Monday, February 27, 2017

30th Anniversary Replay List: Final Update


The 30th Anniversary is over and my big goal for the 30th Anniversary was to play through as many Zelda games again as possible. This was not only to re-experience all the games, before Breath of the Wild comes out, but it was also an enterprise to clear my Zelda backlog on both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. This included many untouched Virtual Console copies, all the Nintendo 3DS Zelda games, where I own duplicate copies for various reasons, as well as 2nd Quests, Linked Games and/or Hero Modes that I left for a later date.

Much of this was already achieved last year and the final sprint now was happening in the first two months of 2017, where I had the goal to go through all 3D Zelda games on my Wii U again as a preparation for Breath of the Wild. And I'm almost done with the effort:


Originally, when rumors had it that Breath of the Wild would be released in June, my plan was to do all of this in five months, one game per month. But with the March 3rd release I only had two months left, where I spent most of my free time playing Zelda to achieve it, because I really wanted to get this done.

But things are looking good. Currently I'm in the middle of Skyward Sword, where I've just beaten the Ancient Cistern and got the Clawshots from Nayru's Silent Realm. So, it might be close to get this finished until Thursday, but that's not so important, because Skyward Sword wasn't part of my backlog. I already had completed both the normal game and Hero Mode back when the game came out. So, as long as I get to refresh my memories about the game for the most part, I'm happy.

Anyway, here's the complete list of all my "replaythroughs" for the 30th Anniversary:



The one game that's still on my backlog would be Zelda II - The Adventure of Link on the Wii U Virtual Console. But to get the most enjoyment out of this game, you have to play its 2nd Quest, so I've already beaten it twice on the 3DS last year. But I will probably play the Wii U version later this year, when I go through the rest of my Wii U backlog.

There's also one Zelda game completely missing on the list: Four Swords Adventures. But since I focused entirely on 3DS and Wii U, the game was simply not available. Also, if I ever play the GameCube version again, I want it to be in multiplayer with three other people.

Then there's Tri Force Heroes, where I even also have a duplicate copy that I got for review purposes back in the day. But this game is still fairly new and I put over 200 hours into it, so there was no need to replay the entire game again already.

Overall I'm really happy that I did all of this. On the one hand this gives me a certain level of closure and completeness. Breath of the Wild will be a big new chapter for the series, maybe even a new beginning, where it's good that I'm done with the series as a whole and ready to move on. On the other hand re-experiencing all the games made me evaluate, what I liked and didn't like, what worked great and what didn't work and so on. It gave me a good picture of what I would want out of the ultimate Zelda game. And it will also help me to draw the lines between Breath of the Wild and the past games, when I evaluate the new title.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Breath of the Wild: Final Expectations

In five days we will all be playing the next big Zelda game - Breath of the Wild. And before the new game lands in your hands, it's interesting to ask yourself what you really are expecting from it. Expectations can be betrayed, which usually results in disappointment. And that's something, where both Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword had their troubles.

With Twilight Princess Nintendo went with the "better than Ocarina of Time" route. They thought they had surpassed the N64 classic by doing the same things in "bigger and better", but ultimately the game was too linear and the characters and the environments weren't as good. While for some fans it's still the best Zelda game, for others it couldn't deliver...

With Skyward Sword Nintendo already tried to tamper with the Zelda formula in many different ways, like motion controls and segmented, dungeon-esque overworlds, but this probably went as expected. A major issue here was that Nintendo showed so much of the game in advance that there haven't been any surprises left. But even in such a case you still expect that there's more to the game than what they've shown already, which is where the game failed to deliver...

At least in that regard it's very different with Breath of the Wild. For the most part they only have shown us the starting area, the Great Plateau. But that's only a small fraction of the entire game world and we've only seen glimpses of what else there is to explore. The emphasis here is on "explore", because it should really be up to each one of us to discover the game world (and the story) on our own, instead of just following the big milestones that Nintendo has been showing off for months. So far so good.

But with the bigger game worlds in Zelda games, Nintendo usually had their issues to fill them with proper content. Especially the Wind Waker and Twilight Princess felt quite "empty". The main challenge will be to fill it all with worthwhile and interesting content, so that you never lose your motivation to explore it all. Especially things like villages with character interactions will be critical, because we haven't seen much about that yet. And a reason, why Nintendo decided not to show anything in advance could be that there's nothing much to show...

As far as the expectations about the overall status of Breath of the Wild go, however, the game is certainly on. It's another Twilight Princess situation here, where Nintendo really wants to create the next big thing for the Zelda franchise, finally surpassing Ocarina of Time. I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic, where I certainly hope that this will be a new direction that drives the Zelda series from now on, instead of being yet another collection of failed experiments. It might not be perfect, but at least it should be something that can be reiterated on in the future, much like Ocarina of Time defined the formula for a long time.

...

Other than these general thoughts I have two more self-righteous expectations, where I want to see my two major theories about the game to come true, which were created by the several teasers that Nintendo has done since E3:



Timeline Merge


Nintendo really has teased us with the timeline placement of Breath of the Wild on a level, where we probably didn't have as much timeline talk ever since the release of Hyrule Historia. This was a smart move, because it kept the Zelda fans discussing about the game, and to ensure this, the clues had to be all over the place. The Master Sword pedestal from A Link to the Past in front of the Great Deku Tree and surrounded by the Koroks from the Wind Waker. The ruined Temple of Time from Ocarina of Time, the ruined Hyrule Castle Town from Twilight Princess and maybe even the Great Bridge of Hylia. Talk about an ancient ocean and much more... It didn't add up at all, if you were looking for a specific placement somewhere (at the end) of the three timelines.

This had me thinking that the only explanation would be a scenario, where the timelines (and different Hyrules) got merged into one. Then it all finally made sense and it would give the game the symbolism that it needs. Only this way it could be a real counterpoint to Ocarina of Time and create a fresh start for the franchise built on its entire past. You are walking through the ruins of places from all these past Zelda games to experience a gigantic new adventure!

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the only way and I would be very disappointed, if this in the end just turns out to be another Wind Waker sequel or whatever...


Playable Characters


This other theory came up with the last two trailers and Nintendo's recent media outlets, where they showed a series of characters dressed in blue, all with their own weapons. Next to Zelda there's a Goron, a Zora girl, some Rito Archer and a Gerudo girl. You've probably seen them already and they all look like additional amiibo material.

And when I saw these characters, I immediately wanted to play as all of them and not just in Hyrule Warriors 2, right here in Breath of the Wild. It wouldn't even be a new thing, you could already do it with Medli and Makar in the Wind Waker, which was an excellent feature. Or you could transform into different races in Majora's Mask. And playing as other races and characters was always a lot of fun, where Breath of the Wild would be wasting potential, if all of these characters would just be AI companions.

Still, I didn't want to get my hopes up, but then I accidentally clicked on Twitter out of habit yesterday and the first thing I saw was the "one week" teaser image from Nintendo:


Looks like the fun selfie shots from the Wind Waker HD are back, nice... But is it really a selfie? Link has too much distance to the camera and the Sheikah Slate is right there on his belt. It would be really weird, if you could do that, unless someone else with a Sheikah Slate would be doing the shot. And who could this someone be?

Imagine the situation! Link takes down this huge Hinox (it's nice that the Sheikah Slate tells you the enemy names) and Zelda then takes a photo of his victory pose there. What a nice couple! And it's teasers like this that get my expectations up again, where it might generate disappointment, if all of this was simply misleading and you could just do weird things with the Sheikah Slate camera, while it's not even in Link's hands...

(When I previously speculated about a playable Zelda, I was worried that she would take the Sheikah Slate away from you, but it looks like she might have her own after all. The other scenes, where Link doesn't carry the device, might all have been flashbacks, where I've heard that you will collect his lost memories throughout the game. This would explain some of the scenes that we saw in the last two trailers.)


So, while it's really, really good that we don't know that much about the game and there will be lots to discover, Nintendo's teasers might have created some expectations that won't be fulfilled. Well, maybe some of this already has been revealed via leaks or previews, I haven't been looking, so excuse my ignorance at this point. But you can read about my excitements and disappointments about the game starting this Friday.

Breath of the Wild: Gossip Stones?


I'm currently replaying Skyward Sword, where I just ran into the Gossip Stones again, which had me thinking... In the 3D Zelda games that have Gossip Stones they were usually a great way to explore the world even further. Well, in Skyward Sword they are more of an ingame "tips and tricks" section, but at least in the Nintendo 64 Zelda games they delivered information about the world and its people, which you couldn't have gotten otherwise. Interesting details.

And since Breath of the Wild is all about exploring, having hidden Gossip Stones around the world could be part of it. In this case we could get like a modernized Sheikah technology version of them, where they are activated and read by the Sheikah Slate. This makes sense, because the original Gossip Stones were apparently left by the Sheikah, judging from the symbol on them, and could only be read via the Mask of Truth.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Got Art & Artifacts


Yesterday I received the new Art & Artifacts ("Hyrule Graphics" in Japan) book published by Dark Horse. As you can see, I didn't go for the Limited Edition, mostly because I wasn't a big fan of the Master Sword design and the standard edition just looks so much better right next to Hyrule Historia, because Dark Horse used the same design for both books. Even the backs match precisely, so they go very nicely together in any shelf:


If Dark Horse also releases Hyrule Encyclopedia in the same style, it will become a nice collection.

The book itself isn't as big of a must-have like Hyrule Historia, but it's still nice a nice addition and with a total of 428 pages almost twice as thick as its green, older brother, where both books complement each other. Other than the official timeline and the Skyward Sword manga, Hyrule Historia was essentially a collection of concept art. Now Art & Artifacts offers a collection of all the official artworks that were released alongside all the games. This includes cover arts, character designs, item images and illustrations. Some bigger illustrations go over two pages and fill them out completely. For Breath of the Wild there's even a foldout triple page to display the large free climbing view from last E3.

There's also a pixel art section at the end, which seems like a nice idea, however, it only covers the first three games. And then there's the big interview section with some of the designers. These interviews and their reveals have been all over the Nintendo news for the last couple of weeks/months, but it's still interesting to read it all for yourself.

Overall this book is a nice way to go through the entire Zelda series again on a visual basis. It's perfect for reflecting over 30 years of the franchise in one evening, especially looking at all the character art brings back quite some memories. It's also nice, if you want to show anyone, how diverse the Zelda series really is. There are so many different art styles and character designs in this book, it's amazing.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Breath of the Wild: All amiibo Functions Revealed

Nintendo took their time to reveal all amiibo functions for Breath of the Wild, where so far we didn't know what the Breath of the Wild line amiibo and the Zelda amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. line will do in the game. I even posted various expectations earlier this month. But it turns out that they all work like 30th Anniversary amiibo and just deliver goods on a daily basis with the chance for some special items.

Even the Guardian amiibo just gives you drops, where in this case it's probably materials that you normally get from destroying Guardians and other Sheikah technology:


Especially this amiibo is quite disappointing, because I really liked the thought of spawning a Guardian anywhere in the world for a fun challenge. That Rider Link doesn't summon horses, seems also like a missed opportunity, but it probably wouldn't have worked anyway, if there really are different mounts for different regions.

But I'm mostly just disappointed about the Guardian. It seems like Wolf Link is the only amiibo that is really worthwhile getting for the ingame features and the only real must-have amiibo for Zelda fans. But since I've always been an advocate that amiibo shouldn't be necessary to experience the full game, I won't complain any further.

Breath of the Wild: Preview Phase Begins


It seems like Nintendo will now let the media run wild with the game. Because I don't want to get spoiled any further, I will avoid Twitter, Nintendo news feeds, gaming forums and the like for the time being. Comments are also disabled for now just to make sure. Please understand.

In the meantime I will try to finish my 3D Zelda sprint with Skyward Sword. Starting March 3rd I will dive into Breath of the Wild with my "Adventure Log" series on this blog, where I share my experiences with the game on a daily basis. Comments will return after I've beaten the game.

Update:
I originally posted this on February 13th, but it was a false alarm. The real preview phase begins now, one week before the release. That's super close! And it seems that the review embargo is on March 1st, two days before release. So, Nintendo really kept the game close to their chest, which is nice.

They handled this really well this time. I know very little about the game outside of the Great Plateau stuff that was shown at E3 last year. And most of the other things came out of the two new trailers, which only gave us small glimpes. With Skyward Sword Nintendo already had showcased the entire game at this point...

And ignoring the gaming media for one week is an agreeable time frame. Since some people might already have the game right now, because their GameStop let it slip early or whatever, you have to be careful anyway. Don't get spoiled! I won't read any previews or reviews, because I'm getting the game anyway and I will experience everything fully on my own, without any bigger knowledge or expectations.

Only one week left!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Let's Update Twilight Princess HD

With remakes and remasters Nintendo usually tries to improve the games in various aspects. However, there still might be some things that they could and should have done to really create the ultimate version of the game. That's certainly the case with Twilight Princess HD, where an update could have been a solution. It's unlikely that at this point Nintendo would release one, but the point of the "Let's Update" series is to think about, how the games can be improved by feasible means. All of this is meant hypothetical.


Controls and Interface
  • All menus are navigable with Analog Stick or D-Pad on the GamePad
  • Classic horse control option
  • 1st camera control option
  • New Wiimote and Nunchuk controls

The controls of Twilight Princess HD combine the motion aiming of the Wii version with the more comfortable joypad controls of the GameCube version, which is certainly nice. However, some of the advantages of the original controls were lost with the HD version.

It's noticeable, how there's no separate camera control option for 1st person mode. If you like the normal camera controls with the right analog stick to be inverted in some way, it might be a problem in 1st person. In fact you can't get the camera controls to work like they were on the GameCube, but a simple option would fix that.

The new horse controls are also far from an improvement. The steering is terrible and the horse gets stuck everywhere. While we cannot expect them to add the new Breath of the Wild horse AI, in the very least they should offer the option to have the horse controls like they used to be, because that was already much better.

Not necessary, but still nice to have would be a third control scheme that supports the use of Wiimote and Nunchuk, so you can play the game like on the Wii, if you really want to. And that way the HD version really offer everything from before.


Bomb Bag Bug Fixed

In case you didn't know, there's actually a bug in the HD version of the game, where you might not get one of the three Bomb Bags. Apparently this can be triggered by getting the Bomb Bag from the sunken Goron last, so make sure to visit him before doing anything at the Rapid Rides! Of course an update of the game would ideally fix this bug.


Ghost Lantern


If there's ever going to be a vote for the most useless item in the Zelda series, the Ghost Lantern certainly would be one of the strongest contenders. The fact that Nintendo just added this item with the HD version doesn't make it any better. But it would have been so easy to make this item really useful.

As one of two new abilities of this item, you can now swing the Lantern to reveal Poes during the day. Whenever you're at a location, where a Poe would be in the proximity during the night, swinging the lantern by pressing the button again will make it appear right away, so you don't have to wait for the next nightfall. Experienced players, who already know all the positions, can use this for their advantage. But also new players could use this, if they spot a Poe during the night, but can't make it in time.

As soon as you have collected all 60 Poes, the Lantern will start glowing everywhere. So, it will basically become a lantern that works without oil as an upgrade. You can't light torches with it, however, because we don't want the Oil Lantern to become redundant. Both lanterns will also shine in a different light.


Ordon Gear


In all versions of Twilight Princess some gear found early in the game gets lost lost later on. You can't get the Wooden Sword back, the Ordon Clothes will be replaced by the Hero's Clothes and the Ordon Shield can't be replaced, if it ever burns up. Since Breath of the Wild will put some big emphasis on equipping Link in many different ways, it might be nice to have some more options in Twilight Princess HD, too.

So, with this update there will be one additional slot for shields, armor and swords each on the Collection screen. Both the Wooden Sword and the Ordon Shield will become purchasable in Sera's Sundries in Ordon Village after beating the Forest Temple. You can now have both the Ordon and the Wooden Shield in your inventory and you can replace them at any time, in case they burn up. You will also be able to wear the Ordon Clothes at any time. If it wasn't for the Ganondorf amiibo, they could have made it so that in the Ordon Clothes you receive double damage for a challenge, but this way they would simply give you a different look for Link, whenever you want one.

At least the Wooden Sword could offer a challenge. Next to the lower damage it will also burn up, if you hit fire enemies like the Torch Slugs or Fire Keese.


Twilit Challenge


This would be the same thing as the Boss Challenge in Ocarina of Time 3D or the Lightning Round in Skyward Sword, probably closer to the latter. It simply would be a feature, where you can replay all the bosses in the game. In fact Twilight Princess is the only 3D Zelda game, where you can't replay any of the bosses (except for the final ones) on any means. And since the bosses here can be quite epic and fun, that's a shame. So, let's just add a boss battle mode!

It doesn't need any reward, it could just be for the records. The only question is, where you would put it in the game. I would suggest Link's bed, if he had one... Knowing Nintendo, they would probably tie it to some Ganon amiibo, but let's not go there. It potentially could also be done by Madame Fanadi, who's a character that can be fully ignored otherwise. I've actually didn't visit her a single time on my last playthrough.

In addition this "Twilit Challenge" mode would let you play the Shadow Insect hunts again, similar to how you could replay all Silent Realms in the Lightning Round. It would start with obtaining the Vessel of Light, which now holds the full 16 Tears of Light again. So, in this mode you can still find the four Shadow Insects that got removed in each Twilight area. This way the Shadow Insect hunts still remain shortened for those, who don't like these quests, while the people, who did enjoy them, can still play the full package in this new game mode.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Twilight Princess HD: Hero Mode Diaries


When Twilight Princess HD got released about a year ago, I fully completed Normal Mode and left Hero Mode for a later date, where I could enjoy the game on a large TV, since I was only using the Wii U GamePad at the time. Well, by now I got a 49'' TV with nice UHD upscaling, so I finally was able to play it all again with many new angles.

I wasn't a big fan of the remaster early on, because it felt kind of pointless with the Wii version still available on Wii U and not like a huge graphical improvement. But seeing Twilight Princess HD on the big TV certainly has changed my mind, because it looks all very sharp and clear. I even compared back-to-back with the Wii version, which now looks like some pixelated mess in comparison. So, the HD version certainly has some value and I hope that Skyward Sword HD will follow on the Switch. But that's a different topic.

Well, right now I'm on a journey to complete all 3D Zelda games again in order, before Breath of the Wild gets released, and things are looking very good with Twilight Princess HD off the table. It was also the last major part of my Zelda backlog, where I'm now finally back to the point, where I have completed the entire series (with the exception of that Endless Cucco Rush in A Link Between Worlds), right in time for the next big Zelda game.

Luckily, myself from March 2016 gave me a little headstart here, where I had prepared a Hero Mode save file up to the point, where you're about to enter the Forest Temple. That took about one hour of tutorial stuff out of the equation, which was very nice to have. I could get right into the action. The game feels very "piped" and even has some parts that feel completely meaningless, especially those sewer passage under Hyrule Castle, because you can't ever return there. So, it's good, if you can skip some of it.

Overall the game gave me a very different replay experience, when compared to Majora's Mask and the Wind Waker HD before it. With those two games it was all about the "explore and scavenge" parts, while the dungeons felt like an obstacle for the actual fun. It was kind of the opposite with Twilight Princess just now, where the dungeons are the real meat. Most of them are also quite linear, but the design is great and they are fun to play. The sidequesting on the other hand lacks the motivation.

This may partly due to the terrible minigames, which can kill a good part of the replay value for 100% runs. Especially everything around the Zora's River is pretty bad. Well, I've actually grown fond of Rollgoal by now and used it to chill after the Cave of Shadows, so that didn't even frustrate me anymore. Trying to catch the Hylian Loach on the other hand did, because the landing window is just way too small. In the end I had to spam the A button while reeling to get the fish on board. And both the Rapids Ride and Fruit Pop Flight minigames suffer quite from some terrible controls combined with a "don't hit any walls" mechanic in an area, where it's quite hard to avoid walls.


At least with the Fruit Pop Flight I'm usually eager to go for that perfect score once per savegame, because it's doable with a little practice, but this still took me about an hour. It also would be so much better with actual 3D, because it sometimes it's hard to judge, where exactly the balloons are floating in the air. And I just can't stand the Rapids Ride, it's too easy to get caught up somewhere and lose lots of points due to one mistake.

It's not the only thing, where the controls are pretty bad, because the horse is beyond terrible in this version. It feels like you can't go straight, after you've made a little turn somewhere. On the GameCube I used to enjoy riding through Hyrule Field. There's this one circuit, where you can go through all fields without every hitting a loading screen, because it loads in the background. I used to ride this in circles again and again, because it felt great. But not on the Wii U version, the horse just gets stuck everywhere. It looks like they did a much better job with the horses in Breath of the Wild, so it's weird, how badly they screwed this up here.

Anyway, other than some messy controls and unfun minigames, the sidequest stuff doesn't feel as captivating. I like the bigger caves and minidungeons, but the dig caverns and Poe Souls and countless scattered treasure chests don't motivate me enough (though it did get better thanks to the Miiverse Stamps). Well, the Wind Waker also has some bland and repetitive things, but at least there it has a structure, which keeps you going. With Twilight Princess you also get access to most of these activities at once after obtaining the Master Sword, but here it's all over the place and you are bound to the game's daytime system, because Nintendo had failed to do anything about the Poes only appearing at night. And the Poes can be quite annoying to fight...

This leads me to the most interesting topic: Hero Mode. I combined it with the Ganondorf amiibo for quadruple damage and I have to say that damage-wise it felt like the right difficulty. Like in Tri Force Heroes one heart would be the minimum damage and you can rack up damage very quickly, so you have to be careful all the time. Unlike Hero Mode in the Wind Waker HD, where it's only somewhat challenging in the early game, it scales really nicely in Twilight Princess HD kept me on the edge for entirety of the game. For example King Bulblin in Hyrule Castle would do a staggering 12 hearts of damage with a single hit.

It gets a little bit too much here and there, for example falling off a cliff takes away four hearts. That's an instant Game Over early in the game, as if you were playing Zelda II - The Adventure of Link. I even died in the Forest Temple due to the long monkey "liana" at the end, because you have to time this jump correctly and it's easy to screw this up. Thanks to Link's Awakening I still have the "I cannot ever die on a savegame" mentality, so even if Twilight Princess doesn't count your Game Overs, I still never go for the "Retry" option, but I return to the title screen and go all the way back to where I died. But this mentality might change with Breath of the Wild and the new auto saving system.

There was another cheap death scene, when you go bug hunting in Kakariko. Whenever I tried leaving the exploding house, the fire hurt me with four hearts of damage, which also kills you at the time. If it wasn't for a fairy that I still had from the Forest Temple (I didn't even know that fairies worked while being in wolf form in the Twilight Zones), I wouldn't have been able to make it without taking away the Ganondorf amiibo effect.

Another big part of the difficulty is that you can't find any hearts to heal yourself. (That's not exactly true, by the way, the three fangirls in Hyrule Castle Town, as well as the Yeto & Yeta "love scene" still make hearts appear. But otherwise all hearts are gone.) And fairies are super rare, they only can be found at the end of dungeons and in the springs after completing segments of the Cave of Ordeals. I've even beaten the first segment early on, as soon as I had the chance, just to have some fairies available in Ordon Spring. And with that there finally was a good reason to go back to Ordon Province for a change. Also, Ooccoo was a lot more useful this time around, because you could use the warp function to go heal yourself at any time in a dungeon.

Anyway, it also made me use the Hero's Bow and Bomb Arrows much more than in the past, which might be a good preparation for Breath of the Wild. I usually had this mentality in Zelda games, where I don't want to deplete resources like arrows, unless it's completely necessary. But that's silly, because you're getting plenty of it in every corner, especially if you really need it. And Breath of the Wild seems like a game, where you want to make full use of your available resources to survive.

Apropos preparing for Breath of the Wild, another important part was going through the Cave of Shadows again and prepping my Wolf Link amiibo with a "20 hearts on the 40th floor in Hero Mode" record. However, it turned out that there is no such thing - whenever I scan the amiibo, it still only shows the floor number and the hearts total, but not the Hero Mode flag (unlike in the probably misleading result screen at the end of the cave). So, "20 hearts on the 40th floor" already was the best possible setup and I basically reset my save data on the amiibo for nothing.

It even shocked me at first that the second section of the Cave of Shadows opened up immediately. My plan was to secure a 19 hearts save on floor 6, which I then could use on my journey back to floor 40, where I would go for the 20 hearts by healing myself at the end. But then I feared that I wouldn't be able to do that. However, I still had to get to floor 20 once in order to unlock the rest of the cave, so I could get my 19 hearts save there. I also learned that you can use the new Toon Zelda amiibo to heal yourself an additional time, which came in handy to get that 20 hearts on floor 40 back. I wouldn't even be surprised, if you could just buy more Zelda amiibo to heal yourself more often...

The cave, however, isn't that much fun, because the wolf combat is quite limited and after floor 20 it uses a lot of cheap traps and enemy combinations to hurt you badly, if you are not careful and sometimes even if you are. The targeting system also might screw you, because sometimes it's important to target certain enemies first (e.g. Chilfos), but the game just keeps aiming you at Keese. If you use the right strategies, you can beat the Cave of Ordeals entirely without getting hurt, but this is much harder to do with the Cave of Shadows. Luck seems to be a factor here and that's not good... It's still an interesting challenge and finally a dungeon just for Wolf Link.

Last and maybe least, Hero Mode mirrors the entire game like the Wii version did. When I first played the Wii version, this confused me a lot, even caused a headache or two. And whenever I think of the world of Twilight Princess, I see the GameCube map in my mind. So, if I want to go to Kakariko, I'm thinking east. But for some reason I managed to get along with the mirroring a lot better this time around. It still felt wrong, familiar but strange. But I was able to navigate it all without any bigger issues.


So, that's it. Hero Mode done 100% with the Cave of Ordeals, Cave of Shadows, all 64 Rollgoal levels and what not. With Twilight Princess HD I'm closing the last chapter of completing the Zelda series for myself.


Breath of the Wild can come now. But I will use the meantime to replay as much of Skyward Sword as possible.

Monday, February 20, 2017

End of 30th Anniversary


Today's the last day of the 30th Anniversay of The Legend of Zelda. Tomorrow the franchise will be 31 years old, roughly ten days before the release of the next big installment that is Breath of the Wild. Unlike Skyward Sword back in 2011, the new game didn't make it in time for the anniversary, which is probably why Nintendo kept things low, when compared to the 25th Anniversary of Zelda.

Essentially all we got for the 30th Anniversary were a bunch of amiibo, a Nintendo 3DS HOME menu theme and the new Arts & Artifacts book, which will be released tomorrow in the West. Japan also got some new concerts and a Game Music CD Collection, but that was it. As already depicted in my review of the year 2016, Nintendo could have also tied all of the March 2016 releases to the 30th Anniversary, like Hyrule Warriors Legends and all the new Twilight Princess stuff, but they didn't, probably because they still may have had plans for a potential 2016 release of Breath of the Wild.

But what could they have done in addition? What the 25th Anniversary started six years ago, essentially never stopped. The golden Wiimote, the Limited Edition Nintendo 3DS, the Hyrule Historia book, the Zelda level in Super Mario 3D World, the orchestral concerts, the CDs and what not felt pretty special at the time. Finally Zelda got a lot more attention. But by now it seems like all these things have become a standard - the Nintendo 3DS alone saw a total of three more Zelda Limited Editions in the following years and even the Wii U got one. The Symphony of the Goddesses concerts kept happening in cities all over the world. Hyrule Historia now is receiving follow-up books with Hyrule Graphics ("Arts & Artifacts") and Hyrule Encyclopedia. And in general Nintendo is more open with the franchise, which even led to a new spin-off series with Hyrule Warriors.

The one thing from the 25h Anniversary that probably still stands out is the Four Swords Anniversary Edition - a free game, where Nintendo never made it available again (save for four days in 2014 in North America), not even during the 30th Anniversary. In fact this would have been the best opportunity to offer this game to anyone, who didn't have a chance to get it before. They could have offered as a bonus in their new My Nintendo program. But they didn't...

Also, I personally hoped that for the 30th Anniversary they would offer something similar in the form of some free Anniversary DLC for Tri Force Heroes, but sadly this also didn't happen. And the game could have used it, because it was dying quickly without any new content.

Another thing that I expected was some Zelda anime movie, but this can still happen and might tie in with Breath of the Wild later this year...

And from now on Nintendo will have to wait nine years now to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Zelda in 2026, there's no big date in between (you don't usually celebrate 35 years; 25 years is only a thing, because it's a quarter century). But that probably won't stop them to use Zelda as their golden cow in the meantime.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Breath of the Wild: DLC Announced


So much for avoiding the media from now on... Aonuma already hinted at DLC in previous interviews, but now Nintendo officially announced their DLC plans for Breath of the Wild via Youtube, an "Expansion Pass" for two upcoming DLC packs. They will include the following:

DLC Pack 1

  • New Cave of Trials challenge
  • New Hard Mode
  • Additional Map Feature

DLC Pack 2

  • New original story
  • New dungeon
  • Additional challenges

As usual with Nintendo DLCs, you also get some small extras right from the start, if you buy the Expansion Pass. You will find three additional chests on the Great Plateau, where one of the has a "Nintendo Switch shirt" and the other two "useful items".

This takes me back to my Zelda and DLC article from 2013. In general I'm not opposed to DLC, because it usually gives me something new to look forward to. It works especially well with Hyrule Warriors or multiplayer games like Tri Force Heroes. However, with a Zelda singleplayer game I somewhat prefer getting a full package. It now looks like Breath of the Wild is an unfinished product, where Nintendo wants to grab some extra cash for completing it.

It depends on what they are trying to achieve with the DLC. If it really goes beyond the scope of the current game and goes for the extra mile as a real expansion, it might be a good thing. It sounds like DLC Pack 2 is exactly that, though we don't really know at this point, what "new original story" really means. It could just be some advanced sidequest. If it's like a "mini sequel" that gets added to the game, it might be worthwhile. A new dungeon is also a big deal, considering that the game supposedly only has four main dungeons. So, this could become a good expansion and maybe something that Zelda games in the past wouldn't get.

But the first DLC Pack sounds like a pure rip-off, because those are standard features by now. These trial dungeons aren't exactly the freshest idea, in fact they have been a thing in Zelda for 15 years now. The Wind Waker had the Savage Labyrinth as part of the main quests, Twilight Princess then had the Cave of Ordeals as an extra challenge and Twilight Princess HD the Cave of Shadows (though the latter was amiibo content and in that sense already a rip-off). In Spirit Tracks you have the "Take 'Em All On" minigame and there was the Treacherous Tower in A Link Between Worlds. In Tri Force Heroes we got the Den of Trials as the first Zelda DLC ever, but this was a free add-on. And these multi-floor trial dungeons are usually just a cheap way of creating a challenge, where it's not hard to create them. It's just room after room full of enemies. There's no good reason, why this shouldn't already be part of the main product.

However, I can see, how this makes a good DLC extra feature, because these types of challenges (along with the Boss Challenges) are usually treated as an extra that you might want to play at the end of the game after everything else, where you are the strongest. It worked as a good addition for Tri Force Heroes, however, it was free DLC in that case. So far we didn't have to pay extra for this type of content, which now leaves a sour taste.

Same goes for the "Hard Mode". If this is some fully fledged 2nd / Master Quest, then I'm happy to pay for it! We rarely ever get this, in fact only the first Zelda game offered this from the get-go. I'd love to play something like Master Quest for Ocarina of Time again, where they really took the time to change all the dungeons, but even there it was planned as add-on content for the Nintendo 64DD and wasn't available right from the start. Ever since Skyward Sword we usually just get the cheap "Hero Mode" option, where you take double or quadruple damage, where you may find no hearts anymore (if there even will be any in the game) and where maybe the entire world got mirrored. But these are all options that are easy to implement and do not justify paid DLC.

In fact I'd say that the game should have a toggleable "Hero Mode" option like in the Wind Waker HD right from the start, while the DLC would provide a real Master Quest mode, where they make you face tougher enemies everywhere, where they alter all the shrines and dungeons and maybe even switch locations of the shrines to make certain runes / upgrades harder to get. Remember, how the dungeons in the original 2nd Quest for The Legend of Zelda were suddenly in different places? They could easily do this for the Sheikah Shrines in Breath of the Wild, since the entrances look all the same anyway. There are tons of possibilities to alter the game in challenging ways, where I really hope that with the DLC Nintendo actually takes the time to do that and finally give us a proper 2nd Quest again after all these years. In that case it would be the perfect DLC for a Zelda game. However, if it's really just the cheap "Hero Mode" option, I would be tremendously disappointed and Nintendo shouldn't ask any money for it.

The issue here is that we might not get to know, what we're buying here, until the content will be released. It was a similar problem with the DLCs for Hyrule Warriors (Legends), where they didn't specify, what characters and weapons will be included, they only gave a number. And in the end some fans were disappointed, because they got Tingle instead of Skull Kid. In the least they did give a pretty good estimate for the value, because a new character is a new character. With this DLC we don't really know yet, how big the story expansion will be or what the "Hard Mode" means. A true 2nd Quest would be worth the money, a Hero Mode not. But will we know this, when the content becomes purchasable on March 3rd?

Another problem is the fact that I'm starting with the Wii U version, but I also want to get the Switch version later on. Will I have to pay for the DLC twice or will I get some discount? But I'd suppose that for the Holiday season it's possible that Nintendo really releases a Zelda Edition of the Nintendo Switch that already has all the DLC pre-installed. Even more reasons to wait with the Switch purchase! And Nintendo seems to be quick to release "Deluxe" versions of new games containing all DLC anyway...


PS: Comments are enabled again for the moment, in case you want to share your opinions about this!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Breath of the Wild: amiibo Speculation

In less than three weeks we will all be able to play Breath of the Wild in our homes and add a bunch of amiibo to our collections, where the game even gets its own amiibo line, separate from the The Legend of Zelda line, that has been established already. And it's weird that we don't know already what they will do. But we can always speculate (again)!

So, these five amiibo have been announced for Breath of the Wild and will be available at March 3rd::

  • Archer Link
  • Rider Link
  • Guardian
  • Zelda
  • Bokoblin

The functions of the 30th Anniversary amiibo also have been announced, where each of them lets you have a delivery of goods. Also, there is the Wolf Link amiibo that lets you summon Wolf Link. All of the amiibo seem to be used by the "amiibo Rune" of the Sheikah Slate and they all seem to function in a similar way, where they let you spawn or summon something right in front of you. And this might also apply to all the Breath of the Wild amiibo.


It's kind of obvious with what Archer Link and Rider Link will do in that case. Archer Link will basically work like the Link and Toon Link amiibo in Twilight Princess HD and will supply you with arrows, probably even bows. There might also be a chance of getting the rare "Tek Arrows", which let you destroy the Guardians with one shot. The Archer Link figurine is even using one of these arrows!

Rider Link simply summons a random horse in front of you, in case you ever need one. The only question is, how this will work, if there are indeed different mounts for different regions, but then the horse amiibo could simply give you a walrus instead. Or we will have separate figurines for this in the future.

The Guardian might be there for a challenge, where it lets you summon a hostile Guardian right in front of you, which you can fight for fun. It might also be that the summoned Guardian isn't in a corrupted state and will support you instead, but in that case they might have colored the figurine differently. And if the Guardians in the game really turn out to be limited (which means that they do not respawn after being destroyed once), it will be good to have some way to let them loose again, where the amiibo figurine seems like a fun idea to implement that. The Bokoblin figurine might just do the same thing with a horde of Bokoblins, which you can call for your destructive pleasures, whenever you want.

With Zelda it's not so obvious and it would be boring, if the figurine simply gives you another health recovery supply, where the 30th Anniversary amiibo already got you more than covered. But if the whole buddy system turns out to be a real thing, the amiibo might just let you summon Zelda at any time like Wolf Link, so you can have her at your side. It might not be the actual Zelda, because this probably wouldn't make sense from a story point, but it could be like a "hologram" enabled by the Sheikah Technology, which does fit the whole mechanic, where you're using the amiibo via your Sheikah Slate.

Whenever I finish the Earth Temple in the Wind Waker, I'm sad that I have to leave Medli behind, because I really enjoy having her at my side. amiibo might be Nintendo's costly solution for that, where the figurines let you bring the characters back into the game. But it does fit the concept of amiibo quite well. It brings the figurines to life in the game, but at the same time you're not missing out anything essential, if you don't want to buy or can't buy amiibo, because you can still play with the characters during the respective points in the story. The amiibo are just for some fun later.

And you can even take this idea further, where all the supporting characters will get their own amiibo figurine at some point. I'd expect the Breath of the Wild line to be expanded by the following four figurines later on:

  • Darkel, the Goron
  • Mifa, the Zora girl
  • Reebal, the Rito
  • The Gerudo girl


They do all look like catchy figurine material and the figurines might be a way to bring them back to your side at any point later in the game. The only drawback would be that these figurines might not work, until you have progressed enough in the game. But that's fine, if the figurines will be released at a later date, and it might also explain, why Nintendo hasn't revealed the amiibo functionalities yet, since they might not want to spoil as much of the game this time.

Also, there might be a fallback for all amiibo, where you get something for scanning any amiibo that you have. Like scanning any amiibo in Hyrule Warriors other than the supported characters will give you some random materials, weapons or Rupees. This will probably be the same for Breath of the Wild, where it doesn't even seem like any of the Super Smash Bros. Zelda amiibo are directly supported. But they also might just give you certain supplies, where it would be fun, if scanning Sheik will give you Sheikah technology gears.

Breath of the Wild: Possible Mounts

It's been a month now that the Switch Presentation trailer of Breath of the Wild has been released and you can still look at the thing and analyze all the details. It really gave away a lot of potential, where some of it lies in the possibility of having other mounts than just horses.

(Up front: I want to apologize, if anything new about this already has been revealed. I'm not up to date anymore with the media and I drew the line with the latest trailer. But this is still a topic, where I wanted to talk about it, before the game arrives.)

In the trailer we saw Link next to the Gerudo girl, where both arrived at the "Camel Guardian dungeon", but not on horses, but what appears to be some hairy walruses:


Potentially there are different mounts based on a regional aspect. It could be like in Twilight Princess, where you can't bring your horse to the desert, but you can mount the wild boars used by Bokoblins in the area. Depending on where you leave the Great Plateau, you might not have access to any horses, but different ridable species, like the walruses.

When replaying the Wind Waker I enjoyed a lot, how quick and fun it is to ride the boat with the new Swift Sail speed. The rafting that showcased with Breath of the Wild so far on the other hand was utterly slow and terribly inconvenient, so it would be nice to have some water mount, which lets you speed quickly across any ocean areas in the game. And for Death Mountain you might get something that lets you climb rock walls, for example a gecko creature. And ultimately you might be able to use some kind of Loftwing later in the game, which lets you fly over the entire world.

This might even tie in with the new buddy system, where it seems like there will be various characters which will follow and support Link throughout the game, from different races. Next to Princess Zelda and the Gerudo Girl, there are warriors from the Goron, Zora and Rito tribes to support you. And it seems like these characters are using their own mounts, so that they are able to follow you around everywhere. Maybe for each race there will be a different mount. Link and Zelda will simply go on horses and the Gerudo travel on the walruses. Maybe the Zora will offer some water mount to cross the sea and maybe the Rito will give you access to some Loftwing replacement (they wouldn't need it themselves, though). And of course the Gorons could have their own mounts as well.

This reminds me of my Pre Hyrule Warriors Zelda battle game idea, where every character also would have had their own mount. With that I always imagined Darmani or Darunia going around on a Dodongo-like creature similar to Dimitri:



I suppose that the Gorons will have something that lets you climb rock walls, but the Dodongos from Twilight Princess actually looked like geckos and even were able to walk on ceilings, so it's still a possibility that we can have both.

You can still compare it a little bit with the Oracle games, where you did have different mounts with different skills available. The difference is that you won't have to make a choice for the entire game, where one region gets essentially replaced based on your choice (see here). Instead the regions now will determine the available mounts, where you might even have different types of stables for them. So, in Hyrule you get the horse stables, which we've already seen, while in the Gerudo Deserts you might find "Walrus tents", which look very different, but work in the same fashion.

Breath of the Wild will have a huge world and maybe there will also be many different means of traveling through this world other than what we've seen already. There's quite some potential here and in three weeks we will see, how Nintendo made use of it.

Breath of the Wild: Windmill Village

Whenever I replay the Wind Waker, I always marvel at what a great town Windfall Island is. In fact playing the Windfall demo level from the The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition was what convinced me that the Wind Waker is actually a great game. Windfall might not be as intriguing as Clocktown, but there's still lots going on in the town with many interactions and the verticality of the place feels great.

Now, there was a shot of a village in the Switch Presentation trailer, which had this Windfall vibe to it:


If they can create towns, which are fun to explore and where people have actual day cycles, this would be a huge win for the game.

It also looks like there is some kind of potion shop, where you have the classic Red, Blue and Green Potions available. But I suppose that the Green Potions will be used for stamina, much like in Skyward Sword.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Wind Waker HD: 2nd Quest Logbook

The current journey is clear: before Breath of the Wild gets released in exactly three weeks, I want to re-experience all 3D Zelda games on my Wii U again. And after things were progressing quite slowly with the Nintendo 64 games on Virtual Console, I'm back on track with the Wind Waker HD. Only after one (work) week I was able to complete the 2nd Quest mode and thus finally the entire game...


When the remaster came out in October 2013, I completed everything in the normal game mode (see my The Wind Waker HD Logbook) and left the 2nd Quest mode for a future playthrough. And that playthrough happened now. It started last Saturday, where I played til Tower of the Gods, while on "Sidequest Sunday" I did the majority of exploring of the Great Sea. Like the last time, I've avoided to start doing things as early as possible. That's unusual for me, because I usually try to get all Heart Pieces and other optional things as early as possible in the games. I even did this in a past playthrough on the GameCube once and it's kind of fun to get some Triforce Charts really early or whatever, but to save time I didn't start scavenging the ocean until after the battle with the Helmaroc King. It's just more convenient to do everything on a per-quadrant basis, where I systemically charted the entire sea, cleared all islands, conquered all platforms and submarines and even salvaged all Light Rings yet again.

Apropos Light Rings, I had the same phenomenon like in my first playthrough of the Wind Waker HD, where early in the game I couldn't find the Light Ring to the southeast of Dragon Roost Island, but it then appeared later throughout the game. Strange. It would also have been nice, if the charts would cross out all the things, that you've already gotten or done. E.g. if you got all the treasure chests on one of the platforms, it should be crossed out in the Platform Chart. Even a Blue ChuChu Chart, which keeps track of them, would have been great. The same goes all the Light Rings... Whenever I replay the Wind Waker now, I keep track using pen and paper on my printed Light Ring Chart, but that feels somewhat old-fashioned, especially while playing the game with a touch device, which includes a pen. At the least the ability to take notes on your maps like in Phantom Hourglass would have been nice.

Anyhow, doing these things were quite fun to me, but it does lack the necessary variety in the Wind Waker. Most of the activity is tied to the boat and all the platforms, the submarines and also some of the islands are simply just the same thing over and over again. But I'm confident that Breath of the Wild with its similar approaches can be fun, while at the same time deliver more variety thanks to the different terrains and the fact that there will be much more to do, especially with the over a hundred Sheikah Shrines.


Talking about the Sheikah Shrines: the Tower of the Gods really had this big Sheikah technology vibe coming from it, especially with the blue relays everywhere and the eye symbolic of Gohdan. The Beamos even had a level of deadliness to them, which may or may not compare to the Guardians. But it's hard to destroy them without being hit first and in Hero Mode they can do quite some damage.

Overall I left Hero Mode activated during the entire time and it felt much tougher than before. I've never died, but the lack of any hearts combined with the double damage can be threatening, because a lot of things can easily hurt you in this game. The enemy cannons, which you will mostly face in the six reefs, for example two or even more hearts of damage with one hit and these hits can rack up quickly, because you don't get thrown out of your boat anymore. And it's not like there are fairies around every time, early in the game I even used the "Save & Quit" method a couple of times to "heal" myself.

But of all 3D Zelda games the Wind Waker probably offers the most fun and intense fights, where the secret cave on Shark Island will always be the prime example. It's just so much fun to wreck the hordes of various enemies in this game. Twilight Princess then wasn't as fast and it felt more grounded, while Skyward Sword overdid the whole motion control directional puzzle thing instead of delivering actual combat. But the Wind Waker really shines here, except for two factors. You can't attack tumbling enemies, which is super annoying, and the game uses lots of small enemies to effectively prevent you from targeting the important ones, like the summoning Wizzrobes. It's even used in boss fights with Molgera.

It's the boss fights, where I also tried something different for this playthrough, namely Kalle Demos. For the first time I used the Forest Water trick on it to kill the thing quickly. It's not hard to do, if you leave the dungeon right before the boss and use the "warp pots", but it will block one of your battles for half an hour...


Otherwise I didn't do anything special with this playthrough. The focus lied on enjoying the visuals, where the Wind Waker HD easily delivers the best in the series so far. The Cel Shading style is timeless and the bloom makes everything pop. It just looks really nice and I can't get enough the lush, sunbathed views of all the island. It might be even a shame that this game never got an actual sequel with the same graphics, because the whole style was never matched on the weak Nintendo DS hardware and the graphics of Twilight Princess, while having their own charm, didn't age as well.

But what didn't entice me as much this time was Miiverse. I still think that the Wind Waker HD did an excellent job of incorporating Miiverse into the game, with the Tingle Bottles it's probably still the best Miiverse inclusion I've seen so far. But after a view drawn dick pics I quickly lost the motivation to go after them. It just wasn't the same as in the days after release, but that's to be expected. Part of it was also, because I've already completed the Nintendo Gallery in the 1st Quest, so that Carlov isn't even present in the 2nd Quest. As soon as you arrive at Forest Haven, you can immediately enter a fully completed figurine gallery. I did this even once on the GameCube, but with the Wii U version it was much easier and saved me quite some time here.

Still, one small additional goal that I had with this playthrough was collecting all eight missable figurine shots on my Deluxe Picto Box:

  • Tetra
  • Kogoli
  • Cyclos
  • Big Octo
  • Phantom Ganon
  • Helmaroc King
  • Wizzrobe King
  • Puppet Ganon

I took them all again and scattered them over Miiverse yesterday... So, if you're still missing one of them, go to the game right now and you might be lucky to pick up one of my Pictographs in a Tingle Bottle.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Replaying Majora's Mask on the Wii U


If I ever rank all the Zelda games, I will have to put Majora's Mask above Ocarina of Time for sure. As with the Nintendo 3DS remasterakes last year, I felt that Majora's Mask gave me the better replay value, because there is just so much to do all at once in the world of Termina with it's many sidequests. The world is also quite dense when compared to other 3D Zelda games and there's something to discover / to find / to do in every nookie. It's just really well designed and there are no dull moments in this game, unlike in Ocarina of Time, where you keep going through the Field of Nothingness.

Similar to last time on the Nintendo 3DS I tried to do as much in one cycle as possible for my 100% run on the Wii U. Since the Song of Inverted Time essentially triples the available time, I was effortlessly able to clear one entire area per cycle:

  • Cycle 1: Deku Minigame, Lottery
  • Cycle 2: Clocktown sidequests, Southern Swamp, Swamp Spider House, Woodfall Temple, Romani Ranch (3rd Day)
  • Cycle 3: Anju & Kafei Quest (partly), Snowhead, Snowhead Temple, Gilded Sword
  • Cycle 4: Romani Ranch, Ikana Graveyard
  • Cycle 5: Great Bay, Oceanside Spider House, Great Bay Temple, Frog Choir, Deku Tile Trade
  • Cycle 6: Anju & Kafei Quest (complete), Anju's Grandmother's stories
  • Cycle 6: Ikana, Stone Tower, Moon

On the third cycle I was mostly playing without a sword, where I had to realize (again) that you can actually activate Owl Statues with a Deku Stick. It doesn't work with any other weapons around the time, you can't use the Goron First or the Deku and it tells you to use your sword, but a Deku Stick does the trick as well.

Again, this run was nothing impressive, but beating the game in this way felt pretty good. What didn't feel good was the analog stick aiming, however. Gyro aiming was pretty much one of the best additions to the 3D series, where we can only hope that this will stay from now on, because going back to aiming with analog sticks is just frustrating. In Majora's Mask 3D I could easily score a "Perfect" in both Shooting Galleries on my first try. Back to Majora's Mask on Virtual Console I have to keep trying, trying and trying to get it done eventually...


Curiously enough, I found the Town Shooting Gallery somewhat easier than the one in Swamp, mostly because you only have to aim horizontally, while in the Swamp Shooting Gallery you have to shoot things all over the place. The Swamp Shooting Gallery is still the easier one, however, because the one in Clock Town just doesn't leave any room for error. You can't hit any blue Octoroks and the Octoroks will be gone quickly, where there's no second chances. A "Perfect" really is perfect play here.

I also had an issue with the 10-seconds-minigame at the Post Office, because there is some slight input lag, where I wasn't able to hit the 10 second mark accurately. The Wii U version also has the same downside as the Nintendo 3DS version with the Goron Labyrinth, where going straight is not so easy thanks to the completely rounded analog stick.

Otherwise the Virtual Console version was pretty good. I didn't mind the lower framerate as much as with Ocarina of Time, though this could be because I finally got used to it again, but the graphics are also somewhat nicer thanks to the Expansion Pack dependency of the original game. And of course it's nice to use Zora Link more freely again or use Ice Arrows wherever you want, though I didn't really play with the latter. But overall the Nintendo 3DS version made same changes to the worse, where the original version of the game still has some ground, unlike with Ocarina of Time, where there's no real reason to go back.

But there are also some changes and features from the Nintendo 3DS remasterake, that I missed. A smaller example would be planting the Deku Bean at the wall near Deku Palace. You can really get used to the shortcut and I forgot to bring some fresh Spring Water with me, where there's no pond around in the Nintendo 64 version. I would have had to go back, if it wasn't for the rain, which came with the start of the 2nd Day.

And the fishing in Majora's Mask 3D really grew on me, so that I kind of was missing it somewhat here, but since I don't have too much time left for the 3D Zelda games, before Breath of the Wild gets released, it's a good thing that I don't spent the additional hours with the game. I kind of have to rush things, while still going for the 100%.

Anyway, here are some fun RNG facts of my latest playthrough:

  • Bomber Code: 45321
  • Lottery Numbers: 251, 201 and 443

Another big advantage of the Wii U Virtual Console version are certainly Restore Points, which I mostly used for some of the minigames. In the already mentioned Clock Town Shooting for example, I could skip the early parts after mastering them. Or with the Zora Swimming you can set a Restore Point after the first race, so you don't have to do it again.

There isn't much else to do with Restore Points, though. Of course you can now leave the game at any time without the need of saving ingame thanks to Return Points, but this already worked on the Wii. There is Sakon's Hideout as an ideal point for saving and I also used it for the Heart Piece at Ikana Castle, where I really struggled to get this one on the Nintendo 3DS last time. Turns out that this isn't a problem at all in the Nintendo 64 / Virtual Console version.

Restore Points also now allow you to finally create a "perfect" savegame at the end, where you even might want to max out all items:


Why do we need to carry a total of 20 Magic Beans? 10 would have been enough (and make sense, since there were only 10 in Ocarina of Time).

But otherwise I was in a rush and despite the ongoing "time limit" in the game, Majora's Mask isn't a game that ought to be rushed. I didn't have many Nintendo 64 days as a kid, but this game alone could keep me entertained for a very long time, because it offers the "Adventure Sand Box" feel that Zelda should have. There's so much to discover and to try in every corner and thanks to the three-day-cycle you can do it all all over again and try different things at any time. With the masks alone there are so many hidden secrets, for example you can use the Captain's Hat and the Bremen Mask for some hilarious reactions during the Igos du Ikana Battle. It's these kind of details that drive the overall replay value of the game.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Breath of the Wild: Famitsu about the new Characters

While the newest issue of Famitsu doesn't really reveal anything ground-breaking, they do reveal the names and races of some of the new characters that we saw in the Switch Presentation Trailer.


We have the Goron Darkel, the Zora girl Mifa and the Rito Reebal. Yes, the "Bird Link" has a name now and was in fact a Rito, where we finally have the confirmation that both the Rito and Zora coexist at this point in the timeline. Famitsu remarks, how they all wear a blue scarf, wield individual weapons and are basically ready for battle. They also ask the question, whether Zelda will participate in battles as well, based on her new blue outfit.

Last month I raised the idea that these new characters could all become playable characters similar to Medli or Makar. However, it might also be that they will simply support you in battles, where they already showcased some of the battle AI, which the people of Hyrule use to fight Bokoblins and the like.

I personally would prefer the option to play as these characters in some way, but in any case I would suspect that the Breath of the Wild amiibo line will see some additions here. Especially the artwork of Reebal looks a lot like some figurine at first glance. They could be used to summon these characters at your side at any time, where the Zelda amiibo does the same for her.