird, because so far most characters have fought with weapons in their hands. But I suppose it's similar to the Spinner.

The weapon upgrades for Marin's Bell and Linkle's Pegasus Boots are on the new Koholint Map and so are Marin's additional Heart Containers, as I had hoped. On the Wii U the DLC characters and weapons (save for the free ones) were kept and sold separately, so in the end there was nothing really to do for them. And I'm glad that this changed here, because the standalone characters are rather boring. And they will still be standalone in the Wii U version.

The map itself follows the 8-Bit NES style, so my hopes that we're going to get the GameBoy style for the rest of the DLC were finally crushed. Yes, this was to be expected, but it just looks so ugly. And some screens are not even recognizable:

This seems to be the entrance to the Mysterious Woods, but it just looks so wrong... I'm not a fan and they just should have went with the 8-Bit GameBoy style instead. But they probably had trouble with keeping the map small. The original Koholint on GameBoy was 16x16 screens large, which is twice as large as the normal Adventure Map. But the above screen already combines four of the GameBoy screens into one.

And it seems that like with the Termina Map you actually have to go for the eight main dungeons to collect all the Instruments of the Sirens to wake the Windfish and get access to the final square. There also seem to be "Nightmare Rules" on certain screens. (Update: And they used the Mt. Tamaranch music, which is great. Love that song.)

At least the color costumes seem to be pretty awesome. There is a silver costume for Link with a red scarf, which looks pretty cool, a pink costume for Linkle, which looks pretty cute, and seemingly a Richard costume for Ghirahim, which would be an awesome reference. And there's Link's Awakening styled fairy clothing, lovely.

There also are new Level 4+ weapons to collect. I wonder, how they are called ingame, since the Level 4 weapons were basically just Level 3+ weapons. Is it "Magical Sword++", then? Good thing that I haven't invested in any Level 4 weapon yet and it seems like every character will get a Level 4+ weapon over the course of the three upcoming maps. I hope these weapons will always have eight slots, so you don't have to worry about slots anymore and can focus on ranks and stars, but that's probably not happening. Still, they have to be better in some way, because they can't increase the attack strength without making the Legendary skill (which gives a fixed base value) obsolete. They seem to add a second element to the weapon type, though, which is interesting and can probably be a huge advantage. In some cases it should be obvious, e.g. Agitha's parasol will probably be a Light Lightning type weapon. Or Twili Midna's Mirror will be a Light Darkness weapon. But there are other cases, which shouldn't be obvious at all...

Getting stronger weapons to power up the characters further would be more than enough for my taste, but Koei Tecmo just had to do a level cap increase again... Like the tedious Challenge Mode this should have stayed as a Wii U exclusive feature. I only got two characters to Level 99 so far (Cia and Link) and leveling overall feels a lot slower in this version, which was fine, because they rebalanced everything so nicely that you can play through the entire Adventure Mode without ever grinding. It's all pretty well done so far and I seriously hope that the Koholint Map is not going to be the new Twilight Map, where there's an awful difficulty spike that kills all fun in the game and turns it into Hyrule Grinders 2.0.

Due to the E3 I didn't have much time to make progress in Hyrule Warriors: Legends, so I still haven't started the Termina Map yet. I only did some clean-up in all other areas, like collecting all hearts on the Adventure and Master Quest Maps, as well all Hard Skulltulas in Legend Mode. In the Boss Rush mission on the Rewards Map I already had the feeling that I'm totally underleveled with Level 99, because a single Red Beam of Doom from Ganon can cost you the A rank, so I already suspected a Level cap increase at this point. I just hope that they won't make it necessary to go beyond Level 99 to play the Koholint Map. There are just way too many characters now to level them all up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tri Force Heroes x Breath of the Wild DLC?

Maybe Nintendo has given up on Tri Force Heroes, but I haven't and I'm still giving potential DLC some thoughts. If you didn't know this already, data miners had found out about six DLC costumes and two additional DLC areas after the game's release, as documented on The Cutting Room Floor. We got one of the areas and two of the costumes with the first update, but we never saw the rest.

Originally I thought that the rest of the DLC might be some 30th Anniversary celebratory content, which might have gotten cancelled together with any other 30th Anniversary plans, when they delayed Breath of the Wild. But there's another possibility. What if they have planned to add some promotional content for Breath of the Wild?

  • Outfits based on Link's gear in the game.
  • A Sheikah Shrine area.
  • Additional Lucky Lobby Ball Song with the game's theme.

They could dive a little bit in the technology stuff here already, where Sheikah Shrine trials would fit the level based structure of Tri Force Heroes quite well. Instead of the typical Triforce portal at the end of each floor, they could have the three Links gather around a Sheikah Eye. This would be more puzzle based, after the Den of Trials was entirely combat-based. But one of the Guardians could even become the boss of the area.

The new outfits could feature Link's blue tunic from the game and maybe also some other gear from the game, like the Chain Mail. Or there could be outfits based on new enemies, like some Bokoblin outfit. But one or two outfits from the game probably would be enough, because there are still lots of potential outfits based on classic Zelda left, e.g. the Fairy Costume. This could also be mixed, for example having a costume based on the Old Man, who's both from classic Zelda games, as well as Breath of the Wild. Or as a reward for the Sheikah trial you could get a Sheik costume.

Now, for example the blue Breath of the Wild tunic could upgrade the Bow with Fire Arrows or some new arrow type. Fire Arrows certainly would be helpful throughout the game without completely breaking it.

If such a DLC really will happen, it does make sense that they haven't released it yet, because they have to show us more of the new game first, before such a content pack could be appreciated. I still could see something like a Zelda Direct happening later this year, where they talk more about Breath of the Wild, but also show us upcoming DLCs for both Tri Force Heroes and Hyrule Warriors: Legends (the latter could also get some Breath of the Wild costume for Link).

Of course it's more likely that I'm beating a dead horse here and Tri Force Heroes is simply done. But I'm just entertaining thoughts.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Breath of the Wild: Timeline Merge Theory

Timeline theories are back! For the next months Zelda fans all over the world will quarrel about the timeline placement of Breath of the Wild and what the game possibly could do to the timeline.

And Nintendo already did a good job of confusing the fans again, because the clues are all over the timeline. A hero in stasis for 100 years, Koroks and talk of an "ancient sea", the Sheikah, bridge structures akin to Twilight Princess, ruins from Ocarina of Time and scenery from the classic Zelda games. Anything after Ocarina of Time could be possible! This blog already gave an overview of timeline theories right after the first E3 presentations, but let us deepen our thoughts here.

The arguably biggest Zelda games after the original The Legend of Zelda on the NES have been A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. And all of these games represent a strong pillar inside the timelines. Skyward Sword got to be the first game, a story about how the cycle of good and evil in Hyrule began. Ocarina of Time was not only one of the most revolutionary games of all times, it also is the center point for the timeline split, where the stories of Zelda divide into three branches, where the other big games unfold...

Now, some theories put Breath of the Wild between Ocarina of Time and one of the pillars of the three branches: A Link to the Past, The Wind Waker or Twilight Princess, even theorizing that the hero in stasis might be the legendary Hero of Time. However, this would put the new game in the shadow of the old ones. Especially Ocarina of Time has been overshadowing the series ever since and with Breath of the Wild you want something monumental and new, something that leads into a new era of Zelda, away from the conventions of Ocarina of Time that accompanied us for nearly two decades. If instead it just does a transition from one known Zelda game to the other, this new step for Zelda will feel quite meaningless, because storywise it would just end in the usual status quo of the series.

Others therefore have speculated that this game will create a new branch on its own, e.g. a timeline, where Ganondorf gets his wish at the end of The Wind Waker. But splitting the timeline further wouldn't only make it more complicated, it would also destroy the current pattern of the timeline.

What pattern? The way the timeline got divided into three branches follows the symbolism of Triforce. It's in Ocarina of Time, where the Triforce gets split into three pieces for the first time and it's also in Ocarina of Time, where the timeline gets split into three pieces and from where further stories unfold. Each branch of the timeline even could possibly represent a Piece of Triforce with its stories and in meaning.

  • The Adult Timeline represents the Triforce of Wisdom, since Zelda in the form of Tetra and that of a ghost is more active than usual, while both Ganon and the Hero have been absent for a very long time.
  • The Child Timeline represents the Triforce of Courage with Link's solo adventure into the scary and twisted world of Termina, as well as the overall dark tone of the following games in the Era of Twilight and Shadows (where both Ganon and Zelda like to take a backseat).
  • The Downfall Timeline represents the Triforce of Power with Ganon's rise to power and an overall big focus on the villain of the series. It's also the branch, where you directly take the Triforce of Power from Ganon in the first game.

A different interpretation of this might lie in the way the timeline got split: Ganondorf defeating Link represents Power, Link triumphing represents Courage and Zelda preventing it all from happening represents Wisdom. In that case the Child Timeline would follow Wisdom and the Adult Timeline follow Courage. It's a different, but the main idea is the same: the timeline split symbolizes the split of the Triforce one way or another.

Of course this is just a hypothesis and not confirmed, but it should be clear that Nintendo introduced a third branch to the timeline for reasons of aesthetics and meaning. And for the placement of a new Zelda game inside the timeline this has become as important as ingame facts. Zelda games that were released on the same system and that share the same visuals usually end up sharing a spot on the timeline as well, much like Tri Force Heroes became a sequel to A Link Between Worlds, even though the new multiplayer game could have easily fit somewhere else.

And with Breath of the Wild they want to open new doors. If this game is a success, they should immediately want to work on a NX sequel, instead of spending five years on the next iteration. Breath of the Wild opens a new era, where Sheikah technology is a thing and where we have the largest Hyrule that we've ever seen. New games in the new formula should follow Breath of the Wild in the timeline. And this is why Breath of the Wild is best placed at the end, where it has room to breath and to create something new, far away from the shadows of the previous 3D games.

The most promising point probably would be after the NES Classics in the Downfall Timeline. Zelda II - The Adventure of Link already introduced a massive Hyrule and we never have returned there ever since, while the new game really wants to return to the roots. Breath of the Wild even uses the artworks of the classic Zelda games as a big source of inspiration, bringing both the original view of Hyrule and the traditional resting place of the Master Sword to life. And it's also the timeline, where Ganon constantly has been a large threat and the theme of resurrection has been central. It's even entirely possible that the Temple of Time survived somewhere in Hyrule over the span of the Downfall Timeline, since we never really see all of Hyrule in one game.

But also the Adult Timeline looks like an interesting candidate, where it's possible that the Koroks have succeeded in their mission and new lands were created. Some even speculate that the Old Man from the demo is the King of Hyrule, maybe even Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, who somehow survived. It's possible that the new Hyrule from Spirit Tracks and the new lands together formed a much larger, newer Hyrule. Otherwise this timeline looks more like a dead end, where you either need another game world covered in rails or where you have to explain, why the rails have vanished.

The Child Timeline doesn't look as promising as the other two, primarily because we've already seen the Temple of Time completely ruined and overgrown by the Sacred Grove in Twilight Princess. Also, Ganon got sealed within the Four Sword at the current end of this timeline, which feels like another dead end. It was probably supposed to lead the way to another Four Swords game, but this never happened and with Tri Force Heroes they seemingly abandoned the Four Swords idea for multiplayer. The bridge structures similar to the Great Bridge of Hylia and Bridge of Eldin could have existed in other timelines as well, e.g. there's this huge bridge in Zelda II over a part of the ocean. And while Wolf Link makes a beautiful cameo here, it's probably not considered as canon.

There is, however, something else to consider: the stories of the Zelda games are usually written around the gameplay ideas. A Hyrule covered in rails was the product of a game, where Link was supposed to travel by train. The Twilight Realm and Midna exist, because they wanted Link to transform into a wolf. While the new main "hook" of Breath of the Wild seems to be the Sheikah technology, it's not as simple with this game as having one new gimmick... This goes back to some rumors that Hyrule Blog shared last year about this being the Ultimate Zelda Game in development, where they looked at all Zelda games to bring back all the best gameplay features, as well include many references to the different games.

And from what we've seen, these rumors may come true. We saw the Koroks from the Wind Waker and it was even hinted that Breath of the Wild will have its own ocean segment. We get the snowboarding, Bomb Arrows and Wolf Link from Twilight Princess. We have the Adventure Pouch, Stamina Meter and treasure collecting from Skyward Sword. We even can spot some island flying in the sky in the distance. We have the ruined Temple of Time and Hyrule Castle (Town) from Ocarina of Time. We have the classic Old Man, who may as well be some King of Hyrule. We have the Master Sword pedestal from A Link to the Past. And we have the classic view on Hyrule from The Legend of Zelda.

That's not even all and there's probably much more. Maybe there's a section in the game world, where you still have rails and can ride the infamous Spirit Train. Maybe there are towns named after the sages, much like in The Adventure of Link. Maybe we get to see Gorons, Zora, Rito, Mogma and all the races. Maybe it's all coming together in one gigantic Zelda experience.

And if this is their approach to Breath of the Wild, the timeline placement needs to be equally meaningful. A story, where everything is coming together. A story, where the timelines finally get merged again.

In terms of symbolism this would be perfect. With Ocarina of Time the timeline split into three fragments, much like Triforce. And with Breath of the Wild these fragments will finally be reunited, forming one giant Hyrule spanning all the Hyrules from past games.

How would this be realized? A clue could be hidden within the game's villain, "Calamity Ganon". That's not just the Ganon as we knew him, it's something new, something that can take many forms...

Ganon is the reincarnation of Demise and someone, who gets resurrected multiple times throughout the ages. It's possible that he became aware of his other reincarnations in other universes and that he somehow got his hands on the Triforce again, where he made the wish that he not only wanted to rule over all Hyrule, but also wanted to become the ultimate version of himself.

These wishes can have side effects, as we know from the backstory of A Link to the Past, where Ganon wished to rule over Hyrule and the Sacred Realm turned into a dark version of Hyrule instead. This time it could have had the side effect that not only the Ganon of all times, but also the different versions of Hyrule got merged into one, forming both "Calamity Ganon" and the largest Hyrule that we have ever seen, filled with elements from all the different games...

A simpler approach would be, where he found out about other Hyrules in parallel worlds and wished to reign over them all, which then caused the merge of both Hyrule and Ganon. In any case, Calamity Ganon tried to rule over the newly formed Hyrule with the Triforce, but ultimately got sealed by the Sheikah and their technology (which may have been influenced by the technology of the Thunder Dragon) inside Hyrule Castle, together with the Triforce...

There's an interesting observation from, where the Triforce symbol is nowhere to be found within the demo, except on the ruins of past structures, like the Temple of Time. Otherwise it's only symbols of the Goddess Hylia without the Triforce between the wings and the symbol of the Sheikah. And this may add up, if we entered a new era, where the three Goddesses of the Triforce are no longer viewed as a symbol of religion, after they allowed Ganon's rise to power and the creation of this new Hyrule. The only hope now lies within the Goddess Hylia and the legendary Hero.

There are other possible scenarios, of course. With Hylia being so prominent, she could even be the one responsible for creating this new Hyrule. It's possible that she is the Goddess of Time from Majora's Mask and has power over time. Maybe the unified timelines is something that made Hyrule prosper at first, even led to the creation of the Sheikah technology. The creation of Calamity Ganon could have been an unforeseen side effect.

Well, these are just examples of how things could play out, but the idea remains the same: with Breath of the Wild the Zelda series enters a new era with a massive game, where everything is coming together. And such a game shouldn't just be another chapter somewhere on the timeline, it should open a new chapter for Zelda, where the timelines are coming back together as well.

The old timelines wouldn't go away and if Nintendo wants to do another traditional Zelda, for example a follow-up to Four Swords Adventures, that's still possible. The timeline merge would create an entirely new timeline without further splitting the existing one. It would also create a new universe for Zelda, where they are free of all the previous boundaries. Where everything is coming together.

Breath of the Wild: Let's Have Gravity Arrows!

Probably one of my favorite games of all time is Trine 2 and it shares quite some things in common with the new Zelda game, Breath of the Wild. There is a big focus on physics puzzles in the game and usually there are multiple solutions for the same puzzle. Depending on what skills you have unlocked, there are easier ways and harder ways. And the way I understood it with Breath of the Wild, Nintendo wants to try a very similar approach, where you can go for the Sheikah Slate Runes or try to use things from the environment to do whatever you want to do.

Trine also took quite some things from the Zelda series and one of my favorite features are easily the different arrow types: Fire Arrows, Ice Arrows and especially the powerful Bomb Arrows. But there's also one type that hasn't been seen in Zelda yet: Gravity Arrows!

Wherever they hit, they will leave a gravity field and everything inside moves in slow motion. You can use it to slow down enemies and to place boxes midair, which will only sink slowly inside the field, in which you can jump much further due to the reduced gravity.

(image sourge: Months Behind Reviews)

There are so many possibilities with it, it's easily one of the most fun features in the game. And that's something I would like to see in Breath of the Wild as well, at least for the later game. Imagine you have a metal plank, but it's too short for the gap. In that case you would place the gravity field on one end, place the plank inside the gravity field and then quickly walk across it.

Such a gravity manipulating feature would probably be realized by the Sheikah Runes, but there seem to be weapon alternatives to some of the runes already, e.g. Ice Arrows and the Cryo Rune or Bomb Arrows and the Bomb Rune, so an arrow that places a gravity field in a larger distance might also become a thing.

Overall the Bow seems to be one of three action item pillars in the game (the others being melee weapons and the Sheikah Runes) and I suspect that there will be quite some different arrow types in the game and not just the ones that we already know. There could be Grapple Arrows for example that attach a rope somewhere. Or Sound Arrows that lure and distract enemies (kind of like a replacement for the Scent Seeds). Poison Arrows to damage your enemies over time. Or actual Light Arrows that brightly illuminate the area.

In the past (around the N64 era) I also imagined Darkness Arrows, which would create a black hole that sucks in enemies and objects in the proximity. And much like having an axe or spear this old wish of mine may come true as well. You could gather enemies in one spot and then finish them off with a Bomb Arrow. Yes, that's something you can do in other games, like Overwatch, but that doesn't seem like a knock-out criterion anymore.

There are quite some possibilities with the bow here, whether it's new ideas or ideas from other games, and Link may as well become the most versatile archer in video game history.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Link's Wild Rupeeland

This post will anger some fans and amuse others. But during the presentations of Breath of the Wild I kept wondering, why the small "Get Item" sound, whenever you pick something up from the ground, felt so strangely familiar. I kept thinking about other games that I played with lots of loot and then it struck me: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland! In this game you freshly pick up tons of junk and every time it makes this two-note sound effect, which is very similar to the one in Breath of the Wild, only higher pitched. And there are quite some similarities between the two games.

The loot is just one example. You collect food, minerals and other things from the environment, as well as body parts and weapons from enemies. There are over 140 different items in the game to collect...

Some items act as keys for dungeons or are wanted by certain people, but the majority you either use for cooking or to sell them, very similar to Breath of the Wild. In Link's new game it seems like you won't find Rupees in the wilderness, but you can sell treasures to get Hyrule's currency. So, this part has seemingly become a little bit more realistic, much as the health situation.

Hopefully every consumable item is replenishable in some way. You should be able to buy all weapons and ammunition or otherwise you might run out of Fire Rods during the course of the game, which wouldn't be much fun. Like in Skyward Sword every treasure item should be farmable in some way, including the minerals. In Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland certain resources like plants, mushrooms and vegetables regrew after a while and I suppose it will be similar in Breath of the Wild.

And for example the Talus guy gave you minerals after you defeated him, where it would be possible that he respawns after a while. At first you will find plenty of minerals within the environment, but that's a finite resource, where some other way of getting would be required later in the game, if you still need more.

Anyway, besides the loot, another thing that reminded me of Rupeeland was the fact that you glide down to new areas. In Rupeeland you use Tingle's balloon from a high tower to reach new areas as well. The higher the tower gets, the further you can go on the overworld.

And there's no music on the overworld, it's all just ambient sounds, where the game has a very nice atmosphere. I suppose, this also reminded me of the game, when I saw Breath of the Wild this week. There's still music Rupeeland, where one of the most memorable and atmospheric tracks is the Deku Temple music. But you also have music inside the town or when you fight enemies.

Now, this made me want to replay Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland and I might do that later this year, as part of my 30th Anniversary Replay Tour.

Good Bye, 30th Anniversary

(image by Rasheed)

This was to be expected after the announcement that Breath of the Wild wouldn't be released before March 2017, but now that the E3 is over, we can safely assume that Nintendo doesn't have any plans for the 30th Anniversary of Zelda.

We basically got our unofficial anniversary celebration in March, where Nintendo released many new Zelda things right after the anniversary date with Twilight Princess HD, the Wolf Link amiibo, the Twilight Princess Picross and Hyrule Warriors: Legends. And especially the latter will keep me entertained throughout the entire year with all its DLC.

But with the delay of Breath of the Wild, any other anniversary plans probably got cancelled. Anniversaries are always marketing moves and with the new big game from the table it probably didn't make sense for Nintendo to celebrate. Instead they will focus on Pokémon, which is celebrating 20 years and is going to see new big releases this year with Sun and Moon.

If Nintendo really did anything for 30th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, I would have expected two things mainly: the announcement of a Zelda Anime movie and more DLC for Tri Force Heroes.

Kimishima already implicated that something like a Zelda Movie will be possible for the future and I suppose that we're going to see first announcements after the release of Breath of the Wild. Some fans might not be too happy about the focus on exploration, instead on cutscenes and story, and a Zelda Movie could just give them what they want, while Zelda returns to being a real game. And some anime in the artstyle of the new game really could be lovely.

About Tri Force Heroes, I already said my piece two months ago: the game is dead and the only hope would have been the release of more content. Data miners found place holders for four more costumes and one more area, but sadly we never got those. And it might be possible that Nintendo planned some special anniversary content, similar to the Four Swords: Anniversary Edition, but they cancelled it with the delay of Breath of the Wild. GREZZO is now working on a new game, so Tri Force Heroes is probably done for good. Too bad, some additional content would have been great and I was hoping that they would improve some parts of the game, especially the singleplayer... But that's probably not going to happen. At least not until they remake this game in ten years.

I'm also not expecting anything about the 30th Anniversary of Metroid. Federation Force will be released right after the anniversary, which is on August 6th, but they'll probably just release this game quietly, instead of angering the fans any further. I don't think, it was even showcased at E3, now was it...?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Classic Zelda Artworks Coming to Life

The one thing that impressed me certainly the most about Nintendo's E3 presentation of Breath of the Wild was the fact that they finally brought the infamous NES Zelda artwork to life, where Link stands on a cliff and looks at the vastnesses of Hyrule:

I always was in love with this artwork and what it stood for, as you might see from the background image of this site, and already when Skyward Sword got showcased at E3 2010, I had hopes that the game would deliver me this experience, but it didn't. Skyward Sword had some interesting and beautiful playgrounds, but it all was very restricted and confined.

With Breath of the Wild I might finally get the kind of Zelda experience that I always wanted. If you see something on the horizon, you can just go there. Hyrule is fully yours to explore and that feels exciting.

Another vision that absolutely came to life in the trailer was the classic resting place of the Master Sword from A Link to the Past:

Even the light falls in the same angle!

And I wonder, if these aren't the only artworks that Nintendo wanted to realize ingame. For example there is one classic artwork, where Link fights some giant one-eyed worm (probably Lanmola) on the overworld:

That is a stretch, but it's somewhat similar to the Guardians and I like how Aonuma pictured the original Octoroks as giant creatures (funny enough, that's exactly how the Octoroks were portrayed in the Animated Series, which also predated fairy companions, horses and shield surfing). And his vision of the giant Octoroks now lead to the Octobots, which certainly feel like a scary thing.

There's also this:

The way Link has all equipped gear on him including the Sheikah Slate, his current melee weapon, bow and shield, is very reminiscent of this old NES artwork, where he carries around nearly all ingame items. Of course he has still tons of junk in his Adventure Pouch, which you can't see on him, and he certainly won't be carrying a raft on his back, but they probably were inspired by the idea of Link carrying his current gear around.

And one artwork that I really would love to see come to life ingame is this old piece, where Link uses the Triforce against Ganon at Death Mountain:

A similar scene against Calamity Ganon would be epic.

Breath of the Wild: No GamePad Dual Screen Usage

This has to be the boldest statement from Aonuma about Breath of the Wild. They rejected the full use of the Wii U GamePad, because it disrupts the gameplay, if you have to look down on the screen?

That's from the same man, who advertised the comfortable inventory management and map browsing of The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD just a few months ago...! Why should it be any different for Breath of the Wild now? Especially with its extensive Adventure Pouch I would prefer the use of the touchscreen. And the whole Sheikah Slate feels like it was developed around the Wii U GamePad to begin with.

Where did the interface from 2014 go? Who suddenly decided that it's the best to play this game without the dual screen usage? If that "distraction" really was a problem, they should have made it optional, but not remove it entirely. You can play the game with a Pro Controller, you can play it entirely on the GamePad, but you also should have the dual screen comforts of the previous Wii U Zelda games as an option...

This excuse is nonsensical and I feel like there's another reason for this decision: the NX version. The NX probably won't feature a similar touchscreen interface anymore and they didn't want the Wii U version to be superior in any way, which is why they removed all touchscreen interface elements from the Wii U version of the game.

I bet, if the NX hadn't any gyro sensor support, they would force you to use the analog stick for aiming again, because it suddenly is more "precise" and "less disruptive". Hypocrites. This needs some serious backlash.

Breath of the Wild: No Female Link?

In an interview with GameSpot, Eiji Aonuma seemingly denied that there's going to be a female Link and he used a rather fishy reason for this. Instead of entertaining the possibility of choosing the gender for Link, they thought about having Zelda playable, much like in the CD-i games, as a "simpler" solution. But then you would have the same issue as in the Animated Series, where you have to ask, what Link is really good for, if Zelda's doing all the work...

And with this very silly reasoning he's supposedly denying the rumors from April, by Emily Rogers. The same rumors stated that the game will be released simultaneously for both Wii U and NX and that the game will have voice acting. And both of this came true.

But I still think that a female Link option might be a possibility here. It's just something that Nintendo didn't want to reveal yet. And when there are embargoes in place, Aonuma won't be able to confirm anything at all. He kept "denying" the development of Majora's Mask 3D for years and it's the same situation. He gets pushed into a corner with a question like this, he can't just say "no", he can't also confirm it and saying "no comment" would be very suspicious. So, he finds a distraction to talk about, which is a very common interview technique. He talks about a playable Princess Zelda instead and anything else gets falsely interpreted by the "journalists".

Now, Link in the game seems to have many customization options. You can change his hair style, you can change all his gear including a variety of clothing. Never before a Zelda game has been closer to a RPG and a gender option for Link would simply be the next step. And if girls get to have fun with playing Link only in his underpants, it's only fair if boys can chose to play with this:

Or as this:

Just picture Samus more as a Linkle type, but this Zero Suit two-piece sportswear would match male Link's Sheikah label underwear pretty nicely.

And I would love that. If I have to look at the same butt for the duration of a long game like this, it might as well be one that I like. In general I prefer playing as female characters and the only reason I would ever play some MMORPG like Tera Online is because I could built myself some eye candy.

(If Nintendo wants to do some more cash grab, they could even make it so that the Zero Suit Samus amiibo makes look female Link really like Samus. But I should stop giving them amiibo ideas...)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Sound of the Wild

Or lack thereof.

I keep listening to the Breath of the Wild trailer music in a loop and it's absolutely beautiful, especially the part after the 2 minute mark. Now, this kind of makes it disappointing that we're not going to hear much of it during the gameplay.

I do like that they set their focus on ambience. One of the biggest strengths of the Nintendo 64 Zelda games and quite some games from that era (e.g. Unreal) was the amazing use of sound, which basically compensated the early graphics. It wasn't just the music, it was all the ambient sounds. Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask at night have a great atmosphere, which still gives me goosebumps today. But as graphics evolved, the audible atmosphere shrank. Breath of the Wild isn't there yet, though it's also not bad.

I hope that the lack of music in Breath of the Wild will make them focus on the audible atmosphere much more than usual, it's basically always night in this game. The piano pieces here and there are nice, but it's not much. However, hearing the same music in a loop for hours can also be annoying. I remember, how my neighbor was irritated, when I played Skyward Sword all day long at its release, because he kept hearing the same music again and again. Not that I care, but there's a point to this: the areas are much, much larger, so the same area music would get repeated longer than usual, which is why Nintendo probably wanted to do something different on the music department.

I just hope that it will bring us more of the beautiful music from the trailer. By the way, some of the tunes kind of remind me of the Song of Storms, in the last segment. This could be intentional together with the imagery, where the ground (and the Guardians) get struck by lightning.

Grezzo's New Game: Ever Oasis

Tri Force Heroes is just half a year old and GREZZO is already showcasing their next game, where they mix Zelda-esque Action RPG gameplay with their StreetPass Garden game: Ever Oasis. Watch the trailer here.

GREZZO has been mostly making Zelda stuff in the last five years: Ocarina of Time 3D, Four Swords Anniversary Edition, Majora's Mask 3D and Tri Force Heroes. And while I would have preferred, if they kept making DLC for the latter, Ever Oasis certainly looks charming. And the dungeon gameplay seems quite reminiscent of Zelda, for example the rolling doors reminded of Twilight Princess and the scorpion boss of Skyward Sword. Or the puzzle design seems to have some Zelda and Metroid ideas in them. (Morphball, anyone?)

During the gameplay I kept thinking that this may as well could have been a Zelda spin-off, where the little guy could be a representative of the long forgotten Zuna tribe and where you get to play as different races from the Zelda series, e.g. a Goron, a Tokay or a Liandri Mining Robot, but it's probably best kept as its own new IP. However, like Dillon's Rolling Western these kind of small new IPs on the 3DS tend to get overlooked easily. I might give it a chance, though.

Metroid Wild

I keep confusing the title of the new Zelda game and I often write "Breath of the World" or "Breath of the Wind", one time even "Breath of Fire". And I'm not the only one with that problem... To avoid this malapropism I call the game "Metroid Wild" in my head instead, because that has a nice ring to it and it's not that far fetched.

I was actually quite disappointed, when we learned that the Wii U wouldn't get a Metroid Prime 4 or even a new Metroid at all. But as I already said in a previous post, Breath of the Wind, errrhh Wild... is basically now Science Fantasy and rents a couple of ideas from the Metroid series.

I'm getting a lot of Metroid vibes from all Sheikah technologies. You enter the Sheikah shrines via an elevator, very similar to the ones in Metroid. The Sheikah Slate lets you scan the environment and acquiring a new Rune actually plays the Zelda "Get Item" jingle in a similar sound style as in the Metroid Prime series. They even put a Mini Thardus in there...

And this doesn't feel wrong to me. Metroid and The Legend of Zelda always shared many similarities in gameplay. They are both Action Adventures with an open world and item based progression, but one was Fantasy and the other Science Fiction. Items like Morphball Bombs, Ice Beam, Grapple Beam and Varia Suit turned out to be technological counterparts of various items from Zelda... Since I love Zelda and Science Fiction, I started to play all the Metroid games in 2008 and even call myself "TourianTourist", despite being primarily a Zelda fan.

Now, Metroid had its peak with the Metroid Prime Trilogy and the franchise doesn't seem to go anywhere right now. While I still would love to see a new Metroid game at some point (especially a side scrolling Metroid on the 3DS would have been awesome), I'm really digging the Science Fantasy direction for Zelda and welcome this new "Metroid Wild" game.

(If the game really had the possibility to play as a female Link, it would be cool, if you could make her look like Samus. You can chose different hairstyles for Link, from what I've heard.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Breath of the Wild: Fire Rod Havoc

Forget those Treehouse livestreams. All the silly talking and trying to be funny don't do the game justice and you should just let the game speak for itself. There are some direct feed gameplay videos over at GameXplain and Polygon, where I would suggest watching those instead. No commentary, no fuzz, just the pure experience.

Halfway through the Polygon video there is even a neat discovery: the Fire Rod is actually one of the many disposable melee weapons. It's not only the first time that we get to use this item in a 3D Zelda game, it also looks pretty crazy, shooting large fire balls that jump through the area, setting everything on fire.

The Fire and Ice Arrows also look and SOUND very awesome. I love this feeling of powerful weaponry and combined with the slow motion effect combat in this game could become really fun. I'm only disappointed that the Ice Arrows don't seem to freeze water, but maybe that's because the water wasn't deep enough. I know that there's already the Cryo Rune to create ice blocks, but there should be alternative ways for everything.

Seemingly there is no Magic Meter in this game (technology is the new magic) and classic magic items now have turned into resources. You collect Fire and Ice Arrows, Korok Leaves and Fire Rods, but they will get used up eventually. If you're out of stuff, you always will have the Sheikah Slate Runes to help you out, but the environment probably provides you with the necessary tools, whenever they might be useful, e.g. finding an axe in a house near a tree that wants to be a bridge over an abyss.

I would love to see the Whip and Ball+Chain return as additional melee weapons. Especially the Whip seems likely as an alternative way to get to places (Grappling Hook style) and as a melee weapon, but it rips after a while... Hammer and Claymore already can be spotted in the demo, so these type of melee weapons will also return. And if there's a Fire Rod, in the very least an Ice Rod should be there as well. Maybe even Water and Sand Rods as well. Give us all the things to play with!

Don't Starve, Link! - Zelda, the Open World Survival RPG

If you had shown me Breath of the Wild 15 years ago, I would have explored in excitement. This game really has many things that I always wanted from a Zelda game, especially after the Nintendo 64 games.

It starts with the massive open world for you to explore. That's how I always wanted Zelda to be. Not some restricted linear experience, where you follow a certain order of dungeons. But some amazing fantasy world with the notion "if you can see it, you can go there". With the freedom to explore as you like and experience our own adventure. With a story that doesn't get told by a sequence of cutscenes, but by exciting discoveries.

I especially like, how Aonuma said that you can go straight to the final boss. It's possible, but just very hard and probably insane. There are multiple ways to get to your goals, some of them are just somewhat easier. But this also enables an interesting level of personal challenge, where Zelda fans can go crazy with speed and minimal runs. You don't need the Hookshot to get across that gap. The Hookshot just makes it easier...

There are many different way to traverse the world and the demo focused on two of them: gliding and shield snow boarding. It's funny, how ten days ago I thought, how it would be awesome to do more with the shield, after Link used it for flame surfing in the Animated Series. Maybe we will also get to propel ourselves from bombs like he did in Episode 10... That would be so crazy and with the physics engine entirely possible. I didn't like the rafting, though. That looked really lame and I hope that the ocean part of the world will have a boat that works more like in The Wind Waker.

Another thing I always wanted in Zelda were more melee weapons and tools aside from sword and hammer. I always wanted an axe in Zelda to chop down tree or a spear for a melee fighting style with larger range. When Gomess dropped his scythe in the Stone Tower Temple I always wanted to pick it up and use it for myself. But the game wouldn't let me...

The Wind Waker partially then allowed you to use enemy weapons and I loved that feature. But sadly you couldn't keep the weapons in your inventory for later fun. In Breath of the Wild, you can. And I hope it doesn't stop with axes and pitchforks. If after all this time I finally get to swing a scythe as Link, I will be happy. And bring the Ball & Chain back, while you're at it, Nintendo. But since you can actually have a living Stalfos arm as a weapon, I'm positive that they went crazy with the possibilities.

The enemies overall seem very well done with lots of interesting interactions. It's on par and probably even better than what we got in The Wind Waker, which had the most interesting enemies so far in the series. And right now we have mostly only seen some Bokoblins, Stal-Bokoblins, Keese and Chuchus... There certainly will be more interesting stuff, like that Talus guy and the Guardians. And everything seems to drop something. Treasures, weapons, loot...

Now, all this weaponry and junk goes into the Adventure Pouch and seems to be disposable, much like the shields in Skyward Sword. Only the glider and probably the Master Sword seem to be fixed items, while the typical upgrades of your abilities are provided by the Sheikah Slate... And I'm very much intrigued by it. Having technology like this in Zelda feels surprisingly good. Since they slowly approached ideas like this in Skyward Sword with Fi, the Gate of Time and the Lanayru Mining Robots, it doesn't feel completely out of place. And the whole Sheikah technology looks really cool.

Overall it seems like Skyward Sword was in many ways a testing ground for this game. A way to try new things out and expand on them, if fans react positively. Technology, the Adventure Pouch, treasures and insects, the Stamina meter. All of this has been introduced in the last big Zelda game.

The Sheikah Slate itself seems like the Ocarina Prime. It's a multi functional item, but instead of just some songs for teleportation and making it rain, this allows for pretty much any virtual ability. Stuff like Bombs or the Magnetic Gloves got integrated into this system, while it also provides new amazing abilities like the Stasis Lock. How cool is that idea?!

Together with the notion that everything is somewhat optional, it reminds me of the skills in Trine, where you can beat the entire game(s) without unlocking any new skills, but they will make things significantly easier. And for every puzzle and every obstacle there are multiple ways to solve and overcome them. In Breath of the World you may just quickly built a bridge with the right abilities or you have to spent cooking some stamina food, so you can climb to your goal...

The whole looting and cooking also reminded me of Don't Starve, which is a very stylish topdown survival game in a randomized open world. But there you also collect tons of junk from the environment, which you can throw into a crock pot to cook something up that ensures your survival. Or chop down trees and built a fire. Of course in Breath of the Wild this all looks more amazing, but I'm sure that there are other games that have done something similar already.

And this is the big but... there doesn't seem to be anything revolutionary here. It introduces many new elements to the Zelda series and combines them with many good ideas from previous Zelda games, but it's all something that you have seen in some other game before.

You have the junk collecting and cooking from Don't Starve, you get the dog from Fallout, the ability sets and physic puzzles from Trine, the Bullet Time from Max Payne, the radio towers from Far Cry, the extreme winter sports of Steep and the test chambers from Portal as mini dungeons.

The latter essentially confirms my worries about repetitive elements inside an open world. This whole technology stuff makes it look interesting, but with the six shrines that they have shown yesterday I already got bored by those Sheikah Monks... And I have to do this over a hundred times?! It all is a little bit too similar and I wonder, how many Bokoblin camps you can raid, before it gets boring. It certainly didn't feel rewarding with the appearing treasure chests that only gave you arrows most of the time. That's really lame and I hope that there will be some valuable collectible items all over the world, much like the Spirit Gems. At least the Sheikah shrines seem to be really worth the trouble with their new Sheikah Slate abilities, though not all of them seem to have one.

But my hopes with this game really were that Nintendo would find a way to revolutionize the open world genre. After all The Legend of Zelda was one of the first true open world games and Ocarina of Time was a true milestone for 3D gaming. Now it seems like they are just trying to catch up with what the rest of the industry has done over the last ten years. The compilation of all of these things will certainly offer an amazing product, but I was hoping for something more.

Luckily, I haven't really played any of the modern open world games yet, besides Don't Starve and Minecraft, which are very different with their randomized worlds. I also bought Far Cry 3 and Skyrim two years ago on Steam, but I didn't play them yet. And it's probably a good thing that Breath of the Wild will be my first game with a similar open world, so this kind of gameplay will feel fresh enough.

But Nintendo only showed us a small portion of them. According to them the Plateau is less than 2% of the entire experience. There will be villages, very different landscapes and more. Everything that you can see on the horizon, you apparently can go to. But I try to keep my expectations at bay, because if the game really had something revolutionary to offer they would have shown it already at E3.

Breath of the Wild: Wolf Link and Guardian amiibo

Before I share my general impressions about the gameplay and game world of Breath of Wild, I want to focus on another detail: the amiibo usage. Early on I have been know for being opposed to the whole amiibo idea, even calling them a scam, as long as they don't fulfill certain standards. amiibo should ideally bring the figurine to live ingame, instead of just unlocking some content. It should offer something fully optional, not taking away from those, who like to complete their games, but don't want to track down amiibo to do so. At the same time it also should give you a nice incentive to use the amiibo regularly. All of this together is hard to pull off and Nintendo miserably failed a couple of times with this, where I really got worried as a fan.

But not in Breath of the Wild. The Wolf Link idea is perfect. That's how you implement amiibo! If I didn't have the Wolf Link amiibo already, I would gladly buy one.

It's not just some physical DLC lock, you scan the wolf figurine and you get freaking Wolf Link in the game as a companion. That's so beautiful and it looks amazing, even though Fallout already did the dog thing. It's really nice to have this, but at the same time you won't miss anything crucial, if you don't have the amiibo. Well done!

I also like, how they incorporated the hearts from the Cave of Shadows into the thing. The better your record is, the longer Wolf Link will be able to stay at your side. I do have a 20 hearts record, but I wonder, if the floors and Hero Mode will make any difference. You can get 20 hearts on floors 6, 20 or 40. You can also play through the Cave of Shadows in Hero Mode or not (all other records are not saved on the amiibo and should be irrelevant). Maybe the wolf does the most damage, when you reach floor 40 in Hero Mode and only minimal damage at default...

Anyway, there also have been three more amiibo announced for the game. Archer Link, Horse Link and the Guardian. I'm only really interested in the Guardian one:

Those creatures are terrifying and it would be nice, if the amiibo somehow helps you against them. As some kind of cheat. It also could be a way to make the game harder like the Ganondorf amiibo in Twilight Princess HD. It could simply spawn one of these monsters right were you are, if you want some crazy challenge. That would be another good use of amiibo, where I wouldn't mind purchasing the figurine.

I suppose the Horse Link amiibo could summon a horse and the Archer Link amiibo gives you arrows - similar to the Link and Toon Link amiibo in Twilight Princess HD, or even a new bow, if you need one. I don't think that these two amiibo will be all that interesting, but let's see.