Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: 6th SpotPass Gift

Yesterday another SpotPass Gift for Hyrule Warriors: Legends arrived on the Nintendo 3DS with Rupees and food:

  • 1,000,000 Rupees
  • 5x Golden Pumpkin Soup
  • 5x Golden Sacred Water
  • 5x Golden Mushroom Spores
  • 5x Golden Pumpkin

Thanks, Koei Tecmo! This is again a nice reminder that this game is still going, probably right in the middle between two DLC releases, where I'd expect the A Link Between Worlds Pack to hit late October / early November. I also would have expected the exclusive My Fairy costumes and Link's Classic costume to become available to everyone now, but we'll have to wait and see, how this will play out. It would be a shame, if you weren't able to get them at some point.

Anyway, besides some rounds of Super Smash Bros. 4 I almost exclusively played Hyrule Warriors: Legends this month. Right now I'm in the middle of a big grinding session, so I take, whatever I can get. One Million Rupees actually isn't that much late game, you can't even buy ten levels for a character above 99 with this, but I also wouldn't expect to receive more. And one of my goals is to create a fairy with all current available Rental Skills and the food will certainly help with that, even if also just a little bit.

Otherwise I've already completed all character badges a while ago and I'm focusing on leveling characters and farming best possible weapons + food for My Fairy, mostly on the new Grand Travels Map. This is going strong and I will share my successes and strategies before the A Link Between Worlds Pack arrives.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

My Super Smash Bros. 4 Wii U Stages

One of the first things that I did on this blog was sharing stages for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Let me return to this little tradition by presenting my first creations for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, even if it might be a little late to the party.

Sadly, the stage builder in the new game isn't as versatile as the one from Brawl. It lets you draw free shapes, which is great and offers many possibilities for the stage layout, but it doesn't have all the in-built elements anymore like falling blocks, conveyor belts, ice blocks or any of the structures. There are only magma layers, cannons, springs and moving platforms available for your creations, which feels somewhat limiting.

Nevertheless I wanted to give this a shot, where so far I made one stage for each "theme", but most of my stages are very simple, so don't expect anything crazy. You can currently find the stages on Miiverse and download them ingame or you can just try to rebuilt them, if they got removed.




Space Jump
  • Music: Multiplayer (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
  • Size: Medium
This is the very first stage that I made back in 2014, when the game was released. It is reminiscent of one of my stages that I made for Brawl ("Sanctuary", see here) and the idea is to fight in a shaft with a spring at the bottom, which can be a lot of fun. There are also cannons at the sides that shoot you back up on the pillars.




Beach Cave
  • Music: The Great Sea / Menu Select (Wind Waker)
  • Size: Large
This is another stage that I made back in 2014, where I just tried the free shape editor and ended up with something very crazy. Fighting inside the "cave" with the magma ceilings will potentially boost you up to very high percentages without falling to death. It's similar to the lower areas of the Hyrule Temple stage, just much more extreme. Combine this with the relaxed Wind Waker theme in the background and you're in for some long lasting "brain dead" fun.




Sky Field
  • Music: Ballad of the Goddess
  • Size: Medium
This is just a very simple Zelda themed stage that I made for playing with small player counts. The only special thing here are the dropthrough platforms below the stage. Otherwise it was built with Bayonetta's angled neutral Special in mind, but don't tell this my sparring partners.




Tetris Terror
  • Music: Tetris Type A
  • Size: Medium
Tetris themed stages used to be my favorites in Brawl and naturally I had to make at least one in Super Smash Bros. 4 as well. There is nothing special or crazy about this stage, it's just a fighting ground made out of the seven Tetrinos. The focus was more on the playability this time, where the fights tend to concentrate on the inner area, because it's not so easy to kick you out of there.

Originally there were gaps between all the blocks, but I couldn't figure, how to make the inner ledges grabable and it turned out to be a frustrating death trap. It seems like the game decides for itself, where to give this option or not, which might be another limitation of the editor. So, in the end I just decided to move the lower blocks together.




Lava Pit
  • Music: Brinstar Depths
  • Size: Large
This is a large platform, which moves up and down, above a U-shaped lava abyss. It's a very simple idea, which turned out to be surprisingly fun.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Super Smash Bros. for NX?


Earlier this year there have been rumors about Super Smash Bros. as a launch title for Nintendo's next console, the NX. I've recently played a little more of the current Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and put some thoughts into the potential follow-up.

Naturally it would just be an enhanced port of Smash 4, since it's way too early for a new game and Sakurai stated multiple times that he's not interested in making a new Smash Bros. ever or at least any time soon. An enhanced port here is the solution, which does fit the current set of titles quite well. If there's a Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and one for Wii U, why not also have a "Super Smash Bros for. NX"?

And Nintendo really likes to port successful Wii U games at the moment, so no one should be surprised about such an announcement. That being said, the NX version would most likely turn out to be the "ultimate version" of the game with the following features:

  • Enhanced graphics.
  • All DLC included.
  • All Stages from both the Wii U and the 3DS version.
  • A new mode replacing the Smash Run & Tour modes, something more similar to the Subspace Emissary.
  • Custom moves for the current DLC characters.
  • Expanded Stage Editor.

That would solve nearly all problems that I have with the game right now. It all feels like a half-hearted effort, mostly because they had to develop two versions at the same time, where the resources pretty much were divided into half. It would be so much more satisfying, if you had a version with all the stages.

I'm also not a fan of the current DLC offers, because they are ridiculously overpriced. Buying all DLC fighters and stages costs more than the actual game and doesn't even add a quarter of additional content. Compare this to the excellent DLC offerings of Mario Kart 8 or Hyrule Warriors: Legends, where you really get lots of stuff for a fair price.

So far I only bought Bayonetta, because I really like her character, and the two Zelda stages, because I really like Zelda. With that I already paid 12€, which is as much as the entire Mario Kart 8 DLC, which added 16 new racing tracks and more.

The Zelda stages aren't even new content, it's recycled content from the earlier Smash Bros. games. It's the same with some DLC characters like Lucas. So, you have to pay good money to get something back that you've probably already paid for years ago.

And as much as I like the Pirate Ship stage, they haven't even put any effort into it. It looks exactly like in Brawl. Why not at least add some bloom to make it look like in The Wind Waker HD? It's one of the prettiest Wii U games after all. At least the Omega variant of the stage offers something new, where they used one of the lookout towers:


That's a nice feature, but it doesn't really justify the price...

I probably won't buy any additional DLC, but I'll just wait for the likely NX port. Similar to Hyrule Warriors: Legends it probably comes with all the original DLC included, so you can save the money to buy the new version of the game later.

It also wouldn't be surprising, if there were few exclusive character additions, e.g. Wolf and someone new. In the very least the DLC fighters could also get customizable moves, even though I'm not really using this feature anyway.

But one feature that I used a lot in Brawl was the Stage Editor, which significantly got toned down in the Wii U version. You draw free shapes now, but it misses lots of the interesting elements like conveyor belts or ladders. Some more backgrounds, textures and variety would be nice as well. Why not let us use (some of) the backgrounds from all the stages in the game?

As much as I hate, how Nintendo treats the Wii U library at the moment, in case of Smash 4 it could turn out to be a really good version of the game worthy of my time. So, let's see.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lorule Warriors Legends: A Link Between Worlds Pack Expectations


Hyrule Warriors Legends keeps us Zelda fans entertained during the 30th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda with new DLC packs every two months. The final DLC is scheduled for late October / early November and will finally dive into one of the younger games of the franchise: A Link Between Worlds. Certainly a charming game, which offers lots of potential content for Hyrule Warriors! But what can we really expect from the last DLC? What will await us in detail? Let's speculate on Hyrule Blog!


Characters and their Weapons

The A Link Between Worlds Pack will feature two new characters and it already has been leaked here, who these two characters are. The same leak told us about Toon Zelda, so it's most likely accurate. But even without any leaks it should be clear that in the end it comes down to these three:


The Lorule trio of Ravio, Hilda and Yuga. It shouldn't surprise anyone that it's going to be two out of these three main characters of the game. And since both the roster menus on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U have space for three additional characters to make it an even 30, there is also the slight possibility that we're getting the complete Lorule trio at this point, where one character will be free DLC similar to Medli. That would be utterly amazing and we shouldn't expect this to happen, but in any case let us look at the potential movesets and weapons of all three Lorule superstars.

Hilda would continue the streak of playable princesses in this game and her weapon would be her Staff / Triforce Scepter. In A Link Between Worlds she summoned dark vines and Koei Tecmo would probably make good use of this for her fighting abilities. She might also take a page from Cia's book and summon Dark Ravios around her.

Yuga is probably the most interesting candidate here thanks to his Brush Wand. That should allow for some interesting moveset ideas, however, turning himself or others into paintings as a fully developed gameplay mechanic would probably be out of the question. But in the very least he could paint things that come to life, like the soldier enemies from A Link Between Worlds. He also could summon walls that come out of ground to turn himself into a painting for a move. And following his boss fights he probably will shoot energy attacks and create copies of himself, maybe even incorporate elements from Yuganon.

While Hilda and Yuga already hold their potential weapon types in their hands on the above artwork, it's not as obvious with Ravio. He does have lots of possibilities with his shop items, though, where an interesting approach would be that he uses the "Bracelet" as his weapon type and utilizes all the different items for different moves and combos in a more clumsy style. Alternatively Koei Tecmo could focus on one item, where the Tornado Rod would be the one that's unique and fit Ravio's clumsiness very well. And other items from the shop still could be part of the moveset, similar to how Toon Link uses the train with the Sand Wand. It's also very likely that both Sheerow and Ravio's big bag of Rupees will play a part in the moveset. So, expect a very colorful character.

Additionally for Ravio it would interesting, if he had a similar mechanic to Linkle or even Zanto, where he's taking the mask off. Or alternatively he could get a costume without the bunny mask similar to Cia.


The Adventure Map

The Grand Travels Map showed a new approach, where Koei Tecmo combined two worlds into one. And it's likely that the final Adventure Map will follow a similar dynamic, where we get both the classic Hyrule from A Link to the Past / A Link Between Worlds and Lorule in 8-Bit as one big 16 x 8 map. Let's call this the "Two Worlds Map".


You would start in Hyrule and then unlock portals via Bracelet item cards to enter the individual separate areas of Lorule, where you find the various "Final Battle!" missions. And all would be accompanied with a nice 8-Bit rendition of the classic Dark World theme.

As the item cards on this map they could use all nine items from Ravio's Shop for various purposes, e.g. using the Ice Rod to eliminate flame rings, which unlocks rewards. Collecting Maiamais as item cards would also be nice, which you then can use on Mother Maiamai for bonuses.

This might even tie in with this map's big bonus. The Twilight Map gives double material drops, the Termina Map gives double weapon drops, the Grand Travels gives more food drops and on the Koholint Map you can chose the perk that you want. Maybe on the "Two Worlds Map" the perk will be getting more Rupees, since A Link Between Worlds set a big focus on Hyrule's infamous currency with Ravio's Shop. Maybe the map in general gives you more Rupees, maybe you receive the boost with Mother Maiamai or maybe Mother Maiama even gives you an Experience boost in addition. There are many possibilities here.

It could also be that this Adventure Map will utilize "Hero Mode" for a final push of difficulty. Unlike the DLC Maps on the Wii U, the new Adventure Maps on the 3DS have been really nice so far, maybe even a little bit too nice. So, as a final challenge the map could become a lot harder, but potentially also use a mechanic, where you're able to make it easier with the use of Item Cards. Maybe even Mother Maiama could turn "Hero Mode" into "Nice Mode" for you, so you're collecting all the Maiamais for a good reason.


Costumes and other extras

What we've never gotten with any DLCs is new stages and it's very unlikely that this will change here. But it could be that we're getting a simple "Lorule Field" version of the typical Hyrule Field stage in the game. It would be the third alteration of this stage already, but it could turn out really nice with Lorule Castle in the background and a giant chasm instead of the river, maybe even a mirrored version of the original stage.

Anyhow, there are eleven 4+ weapons left and as usual there probably will 16 recolor costumes in total. Zelda already has a Hilda recolor from the Master Quest Map, but in case of Link I could see him getting a full Ravio recolor. It would be similar to the purple tunic from the Master Quest Map but with black hair and the striped scarf. Ganondorf could also get a Yuga recolor just to complete this trio in color costumes as well.

The sages also give additional material for recolor costumes, e.g. Darunia could get a Rosso recolor and Ruto an Oren recolor for obvious reasons. Naturally Impa would see the colors of her A Link Between Worlds counterpart and so might Zelda. Young Link could have a Gulley costume and Toon Link might get a Osfala recolor for the sole fact that he uses the Sand Rod now. A Sahasrahla recolor would be a nice fit for Daphnes. Lana and Cia could be Seres and Irene, because Seres has a book and Irene is a witch, who gets to fly Link around. And of course Tetra should have a thief girl recolor. The possibilities with A Link Between Worlds are amazing!

Fairy clothing could be equally fruitful. We already have a Hilda costume, but outfits based on Ravio, Irene or Seres are likely as well. Seres looks very close to one of the water fairies that we already have, the one on the Termina Map:


So, you could essentially recreate that character in My Fairy, which wouldn't be the first time.


Conclusion: Ravio, Hilda, Yuga, a Hyrule + Lorule Adventure Map, many interesting costumes... There's tons of potential with the A Link Between Worlds Pack and we can all look forward to it!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ciau, Cia

See you in two months...


As you may or may not know, my favorite playable character in Hyrule Warriors is Cia. And so far she is my only fully completed character in Hyrule Warriors: Legends. She reached Level 200, which is the current maximum, has all badges (though the majority of my character do) and also a perfect weapon. Time to play with someone else...


As you can see, the Strength of characters now completely exceeds the current maximum weapon attack power (900 for the Master Sword, 840 for Legendary weapons), which is a shame. I really liked, how in Legends the focus was set on getting better weapons, but in the very least you don't have to grind as many levels as on the Wii U to get the jobs done.

You now also have a total of 56 Heart Containers for every character. The characters that came with the base game all found two Heart Containers on the new Adventure Maps and gained two Heart Containers from leveling with the last two DLCs and updates. And it obviously will be the same with the last one, where everyone should reach the maximum of 60 hearts.

In my case Cia is completely ahead of everyone else on the roster. The only other two characters above Level 100 are currently Link and Lana, where Link is at Level 130. But since you can chose a second character on the Grand Travels Map most of the time, I often selected Cia in case things get more difficult. And I also did a lot of grinding with her, like today I was playing the Challenge Battle level with Ganon, King Dodongo and Gohma, because I still need all of their materials. But mostly it was about getting that perfect weapon, which took a total of two evenings.

Getting that perfect weapon in Legends is a pain, which is why I originally wanted to settle for those best rank, five star, seven slot weapons that you can get from amiibo and Network Links. However, since there is always the possibility that you still might find that best possible weapon, I'm hesitant to actually put all my good weapon skills on one of those. (If only you could buy slots and maybe stars in the Smithy.) And for your favorite characters you still might want to have the perfect weapon out of principle anyway.

Now, I followed a method by Tortus2 on GameFAQs and adjusted it a little bit. You want to have the Koholint Map completed, where at the base of Mt. Tamaranch, on the three squares south of the Windfish Egg you can find three "Stop the enemy merger!" missions, Levels 11, 12 and 13. They are all equally good and work very quickly, since you only have to beat a series of officer enemies. You want to alternate between these three missions for the sake of variety, but also in order to get different materials (e.g. if need Moblin Spears) and to have the Thunder Drum to the left of the Windfish Egg reappear more quickly. You want to use this item card for the double weapon drops for six battles.

In addition you want to use a weapon that has Stars+ and Slots+ on it, as well as a Weapon Rank II or III mixture, however, I didn't have any favorable experience with the latter. If you really invest a golden material, you'd expect to find rank 4 and rank 4+ weapons the entire battle. But that's not the case, you still get rank 3 and even 2 for the majority of the time, which was utterly frustrating and the reason, why this weapon grind took so long. Maybe these potions are broken like the Material Master mixture was at the release, but it wasn't until I started using the Focus Spirit weapon bonus effect that I've finally started to find, what I wanted: rank 4+ weapons with five stars and eight slots.

For this Level 12 of the "Stop the enemy merger!" missions works best, because you have two enemy crowds right next to each other. It's also the quickest of these three missions.

On my way I even managed to score best possible weapons for Marin (a rank 4 in this case), Midna, Fi, Tingle and Skull Kid... Which to a degree also felt like the game wanted to troll me, because I don't really play with Fi or Tingle that much. The game also trolled me with weapon that only had a single flaw. Five stars, eight slots, but only rank 4. Rank 4+, eight slots, but only four stars. You get the picture. But after dozens of attempts I eventually found this baby:


I also want to put "Legendary" on it, even if it's just for the sake of aesthetics, as well as "Vs. Dragon" to have damage advantage over a majority of the enemies in the game. Darkness and Lightning already is a very good combo, but you can always do a little better, though I will probably hit the damage cap with her levels alone.

But for now Cia will be on ice, until the next big update, where they will raise the level cap to 255. I will probably beat Legend Mode on Hero difficulty with her, while unlocking one of the Legendary skills at the same time, but it's best, if she also gains some Experience from that journey, which is why I will stop playing this character for now and focus on the other characters in the mean time. I haven't done much grinding between the last two DLC packs, but before the A Link Between Worlds Pack arrives, I want to finish as much as possible.

In the very least Twili Midna with her Darklight Mirror deserves another perfect weapon as well...

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Grand Travels Map Impressions


Another Adventure Map completed, only one more DLC Adventure Map to go. Last night I've completed the "Grand Travels Map" with all A ranks and everything unlocked, so it's time to share my impressions about this new map. And like with the Koholint Map I'm quite happy here, the Grand Travels Map is a very enjoyable experience with similar traits.

It's also the largest map that we've gotten since the original Adventure and Master Quest Maps. It uses the full area of 16 columns and 8 rows, so there's a lot to do here. It even makes me a little bit angry that the Koholint Map turned out so small and distorted. However, in this case they combined the worlds of two games into one: the Rail Map from Spirit Tracks and the ocean world from Phantom Hourglass. And the results are equally distorted. The center of the map has a final Dark Realm area and the other two maps sort of yin yang around it, so that the worlds aren't quadratic anymore and have some of their areas in the tips. For example the Ocean Realm of the Rail Map is up in the north, east to the Mountain Realm. Or Gale Island lies to the Southwest of Mercay. Locations are not exactly there, where they should be, but in the least they are all fully recognizable.

It's also the first Adventure Map that gives you two starting locations and you can chose, which half of the map you want to complete first. The only shared item card is the Cannon to unlock rewards under rocks. The ocean half then uses Cyclone Slates to make enemies appear and Fishing Rods for additional rewards, while the rail half has you collect Railway Tracks to unlock new squares and the Whirlwind for rewards.

The remaining item cards are the classic Compass, which you don't need at all, and three Ship cards and three Train cards (starter, steel/iron and gold), which give you different buffs. They are in a way similar to the Instrument of the Sirens, but you don't need to use them. In fact I never used them once. The ships lower the requirements for A ranks, e.g. the Golden Ship lets you take more damage. The trains change the conditions on the map, e.g. you can lift character restrictions with the Golden Train.

It's an interesting feature, but luckily not required in order to proceed, because the difficulty of the map again is quite moderate and balanced towards level 99, not the new level cap of 200. Some of the 4+ weapon missions can be tough, especially Impa's Crackling Naginata gave me some trouble (just barely made it with 9400 damage), but thankfully it's not like you need to grind your characters all the way up. This might change with the final map, but right now it really does look like they are increasing the level cap only to give you some room for your favorite characters, not to artificially slow you down. And that's good. However, if you already had all the characters leveled to the last maximum, it might be too easy for your taste.

The map also uses some sort of time mechanic similar to the Termina Map. There is a Phantom Hourglass in the center and every three battles some sand falls down. The only way to get it back up is to beat one of the "Final battle!" dungeon boss battles and in the beginning it felt like some really stressful feature, but it then turned out that it only changes the rank requirements for progressing to "A" everywhere. And for a skilled player, who wants to collect all rewards, this does change absolutely nothing, because you're going for the "A" rank everywhere anyway. And even if you have trouble with it, you can always use the Spirit Train item card to turn it back into a "C" rank. So, it's negligible and I completely ignored the whole thing. A more threatening approach would have been, if it really followed the curse of the Ocean King Temple and made you take constant damage in every battle. THAT would have been something to deal with, but probably massively annoying.

The Phantom Hourglass does go away, as soon as you defeat the two "Big Bosses", one at Mutoh's Temple and one in the southwest corner of the Rail Map, where the entrance to the Dark Realm lies. (Caution: there is currently a bug, where you won't be able to proceed, if you leave the game right after entering the Dark Realm. Make sure to play at least one more battle or leave the Adventure Map menu first so that it saves the game!)

The time mechanic also gets used for item card trading. There are Song Stones and Linebeck Trading Companies all over the map, which you can use for your advantage. Song Stones duplicate an item card of your choosing and Linebeck trades item cards for golden foods. For example you can give him the useless Compass cards in the beginning. Every once in a while he also offers are Two-For-One Sale. Thing is that time also progresses, if you abort a battle. So, you can just make it so that Song Stones and Trading Companies quickly reappear to farm food. I haven't fully exploited this yet, but it does seem like the food you get is entirely random, so it's not a method of farming specific fairy food.

In general the Grand Travels Map gives double food drops. So, it's a perk similar to the Twilight Map, where you get double materials, and the Termina Map, where you get double weapons. For the A Link Between Worlds Map they might give you more Rupees to follow the theme, but I personally still prefer the Koholint Map, where you can actually chose the perk.

At least this map offers more variety with its battle types. There's a little bit of everything in here, as well as some really enjoyable new battles types. The new Challenge Battles are called "Deal with the copycat infestation!" and "Thwart the supercharged enemies!". The copycat missions are funny, you have a series of character enemies and some officer enemies around them, who are transforming into the character after a while. However, this takes such a long time that I actually had to wait and see what happens, so it's not a fast way of farming certain character materials. In the "supercharged enemies" missions you also have a series of character enemies around the area and some small magic grunts, which you can defeat in order to take away the Super Saiyan God mode from the enemy characters.

They also expanded the "incoming support" mechanic from the Koholint Map in some of the Adventure Battles. Now, you might have Toon Link or Linkle come to your aid, who inspire or heal your troops. In their cases the background music also changes to Molgera's or Linkle's theme, which inspires even yourself.

I was also happy that they added four red zone "divisive plan" battles against Medli, Phantom Zelda, Twili Midna and TINGLE! While these battles got heavily nerfed compared to the Wii U version, they are still a nice and quick grinding place, where now you can also use fire element weapons and take it out on twelve Tingles at once. And with the 4+ weapons you have much more options now. In fact I constantly check the enemy characters on the 8-Bit battle screen and chose my own characters accordingly to cover all the element weaknesses. The Grand Travels Map lets you chose 2nd and even 3rd characters a majority of the time, so you can chose what deals the most damage often enough.





Overall the Grand Travels Map is great. The 8-Bit travel theme from Spirit Tracks is just lovely and there's lots to do, even though due to the size there are also quite some empty spaces without any rewards. But there's lots of variety and a good selection of new missions. However, from my perspective the whole "Phantom Hourglass" part was negligible and in the end they could have just turned it into a "Rail Map" and make this the "Spirit Tracks Pack".

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hyrule Warriors: Current Roster Screen

In Hyrule Warriors for Wii U they adapted the roster screen to fit all the new DLC characters:


It now uses columns of seven and eight, which in total can hold up to 30 characters as well, much like the roster screen on 3DS. And hopefully this won't just be coincidence. Already back in May I speculated about a potential 30th character, because otherwise the 3DS character menu will have an empty corner. Now it would be the same on the Wii U.

Also, we're celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Zelda, where it would be a nice gift for the fans, if we receive the 30th character as a free addition.

Like Medli, who was released for free alongside the Master Wind Waker Pack, the last character will probably accompany the A Link Between Worlds Pack, where it still makes the most sense, if we get the full Lorule trio of Ravio, Yuga AND Hilda. Make it happen, Koei Tecmo!