Play that Tal Tal Music!
The Koholint Map is easily my favorite Adventure Map in Hyrule Warriors so far, which makes me happy, because Link's Awakening is also one of my all time favorite Zelda games.. I've just completed the whole thing and it was a very enjoyable experience without any frustrations. And that's a relief considering that they increased the level maximum to 150. When they did this on the Wii U, they released the Twilight Map at the same time, where the game saw an awful difficulty spike that just wasn't fun.
But the difficulty of the Koholint Map was very tolerable. It may get tough here and there, but with the help of Fairy Magic (especially Double Bombos) it's all doable, even if your characters are still below Level 99. It's probably on par with the 3DS Twilight and Termina Maps, only easier in the beginning and maybe a little harder at the end. For example in Daphne's Lvl 4+ weapon mission, some Dinolfos dealt six hearts of damage on his Level 80 highness with a single swipe, which is really the kind of obnoxious difficulty that you want to avoid, if possible. But this seemed to be the exception on the map.
It would be nice, if they are simply increasing the level cap, so that you don't have to hold back with your favorite characters. When a character has reached the maximum, you might feel inclined to play with someone else, because gained Experience goes to waste otherwise. It might also be related to the fact that the new DLC characters have actual missions on the maps, which is why the difficulty has to be toned down, because they can't be expected to be on Level 99 already. Also, the DLC Adventure Maps don't have to be unlocked, so someone new might try them long before the Twilight and Termina Maps. On the other hand you do get the best weapons for some of the characters here, so it can't be too easy, which it isn't.
Lets just hope it stays this way, because leveling characters takes a lot more effort in the 3DS version. I actually gain most levels from selling weapons and putting the money into the training dojo. But for a character to level up normally, you have to play him a lot.
Anyway, the Koholint Map does not only have the right difficulty, it also has a very good flow and a fantastic use of Item Cards. You're actually collecting all eight Instruments of the Sirens:
They remove the nightmares from the map, so you can proceed, but they also give you certain buffs called "Siren Rules", for example the Full Moon Cello lets you start with a filled Special Gauge. It's in a way similar to the masks on the Termina Map, but with those you always feel like saving them for later and then at the end you never used them at all. The Instruments of the Sirens have to be used on the nightmare screens and the effects are global and last for three missions at first. So, you're getting a good taste of every single effect. Some of these effects are very useful and can give the Koholint Map the same advantages of the Twilight and Termina Maps. Want to get double materials drops? Play the Organ of Evening Calm! Want to get double weapon drops? Play the Thunder Drum!
This is very useful, if you still need materials from the new Wind Waker enemies. There is a "Defeat 1000 enemies in the given time!" mission with two Phantom Ganons, two Helmaroc Kings, Toon Link, Tetra and King Daphnes, all for the taking. You play the Organ of Evening Calms before that one and suddenly the badges of the new characters get more and more complete.
You can collect the instruments multiple times to use them again, but you have to use each individual instrument at least once to open the Windfish's Egg and gain access to the final battle of the map. This will also double the duration of the Siren Rules to six missions and drive away all nightmares from the map forever, which will otherwise slowly respawn. That wasn't an issue, however, because the nightmare screens are always completely empty, they don't hold any rewards or item cards, so once you're done with them, you can just proceed and ignore them.
The Instruments of the Sirens also are located at places, where the eight original dungeons would be, but each instrument also does have an alternative spot. Up to Level 6 I was actually following the original order of the dungeons, but the the last two instruments are much quicker to get in the alternative spots. So, you don't actually have to explore all of the red zones in the Tal Tal Mountain Range in order to play all eight instruments and access the Windfish's Egg. There's some freedom involved and while you do follow the course of Link's Awakening somewhat, you do have options and it's not as terribly forced as on the Termina Map.
Now, you have a total of eight Item Cards helping you out and the typical compass, so there are only three Item Cards left to actually block your path and rewards: the Power Bracelet, Magic Powder and Ulrira. The latter is simply the most ingenious item card ever. It's just so funny to collect Ulriras everywhere and use them on phone booths. And instead of the usual "a reward got unlocked" message, you get Ulrira on the other end of the line telling you about a new reward. Nice. Both Ulrira and the Power Bracelet, which is the only thing that requires the Compass from time to time, get used very often, but you also find them equally often, so I never got into a situation, where I had to turn back and replay a mission just for item cards. The Magic Powder also gets used very rarely and isn't an issue. And this contributes to the overall flow of the map.
The missions are also quite tolerable. Many of the annoying mission types like "All attacks are devastating!" have been left out and for a change this map doesn't have any Challenge Battles with a fixed time span, e.g. the competitions. So, you can fully go at everything in your own pace. There are two new types of Challenge Battles, which aren't particularly fun, but they aren't bad either. Only problem might be that they get overused on the map, but luckily they don't take much time or willpower.
One of them are fusion battles called "Stop the enemy merger", where you get a hoard of officer type monsters, which want to fuse into one big enemy. These missions are quite good, if you want to farm a certain officer material type, e.g. from Big Blins or Stone Blins. It also doesn't seem to be a problem, if the enemies really get to fuse. They just form one larger enemy, where it's probably even easier to deal with one single enemy, instead of many at once.
The other new type of Challenge Battles called "Defeat the shuffling forces" has you facing several copies of the same dark character, where only one is real. If you damage a fake one below 60%, they will heal and reshuffle, which is super annoying. You can take out the weaker sorcerer enemies to remove the fake duplicates, but if you happen to defeat the real deal, all the duplicates will leave weapon drops, so you're inclined to try your luck. At first I even was under the impression that they always start out the same, so you can quickly replay them, once you figured out the starting positions of the real versions. There are even three of these mission right next ot each other in the the swamp area, which is a good spot to get the Ulrira and Power Bracelet Item Cards, if you really need them. But it turned out that this was just luck on my end and it's somewhat random, how these missions start, so you can't just shortcut through them and get lots of weapon drops in the meantime.
There don't seem to be any new types of Adventure Battles, but the whole map uses a new companion mechanic in many of them. This is based on Marin and similar characters following you around in Link's Awakening. Here you suddenly get fresh support, where either Marin, Linkle or Medli appear out of nowhere and help you out. This is a nice idea and offers some new dialogues, but at first it also felt very unusual. Normally all the odds are against you and the game doesn't just offer something nice to help you out. So, when Marin appeared for the first time, I actually expected her to turn and suddenly attack me, partly due to the misleading German translation, which says that "Marin is marching against you"... But overall the Koholint Map is oddly nice to you in many different ways.
What's not so nice is Koholint in the NES 8-Bit style. That not only does look wrong, they translated the map very badly. The Koholint Map is 14 x 6 screens large, so it's one line shorter than the Wind Waker maps. And the Tal Tal Mountain Range is already taking two lines on the top, which looks too spacious. For example the screens above Level 4 almost only contain water to represent the flooded areas, which were quite tiny on the GameBoy. The entire rest of Koholint then got comprised to four lines! The Tail Cave and the beach share one screen and you get Mabe Village right above. And that just doesn't work out, it looks really weird and everything is all over the place. For example the graveyard got placed two screens east of Level 3, while it normally would be north of it. And with some places I couldn't even identify what they are supposed to represent. And I know the GameBoy Koholint like the back of my hand, I grew up with that game.
It's too wide and too short in height. They should have made it 11 x 8 screens and the mountains should only take one line of screens, instead of two. Then everything could be, where it's supposed to be. That's my only real gripe with this Adventure Map, but I can live with this weird version of Koholint, since the overall playability of the map turned out really great.
It's also full of rewards. Besides the empty screens covered by the nightmares, there are new weapons and costumes on every turn. In case of the new character and weapon type, Marin and the Pegasus Boots, this did feel very cramped, however. You basically just got the weapon's second tier and you already have to face the tier 3 mission next. There's little to no room to make actual improvements with the new additions, if you swiftly proceed through the map. But I suppose, it's better than the Wii U alternative, where the DLC characters and weapons got completely kept off the new Adventure Maps. It's nice to have some missions for them.
At times it also felt quite thoughtful, where they placed the individual rewards and how the missions were designed on the respective locations. That's not always the case, but the Eagle Tower would be a very good example. You actually fight a Helmaroc King on Skyloft and you get Linkle's Evil Eagle color costume as a reward. The same mission also offers the Organ of Evening Calm, of course.
I also really enjoyed collecting all the Skulltula illustration pieces in order, which formed another amazing illustration piece. I will put this under a spoiler button:
More impressions about the Rewards Map will follow right after this post! That's it for the Koholint Map and I hope that the future DLC Adventure Maps will be equally enjoyable.