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 every character has fought with weapons in their hands.

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.

This is just an example 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.