Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Goodbye, Miiverse!


Today Nintendo announced via Miiverse (oh, the irony) that Miiverse will be shut down on November 8th this year for good. Until then you will be able to download your post history including screenshots and drawings.

Overall this doesn't affect me too much personally. While I like the idea of a "social network" for Nintendo gamers, I mostly have been using it to "quickly" upload screenshots for my blog with the occasional achievement post attached to it. At least on the Wii U you can still upload pictures via the browser, while the Nintendo Switch does provide a much more comfortable screenshot sharing functionality. So, on these systems I will still be able to do, what I did the most with this feature. Not on the Nintendo 3DS, however.

For most games this isn't really a loss either, because Miiverse has been a side feature for them or completely separate. There's one title, however, where this will have a greater impact by killing one of its best features: the Tingle Bottles in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD!


This was probably one of the few titles that did a really good job with the Miiverse integration. I love collecting the Tingle Bottles and I love sharing rare Pictographs. It was very well executed and even though it has lost some of its magic, when I replayed the game earlier this year, it was still an excellent addition to the game, which now won't be available any longer.

So, if you haven't played The Wind Waker HD yet, I can only advise you to do this, as long as Miiverse is still available.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Zelda on Smartphone: Thoughts & Ideas

This year in May there were rumors about an upcoming Smartphone Zelda game. And the more I thought about the possibility, the more I grew excited about it. Unlike my Nintendo 3DS, which I mostly play at home, I use my smartphone quite often on the go, where a real mobile Zelda experience seems quite appealing by now.

Looking at both Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes, we can get some ideas of what Nintendo could and should do (differently) with a Smartphone Zelda title.

Controls and Playstyle

Unlike the smartphone titles that Nintendo has developed so far, Zelda would probably utilize a horizontal playstyle in landscape mode, where you hold your phone sideways with one hand and play with the index finger of the other hand. The classic Zelda topdown perspective is best suited for this. Imagine something like in the following mock-up:


The touch controls would be almost identical to the Nintendo DS Zelda games, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. Link follows your finger around the environment, where moving your finger along the border will scroll. You can interact with anything by tapping on it: tap an enemy to attack it, tap a treasure chest to open it or tap a sign to read it. Simple as that.

You can use items by tapping on the icon in the top right corner of the screen. Link will then stand still and the game lets you utilize the item via the touchscreen, e.g. aiming and shooting with a bow. The menu in the bottom right corner will let you switch items, view the map or your inventory. These icons may move into the opposite corner for lefties.

So, this isn't exactly new, but it has worked quite well on the Nintendo DS and can give us a proper Zelda experience on the phone. There's no need to alter or simplify the core gameplay of Zelda to make it work on a smartphone, unlike what they did with Super Mario and Fire Emblem. It even could work with a vertical layout, if that's preferred.


Anthology Game

While the core gameplay would be classic topdown Zelda empowered by familiar touch controls, this shouldn't be just one classic Zelda game, where you make one playthrough and be done with it. Of course Nintendo could release a classic Zelda title in the size of Link's Awakening or A Link Between Worlds on smart devices, where you pay once, beat the game and that's it. However, this ultimately wouldn't be very satisfying on the long run. In times of DLC it's nice to get some new content on a more regular basis. It would even fit the free-to-play concepts better, which Nintendo is trying to use on smartphones.

How would this look like? There's one central Zelda title available on mobile devices, which they could call something like The Legend of Zelda: Tales from Hyrule or The Legend of Zelda: Ever Adventures or whatever. This hub game then gives access to smaller, individual Zelda episodes, where a new one gets released every few months.

One episode would basically be a small Zelda game with a normal overworld, a small story, about four dungeons and a few items. In each episode Link could be send to a different kingdom / country to help, similar to how it's done in the Oracle games. In fact this would become what Capcom originally had envisioned on the GameBoy Color, where they wanted to release six individual Zelda games one after another with a couple months between them.

Each episode could become completely different in tone, like one game that takes entirely place in some dark and scary country, where you have to defeat its evil lord. Items would also be different from game to game, so in one game you might get the Hookshot, while the other offers you the Boomerang instead. It's all about the variety and always having something to look forward to in the near future. Maybe there is even a bigger story that looms over all the games and that gets uncovered, if you play it all.

You would get the first "game" for free and if you want to play any of the future episodes, you will have to purchase them. Some progress would be shared between the games, e.g. certain items that you can use everywhere or a global Rupee balance. This could be used to unlock things that you normally wouldn't be able to access.


Multiplayer and Rewards

The nature of such a title would even allow for multiplayer-centric episodes, where you play with other people, similar to Four Swords or Tri Force Heroes. Here you would buy individual level packs that support certain player counts, though they should probably keep it dynamic between one and four players to avoid the inconveniences that Tri Force Heroes had.

One thing they probably could keep from Tri Force Heroes, though, are the outfits, because they would make an excellent reward that gets shared over all the games, both singleplayer and multiplayer. So, while Link might lose everything else on his journeys, he will always bring his wardrobe, where you can get the typical benefits. Maybe the outfits are even split up like in Breath of the Wild, where you could chose different headpieces and maybe even boots (probably not the latter, though).

My Nintendo then could be used to unlock special outfits or to get treasures and Rupees for buying outfits, if you're too impatient to actually collect enough in the game.

With a multiplayer in place, there also should be an arena mode for battling other players. Similar to the singleplayer episodes, there could be new levels released from time to time in both the coop multiplayer and the arena.


Conclusion

This might seem like a lot at first, but the idea really is to give the Zelda fans something more byte-sized in quick succession, instead of waiting for a new game for years. We already got a taste of that with all the DLC for both Hyrule Warriors and Breath of the Wild, but the 2D Zelda style should make it a lot easier for Nintendo to continuously produce new content and keep the Zelda fans out there excited.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Metroid Fusion Revisited


Another month, another Metroid.

To prepare for Samus' Return on the Nintendo 3DS, I decided to play through the major 2D Metroid games on the Wii U Virtual Console again. After Zero Mission in June and Super Metroid in July, it was now the turn of Metroid Fusion, the last one on my list. (I've skipped the first Metroid game, because I don't like it that much and it's not as fleshed out as the others.)

And out of the three, I probably enjoyed replaying Metroid Fusion the most! It's been many years that I've played through the game and I remembered it to be much harder, but playing through Hard Mode in Zero Mission probably prepared me on a level, where the game gave me little trouble. The European and North American versions of the game also don't have a Hard Mode or a Gallery, so it's already much easier to complete than Zero Mission. Similar to Super Metroid, I only went for one 100% run here.


The bosses can be still quite tough, though... But I like, how they are done in this game. They are usually the main goals, but not in some artificial way, where defeating the bosses destroys some statue or gives you some key item. Here they are direct targets, because they are either causing trouble on the BSL station or they provide you with a necessary power-up or both.

The X-Cores at the end of each boss fight could be annoying, but they really made me master all the boss fights in the game. There are no close calls allowed here, because you still have to face the X-Core at the end, which can give you quite some trouble, especially early on. But of course you can master this part of the boss fights as well.

Overall, I enjoy, how this game plays quite a lot, probably the best out of the 2D Metroids. The controls are spot on and collecting the X has a nice vibe to it, while the power-ups all really feel powerful, especially all the beam upgrades.

I also like very much, how the Missiles are upgraded to Super Missiles, because this streamlines everything much more. In both Super Metroid and Zero Mission you would have to switch between missile types, while Super Missiles were the real deal. You want to use Super Missiles in boss fights, because normal missiles are too weak. And often you are grinding for Super Missiles during boss fights... Metroid Fusion bypasses all this nonsense by simply turning them into an upgrade.


Of course the big downside of this game is the high linearity, always sending you from A to B, even closing doors right behind you.

At the end this shocked me a little, because I was missing a few items before the final boss. I then went back to a Restore Point to get them. One was a Power Bomb near the "Ridley Freezer" on the Main Deck and to get back there I had to go all the way over Level 2 and the Reactor Core. I also missed an Energy Tank on the Main Deck, right above the first boss, but luckily you could still get there via Screw Attack.

But I still ended up with only 98%, because I thought that 70 Power Bombs is the maximum (74 really is a weird number for one), so I was missing two of them in Level 5. Anyway, that's when I learned that you can freely explore the entire station after you've beaten the final boss. It even shows on the map, where you're still missing items and how many there are, similar to a New Game+ in Zero Mission. I didn't know that! I always thought that you have to be very careful not to miss anything, before you go to the final boss...

In a way this is similar to Other M, just without the added Phantoon fight. And both games certainly share many similarities, where Other M copied many of the concepts. I also think that Other M plays and feels very nice, but suffered mostly from the high linearity. But Metroid Fusion certainly has the better story of the two, leaving only a sequel to be desired...


See you next mission...?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hyrule Warriors Legends: My Fairy Still Incomplete

I'm on vacation right now and brought my Nintendo 3DS with me, where last week at a Zelda fan meeting I was able to get the "Circle of Friends" Medal in Hyrule Warriors - Legends. This brought me back into the game for now, where other than completing Legend Mode on "Hero" difficulty I mostly just have grinding left to do.

Part of that is the new "My Fairy" feature, where I wanted to get at least one fairy with all skills unlocked. My motivation is quite low, however, and to a certain degree that's because Nintendo / Koei Tecmo never bothered with fully offering everything there is. Or does anyone outside of Japan actually have the following costume...?


No? Me neither. And that's bugging me, because I would really like to use it on my developed fire fairy, since most fire outfits don't look as nice.

Together with Link's Classic Tunic, there were four sets of My Fairy Clothing only available as rewards in special offers, e.g. as a preorder bonus. This was over a year ago and today Nintendo could offer these as a reward on My Nintendo. There are hardly any worthwhile rewards available anyway and these gifts were originally received as download codes, so it would work pretty well.

Other than that Koei Tecmo started adding new fairy designs, including the following beauty:


They only did so for the elements Light, Darkness and Water. But they never bothered with adding new fairies for the elements Fire and Lightning... Those could have been retroactively placed on any Adventure Map, but we never saw any more updates. And at this point it's doubtful that Koei Tecmo would provide another update for the game. They are busy with Fire Emblem Warriors right now and probably are going to work on Hyrule Warriors 2 afterwards.

But in the very least Nintendo should offer the missing clothing via My Nintendo.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Breath of the Wild: Update 1.3.1 Released

Nintendo released an update for Breath of the Wild today, which does fix the Medal of Honor Glitch caused by the first DLC. According to this, they also fixed a "world reset glitch" that was possibly thanks to the Trial of the Sword.

Additionally, the News channel of the Nintendo Switch will provide "Tips from the Wild" for the game, where you can receive items, if you launch the game from the channel. This is starting tomorrow, August 9th.

It's nice to see that Nintendo fixed the Kilton bug in Master Mode already, instead of waiting for the next big DLC update, but I'm afraid they only did this, because they wanted to get this news channel feature out now. I'm a little bit worried that this feature will include exclusive items, because I don't have a Switch yet, but I think it will probably just give you food items or certain weapons in the game, which you can obtain otherwise.

They didn't fix the issue with the Hyrule Compendium picture overwrite between Normal Mode and Master Mode and I somehow doubt that they will fix this, because this is probably intentional to save memory... In the very least they fixed the glitch, which was holding me back from starting Master Mode.