Sunday, October 29, 2017

Metroid Prime Revisited


After replaying all the classic 2D Metroid games and completing both the new 3DS Metroid games, Samus Returns and Federation Force, it was time to revisit the Metroid Prime Trilogy in early anticipation of Metroid Prime 4. When the anthology was originally released for the Wii in 2009, I cleared all three games with 100% scans and items on Normal Mode. My goal now is to clear the remaining Veteran and Hypermode difficulties and to collect the rest of the Credits in order to unlock everything in the gallery. The latter is only relevant to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, so with the first two games it will "simply" be about clearing the higher difficulties.

Why bother with Veteran Mode and not just jump straight into Hypermode? Well, the Metroid Prime Trilogy takes note on your save files, what difficulties you've already beaten. In a save file there are these little circles on the left border of each game slot and they will be only filled after beating the corresponding difficulties. This doesn't work its way down, so clearing Hypermode doesn't count as clearing Normal or Veteran Mode, even though they are the same thing with different damage values. But for me clearing Veteran Mode first is a nice way to familiarize myself with the games again, before I take on the highest challenge.

In case of Metroid Prime I also activated the Fusion Suit during Hyper Mode, which I jokingly called "Fusion Mode", because it pretty much was the same thing as in Samus Returns. And all that without scanning any amiibo! Well, to be fair, to unlock the Fusion Suit in the original version on the Nintendo GameCube you had to link the game with Metroid Fusion on the GameBoy Advance via a cable...

But overall the approach of beating Veteran Mode first as a practice paid off a lot in this case. I rarely died in both modes, but I actually died more often on Veteran, figuring things out. Only Meta Ridley gave me a lot of trouble in both modes... I even started to call him "Metroll Ridley", because the second phase of his battle seemed like pure trolling. You can easily wear him down to about 10% of his health with only a few scratches, but that's where he starts to wear you down, while taking little damage himself. My mistake was that I always tried to dodge his ram attacks, instead of shooting him with a charged shot in the mouth right before this attack. The constant ramming at the end then cost me my life a couple of times. Frustration pure. But it's not so hard, once you know ALL the tricks.

It's similar with the Omega Pirate, who surprisingly gave me very little trouble. I only died on my first try on Veteran, but then never again. The tricks here are to use Power Bombs to destroy his Phazon armor and then to ignore the Space Pirates by jumping around, while spamming the Omega Pirate with Super Missiles. It's doable.

Practicing on Veteran also helped a lot with the time later in Hypermode. It was quite the disaster during my Veteran Playthrough, taking above 11 hours. Navigating the world of Metroid Prime can be annoying, because it's a maze with no real shortcuts. Especially if you miss stuff and have to cross the same hard-to-navigate areas multiple times, it can be a little frustrating. For example I went into the sunken Frigate Orpheon without the Gravity Suit, because I misremembered its location. I thought it was down there, but then I had to get all the way back up without it, which wasn't much fun. I couldn't even just load my last savegame, because there is a Save Station down there, which I used without hesitation. It was still interesting, because the enemies are different at the time (no Aqua Pirates, but tentacles on the bottom).

Another wrong turn for me was missing the Artifact of Spirit at Phendrana's Edge, so I had to go back through that area, where you actually find the Gravity Suit, three times in total. On top of that this game has lots of platforming for a First Person Shooter with many vertical areas, where you often find yourself in rooms that are shaped like a tube. Around the same area in Phendrana it's easy to fall off somewhere and drop down all the way into the water, while Flying Space Pirates are still shooting at you. Experiencing this in First Person Mode isn't much fun, it's usually quite disorienting.

But things went much, much better in Hypermode, when I knew all the locations of every item and could plot a quite efficient course through the game. Plus, I had the practice for all the platforming areas and I could traverse the various rooms much quicker, so in total I was able to shave off about four hours of my time. It's still far from any world record, but my personal best and that on the highest difficulty.


Overall I have to say that replaying this game felt similar to Super Metroid, where the throne was shaken quite a bit. I always regarded both Super Metroid and Metroid Prime as the best Metroid games, but I'm not so sure anymore. Unlike Super Metroid, however, Metroid Prime isn't in need of a remake. The game still looks, feels and plays amazing. An HD remaster would be more than enough, if Nintendo ever wanted to touch this game again.

The problems lie more at the core here. One example would be the aforementioned platforming, which doesn't suit the First Person playstyle all too well. And this was already toned down heavily in the sequels, if I remember correctly. Some of the fights also don't work too well in First Person, especially with bosses that try to push you in a corner or ram into you. The most annoying enemies are probably the War Wasps in the beginning with that silly Hive Mecha fight...

But the biggest gripe I have is about the visor and beam switching. When compared to the sequels it's just not that good. The Thermal Visor doesn't even feel like a real upgrade, because the game forces you to traverse those disorienting dark areas after acquiring it. Both it and the X-Ray Visor limit your view quite a lot and both it and the X-Ray for the most part are only there to target otherwise invisible enemies, which isn't good game design to begin with.

It's similar with the beams, where the game turns into a massive "shoot the right color" puzzle. It's not strategic like in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, where the beams consume ammo and you want to use them at their best potential. The only ammo here are missiles and they are rarely ever worth it. If Federation Force got one thing right, then it's missile power, because they feel relatively weak in Metroid Prime, where at the end you might only consume them for the beam combos like Super Missiles or to shatter frozen enemies.

Well, Ice and Plasma Beams offer a significant boost in power, but otherwise it's really just about matching the color of doors and enemies over and over again, which is very simple minded. They even have a Metroid variant that's about switching to the right beams, the Fission Metroid, while Metroids overall are much weaker in Metroid Prime than in any other Metroid game.

And of course there are the various Beam Troopers, which feel somewhat incomplete, because they don't really fire the corresponding beams at you, it's just all power shots. Ironically the Power Troopers are the most dangerous ones, because they can't be stun-locked like the others and they fire really fast. This got me bad in Hypermode on my way to the Power Bombs through the Phazon Mines. The Power Troopers in the Ore Processing did so much damage in a short time that I had to heal by changing from Elevator Access A to Elevator A many times to farm health orbs from the explosive crates and the Scatter Bombus. It even feels like a relief, when the Metroid haunt the Ore Processing and the troopers are gone...

Getting to the Power Bombs can be quite tough, because it's a long way without any Save Stations in between, but the part afterwards is even more so rewarding, where you backtrack through the entire world, collect all the hidden items and Chozo Artifacts, before you dive down into the Phazon Hell again and phase the last three bosses.

The final boss is then the pinnacle of all the switching, where in the first phase you have to switch to the right beam and in the second phase to the right visor... Very original. What's even worse, the game gives you the cool looking Phazon Suit only to introduce the red Phazon shortly after, which acts exactly like Phazon before. And I hate that room, where you have to do some platforming above a sea of red Phazon that endlessly spawns those annoying Fission Metroids. The final boss isn't something that you want to try again because of this room alone. It's like the whole ending of the game is a concentrated culmination of what's wrong with it...

But I don't just want to complain. Metroid Prime is still a prime game. If Super Metroid is the equivalent to A Link to the Past, then Metroid Prime is the Ocarina of Time of the Metroid series. It beautifully transformed the greatness of Super Metroid into a First Person Shooter/Adventure. Diving down in the world of Tallon IV is still amazing even at today's standards, where I especially like the Chozo Ruins. This place is absolutely magical and lets me immerse into the game every single time.

But still I'm happy that I'm done with this game for now, because I'm really excited to dive into Metroid Prime 2: Echoes next!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Super Mario Odyssey Released - Time for Breath of the Wild!


Today is a good day, because the above got released.

It's not that this game interests me all that much, because in general I don't like this type of 3D Mario game. I never even finished Super Mario Sunshine and I prefer it, if they are closer to the 2D Mario gameplay. I liked and completed both Super Mario Galaxy games, as well as 3D Land and 3D World, but I grew tired of 3D Mario somewhere along the way, where I'm not in a hurry to try Super Mario Odyssey.

But that's all beside the point. It's still a good day, because this finally got out of the way. Now we can go back to the real deal on Nintendo Switch, which is still Breath of the Wild. In the last months we haven't heard much aside from the Champion amiibo, which are to be released in exactly two weeks, on November 10th.

Originally I speculated that the Champions' Ballad DLC will arrive at the same day, but according to an interview of Reggie Fils-Aimé with Kotaku we shouldn't hold our breaths for that. However, the DLC will still arrive later this year and an announcement will follow shortly.

In the very least we should get a version 1.3.2 of the game on November 10th to support the new amiibo and to add the new helmets that come as a reward for them.

Details about the second DLC could arrive as early as next week. With the "Master Trials DLC" it got first introduced on May 1st and was released roughly two months later at June 30th. This window will probably be shorter this time and with any digital content these days Nintendo likes to announce today and release tomorrow to destroy your weekend plans. So, it's still possible that the Champions' Ballad pack could arrive on November 10th. We'll see.

Alongside the 2nd DLC I still expect a limited Breath of the Wild Edition of the Switch to be announced. Super Mario Odyssey won't make me buy a Nintendo Switch, but this would. And now that the new Mario game and its bundle have been released, they are free to announce a Zelda Edition, which would have drawn attention away from Mario, if they had announced this any earlier. Such a bundle would include all the DLC, of course.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Zelda Encyclopedia: Deluxe Edition Announced


A while ago Dark Horse has announced Zelda Encyclopedia for April 2018. Now they also announced a Deluxe Edition for the same book, which makes it look like the original NES game, even including the sheath.

This is pretty cool, but similar to Art & Artifacts I will stay with the normal edition, because it matches the cover of Hyrule Historia so nicely:


This will certainly look best in the shelf.

Source

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Worlds of Metroid


Metroid games follow an Action Adventure formula that's quite similar to Zelda games, but differ in how the worlds are designed. Instead of exploring an overworld, where you can find entrances to dungeons, you land with Samus' Gunship on a planet, a space station or any celestial body, where you explore worlds consisting of multiple areas that are connected to each other, usually in the form of long elevators. In these areas you'll discover new items and face many enemies, as well as the various bosses. In a way they feel closer to the dungeons in the Zelda series and you basically get a giant mesh of them in a Metroid game world.

The way how these areas are arranged can be quite different from Metroid game to Metroid game, where four different world schemes have emerged over the course of twelve games, including the remakes. This post ought to be a little analysis of those schemes, as well as an overview of the individual game worlds of all the Metroid games.


The Maze

Worlds: Zebes, Tallon IV

Games:
  • Super Metroid
  • Metroid Prime
  • Metroid: Zero Mission

You could say that this is the "classic case" for a Metroid world. Here you really just explore a bunch of interconnected areas without any clear arrangement between them. All the areas can potentially be connected to each other in various ways. The final area, however, is usually sealed off and you have to clear certain key objectives like the termination of bosses or acquisition of keys in order to enter it and to face the final boss. The final area still might lead back into the other areas, though, for a classic escape sequence.

You can find this "setup" with Zebes in both Super Metroid and Metroid: Zero Mission with areas like Crateria, Brinstar or Norfair, as well as the world of Tallon IV in Metroid Prime with its "overworld", the Chozo Ruins, the Magmoor Caverns, Phendrana Drifts and Phazon Mines. There's usually no clear course through these areas, the player might switch back and forth between areas to make progress, which can lead to some confusion, especially in Super Metroid. In case of Metroid Prime the map will display hints, if the player is lost for too long. In Zero Mission you can follow the guidance of Chozo Statues all over the world, where your next target (potentially an upgrade to your suit) is always marked on your map.

It's notable, how unlike its remake the first game doesn't really fit into this category, despite it taking place on Zebes as well. Instead it follows a more hub-like approach, as described in the following category:


The Hub

Worlds: Zebes (NES), BSL Research Station, Aether, Bottleship

Games:
  • Metroid
  • Metroid Fusion
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
  • Metroid: Other M

Here you have an overlaying main area, which acts as a hub and leads down to multiple sub areas in the game via elevators. Those sub areas can potentially be connected to each other as well, usually via hidden shortcuts, where they create some sort of circle that goes through all sub areas. A sub area may also lead to a deeper area.

The most notable examples would be Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Other M, where in both cases you explore a research station that is divided into multiple numbered "Sectors", each sector following a different theme like "fire" or "ice". The hub is called the "Main Sector", from where you can descend into the individual sectors via elevators. Over the course of both games you're constantly guided via objectives located in specific sectors, which creates a mostly linear experience. The sectors themselves don't really follow any patterns and a sector may not be explored in its entirety on your first visit.

A not so obvious example would be the first Metroid game on the NES, as already mentioned. Its remake Zero Mission transformed the world into a more maze-like scenario, it even added new areas like Crateria and Chozodia, but the original really treated its Brinstar area as a hub, from where you descend into the areas housing the bosses: Kraid, Ridley and Tourian. The only exception here is Norfair, which is placed between Brinstar and Ridley. But it really just acts as a link between these two areas, where there's only one elevator going down in between on each end of Norfair. It's also interesting, how the game treats is bosses as the main objectives, which are usually located near the lower end of the sub areas.

It's somewhat similar with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on the planet Aether, where you have the Temple Grounds as an intermediary hub between the Great Temple and the three sub areas: Agon Wastes, Torvus Bog and the Sanctuary Fortress. Each area also ends with a boss located in a temple, where you need to collect three "Dark Temple Keys" to enter the boss chamber. These areas are probably the closest thing to a Zelda dungeon within the Metroid series. But it's not just that, in addition the game also features a light and dark world scenario, where you travel between the worlds via portals - a concept that was first explored in the Zelda series with games like A Link to the Past. Within the Metroid series this is fully unique, though, and this is separate from the hub world approach, which only takes place in the light world. In Dark Aether the areas are fully separated from each other with no connections between them, so you have to use the portals from Light Aether to enter them. This can be compared to Lorule in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.


The Multiple Worlds

Worlds: Alimbic Cluster, Federation Solar System, Bermuda System, ...

Games:
  • Metroid Prime Hunters
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
  • Metroid Prime: Federation Force

This is quite a different approach from the others, where instead of areas connected to each other you get completely separate areas that each offer landing sites for Samus' Gunship. From one Landing Site you can travel to any other landing site in the game to switch between the areas or to travel swiftly to different locations within the same area, if it offers multiple landing sites. You can compare this to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, where you dive to three different areas below the skies to one of many Bird Statues, which basically act as your "landing site" there. The difference is that there's no sky hub connecting all this, traveling space merely acts as a loading screen. Usually the different areas are located on a planet or a space station within the same star system.

The first Metroid game that did this was Metroid Prime Hunters with its Alimbic Cluster, where you explore Alinos, Arcterra, the Celestial Archives, the Vesper Defense Outpost and finally Oubliette. Each "area" here only offers one landing site at the start, but you get to activate teleporters as shortcuts to later points within the same area. With the exception of the final area, you will visit each planet / station at least twice with a (generic) boss at the end of your explorative efforts. This will award you with eight "Octoliths", which you need as keys to open the final area.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption then expanded this approach with the planets Norion, Bryyo and Elysia in the "Federation Solar System", as well as the Pirate Homeworld in an unknown system. You can even visit two special places outside these systems, the G.F.S. Valhalla and the planet Phaaze. The main planets, Bryyo, Elysia and the Pirate Homeworld, are home to individual areas that may be connected to each other and offer multiple landing sites. The Leviathan Seeds, which are house to a boss and the final goal for each of these planets, are always completely separate, however, with a landing site on their own.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force can also be listed here for the sake of completion, where you get to explore the planets Excelsion, Bion and Talvania in the Bermuda System. However, because of its mission-based focus on multiplayer it doesn't have a real world layout, but instead offers 22 individual levels that are fully separate from each other.


The Circle

Worlds: SR388

Games:
  • Metroid II - Return of Samus
  • Metroid: Samus Returns

This is more of a special case that so far was only used for the planet SR388 in Metroid II - Return of Samus and its remake, Metroid: Samus Returns. Here you essentially follow a linear route through the planet of SR388, where you go in a full circle back to the landing site in the beginning. The areas are usually place at the side of this route and you have to kill all the Metroids in one area, before you can move on to the next.

With Metroid II - Return of Samus things were a little bit more special, because in this game you basically wander through one large cave system. There are no elevators connecting the areas as in the other 2D Metroid games. The remake, however, added elevators between areas and gave them a clear separation with that. But it also added Teleport Stations, which offers the same comfort as the different landing sites in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and makes it easier to travel back to any of the previous areas for backtracking.


The Future?

With the Metroid Prime Trilogy it's noteworthy, how each game in the trilogy follows a different pattern. So, in case of Metroid Prime 4 you'd expect them to try something different as well. It could follow the linear "circle" approach of Metroid II, but it's more likely that we will get something new for the series, for example an open world approach. This could lead to something like an "open planet" game, where you explore a small planetoid in its entirety.

A 3D Metroid game after this might also offer an "open space" approach akin to No Man's Skye, just not with procedurally generated worlds. It would be similar to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but more ambitious, where you can fly your ship on your own and explore the Metroid universe that way.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Postbox: Early Mountain Village in Majora's Mask 3D

Hey there,

I'm a long time reader of your wonderful blog. Recently I stumbled upon a sequence break that let's your visit the Snowhead area early, before you get the bow, and I was wondering whether you were aware of that, since I haven't read anything about it on your blog.

There's a short video explaining how to do it on Youtube here:

MM3D: Mountain Village Early Tutorial

I think it's arguable whether this constitues as a glitch or not. I'm pretty sure it isn't intentional, but on the other hand it doesn't involve anything like glitching through walls or wrong warping, and it doesn't seem to break the game either.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this, in case you're interested. :)

I wasn't aware of this and it's certainly interesting. So, thanks for the find!

Usually I'm not one for glitches, which is why you won't find much about it on this blog, but if it's light oversights like this I do like to explore them. I guess, you could compare this to how you could enter Ikana Village with just the Hookshot in the Nintendo 64 version by aiming at the one tree. It probably wasn't intentional and didn't work for me anymore in the Nintendo 3DS version, but it's still fun to use this for some sequence breaking. (Another comparison would be using single wall jumps in Super Metroid to get certain items like the Wave Beam earlier.)

In general I think that Majora's Mask could have been more open and leave the order of the four regions to the player, instead of sticking to a certain sequence. The game can be open at times, but it should allow more.

That being said, with this "glitch" you should be able to get as far as Snowhead Temple, but not any further, because you will need the Bow there in order to finish the dungeon. Apparently you can't even get or use the Fire Arrows, if you go as far. But at least you will be able to use the Goron early in the game, which is neat. I might even try this, when I replay Majora's Mask 3D some time in the future.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Future of Metroid in Titles


Last year on Hyrule Blog, we looked at the Future of Metroid at a time, where the franchise was pretty much silent, save for the release of Federation Force, which wasn't received with warm welcomes. Then we primarily looked at Metroid Prime 4 and a potential remake of Return of Samus. By now the latter already has been released and Metroid Prime 4 was announced to be in the making. It's good times for Metroid fans and with that we shall take a look at what else there could be in store in the next couple of years for the Metroid series. This time we will list individual titles and talk about their potential.


Metroid Prime 4

This is already a given. We will be getting Metroid Prime 4 at some point on the Nintendo Switch, maybe already next year. We don't know much about the title yet, other than it will probably focus on Sylux as the main antagonist and that it's not developed by Retro Studios, the guys who created the Metroid Prime Trilogy. Let's go into more detail about Metroid Prime 4 in a later post and move on for now... To titles that may lie beyond the upcoming episode of the Prime series.


Metroid Prime Hunters 2

The original Metroid Prime Hunters was a mixed bag. The singleplayer experience was quite awful, the controls can give you gramps and the Nintendo DS wasn't suited all that well for first person graphics. The multiplayer experience on other hand was at its core really good. It provided an Arena Shooter with unique characters similar to games like Unreal Championship or Quake Champions, set in the rich Metroid universe. And a sequel should focus on this, with better graphics and better controls.

Such a game could follow Metroid Prime 4 on the Nintendo Switch and give Nintendo fans a more adult alternative to Splatoon. Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Bounty, Prime Hunter, Survival, Defender and Nodes could return alongside new game modes. There also could be a singleplayer mode, which focuses on opposing the other hunters yet again, but it would need to be a lot better than the original to please the fans. But such a game could focus on Samus' activities as a bounty hunter and even involve a bounty system - something that Retro Studios had in mind for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, which was ultimately discarded, because according to Nintendo Samus isn't doing her job for the bounty (source).

Chronologically such a game would probably take place some time between Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Metroid Prime 4, so that Sylux can still remain as a playable character, next to Spire, Kanden, Trace, Noxus and Weavel. They probably also would introduce a couple of new hunters for this game.


Metroid Prime Trilogy HD

The Nintendo Switch is known for its many ports, so it shouldn't surprise anyone, if they ever re-release the Metroid Prime Trilogy with updated HD graphics to accompany Metroid Prime 4. For the graphics Nintendo would probably hire an external company like Tantalus, who made Twilight Princess HD on the Wii U. And ideally a Trilogy re-release would be on par with Metroid Prime 4, when it comes to controls and interface, and maybe even add some features here and there. Especially the maps and menus of both Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes could use some overhaul. And let's please get rid of those Friend Vouchers, a rather nonsensical feature that just makes it impossible to complete the Metroid Prime Trilogy these days, unless you have a prepped save file at hand.


Metroid Super Remake

While a HD version of the Metroid Prime Trilogy would be considered a "remaster", there's still the topic of full remakes such as Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid: Samus Returns. Here it would make sense, if they keep remaking the games in order and re-envision Super Metroid aka "Metroid 3" next. Such a remake could happen on the Nintendo Switch and would use glorious HD graphics for the game's environments, enemies and backgrounds, combined with the controls of Samus Returns.

You could argue that Super Metroid doesn't really need a remake, because unlike the Metroid games for NES and GameBoy it already has pretty much everything there is to modern Metroid games. It introduced crouching, Wall Jumps, Shine Sparks and many of the series' staple items, such as Super Missiles, Power Bombs or the Gravity Suit, all that were added to the previous remakes...

However, many of this doesn't really work as well as in the newer games. Switching items is inconvenient, Wall and Space Jumps have a weird timing to them, the Grapple Beam works very stiffly and the whole map screen could use an overhaul. At the same time they could add abilities such as the ledge grab or the Spider Ball.

With an improved input, some new abilities and pretty graphics, such a remake could be received very well. But of course Nintendo would have to be careful with this, because Super Metroid is still a fan favorite and quite the beloved game. Things like sequence breaking and the whole nature of speed runs should stay to avoid disappointments.


Metroid Fusion Remake

Before MercurySteam made Samus Returns, they originally proposed remaking Metroid Fusion. And this shows in the game, where you have the option to play in the Fusion Suit and where an additional ending scene even shows, how the X would have looked like on the Nintendo 3DS. They could just use the same engine and start working on Metroid Fusion next.

But this wouldn't be all that necessary, because Metroid Fusion is much less in need of a remake than Super Metroid is. From today's standpoint it still looks and plays quite alright, so there's nothing really to improve upon other than the graphics. Well, they could try to make the game less linear and turn the SA-X into an actual AI that lives and hunts on the BSL Research Station, which both probably would be interesting. But overall Metroid Fusion holds up quite well.

Another problem is that Zero Mission is pretty much on par with Metroid Fusion, when it comes to graphics and controls, because it was also made for the GameBoy Advance. So, if Metroid Fusion is in need of a remake, then so is Zero Mission, where would end up with a remake of a remake. Let's not go there...


Metroid 5

Enough with all the remakes already! The classic Metroid series needs to continue at some point, where Metroid Fusion has remained as the last part in the story for 16 years now. The game has left off with both the Metroid and the X potentially being destroyed for good. Of course we can't be sure of that, since Metroids have a habit of being cloned by Space Pirates and the Galactic Federation alike. The latter, however, might become a new enemy in this game, in the very least Samus could be confronted by a corrupt part of the Federation.

It's hard to imagine the Federation as the main enemy, though, but Samus Returns also introduced a new potential plot about the Chozo, which could be the topic of a new game.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

2018 Zelda Calendar

Another year, another Zelda calendar. This is the one for 2018:




And I have to say that it's quite solid, probably the best calendar since 2013 for me (I didn't buy any before that year). There's only one motive that got used previously and it's the first one, which gets used for the September til December 2017 section, which is fine, because I'm not hanging that up anyway. But overall the Zelda series has enough official artwork and illustrations to have completely individual calendars for the next hundred years, so there's no need to repeat things.

But this time the selection of motives is quite rich and also as up-to-date as it gets, since they managed to use illustrations and artwork of Breath of the Wild from E3 2016. I'm also happy that Tri Force Heroes made it in there, because that game is too underrated and certainly offers a pretty nice page there. I also really like the illustration of Link walking through a dark Hyrule Castle from A Link Between Worlds.

I'm not too happy that both Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess got featured three times each, where the diversity suffers quite a bit. In the very least they should have used some of the amazing new artworks from Twilight Princess HD (especially the artwork of Zelda looks gorgeous), where the Wii U remaster so far wasn't featured in the calendars yet. Instead they keep bringing old Twilight Princess artworks from 2006. If they want to go old, they could use some of the classic artwork from the NES games instead. But at least they end the year with a pretty amazing piece of Fierce Deity from Majora's Mask 3D.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Metroid Mania


It's Metroid Mania on Hyrule Blog! A majority of the posts last month were under the Metroid label and it will probably be the same for this month, before we return to Breath of the Wild and the new DLC in November.

It might seem "off" for a Zelda Blog to write so much about another video game series, but in its origins this site was named "Torvus Blog" after the Torvus Bog region in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and it was intended as a video game blog about Zelda, Metroid, Super Smash Bros. and other games. Later on I made the decision to specialize on the Zelda franchise, because it was the most promising topic. And in hindsight this was clearly the right choice, given that lots and lots has happened with Zelda in the last years, while the Metroid franchise was pretty much dead.

Now that Metroid is finally back, it doesn't mean that Hyrule Blog will transform into something different, so Zelda will remain as the clear focus. But a topic on this blog will still be games that offer a similar Action Adventure gameplay to Zelda, where for me the Metroid games always have been up there and remained as my second favorite Nintendo series. Metroid is the Sci-Fi Zelda.

Similar to my efforts of replaying the Zelda games for the 30th Anniversary, it was around the 30th Anniversary of Metroid that I returned to the Metroid series by playing its various games - an endeavor, which I have continued in the last months. So, here's a list of what I have achieved so far with review-esque thoughts about each game. Some of these titles I have played for the first time, with others I tried to achieve something new, like beating a higher difficulty mode, and some titles got replayed for the fun of it alone.

Summer 2016

Summer / Fall 2017

Next on my list would be replaying the entire Metroid Prime Trilogy on both Veteran and Hyper Mode difficulties, which I haven't done before. This might take a while, though, and serves more as a preparation for Metroid Prime 4, which is still far on the horizon.

What I really like about the classic 2D Metroid games is that they all play relatively fast, where I even played through some of the games twice and where I might try to achieve some better times in the future to view all the best endings... Overall this was a lot of fun so far and gave me some ideas of what Nintendo could and should do with the Metroid series in the next years, which I will share later on.