Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Zelda Wii U Delayed to March 2017, NX Dual Release


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Still no Zelda Picross


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

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

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

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

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

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Adventure Map Impressions


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Expecting Zelda Direct


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

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

The Zelda Direct could go down like the following:

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Legend Mode Impressions

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

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


Character Swap

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

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

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

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

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


The Girl in Green


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

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

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

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

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

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


The Wind Waker


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

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

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

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

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


Other Changes

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

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


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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: DLC Predictions Update

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

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Drought Force Heroes


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wild West Zelda?


(image source: tribality.com)

A Zelda game set in the wild west isn't exactly a new idea. In fact it has been around ever since Twilight Princess, where for example both Kakariko Villages experimented with the setting, especially the hidden one with its iconic western music during the Bulblin shootout (and the cat hunt). A Western Zelda was even something Saturo Iwata himself imagined around the time.

Now, I often like to think two steps ahead, especially when it comes to Zelda. The new Zelda game for Wii U and NX isn't even in full sight yet, but I'm already thinking about what will come afterwards, similar to how I thought about a new online Four Swords game for the Nintendo 3DS even before A Link Between Worlds got released. But this became a reality two years later with Tri Force Heroes.

Again, Nintendo releases its next big console Zelda game right at the end of a console's life span. And like with Twilight Princess it's probably going to be a double release for Wii U and NX. But I hope that unlike Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword this game will actually see a follow-up. Something like Majora's Mask, where they take what they have and use it to create something more unique in the series in two years time, instead of taking five years again to develop something entirely new for the NX. They really need to break the current home console Zelda development cycle.

An interesting route would be working with the graphical style and open world ideas of Zelda U again, but use a different setting for the entire world, like the Wild West. Naturally it would still embrace and include many fantasy elements, maybe even some of the crazy monsters from the new game, so it's still unmistakably Zelda and it won't just be Red Dead Redemption with a Zelda skin. Link certainly shouldn't become a gunslinger or even use colts at all. Linkle's crazy crossbows for example could be a good replacement for guns in the setting. Link riding on a horse and shooting arrows in style will be already a big thing in the new game, all they would do is put a different setting around it.

With the new Zelda it also seems like the horse won't be the only means of transportation. There's the Sailcloth for gliding and I bet that there will also be a boat for traveling to the islands in the east of the map. Now, in a Western Zelda game we could even return to the train from Spirit Tracks. It shouldn't be the main method of transportation (the horse would still work best), but there could be parts, where traveling by train is easier or even necessary, e.g. rails running through a dangerous, dark tunnel or on a bridge above a chasm. Or imagine fighting the giant explosive monsters via train. This game could even take place some centuries after Spirit Tracks to turn the original giant ocean setting of that timeline into a giant desert and expand on this storyline even more. Right now it seems like Spirit Tracks is a dead end, but it doesn't have to be.

There's certainly some potential here and I might follow this idea in the future, when we learn more about the new Zelda for Wii U and NX. Let me know in the comments, what you think. Would you be interested or do you feel like this wouldn't be Zelda anymore?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hyrule Warriors: New and Future Items

Hyrule Warriors: Legends introduced two new items for everyone to the game, not counting any of the fairy rental skills. One is the Hammer, the other one the Ocarina.


This Hammer lets you activate certain switches around the map for different effects, e.g. activating cannons or opening doors. The Hammer also destroys Chuchus, while it stuns other enemies. And it triggers the weak point gauge of Big Blins, Boss Blins and the Helmaroc King.

So, it's quite useful in the new scenarios for The Wind Waker, but not really anywhere else. It's slow, so it leaves you vulnerable. And the Power-Up Hammer only increases the stun radius, but doesn't add any damage, which makes it pretty useless. I like to use the Power-up Bombs and Bow, where I can, while I usually ignore the Power-Up Boomerang and Hookshot. Now, the Hammer basically just decreased the chance of getting a useful power-up. It would be a lot nicer, if you could smash enemies with it.



The golden Ocarina lets you teleport to owl statues, which you've activated during battle. You play the Ballad of Gales on it, which is a nice touch, while it basically works like the Flute in the original The Legend of Zelda. With it you can navigate the battlefield a lot faster in addition to the character switching mechanic.

Now, the main issue is that this item is downright useless in any mission without owl statues. And there are too many of those. In Legend Mode there are already some missions without them, but Adventure Mode doesn't seem to have a single one, at least on the first Adventure Map. I haven't played the Great Sea Map yet, where hopefully they will be utilized, because right now this item basically just wastes a spot in your inventory, which increases the time for selecting the right item with the D-Pad. (Update: the owl statues are available on the Great Sea Map)

A good solution would have been, if the Ocarina lets you warp to any conquered keep, instead of Owl Statues. That way conquering keeps would have more meaning and the Ocarina would be very useful in all battles... Or at least remove it from the item list in any mission without warp points.

-

Anyway, I also want to think about what other items could be a thing in a potential Hyrule Warriors 2. Bombs, Bow and Boomerang have been series staples since the very first game, the same as the Recorder and Potions. Zelda II introduced the Hammer and A Link to the Past the Hookshot, which both have been staples as well. So, what's left?

I suppose, the Lantern would be the likeliest candidate, where it could be used for dark areas and lighting torches, as well as attacking with fire. Though I don't have any good ideas for bosses, where the Lantern would trigger the weak point gauge. Usually it just makes hidden enemies visible. (I could also see the Lantern as a weapon type for Wizzro, where the Ghost Lantern would be one of its tiers.)

Next to the Lantern the Power Bracelet could also make sense as an item. The Gauntlets let you pick all sorts of things up, which is an interesting mechanic wasted on a single weapon type. It probably would be more useful, if all characters could do this. However, this most likely wouldn't have a power-up version, because it would be weird, if you only could lift very big things at random for a limited time. And if I really think about it, it would be better, if characters could just lift stuff with A. That way you wouldn't need to select an item. And it's not like I miss doing this with the characters, where it also would be fine, if it remains as an extra of the Gauntlets.

A similar tool might be the Shovel, where they could hide things underground. I personally wouldn't like this, though, because smashing pots is a lot faster, while it serves the same purpose without the need of switching items. The shovel could be a weapon type for some new character, e.g. Dampé, where the Strong Attack could even let you dig around for Rupees, Fore Gems and the like, similar to how only the Gauntlets let you lift stuff.

Another questionable candidate would be the Pegasus Boots, because all the characters already run quite fast. The dashing would let you smash through certain obstacles (e.g. wooden walls) and shake trees, while Power-Up Pegasus Boots would also hurt enemies while running through them. Again, this could be solved without an item. Like there could be a power-up dash.

Among the newer items the Gust Jar comes to mind as something, which has established itself and could be considered as a possible item for everyone. There have been very different iterations of this item over the years, starting with the blows of the Deku Leaf, but in Tri Force Heroes we basically got its pure form, which also could be considered for Hyrule Warriors, where it could blow enemies away, activate windmills and move stuff round. (Naturally it could also be a weapon type for someone, but that goes for pretty much anything. And they could use something like the Gust Bellow or the Whirlwind for the weapon type, while the Gust Jar acts as the item.)

And you don't want to switch items too often. I already didn't like, how on the Forsaken Fortress map you had to keep switching between Hammer and Bombs all the time, just so you could destroy rocks. Why doesn't the Hammer destroy them as well? Inconvenient. With that in mind it's probably best to keep the number of items low, where I would opt to add the Lantern and the Gust Jar in the next game(s).

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hyrule Warriors: Legends Character Pack Impressions

At the moment I'm quite busy with playing Hyrule Warriors: Legends on my New 3DS, but now and then I'm also returning to Hyrule Warriors on my Wii U, mainly to play with the new characters in full HD glory. While going back and forth between both games, I actually feel like they did a pretty good job with the 3DS version. The graphics are a mess, but it runs pretty well on a New 3DS and I enjoy playing the new version quite a lot.

On the Wii U you only get another set of DLC characters, which don't have any missions. Like with Twili Midna, Young Link and Tingle you only can level them up, which gives them all their Heart Containers. Their better weapons are already unlocked and you just find them at random. For me personally this is ideal, though. On the Wii U I can get a better look at the new characters, while I fight my way through Adventure Mode on the 3DS again. If the Wii U would have gotten new Adventure Maps as well, it would be too much for me. But I can relate to those, who only have the Wii U version and would like to get more than just new standalone characters and weapons. In the very least they could have also added the new scenarios for Legend Mode.

Anyway, lets talk about the new additions a little bit to see, whether the Legends Characters Pack would be worth it on its own or not. Keep in mind that I'm not a big expert on Musou combat, where I could score a perfect analysis on what combos are best for juggling and weak point gauges...


Linkle


She's pretty amazing. I like her character, since she's a lot of fun, and her weapon is awesome. A very good addition to the fire elements, where she delivers some good crowd clearing moves in combination with directional distance attacks. I especially like her C3, where she whirls around in flames and her C6, which is quite similar to the C5 of Link's sword movesets, only even more powerful. And it has this nice green glow effect as a reference to the auto fire in Link's Crossbow Training, as well as chargeable Bomb Arrows.

The actual crossbow from the spin-off game is even her tier 2 weapon. And with the uncharged C1 / Strong Attack she hums the "Get Item" melody and puts her hoodie on or off. It's similar to Zant in a way, only that the change stays around.

There's also a bar, which gets filled automatically with attacks, and you can use this for another auto fire mode with your Strong Attack, where it switches to a over the shoulder perspective and keeps juggling enemies in rapid fire. It's a lot of fun to use and quite powerful, because it can easily juggle and break many stronger enemies at once. Probably my favorite new moveset.


Skull Kid


He's spot on! In all the ways I imagined Skull Kid for Hyrule Warriors, Koei Tecmo again pulled it off and exceeded my expectations. Even the fire beam of Majora's Mask is in there, which works very similar to Volga's C3. But I like, how they gave them the Ocarina as his weapon type. We already got some musical instruments as weapons and there certainly will be more in the future, especially with characters from Majora's Mask, so it's good that this one is quite different and you don't just have another character playing the Song of Storms again. I enjoy the sound effects for Skull Kid's normal attack string, where he basically keeps playing the same hollow notes, like he did in the intro of Majora's Mask, just in a more rapid fashion. He even does mimic his "musical performance" from the intro in his winning sequence at the end of a battle.

In addition they also added the horn and the puppets from Twilight Princess, where it would be nice to have a Twilight Princess costume for him at some point. But he's really a machine of fan service references and that's what we all want from this game. They nailed it. The only disappointment is the moon, where he only uses a tiny one, but they already had overused moon attacks with other characters. It would be more awesome, if he actually had the Special of the Great Fairy for example.

And his combos seem a little uninspired for the most part. They have the puppets and the laser beam, but the rest is pretty much just dark magic attacks. I like the combo, where you can steer some bubble bursts of dark energy around you, but its damage seems very weak. I tend to overuse the laser beam and I haven't fully figured out the character yet, but he's certainly a good addition.

Of course it would have been more awesome, if he actually was part of the Majora's Mask DLC back then. Tingle would have been a better fit now with all the Wind Waker content. But it doesn't make much of a difference, really, because both characters are fully independent in the Wii U version.


Toon Link


It's another Link, yay... I'm not complaining much, because now we actually got all Zelda characters from Super Smash Bros. (both fighters and Assist Trophies) playable in Hyrule Warriors! It wouldn't be a real all-stars game, if it didn't have all the stars. And while I suggested in the past to have a separate Toon Hyrule Warriors, I can also see the appeal of everything coming together in one game. Technically they could even keep both styles and their characters separate in the story and then just mix everything for fun in Adventure Mode.

Toon Link really looks out of place in the Wii U game though, like a clay figurine wandering around. They went with the bloom shading visuals of The Wind Waker HD, which is responsible for the "clay" effect, but that's better than putting a cel shaded comic look in there. However, if we also had the new settings in HD, he would look great.

His moveset isn't really too much exciting, after Young Link blew everyone away with his godlike Fierce Deity mode. It's a pretty basic moveset, where the main difference over Link's sword is that Toon Link likes to jump a lot, as if he's using either Roc's Feather or Roc's Cape. But his Strong Attack is already a Down Thrust and many of his combos go aerial and then end in a Down Thrust as well. His last combo is the Great Spin Attack, where the sword even gets charged in the same electrifying style and he gets dizzy at the end. But this is, where the references end. The other main reference is Aryll doing all the talking, which is nice, but Ciela would have been okay, too.

I'm not a fan of his weapon tiers though. Benjamin Fowler already pointed out in the comments that it's odd that he has the Mirror Shield next to the Lokomo Sword, instead of the blue wooden shield from Spirit Tracks. The latter would have fit much better, because the other tiers use the same shield in the designs of The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. So, why not do the same for Spirit Tracks and instead use a shield, which isn't even part of the game? It's odd and I personally would have preferred the Mirror Shield as a meaningful part in a moveset, where it's used for certain attacks, not just as an accessory.

The Phantom Sword is also debatable, if it in itself wouldn't have potential for its own weapon type, where you can freeze time. I personally think that "time" will be a 6th weapon element in Hyrule Warriors 2, which freezes enemies around you. And the Phantom Sword could be a perfect weapon for this element type. But in any case Toon Link certainly has a lot of weapon potential left, he's even getting another one in the DLC. But for the future I would love to see the Four Sword as a weapon type for Toon Link, which certainly would be a lot more interesting.


Tetra


She's probably the most disappointing addition and continues the trend of under-performing water weapon types. I do like, how she shoots bullets of water, even as part of her normal attack string, but none of her combos strike me as all that useful. She gets the job done, but she doesn't seem to have any outstanding moves. Her Strong Attack is especially bad.

And since she has a similar statue to Toon Link and the cutlass works a lot like the sword, I sometimes even confuse her with Toon Link and wonder, why the Great Spin Attack's not working... Yeah.

Also, she's making really weird and annoying voices for some reason. Most of the time they have very good portrayals of all the characters, but those squeaking sounds of Tetra (and Twili Midna) are not really on point...


King Daphnes


He's not as glorious as King Harkinian and his Dinner Cup, but he'll do and he certainly got all the laughing right. The laugh alone makes him entertaining to play.

I guess, it's one of the better water movesets (which isn't saying much), I especially like the long range of the normal attack string, it reminds me of Twili Midna's Mirror. But the combo attacks are not as crazy and overuse the boat transformation a lot (which makes him invulnerable). I fear, it would be the same, if they add Linebeck, if he doesn't already ride his boat all the time like a horse...

His Strong Attack is interesting, because it basically lets you enter "Hasty Attacks" mode for a while. I wonder, if actually having Hasty Attacks makes it all even faster... The bar depletes very slowly, so you can stay in fast mode for about 30 seconds. Though it's pretty much a necessity, similar to Cia's darkness boost, where you have to keep using C1 over and over for more damage.

Now, the Swift Sail from The Wind Waker HD as the 2nd tier is certainly a nice reference and whenever he enters Focus Spirit, it looks like he's putting a golden Kinstone together, which would be an awesome reference to King Daltus from The Minish Cap. (There is even stuff from the Oracle games in Hyrule Warriors Legends, because they used the Magic Seeds as fairy food. So, there seems to be hope!)


Trident


Last but not least, Ganondorf got his first additional weapon and it's a good one. This is a great example, how a character can benefit from alternative weapons. His swords were not bad, they offered a hack'n'slash feel next to some very large area attacks. The Trident is more in the middle of all that, offering more speed and aggression. It also feels somewhat safer, since Ganondorf was quite vulnerable during many of his sword combos, but I don't have enough experience with this new weapon yet to judge...

The weapon has many nice nods to classic Ganon fights. The Strong Attack lets you throw the trident ahead of you and then teleport to it. The C4 even whirls the trident around you, which is awesome for crowd control. And of course there are energy balls and lightning bolts. The only thing missing are (Fire) Keese...

I just wish that the Wii U version also would have gotten the Wind Waker costume for Ganondorf. There's no such thing as too many costumes.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Female Link in Zelda U?


Last year, when Linkle was announced for Hyrule Warriors Legends, I already thought about having her as an option for the new Legend of Zelda on Wii U / NX. The game seems to focus on the bow a lot more and instead of making Link look even more feminine, it would be interesting to have the option to play as Linkle instead.

Now, there are three new rumors by Emily Rogers about the new game. She always was a trustworthy source, so we should pay attention. First of all, she confirms the double release of the game for both Wii U and NX. We've already been over this, so nothing new here.

The last rumor is about voice acting. As long as Link doesn't talk and they can get good English voice actors, I'm all for it. The dubbing might be in issue for the German version, but they also might do the same as in Hyrule Warriors, where you have German subs and the English story teller (which I liked).

The real interesting rumor is the middle one: apparently you can chose the gender of your "playable character". It doesn't say "Link" or "Linkle" and there are many possibilities, what this could mean. It might be that the new protagonist isn't even Link, but a new one, where you have more customization options including the gender. Or it might be that Link can simply be female this time. Or it's really Linkle as an option.

Linkle, however, is a character on her own, who talks (unlike Link) and is a lot of fun. I enjoyed her campaign in Hyrule Warriors Legends, where she keeps going in the wrong direction and shows all this positive energy, believing that she's the Hero of Legend. I love, how she's supported by an army of Cuccos and her crossbow fighting style is pretty good. They even used music from Link's Crossbow Training for her ingame theme. Overall Koei Tecmo created another great original character here and I would love to see more of her.

But she technically isn't a female Link. She's a completely different character, who only believes to be the hero. This may or may not fit the protagonist of the new game - the idea of playing as someone, who only believes to be the Hero of Legend, is as old as this blog. What does fit is her affinity for crossbows, since the bow seems to be a real important item this time around. And this leads also to another question: will the choice of gender have any influence on the story or the gameplay? Playing as a female Link might alter the gameplay, because she could use crossbows instead of a bow for example or different items in general.

Or is it really just a way to customize Link so that he finally becomes a real avatar for the player? In that case I might have trouble making a choice here. In general I prefer playing with female characters, because if you're looking at the same character for so long, it might as well be a pretty one. On the other hand I always was able to identify with Link quite well and I might miss playing as him.

And if the character is supposed to be neutral in every way, the game will certainly lack any implied "romance" like you got with Marin, Malon, Ruto or Zelda. It's not something that you get in every Zelda game, so it's not a "must", but if you're hoping for another Zelda harem game, this most likely won't be it. And if I can play as a female Link, I certainly wouldn't want to have another Adam Malkovich character or any male love interest at all. Linkle simply saving Zelda in Hyrule Warriors Legends, because it's her "specialty", was fun and it did work for me.

We'll see about this. But I'm certainly not opposed to having this option and right now I just want to see, how the female Link will look and play like. E3 can come.

Update: Another alternative, which people seem to forget right now (including myself), would be a playable Zelda. So, you can either play as Link or Zelda. This even was something that was considered by Nintendo in the past.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Goodbye, ZeldaEurope!

I've been writing this blog now since 2008 and I will probably continue to do so, as long as I'm alive and interested in Zelda. Now, for the past four years I've also been writing news, guides and reviews for ZeldaEurope.de, a German Zelda website and community. And this ends now.

There are multiple reasons for this decision. ZeldaEurope was never my site, but it certainly had become my responsibility over the past few years, because I was alone with my tasks for the most part, managing the whole site on my own. I was never happy with the situation and it was a hobby that went wrong, because everything Zelda turned into obligations. I couldn't fully enjoy news about Zelda anymore, because news about Zelda resulted in work. Voluntary work, but work nonetheless. And with the upcoming Legend of Zelda game for Wii U I want to be able to enjoy everything as a normal fan again, without the journalistic treadmills in my back, which I have experienced ever since Skyward Sword.


What does this mean for Hyrule Blog?

It certainly won't be a bad thing, since this blog becomes now my focus for anything Zelda. However, it's not like this blog heavily suffered from my work on ZeldaEurope. The way I handled it was doing two quite separate things on each site. ZeldaEurope is were I processed new information and this blog is where I put my personal experiences, thoughts, opinions and predictions. This worked out quite well for the most part and my activity on ZeldaEurope wasn't really taking that much from Hyrule Blog. The only big exception might be the reviews, which basically moved from this blog (the last one was for Skyward Sword in early 2012) to ZeldaEurope. I hate redundancy, so I usually avoided writing the same thing on both sites just in different languages.

Reviews may or may not come back. I certainly want to write one for Hyrule Warriors: Legends, but with new Zelda games I basically reviewed them here during my daily game diaries, where I then put all those thoughts together in one post for my German review on ZeldaEurope. I was also thinking about doing a feature called "2nd Reviews" here on Hyrule Blog. Like with a 2nd Quest, I would go through the game again and write a new review, where my opinion might have changed over time or due to some DLC updates.

I'll see about that, but one thing is for sure: no obligations. Everything I write on this blog will be here, because I wanted to write it and not because I felt obliged to. I won't start making news posts here - you got sites like ZeldaInformer for this. But I might share thoughts about news more regularly now, since I won't "process" them anymore via ZeldaEurope.

In any case this feels like the right decision. This blog won't ever be as popular as ZeldaEurope and Nintendo's PR agencies probably won't be knocking on my door here, but that's okay, because this is my own site and here I'm free to write what I want to say. I'm still happy about everyone, who's following this blog, and you can be looking forward to more.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Link's Crossbow Training HD Hoax

I made this for an April Fools' Day prank on both ZeldaEurope.de and ntower.de:


I also wrote a German press release with the following details:

  • HD remaster in the style of Twilight Princess HD.
  • Uses the gyro aiming of the Wii U GamePad.
  • Two new stages with three new levels each. New settings in Forest Temple, Goron Mines and Lakebed Temple. New Armogohma boss fight.
  • Comes with a Linkle amiibo.
  • The Linkle amiibo unlocks "Linkle's Crossbow Training". Because she dual-wields two crossbows, a second player can join this mode with a Wii Remote on the TV.
  • You can play the Linkle mode alone as well. Levels will be mirrored an highscores put on the Linkle amiibo.
  • Classic multiplayer is still there. Players simply make turns with the GamePad.
  • Linke amiibo gets both supported by Hyrule Warriors: Legends and The Legend of Zelda for Wii U.
  • Released on June 3rd, limited amiibo bundle available.

This was supposed to be a more "realistic" hoax with some knocks against Nintendo's recent overabundance of remasters, remakes and amiibo baits. However, on April 1st no one will believe you anything and for good reason. I had actually more success last year, when I announced some swimwear costume sets for Hyrule Warriors with things like a "Triforce Trikini" for Zelda. It's still fun to do and if someone gets a laugh out of these jokes, it's worth the effort.