Friday, December 6, 2019

Link in Super Mario Maker 2


This week Link got added to Super Mario Maker 2 via the Master Sword power-up in the 2.0.0 update and he seems to be quite versatile, with lots things you can do with his shield, arrows, bombs, down thrust and dash attack. There are even some Zelda music pieces and sound effects while playing as Link, mainly from the first The Legend of Zelda game.

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any music or anything from Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, which probably would have been a better fit for the whole thing, even if the game overall is less popular these days.

But overall this feels like a great addition and makes me truly interested in Super Mario Maker 2. I have the first Super Mario Maker on Wii U, but I've rarely ever used it, where both Link and the Super Mario Land Mario (my first Mario game) could get me finally into this tool. The Wii U version also had different Links available via amiibo and updates, but having a unique moveset makes this so much more interesting.

Well, let's also hope that Nintendo might be willing to update the Chamber Dungeon in Link's Awakening somewhat to put some more value behind the current "Zelda Maker". It's been half a year that Super Mario Maker 2 has been released, so they could be taking their time with Link's Awakening as well.

Friday, November 22, 2019

20th Anniversary of Unreal Tournament

Unreal Tournament icon in black

If there's another gaming series that I love as much as Zelda and Metroid, then it's certainly Unreal, where the original Unreal Tournament was my first PC game and is still today one of my absolute favorite first person shooters. By now it has been 20 years that it was released in North America and this was a nice occasion to play the game again and dwell in old memories.

Released in 1999 it's from an era, where 3D gaming was just evolving from sprite-based into polygon-based graphics. It's from an era that also produced timeless classics like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Half-Life, Quake III Arena and of course the first Unreal.

What most 3D games from that time have in common is that the 3D graphics were pretty solid and still can look very nice today with some modifications, but they were still basic and a lot of it was compensated with sound. Sound effects and music are what made these games truly memorable and created a thrilling atmosphere like no other. And the better the graphics became over the last 20 years, the more the importance of sound has faded, which is true for the Zelda and Unreal series alike. Don't get me wrong, I still think that Unreal Tournament III and Breath of the Wild have good music and some nice sound effects, but around 1999 it was on a whole other level. Sounds used to be a lot more intense and atmospheric.

And it hits me every time, when I start up Unreal Tournament again. The powerful weapon sounds, the respawn pulse, water effects, the pickup sounds, the hilarious one liners and especially the soundtrack. It's all so good and it still looks quite nice, too.

screenshot of Unreal Tournament on the map DM-Turbine holding a Shock Rifle in a Team Deathmatch

The weapons are especially iconic and you rarely see new shooters with innovative, yet simple weapons like this. The Shock Rifle shoots a hitscan beam and an energy ball projectile, where hitting the latter with the former creates a powerful explosion. And besting your opponents like that is just super satisfying. The shrapnel shotgun idea of the Flak Cannon is also extremely fun and gets copied to this day.

At the same time the game had amazing maps, where the primary use of simple, BSP-based shapes for the environment really put the focus on level geometry and design, on gameplay and clear visuals. It's something the new Unreal Tournament even embraced, before its levels got prettied up. But Unreal Tournament is known for some of the best and most creative multiplayer levels of all times, where maps like "Deck", "Morbias" and "Facing Worlds" instantly come to mind, which have been present in many of the Unreal games.

It's also amazing how modifiable the game was with hundreds and probably thousands of custom maps available for download, easily installable by just putting one file into your maps folder. There were also gameplay mutators and even full on conversions like Tactical Ops. I didn't really make use of the latter, but I've downloaded countless maps for this game and even made some of my own. But that's something you don't really get from Nintendo or console games in general, not counting something like Super Mario Maker, which was explicitly made for user generated contents. We're talking about real add-ons here, which were made by the community and were often on par with the overall quality of the game, sometimes even exceeding it. And Epic Games embraced this, where they've even added development tools on the disc with the Unreal Editor.

I had been following the series for quite some time, where I've intensively played all games except for the new Unreal Tournament, where my motivation to get a new PC wasn't big enough yet and the game seems to be stuck forever in its pre-alpha state, because Epic Games decided to put all its efforts into Fortnite. But maybe some day both Epic and me will return.

Otherwise I've played most Unreal games after the originals at their release and enjoyed them quite a lot, where I've put hundreds of hours into Unreal Tournament 2003, Unreal II - The Awakening, Unreal Tournament 2004, Unreal Tournament III and Unreal Championship 2 - The Liandri Conflict. The latter even got me to buy an Xbox, my only non-Nintendo gaming console, and combined the First Person Arena Shooter gameplay of UT with the third person melee action of a Zelda game, where you have different characters with individual melee weapons and abilities. I really loved that game.

But with the new Unreal Tournament stagnating there hasn't been much to talk about the series in the past ten years, even since the release of the Titan Pack for Unreal Tournament III, which is why it's rarely ever a topic on this blog, despite my affinity for the series. Given, it's not exactly a great match for a Zelda-focused blog, but still it's one of my absolute favorite games and there are certain design parallels as to why this is.

In any case I just wanted to say: Happy Birthday, Unreal Tournament!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Oracle of Worlds – Remaking Oracle of Ages & Seasons

the logos of both Oracle games with arrows pointing from the logos to a Nintendo Switch

After the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch it's only natural to assume that GREZZO will continue to work on the other GameBoy Color Zelda games: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. While those were originally made by Capcom, let's assume for the sake of this article that this won't be an issue.

In any case the Oracle games would really profit from such a remake, if it were to happen. There are many things that could be improved with these games, where this post will offer a complete concept for a remake in the same style as Link's Awakening.


A Tale of Two Worlds


The main idea behind this remake is that there won't be two separate games any longer and there also won't be any passwords, the so called "secrets". That's all history. There will be only one game, where there won't be Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, but only "Holodrum" and "Labrynna". It will be one adventure with two big chapters, spanning the two different worlds.

Similar to Link's Awakening there will be three save slots and one auto save. You start with a single save file and in the beginning you can choose, whether the Triforce should send Link to Holodrum or Labrynna. Depending on your choice the adventure will unfold in that land.

After beating Onox or Veran respectively, the 2nd chapter will begin and you will land in the 2nd world. So, if you've started in Holodrum, you will now go to Labrynna and vice versa. In the 2nd world you will always have the opportunity to return to the 1st world via a portal. Your equipment and total of Heart Containers are tied to a specific world, however, so you can only use items in the 2nd world, if you also acquired them there. The exception are the Magic Rings, which are always transported between the worlds via your ring collection at Vasu's shop.

There are also the special side quests that span both worlds, where you can get certain item upgrades, Magic Rings, as well an additional Heart Container. Here you will be able to get these items in the 2nd world as well, so it's worth it to return to the 1st world and attend these quests. Originally you needed to tell certain people "secrets" for this, now all you need to do is talking to the right persons to initiate the quests.

After beating the real final boss you will now have the possibility to start Hero Mode, a New Game+, where your entire Magic Ring collection will carry over, but you will also take double damage and more enemies will appear. This will effectively replace the "Hero's Secret", while combining it with the typical Hero Mode feature as a balance for keeping all your (strong) Magic Rings.

Again, you will have the choice whether you want to go to Holodrum or Labrynna first. If you do the opposite now, you will be able to experience different scenarios in the second chapter, as well as new world spanning quests with some exclusive rewards, where in the end you might get a complete ring collection for the first time. If you start another Hero Mode from that file, you will eventually be able to start a new adventure where you have all rings in your possession right from the get-go.

This system has the disadvantage that you won't be able to carry over your rings to your older save files. So, those save files will always stay incomplete, but in a way this was also true on the GameBoy Color with the one missing Heart Container. The big advantage is that this system will be much easier to understand and that it's highly compatible with the save file system from Link's Awakening.

In a way all of this is very similar to the old linked game system, but instead of passwords you have one big, shared save game, in which you can switch between Holodrum and Labrynna at any time. How will this happen? Well, meet the new star of the remake...


Farore, the Oracle of Worlds


On the GameBoy Color the third of the Oracles had a relatively minor role. She was known as the "Oracle of Secrets" and was responsible for managing the passwords, which let you link both Oracle of Ages and Oracle Seasons and get some special items. In the remake her role will be similar, but also more important.

a pixel art of Farore

There will now be a portal inside both Maku Trees, which links both Holodrum and Labrynna, but only after you've already visited both lands. Farore, who is now known as the "Oracle of Worlds", is the gatekeeper of this portal and will explain the whole thing to you. Remember that your current equipment is tied to the world you're in, so you can't bring any items through this portal.

If you now go on world-spanning quests, she will also be the one to reward you afterwards. So, if the Great Fairy in Holodrum asks you to visit Tingle in Labrynna to tell him that he's not actually a fairy, he will reward you with a bigger Seed Satchel for this intelligent insight. If you now return to Holodrum, Farore will give you this Seed Satchel upgrade there as well and a pat on the back.

"Wait a minute! This isn't much different from what Farore did on the GameBoy Color... How is she any more important in the remake now?"

Excellent question! This is where the following comes in...


World Seeds


Whenever the Maku Tree grows after you've completed a dungeon in either Holodrum or Labrynna, you will be able to pick "World Seeds" from its top. This will be a new item in the remake and the big new feature, essentially this game's version of the Chamber Dungeon, where Farore will be its host, like Dampé in Link's Awakening.

artworks of both Maku Seeds

Farore can use these world seeds to create small new worlds inside the Maku Tree, which you can go explore. Unlike switching between Labrynna and Holodrum you will be able to use your current equipment in these, in fact they will even be build with your items in mind.

These small worlds will be randomly generated and always consist of a small overworld area and one dungeon. Defeating the boss of the dungeon will clear the world, where Farore will reward you with new Magic Rings, Pieces of Heart, additional World Seeds and a new Heart Container.

Every World Seed will be based on your current adventures. So, if you've beaten the Spirit's Grave, you will get access to a Halloween-themed graveyard world and a tomb dungeon, where you can fight against Pumpkin Head again. If you've beaten the Moonlit Grotto, you will be able to visit an island world. And beating the Ancient Tomb lets you play a dangerous fortress world full of Darknuts and Lynels...

But all of it can look very different for every player, where both the overworld area and the dungeon get procedurally generated via certain patterns and templates. You can always abort your adventure and ask Farore to re-plant the World Seed, if you didn't like the outcome. But if you like the current world, you can also save it to an amiibo, so you can play it in other savegames or share it with friends.

So, in many ways this will be like the Chamber Dungeon, just that instead of building something that you need to beat afterwards, you will always go explore something new and unknown. And instead of collecting chambers for a dungeon, you collect different themes for the worlds based on the adventures in Holodrum and Labrynna. You will be able to replay the bosses this way, but also face new challenges, like a dungeon that uses all the bosses.

Other than the World Seeds that you get from the Maku Trees, there will also be additional ones that you can get from Farore, shops, mini-games and maybe even your amiibo. These will either add new worlds or enhance existing ones. There might something like the "plus effects" from the Chamber Dungeon to make the worlds more challenging or more forgiving.

All in all there will be many similarities to the Chamber Dungeon here, just without the baggage of the limited dungeon builder and with focus on an almost "roguelike" experience with procedurally generated levels.


Seed Satchel & Mystical Seeds


The Mystical Seeds are some of Link's most important items in the Oracle games, where the Seed Satchel was basically the Magic Powder on steroids. It was quite inconvenient to switch between the different seeds, however, because similar to the Ocarina in Link's Awakening you had to go back into the inventory, re-assign the Seed Satchel to a button and select the Mystical Seed you need in a small pop-up menu.

In the remake this will be much easier. With the Pegasus Boots gone (which got replaced by the Pegasus Seeds), the Seed Satchel will take its place on the L-button, so you can always quickly use your currently selected seeds, which are shown in the bottom right of the screen with their amount. Using the right analog stick will now activate a small ring menu with all the different Mystical Seeds in them. If you remember their positions, you can easily switch between seeds with a single flick of your R-stick.

artwork of the five different seeds from Hyrule Warriors arranged in a circle

If you have the Seed Shooter or the Slingshot equipped to the X or Y button, then those will also make use of your currently selected seeds. This will make certain fights, where you constantly have to switch between different seeds, much easier.

Well, with such a ring menu it could easily support up to eight different seeds instead of just the five from the original. And since it only takes a couple of seconds to come up with three new Mystical Seeds, these get added to the remake as new items:

  • Razor Seeds
  • Armor Seeds
  • Frost Seeds

The Razor Seeds and Armor Seeds should sound familiar, because those already were a thing in Four Swords on the GameBoy Advance, made by the same development team as the Oracle games. In the remake they will function like the Piece of Power and the Guardian Acorn from Link's Awakening, where you get an attack or defense boost for 30 seconds.

To balance this properly, you will only be able to use one at a time and there will be a two minute cool-down for both of these seeds afterwards. Unlike all the other Mystical Seeds you will also only be able to hold a few of them, 5 in the beginning, 20 in the end.

The Frost Seeds are basically the opposite to the Ember Seeds and let you freeze enemies and extinguish torches. You will only be getting them near the end of the game and they will be very helpful when fighting Frypolar or Twinrova, since you now can damage both their fire and ice forms with the respective seeds. (As for Frypolar, using his own ice pillars against him will still deal massive damage, unlike the seeds.)

With these new types of seeds, there will also be Razor Trees, Armor Trees and Frost Trees present in both Holodrum and Labrynna for additional warp points. Those will be in areas that need them the most, like North Horon, Mt. Cucco and the Temple Remains in Holodrum. You will also be able to warp directly to the Maku Trees now.


The Other Items


With sword, shield, Power Bracelet, Power Glove and the Seed Satchel permanently assigned to certain buttons, this will leave the following items for the inventory:

  • Rod of Seasons / Harp of Ages
  • Roc's Feather / Roc's Cape
  • (Hyper) Slingshot / Seed Shooter
  • Shovel
  • Flute
  • Boomerang / Magical Boomerang
  • Switch Hook / Long Hook
  • Magnetic Gloves / Cane of Somaria
  • Bombs
  • Bombchus
  • Biggoron's Sword

That's eleven items in total for Labrynna and ten items for Holodrum. The inventory itself will have 15 slots, three more than in Link's Awakening, and the rest will be filled up with four Fairy Bottles. And since you can't get the Switch Hook in Holodrum, there will be a new optional item here instead to make things more even: the Whip. It lets you fight enemies and grab items from a certain distance, like a quick alternative to the normal Boomerang.

The Biggoron's Sword will still use both the X and Y buttons. This might even be a reason to keep the Roc's Feather as a normal item and not have a shortcut for it as well, because the Biggoron's Sword will come with the tradeoff that you won't be able to jump using it.

The Rod of Seasons will also be now more convenient to use by swinging it in a certain direction for a specific season. Up will summon winter, right will summon summer and so on.

Also, with having a dedicated action button (A) and a dedicated sword button (B), the swimming with the Mermaid Suit can just function normally now, since you can swim and use your sword at the same time.


Magic Rings


In the original games you were able to collect up to 64 Magic Rings and of course the remake will add to this count, but not before making some cuts. The GBA Time and Nature Rings will be gone, since the remake won't have GameBoy Advance exclusive features any longer, while certain redundant rings will be removed as well. So, in the end there will be over 40 new rings added for a total of 100 Magic Rings to collect.

artwork of Vasu appraising a ring, with the Red and Blue Snake at his side

All of them will have unique effects, where the remake will focus much more strongly on rings with transformation abilities. On the GameBoy Color you could become NES Link, a Moblin, a Like Like, an Octorok or a Subrosian. The remake will add the following:

  • Stalfos
  • Darknut
  • Armos
  • Gibdo
  • Lynel
  • Guard
  • Zora
  • Goron
  • Tokey
  • Tingle
  • Shadow Link

Basically anything interesting that can walk. With some of these transformations you will even be able to use sword and shield, while others might give you unique attacks or abilities. Using the Guard Ring for example lets you freely walk around Ambi's Castle undetected.

Other than transformations there will be new abilities as well. Here are a few ideas:

  • Piece of Power Ring: Lengthens the Razor Seed effect
  • Guardian Acorn Ring: Lengthens the Armor Seed effect
  • Spiked Ring: enemies will take damage, if they run into you
  • Whip Ring: increases Whip damage
  • ...

The most important change to the Magic Rings, however, is that getting them all won't be left to chance any longer, which means there won't be any randomization behind finding the rings. You will still be able to obtain duplicates, but each and every ring will have its dedicated way of obtaining them, whether it's a certain treasure chest, shop item or mini-game score. You will also now find them more often in the environment, similar to Secret Seashells.

Gasha Trees will now all have one primary reward, which you will get after growing the tree for the first time. This will either be a Piece of Heart or a specific ring. Afterwards the trees will give either Rupees, Magic Potions, Hearts or Fairies. This will be an incentive to find absolutely all Gasha Spots in the world and to plant at least one tree on every spot. The trees will even stay there after you've grown them for the first time, so you will know immediately whether you've already planted a Gasha Seed there or not. This also means that Gasha Seeds will become a strictly limited collectible, where there's one to find for every Gasha Spot.

Also, Maple will now always drop both Maple's Ring and her Piece of Heart until you got them both. Afterwards she will keep changing to new rewards, like other rings, but it will always be a specific ring that you can get next. Like the Trendy Game in Link's Awakening she will add new rewards after every dungeon.


Pieces of Heart


Like with Link's Awakening, the total amount of hearts will be increased to 20. The fourth Heart Container that you get from starting a game with a password will now be gone and instead replaced with a Heart Container you can get from Farore for exploring World Seeds. Otherwise there will be 16 new Pieces of Heart in both Holodrum and Labrynna for you to find.

In the original both game worlds did have their empty spots, where adding Pieces of Heart (as well as new Magic Rings) will make exploring every nookie of Labrynna, Holodrum and Subrosia will be worth your time.

As already mentioned before, both Gasha Trees and Maple won't handle their Pieces of Heart at random any longer. There will be specific Gasha Trees that give you Pieces of Heart with their first Gasha Nut, while Maple will always drop her Piece of Heart until you get it.


Mini-Games


GREZZO did a great job at updating all the mini-games in Link's Awakening with new mechanics and rewards. However, there were only three mini-games on Koholint and they were already quite good on the GameBoy.

With the Oracle of Seasons and especially Oracle of Ages GREZZO will have to go wild here, since there are about a dozen mini-games in the worlds of the Oracles, including some of the most-hated mini-games of all time, like the atrocious Goron Dance. Making this more fun to play would already be a huge win for everyone.

a screenshot of the Goron Dance

This number also includes some of the one-time mini-games that you face, mainly in some of the quests that bring you back to Holodrum, like the diving mini-game or the Old Man's combat test. Those could even be expanded to proper mini-games, which you can keep playing for additional rewards, like some of the new Magic Rings.


The Animal Buddies


artwork of all three animal buddies with Link

Ricky, Moosh and Dimitri – those are your trusted companions during your travels in Holodrum and Labrynna. Well, on the GameBoy Color one of them was, because you only ever could get one flute per playthrough. This even affected one entire environment, where depending on your flute a part of Holodrum and Labrynna will look completely different (more information here).

The remake won't have any of this. Instead you will be able to get three different songs for the flute, similar to the Ocarina in Link's Awakening, one for each animal buddy. And the Natzu and Nuun areas will now be unified with paths for all three animals.

The latter will even be a necessity for the remake, if it keeps the seamless overworld scrolling of Link's Awakening, because then you would get something like the following, where you can take a good look at the Nuun Highlands from Lynna City right at the beginning of the game:

a view of Lynna, the Maku Tree and the Nuun Highlands, all directly next to each other

Normally this area won't be determined until after the third dungeon, which is where you were able to obtain the flute for the first time. But if you can already look past Bipin's and Blossom's house, this wouldn't work any longer and there needs to be something fixed here from the beginning. (Or they would have to put the Nuun Highlands so high up that you can't see them early on.)

In Labrynna this change will even be very straight-forward. You will meet and help the three animal buddies around the quest to Crescent Island, exactly like in the original, and when you have to gather all three carpenters in the Nuun Highlands, you will notice that you need all the animal buddies for the job, one for each worker. This brings you back to the Fairies' Woods, where you now have to search for them all and where at the end you get the flute with all three songs.

In Holodrum you will be able to meet and help either Ricky or Dimitri on your way to the Spool Swamp, which will earn you one of their songs. You will also get Moosh's song in the Spool Swamp after rescuing him from monsters. The "Natzu Crossing" will now offer three different paths to the Moblin's Keep and the Sunken City, one for each animal buddy, where you can choose which one you prefer.

Once you've arrived at the Sunken City you will be able to recruit Dimitri, if you haven't already, while you can recruit Ricky at any time by bringing him the boxing gloves from Blaino. And at Mt. Cucco you will need to collect the Bananas for Moosh in any case or else he won't help you. This way all the special animal buddy evens will still be in the game.

In the end you will be able to summon all three of the animal companions in both Labrynna and Holodrum for your convenience. There might even be certain Magic Rings, Gasha Seeds and Pieces of Hearts that can only be gotten with a certain animal friend.

You will also be able to summon while exploring Farore's World Seeds, where some of the worlds might require the usage of either Ricky, Moosh or Dimitri.


Bipin's and Blossom's Many Sons


Other than the animal buddies, there was another thing that could end up being very different on your playthrough on the GameBoy Color: the offspring of Bipin and Blossom. Depending on what answers and help you gave the family, he could grow up to become a hero, an arborist, a musician or a slacker.

The remake will add some new outcomes, but there will also be a new mechanic, where you can get the son to leave and start his own life elsewhere in the world. In this case Bipin and Blossom will quickly make a new child, which then you can influence again and again to experience all different outcomes in a single save file. There might even be some exclusive rings that you can only get, if their son turns out a certain way.


Dungeon Scrolling


The dungeons in the Oracle games have larger "chambers" than in Link's Awakening, where as a result it would constantly scroll on the GameBoy Color, because the chambers wouldn't fit on a single screen. This won't be the case in the remake, where it only scrolls, if there are multiple connected rooms, exactly like in the remake of Link's Awakening.

five chambers from the Gnarled Root dungeon in Oracle of Seasons, where two of the rooms form one big one


Conclusion


If GREZZO ever were to remake Oracle of Ages & Seasons in the same style as Link's Awakening, there would be lots of things that they could add and improve. No passwords, new Hero Mode, easier to use items, more Magic Rings and Pieces of Hearts, updated mini-games and the ability to get all three animal buddies for the first time would all be good reasons for such a remake.

On top they could add a complete new feature, similar to the Chamber Dungeon, where in this example Farore lets you explore many new small worlds, which get procedurally generated. But of course GREZZO could also go for a more sophisticated version of the Chamber Dungeon or something else entirely.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Classic Zelda on Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch logo in black surrounded by various Zelda games either in the form of the logos, screenshots or box arts, with a question mark below

With a Nintendo 3DS and a Wii U in possession you could play almost all Zelda games in existence thanks to various remakes, remasters, ports and the Virtual Console. The only real exception here was Four Swords Adventures, which to this date is only playable on GameCube or a backwards compatible Wii.

Now, on the Nintendo Switch the franchise has found a lot of new interest thanks to the success of Breath of the Wild. But what Zelda games can be played on the Nintendo Switch exactly? Well, not counting any spin-offs, it's only the following:

  • The Legend of Zelda (NES)
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (NES)
  • A Link to the Past (SNES)
  • Link's Awakening (Remake)
  • Breath of the Wild

So, we're looking at the first four Zelda games and the newest ones. But what's with the 14 titles in between? Will they ever have a chance to make it on Nintendo Switch as well? Let's take a look...


Ocarina of Time & Majora's Mask


These games already have been remade for the Nintendo 3DS via Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D and the Nintendo is still selling and supporting the New Nintendo 3DS line, so there is no dire need to remake them yet again already.

Remaking these games in HD would also take quite some efforts, where GREZZO so far has been busy with Link's Awakening and might continue to focus on other topdown Zelda experiences.

But that doesn't mean the N64 classics won't ever be playable on Nintendo Switch... They will most likely follow the NES games and A Link to the Past, as soon as Nintendo 64 games become available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service. They might even put Ocarina of Time - Master Quest on this one.


Oracle of Ages & Seasons


After the success of Link's Awakening on Nintendo Switch it's likely that GREZZO will remake the other GameBoy Color Zelda games as well. There's a lot of potential with these games here, where we will talk about this in detail in the future.

the logos of both Oracle games with arrows pointing from the logos to a Nintendo Switch

And even if such remakes won't be happening, there is still the chance that Nintendo Switch Online will offer GameBoy and GameBoy Color titles at some point in the future.


Four Swords & Four Swords Adventures


The classic multiplayer Zelda games belong to the more questionable cases. Their main appeal is playing them with others, where any ports would need to support the multiplayer modes properly, maybe even online.

But with such work required it would probably be best to focus on a dedicated Zelda multiplayer experience on Nintendo Switch instead. GREZZO did bring back Four Swords once, however, with the Anniversary Edition as DSiWare. So, it's not completely out of question that these games could find their way on Switch in some form, but for now they might stay in the past.


The Minish Cap


If the Nintendo Switch Online service ever offers GameBoy Advance games, this will be the first among them. So, it's likely to re-appear, though it probably won't get a shiny remake like Link's Awakening did.


The Wind Waker & Twilight Princess


Both games got HD remasters on the Wii U with The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD, where Nintendo might want to port them over like every other interesting Wii U game in existence. They might even provide a bundle, where you get both games on the same cartridge.

Such ports would require a little bit of effort, though, because you won't be able to use the Wii U GamePad for maps and inventories any longer. And the Miiverse features with the Tingle Bottles in The Wind Waker HD and the stamp collection in Twilight Princess HD would need to find suitable replacements, now that the Miiverse is history.

As a bonus, they could also add an HD remaster of Link's Crossbow Training to the package.


Phantom Hourglass & Spirit Tracks


If there are any Zelda games in dire need of remakes, it's probably the Nintendo DS games. They did not age well and there's lots of potential to improve them. Ideally, they would even get rid of the touch controls in favor of analog stick inputs. Whether such remakes will be happening on the Nintendo Switch is a different question, however.

With Dr Kawashima's Brain Training finding its way on Nintendo Switch it's also possible that the Nintendo DS Zelda games might get remastered in a similar fashion, where you play them in handheld mode with the system held sideways.

a Nintendo Switch held vertically with Phantom Hourglass on the screen, the player is using a Stylus

It's even possible that the Nintendo Switch Online service might offer select Nintendo DS games, similar to the Wii U Virtual Console. However, the Nintendo Switch does not have a built-in microphone, so both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks already wouldn't work in emulated form, unless you ask the players to get a headset with a microphone to play them...

So, it's more likely that they would go the Kawashima-route. It's also thinkable that Nintendo might want to put these games on Smartphones instead, though they don't seem to fit the current free-to-play business model there...


Skyward Sword


Emulating Wii games on the Nintendo Switch seems out of the question, so the only way for Skyward Sword to find its way on Switch would be via an HD remaster. But this is more likely than you would think and Tantalus (the studio behind Twilight Princess HD) could be working on Skyward Sword HD as we speak.

an HD screenshot of Skyward Sword where Link enters the Skyview Spring

The game's graphics could be easily upscaled and with the Joy-cons it practically begs to be on Switch and offer a very different take on 3D Zelda.


A Link Between Worlds & Tri Force Heroes


As already said with Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D, the Nintendo 3DS is still out there and these games are still being sold, so there is probably no reason for Nintendo to port them over to Nintendo Switch. If you want to play these games, you can easily get them with a discount.


Summary


There's a lot of potential for the Nintendo Switch to become a new home for many older Zelda titles. There could be a remaster of Skyward Sword in HD, while both the HD remasters on Wii U, The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD, could be ported over to Switch. Nintendo 64, GameBoy (Color) and GameBoy Advance games could be offered as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service. The Oracle games could be remade in the same style as Link's Awakening, while both the Nintendo DS games could be remastered for Switch as well.

Only time will tell what Zelda games will find its way to Nintendo Switch, but one thing is for sure: Link's Awakening certainly wasn't the last Zelda game to return on Nintendo's current system.

Friday, November 8, 2019

My Chamber Dungeon Creations

Despite its limitations, I was having quite some fun with the new Chamber Dungeon feature in the remake of Link's Awakening. In this post I will show off some of my creations and the ideas behind them. Sadly, there is no easy way of sharing these dungeons yet, so a look at the arrangements will have to suffice.

I've shown most of these already in previous posts, so this might feel somewhat redundant, but I thought it would be nice to have it all in one place.


The Journey


the Journey Labyrinth in the menu, all 64 chambers are filled

This was my first big creation in the Chamber Dungeon, where the idea was to build something like a boss rush, but also something that let's you re-experience all of the game's dungeons in a compressed form.

The entire dungeon is divided into seven walled off sections, which are only connected via tunnels and only use chambers from the same dungeon. It starts with a Tail Cave section and ends with a Turtle Rock section, where Hot Head waits in the final Nightmare's Lair. You can skip some of the mini-bosses, but every single boss is present at least once with the exception of the Chief Moblin, who didn't really fit in, sadly.

the completed map of the Journey Labyrinth

There are only seven sections instead of eight, because not every dungeon has enough stairs available. So, I combined Level 3 with the Color Dungeon and the special chambers, as well as Level 4 with Level 5. But the rests works as intended and it's overall fun to play this as one final dungeon.

By the way, I've tried to create a second version of this dungeon, which includes the Chief Moblin and possibly also the Dodongo Snakes from Level 8, but I've utterly failed multiple times. Putting a dungeon together like this is not as easy as it seems, where it feels like a miracle that I was able to pull it off like above. And this will be a constant reminder how the Chamber Dungeon is first and foremost a dungeon puzzler and not a dungeon maker.


Color Dungeon


Color Dungeon arrangement

This is simply a recreation of the Color Dungeon, chamber by chamber, as accurate as it gets. So, if I ever feel like replaying the Color Dungeon for some reason, I can just go with this version. Though, it doesn't have the nice music.

It's the only dungeon in Link's Awakening, where this is possible, mainly because the Color Dungeon pays homage to the classic dungeons from the first Zelda game, which all have been built out of individual square rooms, which is exactly like the Chamber Dungeon functions.


The Rupee


A Chamber Dungeon shaped like a Rupee with a total of 36 chambers. There are only two chambers between the entrance and the bosses, one of them with a chest. The rest of the dungeon doesn't have any chests.

This is a dungeon to quickly farm Rupees with the "+Rupees Effect", where this can get you about 300 Rupees in one minute. It has the entrance, the chamber for the Rupee rain, another chamber for the Nightmare Key and a short Moldorm boss fight, one after the other.

The rest of the dungeon is just filler, so that the +Rupees Effect kicks in with the best possible amount. But most of these optional chambers happen to be bosses and mini-bosses, where every boss is present except for the Dodongo Snakes and Blaino. So, this can also be used as a boss rush dungeon, if you're feeling like it.


Key Labyrinth


Key Labyrinth arrangement with lots of locked rooms in the east half and lots of chests in the west

If you thought that the Key Cavern had you juggling lots of keys, pay this dungeon a visit. It's divided in two halves, where one half of the dungeon is entirely optional and contains all the locked doors in the world. The other half contains enough chests for all these optional locked doors, where this lets you collect up to 22 keys for the fun of it:

a Chamber Dungeon room with the chest that normally has the Roc's Feather, there are 22 keys visible on the HUD

This isn't really something that I'd want to replay, but as a little "science experiment" this was certainly interesting to experience.


The Big Spiral


Big Spiral dungeon arrangement

This is essentially a recreation of Level 8 from the original 2nd Quest in The Legend of Zelda. It follows the same layout, but of course it's not possible to use identical contents or to connect the tunnels in the same way.

Big Spiral dungeon arrangement with tunnel connections

One of the key challenges of the original dungeon was making your way through with only 12 bombs, while facing lots of Dodongo fights. I tried to carry this theme over by using bosses that require bombs, like the Dodongo Snakes, the Master Stalfos and Facade. And there are also some walls that you need to bomb here and there.

Again, it's a shame that you can't select the music for your creations, because the Color Dungeon music would be perfect for this. In the least the "+Monsters Effect" can give you the feeling of playing something from the NES game.


The Letter Z


Letter Z dungeon arrangement

Because I had quite some fun rebuilding the Level 8 Big Spiral dungeon, I tried another with Level 5 from the 2nd Quest, the Letter Z. The final of Dampé's challenges is also shaped like a Z, where it's certainly a lot bigger than the classic version, but I thought it would be nice to have both in some form.

It didn't turn out to be as good or fun as the Big Spiral recreation, however. There is a chest in the beginning behind a locked door and it's important not to forget about it, when you get your first key in the middle of the dungeon. It's very straight-forward, where it's tempting to move on, but instead you have to go / warp all the way back to get the missing chest or else you will be ending up before the Nightmare's Lair without the proper key.

It's actually one of the few times, where I had to worry about keys in the Chamber Dungeon...


Final Thoughts


Unless I have some other "good" ideas, this should be it for my Chamber Dungeon journey. I've had a lot of fun with this feature so far, but its limitations will probably prevent me from going any further in the future.

It first and foremost needs proper tunnel controls, where I was annoyed how the tunnels constantly changed, whenever I made a small change to the dungeon. Let me connect the stairs the way I want and let met select the tunnel.

Also, I want to change the music so badly, mainly because the Color Dungeon track would be a lot more fitting in many scenarios. The Chamber Dungeon works like classic NES dungeons and naturally you'd want the classic NES dungeon music in this, even though the Chamber Dungeon music is quite alright.

And finally, without the ability to truly share any of this online, where people can properly download and play my creations, it's only half as fun...

Monday, November 4, 2019

Link's Awakening – Chamber Dungeon Review

Link standing inside Dampe's Shack, wearing the Red Mail

When it comes to updating, remastering or remaking Zelda games there is usually the question of additional contents, mainly in the form of new dungeons. The Palace of the Four Sword, the Hero's Trial, the Cave of Shadows – they are all examples of added content to an existing Zelda game, for better or worse. And the first Zelda game to ever receive a new dungeon was Link's Awakening DX on the GameBoy Color with its Color Dungeon.

However, these additions might not always be on par with the rest of the game, where the Color Dungeon is already a good example. Link's Awakening has some of the best 2D dungeons in the series, where the addition in the DX version couldn't really live up to the rest, because it felt rather simplistic in comparison.

And so far GREZZO hasn't been known for great level design, where they were mostly making linear levels for the Four Swords Anniversary Edition and Tri Force Heroes. So, it was probably a good decision to go with a "do it yourself" solution here and let the players make their own new dungeons instead...

The Chamber Dungeon is the big, new addition in the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch, where according to Eiji Aonuma it was even a key motivator behind the project.

screenshot of Dampé's Shack in the Tal Tal Heights

You can find it where the Camera Shop used to be in Link's Awakening DX, to the north of the Tabahl Wasteland and the graveyard. That's a rather fitting spot, because the whole feature is hosted by Dampé, the weird gravedigger, who first appeared in Ocarina of Time and by now has starred in a total of six Zelda games.

You can first play the Chamber Dungeon after beating the second dungeon (even though it would have been possible after the first) and after every dungeon you beat you'll be getting new chambers and challenges. So, like the new Trendy Game this is something, where you might want to return to regularly.


Arranging Dungeons


Dampé lets you build dungeons based on pre-defined chambers in the form of stone tablets that you can collect and place on a grid. This is very reminiscent of the dungeons in the first NES Zelda game, where everything was based on square rooms with centered doorways. Luckily, the dungeons in Link's Awakening were still partly designed like that – the Color Dungeon, which pays homage to the dungeons from the first Zelda game, even in its entirety. So, a lot of it did get transform into chambers, which automatically unlock after each dungeon.

Each Chamber Dungeon starts with an entrance and ends with a Nightmare's Lair, where both were taken from the nine dungeons in the game. The other chambers all have pre-defined exits, locks, chests and stairways, where the latter connect automatically based on a nearest neighbor principle. For every locked door there needs to be a chest and the last chest that you open will give you the Nightmare Key, which is required to finish the dungeon. That's it. This is how the whole system works, which overall doesn't allow for much customization.

An arrangement in the Chamber Dungeon trying to recreate the Tail Cave

For a dungeon to become playable you need to make sure that everything fits together. So, every door on every chamber needs to lead to another chamber. There need to be enough chests for all the locked doors. There needs to be an even number of stair cases. And of course there need to be the entrance and the Nightmare's Lair, the start and finish point of the dungeon.

The builder menu does a good job at telling you whatever might be missing, so putting together a functional dungeon is a very simple task. The chambers are sorted by the number of exits they provide and the dungeons they are from, where you can quickly navigate the different tabs with the shoulder buttons. Sadly, there are no touch controls available for handheld mode, but arranging a dungeon works good enough with button inputs.


Challenges


However, this isn't just for your own amusement, but instead this is all about solving Dampé's challenges, where you have to place your chambers in a way that fits certain criteria. Often there are fixed chambers in place or sometimes there are tiles where you have to place a locked door, a chest or stairs. Other tiles might be blocked, preventing you from building on them. And for other challenges you have to fill out a certain shape, which is also reminiscent of classic Zelda dungeons, where the maps often were little pixel arts.

a solution to the Nothing but Stairs challenge

Once you're done, you also have to play through the dungeon, where afterwards you get certain rewards from Dampé, including Pieces of Heart, additional chambers and one of the new Fairy Bottles. There are twelve basic challenges in total, which get unlocked over the course of the game. And when you're done with them all you will get twelve advanced challenges, though the latter will only reward you with lots of Rupees.

Some challenges also put restrictions on you when you play them – you either have no sword, only few hearts or a time limit, where you have to carefully consider which chambers you want to use.

But most of it is really trivial, where there are only very few challenges that might actually be "challenging" to overcome. The challenges are rarely ever stopping you from using simple chambers with only easy enemies or no enemies at all. And there are plenty of simple chambers to choose from, which even allows you to trick many of the challenges in some form.


Free Mode


An addition to the challenges you can also freely create your own dungeons on eight open slots. This sounds exciting at first, but you might not get much out of this, except for building your own boss rush or something that helps you farm Rupees. You will already make good use of most of the chambers when you're solving all the challenges, so you might not feel the urge to build even more dungeons afterwards...

A Chamber Dungeon shaped like a Rupee and which can be used for Rupee farming.

And the whole thing only works the way it does, because Link's Awakening has some excellent dungeons in the first place, which are fun to (re)play. So, letting you re-arrange its dungeon rooms in any way you want can certainly be fun and interesting. But the individual rooms lack the big picture of the original dungeons and playing the same puzzles and bosses again and again can get boring quickly...

So, in order for this to be more appealing it needs two things. The first would be online sharing, because right now you can only share your creations by saving them onto an amiibo, which feels like an awkward limitation in the times of the paid Nintendo Switch Online service. If you don't have any friends nearby, who also play the game, you probably won't ever get to play the dungeons created by others.

But the way the dungeon building works right now this is even understandable, because all the dungeons out there would end up feeling quite similar. There simply aren't enough customization options to make your dungeons more unique. It should already start with giving them a name or choosing the music track. And ideally you should also be able to set locked doors, to connect stairs any way you want and to select restrictions, like a time limit.

Of course some of this would break the existing challenges, so these additional options and tools should only be available in the free mode. And with more customization in the free mode available, sharing your dungeons online and playing the dungeons of Zelda fans worldwide would automatically become more interesting. But the way it is right now, it's just a lot of missed potential.


The Chambers


There is currently a total of 193 chambers in the game, which includes 22 unlockable chambers, five amiibo-exclusive chambers and six "plus effects". So, that's 160 chambers that are coming straight from the dungeons, where for the most part the only difference are the stone doorways, which are always a visual indicator that you're inside the Chamber Dungeon.

Some of the chambers have been modified to make them work on their own or when entering them from all sides. But rarely anything was really modified heavily, so it's for the most part the rooms that you already know from the existing dungeons.

Dodongo Snake chamber from Turtle Rock with an elevated area
One of the more unique chambers.

In addition there are altered chambers, which all have to be unlocked. But for the most part this just offers new versions of existing chambers with a different number of exits, which is a little bit boring. However, this also includes variants of all boss chambers, which now can be placed anywhere in your dungeon, allowing you to build your own boss rush.

Speaking of, it's kind of a shame that none of the challenges actually force you to go through all bosses. Some of them make use of fixed boss rooms, but if you want a complete boss rush, you'll need to build your own. But at least you can, where almost all bosses and mini-bosses are available in some form.

Still, there are some rooms in the existing dungeons that could have been transformed into a chamber, but weren't. The most notable exceptions are the Dodongo Snakes room from Level 3 and anything from the game's finale. The latter is especially disappointing, since there is even a postgame available, where this could have been unlocked.

Also, it feels like a missed opportunity that there aren't many rooms that are exclusive to the Chamber Dungeon. They could have done all sorts of things here, even chambers with completely new enemies and bosses, but except for the few "special chambers", which are exclusive to amiibo, there isn't much to see here. Another missed opportunity.


Plus Effects


The plus effects are the only real way of modifying a chamber, where you can place the effect on top of it. Only one plus effect can be used per chamber and not every plus effect can be used everywhere. They are all optional and can make your life easier or harder, depending on the effect.

The "+Hearts" and "+Rupees" effects are of the helpful kind and let hearts and Rupees rain from the ceiling, respectively. You can only use them once per dungeon, however. The "+Bombs" effect, which lets exploding bombs drop from the ceiling, on the other hand can be used almost everywhere and it can both screw or help you, where it's quite useful against certain bosses and devilish in rooms with cracked floors.

the northeast room of the Bottle Grotto, but with four Pols Voice

The most interesting effect is probably "+Monsters". It doubles the existing number of normal foes in a chamber, which makes for a far more action-packed experience. This effect is so much fun, it's a shame that you actually can't get it before finishing the entire game. And it should have been the default for this game's Hero Mode.

There is also the "+Wallmaster" effect, where once you've entered a room with this effect, a Wallmaster keeps chasing you around the entire dungeon, except for boss chambers. This is interesting, because it triggers a dungeon-wide effect and also features an enemy, which originally didn't appear in Link's Awakening.

Sadly, that's already it, not counting the amiibo-exclusive "+Shadow Link" effect. There probably would have been a lot more potential for similar ideas, but GREZZO stopped with these few effects.


Chamber Stones


If the many Secret Seashells and Pieces of Heart in the remake still aren't enough for you, there are also 14 Chamber Stones to collect. But unlike the other collectibles you won't find these hidden somewhere in chests or the environment, where instead they are treated like the most valuable rewards for Koholint's different attractions, like the mini-games. Half of the Chamber Stones are simply purchased from the shop for 1280 Rupees each, so there's a lot to do with your cash in the remake.

Link holding a Chamber Stone inside the Town Tool Shop

Two of them unlock new plus effects, the best ones even, which is awesome, but all the others only give you modified chambers. And here's the problem: the Chamber Stones don't really feel all that rewarding, especially if you're not invested in the Chamber Dungeon.

If a player achieves a highscore in a mini-game and then only gets one of these stones, it must feel really underwhelming. That this might turn out to be an already existing mini-boss chamber with a different number of doors doesn't help either, where the Chamber Stones just don't cut it as the "ultimate reward".

Here it probably would have been better to put some of them inside dungeon chests instead, replacing some of the Rupees and maybe even those annoying Secret Medicines. This would have been thematically more fitting as well and make getting some of the dungeon chests more worthwhile.


amiibo


The Chamber Dungeon also serves as a hook for amiibo and with a total of 24 different amiibo of The Legend of Zelda characters "available" it's only natural that Nintendo might want to make use of them somehow. Compared to Breath of the Wild you won't be scanning them on a daily basis, however... In fact you will only need five of them to unlock everything, including the new Link's Awakening Link amiibo that was released together with the remake.

Link receiving the Armos' Knight Chamber from Dampé

What they do is unlocking so called special chambers in a random order. You can use any five of the different Zelda amiibo for this, but you can't use the same one twice. And that's really it. You unlock them once and then you can put your amiibo back on your shelf. It's the simplest form of amiibo rewards there is and not really inspired, because with one exception there isn't anything that ties to the individual amiibo.

What's also a shame is that this is the only way of obtaining chambers with contents that aren't present in the game's dungeons, like some of other mini-boss encounters. This includes the Moblin Chief, the Armos Knight and the Ball and Chain Trooper.

Ball and Chain Soldier chamber

However, there is so much more that could have been done with these special chambers. For example the Lanmola mini-boss is completely absent from the Chamber Dungeon and the official website speaks of a "Cracked Floor Chamber", which has been replaced with the "Winged Item Chamber"...

The only amiibo that gives you a unique reward is the new Link's Awakening Link amiibo, which unlocks the Shadow Link plus effect. This spawns a Shadow Link inside the chamber (once per dungeon), who then will keep re-appearing until you defeat him for some Rupees. This sounds pretty cool at first, but the fights feel really underwhelming when compared to the Shadow Links in A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes.

The main difference from the Nintendo 3DS games is that the Shadow Link doesn't use any items any longer and you can't use any of your items on him. So, it's just about blocking his sword attacks with your shield and striking when the time is right. And this makes these fights rather dull and not really worth the trouble.

Probably the best thing about amiibo right now is that it lets you store your dungeons onto them. The saving feature of the amiibo gets utilized rarely anyway (only the Wolf Link amiibo did this with the Cave of Shadows in Twilight Princess HD and of course the figure players in Super Smash Bros.), where currently this is your only way of sharing your Chamber Dungeon creations and transporting them to other save files.

This isn't a real replacement for online sharing, but certainly better than nothing. And even with online sharing in place you still might want to make use of them, e.g. to store your Rupee farming dungeon.

It also saves your current time record onto the amiibo, where others now can try to surpass it. But don't worry, there aren't any rewards locked behind beating records, so this is only for your own entertainment and completely optional.


Conclusion


With its fixed chambers, the challenges and its overall simplicity the Chamber Dungeon doesn't really strive at being a dungeon maker, but more of a dungeon puzzler. And this is where this feature fails at being either one, because most of the challenges aren't really that challenging and for the Chamber Dungeon to have any lasting appeal it lacks the necessary level of customization, as well as a way of sharing your creations online...

It is a fun way or re-arranging and re-experiencing the contents from the existing dungeons in Link's Awakening, but it also barely offers anything new and overall feels like a pond of missed opportunities. Let's hope that Nintendo and GREZZO might consider delivering a Chamber Dungeon Update for the game, fixing some of its shortcomings and adding new contents.

The Good:
  • Fun dungeon play for in-between
  • Re-arrange the game's dungeons as you please
  • Keeps expanding after every conquered dungeon
  • Nice way of replaying almost all bosses
  • Simple to use interface
  • You can save dungeons to your amiibo

The Bad:
  • Lack of customization in the Chamber Dungeon's free mode
  • No online sharing for your Chamber Dungeons
  • Challenges are often too easy
  • Uninspired use of amiibo unlockables
  • Chamber Stones don't feel very rewarding
  • Only few chambers with new contents
  • No touch controls supported

Link's Awakening – Remake Review

Link standing in front of the Wind Fish Egg

The Zelda series is no stranger to enhanced ports and remasters, where Link's Awakening was the first game to receive an updated version for the GameBoy Color back in 1998 with Link's Awakening DX. And now, over 20 years later, it is the first Zelda game to get a remake that was built from the ground up.

It's also a Zelda game of many other firsts. It was the first Zelda game on a handheld system. It was the first Zelda game that didn't take place in Hyrule and that didn't revolve around the Triforce, where instead it puts Link on the mysterious island of Koholint. It was the first Zelda game without an appearance of the eponymous princess. It was the first Zelda game with a trading sequence or a fishing mini-game. It was the first Zelda game with boss keys. ...

This list goes on, but most importantly Link's Awakening was the first Zelda game for many fans. When you inserted its cartridge into the GameBoy, a magical world awaited you, like nothing you had seen before on the system. It's a game that holds many dear memories. And with this it's of utmost importance that such a remake manages to capture the magic of the original, living up to the memories of its fans and creating new ones for those who are experiencing the game for the first time on the Nintendo Switch.

This blog probably wouldn't even exist, if it weren't for the original game, where there's a certain bias present. And the remake has stayed remarkably faithful to the GameBoy and GameBoy Color versions, so there's no point in reviewing the game overall, where instead this review will focus on the qualities of the remake alone.

The remake got developed by GREZZO, who are no strangers to porting and remastering Zelda games and where this has been their fifth Zelda project, following Four Swords: Anniversary Edition, Ocarina of Time 3D, Majora's Mask 3D and Tri Force Heroes. Their work can be quite hit-and-miss, so let's see how much hit and how much miss is in the remake of Link's Awakening...


Overview


Link's Awakening on the Nintendo Switch is a full-fledged remake, meaning that the entire game was rebuilt from the ground-up. It's for the most part a very faithful recreation of the original game, almost on a tile by tile basis, but everything runs on a new engine (seemingly Unreal Engine 4) with pretty new graphics, sounds and even some physics.

The remake was based on Link's Awakening DX for the GameBoy Color, but not in every aspect. You get the Color Dungeon, the Owl Statues and Stone Beaks that allowed multiple hints in dungeons, as well as the altered treasure contents of the DX version. The photo house and the related photo quest are gone, however, but some of its events have been preserved.

And this is also based on the censored version in all regions now, so no bare-breasted mermaids looking for their Bikini Tops. But since you now see below the water surface, this should be understandable. Scripts and translations have also been based on the latest version from the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, with some alterations and additions, of course. And now the game offers many more languages than it did in the past.

The focus of the remake clearly was on updating the game in terms of graphics, sound and interface, but of course there are also some new additions and improvements, including new collectibles, enhanced mini-games, a new Hero Mode difficulty and also the Chamber Dungeon feature.


Graphics and Visuals


One word: beautiful. There rarely is media franchise as rich in variety as The Legend of Zelda when it comes to the art style. Ever since The Wind Waker the series has been redefining itself visually, from bright and cartoonish to dark and realistic, where the remake of Link's Awakening now goes for adorable and colorful.

in front of the Tail Cave after finishing the dungeon

This new style might not be to everyone's taste, but it does its job quite nicely, where it took the sprite-based visuals from the GameBoy classic and turned them into a plastic diorama style. And this looks really beautiful and fresh, yet at the same time stays quite close to the original. Everything feels like a little toy world, where it's often a tile-based recreation of the Koholint as we know it from the GameBoy, yet at the same time it's all bursting with new details.

Especially the different houses on the island have received a significant makeover, both on the inside and the outside. On the GameBoy most of the houses looked the same, but here there many details to be discovered. This is quite similar to Ocarina of Time 3D, where someone at GREZZO must secretly want to be an interior designer, but it definitely helps individualizing the game's characters, where a lot of love and charm went into designing all the houses.

The coloring of the GameBoy Color version has been ignored for the most part, where most of the dungeons have completely new visuals now, making them look more like actual dungeons. The island also looks a lot greener than it used to be and it was certainly a good decision to not stay faithful on that regard, because the remake looks really beautiful the way it was done.

However, the entire game is using a global light source for illumination, where this casts weird shadows slightly from the north inside the dungeons. It's not as distracting as in The Wind Waker HD, where some of the lighting inside the dungeons didn't make any sense at all, but it still is noticeable. At least the polished visuals of the dungeons fit the diorama style quite nicely, while they felt somewhat weird in A Link Between Worlds...

a room in the Bottle Grotto with lots of crystal blocks

Speaking of the Nintendo 3DS game(s), quite a few assets from A Link Between Worlds have been translated into HD for this remake, most notably certain enemy designs, like Moldorm, Tektites or the Wizzrobes. But other things like Link himself have a completely new look to let them appear closer to the GameBoy style.

The other big change has been on the overworld, where the development team was going for a fully seamless experience, similar to Breath of the Wild. The overworld isn't segmented to single screens any longer, like it used to be on the GameBoy, and it's also not split into areas like A Link Between Worlds. Instead Koholint is one big area, where it keeps scrolling all the time for an impressive experience. You can always peak beyond the borders of your current area and see how everything is connected, which wasn't possible in the original game and just makes the world feel much more coherent and alive.

Link standing in the middle of Mabe Village

However, this came at a price. When on the overworld the frame rate can take a hit here and there, especially when it's loading other areas or when there are many effects going on. This shouldn't be something that will kill the enjoyment of the game, but it's still noticeable, while there also can be some visible flickering.

The dungeons and caves always run at smooth 60FPS, however, and even make use of the scrolling for larger, connected rooms. However, small chambers still make use of the screen-based scrolling of the original to not break puzzles and the like, where even the new Chamber Dungeons are entirely made out of these individual rooms.

Other than the ingame graphics, there are also animated cutscenes for the intro and ending of the game. This was done in anime style, which tries to replicate the drawn scenes from the original game, but also feels reminiscent of the style of Akira Himekawa's Zelda manga. They are really nice, but for some reason they don't run fluidly, which is here a lot more distracting than any of the frame drops on the overworld...


Music and Sound


One word: beautiful. The GameBoy original had fantastic music, where for the remake Ryo Nagamatsu returns after his excellent work for both A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes on the Nintendo 3DS. And again he did a great job, where his re-arrangements range from quirky to absolutely epic. He engaged a small orchestra for this, which fits the simple 8-Bit music from the original very well.

Manbo performing his song

For the most part the soundtrack of the remake is very faithful, but Ryo Nagamatsu has also taken some liberties here and there. The most notable new pieces are in the Angler's Tunnel and the Face Shrine, the Level 4 and 6 dungeons, where some amazing new tracks have been interwoven with the old GameBoy music. Especially the soundtrack for the Face Shrine more epic than ever and adds a tremendous weight to this part of the game.

On other ends the renditions can get a little bit silly or over the top, where for example you have cats and dogs singing the music in Animal Village. It fits the place and it sounds funny, but it might not be to everyone's liking. Some of the re-arrangements might also sound not as powerful as their counterparts on the GameBoy, like for example the new mini-boss music, which sounds less threatening as a result.

The new music (like for the Chamber Dungeon and one of the mini-games) also seems quite good, but is not necessarily on par with the compositions from the original. Especially the Chamber Dungeon music can get repetitive, if you're spending more time with the feature.

The sound effects are for the most part top-notch, but like with the music some of them can feel quite weak when compared to the GameBoy version. There the bosses and mini-bosses would release a metallic scream, whenever you hit them, and using either a Piece of Power or the Red Mail would throw enemies all over the screen with a powerful sound. This isn't true for the remake, where hitting enemies sometimes just sounds like cutting cardboard... But the rest of it is really good, like the iconic compass sound, Link playing the Ocarina or the nice, little pick-up melody for Secret Seashells.


Controls and Interface


As much as you could improve the graphics and sounds for the remake, there was an equal amount of potential to update both the controls and the user interface of the GameBoy original, which only had two buttons available for its actions. Link's Awakening was the first Zelda game to let you take off your sword and shield, so you could use other items in combination. But even for actions like jumping, lifting and running you had to equip the corresponding item, where as a result you had to open the inventory a lot to swap items.

Naturally, the Nintendo Switch version can make use of more buttons and therefore gives a good chunk of the items its dedicated input. Sword, Shield, Pegasus Boots and Power Bracelet are now always equipped and don't need to be swapped, which is very practical. However, the Roc's Feather is still one of the normal items, which have to be assigned to either the X or Y buttons. And since the Roc's Feather is essentially your jump button, you'll want to have it equipped most of the time, where you still keep going into the inventory quite a lot for the other items...

At the same time there would have been more room for additional inputs, so the game could have made things even more comfortable. Link's Awakening doesn't support single Joy-cons, but outside of the Chamber Dungeon menus the two Z shoulder buttons have the same usage as the respective L and R button: for the Pegasus Boots and Shield. And here it would have been a good idea to use the Z buttons either for additional item slots or jumping. Overall the game is lacking any configurations for the controls, where there could have been more options to let players control the game as they prefer it.

Also, the D-Pad isn't supported outside of menus as well, so only the Analog Stick can be used for walking. This would be understandable, if you could walk around freely in 360°, like you could in A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes, but like in the GameBoy original Link's movement is limited to eight directions. This feels a little bit weird at first, but you get used to it quickly and that the items also only work in eight directions feels more natural now than in did in the Nintendo 3DS Zelda games. But in any case the game should have supported the D-Pad for movement.

screenshot of the inventory menu

The user interface has taken a page from Breath of the Wild and went for its flat design, which looks pretty good and feels modern, but retains the sound effects of the original.

The remake also adds an auto-save feature, which is nice to have. There are still three save slots like on the GameBoy, but you can always save to any slot, similar to Twilight Princess. And when you are about to save, it doesn't show you the file number, where you have to worry about not overwriting an old save... This might feel like a nitpick, but accidentally deleting your previous 100% file certainly won't be a small issue, if that ever happens to you.


The biggest changes to the interface probably happened on the map, though. It's now super detailed to a point, where you can even see single rocks on it. It also marks important locations like dungeons or houses and like in Breath of the Wild you can put your own markers on it, but these mostly serve as reminders, because you don't have a mini-map in the game.

You can also recall important information, mostly what the Owl had to say at certain points (which was also possible on the GameBoy map) and the directions from the Instruments of the Sirens. But in addition there are maps that show you all the locations, where you've found Secret Seashells and Pieces of Hearts, which leads us to the next topic...


Seashells and Hearts


A Link to the Past introduced the first real collectible item to the Zelda series with the Pieces of Heart, where Link's Awakening on the GameBoy followed this trend and added another collectible on top with the Secret Seashells. There were 12 Pieces of Heart and 26 Secret Seashells to find in the original, where the remake has added to both of these counts. This is even the first time that collectible quests have been expanded like this and this helped adding more to the environments, especially places that have been near empty in the original.

As for the Pieces of Hearts, there are now 32 of them to get, 20 more than in the original. And this shows, because you can find them pretty much everywhere now. It even feels a little bit too much, because you can find them in almost every cave and you can stock up on additional Heart Containers (for a new maximum of 20) quite early in the game.

Finding the 12 Pieces of Hearts in the original felt much more special and rewarding than it now does in the remake. It was also harder, because some of them were quite obscurely hidden. In the remake you can now spot the sunken Piece of Hearts thanks to the new water graphics and cave walls that can be bombed now always have cracks on them... But now that they are easier to find, it only adds to the Heart Piece overkill.


It probably would have been a good idea to add even more Secret Seashells instead, because they are always fun to find and are usually not as easy to spot as the Pieces of Hearts – in fact they are always hidden in some way. There are 50 of them now in total, where the remake has added 26 of them. Yes, that means two of the original Secret Seashells are gone, but it's the two that used to be missable bonus rewards in the Seashell Mansion, which now offers a proper reward system, where you can't miss anything.

The better sword is still there and now takes twice as many Secret Seashells to get it, but you can still achieve this at the same point in the game. One of the new rewards is the Seashell Sensor, which vibrates and gives an acoustic and icon-based signal (similar to the Compass) whenever there is a seashell nearby. That makes finding all the seashells much, much easier, but luckily you can always turn the thing off, if you want to find them the old-fashioned way for a challenge.

With or without the sensor, it's fun to look for all the new hidden secrets all over Koholint, where there can be something new in every corner of this compact, little game world. And the remake really does a good job at adding secrets to places that didn't have any before. If you have played the GameBoy original and thought in certain locations that there had to be something hidden, but couldn't find anything, chances are there is now something there in the remake. And this is really satisfying. The only real complaint about the seashells is that there could have been even more of them and that the other rewards for them might feel somewhat lackluster.

In any case, whenever you find a Secret Seashell or a Piece of Heart, it would have been nice, if the game showed you the current total, like it did in Breath of the Wild with the Korok Seeds and Spirit Orbs. Instead you have to always open the inventory afterwards, which is inconvenient.

The photo quest from Link's Awakening DX does not return in the remake, as already mentioned earlier. A few of the photo events have been preserved, but you can't collect the pictures any longer. But since some of these pictures could be missed and one even required you to steal from the shop, this isn't necessarily a bad change for completionists.

It should also be noted that there is nothing missable in the remake at all, so everything can still be found at the end. Even the original GameBoy version had some Secret Seashells and one owl speech that could only be gotten at certain points, but all of this has been fixed in the remake, which is awesome.

Link crossing the holes at the castle moat with the Flying Rooster

And while the photos are gone now, the remake has added certain other collectibles instead: three Fairy Bottles, 10 Super Mario figurines and 14 Chamber Stones want to be obtained now in addition. But more on these later in the review, because for the most part those are connected to the island's main attractions, like the mini-games...


Mini-Games


A huge focus of the remake was updating the three mini-games on Koholint: the Trendy Game, the fishing and the Rapids Ride. In the original those offered some neat ideas and felt like a big step up from the simple gambling and target practice attractions in A Link to the Past. But they still didn't have much to offer, where you might have only played them once to be done with them. But now all of them were modernized with new mechanics and have plenty of rewards to offer, including two Pieces of Hearts and two Secret Seashells per mini-game, as well as the new Chamber Stones.

The Trendy Game probably got the biggest makeover here. The conveyor belt is gone and instead you have two moving platforms with items on them and three stationary items. This sounds much easier at first, but the crane itself now is completely based on physics, where the items can escape its grasp. And this can sometimes be frustrating, but once you get the hang of it, it's quite fast and fun and adds a nice diversion for in-between.

screenshot of the Trendy Game with a Goomba figurine on a moving platform

Luckily, they've added many new rewards to the Trendy Game. The original only had the Yoshi Doll, where here they've added two Pieces of Hearts, two Secret Seashells and one of the new Chamber Stones.

And because this wouldn't be nearly enough, there are now ten more Super Mario figurines to get after the Yoshi Doll, all based on the various Mario enemy cameos in Link's Awakening, like the Goomba or a Piranha Plant. Those can be placed on pedestals in the houses of Mabe Village and a new one unlocks after every major boss in the game, which gives you a reason to return to the Trendy Game after every major dungeon. This also makes this the mini-game with the biggest number of rewards in the entire Zelda series!

The fishing received a similar overhaul, where there's now some strategy involved to reeling in the fish, while there are three new types of fish and several new prices to get. Next to the obligatory Pieces of Hearts, Secret Seashells and Chamber Stones this includes two additional lures, which are sinking faster.

the new fishing pond with all five different type of fish

The new fish include the two cameos from the Super Mario universe and start appearing after dungeon 4, where like the Trendy Game the fishing gets gradually expanded, though not as often. Reeling in the Cheep-Cheeps and Bloopers can be more challenging, at first even somewhat frustrating, but like with the Trendy Game it's fun enough once you get the hang of it. It does go overboard with the rumble of your controller, however, where it's best to turn it off for the fishing and rely on the visual cues instead.

If a special fish is present right at the start, the pond will show a glowing, blue circle on the overworld to attract your attention. But unlike in the original new fish will keep entering the pond to replace the ones you've caught, where even the special fish can appear after a while, so there is no need for your to re-enter the pond, like for example in Majora's Mask 3D (also made by GREZZO). This alone is a huge improvement over all the fishing games in previous Zelda games, where for the first time you can just keep fishing to get everything eventually.

Last but not least, the Rapids Ride mini-game got updated as well. It now comes in two variants, the classic "Rapids Raid", where you collect any items in the area, and the new "Rapids Race", where you need to drive down the river as fast as possible. Both of these profit from another big change in the mini-game: you can now use the Hookshot to pull yourself to any of the trees. Also, you can now instantly replay the mini-game, once you've arrived at the bottom.

Link on a raft in the middle of the Rapids Ride

In the original there wasn't anything to get in the Rapids Ride other than Rupees, where the main reason to play the mini-game was to fill out all squares on your map. But naturally they've added Pieces of Hearts and the like now to give you a proper incentive to play both variants of the mini-game multiple times. Unlike the two mini-games in Mabe Village, where new rewards get unlocked after clearing dungeons, there is no reason to ever return to the Rapids Ride once you've cleared everything.

Overall the remake did a good job of upgrading the mini-games, where most of it is a lot of fun and gives you something more to do in between the dungeons. So, the remake of Link's Awakening is certainly one of the better examples when it comes to mini-games in the series.


Warp Points


Another important change to the game can be found with the warp system. On the GameBoy there only have been four warp points in total, which you accessed one after the other. If you stepped into one, you were sent to the next. In addition there was Manbo's Mambo, a warp song that teleported you to Manbo's Pond, right at Crazy Tracy's house, or back to the entrance inside a dungeon.

While all of this was sufficient, it has been improved greatly in the remake. Whenever you now enter a warp point now, you will be able to select your destination on a map. And playing Manbo's Mambo now lets you teleport to any warp point from anywhere, bringing up the same map menu. Getting the song also turns Manbo's Pond into a normal warp point as well.

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

There are also five new hidden warp points for a total of ten. All of these are in very useful locations, like Dampé's Shack, the Seashell Mansion and the west bay. However, while the mountains have gotten two more warp points as well, those can only be accessed very late in the game, so that you still need to cross the first, long mountain cave to get back to the central mountain area multiple times throughout the game. If this location had one more warp point, it would be perfect.


Other Environmental Changes


For the most part the game stayed remarkably faithful to the original, almost on a tile-by-tile basis. While everything looks much more detailed, it's still all in the same spots. Well, almost. GREZZO has taken some liberties here and there, but most of it was to improve the game in various way, e.g. to make things look prettier, to add the new warp points or to avoid issues.

For example there was a Secret Seashell that could only be gotten with the Flying Rooster in the original, making it missable. Now this can be gotten with the Hookshot, which is also required to enter the Signpost Maze now, since you need this item to solve the puzzle there.

An apple tree, a warp point and Dampé in the Ukuku Prairie

An interesting change on the overworld is that there are now apples on certain trees. This was taken from A Link Between Worlds and like in that game there are red and green variants, where the green apples are rarer and healthier.

A nice mechanic change to the dungeon also keeps any locked doors open, once you've already cleared the rooms before. In the original you were sometimes forced to beat certain enemies again and again, if you went through the same rooms multiple times. But now the doors stay open, which is very convenient and saves you some time.

Another notable change comes with the cracked walls that can be destroyed via bombs. On the GameBoy many of them had the visible cracks only on one side, so that certain rooms were harder to find, but in the remake pretty much all bombable walls now have cracks on them. The only exceptions are inside Level 3 and the hidden shortcuts in Level 8...

While some of these cracked walls can be still difficult to spot, always showing the cracks kind of goes against the idea of secret rooms. This effectively turns them into another type of door instead of being a hidden passage that you need to find methodically. With the Pieces of Hearts in certain caves this is fully understandable and even a good change, because you don't really want to check every single cave wall in the game with your sword to make sure that you didn't miss anything. But inside certain dungeons this ruins some good puzzles.

screenshot of a chamber inside the Face Shrine

The worst offender here is easily Level 6, the Face Shrine. The entire main puzzle of this dungeon revolved around two secret rooms in the "eyes of the map", hidden behind walls that can be blown up, but don't show any visible cracks. Not only does the remake blatantly spoil the existence of these rooms on the map screen now, it also shows cracks where you need to proceed, which makes solving this dungeon for first timers way too easy. The same is also true for the hidden crystal switch in Level 8.

And such changes, where the game was made needlessly easier, are certainly a shame, since the original game was already quite easy. Which brings us to...


Enemies


Link's Awakening never really has been a hard game and the remake didn't change this for sure with its reworked enemies. On some ends it made things tougher, on other ends it became easier. One example would be the Moblins or similar foes, which use either spear or sword and shield. The spear variants have become much more dangerous, since they now actively target you and keep their distance from you. At the same time the enemies with sword and shield can now easily be defeated by blocking them.

It's similar for the bosses. Some of them were made easier with the most notable example being Moldorm: the chamber is now bigger and there are cracked floors above the abysses on the sides, so you don't fall off as easily. Most people might not ever notice that the fight can reset by that and the Evil Eagle fight now won't reset at all... if you fall down now, you will potentially land on some spikes instead and he will keep spamming feathers, until you get back up.

Link defeats the Evil Eagle with his Boomerang

Some (mini-)bosses on the other hand got buffed, mainly by acting more aggressively or by taking more hits. They are all still quite easy to beat, however, despite the buffs. It's good that the remake stays faithful enough that it didn't alter the bosses in bad ways like GREZZO did in Majora's Mask 3D. But at the same time some tougher challenges would have been nice here and there.

However, the main reason why the bosses are still too easy is because the enemies have little to no invulnerability frames. You can hit them in rapid succession with your sword, where each hits gets registered. This way the bosses can have all the health in the world – it won't help them, if you can hit like a machine gun. A Link Between Worlds had a similar problem, but at least the enemies aren't stun locked by your attacks any longer. This means a Hinox can still charge right through your attacks, making them a big threat in the remake, where they have become even more aggressive with their grab attacks.

Also, some of the bosses can't be defeated easily any longer, because some of the items have been nerfed...


Items


On the GameBoy you could only use two items at the time, which is why items like the Hookshot did act as a proper replacement for the sword and could potentially even kill bosses in a few hits. This isn't fully the case in the remake any longer, where for example the Hookshot now only stuns enemies – even small ones like the Keese. But the Hookshot got it the worst, where at least the Boomerang, which is like a secret weapon in this game, is still quite deadly and useful. It doesn't one-shot certain bosses any longer, however.

Apropos Boomerang, in the remake you don't have to give up one of your items for it any longer. You still need to trade the Shovel at first, but you can buy it back for 300 Rupees. And with the many new Secret Seashells the Shovel will even stay useful much longer.

The upgraded sword will now also break pots, which is very handy, while the Mirror Shield now returns all projectiles, potentially killing the sender. The Red and Blue Mail from the GameBoy Color version are still available, but they have been balanced differently and you can now also get back the green tunic at any time. All nice little tweaks to the existing items.

Also, there are now three new items to be found in your inventory in the form of Fairy Bottles. Like with empty bottles from other Zelda games you can use them to store and release fairies. However, that's their only use in this game. The fairies will heal seven hearts and won't work automatically this time – you still have the Secret Medicine for this.

Speaking of, like in the DX version you can find a chest with a Secret Medicine in each of the last three dungeons. But unlike the DX version you will put the medicine back into the chest, if you already have one in your inventory. Like with the Rupees in the original versions of Twilight Princess, this can be quite annoying, if you want to clear your dungeon maps from all chests...

Anyway, in the normal game the new Fairy Bottles probably won't see any use from experienced players, so they are first and foremost a way to get the inventory back to twelve slots, which makes it look more even. However, they can be quite useful in the new Hero Mode...


Hero Mode


Almost every new Zelda game comes with an extra difficulty mode these days (the only exception since Skyward Sword has been Majora's Mask 3D), where the remake of Link's Awakening offers a simple "Hero Mode" right from the start, similar to Twilight Princess HD, just without the flipped map. Whenever you start a new save file, you can choose between Normal and Hero Mode, where the latter adds a little boss icon to the file and the bottom left of the screen.

Link standing in front of Moldorm's lair in Hero Mode

In Hero Mode you will receive double damage and you won't find any hearts, apples or fairies with a few exceptions. If you want the latter for your Fairy Bottles, which are now suddenly very useful, you now have to visit one of the three Fairy Fountains inside caves... But that mini-bosses don't leave fairies any longer, doesn't really make Hero Mode any more difficult, only more inconvenient. If you want to heal after any of the mini-boss fights, you will now have to leave the dungeon, find a Great Fairy and then return.

Overall this Hero Mode suffers from the same problem as the ones before: it only makes the early game tougher. Later on the increase in difficulty is hardly noticeable, especially after you can got the Blue Mail from the Color Dungeon, which effectively negates the double damage. And the removal of apples and fairies kind of makes it feel there is missing something.

A better way to increase the difficulty would have been to alter the dungeons or to increase the amounts of enemies. For the latter the game even offers a mechanic, where existing enemies can be doubled inside the Chamber Dungeon, with the "+Monsters Effect". If Hero Mode were to apply this effect to the entire game, it would already have been a lot more interesting.


Postgame


The remake of Link's Awakening now lets you save after the credits, where similar to Breath of the Wild the save file will have a star on it. It also then shows the total of Pieces of Hearts and Secret Seashells inside the memories, which is a minor change, but might be useful for someone, who is completing the game for the first time.

This post-game also lets you obtain the last figurine in the Trendy Game for some reason, which then also gives you the "+Monsters Effect" for the Chamber Dungeon, where it's not possible to 100% complete the game until after defeating the final boss... Speaking of, saving after the final boss would have been perfect for adding contents from the Windfish's Egg to the big new feature of remake: the Chamber Dungeon. But this doesn't happen...


The Chamber Dungeon


The Chamber Dungeon is without a doubt the biggest addition to the remake of Link's Awakening and you might be expecting a large section about this feature at this point in this review. But since this is such a huge addition and it feels so much like a game within a game, Hyrule Blog will publish its own, separate Chamber Dungeon Review right afterwards.


Conclusion


The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the Nintendo Switch is a finely crafted remake, which should satisfy most fans of the original and let others experience the GameBoy classic for the first time with a beautiful new livery. It's for the most part a very faithful remake, carefully recreating the world of Koholint by every square, while at the same time it isn't afraid to take liberties to improve the game on all ends, like with the fully updated mini-games.

The only real complaints lie in the occasional performance drops on the overworld and the lack of control options. There are also some things left to say about the new Chamber Dungeon, but this feature will be discussed in its own review.

The Good:
  • Faithful remake
  • Smooth gameplay
  • Beautiful visuals
  • Solid soundtrack
  • Improved controls
  • Auto saves
  • Many new Secret Seashells and Pieces of Hearts
  • Updated mini-games
  • Trendy Game figurine collection
  • No missable rewards / items
  • Better warp system

The Bad:
  • Occasional frame drops on the overworld
  • Some sounds feel weak compared to the original
  • No D-Pad support for walking
  • No dedicated jump button
  • Bosses are still too easy
  • Uninspired Hero Mode

The Nitpicks:
  • Early mountains could use another warp point
  • The main puzzle of the Face Shrine got removed
  • Secret Medicine now blocks chests when you already have some