Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Zelda Wii U Delayed to March 2017, NX Dual Release

Well, the rumors were true. The new The Legend of Zelda game will be released for both Wii U and NX. However, the NX won't be out before March 2017 and this is why we have to wait until then to get the game. It really sounds like they postponed the Wii U version just for the NX release, which is yet another slap in the face for all Wii U owners. Thank you for this, Nintendo!

Earlier this year I made a suggestion that they should release the Wii U version this year for the holidays and then release the NX together with the NX version of Zelda as a launch title in 2017. And apparently that's what they could have done, but they won't, because they want to have it all for the new console. And don't tell me that the game is going to get "better" in this time period. Twilight Princess sure didn't get any better, when they took an entire year to port it to the Wii. The game probably is ready, they just don't want to remove its impact as a launch title. But this way they will also anger all Wii U owners and cement the notion that not every Nintendo system is worth buying.

Anyway, it looks like I'm kind of getting my Zelda Direct wish, because The Legend of Zelda will be THE ONLY GAME on E3. That's crazy. I wonder, if they will still have the Treehouse Live shows. Probably not, after all the public incidents they had with its staff... But they also could just play Zelda all day long, where they probably will show too much of the game.

And I'm afraid that any 30th Anniversary plans have officially died with the release in March 2017, which is when the 30th Anniversary span is already over. The anniversaries are all marketing moves and without any big game release in the background, Nintendo won't invest in that. Maybe they will prove me wrong, but they probably will keep doing the Pokémon Anniversary throughout the year, because there they are actually able to release new games in time. And without Zelda U they probably would have already done it this March, when they had lots of new Zelda stuff available. Twilight Princess HD could have gotten the 30th Anniversary banner.

It also looks weird for the "NX". They are not showing the system at E3, their new big video game system? I guess, I could have been right that they didn't want the Zelda reveal clash with the console reveal, but I wouldn't have suspected that they give the entire E3 to Zelda! Or they are simply not ready to show the new system yet. And that doesn't look good, if they keep it too close to their chests. But at least they seem to be confident in the new Zelda game, if they're willing to wrap an entire E3 around it.

The "good" news for me personally is: I will have enough time to complete Hyrule Warriors: Legends (the last DLC will be out in November) and replay all 3D Zelda games, before the new Zelda hits.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Still no Zelda Picross

Well, that's a close one... I just want to get the My Nintendo Picross - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess game, but I'm exactly 10 points short. Nintendo really wants you to use the Miitomo thing, apparently. I currently don't have a working Smartphone available, so I can't just grab the Miitomo points. But I can wait one more week.

And for one month this certainly isn't bad. Well, many of these points were from the pre-registration and Nintendo account linking early on, but you can also get up to 120 Platinum Points per week by doing the following:

  • Collect the coins on the ground
  • Visit Miiverse
  • Visit the eShop
  • Visit the official Nintendo Homepage

The latter is actually not listed in the missions and you just receive the 30 points automatically. Some people might miss this though, so it's probably good to mention it.

Anyway... I will be able to play the Zelda Picross next week and maybe share some thoughts about it then!

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Adventure Map Impressions

I'm currently entertained by Hyrule Warriors: Legends, where I'm nearly done with the first Adventure Map and ready to continue on the new Great Sea Map. I'm not rushing through the maps like some people do, instead I will thoroughly take my time with each map, before I move on to the next. So, I've uncovered the whole map and unlocked all the characters, weapons, costumes, fairy clothing, food and Gold Skulltulas available. Only some hearts are still missing, but since hearts are the most useless thing in this game, I won't bother with this until much later.

And that's my biggest complaint: they kept the A rank requirements the same, so you still have to score 1200 K.O.s in less than 15 minutes (though apparently some missions give you more time now), while you're not allowed to take 10 hearts of damage in total for the majority the missions (25 in red zones). The latter always was a stupid requirement, because it makes collecting all the Heart Containers and Pieces completely obsolete. The characters already start with 10 hearts and if you're not allowed to take more damage than this, why collect them? A better ranking system would use a percentage basis or at least give you more room to breath.

They even kept the ridiculous four hearts requirement for the 2nd Skulltulas, but they did change goals in some missions. Instead of getting 1200 K.O.s you alternatively have to get 150 K.O.s with Special Attacks or take five keeps. But from my experience all these things can be quite close together and some missions still have you gun for the 1200 K.O.s. But there were cases, where I already got 1200 K.O.s long before taking five keeps. And Special Attacks don't work too well on the (New) Nintendo 3DS, you usually only get quite low numbers with them.

But in general getting enough K.O.s seems to work fine on the New Nintendo 3DS. You never get as many enemies on screen as on the Wii U, which is probably Special Attacks don't work as well, but it keeps loading enemies and I never really struggle with defeating enough in time. Partly this is due to the new fairy feature, where you can get a large number of K.O.s with a single button press, but even without this the game works surprisingly well.

Except for the "All Attacks are Devastating" missions. Here the important enemies load way too late and sometimes they are right beside you, already performing an attack, when they get loaded. I already hated these missions on the Wii U, but there they are just frustrating and super bad. They should have removed all the small enemies, so that it works better.

Besides this the difficulty is pretty enjoyable though, since they rebalanced the entire Adventure Map. In the original you had to go up to Level 90 to get some of the tougher missions done, but here a third will easily do. For example I remember, how much I struggled with Agitha's tier 3 weapon mission on the Wii U, even when she was above Level 90, while here I could do the same mission on my first try with a Lvl 23 Agitha. Of course I'm a lot more experienced in this game by now and work more efficiently, but the difficulty has been scaled down significantly. Though I heard that the Master Quest map now is a pain instead and the high tier weapon missions are still the most difficult in the game...

In addition you now can use multiple characters in many of the missions, which basically allows you to really "main" someone. Well, on the Wii U you could always abuse the Coop Mode for this, which is missing on the 3DS, but the character swap works much better anyway. It's just not available all of the time, but often enough to be satisfying. And like on Twilight and Termina Map they now also remove any character restrictions, as soon as you scored an A rank.

Besides all of this the missions remain unchanged for the most part. You get different rewards for different characters in different places, but the battles themselves were copy pasted from the Wii U. Sometimes you face some of the new characters, such as Tingle, but there are none of the new stages and not even any Owl Statues or any of the new Wind Waker enemies. I suppose, they simply wanted to offer all the same "content" of the Wii U version, but I wouldn't have minded some more variety and improvements here, including the usage of the new stage variants.

But there are some weird changes to be found. Like there's one quiz, where you have to defeat Ganondorf at the end. But instead of having another strong character at his side, they added a single Bokblin... Koei Tecmo really enjoys trolling you in the Adventure Mode, but this is one of the cases, where they overdo it. If you accidentally kill the Bokblin, the mission will fail and you don't get the Heart Container for... Zanto! Yes, Zanto...! It wouldn't be much of a problem with a more precise moveset, e.g. Link's sword, but Zanto's attacks are all over the place. You can't even risk a weakpoint smash, because this will sure take the Bokblin out...

Another annoyance with the 3DS version is the sometimes bugged alert stack. The game sure keeps telling you about all those useless Hylian Soldiers in danger, but when your commander is about to flee, it forgets to mention it and suddenly the battle is lost without any warning. The alerts sometimes come way too late. That's not exactly acceptable and I hope that they will try to fix this.

And while they're on it, I would love to have a complete overview of the Adventure Map. Both the top and bottom screens in the Adventure Mode menu just show three rows of the map and you have to go over the entire thing, if you want to see, where item cards are available or where rewards are still left...

It's noteworthy that this map holds the Skyward Sword content. You unlock the Skyward Sword costumes here, as well as the pictures for the Rewards mission, where you fight multiple Imprisoned and Ghirahim, which originally was gotten from the Master Quest map (and now also seems to be a lot easier). I guess that any Ocarina of Time content will be put on the Termina map.

That's it for now. Next will be the Great Sea Map, which is entirely new and therefore somewhat more exciting, since it will make use of the new stages and enemies, which the first Adventure Map didn't. This is also, where I'll get more into the whole My Fairy feature

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Expecting Zelda Direct

The countdown is on! In less than two months, from June 14 to 16, the E3 will be happening in Los Angeles. Around the time we can expect the big reveals for Zelda and Nintendo's new console. Obviously these are the Nintendo main topics that everyone is anticipating for E3 (besides some Pokémon stuff maybe). And if Nintendo really reveals their new system for this year, they want to set their entire focus on it. At the same time the new Zelda game has been in development for many years now and will be also released on Wii U, which deserves a lot of attention as well. Naturally it also might be a launch title for the new system, but both things will take attention away from each other. Remember that Nintendo already has displayed Twilight Princess for GameCube in full glory one year before they announced the launch of the Wii. But we didn't have any big Wii U demos for the new Zelda game yet...

The solution? Schedule the first official Zelda Direct upfront! They did it with Smash Bros. last year, where they already aired several things on Sunday before E3. And with a Zelda Direct on Sunday they could draw all the attention towards Nintendo first and make everyone familiar with the nice shiny new game, before they drop the NX bomb on the actual E3 presentation. And we still have the 30th Anniversary to celebrate...

The Zelda Direct could go down like the following:

  • Completely new gameplay of the Wii U game at the beginning, maybe the rumored female protagonist exploring a dungeon. Something stunning.
  • Reveal of the game's official title, no release date yet.
  • Overview of several features of the game.
  • Development talk.
  • 30th Anniversary celebration announcement.
  • Reveal of something crazy new for the Anniversary, like a Zelda anime.
  • New Tri Force Heroes Anniversary content available for free soon.
  • Short showcase / trailer of the content in the upcoming Link's Awakening Pack for Hyrule Warriors (Legends).
  • Maybe also some more free content for Hyrule Warriors (Legends) as another Anniversary gift, e.g. more classic costumes.
  • Summary.

On the actual Nintendo E3 Direct they can then reveal the new console using Zelda as the prototype. Since we're now already familiar with the game, they can focus on what the console has to offer. That's where they might give a release date for both console and the game. And then they can show off, what other games they have in store for the system, maybe even some big reveal like Metroid Prime 4 at the end.

I'd say, this makes perfect sense. Otherwise Zelda and the 30th Anniversary would clash too much with the NX reveal. In any case I would expect a Zelda Direct at some time this year. By now they air Directs for many different game series, so you would think that they would do the same for Zelda, when they have a big new game and an anniversary to go through.

Of course there is also the possibility that they really only do the Pokémon 20th Anniversary this year and there won't be any celebration of the 30th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda... Never mind me then.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Legend Mode Impressions

Instead of writing a review for Hyrule Warriors: Legends right away, I will go through the game step by step and give my impressions about the various parts, which I already did for the new characters and items. Right now I've completed the first Adventure Map and I will also make a post for each map in the game, since every single one of them takes a significant amount of time. I'll probably write my review at the very end, after all the DLC got released. In case of Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U I've written my review for the release day, after I cleared the entire Adventure Map, and I was very happy with the game at the time. The updates and the DLC then changed things and not all for the better, I especially disliked the heavy grinding to Level 255. That's why this time I won't give my final judgement, until the game is in fact final.

Anyway, before I share my thoughts on the Adventure Map and the My Fairy feature, let me go through Legend Mode first. I've actually beaten the whole story right after the game was released one month ago, but I never really got around to to talk about it. Overall, there are three new things here: the ability to swap between characters, Linkle's storyline and the Wind Waker storyline.

Character Swap

This is like the one new, big feature that goes through the entire game: you can now have up to four characters on the bottom screen and switch between them. In Legend Mode you often unlock these during the mission, where suddenly a wild Impa becomes available or the like. It even lets you play with characters, which you haven't unlocked yet, including Agitha, Ghirahm, Zant and Twili Midna. At the beginning you can't use all of their attacks yet, because you can't buy them any badges, but at least these characters got to be a real part of the action. One of my complaints with the original game was that certain characters got locked behind Adventure Mode and suffered in the story mode because of that. But now they found a good solution for this.

Together with the owl statutes you get a much better mobility on the map, but they also adapted the missions by adding more troops and events that need to be taken care of simultaneously. This includes the occasional appearance of the comedy reptilian Chieftain duo, Volga's best friends. Originally they only got featured in Cia's tale, but now they appear in pretty much every mission with Volga. And they feel like a lame joke, because they are simply just one Lizalfos and one Dinolfos buffed up. In the German version they even got cute names (basically "Lizal" and "Dinol"), which is why I can't take them seriously.

Anyway, you can give your other characters commands to go to a specific point, keep or character / enemy. Even to follow you. That works somewhat, sometimes you have to give the commands twice, because they aren't acting or got stuck on some outpost. But besides these bugs, it works pretty good and it saves you a lot of wandering around, because the AI does it for you.

They even added a new mechanic, where gathering your characters around a giant boss gives you magic and certain buffs. The boss then glows green and it feels pretty epic, however, the characters might cause some trouble, because they just mindlessly attack the boss. Especially Gohma and Manhandla then just trigger their defensive "you are too close" attacks, which makes it hard to attack their weak points. A solution is having the characters follow you and then getting some distance. But they might also steal the K.O. and then you don't get any experience or materials.

In Free Mode you can also chose characters freely for every available spot, but this screws with the story parts. All the dialogues still use the original characters, while they aren't really there. You might stand in front of Tingle, but get a message from Zelda. Princess Tingle it is then...

The Girl in Green

Linkle's campaign works similar to Cia's tale, so her missions are all over the place. She usually arrives after the original battles already have cleared and she helps out with other situations. The scenarios are equally artificial, where you sometimes wonder, how and when the other characters exactly found time for all this, but it still creates some interesting and fun situations. You get Linkle chasing Skull Kid through the Faron Woods, as well as Linkle teaming up with Fi, Darunia, Ruto, Twili Midna and finally Impa to fight some bad guys, save some princesses and bomb some Dodongos. There's five new scenarios in total.

Overall I enjoyed this part a lot. Linkle is such a fun, energetic and cuckoo character, with her sense of direction and duty. And I love, how they gave her an army of Cuccos to follow her, while the ideas for the scenarios are overall pretty great and well told.

There's this battle at Lake Hylia, where Darunia goes fighting Volga, which is something that you would have already expected in the original game, since Volga is a human form of Volvagia. However, this mission can be somewhat annoying, because you have to constantly babysit Darunia and he basically adds a strict time limit to the whole thing, since either he or Volga will fall and end the battle. A healing circle of a Light Fairy can be very useful here, but I will talk more about fairies in an upcoming post.

Another interesting scenario is the one at Sealed Grounds, where Ghirahim fails to summon the Imprisoned and you get lots of Mini Imprisoned instead. It's funny and you even can get materials from them, which makes collecting the scales a lot easier. But the most entertaining part is probably the mission in the Palace of Twilight, where Linkle actually gets the chance to save Princess Zelda. She even says hilarious things like "saving princesses is my specialty as the Legendary Hero". The cinematic ending of her campaign will leave you very disappointed though, because it essentially cuts off at the most interesting point... What a tease!

Except for the Palace of Twilight all of these scenarios got new variants for the stages. There's a night time version of Faron Woods (though it's hard to notice), Lake Hylia at sundown, a dark version of the Sealed Grounds (it looks similar in color to when Ghirahim did his ritual in Skyward Sword) and a new version of Hyrule Field after the battle at Ganon's Castle has cleared. They also added a blue sky version of Lanayru Gorge for Ganondorf's Campain, which I already had missed in the original game. It always bugged me that it still used the cursed version of this area for this fight, but now they finally fixed it. And in general it's nice to have different repaints for the stages, it adds more variety to it all.

And I love Linkle's music theme. It incorporates the main theme of Link's Crossbow Training, which is very clever, while at the same time it offers a distinct variation of the Zelda main theme.

The Wind Waker

This chapter adds four new scenarios at the very end. It doesn't get unlocked until after Cia's tale, which comes after the big original finale. And there's a reason for that, because the Wind Waker story actually revolves a lot around Cia and Lana and brings their story to a happy ending, which is something the original game missed.

As a big fan of Cia's character I enjoyed having her join and even lead the good forces. It's a nice twist and the "protect Cia" mission in the Palace of Souls, one of my favorite stages, was quite lovely.

So, the whole Wind Waker campaign is only 50% Wind Waker. Two of the scenarios take place on old stages (Gerudo Destert and Palace of Souls) and half of the main characters here aren't actually in the toon style. Seeing Link (the normal one), Lana and Cia right next to the Toon King and Tetra looks pretty weird. But it still works...

The new stages and enemies are still great to have. We have been constantly getting new characters and weapons, but playing the same 14 stages with the same six types of troops over and over again can get quite boring, especially when the Zelda games have so much more to offer. The Wind Waker content is a start, but a potential Hyrule Warriors 2 should focus a lot more on this matter.

Well, I like, how the Forsaken Fortress stage mashes many different islands from the Great Sea together on land. It's certainly one of the most interesting stages. And the finale in the Earth and Wind Temple is simply glorious. I love, how they used both temples to create one big stage and how you have to bring all the characters together in the center for the big Phantom Ganon fight. It's also a perfect final battle for the new character swapping feature and the Molgera music is just awesome.

Other Changes

There are some other changes in Legend Mode here and there, but not everywhere. Most noticeable is that they changed many of the conditions for the Hard Skulltulas. I guess, here and there it was even necessary, because some of the original tasks were quite flawed, especially the one in Faron Woods, where you had to bring down Gohma below 50%, before she jumps to the Great Deku Tree, which is tough to do, if your level is already too high and you kill the thing in one hit.

They also added Skulltulas, Heart Containers and Heart Pieces to Cia's campaign. But sadly they didn't alter her mission in the Twilight Palace, which still really bugs me. Here Cia meets Midna for the first time, but Midna is already in her imp form, while later she claims that it was Cia, who cursed her. Originally they didn't have Twili Midna in the game yet, which is probably why they did the mission the way it was, but now they have the character and they could have easily fixed this and show, how Cia cursed her... Too bad that they didn't. And that's while they actually went through the lengths of making a new version of the Valley of Seers to match the story better, where here they just would have to change some dialogues and a character.

But overall Legend Mode is great and can take roughly around 20 hours to play it all. It's a nice warm up for the lengthy Adventure Mode, where you have a lot more to do, but a lot less substance in the missions.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: DLC Predictions Update

I've made some changes to my DLC predictions for the upcoming Legends of Hyrule content for both Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors Legends.

  • Linkle's weapon could also be the Fishing Rod, since this item first appeared in Link's Awakening. It was more iconic in other games though and I still think that a Cucco / Flying Rooster weapon will be her thing, while Link will get the Fishing Rod at some point.
  • As for the Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks Pack I'm now convinced that it will be Linebeck and the Grappling Hook. The Whip from Spirit Tracks could simply be one of the Grappling Hook's tiers (thanks to Marandahir for the suggestion). That way both the weapon type and the character were actually featured in both games, which makes them the likeliest. Linebeck could even get a hat costume for his Spirit Tracks version. Of course Toon Link could also have some super crazy weapon, like the train.
  • They could go for the full trio of Ravio, Hilda and Yuga by releasing one of them as a free character alongside the pack, similar to Medli. Probably Hilda. This would bring the roster to a nice number of 30 characters.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Drought Force Heroes

I haven't played Tri Force Heroes in a while now and if the GameFAQs board is any indication, it should be pretty hard to find people these days. This was to be expected by the nature of the game and I personally can't really complain much, because I essentially got what I wanted from this. I wanted an online Four Swords game for a long time and was having a blast playing this with different people from different Zelda communities, even sometimes with random people. I've even spent more than 200 hours with this game, which is a lot for a new Zelda.

Still... I wish that they would have tried something more lasting. For the next months I will probably keep playing Hyrule Warriors: Legends and easily top those 200 hours, because this game just has lots and lots of things to do. Adventure Mode is for the most part thrown together mass missions, but if you're enjoying the gameplay, you won't mind this too much. And maybe they could have gone further with the challenges and material collections in Tri Force Heroes to keep people playing a little longer like that.

Of course it's in the nature and structure of a Zelda game to be finite, so even with more challenges and outfits it would ultimately find its end at some point. A different approach would have been needed to keep people playing, e.g. an online highscore system. Assemble teams and try to beat the levels and challenges as fast as possible and with as little damage as possible. The key to a healthy multiplayer is competition, even in team games, and I did put many thoughts into the Coliseum mode for the same reason...

But there are also probably many people out there, who haven't done all challenges and haven't gotten all the outfits yet. They just lost interest over time. Here it would have been important to keep attention on the game with regular updates, like they did with Splatoon. It was discovered that they had four more outfits planned and even another area... Where did this content go?

Well, my theory was that one of the major updates will be linked to the 30th Anniversary as a free gift, similar to the Four Swords Anniversary Edition. However, Nintendo didn't touch the subject of the Zelda Anniversary yet, where they might do so at E3 and then release another update of Tri Force Heroes afterwards as part of the celebration. But this will be very late and they should have released at least two updates in the meantime to keep the game relevant. Even minor updates count, e.g. having one or two new outfits to try. It would also be easy to add new things to the arena or new challenges to existing stages. By just adding one challenge to each stage, dedicated players like me would go through the entire game again! I'd be happy to.

It would also keep the sales coming. It has sold over a million copies worldwide, which isn't bad - it already did better than Four Swords Adventures. But some small additions now and then would keep the game in the news, keep people playing and with that generate more sales, because more people want to join the fun. So, right now the drought feels like a missed opportunity and I hope that Nintendo didn't already abandon this gem for good.