Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Mysplaced Copying Link's Awakening

Mysplaced screenshot looking very similar to the area above Toronbo Shores with the hero firing a Fire Rod at a knight

Mysplaced has been all the rage on social media today, which is an indie title presented in IGN's Rogue Jam. You can watch a small preview on Youtube and by doing so you will immediately notice how the game has simply copied the art style and core gameplay of the Link's Awakening remake, while it's non-linear and comes with some mechanics of its own.

It's like they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And this looks so beautiful that it makes me want to play Link's Awakening on the Nintendo Switch again. More importantly, this makes me want to play remakes of the Oracle games in the same art style sooner than later. If GREZZO is not up for the job, then maybe Nintendo should just hire the two indie developers behind this project, who call themselves Clear Sky Games, because they pretty much nailed it...

Looking at this footage really made me fantasize about how the Oracle games could look in the same style. Take for example this windmill:

There was a windmill next to Horon Village, at the Eastern Suburbs, in Oracle of Seasons, where you meet Guru-guru. This one:

windmill area during the summer in Oracle of Seasons

This really could be taken to the next level in a remake, imagine the whole upper area as one giant windmill structure. It could look absolutely fantastic.

Mysplaced also has winter themed areas, where seeing the different seasons in Oracle of Seasons in this art style would be a dream. Just imagine these little, snowy dioramas. Though, it makes me wonder how they are going to pull off the switching seasons between the areas in a remake, since you should also have the continuous scrolling and not some screen borders.

I suppose, it could work similarly to going into the foggy Mysterious Forest, where you can see from the outside that the area is different and then it morphs the visual style once you enter it. They could even use such a remake to properly showcase the madness of having all these shifting seasons right next to each other in ways that simply weren't possible on the GameBoy Color...

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Tantalus Currently Not Working on Twilight Princess HD

Twilight Princess HD banner artwork

With the delay of the sequel to Breath of the Wild to Spring 2023, it seemed like a no-brainer that Nintendo would want to port over The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD to the Nintendo Switch, so that Zelda fans would get something in the year 2022. However, you might already have had your doubts, because this wasn't announced right away together with the delay and Nintendo has a lot in their pipeline for the rest of the year with Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Splatoon 3, and new Pokémon games.

Now, Tom Crago, the CEO of Tantalus Media, was asked in a podcast whether Nintendo has approached them for such a port or not, where the answer was a straight "no". See NintendoEverything for the full story.

Tantalus has made both Twilight Princess HD and Skyward Sword HD, where they seem like the obvious choice for the job. But of course The Wind Waker HD was made by Nintendo themselves and there is no need to remaster anything in this case, so they might just work on this in-house. However, Nintendo should have all hands full with the sequel to Breath of the Wild, where you would think it's best to let an external company do the job once more.

What would be important about such ports is that they get the same frame rate power-up as Skyward Sword HD, where the game runs now in 60FPS without any noticeable drops. This was still an issue with both The Wind Waker HD, for example during battles on the ocean, and Twilight Princess HD, for example in the swamps of Faron Woods. If they get ported over to Nintendo Switch, there will be no excuse for this at all after the smooth Skyward Sword HD, so simple ports wouldn't cut it.

And naturally, if only Nintendo were to work on such ports, we couldn't expect a remaster of Link's Crossbow Training as part of the collection. And we all know that this would be the true star. Well, not really, but it would make for an excellent extra, same as Bowser's Fury with Super Mario 3D World.


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Breath of the Wild 2: Voice Actor Spoilers

An Italian voice actor has revealed something interesting about his latest work for the sequel to Breath of the Wild. The poor guy is probably in trouble now for breaking some NDA, but the damage is done, so let's talk about the dropped info a little bit and do some speculation. Spoilers ahead, stop reading here if you don't want to know anything that hasn't been officially showcased.

That the Champions may re-appear isn't all that surprising, since Nintendo has been pushing these characters ever since the release of Breath of the Wild. It could be in the form of additional memories from 100 years ago, where I personally doubt that the events of Age of Calamity will have any impact on this game, so we're still dealing with the original timeline for Breath of the Wild. It might also be that their ghosts appear to you again, where you could learn additional things from them.

It's already questionable how they will handle the different Champion abilities, like Daruk's Protection. Having them from the beginning of the game may be too much, but removing them entirely would be a shame, so eventually you will have to re-learn them or something like that. Technically, you can beat Breath of the Wild without ever acquiring a single one of these abilities, so it doesn't even have to be explained why you don't have them anymore.

Now, Daruk's ancestor is a different story. And this immediately brings us to the Calamity Ganon tapestry from Breath of the Wild:

Link's new design in the sequel, which got shown so far whenever he is in the sky, is clearly inspired by this tapestry. And this already led to a variety of different theories. Are we playing two different Links? Or does the Link from Breath of the Wild simply get the appearance of his ancestor? Are the sky islands over the current Hyrule or are they something from the past?

Maybe it's both, where I personally still like the theory that these islands are the Sacred Realm, which can take many different forms, though this one is so far the closest to what the "Golden Lands" have been depicted in A Link to the Past. But it may be that we are going to meet the ancestors of the Champions in this Sacred Realm, where it's still connected to the time of where they have first battled Calamity Ganon.

If the game really were to partly take place in that era, via time travel or other means, this would bring back the Divine Beasts, Guardians, and Sheikah Towers, where from the rest of the footage it doesn't seem like Nintendo wants to revisit any of that. It also wouldn't be very interesting, because we already have been dealing with the Sheikah technologies in two different games now and the sequel still takes place in the same Hyrule.

It would be interesting to see the original Champions, however. Since Link's Sacred Realm design is based on the tapestry, it's likely that the Champion ancestors' designs will be heavily inspired by that as well. Daruk's ancestor for example appears to be much slimmer than your usual Goron. The Zora Champion appears to be female, but more prideful than Mipha. The Rito Champion looks interesting, because it's essentially two in one, a little bird inside a larger figure. It could be that this is either a young Rito, who uses some sort of wing suit, or it's a duo of parent and child, like Teba and his son, Tulin. In any case, I would like it if the ancient Rito Champion is a female character, like Medli, because this would balance things perfectly.

Anyway, this reveal is one more thing to be excited about. Hopefully, we will find out more about the sequel in about a month from Nintendo themselves.


Source: Lega Hyrule via NintendoLife

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Breath of the Wild 2: The Title?

Link's right arm surrounded by green magic energy

Some people may be disappointed about the "delay" of the sequel to Breath of the Wild, but knowing that it comes out next Spring makes me feel closer to this game than ever, where I'm finally beginning to put more thoughts into it. A lot more of that will come to fruition once they've properly showcased the game, maybe around June where the cancelled E3 would have taken place. Until then we have to grasp at the straws that were presented to us in two and a half teaser trailers.

One of those straws concerns the actual title of the game, where it should be clear that it won't be named "the sequel to Breath of the Wild" forever or even "Breath of the Wild 2". Well, there was "Kamigami no Triforce 2" in Japan, which we know as A Link Between Worlds in the west, but it's more likely that it will have its own title to set itself apart more. So, what could this title be?

Well, it would certainly impress me if someone were to actually guess it, since Nintendo has stated that they didn't want to reveal the title yet, because it would give too much away. It could be related to things that we simply don't know yet. But it could also be related to things that we have already seen in the teasers – it's just that they haven't given us any explanation for them yet.

One of those things is Link's corrupted right arm and the mysterious hand that was holding down Ganondorf, which seems to give Link now a variety of abilities, essentially as a replacement for the Sheikah Slate. One of these abilities is to morph through ceilings, so he can reach the new sky islands from below or reach the surface from an underground cave. It's possible that the title of the game may have something to do with this hand, but of course it would feel somewhat uninspired if it just was named after the "item", like Ocarina of Time or Phantom Hourglass before it. After all, Breath of the Wild isn't named "The Legend of Zelda: The Sheikah Slate".

Another aspect are the sky islands themselves and the whole story around the sealed Ganondorf, where we really don't know anything yet and can only speculate. But from what it seems it's going to be a story that explores more of Hyrule's history as we know it from the classic Zelda games, where even the Triforce could play a role. The divine artifact never got mentioned by name in Breath of the Wild, where its meaning and existence could be something that's essentially lost in time. The sky islands that we saw may even be the Sacred Realm for all we know, where a lot of it gets portrayed in a golden color. This could become the first Zelda game where we actually get to explore the Sacred Realm as we've first seen it from the artworks for A Link to the Past.

artwork of floating rocks with the Triforce as the sun

Overall, it would be nice if the title had the same format as Breath of the Wild: "x of the y". This would make it a bit more obvious that these games are related by looking at the title alone, which is something that the series has done before, even though some of it got lost in translation. In Japan Majora's Mask is actually called "Mujura no Kamen", "Mask of Mujura", which sounds a lot more similar to Ocarina of Time, "Toki no Okarina". And the Nintendo DS games even followed the same format. Now, the sequel to Breath of the Wild will be in the same position as Majora's Mask and Spirit Tracks, where the subtitle could actually lean on the previous one. And since Japan also uses the English title for Breath of the Wild (only in Katakana), it's likely that it could be "something of the something" again. Of course there doesn't necessarily need to be "of the" in the title, but maybe something that rolls off the tongue similarly.

Now, what's that something? Putting everything together so far, the best I could come up with is "Reach of the Divine" or possibly "Reach for the Divine". This would go hand in hand with Link's new ability to reach for the skies, but it also ties into the Triforce, the Sacred Realm, divine intervention, and all that. And it would give a away a similar vibe as "Breath of the Wild" did.

At the same time it's not all that likely, considering that such a title wouldn't give away all too much and this is what has been Nintendo's concern before. Of course this also could have been just a generic PR excuse, so you never really know. But in the end this is just some speculation for the fun of it, as always, where I wanted to share some of my current thoughts before the curtain gets lifted later this year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Four Swords for Nintendo Switch Online?

There has been a leak of Nintendo's early development efforts with GameBoy (Color) and GameBoy Advance titles on Nintendo Switch. This shouldn't be all too surprising, where many fans are expecting this to happen eventually. Ideally, the GameBoy (Color) games will be part of the standard subscription, while GameBoy Advance games get moved to the Expansion Pack. It would be really low if every new collection became part of the latter from now on, and the GameBoy really should be next to NES and SNES.

Anyway, if Nintendo truly wants me to subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack, they will only have to do one thing:

Four Links in the Sea of Trees at a starting point that's right next to the locked end point

Four Swords, with online multiplayer. The ability to play the multiplayer NES, SNES, and N64 games online hasn't been interesting to me so far, but the GBA with Four Swords could completely change this. I loved this game, but rarely had the chance to play it with others, where I've never even played this with four people at once, which could be fun and utterly chaotic.

Also, the GameBoy Advance version of A Link to the Past has never been re-released, where this would be nice to have, even though the original game is already part of the Super Nintendo service. But things like the Riddle Quest or the Palace of the Four Swords would be completely lost in time otherwise.

Well, the Anniversary Edition of Four Swords is equally lost in time, but the best thing about it was the singleplayer mode, which won't be as important if you can just easily play the game online with others. The Anniversary Edition was a DSiWare game and all about the 25th Anniversary, where it's questionable whether Nintendo will ever bring this back in any way, shape or form.

However, the current list of leaked GBA titles doesn't include A Link to the Past & Fours Swords, only The Minish Cap. There may also be concerns about griefing, because Four Swords was a game where you were cooperating and competing at the same time. You can pick up players and prevent them from doing things, kill yourself to waste Rupees, and so on. But since playing these emulated games online is limited to friends, this shouldn't be much of a concern, unlike in Tri Force Heroes, where you could play with random strangers.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Breath of the Wild 2: The Underworld?

Zelda riding an elephant through a cavern accompanied by Link

After last year's teaser trailer for the sequel to Breath of the Wild and its impressive showcase of a sky world, it's easy to forget how things started out in an underground cave system, where Link and Zelda went exploring and then found Mummy Ganondorf. Aonuma recently stated that the expanded world goes beyond the skies above, where we still can assume that the underground world will be a big part of the game.

It literally goes hand in hand with Link's new ability, which lets him morph through ceilings. It can be used to reach the sky islands, but also to get back to the ground from an underground cave. It could even be used to switch floors in a dungeon.

Breath of the Wild took a lot of inspiration from the original The Legend of Zelda, where the development team even had developed a prototype based on the NES game. This was for the overworld, however, at least what they have shown us, where the sequel to Breath of the Wild could use the underworld to take things to the next level. After all, one of the most common requests by the fans is getting proper dungeons. And proper dungeons they shall get.

map of the NES Zelda dungeons, where they fit together like puzzle pieces

What was interesting about the underworld in The Legend of Zelda is that it was basically all connected. The dungeons were all put on the same plane and fit together like pieces of a puzzle. If you could walk through walls, you would be able to move from one dungeon to the next.

And this could be a huge inspiration for the sequel to Breath of the Wild, taking this concept to the third dimension. For example, imagine that there is a new entrance to a cave at Mount Drena, to the east of the Tabantha Tundra. This dungeon goes deep down several layers with some intertwining tunnels and all that. But from there you can actually morph up and access a completely new part of the Forgotten Temple, which you couldn't find in Breath of the Wild.

There could be a gigantic network of different underground dungeons, all connected to each other in tricky ways. Of course this is all just speculation and we will have to wait a little longer until we find out how Nintendo really has expanded the world of Breath of the Wild. But the more you think about it, the more promising the idea of an underworld seems, where this could be as exciting as the new sky world. Let's hope that we will find out soon, maybe in June.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Breath of the Wild 2: What Should Change?

Link in the sequel running on a golden sky island, promotional screenshot

Nintendo takes their sweet time with refining the next major installment in the Zelda franchise, the sequel to Breath of the Wild. And that's good, they should strive to make the game the best experience possible. But while Breath of the Wild was a milestone to both the Zelda series and the open world genre, it's far from a flawless game, where the sequel should learn from the mistakes. So, let's discuss some of the basics that need to be improved.

The first thing that will come to mind for most players is the whole weapon system. "Don't make the weapons break or add a way of repairing weapons!" is probably the most common suggestion you will hear about Breath of the Wild. However, while various of the suggestions in this article are related to the weapon system, there are some merits to how it worked...

For once, you don't obsess over finding the best possible weapon(s) and it gives any weapon you may find some potential value, because your super duper Savage Lynel Sword is going to break eventually and you don't want to waste it on small fries. A means of repairing weapons would only lead to people cluttering their inventories with nearly broken weapons that they want to repair later, instead of throwing them at the heads of their enemies and using the next best weapon they'll find... A repair system could make things as annoying as the breaking tools in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, where you constantly get distracted by crafting new ones.

So, the fundamentals aren't actually bad, whether you enjoy the system or not, where it's likely that this will be kept largely the same in the sequel. But there is some fine tuning that will need to be done if they are keeping it as it is. This and more will be discussed here.

 

Weapon Variety

Having lots of different weapons in the game doesn't actually mean much when those weapons work mostly the same. You have bows and arrows, one-handed weapons with shields, two-handed weapons, and spears. There is some variety thanks to the different elements and some weapons with special usages, e.g. boomerangs and rods, but for the most part those are the four basic combat styles. And it's somewhat disappointing that Link would use a battle axe in the exact same way as a two-handed sword.

The sequel will probably expand upon what Breath of the Wild already had, so there is no reason to believe that battle axes work differently now. But we've already seen new types of shields in the trailer that can be used offensively, which is an interesting idea. Elemental shields instantly come to mind here, which can burn, freeze, or fry your enemies when they touch them.

Link using a shield with an artificial, fire-breathing dragon head attached to it in some cave

It would be good if there are some entirely new weapon types as well, where two of Link's additional weapons from past Zelda games are the Ball & Chain and the Whip. However, whips or flails would most likely turn into another variant of the one-handed weapons, similar to rods. And it's probably the same with ball & chains as two-handed weapons, where you swing the ball via the spin attack. They could also turn out more sophisticated and as their own thing, but they don't necessarily have to.

An idea for an entirely new weapon type could be something that's dual-wielded, like daggers, for faster attacks. This could not be replicated with any of the current weapon types, so that's a category with high potential and many additional weapons. Some of them could even be used as boomerangs, where you can throw two in succession.


Weapon Availability

If any weapon in the game can break, then you should be able to get them back at any point later in the game. Otherwise this creates an incentive to hang on to weapons that are either entirely unique or that can grow extinct, like a Hylian Shield with buffs or some of the Lynel weapons in Breath of the Wild. This is especially problematic when there's something like the Hyrule Compendium, where you document every weapon in the game. Having potential omissions was a bad design flaw and shouldn't be repeated in the sequel, which also goes hand in hand with the next topic.


Level Scaling

Breath of the Wild was a game about you constantly growing stronger, but so did some of your enemies, which went against a true sense of progression. While it's not as bad as in some other open world games with an actual experience and leveling system, the game did replace enemies with stronger variants, while also upgrading the tiers of the weapons that you will obtain randomly. By the time you feel like taking on one of those Blue Lynels you saw at the Faron Grasslands, they will have turned into the white-maned variants, and so on.

the new Eyegore enemy from the E3 2021 trailer

It's taking away the successes you have made, where you don't really feel like you've become stronger for a while, because your opponents became stronger as well. Of course the game doesn't always do this, but ideally it would never do this. The difficulty and tiers of your enemies should be entirely regional, as obstacles that need to be overcome, just like in the original The Legend of Zelda. And while Breath of the Wild partly does this as well, it's a weird mix that doesn't really work out all too great at all times.

To make things worse, the aforementioned Blue Lynels can (almost) disappear from your game entirely, where their weapons will be gone as well, which created the previous issue of limited weapon availability. So, overall this is something that Nintendo should rethink or at least optimize in a way where it doesn't get in the way of your progress and goals.


The Food

No matter how difficult the fights may get, you can always make things a lot easier for yourself with cooking. This feature is ridiculously overpowered, where the worst offender are the "hearty" recipes that give you additional hearts on top of fully healing you. This needs to be nerfed very badly by only giving you the yellow hearts, because otherwise this makes any other healing recipe completely obsolete, given that you have collected enough of the right plants. It's the same with "enduring" recipes and stamina.

a food inventory with 17 Heart Fried Wild Greens

Then there's the problem that you simply can have too many food items, 60 in total. No other Zelda game ever gave you this many healing opportunities, maybe four or five bottles with potions. An easy fix would be limiting the food stash in the same way as weapons, shield, and bows. You start with a hand full of slots and then can slowly upgrade them to a maximum of 20.

In addition, there should be some sort of cookbook that let's you remember any recipes you've found. It could even provide shortcuts for cooking, so you don't have to pick the materials out of the inventory by hand.


The Loot

When your weapons keep breaking, they are simply a resource, same as Rupees, materials, or arrows. And this makes finding weapons in treasure chests about as exciting as getting Rupees or arrows. After solving an optional puzzle in a shrine or clearing an enemy encampment, you don't want things that you could easily obtain from anywhere else. You want to find something that's either unique or limited in supply.

The remake of Link's Awakening understood this by putting its additional Secret Seashells and Pieces of Hearts absolutely everywhere. There is now no cave in the game where you don't find anything of value. And if Breath of the Wild ever gets a "Definitive Edition", a lot could already be improved by putting some of the loose DLC armor pieces into skull chests or the optional chests in Sheikah Shrines.

Armor pieces were actually the only major "collectible" in Breath of the Wild that could be found in a variety of ways in different places. Otherwise it had the Spirit Orbs and Korok Seeds, but those were always gotten from finishing Sheikah Shrines or solving Korok puzzles respectively. For other activities the rewards were rather limited, where the sequel will need a more universal collectible, similar to the Spirit Gems from Phantom Hourglass or the Secret Seashells in Link's Awakening. Those could be obtained from treasure chests, minigames, sidequests, and so on. Maybe this collectible can even replace the Korok Seeds in the sequel for something that lets you upgrade your inventory stash.


Map Completion

Whatever collectibles there might be, the map completion rating should this time be visible for each major area, like the Great Plateau or Necluda. This will help to narrow down things whenever you're still missing something, instead of searching all over the world.