Sunday, January 31, 2016

Remaking Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks

While replaying Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks it became very apparent to me that these two games are going to be the next big Zelda remakes, maybe even made by Grezzo. I know that a lot of Zelda fans are probably sick of remakes / remasters by now, especially Twilight Princess HD seems somewhat unnecessary at the moment, but it's also partly our own fault, since we literally begged for Majora's Mask 3D to happen. Anyway, I'm not talking about this generation, but about the next with the NX and whatever there may come. Right now you can still play these games on both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, so there's no direct demand. We all want Zelda U next and if we get bored in a couple of years, let us have these.



Graphics

The current Wii U versions certainly do tell their age. The Nintendo DS wasn't really great for 3D graphics starting with an entire lack of shading and quite pixelated 3D visuals. When I rode the train in Spirit Tracks, I constantly imagined, how the beautiful the game world would look like in a 3D or HD remake. Of all Zelda games these two certainly would require the graphics update the most, since early 3D graphics didn't age well, unlike 2D sprite graphics, which still look fine today.


Controls

A lot of Zelda fans also probably would wish for optional button controls and especially after coming from Tri Force Heroes I also felt the urge to play these games with the GamePad in my hands. However, while an analog stick or slide pad certainly offers the same precision as the touchscreen controls, it would not offer the same speed. This is very obvious with the archery minigames, where there's no way that you would be able to pull off a high score with button controls. You really need that point and click speed.

But for the most part I could see the games working with button controls, at least during topdown view. The boat and train rides on the other hand were really developed around touch, but even there I could imagine that you would steer with the left analog stick, view around with right stick and precisely aim with the gyroscope. That could work just fine.

This way you could also play the games on a 3D screen...


Treasure System

This needs to change so badly. There's an annoying level of grinding required in both games, if you want to complete your collections of Ship Parts and Train Cars. And fighting a random number generator is usually not the best use of your gaming time. In Phantom Hourglass the massive size of the collection was an issue, where getting the last few parts could take a while, while in Spirit Tracks they improved the system, but made some treasures super rare for you, so you would have to trade with others.

But Phantom Hourglass should simply follow the approach of Spirit Tracks. Instead of finding the Ship Parts everywhere, you simply buy them from treasures. The best place would be the Treasure Teller in Mercay:


It makes a lot of sense. He has the money and the goods, while he lives right next to Mercay's shipyard. This certainly makes more sense than finding gigantic Ship Parts in small chests... Just replace all those with treasures, which you then use to buy the Ship Parts.

In the game one treasure corresponds to one set of Ship Parts in their values. Like this:

  • Pink Coral ↔ Bright Parts
  • White Pearl Loop ↔ Iron Parts
  • Black Pearl Loop ↔ Stone Parts
  • Zora Scale ↔ Vintage Parts
  • Goron Amber ↔ Demon Parts
  • Ruto Crown ↔ Tropical Parts
  • Helmaroc Feather ↔ Tourist Parts
  • Regal Ring ↔ Golden Parts

And I wouldn't go for crazy prices like in Spirit Tracks, since there are so many Ship Parts. I would simply make it so that one treasure gives you a Ship Part of the corresponding set. So, from a Ruto Crown you can get a new tropical part. And from a Regal Ring you earn a golden part. That way you won't keep getting duplicates like in the original, where you might find five Golden Chimneys in a row, but not that Golden Wheel that you still need. Here you simply would get another gold part, as soon as you find another Regal Ring. And if you've already completed the gold set, you can still sell the Regal Rings for 1500 Rupees, which was their original use.

In Spirit Tracks they just have to get rid of the random rare treasures per savegame. Treasures of the same price should all have the same chance of appearing. This already would improve and fasten things a lot.

But additionally they should also add more spots, where you can find a specific treasure. The game already has this partly: you can get Stalfos Skulls from killing Stalfos, you can get Bee Larva from destroying bee hives and you will always get a Regal Ring in the Lost at Sea Station. They could do more than that, e.g. scoring high in the Goron Target Range always gives you Goron Amber. Something that makes sense.


Ship Parts and Train Cars Abilities

Tri Force Heroes showed that appearances alone don't matter: the outfits in the game might look interesting, but they most importantly give you different abilities. And this could even be adapted here in various ways by completing a set of Ship Parts and Train Cars.

So, each completed set would offer a certain perk next to the additional hearts. These could be things like:

  • Enhanced Speed
  • Big Cannonballs
  • Triple Cannonballs
  • Scaring Enemies
  • Higher Jumps (PH)
  • Quicker Salvaging (PH)
  • Happier Passengers (ST)
  • Freight Protection (ST)

For example Demon Ship and the Dragon Train scare enemies away, so you won't get attacked as often by pirates and the like. The Iron Ship and Skull Train could offer stronger cannons, while the Cake Train makes its passengers extra happy, so you don't lose points as easily. Stuff like that.


Other Improvements

Since improving the game flow was a big thing in all Zelda remakes so far, the Nintendo DS Zelda games certainly wouldn't be an exception. I guess, the Temple of the Ocean King is the first thing that would come to mind for many Zelda fans, but I personally enjoy it the way it is. They could add more midway points though. Some people only have an issue with repeating sections, so let them skip them. I never use the midway point, because I want to use shortcuts for an optimal time, but I wouldn't mind the option.

But I personally would look more into Spirit Tracks when it comes to improving things, starting with the slow train rides. Just make it faster, problem solved. Add a 3rd gear and maybe a 2nd reverse gear. And maybe even add some of these insane Tears of Light on the overworld for light speed travel. Those could even be unlocked by Force Gems and new tracks, since some of the additional tracks are quite useless. Naturally the boat in Phantom Hourglass also could need an additional gear, but thanks to the teleporting the boat rides are not as tedious already...

The whole Phantom mechanics in Spirit Tracks could also be smoother. Maybe add a way to control the Phantom directly, instead of just drawing paths. The Phantom should also be faster and less prone to run into obstacles.

With Phantom Hourglass I would also want the fishing to be improved, so it's less random, especially getting a Stowfish. Spirit Tracks on the other hand needs a bigger Rabbit Net, which you should get after collecting 10 Rabbits or so. The minigame is way too annoying the way it is...


Additonal Features

Hero Mode from the start. Clear thing. Easy Zelda games are too easy.

With Phantom Hourglass they could also add something similar to the "Take 'Em All On!" challenge, where you fight lots of enemies and have a way to rebattle all bosses again. Don't lock it behind amiibo though...

Replaying Spirit Tracks on the Wii U

Done. This was the third time that I have completed this game. I went for the 100%, so I've caught all Rabbits, unlocked all tracks, got all Train Cars, earned a Diamond membership at Beedle's shop, scored 999 hits in the sword training (technically only 900 is necessary) and so on. I'm even a little sad that it's over. And that's some big statement considering that I usually claim this to be one of my least favorite Zelda games and the Zelda game with the lowest replay value.

Especially when I replayed this game in late 2010 (see here), I complained about, how slow this game really can be. But I guess, I went back to the game too early. Now, five years later, I didn't mind the train riding as much. The beautiful music really helps, as well as the entire scenery, though most of the time I simply imagined, how this pixelated mess would look like in a pretty 3D remake.

Pace

It still takes its time, I clocked 44 hours for this replay, ten more than with Phantom Hourglass. This is easily one of the longest Zelda games to complete, but not because it offers so much content, but because it plays quite slowly and a lot of grinding is required to complete your Train Cars collection.

One example of slowness, which really struck me this time around, are these birds around Papuchia, which you need to get from one small island to the next. In Phantom Hourglass you would simply draw a line with your Grappling Hook and you're over there in a split second. In this game you have to call the birds with a song, then attach to them with you whip and hold as they slowly fly towards your destination... Ugh.

But I've already compared both games in the past, where I pointed out, how Phantom Hourglass plays significantly faster in many ways.

Totem Time

I also wasn't very fond of the entire Phantom mechanics this time around, especially the path drawing feels inconvenient. And the Phantom is a lot slower than you, so you have to keep waiting for it, so the whole gameplay just drags on too much in these parts.


But it was interesting to see, how this game inspired the whole totem mechanic of Tri Force Heroes. I almost forget about these things and after playing Tri Force Heroes a lot, going through these parts again was quite the surprise. The Phantom takes you piggyback, where you use the Whirlwind to blow off enemies riding on Armos. There's even a part, where the Phantom blocks flame throwers in order for you to pass, where a very similar puzzle exists in the Fortress area of Tri Force Heroes.

I also have to say that the final part of the Tower of Spirits is ingenious, easily one of the most clever dungeon parts in the series. This had good replay value, since even though I played this for the third time, I still struggled with some of the solutions. And it's rare to find puzzles of that quality in Zelda. Though a part of it had to do with the fact that you have to cross that long lava pit multiple times, because it takes a while to unlock shortcuts, which was rather badly designed and again adds to the slow pace of this game.

Spirit Flute

While the slow pace wasn't as much of turn-off as the last time, on the Wii U Virtual Console I was faced with an entire new problem. Let me present to you the real final boss of the game:


That's right, the Spirit Flute! Or let's better say the Wii U microphone. It really doesn't work well with this game and now I can fully understand the frustration people had in the original with this feature. On my Nintendo DS Lite playing the Spirit Flute never was an issue - blowing into the mic gave a continuous tone, as it should. If I ever had problems, it was with staying in tact. But the Wii U microphone seems to have some sort of noise filter activated. So, whenever you start blowing into the microphone, it shuts off. Or at least that's my theory, how it works, because it simply doesn't register all your hot air the same way the Nintendo DS did. And this can be super frustrating. Imagine that you want to play the right note, but nothing happens. And it's not your fault.

I'm not even exactly sure, how I did it in the end, but mostly I used short bursts to play every note individually. This, however, might take too long. And sometimes even this doesn't help, where you can blow at the thing all you want and nothing happens. Finding a good angle helps, but mostly it's just luck and you have to keep trying many, many times in order to complete all the Lokomo duets.

This even put me off, when I started to replay the game on the Wii U. Originally I wanted to play this right after Phantom Hourglass, but I ended up playing all the GBC Zelda games instead. I even continued with Harvest Moon GB afterwards, just because I felt replaying that would be more joy than the messed up Spirit Flute. But this week I finally got myself around to finish this despite the technical difficulties.

Nintendo needs to fix this somehow, either get the microphone to work properly or offer a button for microphone input. They still haven't released this elsewhere and this might even have to do with these issues...

Treasures

Another big problem in Spirit Tracks are also the fake rare treasures, which is every completionist's nightmare. Random stuff is bad enough, but random stuff with tampered probabilities is a lot worse. In Spirit Tracks some treasure might appear for you very rarely in order to have an incentive to actually use that Contact Mode with other people. In the original this was already an issue, but on the VC you can't even use this feature anymore and Nintendo didn't bother with fixing this problem, so you're stuck with near endless grinding.

This time I even had it a lot worse than on my cartridge savegames, where only two treasures seemed to be rare at a time. Now, the following five treasures played hard to get:

  • Demon Fossils
  • Star Fragments
  • Dark Pearl Loops
  • Ruto Crowns
  • Mystic Jade

What a mess! In my original playthrough on the Nintendo DS it used to be Wood Hearts and Black Pearl Loops. And when I replayed the game for the first time it was Bee Larva (I believe) and White Pearl Loops / Pearl Necklaces. And now I got this...

This was the first time that a 500 Rupee treasure turned out to be rare for me. And two of both the 50 Rupee and 150 Rupee category. With the 50 Rupee treasures this actually felt natural, since blowing leaves in Whittleton gives you acorns, bee larva and skulls most of the time... things that you actually might find under foliage, as opposed to fossils and crystals. And the Demon Fossils didn't appear to be rare at first, while the Star Fragments did. You only need nine Star Fragments, so this is one of the best treasures to be rare, but it later on appeared more often (though not as often as the others), while the Demon Fossils wouldn't show at all for me. And you need 25 of those...

With the higher prized categories I tried to abuse the Restore Points of the Virtual Console, but it didn't really help much. It felt like the probablities to get that Mystic Jade were around 1%, so I could reload dozens of times without any luck. But similar to Phantom Hourglass the game starts to have these bursts, where you suddenly you keep getting what you need, if you try long enough. Or at least it changes the probabilities temporarily, so a mixture of replaying the same minigame and Restore Points did the trick.

I also noticed, how either the Alchemy Stone / Gold Crystal or the Regal Ring will be rare for you. I went back to my old savegames on the Nintendo DS, where on my 2nd playthrough I didn't have many Alchemy Stones, but lots of Regal Rings. This time it was the other way around, I would find Alchemy Stones in random spots, but Regal Rings only in their set spots. Which actually is better, since you can always get more Regal Rings from the Lost at Sea Station (one of my favorite mini dungeons). The Alchemy Stone doesn't have a similar spot. Though this is only an issue, if you actually sell them.

It's quite weird, how this game is already six years old and in all this time no one has found out, how exactly the whole treasure system works with its probabilities. It would be nice to know...

Restore Points

While they didn't help too much with the treasures, Restore Points were at least very helpful with other things, especially the rabbits. Trying to catch all those can be frustrating, because if you miss, you have to go back to the nearest station. And some of these rabbits are very hard to catch. But luckily this was not an issue on the Virtual Console.

It also enabled me to do the 999 hits in the sword minigame in the "intended" way. Originally I abused a glitch to get there, but I couldn't get it to work this time. So, I decided to do those 999 hits the real way with the assistance of Restore Points, which really makes this bearable. I couldn't do it without it and I have huge respect for anyone, who did.


If A Link Between Worlds will ever be playable with Restore Points, then that's when I will finally complete the game with the 999.99 Cucco Run challenge. Even that would be bearable then.

Fin

Despite all the issues I enjoyed replaying Spirit Tracks more than I thought I would. I probably won't play this game again until there will be some updated remake, which I suspect might already happen in the next generation. Both Nintendo DS Zelda games haven't aged well with those graphics and there are many things to improve here, where I probably make another blog post about this. But it was nice to refresh my memories of this game a little.

Next Zelda games on my replay list are the NES Classics on the 3DS Virtual Console, where I probably just keep praising Restore Points. I will play these in February, which certainly will be a nice fit for the start of the anniversary. And in March I will be busy essentially replaying Twilight Princess with its HD re-release.

After the Nintendo DS Zeldas I also really want to replay Skyward Sword, since it followed these games, but I still don't have a TV yet, so this will have to wait until later this year...

Monday, January 25, 2016

30th Anniversary Banner?

The 30th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda starts on February 21st, in less than a month. And in March Nintendo is already releasing lots of Zelda stuff like Twilight Princess HD, the New Nintendo 3DS XL Hyrule Edition (in Europe) and Hyrule Warriors Legends in the West. But why is nothing here already put under the 30th Anniversary banner?



(image by Alexander Martinez)

Well, some of these things were already released earlier in other regions, but at least Twilight Princess HD should fully fall under the 30th Anniversary releases. And in 2011 nearly everything Zelda was released under the 25th Anniversary banner, starting with the Ocarina of Time 3D soundtrack CD. So, why not here? What are they waiting for?

Okay, in 2011 the Anniversary banner was already revealed at GDC in March, but they waited for the E3 to reveal their full 25th Anniversary plans, so Ocarina of Time 3D itself didn't receive this label at first. And the same might happen right now with Twilight Princess HD and all the other March releases. It's still quite curious, because it feels like they would start advertising all these products with the anniversary right away, instead of waiting until E3, just for the hype of it.

And what will be left? 2011 had the reveal of 25th Anniversary concerts, the Four Swords Anniversary Edition, Hyrule Historia, Skyward Sword with a golden Wii Remote and more. There were quite some big surprises and I wonder, what surprises the 30th Anniversary will offer.

Naturally the Zelda game for Wii U will get the most attention and considering that the 30th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros. focused almost solely on Super Mario Maker, it's entirely possible that Zelda U will be the entire focus of the 30th Anniversary as well. Aonuma said that there might be 30th Anniversary concerts, but that's nothing new or surprising, especially since they have Zelda concerts all year long.

But what else could they do? We have been recently teased by the new president Kimishima that Nintendo is licensing movies and TV animes, where something for Zelda would certainly be a surprise, which might please many Zelda fans...

I'm also considering the possibility of a smaller release, maybe revolving around the first Zelda game, like a new Zelda game that is made in a similar style, though we certainly had our share of remakes, remasters and requels in the last years. But The Legend of Zelda for the Wii U is going to be the 19th Zelda game, unless they put some small game before that, because then Zelda U would be the 20th Zelda game during the 30th Anniversary, offering a double anniversary. For this the release would have to be something original though or at least something similar to A Link Between Worlds, because remakes, remasters and re-releases don't count.

This brings me back to my idea of Random Zelda, where you might have a game following the style of the first Zelda game, which randomly generates worlds and dungeons each time you play it. This could be interesting, but it would also fall behind Super Mario Maker, while being too similar at the same time.

With the 25th Anniversary they wanted to avoid doing the same things they did for Mario and this will probably apply to the 30th Anniversary of Zelda as well, while at the same time they want to avoid copying the 25th Anniversary of Zelda. Nintendo wants to surprise people for better or worse, where a Zelda anime certainly would feel different enough from anything they've done so far, not counting that 90s TV show (though I personally find that one hilarious). Imagine an anime in the same art style as Zelda U - the game already gives you a certain anime vibe, which could be expanded upon.

Anyway, still I would like to see something like the "Realm of Memories" as a new set of levels for Tri Force Heroes as a 30th Anniversary gift, though this would be quite similar to Four Swords in 2011. And they probably shouldn't wait until E3 to release new content for Tri Force Heroes, this game needs attention now.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Twilight Princess HD: Poe Lantern?

Nintendo Minute posted a video tour of Twilight Princess HD last night and it revealed a couple more improvements. What they show directly is the quick transform, where you just have to tap the GamePad to transform between human and wolf, which sure is handy.

But there is something even more interesting. If you look at the HUD, you can spot a new lantern item on the Y button:


This isn't the classic lantern, which looks like this:


Nintendo of Europe updated their artworks for this game, which is where I got this image from, so the design of the normal Lantern hasn't changed. And the new item rather looks like the lanterns carried by Poes:


Now, this is very interesting! What could it do?

It could be an upgrade for the normal lantern, which doesn't require any oil. But that alone would be rather boring and unnecessary. And one of my suggestions for the HD release was a way to change time in the form of an item. And this could be it, it's even a very good choice. Whenever you take out the lantern, it turns night. Or Poes appear even during the day.

The main reason, why I want to change the daytime, is collecting Poes. So, as long as the Poe Lantern helps with that, I'm happy. It could also do both upgrade the normal lantern and act as a help for collecting Poes. We will see.

As to where you get it, it could simply be a reward for collecting a smaller number of Poe Souls, like 10 or 20. In the original this quests lacked some rewards, especially when compared to the different rewards you got from Skulltula hunting in Ocarina of Time. But in Twilight Princess you got a new bottle at 20 Poe Souls and the infinite Rupees at 60. It could make sense to change this up a little in order to squeeze the Poe Lantern in there somewhere. But it could also be hidden on Kakariko Graveyard, where it thematically would fit in very well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Twilight Princess HD: Ganondorf & Wolf Link amiibo Features

With the upcoming Famitsu there is more info about the use of (sc)amiibo in Twilight Princess HD and you can find the details here.




Trial of the Beast

So, this "Twilight Cave" turned out to be yet another Cave of Ordeals, this time with 40 floors, where you can only play as a wolf. Boring.

With the remakes Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D I was both times actually hoping for a trial dungeon like this. Now they finally add one, but it's for a game that already has one? Why, Nintendo? Oh, I know why: to sell amiibo...

However, it doesn't strike me as the biggest selling point, since you can already play through the Cave of Ordeals as a wolf. Nothing special here. It even seems like they put this new dungeon in the desert... how original!

The reward is the "Bottomless Wallet" holding 9999 Rupees (not just 2000 as I previously thought), which is the same maximum as in the Nintendo DS Zelda. Considering the Magic Armor it seems way too much and unbalanced, but I don't really care.

The part about the save data still isn't clear yet, but the way I understood it is that you can save your progress in the dungeon on the amiibo. You can then return to floor 35 or whatever, but you will have the same number of hearts as when you've saved. I guess it's not the worst way to use an external memory chip of 8KB, but I was hoping for something more intriguing. At least there seems to be an incentive to keep using the amiibo throughout the dungeon, instead of just using it to open the front door, which is good.

And even if it worked that way, the question remains, what Zelda U will do with the data. Will it just recognize the data to unlock something or will your progress in the Twilight Cave be actually meaningful? We will have to wait and see.


Ganondorf amiibo = Hero Mode²

Now here's some secondary amiibo use that I find clever! If you scan the Ganondorf amiibo, the Heart Meter turns temporarily blue and you will receive double damage during this duration. It's like a curse and it makes perfect sense with the Ganondorf amiibo that it actually would not help you, but Ganondorf in the game. I suppose, it will even stack with the official Hero Mode for an extra self-imposed challenge for whenever you feel like it.

According to Famitsu there won't be any rewards, you just use it to challenge yourself, which is good. It's similar to the Cursed Ring or the Bear Minimum outfit, before it got upgraded by Hero Points. And I like that.

This has it all right. It doesn't unlock anything, but instead it's used for an interesting temporary effect, which can be related to the character and where you might want to keep using the Ganondorf amiibo. Feel like the game is still too easy? Just scan Ganondorf to let him curse you!

I feel like this is an example, where amiibo was done right. This is something, where I might even want to buy the amiibo just for this game, but not because I feel forced to. You're not missing out, if you don't have the amiibo, since there's already the Hero Mode, but it's a worthwhile effect to have for the fun of it.

The other Zelda amiibo are not on par with this, they offer small cheats, which might came in handy, but nothing you really would want to have. For example scanning the Toon Link amiibo could change the music into tunes from The Wind Waker... But let's not give them too crazy ideas for the sake of our wallets and as long as I won't miss any content, I'm fine.


But overall I'm not too unhappy with the amiibo effects in this game and certainly not angry, like I felt with the Spinner in Hyrule Warriors. After Tri Force Heroes successfully avoided amiibo for its costumes (which is a good thing), I feel like the (sc)amiibo usage in Zelda U won't turn out too terrible after all.

Hyrule Warriors Legends: One Final Character?

The character select screen in Hyrule Warriors Legends has space for 5 x 5 characters, that's 25 in total, while so far there only have been 24 announced. This already let me to believe that there would be one more character left last year.

Now, today Koei Tecmo showed the new character roster on the Wii U (video) and things have gotten even more apparent:


If they didn't plan to add at least one more character, then they would have set the column lower by one for a better fit.

We also know now all the element types of the new characters and weapons from Legends. It's pretty equal with only Water getting two new entries, which it really needed, since it was the only element, which didn't see any DLC weapons in Hyrule Warriors. This is the current count:

  • Light: 7
  • Darkness: 10
  • Fire: 7
  • Water: 6
  • Lightning: 6

But I would not focus too much on the element count anymore, it hasn't been balanced ever since the original game. My best guesses are either Toon Ganondorf or Groose.

So far Ganondorf is the only major character that didn't get an alternative version. Both Link and Zelda have three different outings by now and even Midna got two. Toon Ganondorf is quite different in his form than the other Ganondorfs, so he as an individual character could work. His attacks would yield the dual Katana and probably involve Puppet Ganon.

Then Skyward Sword didn't get all that much attention in the form of characters and Groose has been a popular request in the U.S., so this wish might come true. He would have some form of Bomb Flower shooting mortar as a new Fire type weapon. I would also love to see Batreaux from the game using dual scythes as his weapon of choice.

Ocarina of Time didn't get too much attention either, where Nabooru would make an awesome new character. There are also good character choices left from Majora's Mask like Mikau or the Deku Princess, but I doubt that we will see those before a potential Hyrule Warriors 2.

It also would make a lot of sense to have Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword DLC packs for Hyrule Warrios Legends, each offering a new Adventure Map with an 8-Bit-version of their worlds, since by now we got Adventure Maps for The Legend of Zelda, Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. It seems like there is a new total of 60 Heart Containers, where you currently can get to 50. Probably 5 Heart Containers again per new Map. But we will see. (And apparently level 99 is the maximum again, thank Nayru! I really hope that they won't change this and that the overall difficulty is less tedious than on the Wii U.)

Maybe one pack comes with a new character and the other with a new weapon, like a Horse weapon for Ganondorf in the Ocarina of Time pack and Groose in the Skyward Sword pack.

Update: It turned out to be Medli with a Light type weapon (harp). And we're getting another column of DLC characters, at least four of them.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

All Zelda Games on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U

The Nintendo GameCube on its time was quite special for Zelda fans, because it allowed you to play all 13 existing Zelda on one system thanks to the Collector's Edition and the GameBoy Player peripheral.

Today things are not as simple and after a related question on Reddit, I thought it was a good idea to compile a list, what Zelda games you can actually play on Nintendo's current gen systems, if you bought them now.



Nintendo 3DS

These are the main releases for the (New) Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 2DS, both available as boxed retail editions or as downloads on the eShop:

  • Ocarina of Time 3D
  • Majora's Mask 3D
  • A Link Between Worlds
  • Tri Force Heroes
  • Hyrule Warriors Legends (coming March 2016)

You can also download the following classics on the eShop and play them via Virtual Console:

  • The Legend of Zelda (NES)
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (NES)
  • Link's Awakening DX (GBC)
  • Oracle of Ages (GBC)
  • Oracle of Seasons (GBC)

In addition the Nintendo 3DS offers backwards compatibility to Nintendo DS games, which allows you to play the following cartridge games:

  • Phantom Hourglass
  • Spirit Tracks
  • Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland

Early on two more games were available as free downloads:

  • Four Swords Anniversary Edition (DSiWare)
  • The Minish Cap (GBA)

The Minish Cap was given to early adopters and the Four Swords Anniversary Edition was a gift during the 25th Anniversary of Zelda. It's entirely possible that GBA games might come to the New Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console and they might make Four Swords available again during the 30th Anniversary, but right now you can only play them on systems, which still have them installed, but not on brand new ones.

Anyway, you can play up to 13 out of 19 official Zelda games on the Nintendo 3DS. The games, which you simply can't play, are A Link to the Past, Four Swords Adventures, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword and the upcoming game for Wii U.


Wii U

These are the main releases for Nintendo's current home console, which are both available as retail discs and eShop downloads:

  • The Wind Waker HD
  • Twilight Princess HD (coming March 2016)
  • Hyrule Warriors
  • The Legend of Zelda U (coming 2016)

The following games can be played on the Wii U Virtual Console:

  • The Legend of Zelda (NES)
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (NES)
  • A Link to the Past (SNES)
  • Ocarina of Time (N64)
  • Majora's Mask (N64)
  • The Minish Cap (GBA)
  • Phantom Hourglass (NDS)
  • Spirit Tracks (NDS)

Majora's Mask isn't available on the Wii U eShop yet, but you can still get it on the Wii Shop Channel, which is offered by backwards compatibility along with the following Wii releases:

  • Twilight Princess
  • Link's Crossbow Training
  • Skyward Sword

Overall 12 out of 19 official Zelda games can be played on the Wii U. The ones unavailable are Link's Awakening, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures, A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes.


There's only two Zelda games, which you can't play, if you buy a Nintendo 3DS and Wii U now: Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures. This makes me suspect that they will at least re-release the Four Swords Anniversary Edition during the 30th Anniversary, just to make the collections look more complete. And they might do something with Four Swords Adventures in the future, because otherwise this gem will be lost completely. However, right now the focus will certainly be on Tri Force Heroes, so I'm not expecting them to port or remake this multiplayer game anytime soon.

Friday, January 15, 2016

100% Completion FAQ

I've recently got people asking me about what does and doesn't count for 100% in a Zelda game, both via email and comments, so I've decided to write a blog post about this topic.

ZeldaWiki has a good 100% Completion page, where you can find all the individual requirements for every game, so I'm not going to list this here again. I've even been contributing to this page in the past, before it got locked, so it should be correct for the most part.

But overall this is a very subjective matter with entirely different views. Some people like to call having everything in their inventory "100%" for the sake of convenience, ignoring everything else there might be. Other people tend to go into extremes, where even the most dedicated Zelda fans would feel like wasting their time. I like to find a middle ground with certain logical rules for 100% completion.

A general way to sum it up is: complete every task that results in a reward or permanent (positive) change in the game world. This may contain tasks like:

  • All Heart Containers gotten
  • All collections completed
  • All items found
  • All upgrades for items and capacities gotten
  • All dungeon items acquired (Map, Compass, etc.)
  • All maps completed / fully visited
  • All bombable walls and rocks destroyed
  • All treasure chests opened
  • All dialogue changes triggered
  • All world rewards unlocked (e.g. cow in hourse)
  • Best ending accessible
  • All checkmarks on your save file checked
  • All achievements cleared (Big Plays, Challenges, etc.)

Those don't apply to every game, for example Majora's Mask keeps resetting the entire game world, so only your inventory and your maps are relevant for completion.

And "completion" is truly the keyword that you need to keep in mind. It's about things that get unlocked and saved permanently, tasks that offer some sort of one-time-reward, even if it's just some Rupees or some nifty hole in a wall.

In the following I will talk about certain deeper topics, which have risen as questions about the pseudo science of 100% completion...


Hero Mode / 2nd Quest

If there's a 2nd Quest or Hero Mode playthrough, then you usually want to have your 100% savegame in that mode, since beating the game in highest difficulty is a normal task for completion or because there are additional rewards. The Hero Mode in The Wind Waker HD doesn't count though, because it is only an option, which you can toggle on and off at any time and where the game doesn't keep any record. The 2nd Quest does count, though it technically isn't much different from the normal game. If it wasn't for the changed Treasure Charts, it would only offer aesthetic changes, which could be negligible.

With certain games you might want to have completed savegames in both modes. The Master Quest for Ocarina of Time 3D is a good example, because it basically acts as its own game. It even used to be a standalone game on the GameCube. Also, with the original The Legend of Zelda, the 2nd Quest is so vastly different that you might want to copy your completed 1st Quest before starting the 2nd Quest.

With the Oracle games it is even strictly necessary to have two savegames, because playing the games in only one order will never result in 100%. But you need to start with the same Hero's Secret, because this marks the file with a Triforce, gives you an otherwise missing Heart Container and lets you share your rings. And then you have to continue with a Linked Game. Do this in both orders and you're golden.

Verdict: go do your 100% in a Hero Mode file, sometimes do both


Multiplayer

There are some things that you might want to achieve, but you can't, because you're missing other players and/or the right peripherals. Here are some examples in the Zelda series:

  • Completing A Link to the Past & Four Swords on the GBA
  • The Tingle Tuner quests in The Wind Waker
  • 16 Big Plays in Phantom Hourglass
  • 50 StreetPass Challenges in A Link Between Worlds
  • 128 Multiplayer Challenges in Tri Force Heroes
  • 15 Friendly Tokens in Tri Force Heroes

Some of these can be done entirely alone, for example A Link Between Worlds generates Shadow Links in fixed intervals, it just takes forever to do all challenges this way. Or you can use a second Nintendo DS / 3DS system and Downplay Play to achieve some goals, like getting the 16 Big Plays and 15 Friendly Tokens.

But other things are impossible on your own, like completing Four Swords on the GBA for example. In that case you're out of luck and can just do whatever is possible in the scope of singleplayer completion.

One exception would be the Virtual Console versions of the games. In Phantom Hourglass on the Wii U it's impossible to play the multiplayer, so it certainly wouldn't count and only the singleplayer scope applies.

Verdict: better get some friends, who like Zelda


Choices

Certain Zelda games let you make choices, which alter characters, your items and even the entire game world, but for 100% completion it's usually irrelevant, what choices you make. The only exception would be the old men in The Legend of Zelda, who give or take Heart Containers. Never take the Potion and always pay the Rupees, because otherwise you won't have the full 16 Heart Containers in the end.

Everything else is pretty much up to you. Here's what choices can be made throughout the Zelda series with the number of possible outcomes in parenthesis:

  • The first photo in Link's Awakening DX (2)
  • Your animal buddy in Oracle of Ages & Seasons (3)
  • Bipin and Blossom's son in Oracle of Ages & Seasons (5)
  • The two Oracle houses in The Minish Cap (6)
  • Your relation with Peatrice in Skyward Sword (2)
  • Cawlin's letter in Skyward Sword (2)

Both the Oracle games and Skyward Sword encourage multiple playthroughs and with that it's probably a good idea to change things up when replaying the games, just to have savegames with different outcomes for your display. For example you could like Peatrice on your first game and then reject her in Hero Mode.

But this has nothing to do with 100% completion and it's entirely up to you, what you prefer. Maybe you find a certain outcome superior and to be the only real choice, like having Nayru in the blue house and Din in the red house in The Minish Cap.

In case of Bipin and Blossom's son it would even be impossible to store all five different outcomes with one copy of the game...

Verdict: choices don't count, but you still want to consider what choices to make


Missable items

They are the bane of every completionist. You're at the end of the game realizing that there are certain items, which can't be acquired anymore. So, you have to start over from the beginning. And yes, these things do count for 100% completion.

Luckily this happens only rarely in the Zelda series with the following examples being the most well known ones:

  • Multiple Heart Containers in The Legend of Zelda (see choices)
  • 4 photos in Link's Awakening DX
  • Deku Nut capacity upgrade in Ocarina of Time (glitch)
  • 15 figurines in The Wind Waker
  • Light Arrows in The Minish Cap
  • 2 Letters from Ooccoo in Twilight Princess

Here you can find a complete list of things to permanently miss in Zelda.

With the remakes there also have been some improvements in this department. For example you can't miss that Deku Nut upgrade in Ocarina of Time 3D anymore. And thanks to the Tingle Bottles it's also possible to complete your figurine collections at any time in The Wind Waker HD.

Verdict: better not miss those!


Counters

While some people like to have 99 of everything for their perfect savegames, anything that is subject to change doesn't count for 100% completion. This includes numbers of items, statistics like death counters and similar. These things go into the territory of creating a "perfect snapshot" and are sometimes just nice to have, but not necessary. They are purely of aesthetic nature and not part of unlocking things.

For example in Ocarina of Time the item counters will be colored green, if they are at maximum. This looks pretty and I also like to fill all pockets, before making my final save. But it has nothing to with the game's completion. You could just fire those arrows and spend all your Rupees right away. These things don't stick permanently.

In some cases it would also be exhausting or go into unhealthy extremes. Imagine grinding 99 of every Ship Part in Phantom Hourglass or 99 of every material in Tri Force Heroes... Having found at least one of each during the course of the game to unlock their entry is enough. You could always sell them again, so having 99 pieces is nothing permanent.

Statistics are similar, even though they have a permanent nature and usually a clear maximum and minimum. For example you can have collected 99999 Rupees in A Link Between Worlds in total, but you could also have 99999 deaths... And do you really want that?

With death counters Zelda fans like to go for the noble "000", because it looks good, but this is also just for your personal satisfaction and not part of the game's completion. It's also nothing permanent, because you technically could die in your savegame and make that a "001". You could then only aim for the 999 deaths to make it look special. In the NES classics it was even impossible to have a zero death savegame, since saving counted as a defeat.

A special case might be Link's Awakening, because the best ending is only accessible from a 000 death run. So, this is a special exception, where you truly want the zero deaths on your savegame. But technically it's also not a subject of completion, since it can be changed at any time.

Verdict: counters don't count (pun intended)


Minigame Records

Minigame records are a similar topic like counters and their maximums, because with some minigames you can achieve perfect scores. The 2000 points at the Horseback Archery in Ocarina of Time might be the most prominent example, which many people like to get for their savegames. And of course this acts as a permanent change, so you could argue that this is part of 100% completion, especially if these records are displayed somewhere. Still, this dives more into statistics and cosmetics than actual completion. And while 2000 points in the Horseback Archery is easy enough, trying to get a perfect score in Octoball might drive you insane.

This is why the general consensus is that minigame records only count, if they unlock some reward. In case of your typical larger quiver and Heart Pieces this should be clear, but there are also less obvious rewards like dialogue and environment changes, which you have to consider.

For example 999 hits in the sword training games of The Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks gives you special titles with certain characters. This isn't much of a reward, but it does count. But the most evil and well known example is probably the 999.99 Seconds Cucco Run in A Link Between Worlds, because this unlocks a Giant Cucco, which even then appears in the ending. This only counts because of the reward, if the Cucco would unlock after 100 seconds, you wouldn't need to go for the 1000 seconds. So, yeah, most people will probably never achieve 100% in A Link Between Worlds including myself.

Now, with minigames that have an open ended score the case should be clearer. You potentially would have to hunt for world records to have a "100% completion", if you count these scores. So, you don't. You only go for the records, which give you the rewards. And the same logic should be applied to minigames with a maximum score.

Verdict: minigame records only count, if there is some reward


Treasure Chests

Do you really have to open all treasure chests in a Zelda game for 100% completion? Yes, you do. But... only in dungeons there are clear indicators for whether you have opened all treasure chests or not. If you're missing any, the Compass shows them on the map. And then you should grab them, because those are clear goals in the game, even if they just contain some useless Rupees.

Now, with chests on the overworld you usually don't have them marked on the map and there is no check mark for having opened all treasure chests in the game. It would be nice to get some small treasure chest icon on your save file for that, but there isn't. And since there isn't, it doesn't really matter at all, even if they technically do count. You can always claim that you found all chests and the only way to prove you wrong would be going through the entire game world and checking every chest individually. And even if there's one to be found, we would be right back to theoretical 100% again, since you can just go to that chest and open it now that you've found it. It's basically a completion paradox thanks to the lack of any indicators.

And ignorance is bliss. It wouldn't be the first time that I've thought that I had found all chests, only to discover some cleverly hidden chest somewhere later. You never can be sure.

But if you want to be thorough, the best way is using check lists. For example I like to use this Light Ring Chart for whenever I replay The Wind Waker, so I don't miss any of the sunken chests in the ocean. Or there are good maps for the NES Classics showing you all hidden secrets.

With Twilight Princess there are check lists for treasure chests in the official Prima Guide, which is also quite helpful for this game, because there are lots of hidden chests and grottos, which are easy to miss. There are also these rocks on the overworld, which you can blow up with a bomb, so called "Bomb Rocks". Those give you Rupees and they stay destroyed, leaving little stones as marks of their existence. Those are basically just a different form of treasure chests and they do also count. And there are many of them, quite some of them hidden under water. However, from my knowledge the check lists in the official Prima Guide are incomplete and therefore only partially helpful. But I will try to find something on the internet, because this would be nice to have for playing Twilight Princess HD soon.

With the other Zelda games it's usually not to hard to find everything by going through the game normally, so I don't resort to check lists there. And in the multiplayer Zelda games treasure chests won't matter at all, because the levels reset every time. The same goes for Majora's Mask.

Verdict: only really matters, when marked on maps, unless you like to be thorough

Tri Force Heroes: More Insights into Hero Points

I've kept playing a lot of Tri Force Heroes, mostly to help friends and other people from the ZeldaEurope Community out with their challenges. By now I've clocked over 180 hours and got over 100 Hero Points:


There are several ways on how to get Hero Points other than not winning a roulette. Those are:

  • Chosing "I don't care" in the level select.
  • Chosing "I don't care" for the challenges.
  • Repeating a zone in the Den of Trials.

You have to complete the level after chosing "I don't care", of course. I was also pleasantly surprised about getting Hero Points in the Den of Trials, but it makes fully sense, since there are people, who like to drop out, just because they can't start at the Baneful Zone. Nintendo probably should have advertised this, though.

And this is, how I accumulated so many Hero Points. There's even a small reward, if you get more than 100. The dialogue with the doppel in town changes a 2nd time:


After 30 Hero Points it tells you that there's no dust anymore on the doppel. After 100 Hero Points it's supposedly polished and the pride of the town. Update: After 150 Hero Points the dialogue changes a little bit again. Now people from everywhere are coming to visit.

I don't know, if this text goes back to its previous state, if you lose Hero Points again, but it probably does. This also makes me undecided, whether this actually counts for 100% or not. It's technically not permanent, since you could start losing them again, but on the other hand the same goes for having zero deaths in Link's Awakening.

But I'm currently preparing a post about all these 100% questions, what should count and what not...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Twilight Princess HD: Hero Mode, Twilight Cave & amiibo (Leak)

Amazon France accidentally leaked some new features of Twilight Princess HD (source), so let's talk about them!


Hero Mode & Inventory from The Wind Waker HD

Hero Mode now got confirmed and it seems to work the same way as in The Wind Waker HD, so it's an option, which you can select right from the start. This is the minimum, but at least it's something!

Also, the inventory seems to have the same touchscreen functionality as in The Wind Waker HD. At this point I would speculate that there is also Pro Controller support, but if there were optional Wii controls, they probably would have put this into the product listing. But let's see.

I still hope that the mirrored game world will be preserved in some way, just to make this the ultimate version of the game, though I probably wouldn't miss it, since I've originally played the GameCube version first and have memorized the world the way it is there. The Wii version terribly confuses me...


Twilight Cave & Wolf Link amiibo

They also have shared some more interesting details. The good news is that there will be a new dungeon, called the Twilight Cave. The bad news is that you will need the Wolf Link amiibo to enter it.


This seems like a slap in the face for me. With every previous remake of a 3D Zelda game I was hoping for a new dungeon, because that's what Link's Awakening DX, the original "remake", offered to lure fans. With Ocarina of Time 3D I was hoping for a Cave of Ordeals, with Majora's Mask 3D I was hoping for a 3rd Skulltula House and with The Wind Waker HD I was simply hoping for something new... Now, with Twilight Princess HD I didn't even dare to ask for a new dungeon anymore, because by now I was convinced that's only something they do for 2D games.

It's nice to be proven wrong with this, finally I'm getting my bonus dungeon! About time! But of course they had to put it behind another amiibo rip-off to ruin the fun... New content should act as an incentive to buy and play the remake for anyone, who has already played the original. But Nintendo probably realized that most fans are buying the remakes anyway and now they add new content as an incentive to buy additional figurines. Nintendo is leeching on their fans these days and this might not end happily...

The only way, where this Twilight Cave amiibo paywall would be justified, is when the Wolf Link amiibo is really needed as a gameplay feature throughout the entire dungeon and not just as a key to enter the thing. After all there will be save data stored on the amiibo, so I'm willing to wait and see, what they have planned here, before I complain too much about it.

It could make sense, if this dungeon was meant for Wolf Link. A wolf-only dungeon was a common suggestion from fans over the years for something that the game is missing, so maybe Nintendo is just following these ideas. And if the Wolf Link amiibo is used to interact with the dungeon in an interesting way, I would accept that. But if it only opens the front door, then Nintendo has some serious issues.

(Also, this might be the place, where you find the largest wallet as a reward.)


Other amiibo

In the very least it seems like they did the right thing with the other Zelda amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. series. They act as small cheats, whenever you scan them, they will refill your hearts, arrows and the like. This is something I like - imagine running low on hearts in the Cave of Ordeals and scanning the Zelda amiibo to heal yourself, haha. It acts as a fun cheat, but as someone, who's not collecting amiibo, I'm not missing out on content.

I'm sure that some of the amiibo fans won't like it, but that's usually a good sign. You should collect the amiibo, because you love the figurines and not because you expect them to unlock new exclusive content in every game.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Twilight Princess HD: Smaller Light Vessel, Bigger Wallet

It looks like my suggestions for Twilight Princess HD from last night are not completely outdated yet, since the Famitsu article didn't have any new information. It did have new screenshots though (scans are found and NintendoEverything) and if you take a good look, you can actually find some smaller changes in them:


It appears that there are fewer Tears of Light to collect in the Lanayru Province, since the Vessel of Light only holds 12 tears, instead of the 16 tears in the original. So, I guess, this remake really does follow in the steps of The Wind Waker HD. It has the same interface and The Wind Waker HD mainly focused on small changes, which effectively improved the game flow, like having a faster sail or less Triforce Charts.

With Twilight Princess quite some people complained about the tedious tear collecting and it makes sense that would want to shorten this up a little. I personally didn't mind these parts too much (other than completely ruining the exploration of new areas), so I'm curious to find out, what tears now are gone.

Another addition seems to be a larger wallet, which holds up to 2000 Rupees. This was actually one of my exact suggestions, so that's nice. It's nothing special, but a larger wallet is something that you could potentially add to all 3D Zelda games as an additional reward (except maybe Skyward Sword, which already has a 9900 Rupee limit). The same goes for additional bottles, which they did in Majora's Mask 3D. I also wouldn't mind a fifth bottle in Twilight Princess, which is something, the Cave of Ordeals always should have offered.

The real question is, how will you get this larger wallet. Originally all wallet upgrades were gotten from Agitha and seeing, how she grew more prominent with Hyrule Warriors, they might have expanded her quest. Less bugs in the Twilight Realm, more bugs for Agitha!

It also really could come from some new features, something related to the amiibo or a Boss Rush. amiibo would be a bad choice though, since the larger wallet is helping with the Rupee problem in this game, so it shouldn't be something, which you only can get from optional toy figurines.

And of course there's the possibility that they simply changed the capacities of the three originals wallets... Would be boring though.


But learning that this remake also will offer some improvements like The Wind Waker HD makes me confident that there will be at least an option for Hero Mode. This is minimal effort anyway... And it's kind of sad, how Nintendo managed to lower your expectations to such a minimum over the years. In the past, when a remake was at the horizon, I would dream about additional dungeons, a Master Quest mode and more. And today you're hoping for a simple option that makes you take double damage, because it's entirely possible that Nintendo might just leave even that out.

Suggestions for Twilight Princess HD

We're getting new info about Twilight Princess HD in the next Famitsu, so this is probably the last time, where I can go all in with what I want from this remake, besides better graphics.



Optional Wii Controls

While I certainly will just play the game with the GamePad, it would be nice to keep the Wiimote and Nunchuk controls as an option. But I do have to wonder, how they will handle Link's handedness. On the Wii they mirrored the entire game to make him right-handed and it would be weird, if they kept this, because switching the control options would flip the entire game and confuse you.

But flipping the entire game was a rather radical last minute solution anyway, they just could have flipped Link's model and adapted his interactions instead, in order to keep the game world as it was supposed to be. And hopefully that's what Nintendo will be doing, if they decide to offer multiple control options.


Hero Mode

The game certainly was too easy, so having double or triple damage and no hearts might help with that. If they only do this, I want it to be an option like in The Wind Waker HD, which you can toggle on and off at any time. Or at least something that veteran players can chose right from the start. If there's a 2nd Quest, it should offer more than just the usual Hero Mode laziness. Which leads me to my next point...


2nd Quest

We didn't have a real Master Quest in a long time, so I would like to see something like that here. I guess, as a start they could use the mirrored world for a 2nd Quest similar to the Master Quest in Ocarina of Time 3D. This way the mirrored world wouldn't be lost, but it also wouldn't be a weird control scheme option.

And I never understand, why they can't just add more / tougher enemies. That should be like the minimum effort. I'm not expecting a full blown Master Quest all the time with reworked dungeons full of tricky puzzles and nasty traps. But in the very least increase the amount of dangerous enemies. Like in Tri Force Heroes they did this for the challenges of the Forest Area levels, but in later areas they completely forgot... Or the dungeons of A Link Between Worlds could have been so much more interesting with some more Eyegores in them...

Same here. Add some Darknuts to the Lakebed Temple and let me fight four of them in the Temple of Time. This stuff doesn't have to be exclusive to the Cave of Ordeals...


Boss Challenge

Well, at least the game has actually a Cave of Ordeals, but another neat feature is a Boss Rush, which would be awesome here, since some of the bosses are really fun to play, especially Stallord and Zant. Having an option to repeat those and set some records would be nice. Again, Ocarina of Time 3D shows, how it's done. Maybe they could even use Link's house for this again.

If there needs to be a reward, a bigger wallet (like 2000 Rupees) would help with another big problem in the game...


Rupees

DON'T MAKE ME PUT THEM BACK IN A CHEST... DON'T TELL ME, HOW MUCH THEY ARE WORTH EVERY TIME I BOOT THE GAME... This was so annoying. Some bad choices were made here and this needs to be fixed for more quality playing time.

The main reason in Twilight Princess to collect Rupees was to buy the Magic Armor, so I could burn Rupees, whenever I wanted to collect more Rupees that I just found in a chest. And I don't care, if my wallet is full, I want to have opened all chests in the game and not backtrack later on for some Rupees. At least they should give you "Yes" or "No" option, if you want to put it back.

And telling you, how much blue, yellow or red Rupees are actually worth once per play session was hopefully just a stupid oversight in the original, which the testers failed to notice, because they never leave the game... Though it's much, much worse in Skyward Sword with the treasures, which is one of the reasons, why I would prefer Skyward Sword HD over this.

But with Twilight Princess they just would have to remove these messages, let you pick up Rupees, when your wallet is full, and maybe also give you a bigger wallet. 5000 Rupees might be too much, because of the Magic Armor, but 2000 Rupees would be nice to have.


Fifth Bottle

Majora's Mask 3D added a Bottle and so should Twilight Princess HD. And there needs to be one as a reward for the Cave of Ordeals. So, when you beat the Cave of Ordeals for the first time, you shouldn't just get a fill of Great Fairy's Tears, but a new bottle along with it for your efforts.

With The Wind Waker they changed the reward for the Savage Labyrinth twice (10 Rupees first in Japan, then a Piece of Heart and finally the Hero's Charm in the HD version). So, the Cave of Ordeals could use some similar treatment.


Better Poe Hunting

I don't really care, what it is, but I want something capable of changing the daytime, so I don't have to wait for it to be night again, whenever I'm hunting Poe Souls. It could be a new item like a "Twilight Hourglass". It could also be a feature in Midna's menu next to teleporting. Something.

Also, on the map it should give you a mark, when you found all Poe Souls in a certain area, like they did with the Golden Skulltulas in Ocarina of Time. And maybe some more rewards for collecting Poe Souls would be nice, e.g. if there actually is an item that changes the time of day, it could be gotten for 10 Poe Souls.


Rollgoal

Rollgoal on the Wii U GamePad will be a thing, we all know it and no one is looking forward to it. I just hope that they will get rid of the eight "difficulty levels". Two would be more than enough. So, you beat the game once to get the Frog Lure and then you beat it again with strict time limit for the level select. There's no reason to have the same eight levels over and over again just with little less time. Or they could even make additional levels, which shouldn't be too hard...


amiibo

Probably even worse than Rollgoal for the 100% gamers will be amiibo, if they lock too much content behind it. I will get the Special Edition with the Wolf Link amiibo, so I don't really mind, if this thing does unlock something. I just hope that all the other Zelda amiibo won't be strictly necessary, because I only have Link and I don't feel like buying the others...

But good use of amiibo doesn't just give you some silly one time unlocks, like some overpriced paywall. If amiibo were used right, they would do something cool in the game, whenever you scan them. Something fun, where you want to use the figurines again and again, but also something that you wouldn't miss, if you don't have them. Something like temporary costumes or boosts, changing the music, funny interactions with the environment, etc. You should have to actually keep using the amiibo for its features and not just as a one time key for ingame content.

At least the Wolf Link amiibo will have save data on it, which even carries over to Zelda U, but I have no clue, what it could do. So, I will comment on that, as soon as they reveal it. But I'm more worried about the Smash amiibo right now...


Include Link's Crossbow Training

Not going to happen, but it would be awesome to have this as an extra in the game. It re-uses all the assets anyway. This or I want Linkle's Crossbow Training later this year...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Link's Awakening vs. Link's Awakening DX


While replaying the DX version of Link's Awakening yesterday, I actually prefer the original monochrome version, which might seem unusual to most people. The DX version has color, a new dungeon, a new sidequest and more to offer, so why would anyone prefer the original?

It might be a little bit similar to Majora's Mask 3D, but there I feel like the 3DS version is certainly superior, they simply changed some things to the worse like the swimming, the ice arrows and some of the bosses, but overall it's the better version. With Link's Awakening it has to do a lot with the German localization, which lost some of its fun and charm in the DX version, but also with the improvements not being good enough.


The Colors

At the time reliving the experience in color on the GameBoy Color system was the big selling point of the DX version. I even sold my first copy of Link's Awakening, so I could afford the DX version for my new GameBoy Color at the time, only to regret the decision later and even re-buying the original version for my collection years later.

The coloring is not bad, I especially like these green areas, which they had added to the ground and which make the overworld look more lush and green. So, they didn't just simply colorize everything, they also added some texture. But still the colorization looks like an afterthought, which it is, especially when compared to how beautiful Oracle of Ages & Seasons look on the GameBoy Color. The visuals of Link's Awakening had been more optimized for these two games and as a result the overworld in Link's Awakening looks a little bit too unnatural and dark in comparison.

On the other hand they made the dark rooms, which appear in Level 2 and Level 8, too bright. In the original you had to light the torches to see the abysses, but in the DX version you can see everything just fine without the light, which makes these rooms easier than they should be.


And the dungeons in general don't have the best coloring. Turtle Rock looks really awesome in color, I give them that, and some other dungeons like the Key Cavern are certainly okay. But who thought it to be a good idea to have pink dungeon walls? It just looks weird. I guess, it's kind of similar to reading a book and then being disappointed by the movie, because it didn't match your imaginations. The original Link's Awakening has stirred my imaginations more than any other game, since I spent a lot of time with this game as a kid and imagined how Koholinth would look like in real. And then suddenly having purple walls in the dungeons kind of broke the immersion.


The Color Dungeon

Probably the biggest reason to get and prefer the DX version was the new Color Dungeon, which came with new puzzles, enemy types, bosses and more. And it's certainly not a bad addition, especially the Red and Blue Tunics giving you the effects of the Piece of Power and Guardian Acorn permanently were a smart choice for a reward. The remixed classic NES dungeon music is great and the otherwise almost empty graveyard was the perfect spot for its location. Only the boss in the dungeon is very annoying with his constant text interruptions.


But while the dungeon certainly is a nice addition, I don't really miss it on playthroughs of the original version. The game is easy enough as it is, so you don't really need the tunics, they might even make the game too easy, though I really enjoy having the powerful blasts of the Red Tunic.

Also, the dungeon itself is rather uninteresting. It's called "Level 0" and in terms of complexity I would even rank it as such. It just doesn't have as much replay value as almost all the other dungeons of Link's Awakening. Still, a nice addition, which is more than what can be said about the photo quest.


Photo Quest

A good game can get worse by adding new content, if the content is not good enough. This might seem weird at first, but take Hyrule Warriors for example. The original game with the Master Quest DLC felt perfect to me, an overall very enjoyable experience. But starting with the Twilight Princess DLC they made questionable choices and the game turned more and more into a massive, never-ending grind fest.

Well, it might be not as bad with the photo quest in Link's Awakening DX, but it's a quirky addition at best. It was designed to sell the rather odd GameBoy Printer hardware, so it's not exactly a timeless feature. It also introduced missable elements to the game, since four photos become unobtainable after certain events. The original game only had three Secret Seashells, which you could miss, but you only needed 20 out of 26 seashells anyway, so it was not an issue.

I also don't like, how one of the photos requires you to steal from the shop, because for me this screws up a savegame. You can't die, if you want to see the best ending, so you can't re-enter the shop ever. And everyone calls you "THIEF", which might not be what you want. So, you have two goals conflicting with each other and because of this I deliberately chose not to get this photo for my savegames. If I want to look at all photos, I simply go to the shop and steal something without saving the game afterwards. But at the same time I keep my name and my 000 death counter stays safe.


Also, the photo events feel out of place in the game and not only because of the chibi artwork. For example with Prince Richard the event at the castle gate triggers, even if you haven't actually visited him before. The whole dialogue is out of context in this case and doesn't make sense. Or the photo with Tarin happens, after he got attacked by bees and is actually sleeping at home. It just doesn't add up.

A problem with the German version here is also that the dialogues seem rather weird, sometimes even broken. They were not on par with the rest of the game, which leads me to another important point...


Censorship

This is specific to the German version and some other European versions of the game. But if you live in the U.S. you probably can't relate to this, because you've only ever known the safe and kid friendly version of the game.

The Japanese version is the uncensored one and in Europe there is the special case, where the original monochrome version was based on the uncensored Japanese release and the DX version then got based on the censored U.S. release. So, basically the DX version got censored in our region.

You can find all changes in detail here, but the uncensored version of the game has some lewd humor in two occasions. One was the hippo girl at the painter, who is performing a nude portrait. In the original she actually has little pixel breasts and covers them with a sheet, as soon as Link enters the house. She feels ashamed with his presence and turns away from him, when he goes near her, but this whole situation got lost in the censored releases.

A little bit more interesting was the mermaid, who has lost her bikini top. If you dive in front of her, she gets upset and swims away. And when she gives you one of her scales, it gets implied that Link (accidentally) touches her breasts instead. For the U.S. she lost her pearl necklace and there's nothing lewd in the dialogue or anything that could make Link look like a pervert. Safe, but boring.

Some of the lewdness was also thanks to the loose German translation of Claude M. Moyse, who added quite some humor to the game. For example when you sprinkled the Buzz Blobs with Magic Powder, they said things like "Give me your juice, I give you mine" and "Never without a condom".


In the DX version this then got replaced with some hints and I do understand that Nintendo wanted to change this, but I always remember the fun we had as kids, when we shared our discoveries of these "adult" parts of the game. Well, these Buzz Blobs looks like walking condoms anyway.

Claude M. Moyse doesn't work for Nintendo anymore and still today they keep changing his original texts: for the Virtual Console they had to change the name of some characters like the Chain Chomp ("Struppi" turned into "Komet"), because of some maybe outdated references. But I do enjoy the quirky humor of the original, which is partly why I still prefer playing it over the DX version.


Other Changes

They replaced the Stone Slab and Fragment with the Owl Statue and Beak in dungeons, so they could offer multiple hints in one dungeon, instead of just one. It was a unique feature anyway, no other Zelda game has this, where you actually have to find something first each time you needed a hint. Either the hints are put there directly, where you need them, or you have some companion telling you the solutions.

In some cases it was actually necessary to get the hint, it acted as a key for a puzzle, where otherwise the solution would be too hard to figure out. Especially in Level 2, the Bottle Grotto, you could only figure things out by luck with the order of the enemies to get the Nightmare Key. Otherwise you need to find the Stone Slab first, so it wasn't really just a simple hint system. It was another key in the dungeon, which you can skip on later playthroughs. But in other cases you could argue that finding the Stone Slab is even more difficult than solving the real puzzle, which is probably why they re-arranged the content of the chests in some dungeons, so it's easier to find the Owl Beak.

But in the DX version they simply use the Owl Statues for every little puzzle that might not seem intuitive, like the chest with the Nightmare Key in Level 6 or even moving blocks to open a door... It's lame, really. You might as well not have the puzzles at all, if you feel the need to put a solution right next to them.

Also, in some cases you can also find an Elixir instead of Rupees, which I actually prefer, because you get more Rupees than you need anyway.

Replaying Link's Awakening DX on the 3DS

Following my playthrough of the Oracle games it only felt natural to continue with Link's Awakening, where this time I decided to play the Virtual Console release again, so I can make a couple of posts on Miiverse. Again I finished the game in one sitting during the evening, which took around five hours for a 100% run.

I actually wasn't hurrying, I even wasted quite some time, e.g. I arrived in front of the Eagle's Tower without the Bird Key and then had to go all the way back. And this wasn't the first time that had happened, I do go up the mountain, where the cave with the Bird Key is, but then I get distracted by the other things up there and forget the key. :D

But I lost count, how many times I destroyed Koholinth by now, and I have become exceedingly efficient at it. It's a short, but sweet experience, Link's Awakening (the monochrome original) was my first Zelda game and it's still one of my favorites.

In the past I've already written various posts, where I praised the game for its greatness and I suggest to take a look at them, because I won't repeat these points all over again:


This time I actually want to focus on some things, which I don't like too much about the game and which became especially apparent after playing the Oracles, which took the engine of Link's Awakening, but improved many things. Though it's rather small things...

The worst offender are probably the slooooow unskipable texts here and there, especially with the fishing minigame, where the guy keeps telling you the controls again an again, or whenever you find a Compass. Every single time you get this long text:

You've got the
Compass! Now,
you can see
where the chests
and Nightmare
are hidden! This
Compass has a
new feature-- a
tone will tell
you if a key is
hidden in a room
when you enter!

It's even longer in the German version and even worse than listening to the Owl, because the Owl at least tells you something different on every encounter and not the same thing nine times total.

And while I actually like having the random power-ups with the Guardian Acorn and the Piece of Power, the music is very repetitive. I couldn't listen to the first two dungeons' music at all, because it kept playing the power-up song.

I also think that there could be more short cuts here and there. For example you should be able to jump down from the higher level of Kanalet Castle, so you don't have to go back through the entire interior. Or there could be a quick path out of the Pothole Maze, where you find the key, like a boulder behind a hole. But this complaining on a high level, since the game is short enough as it is.


Now, while playing on the New Nintendo 3DS XL I noticed something for the first time, which I either had forgotten about or never seen before. When you change screens from the Tal Tal Heights to Kanalet Castle, while swimming through the moat, you can see, how the Moblin turns into a Darknut and vice versa:


This totally makes sense, since they are exactly the same enemy type in behavior, but apparently the game simply takes the same enemy and changes its skin based on your location. You can only really notice this at this spot, because elsewhere you don't have these skin changed enemies next to each other. But because of that it also shouldn't be possible to have Moblins at Kanalet Castle, since the Darknuts are basically already the Moblins here. Knowing this, it would be interesting to check the Oracle games again for similar effects.

Talking about enemies, especially around the Ukuku Prairie there seem to be many enemies, which are tough to kill with just your sword, so that the Bow actually becomes quite useful here, if you get it early on. As soon as you get the overpowered Seashell Sword, everything will get blasted anyway... which is something, I have really missed in the Oracle games. This moment, when you exit the seashell hut and blast those Moblins away in one strike, it just feels so good. The sword beams in the Oracle games became too weak and don't deliver.

But besides the sword this game has so many options to kill things, it's a lot of fun. Even the Boomerang is devastating in this game and it was also the first Zelda game, where you could unequip your sword for different combinations of items. People tend to use the sword for everything, but this game has it more interesting. And now I'm back to praising the game, aren't I?

...

Well, the last time I played this game on the Virtual Console, I used the red tunic for the playthrough and I also got the normal photograph in the beginning. To complement this experience, this time I went for the blue tunic and I got the photograph, where Link is unconscious, which happens, if you keep saying "no" to the photographer mouse. He knocks you out and takes a picture. And that's basically the only choice you can make in the game, which is only minor, when compared to the animal buddies in the Oracle games, but it's still nice to have both outcomes available.

I also got this odd path through the Wind Fish's Egg:

→ ↑ ↑ → ↑ ↑ → ↑

I was aware that it existed, but I don't think, I actually ever got this before, it's usually one of the other three. But at least I feel like in the end I created a somewhat more unique savegame here.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tri Force Heroes: Potential Coliseum Challenges

Today I've updated my post about Coliseum Improvements with a simple new idea: challenges.

I previously complained about not having a completely neutral arena and about the Wallmasters ruining fair duels. All of this could by solved by adding specific Drabland Challenges as optional rules to the arena. Those could be:

  • Evade the Wallmaster!
  • Avoid the volcanic rocks! / Don't get hit by snowballs!
  • Don't fall at all! / Avoid falling and quicksand!
  • Win without using a sword!
  • Fight in the dark!

So, instead of a Wallmaster appearing during every duel, this would become a challenge, where players can vote, what crazy things they want or not. And by default, the Sky arena wouldn't have any volcanic rocks anymore, but you can add them now to any arena; in case of the Snowland arena(s) it would even be snowballs.

I'm also more strongly obsessed with the idea of having multiple arenas per area. I mean, look at the Den of Trials! Pretty much every floor there could qualify as an arena for the Coliseum! These kind of places are easy to make and they would a lot more variety to the whole game mode.

Together with challenges the Coliseum wouldn't grow boring so easily.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Completing Oracle of Ages & Seasons on the 3DS

In June 2013 I was replaying Oracle of Ages & Seasons, after they were released on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console (see this post). To make things more interesting, I used the same Hero's Secret to start a "New Game+" both in Ages and Seasons to play both games simultaneously. And I had a special goal: collect all 64 Magic Rings from scratch again, which I hadn't done since the GBC. I completed both starter savegames in 2013, but I saved the Linked Games for a later date. And this date happened to be now. I started before New Year's Eve and completed everything today, which certainly was a nice start for this year of gaming. This year the Oracle games will also celebrate their 15th Anniversary, where they currently mark the midway point of the series.

Well, by now I have four savegames, two in each game, one for every possible linking scenario, all with full 16 Heart Containers, all upgrades and all 64 Magic Rings. Only seven rings remained to be collected from the Linked Games, which were the following:

  • Power Ring L-3 (found in Holodrum's expended Hero's Cave)
  • Armor Ring L-3 (found in Labrynna's Hero's Cave)
  • Heart Ring L-1 (Temple Secret)
  • Swimmer's Ring (Diver Secret)
  • Snowshoe Ring (Mamamu Secret)
  • Blue Joy Ring (gotten from Zelda)
  • Spin Ring (Plen Secret)

I was a little worried about the Swimmer's Ring, because I remembered that the diving minigame felt like that you actually need the Swimmer's Ring to beat it. You have to go through an underwater tunnel maze and reach a star within 30 seconds, but it's a really close thing. I got it at exactly 30 seconds on my third try and the trick was not stopping for the fish to kill them, but swimming right through them. You might even get some boosts from being hurt.

The only other interesting rings were the ones from both Hero's Caves. Especially the one in Ages I haven't played in many years and I remember that on the GBC this dungeon really made me rage. Particularly this evil room:


If you screw up in here (and it's very easy to screw up), you will have to start over, which is a nightmare. The following room works with the same principle of starting over and there you have to jump around corners, which also is hard to pull off. Luckily on the 3DS restore points make rooms like these a lot more tolerable, so I didn't destroy any furniture this time around.

I also got the 100th Ring, the Slayer's Ring and the Rupee Ring in all four savegames. Well, for your collections you only need them once, but for the sake of completion you can still get these achievements in all games, which requires you to appraise 100 rings, kill 1000 monsters and collect 10,000 Rupees every time. And this can take a little while, though it's not too bad...


The Musician

Another interesting point were the choices to make: what animal buddies do I want and what outcome shall the Bipin and Blossom's son have? For the AgesSeasons route I wanted Ricky as the animal, I named the kid "Error" and I wanted him to be a Hero. For the SeasonsAges route I chose Dimitri as the partner, named the kid "Bagu" and wanted him to be a musician.

This was around the seventh time that I played through the games and never before I had a musician. During my three original playthroughs on the GBC I happened to get a Slacker first, then an Arborist and finally a Hero. Now, 15 years later, I finally got a musician for the first time, so say "hi" to Bagu:


However, it was quite the struggle to get him. The information on ZeldaWiki is all but correct, which gave me some trouble. I tried the following combinations:

  • 10 Rupees → Sing → Quiet & Egg
  • 10 Rupees → Sing → Weird & Chicken
  • 10 Rupees → Sing → Weird & Egg

And only the last one worked! The other two gave me an annoying Slacker, how I hate this kid... I actually had to replay the first two dungeons of Ages three times over to achieve my goal.

One of the times I was even super lucky with everything else going on. Maple dropped her Piece of Heart right in front of me at our first meeting after Level 1, I also got three rings from her and a potion. Plus, I scored the Light Ring L-2 on my first time in the Shooting Gallery, which the last time took me forever to get. Crazy RNG.

You can imagine that I wasn't exactly happy about giving all this up, just because the kid didn't grew up the right way again... But it was worth it, because I feel like the musician is the most useful outcome. You can listen to a song that you normally don't have free access to and it fully heals you like a fairy. Other outcomes only get you a Gasha Seed or 100 to 200 Rupees at best.

Actually with the musician you can make another choice with the song. He either plays the melody from when you saved one of the Oracles ("courage") or Zelda's theme in the game ("love"), so there's a total of five different outcomes for the kid. If I ever will replay the Oracle games ever again, I will go for the musician again and Zelda's song, together with Moosh as the animal buddy, because I never used him again after getting him in my very first playthrough.

In case you wonder, creating the Hero didn't give me any trouble. The decisions I made were "10 Rupees → Play → Quiet & Girlfriend".


That's essentially it for now... replaying the Oracles really made me want to play Link's Awakening again. In comparison I especially disliked how they have scrolling in the dungeons, since it slows down the gameplay quite a lot. I feel like the majority of the rooms could have been compressed and displayed without any scrolling, it's only really the (excellent) floor tile puzzle rooms that need the bigger size.

But following the ending of the linked Oracle games I decided to replay Link's Awakening next... see you on Koholinth!