Tuesday, April 8, 2014

GameBoy Advance Games on Wii U Virtual Console

So, GBA games are now available on the Wii U Virtual Console by now. At first I thought it was a weird decision to have these on the Wii U, instead of the 3DS, ambassador program aside. But on the other hand the Wii U GamePad looks and feels like a giant GBA, so it's not completely out of place. I guess in the future Nintendo should aim at a shared VC anyway. So, if I buy The Minish Cap, I should be able to play it both on Wii U and 3DS and maybe even share my savegames cloud-style.

Since A Link to the Past seems to be stuck with the SNES version and Four Swords already got its DSi makeover, the only interesting game for Zelda fans here is The Minish Cap. I hope, they actualy fix the European version, which lacked the third Bomb Bag upgrade and got a nasty bug, where you can screw up the Kinstone fusions with one of the scarecrows, which ultimately leads to one Goron missing for the Goron Cave, so that you can't get the last Bottle, Biggoron or the Mirror Shield. Bad stuff.

Normally Nintendo probably wouldn't bother with that, for example they let the GBA shop stay closed in the Oracle games on VC. But in case of the GBA games for Wii U, the company M2 is actually working on that (source), which seem to add more love into the emulation business. They even included scans of the original GBA game manuals! How awesome is that?

So, there is a small hope that they take care of the inferior European version of The Minish Cap. If not, I will just keep playing the US version on Visual Boy Advance...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Legend of Zelda Zone

So, this got released today:


I don't have Sonic Lost World, nor do I have any interest in getting it at the moment. Maybe rent it to try this level, but it looks exactly like Hyrule Warriors. It's a ragtag mix of Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword visuals, which looks very cheap and nothing like the harmonious graphics of an official Zelda game.

And it's only purpose is to sell the damn game. Much like Hyrule Warriors does absolutely nothing for Zelda, but helps Tecmo Koei to actually sell their Warrior games.

This is what Iwata said last January in an investor briefing:

Also, we are planning to utilize Nintendo’s abundance of character IP more actively. I think the reason that Nintendo is now considered to have this “abundance of character IP” is perhaps because of our passive approach toward the character IP licensing business, which tends to have a high risk of damaging the value of the character. In other words, we think that spending time to develop our approach of having our characters appear mainly in our carefully selected games has created our current fortunate circumstances. However, we are going to change our policy going forward.

In other words: they are going to butcher Zelda. Take whatever little dignity the series has left.

The Zelda IP has been protected very well for the most part. Because if they sell it's licenses carelessly, then you get something like the Zelda Animated Series or even worse: the CDi games. The only other cheesy thing that came from Zelda were the Tingle spin-off games, but with one exception they were Japan exclusives. But for the most part Zelda has been quite strong and consistent. Even the other spin-off games, the BS Zeldas, the Game & Watch game and Link's Crossbow Training had a certain level of quality to them, which didn't leave a stain on the series. And Link's appearance in SoulCalibur 2 was excellent.

The Zelda series got treated like an high quality product and unlike Mario or Pokémon it didn't create tons of weird merchandise and spin-off games. No Zelda cornflakes or Zelda Kart. Because that would just silly.

But that might change, because Iwata officially announced that they are ready to license their IPs to "carefully selected partners", which probably means anyone, who pays good. I'm a little worried about this development, simply because both the Zelda Zone and Hyrule Warriors look really quirky.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nintendo Direct February 2014 Predictions

Oh, a new Nintendo Direct! I love the excitement.

It says, it's about titles that are going to be released until end of Spring, but they did say the same thing at the last Nintendo Direct... so, I expect at least one of the following things, Zelda-wise:

  • new info about Hyrule Warrios
  • new info about Super Smash Bros. U/3DS
  • the "Four Swords, Four Days, For Free" deal in Europe and Japan
  • the Zelda level DLC for Sonic Lost World
  • Majora's Mask 3D anouncement

Hopefully all of it. The Four Swords AE offer might even start tomorrow.



Update:

Uh, that was slim. Got all excited for nothing. Nothing about Hyrule Warriors, no Four Swords, still no Majora's Mask 3D, not even the stupid Zelda level for Sonic... Instead we get a sequel to Steel Diver... a super slow first person shooter made for people, who are bad at FPS games or don't like them... *laughs and goes back playing Unreal Tournament*

Ah, but there was NES Remix 2. I didn't like the first one that much, because the Zelda levels were an insult ("Go buy an item!"), but Zelda II might bring the right level of challenge. Also free Mario game inside, so I might give this one a go.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Zelda Virtual Console Games now on 3DS Miiverse

Today Nintendo opened communities for the Zelda games on 3DS Virtual Console including Oracle of Ages & Seasons.

This is the best chance to let Nintendo know about the issues with the 100 Rupee Advance Shop, which stays closed on the Virtual Console, which means that you can't get all 64 rings, unless you use password generators, old passwords or password manipulation.

I already prepared posts for each game, so leave a "Yeah" if possible:

Ages
Seasons

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

If Zelda II and Trine 2 had a Love Child


So, I've been playing Trine lately. Trine 2: Director's Cut on the Wii U, but also Trine on the PC (though Trine 2 is the better game). If you don't know about Trine, it's a side scrolling Action Platformer with physics puzzles and beautiful graphics. So beautiful in fact that it might be the best looking Side Scroller there is.

In the game you basically complete a series of linear levels, which are full of hidden secrets. You have three different characters at your disposal. The knight uses sworld, shield and a hammer. The thief uses a bow and a grappling hook. And the wizard can create and levitate objects. You switch between the characters (or play in coop) to overcome obstacles and beat hordes of enemies.

In the levels you earn experience. Some can be gotten from defeating enemies, but most of it is all over the levels. Some easy to get, some cleverly hidden or out of your reach. You have to make good use of your abilities to get it all. With experience you can upgrade the abilities of your characters for some crazy stuff. My favorite is the thief, who gets Fire, Ice, Bomb and Gravity Arrows. Gravity Arrows create a low gravity sphere and Bomb Arrows are as devastating as the knight's hammer. Firing Bomb Arrows into a gravity sphere can cause a rain of bombs on your enemies, it's a lot of fun.

What's also nice is that there's usually not the one single solution for an obstacle or a puzzle, but many different. This is a nice touch, because the straight forward puzzles in Zelda can become boring quickly. In Trine there are usually different ways to solve a problem, which is more fun and creative. The Zelda team should really look into this.

...

Also, while playing Trine I warmed up even more for the idea of getting a second side scrolling Zelda game (not counting the CDi) games. I already talked last year about the possibility of a Zelda II remake, but after playing Trine 2 I even more so think that a Zelda II remake or a new Zelda game in the same style, would be a great idea.

I like how Trine handled the experience and the upgrades. That's a fun system. First of all, there would be no grinding for experience. Experience from enemies is a one time thing. So, even if you replay the levels, you won't get more experience from the killing the same enemy in the same spot again. And the experience hidden throughout the levels goes very well with the idea of collectible items in Zelda.

So, instead of killing those Octoroks in the swamps for two hours, you keep exploring the caves and dungeons for more experience. The experience then does not increase some boring stats, but it offers upgrades for your items. And not just one upgrade like in A Link Between Worlds, but many different.


The Bow can have Quick Draw for shooting faster, upgrades for shooting two or three arrows at once, Fire Arrows, Ice Arrows, Bomb Arrows and maybe even Light Arrows late in the game.

The shield can have the Mirror Shield, a Magnetic Shield and a Frost Shield as upgrades. The Magnetic Shield could basically replace the Magnetic Glove from Oracle of Seasons / Four Swords, it attracts and repels metallic objects. Also, in Trine 2 the knight can use the shield like a parachute to glide through the air. Maybe that's also something that could work here.

Bombs could have Super Bombs, Water Bombs and Bombchus as upgrades. So, you would get a bomb that is twice the size, works under water and travels on walls. The Hookshot could have the Longshot, the Clawshot and the Switch Hook as upgrades. The latter replaces you with an enemy like in Oracle of Ages. And an item similar to the Cane of Somaria could replace the skills of the wizard.


Well, Nintendo shouldn't blatantly rip-off Trine (even though Trine borrows quite some ideas from Zelda). But the main idea still is that we could get a beautiful looking side scrolling Zelda game, which utilizes different items instead of just sword and shield. I don't think that Zelda II has to stay the black sheep and the only Zelda game of its kind (again not counting the CDi games). There's lots of potential for a good new Zelda game in this format.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Four Swords Anniversary Edition Available Again

Well, at least in the US... and only for four days, so grab it while you can! It's still for free.

I hope they will make it available in Europe again as well, so I can download it on my 3DS XL. Or they should consider selling this title.

Zelda U will be the GamePad Game

With video games I enjoy options. Different controllers. Changing the button layout. Changing the visuals. Calibrating the game in a way that's best for you. But when it came to options, Nintendo was usually very reluctant to put it mildly. Usually there are only a hand full of options, if any at all. So, I was positively surprised about how, with the exception of Nintendo Land, all big Nintendo titles on the Wii U so far give you the option to play with different controllers. I've accustomed to the Wii U GamePad by now, but it's nice to play with the Wiimote here and there. Also, some might prefer the Pro Controller over the GamePad, though I personally see the lack of a gyro sensor as a big design flaw (gyro aiming ftw).

In some games it even looks like the GamePad just gets in the way, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for example looks like it defies the GamePad as a whole, staying true to the controls of the Wii predecessor. And this instead of creating Metroid Prime 4, which probably would make great use of the GamePad. This let some to speculate that Nintendo might be thinking about a version of the Wii U, which will be sold and playable with the Wii U GamePad. However, it turns out that quite the opposite is the case...

From Iwata's investor briefing:

Our top priority task this year is to offer software titles that are made possible because of the GamePad.

We have managed to offer several of such software titles for occasions when many people gather in one place to play, but we have not been able to offer a decisive software title that enriches the user’s gameplay experience when playing alone with the GamePad. This will be one of the top priorities of Mr. Miyamoto’s software development department this year.


And we all know what game will be THE Wii U GamePad game...

In the last eight years the Zelda series has always been the forefront of Nintendo's integrated hardware and software design. Motion controls? Zelda uses them. Touchscreen controls? Zelda uses them. Microphone input? Zelda uses it. No options allowed. While Zelda games like Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword made great use of the existing hardware for a unique gaming experience, they weren't really popular with players, who preferred more traditional controls. And at least with Twilight Princess on Wii there was no excuse that the game didn't offer an option to play with the Classic or GameCube controller. You had to buy the GameCube version to use the latter.

Now, The Wind Waker HD was the first ever Zelda title that gave the player options. You can play with the Wii U GamePad, but you can also use the traditional controls with the Pro Controller. They even added options for inverting the sticks. This gave me the hope that the upcoming Wii U Zelda game might aim for different options as well. Motion controls like in Skyward Sword, traditional controls with the Pro Controller, but also advanced controls with the Wii U GamePad. Each of them having their perks, but none of them being used for bad gimmicks. Skyward Swords' controls were great, but all the silly "please slice in the right direction" fights and puzzles similar to Wii Sports Resort or Nintendo Land took the fun out of them.

But it should be clear that Zelda U is probably going to utilize the Wii U GamePad in a way, where it can't be played with any other controller, because it uses the touchscreen and maybe the microphone for new gimmicks. So better get used to the big thing.

I already had the theory that Zelda U might set its focus on the bow as an item, another possibility might be maps. Like drawing on maps directly changes the environment in a way. This I could imagine for a Zelda game. But at E3 in the latest we will know, how Zelda U will look and play like.