Sunday, September 22, 2019

Link's Awakening Dream Diary, Level 8: Turtle Rock

...OCARINA... The music of the Ocarina leads...

This was a quick one. But there always has been little to do between dungeons 7 and 8, where this part of the game often feels like it's getting over too fast, especially since I've already visited the Western Tal Tal Mountains previously. But now I could finally reach the new warp point there, which is more convenient than I thought it would be. Now I can quickly get over here after Level 7 and then warp to the Chamber Dungeon afterwards. This saves some time and that's always good.

On my way there I've heard the full new theme of the Tal Tal Mountain Range for the first time, actually. It gets quite epic at the end, very amazing remix. Overall I think the music in this remake is quite excellent. Whoever arranged these re-arrangements did a wonderful job.

It's also nice how you can see now the top of the dungeon right before entering it with. It gives a nice tease of the rewards up there, even though the warp point there must seem pointless at first. But only at first.

area in front of Turtle Rock with the phone booth and warp point visible

On the way here I also could finally get that Secret Seashell that has been staring at me ever since the overview trailer from two weeks ago (see here). Now I'm only missing four Secret Seashells and I'm especially excited about these, because they have eluded me for the entirety of the game. The final four! The most secret of Secret Seashells!

My 46th one probably will be even the last seashell in the game, if you're going by order of when you can find them. And this will make the new warp point in the area even more useful, because then you could get the reward for 50 shells right before entering the eighth dungeon. And this gives me hope that the reward will be more useful than just another Chamber Stone.

The Mirror Shield got some nice upgrades by the way. Not only does it reflect the beams of a Beamos, it reflects every projectile from what it seems. So, this works a lot like the Mirror Shield in The Minish Cap, just much cooler. I also like how this looks a lot like the one from A Link to the Past. It's good to finally have the Mirror Shield back in action, too few Zelda games have it.

Otherwise I like having the Boomerang and Roc's Feather equipped at all times. The Boomerang is still super useful and your best weapon next to the sword. And the Roc's Feather is basically your jump button, so you'll need that one equipped almost all the time anyway. (I also like how both items are colored similarly.) So, I'm back to the situation, where I constantly need to access my inventory, if I need anything else, like the Shovel or the Hookshot, where it now feels like I'm swapping items as often as in the original.

Back to town, I got the Piranha Plant from the Trendy Game, of course, and know I now why they saved the Piranha Plant and the Pokey for last, hehe. This was certainly funny.

Chamber Dungeon

So, this is the result of my experiment, where I skipped a room in the Eagle's Tower on purpose:

chamber dungeon room with the Beamos and two knights from the Eagle's Tower

It seems you are getting all chambers from a dungeon after beating it, whether you have visited them or not. So, this was luckily a false alarm and I don't think there any missable items or chambers in the game. The only reason, why you get that one room from the Tail Cave together with the Key Cavern rooms is probably because it's not ensured that you have the Bombs otherwise. But you do need Bombs to beat the Key Cavern... I'm even guessing you are getting the seashell room from the Tail Cave in any case at that point, whether you have the shell or not. I probably shouldn't have gotten that seashell so early, then I wouldn't have worried about this at all.

And as I thought... the above chamber is now quite easy, because you can shut down the Beamos (the sound effect when they get disabled is really cool) and you can quickly put the knights in their right place. As already mentioned previously, the original version was a death trap and one of the most annoying rooms in the game.

I also like that the Chamber Dungeon lets you use this "room":

chamber dungeon room with the Eagle's Tower bridge on the hollow third floor

There probably will be some players who have never seen the third floor of the Eagle's Tower before it was remodeled, so this chamber might raise some question marks then. But it's another free card for challenges like "Heart Shortage" or the following one.

I only got one new challenge at this point and it was called "Sheathed Sword". It has another special rule, where you can't draw your sword. It's like the "Win without using a sword!" Drabland Challenge from Tri Force Heroes. I like these special rules, but sadly you can't select them for you own dungeons, so you're stuck with their presets. Or at least I don't think you can.

But I got the "Hearts +effect" from it, so that's half of the previously known effects. Not sure how you're getting the others, though... Maybe through more Chamber Stones? But I haven't found many of these either...

At the same time it feels like there is only one challenge remaining for a total of 12. That would be a little bit disappointing, if there were only so few. In any case I'm expecting this to be a boss rush challenge, where Dampé uses lots of fixed boss chambers on you. If not I will be building my own, of course. In any case the final challenge needs to be fitting of a new Heart Container.

I also wonder, whether the Wind Fish's Egg's chambers will become part of the Chamber Dungeon. Of course, technically there should only be three or four: an entrance, the maze room and the boss chamber, where the latter could have an unlockable variant as a "normal" chamber as well. But the boss room alone would be something crazy to have...

This even leads to the idea that they could expand the Wind Fish's Egg to somewhat of a real final dungeon by adding more layers to it. After jumping down into the hole after the maze, it could basically "unlock" the third layer for a nice surprise for everyone, who already knows the game. But I personally doubt that this will happen and I will already be quite happy, if I'm getting the chambers from the "final dungeon" at all.

Now off to the real final dungeon in this game...

Turtle Rock

Wow, they certainly have pimped the Turtle Rock entrance fight. Now I demand that there will be a special Turtle Rock chamber on top of the one for the Lanmola! It's still quite easy, but the fight certainly looks cool and has new phase to it in the beginning. And the new version makes it even more apparent, how special this dungeon entrance actually is.

And it's an entrance to a really awesome looking dungeon. Love what they've done with the place! For real this time! A common theme in the remake seems to be dungeons with diggable floors. Tail Cave, Bottle Grotto, Angler's Tunnel, Catfish's Maw and now Turtle Rock all let you use your shovel. And the earth floor adds a beautiful contrast to the lava in this place.

chamber above the entrance of Turtle Rock with a Vire

The Vires are a little bit more threatening now, where it looks good for the Vire, if there ever will be remakes of the Oracle games in the same style. One Vire also keeps chasing you in the large room at the center, which is a little bit spooky. And you can't kill them quickly with the Boomerang any longer, though it's still the best weapon against them. The Boomerang also doesn't kill the Rolling Bones guy in one shot either. So, it got nerfed a little bit, but that's fine.

Interestingly, the recurring mini bosses in the later dungeons now don't respawn any longer, but this is fine as well. In the original it was a way to replay them, but now you have the Chamber Dungeon for this anyway, in absolutely all their variants even, so it's okay that they aren't constantly in the way any longer.

Otherwise, the "floor maker" thingy is now much easier to use. It doesn't disappear, if you steer against an existing floor any longer, so you can comfortably prepare its next turn. It also looks nice, like absolutely everything in the dungeon. When I first saw pictures of this dungeon, I wasn't convinced about the new visuals when compared to the GameBoy Color version, but seeing this in action had me sold.

And there is even more good news! The secret Bomb Arrow shortcuts are still there and still a secret. After the Face Shrine I was afraid that they would blatantly spoil these as well, but like in the original this remains something that only veteran players like myself would know.

view of the two hidden shortcuts in the Turtle Rock dungeon, one is open the other still hidden with no cracks visible

And this is critical, because with these shortcuts you can get the Magic Rod very early in the dungeon. By the way, the Blaino fight is now a little bit different as well. You can't just spin-attack the guy to death this time, you have to hit him from behind. But with the Red Mail and the Koholint Sword you can best the guy in three hits... Well, see you in Oracle of Seasons, Blaino! Or in the Chamber Dungeon, if I'm in the mood...

The Dodongo Snakes, which have to be fought from an upper balcony, aren't as easy any longer as well, because it's more challenging now to throw the bombs into the right spots. So, the old warp point on the upper outside might be useful after all, if you're running out of bombs and want to quickly buy more.

But overall I'm super happy how this dungeon turned out! It looks great, feels great and plays great.

outside Turtle Rock after finishing the dungeon

Well, normally there would be nothing to do at this point except for facing the final boss. However, in the remake there are still figurines to collect and at least on more Chamber Dungeon challenge to solve, as well as in my case four more Secret Seashells to find. I will be doing all these things, before I face the final boss.

Since I'm not using the Seashell Sensor this might take a while, so don't be surprised, if there won't be another post for a few days. I will also disable comments for now to avoid potential spoilers, sorry.

Current Status:

  • Secret Seashells: 46 (24 old + 22 new)
  • Pieces of Heart: 32 (12 old + 20 new)
  • Chambers: 155
  • Chamber Stones: 8
  • Challenges Cleared: 11

Link's Awakening Dream Diary, Level 7: Eagle's Tower

...MOUNTAIN... Something calls ...from the mountains...

Another dungeon done... You know what this means: time to get that Shy Guy!

Link getting a Shy Guy figurine. The description says to not ask what's underneath the mask.

I love how both the Trendy Game and the Chamber Dungeon became my first stop after each dungeon, because that's where you get new things afterwards. In this case the Shy Guy figurine after the Face Shrine, as predicted. I'm now only missing the Pokey, Piranha Plant and BowWow figurine and I bet I will be getting them in this order. Well, at least I think that BowWow will be the last one, because he's the most special. Neither Pokey, nor Piranha Plant do appear in the Eagle's Tower, however, where it's a shame that there won't be an Anti-Kirby figurine from what it seems.

And after the Shy Guy I got this guy:

The Flying Rooster

Link getting the Flying Rooster. He's holding him up in the air like an item.

Lively as ever. Sadly, the old Boomerang trick doesn't work any longer, where you throw it, grab the Flying Rooster and then the Boomerang circles you as a weapon of mass destruction. But you now can grab the Flying Rooster while you're in the water, which lets you traverse them much quicker. This is nice, but not exactly useful for where you need to go with the Rooster.

Since Kanalet Castle had its moat renovated, you don't need him for the Secret Seashell there any longer (or the chest with 20 Rupees, if you already had the L-2 Sword). So, there is really only one place to go with him now, the cave with the Eagle Key... Well, I also tried another place afterwards. There is this suspicious cave on the way through the Western Tal Tal Mountains, where in the original GameBoy version I also always believed there would be secret for the Flying Rooster there, but back then it didn't scroll screens when you were flying. And now you simply fly into an invisible wall here:

Link flying in over an abyss in a cave with the Flying Rooster

But I felt bad for the poor guy, because he now has even less to do than in the original version, so I decided to go on a side quest spree with him. Going everywhere, doing everything, with my little rooster friend at my side.

Chamber Dungeon

Back to the Chamber Dungeon, I got a little bit better at timing bombs against Wizzrobes. If you place them right after they disappear, you will get them. It's probably a little more resource friendly than the arrows, but not exactly easier. I find it weird, how the game uses mostly the same enemy designs as A Link Between Worlds, though. It does make sense, because both these games are canonically connected to A Link to the Past, but it's weird that you have enemies like the Wizzrobes, which look very similar in both games, while they can be easily defeated with the sword in one game, but not the other...

Anyway, the "Heart Shortage" challenge, where you're limited to three hearts, was really funny. Dampé already tells you to go lite with enemies and the Face Shrine dungeon really comes in handy here. It has lots of rooms with no enemies inside of them. I made the dungeon so extremely easy, you would have to try to die. I didn't even get hit once.

Heart Shortage challenge in the Chamber Dungeon. The northeast chamber from the Face Shrine is visible with two knight figures.

I got the last Fairy Bottle for my "efforts" and I also gave my first shot at the free form dungeon making, where this is my magnificent result. Behold, the Shrine of Tourian:

a dungeon made out of only three chambers.

The smallest dungeon in the world, complete with an entrance, a chest room and a boss. In this case Facade and the chamber, where you got the Powerful Bracelet. I just wanted to check, if Dampé gives you anything for trying the open slots, but apparently not. Or you have to use more chambers, I don't know, but I don't think you'll get anything from it except maybe some fun.

But I'm planning on doing the exact opposite later, meaning a dungeon with full 64 rooms.

Seashell Hunt

I was one seashell short of the 40 when finishing the Face Shrine and I didn't want to go into the Eagle's Tower without the L-2 Sword, because this didn't feel right. Of course I didn't know that the 40 would give me the sword, but getting it too late didn't feel right either, so I had to go look for at least one more seashell first.

Now I was at a loss where to look. Keep in mind that I'm not using the Seashell Sensor, so those things can be hidden absolutely everywhere from my perspective. I knew that the fishing probably will have some seashells, too, but I didn't want to bother with that yet. So, I kept wandering, until I found a very particular seashell in a very particular way. I'm even a little bit proud that I found this one without the sensor, as the 40th seashell no less:

And with this particular seashell I finally got it:

The Sword is great, though. The Sword Beams don't feel as sharp and fast, but they are certainly as deadly as they used to be from what it seems. And the sword breaks pots now! That's similar to the Oracle games and certainly quite useful. It would have been more useful in the Face Shrine than in the later dungeons, especially with the boss, but you should be able to get the Seashell Sword easily before the 6th dungeon, maybe even still before the 5th, depending on where everything is hidden. In that case it would be similar to the original, where you could get it after the Flippers. But after the Hookshot is fine with me as well.

Of course now I'm super curious what the final reward will be. I have no idea, but it can't be a Fairy Bottle, a Heart Piece or a Heart Container, so that's good. If it's just another Chamber Stone it will be super underwhelming, plus you already got one from 30 seashells. I hope it's something new, maybe an enhanced Spin Attack (they always do those in the new 2D Zelda games), because it wouldn't require an inventory slot. Maybe an upgrade to a different item... Or maybe it's just limitless Rupees or something disappointing. Whatever it is, I want to find it out for myself and without the Seashell Sensor.

But there is always the danger of being spoiled. As I'm writing this, I'm watching someone else play the game. It's the person who kindly has borrowed me a Switch and who has never played the game before and is currently stuck in the Bottle Grotto. It's fun to watch, because there are these moments, where I was completely stuck as a kid and someone new to the game might get stuck in the exact same part, like the entrance of the Bottle Grotto. (The Nightmare Key puzzle has a new error sound by the way, which should be helpful... in theory. :D) But while watching I noticed another obscure Secret Seashell thanks to Spoiler Machine BowWow...

I also found one more. I won't spoil the location, but it's actually quite easy to find. So easy that it was hiding in plain sight for a veteran player like myself. I've been focusing on changes in the overworld, like new grass patterns and so on, while I have been ignoring other things because they didn't have any secrets in the original. And of course that's a mistake.

But before I can go on with the seashells hidden throughout the overworld, I had to focus on the fishing first, just in case it has some as well... I haven't spend any time with the fishing after the beginning of the game, because I couldn't really get the hang of it, but now was the time to return to this mini game.


Link looks in the camera after catching an Ol' Baron. The fish is blue and huge.

Well, I got the hang of it...

At least for the classic fish that behave normally. The trick is to not hold the A button, but always tap the button, like in the original. Tap as quickly as you can when the fish is facing you and tap only very moderately when he is charging in the opposite direction, but don't let him free entirely.

There are also the under water Mario enemies in the pond now as special fish. They are really celebrating these Mario cameos now, don't they? Whenever there is a special fish in the pond (like the Cheep Cheep, the Blooper or the Ol' Baron above) you can see a blue light in the pond, from what it seems. They also don't seem to re-enter the pond, so it's either get 'em or not...

The Fishing Pond with Cheep Cheeps, a Blooper and an

As for the Cheep Cheeps, just press up on the analog stick whenever they jump. I haven't figured out the Bloopers yet, however, they are just ridiculous. It's hard to understand what they are doing and the controller vibrates like crazy all the time. I just don't get them and they always spawn in the middle, so you can't play it cheap.

The Ol' Baron on the other hand just works like any other fish, just that it takes quite a while to reel him in. He's no Lord Chapu Chapu, though.

So, I got two more Secret Seashells for my efforts, where it seems to be a pattern that every mini game has two Pieces of Heart and two Secret Seashells now (in the Rapids Ride this is split up between Rapids Raid and Race). And maybe also two Chamber Stones, because I got two of them from catching the Ol' Baron twice. It's been a while that I got some new of those and this leads me to the following topic...

Chamber Stone Hunt

So, I've found five more of them. Two from the Ol' Baron in the fishing mini game. Two from the shop, where there seems to be a total of three (that's 3840 Rupees), at least for now. And one from the Rapids Race. In the latter I set a new record for under 30 seconds, which got me the stone:

Link on a raft in the Ancient Ruins after finising the Rapids Race. The record is 00:26.76

Only one, however. There is still some room for improvement here, maybe even less than 25 seconds, so I probably will have to keep trying. The key to getting fast times seems to be using the Hookshot diagonally. It's easy to forget that you can do this now, but it lets you get through the final part much, much faster.

So, this is what I got from the new Chamber Stones. I've checked each of them one after the other to know the results:

  • 1st Ol' Baron: mirrored Gohma chamber
  • 2nd one from Shop: flying tile chamber (Face Shrine) with three exits
  • 2nd Ol' Baron: Dodongo Snake chamber (Face Shrine) with three exits
  • Rapids Race: Cueball chamber with three exits
  • 3rd Shop: Great Fairy chamber (Color Dungeon) with three exits

I suppose you might be getting them in order anyway, maybe even together with the chambers you get from clearing challenges, so the Chamber Stones are probably not tied to specific chambers. Otherwise you could theoretically purchase a chamber from the Face Shrine earlier in the game, which would be silly. The question is what happens, when you have more Chamber Stones than possible new chambers. After all these special chambers are just variants of existing rooms with different exits, so you have more options. They are not completely unique like the five amiibo chambers...

Speaking of, why is there no Lanmola chamber? That's like the only mini boss you apparently can't face again in the Chamber Dungeon. And what happened to the "Cracked Floor Chamber"? That one was originally said to be unlocked by amiibo (according to the official website), but we got the "Flying Item Chamber" instead. Maybe Nintendo plans to update the game with more special (amiibo) chambers later on?

Also, the total number of Chamber Stones is completely oblivious to me. I have eight by now, which seems way too little. I hope the game will tell you, when you got all chambers, but right now I have no clear goal here, unlike with the Secret Seashells.

Well, after all this side questing, it's finally time to visit one of my absolute favorite dungeons in the series...

Eagle's Tower

Link and the Flying Rooster in front of the Eagle's Tower. The tower is in the middle of rotating.

With its atmospheric music, unique setting, a mini-boss going on vendetta and a very clever dungeon-wide puzzle, it's truly one of the best. When I think of the dungeons in Link's Awakening, this one always comes to mind first.

There have been some changes here, but mostly for the better. The first thing I noticed is that you can't just get the Mirror Shield right away, because you can't throw the Boomerang at the crystal switch in the same room from over the raised blue blocks any longer. I also tried bombs, but they didn't work either.

By the way, it's really nice to have a color coding for the crystal blocks. It's a standard for the series, but Link's Awakening was the only game that didn't have it so far, not even in the colored DX version. And I really like how the "red" blocks look more orange now. It's a nice contrast to the blue ones.

Link standing in one of the hollow rooms of the 3rd floor with crystal blocks in front of him

So, you have to activate another crystal switch and get back there first, which is how it was originally intended. You can still jump across the abyss at the first pillar, though, so there is still a good shortcut to take there.

I usually like to go up to the 3rd floor early and they haven't changed it in any form. There is still the troll key hole, where you can waste a key for absolutely nothing, because there is no way to get beyond the crystal blocks in that chamber. That seems to be true for the remake as well, though it would have been cool, if you could now finally visit that infamous unused room from the original:

Or maybe you can do it now and I couldn't figure it out... In any case the Grim Creeper now tells you what to do, in case you screw up once. This probably makes the fight easier than it already was, but whatever.

Overall the dungeon was made easier, but in good ways. This mostly goes hand in hand with changing certain enemies, entities and mechanics, which were somewhat annoying in the original. Like the card enemies are now much easier to take out, because the symbol doesn't switch as fast. The knights from the Face Shrine now have a clear system how to solve them. And you now can shut down the Beamos, when you reflect their beams.

Also, once you have opened doors in a room, may it be by defeating enemies or lighting torches, they will stay open. This includes the one flying tile room with holes that you might traverse multiple times in this dungeon. Those were all annoying things, where playing the Eagle's Tower is now even greater and swifter and more fun than it used to be.

The main puzzle with the four puzzles also remained mainly untouched. Yes, they've added another of those unnecessary cracked walls, but at least this was never a big secret here to begin with and those cracks are easy to miss here (like in the one cave between the two sides of the mountains). The puzzle itself is still a brain teaser as it always used to be, though I've memorized it completely, so it's quick math for me.

an outside shot of the tower right before it's collapsing

As you can already see, when the top of the tower goes down, they have changed the Evil Eagle's fight fundamentally, because it still goes on, when you fall down. There is now spikes down there to punish you, but they are easy to avoid and this isn't another Moldorm-like reset fight, where it might frustrate players. And with the Chamber Dungeon, where you want to kill bosses as quickly as possible, this is a good change as well.

Apropos Chamber Dungeon, I'm starting a little experiment here. Take a look at my map:

the near final map of the 3rd floor with the right room in the upper row missing

Normally I always 100% complete a dungeon, but I have left out one chamber. Remember my concerns about how chambers could be missable? This was brought up by the bombable room in Level 1, which I only got after clearing Level 3. What happens, if I leave out an optional room in a dungeon like this one and don't go back there until the end of the game? Well, let's find out!

I always hated this particular chamber in the original, because it combined the knights with a Beamos on a conveyor belt, where the thing could kill very quickly. It was a death trap puzzle. Of course this should be now a lot easier to do, but all you got for your troubles in the DX version was a Secret Medicine. Since I can't pick those up without "dying" first anyways, I might as well skip this chamber altogether for now.

Theoretically I shouldn't be getting this room in the chamber dungeon and then I can find out, whether I will be getting it after the final dungeon or not. If I miss it in the end, it's not a big deal, because I'm not playing this on my own Switch anyway. So, let's do this for science!

outside the Eagle's Tower after finishing the dungeon
Oh, no... my rooster friend is gone...

Current Status:

  • Secret Seashells: 45 (24 old + 21 new)
  • Pieces of Heart: 31 (11 old + 20 new)
  • Chambers: 138
  • Chamber Stones: 8
  • Challenges Cleared: 10

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Link's Awakening Dream Diary, Level 6: Face Shrine

...SHRINE... An island secret in the shrine...

Hidden Things

Last time we got the Hookshot, which is basically the last major key item for exploring Koholint. The remaining three items do little to nothing when it comes to accessing new areas, so the Hookshot gets the rest of the fun. Naturally, the first thing I did was getting the new Magnifying Lens. I've heard that it's more useful now, but I couldn't find anything so far except for the expected new reward from the hidden Zora in Animal Village.

the hidden Zora in Animal Village

You actually get a Secret Seashell from him, which is very fitting for the character and a good replacement for the photo you got in the DX version. He also gives you a hint to look for another guy like him at the beach...

Of course this was my goal anyway, because I wanted that new Boomerang asap. At first you still have to trade for an item on your X or Y buttons, reminiscent of the original. Fairy Bottles don't work here, so it was the Shovel again. But you can then actually buy it back for 300 Rupees to finally have both items in your inventory for the rest of the game. Nice! And you certainly want to invest this, because there is still more stuff to find with your Shovel.

On the GameBoy at this point you were potentially done with the seashell hunting, so the Shovel didn't have any major usage any longer. It was fine to give it away. In the remake you certainly want to keep all items, however.

Unlike the Hookshot, the Boomerang wasn't nerfed brutally. It still got nerfed or changed a little, however. You can instantly kill smaller foes with it, like Octoroks, but stronger ones are stunned first. I haven't tried this on everything yet, but in case of the ghosts it stuns them first and kills them afterwards. And it's the same for the plants in the Goponga Swamp, maybe for all bigger enemies.

It also keeps giving you fairies from killing Anti-Fairies, as well as from these weird flying or hopping "Bone Putters" that appear in the Color Dungeon. Sparks on the other hand don't always seem to work. Sometimes they turn into fairies, sometimes they don't. I'm sure there is a rule to it, but the Boomerang doesn't seem like the best healing tool in the world anymore, because you can't heal yourself in every room with Sparks now. And it will be interesting to see, whether the Boomerang still creates fairies in Hero Mode or not. Probably not, though...

Away from the shore, back to Mabe Village, I already studied the dark secrets of the island. And this is what I got:


This is a new one! This combination didn't exist in the original game and it might even be now entirely random. Either that or they have added a couple of new variants or changed the old ones. Though, I hope that the old routes are still part of the game somehow. Ideally it would be random, so you can't just guess it, though of course this then sucks for speed runners.

The Trendy Game had another new figurine and it seems that you get one per dungeon and then maybe a final one at the end (probably BowWow). The ones you get after a specific dungeon even seem to be themed accordingly. After the Angler's Tunnel it unlocked the Cheep Cheep and after the Catfish's Maw the Blooper. I bet that the Face Shrine will unlock the Shy Guy next.

a Blooper figurine in Ulrira's house

This is always a curious part in the game, because both Marin and Tarin can't be found anywhere right now. Marin has left Animal Village, but didn't come back to Mabe Village. And Tarin is probably off looking for her. This has a good reason, of course, but I would like it, if the game had added a moment, where you can meet Marin at the Wind Fish's Egg or so. Let's see...

I even went up in the Tal Tal Mountains to explore the rest. In the infamous mountain cave that Link's Awakening expects you to cross multiple times i was a little bit surprised at the chest that requires the Hookshot, because you can't get back with the item now. It only attaches to wooden things and blocks in the remake, so skulls or rocks don't work any longer... Now you have to find another way back across the abyss, though that's easy to do.

However, the Heart Piece at the other side of this cave is now even harder to find than in the original, because it's actually quite easy to miss the cracks in the walls there. That's something, because I'm personally not a fan of cracking up all the bombable walls (this one used to be cracked in the original, however). More on this later...

And I finally found the anticipated warp point up in the Tal Tal Mountains...

new warp point in the Eastern Tal Tal Mountains right at the edge

It's on the eastmost edge of the mountains, right next to the cave with a Great Fairy, which is a plus. Still, a warp point near the hen house probably would have been more useful for taking short cuts. If I get the Flying Rooster later, I still have to traverse an entire set of caves to get the Eagle Key. But this is better than nothing and lets you return to the Eagle's Tower quickly, in case you want to do something else in between the dungeon - like healing up. But then again, you can do this right there with the Great Fairy.

I couldn't get past the flame thrower in the west mountains without the Mirror Shield, but I also didn't really try. Maybe you can do it with a fairy or the Secret Medicine... I leave this to others to find out. But if you can do it, you will be able to activate another warp point in the area and then potentially skip past Marin's rescue. So, I don't think you can get through the flames in the remake.

But in the area another one of my seashell suggestions came true. That's three out of four, which is a good quota and makes me happy. I always thought that Secret Seashells had to be in these areas when playing the GameBoy original and now finally I found something there.

Fun Time

As for the Chamber Dungeon, Level 5 gives you a lot of rooms... A lot of rooms with mini-bosses, like all four variants of the Master Stalfos and one for the Gohmas. Since they can now be defeated with the sword, it even locks you inside the chamber. And I got another one for the Slime Eel as well after clearing one of two new challenges.

an altered chamber from Level 5 with a water pool at the bottom right

I got another Piece of Heart here and at this point it was already clear that there will be 20 new Heart Pieces in total. I even found the rest of them before the Face Shrine, where I'm now only missing the final Piece of Heart from the original game. But it's nice that there are so many now, especially since they will be one of the few healing opportunities in Hero Mode. And this really adds to the environments, caves, mini games and so on.

Apropos, there is of course one more new mini game that has received major upgrades... the Rapids Ride!

Link on a raft in the middle of the Rapids Ride

It now has two disciplines: the Rapids Raid and the Rapids Race. Gotta love all those alliterations! The Rapids Raid works like the old version, just that you can now find a Piece of Heart and a Secret Seashell in addition to lots of Rupees. So, it's definitely worth playing the game now. The Rapids Race then asks you to traverse the Rapids Ride as quickly as possible, where the new Hookshot comes in handy. You basically hookshot through the whole place, where I landed a little over 31 seconds with room for improvement. But it still was quick enough to score both another Piece of Heart and another Secret Seashell.

I'm suspecting that the fishing might have Secret Seashells as well, so I probably should play this a little more...

Face Shrine

Sadly, this marks a small turning point for me. So far the remake was incredible and I almost had no complaints, while there are many new things to like. But I have to do some nagging after this dungeon, because they have changed certain things to the worse here. I've already discussed these things on my blog already, but I still need to put it out there again.

First of all, the dungeon looks and sounds incredible. I love the visuals, I love the new music, I love what they've done with the place. Except for this...

room after the first crystal switch in the Face Shrine - the right wall has now visible cracks

Why are there cracks on the walls here? These shouldn't be visible, because in the original you were supposed to figure out that there is a hidden room there. You even still have the Owl Statue giving you a hint about it...

owl statue saying to enter the space where the eyes have walls

But now this hint is more cryptic than the actual puzzle! "What does it mean, Nintendo? The eyes have walls? What?? Screw it, I'm not getting stuck in this place anyway, because it's eazy..."

Even the dungeon map simply reveals you the secret rooms right from the start:

Face Shrine dungeon map - the are no hidden rooms anymore

I've already told you about how classic Zelda dungeons in the first NES game and Link's Awakening (as well as the Oracle games) had these "pixel arts" for their dungeon maps. The Face Shrine was supposed to look like a mask or face and the "eyes" on the ingame map didn't show you any rooms. It was confusing and I even got stuck in this dungeon as kid for quite a while, because I couldn't figure it out.

It was an interesting puzzle, which might only work once, but a puzzle nonetheless, where new players won't face any riddle now. They will only face cracks in some wall and do what they always did with those. It's pointless and gives away the dungeon's main item too easily. I'm not happy that they've done this...

At least the puzzle with the Knight figurines is now an actual puzzle that can be solved methodically.

the new Knight figurines in the top left room of the Face Shrine

At first I was completely confused and just kept throwing them around wildly without any success, because in the original these things were mainly a game of luck... But now you can detect some differences and there are actual spots of how to throw them to make them stand upright. This will be helpful for speedruns, I suppose.

But as nice as this change might be, you get another bad change right after... The chests with Secret Medicine in the last three dungeons now will stay closed, if you already got one:

Link getting a Secret Medicine from a chest - the game says he has to put it back

Since I'm not playing on my own Switch, I won't bother with these, but this will be certainly annoying for a 100% run, where you want to have all chests on the map cleared. In the least there should be an option to put it back or to keep it anyway. Or to use it manually in the inventory. Those things are super cheap, so there is no reason to keep them locked deep down in some dungeon. You won't want to come back to this particular chest in any case, because it requires you to hit a crystal switch on the other side of the dungeon first! This should have been another Chamber Stone or so.

The Goddess Nayru certainly wasn't with the development team, when they've remade this dungeon...

The Wizzrobes also seem to be a bit different now. I couldn't get the bomb timing to work, but now two arrows kill them. I thought it was four arrows on the GameBoy, so that's helpful, but I also might just remember it wrong, because I always used to use bombs on them originally.

And at first I was afraid that you can't kill the Pols Voices with the Ocarina any longer, but I was playing the Frog's Song of Soul, which I've also already gotten from Mamu. That didn't work in the original either, however. It only kills them, if you play the Ballad of the Wind Fish, probably because your performance is so bad, as Marin would put it.

And the special room in front of the boss chamber, where lighting all torches turns the Sparks into fairies (like the Boomerang does occasionally), still does work the way it was:

chamber before the boss room - all torches are lit and the Sparks have turned into fairies

Overall the remake is very faithful like this, where it hurts to have silly changes, like screwing up the main dungeon puzzle or leaving Secret Medicines behind in some far off dungeon chest.

Facade looks really cool now, but the boss is still ridiculously easy, though, despite the buffs. He can hurt you now, if you are touching him, and the holes are much faster and aggressive, but his variant in Oracle of Seasons still was more powerful. Like in Seasons they could have made him drop these little spider enemies, which otherwise only appear once in the entire game. Or let him summon Shy Guys or something...

outside the Face Shrine after completing the dungeon

We're getting close to the end of the game. I'm already done with the new Heart Pieces, but there are still nine new Secret Seashells (and two old ones) for me to find, which is nice. I haven't been using the Seashell Sensor and I don't plan to, because it's too much fun discovering them on my own. I'm also curious about the other reward in the Seashell Mansion, because it can't be a Heart Container or a Fairy Bottle now, because that stuff will be gotten from the Chamber Dungeon. Hopefully it's not just another Chamber Stone, but something special...

Current Status:

  • Secret Seashells: 39 (23 old + 16 new)
  • Pieces of Heart: 31 (11 old + 20 new)
  • Chambers: 110
  • Chamber Stones: 3
  • Challenges Cleared: 8

Link's Awakening Dream Diary, Level 5: Catfish's Maw

...BAY... Your road goes into the bay...

Manbo performing his song

A little bit of Catfish in my life
A little bit of Angler by my side
A little bit of Toona is all I need
A little bit of Reekfish is what I smell
A little bit of Salmon in the sun
A little bit of Manbo all night long...

Mambo No. 5... Well, of course Manbo's Mambo is much catchier and now also a lot more useful than it used to be. You can warp to any warp point now and it even adds Manbo's pond/pool as an additional warp point, which you can then use normally. Together with all the new warp points you can rid of the following stalker quite quickly:

the ghost following Link through the Kanalet Castle moat

I was also right that you can now get the Secret Seashell before he tells you about it. He also gives you the "first" Fairy Bottle, where the order seems a little weird. But maybe Nintendo / Grezzo thought that this should be the first, because the other two are entirely optional.

I haven't gotten the third Fairy Bottle yet, which should be a reward from the Chamber Dungeon. But there I couldn't really make much progress, because the Angler's Tunnel didn't add all that many new chambers (most of the dungeon is one giant room anyway) and there was only one new challenge from Dampé, the one where you have to fill up a Bomb pattern on the map.

It's nice how the Chamber Dungeon also aims at certain "pixel arts" with its dungeon ideas, because that's how dungeons got made both in the original The Legend of Zelda and Link's Awakening. The dungeons usually have a certain form and are often even named after this form. For example the Bottle Grotto is basically the outline of a vase. So, it's nice that they are aiming at some other shapes here, where you get a Bomb and a Heart dungeon now.

The Bomb dungeon challenge gives you even the Bombs plus effect, which is the first one I got other than Shadow Link. There are many more, though, which makes me wonder what I'm missing here. Maybe you have to beat the challenges with certain secret conditions, like clear time, usage of certain (boss) rooms and so on, but I haven't figured anything out yet. Getting rewards from Dampé feels entirely random to me and maybe I just have to wait until I have more chambers...

I'm not even sure that the Chamber Stones give you specific chambers. I got two more of them, one from the Seashell Mansion and the first one from the shop (yes, there are more and they keep costing 1280 Rupees). The first one got me a modified chamber from Level 3, while the second one gave me the Color Dungeon boss in a crossroads room. You shouldn't be able to get the latter, unless you have beaten the Color Dungeon already. And maybe these Chamber Stones just keep unlocking the next special chamber in line. But then what happens, if you never play the Color Dungeon? Or maybe this is like with the amiibo and you can play any boss in advance, as long as you got its special chamber? I don't know...

Afterwards I made another detour to the Tal Tal Mountain Range and from the looks of it you will be going through that one cave multiple times again, because there is no warp point at the hen house or anywhere else up there. This is somewhat annoying, but I guess I'm used to it... Hopefully there will be one next to Level 7 at least.

on the one bridge west of the Eagle's Tower in the Tal Tal Mountain Range

The bridge in the above screenshot is now entirely useless again, by the way. Well, not entirely, because in the remake you can already take a look at the Eagle's Tower from here. You couldn't do that in the original and the bridge was just there, which is why they had added one of the photo moments there in the DX version.

The cave below the bridge has still that weird chest puzzle, but it has now changed a little bit. Instead of 20 Rupees in all five chests you now have four slimes and the final one has 100 Rupees. So, either you solve the puzzle or get nothing. I'm assuming that all chests still will be empty, when you open one and leave the room, but I haven't tried this. Maybe in my Hero Mode run...

The way that leads up to the rooms also has a new visible crack in the walls, where you are supposed to bomb them. I don't know why they keep doing this... Where they afraid that people wouldn't be able to find these secrets? The spot is even still marked with a small patch of dry floors, just like in the original. Oh, well... For me this makes no difference, of course, because I already know all the secret doorways that you can blow up, but for newcomers it's making the game even easier than it already is.

I've also done the trading sequence up to the Mermaid's Scale, where the new picture for Dr. Wright certainly looks modernized...

Well, there is no new fishing mini-game at the bay. I would say "sadly", but I didn't really get the hang of the new fishing yet, where I haven't managed to catch a big guy at the bottom of the pond, because he always breaks loose and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. It's easy to catch any fish from the alcove below, though, which is why I probably already got all the rewards, unless there is another seashell there or more lures. But I'm having more fun with the Trend Game, so I guess not having a second fishing minigame at the bay is not a big loss, though I previously liked the idea quite a lot.

As already mentioned, I got a Chamber Stone from the Seashell Mansion, which was the reward for 30 shells. I'm hoping that 40 gives you the sword and 50 maybe an upgrades spin attack or so, but it's probably another Heart Container for one of the two. (If there is even a second additional Heart Container, because there might be 20 new Heart Pieces. I already have found 14 new ones, three of them alone with the Flippers, so maybe there are 20 now? And I already know about two more locations, where it would be disappointing, if that's already it...)

I wouldn't like getting the sword too late into the game, though. Originally you could get the Seashell Sword at this point in the game, after acquiring the Flippers. Unless I've missed enough seashells for the 40 already, it doesn't seem like this is possible any longer. And I'm only missing three of the 24 original seashell here, so in the original I would have already gotten it. That's not a big deal, because you can already get the Red Mail early in the game. However, it would be a shame, if you couldn't get the L-2 Sword until before the 8th dungeon, where you then get little use for the thing thanks to the Magic Rod... Let's see.

Catfish's Maw

Digging in dungeons seems to be the new trend in this remake and the visuals of the Catfish's Maw with the sand floors are certainly something...

the first Master Stalfos room in the Catfish's Maw, where the eyes on the floor have been dug up

Too bad that there doesn't seem to be anything hidden here. So far I haven't found any new seashells inside the dungeons, which feels like a missed opportunity. For example the following spot would have been perfect for one:

a room in the northeast of the Catfish's Maw dungeon with a small optional section

The dungeon map now also shows you the secret room with the boss key right away. I'm afraid it will be the same for Level 6, where this would completely destroy the dungeon's main secret, but let's get there first.

The Hookshot also got nerfed hard. It now only stuns and this applies to everything. You should have seen my face when I used it on a Keese (a KEESE, a freaking small bat) and all it did was a stun... Seriously. I'm worried it will be the same for the Boomerang, where it will diminish its value.

Of course these weapons were the way there were because of the limited buttons. The Hookshot and Boomerang gave you additional kill options, so you didn't have to equip your sword all the time. Now you can always use your sword, so not every item has to be a deadly weapon. I get that. But it still ruins some of the experience.

At least the Hookshot is now more useful on these guys...

the Gohma mini boss

It stuns them so that you can hit the eyeballs with your sword. It even makes the Bow somewhat obsolete here, where in the original it was much safer to use the Bow over the Hookshot. It's still somewhat the case, but the stun does more work here.

I wonder if you can get the Gohma mini-boss in the Chamber Dungeon now... But I will see this right away, I suppose.

outside the Catfish's Maw after finishing the dungeon

Only three dungeons are left! And with the Hookshot the last major item for exploration is in my hands, so more to find out in the next entry of this diary!

Current Status:

  • Secret Seashells: 33 (21 old + 12 new)
  • Pieces of Heart: 23 (9 old + 14 new)
  • Chambers: 91
  • Chamber Stones: 3
  • Challenges Cleared: 6

Friday, September 20, 2019

Link's Awakening Dream Diary, Level 4: Angler's Tunnel

...WATERFALL... It is hidden in the waterfall...

Tarin poking a beehive
Oh, oh...

If there's ever a ranking of the best quests leading to a dungeon in the Zelda series, your journey to the Angler's Tunnel will certainly be up there. Such a lovely and diverse quest.

But first things first. I went back to the Chamber Dungeon and unlocked the free chamber arrangements, where you have multiple open slots, as well as three more Challenges. I also got a Secret Seashell and a Piece of Heart both at once, which felt somewhat unnecessary, but whatever... I still haven't gotten a second Fairy Bottle yet, however.

Something new that the Chamber Dungeon offers is traversing some of the side scrolling tunnels in the opposite direction. This might sound trivial, but with some of these tunnels you normally don't go back, like the tunnels leading to the bosses in Level 2 and 3, so it's interesting to go the other way for a change.

It's a shame that you have no controls over the tunnels, however. It connects them automatically and sets a tunnel based on the given room. It would be a lot better, if you could do all that yourself. I know they wanted to keep things as simple as possible, but some more customization options wouldn't have hurt.

I also went back into the Color Dungeon to confirm a suspicion I had... I thought maybe this time the game lets you get back the green tunic and it really does:

The Great Fairy of the Color Dungeon offering the green tunic back

This is good to have for everyone, who wants to clear the dungeon early (for the chambers), but not get any of the upgraded mails. I even think that this was a very common request for the remake, so this change might be a result of fan input.

Also, after getting the Pegasus Boots this can only mean one thing: ram all the trees! I couldn't find any new Secret Seashells that way, but I found quite a few in other places. I also got the Ocarina from the Dream Shrine (which looks pretty nice now) and of course played some more Trendy Game, now for a Boo figurine and the second Piece of Heart there.

entrance of the Dream Shrine

After the side quests in the familiar areas I went on to the Ancient Ruins. I like going there early, because it feels special to do so. Sadly, there is no warp point in the area, but whenever I go to Level 6 I usually do so via the Rapids Ride anyway. And I was happy to finally find a Secret Seashell under the one rock in the corner of the area with the many rocks... On the GameBoy I always thought that one must be there and now this near 22 year old suspicion finally confirmed.

But when the remake doesn't add new Pieces of Hearts or Secret Seashells, it does try to stay remarkably faithful. For example the spots where you always can find hearts under certain pots or bushes are still there. Or the Armos in the Ancient Ruins still drop one arrow, if you kill them with one...

an arrow dropped by an Armos in the Ancient Ruins

The Armos Knight is quite different, however, but now he couldn't really surprise me with his new jump tactics any longer, because I already bested him in the Chamber Dungeon. Time to grab an early Face Key and learn the truth about this place...

inside the Southern Shrine with the truth about the island in front of Link

Fun with Marin

after checking out Animal Village with its funny new music, I went back to Mabe Village, where I noticed that something was missing. In the original one of the kids was standing near the weather vane at this point to tell you the following:

Marin? She likes
to go stare at
the ocean all by
herself... Why?
Hey, I'm just a
kid, don't ask

This doesn't seem to happen in the remake... Instead the kid is already in the "Marin is at Animal Village" mode and asks you where you have left her... That feels like an oversight, especially after I just have praised how faithful the remake is.

But this is quickly forgotten, once you get to Marin at the shore...

Link and Marin at the beach

It looks so cute when you say "no" to Marin, after she asked you whether you were listening or not, and Link shakes his head. And it's very hilarious, how it now looks when he lifts her up:

Link lifts up Marin like an item

Marin following Link around looks super adorable in the remake. The funny noises she makes when you dig gets me every time. And when you use the Pegasus Boots, she starts running like a maniac as well. Oh, all these little details! They even kept one of the photo moments, when you go with her to the cliff in the southwest:

Link and Marin at their secret spot

This was thoughtful. There is also the small scene, when she drops on you in the well, but it's the same way as it was in the GameBoy original. And there's no scene at the weather vane. Tarin is completely gone during the whole sequence, which is weird, but whatever, there are many other fun things to do with Marin.

Like, playing the Trendy Game!

Marin owning the Trendy Game owner

Or being naughty!

Marin telling Link that he's a bad boy in Cracy Tracy's shop

Or playing some music!

Link playing the Instruments of the sirens in front of the Wind Fish Egg with Marin at his side

Marin tells Link that this wasn't very good

Well, what can I say? I love this part...

Yarna Desert

Back to business, I found one new secret in the desert and an old one. The skeleton secret is still there and even more noticeable, because the skull now has glowing eyes in it, unlike the others. You still need to find out that Magic Powder makes it talk somehow, but it's all there.

the skeleton secret in the Yarna Desert

The information is completely useless this time, however, because they've added cracks to the walls there in the cave... They did the same in the one cave in the Ukuku Prairie and I'm not sure, if I'm a fan of this change. I liked how difficult it was to find all Pieces of Heart in the original. You really had to be thorough. But here you are basically drowning in them with little to no effort for some of them.

But I also can understand that these particular Pieces of Heart were somewhat abstruse and the new Secret Seashells certainly make up for it, though you can just use the Seashell Sensor on them... But I haven't been using it and so far it's a lot of fun to discover new seashells everywhere.

Angler's Tunnel

For the most time I'm not having any issues with the not-so-constant frame rate, but if there is a part in the world, where you really notice the frame drops, it's in front of the water fall that blocks the fourth dungeon. Well, luckily you're getting rid of that thing anyway...

The new music inside the dungeon sounds really beautiful. The original only had this sped up version of the cave theme, which still plays in the background as well, but there is a new fitting water dungeon theme here now. And this finally looks like a proper water dungeon as well with the clean water effects.

Inside the Angler's Tunnel in the middle of the dungeon

I like this overhaul a lot, but I personally find the side scrolling sections in the dungeons (all of them, not just the Angler's Tunnel) a little bit too flat. It looks very weird.

side scrolling section leading down to the boss

So, it was a nice change in visuals when the Angler Fish's chamber finally added some more depth. The bosses also tanked quite a bit, even with the Red Mail I had to hurt him plenty. But the fight is still very easy and another dungeon is done...

outside the Angler's Tunnel after finishing the dungeon

So, the first day of playing is over and I've reached the half point of the game. Normally I would probably be already finished with the game after an entire day, but because of the blogging it is taking me a lot longer. It's worth it, however, because I really want to write all my thoughts down about every part and so far this has been a lot of fun.

With the Angler's Tunnel we are also leaving the previewed half of the game behind us. The preview embargo stopped the media at Animal Village and the gamescom presentation showed us the Yarna Desert and the first half of the Angler's Tunnel. Now we're diving into new territories, where only bits and pieces have been shown by Nintendo (I didn't look at any reviews or release media coverage yet). So, it will be exciting to find out what's all new here. Will there really be a second fishing mini game? Let's find out tomorrow!

Current Status:

  • Secret Seashells: 25 (17 old + 8 new)
  • Pieces of Heart: 18 (7 old + 11 new)
  • Chambers: 78
  • Chamber Stones: 1
  • Challenges Cleared: 5