Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spirit Tracks EU Cover

This looks awesome, way better than the US version. It's also the first cover for a Zelda game with Zelda actually on it, not counting the CD-i games. But she looks a little pale. However, I especially enjoy the landscape with the tower and ice mountains in the background. The whole cover has a feeling of exploration to it and exploration is probably the most important factor in a Zelda game. The cover makes me wanna explore this new Hyrule (or whatever the land is called). Talking about that, according to Kit Ellis of Nintendo of America you will be able to lay out your own tracks later in the game and explore the overworld that way.

The tower in the background is huge. I mean really huge, just look at the mountains in comparison. I wonder, what's up with that. Worst case scenario would be an upward variant of the Ocean King Temple. But since a Phantom is on our side now, I at least hope, that there won't be any stealth action involved.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dark Link in The Minish Cap

My streak about curious things in The Minish Cap continues. This time it's about the Dark Link glitch. To perform this, simply go to Mama's Cafe and use one of the three Charms given by the Oracles. Your colors will glitch, Link will wear a orange tunic, will have grey skin and orange eyes. It looks a little bit like Dark Link, which why it is called Dark Link glitch. It only works in Mama's Cafe and only if you stay inside the room.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2D Zelda, Super Guide and User Generated Content

Miyamoto gave a little conference in New York yesterday and mostly talked about New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which shows some current trends going on at Nintendo. One of it being classic 2D games and the other one the new Demo Play feature (or "Super Guide"). Also, User Generated Content was mentioned. While he hasn't talked about Zelda much, you can speculate which of those trends will have an impact on Zelda.

Spirit Tracks will hit the shelves soon and the small Zelda team is now ready for a new project. And I don't think, they will just make a third Nintendo DS Zelda game, two is enough actually. So, a 2D Zelda game for the Wii would be the perfect choice, since the small Zelda team was the one, who made Four Swords Adventures. While I personally enjoy the overall atmosphere in a 3D Zelda game, I always preferred the 2D Zelda gameplay, so I wouldn't mind it. (With "2D Zelda" I refer to a Zelda game, which has 2D gameplay, the graphics can be 2D or 3D.) But there are many options how a 2D Zelda game for the Wii could be like. I already analyzed two possible options in my The Future of Zelda articles, one was a WiiWare trilogy and the other one was a Four Swords style retail game. But the most important choice would be the following:
  • 2D Zelda for WiiWare
  • or as full retail Wii game
WiiWare has the advantage, that the games are cheaper and that you could regularly provide new content. But they have the overall disadvantage, that you could never put as many content in them as in a retail game. And you don't get a nice package. Miyamoto seems to prefer a retail game, he says: My perspective is that the business is, overall, a package-based business. Me personally, I need to have a physical product. Also, Nintendo gets more money from retail games, a lot of people, who own a Wii, don't even use the online services or buy the games on them. Which is why Nintendo recently tries to lure people with free applications like Flipnote Studio or the Internet Channel and even promotes people, who help other people to go online with their Wiis. So, I think Nintendo will go the retail way with a 2D Wii Zelda, but there are still many options, how the game could look like.
  • a classic Zelda experience
  • a multiplayer focused Zelda (like Four Swords Adventures)
  • a Zelda relying on User Generated Content
  • a combination of the above
Well, I talked about another multiplayer focused Zelda already (here) and I'm not a friend of the "make your own Zelda"-Zelda idea or User Generated Content games in general. Don't get me wrong, I really like level editors and I still think, that a Stage Builder in Spirit Tracks would be a good idea, but these editors should always be just an addition to a real game and not the game itself. A level editor for New SMB Wii definitely would be awesome, but a standalone Mario level editor ala Little Big Planet would probably be a failure, because it's lacking real content. Some people might enjoy building new levels for their favorite games, but they do that, because they love those games and want new content for them. But the level building can never be the game itself and I'm shocked, that Nintendo hasn't realized that already. Also, it's never too much fun to play other people's selfmade levels and maps. There are a few exceptions, that look like professional content, but overall you get crap. Especially when the level editors are very easy to use. Just look at the thousands of SSB Brawl stages out there, how many of them are actually worth a download? It's fun to create your own stages and play them, but you won't spent much time on checking out the stages made by other people. And even if you do, you will agree, that official content is always the best.

With Zelda it gets even more complicated. While building levels for Mario games probably will turn out to be quite easy, building Zelda levels (like in the Four Swords games) is a different story. Small multiplayer stages for a simple Battle Mode won't be a problem, but if you start like building dungeons with complex puzzles and triggers the whole thing could become very complicated and turn into a little RPG Maker project. Not speaking about making an entire Zelda game with this kind of software. So, I personally would rule out the idea of a Zelda game relying on User Generated Content alltogether. Maybe there will be some sort of level editor to build simple levels as a support for a multiplayer mode, but we won't get a "Little Big Zelda", it just wouldn't work.

Last point on the list is Demo Play or "Super Guide", which is how it is called by now. You recently hear a lot of positive feedback about that, because New SMB Wii seems to be much harder than Nintendo games used to be for a while. The game relies on the multiplayer aspect and Super Guide to support new gamers. In multiplayer experienced players are able to help the inexperienced ones and if nothing helps, Super Guide comes to the rescue. To activate this feature, you have to die eight times at first and then a Super Guide block will appear. If you hit this block, the game will take control of your character and show you, how to get over the obstacles. But you can always take over again, if you want, and the demo won't show you any hidden secrets. The important point here is, that you just can't use this feature all the time, you really have to suck or else it won't be activated. You also will get an achievement, if you never used Super Guide. And more importantly, Nintendo doesn't have to make their games supereasy again, which is good news for all the unchallenged Mario and Zelda veterans out there. But with Zelda this is again a little more complicated, Miyamoto even pointed this out in the current interview:

Let's use Zelda as an example, introducing it [Super Guide] opens up a Pandora's Box: do we solve the puzzles, do we show how to solve it in order to make them understand it, do we show the whole solution? It can be a difficult system, but we do see some value in it.

Demo Play most likely won't play through the entire game, especially in a 3D Zelda. I guess, that Demo Play will only be available for bosses and certain puzzle segments. And of course you would have to die a number of times while fighting the same boss or spent a considerable amount of time in a dungeon without any progress to activate Super Guide. As for the question where to go next you can still use traditional ingame guide features like maps or a talking fairy. There's no need for Super Guide to play through the entire game. But right now I think this could be a good solution to the difficulty issue (this and new kinds of puzzles).

Source: IGN

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Navi Trackers (Tetra's Trackers)

After the BS Zeldas special, I thought it is worth taking a look at another Japan-exclusive Zelda installment: Navi Trackers. It's even based on another set of BS-X games, which was one of Eiji Aonuma's earliest projects, called Marvelous. There were three games in total, a singleplayer title on the Super Nintendo, but also two Broadcast Satellaview titles, where you had to collect stamps in a specific order. And this is where the idea for Navi Trackers came from.

It is a third game mode in Four Swords Adventures, which is only present in the Japanese (and Korean) version of the game. It was originally planned as a standalone game called "Tetra's Trackers", but then was added to Four Swords Adventures as an additional gametype, next to Hyrulian Adventure and Shadow Battles, probably because this wouldn't have been very successful as a separate game. I've never played it myself, but I did some research about it.

Storywise, it takes place right after The Wind Waker, where Link has to prove himself worthy of being a pirate in Tetra's "Pirate Test". Three other pirates are disguised as Link and battling with him in a little contest. The story is introduced in a nice little opening cinematic, which is quite famous, because screenshots from there were sometimes mistaken for a Four Swords 3D game:

Navi Trackers is more or less the closest thing to a Zelda party game there is. The gameplay is about treasure hunting and collecting medals and there's no sword fighting involved. All of the gameplay takes entirely place on the players' GameBoy Advance screens, the TV screen shows a map of the current level and the Navigator, who hosts the game.

Normally, the Navigator is Tetra, but you can also unlock Sue-Belle (the pot carrying girl from Outset), or the yelling Red King of Lions. The Navigators and all the other characters, who appear on the TV screen, are fully voice acted. They are also able to spell your name written in Hiragana, which is believed to be the reason why the game wasn't released outside of Japan. But there were older screenshots of the English version from E3 2003, which show, that it was planned to simply use a letter of the alphabet for each player like "Mr. T" or "Ms. A" in the English version. So, the real reason, why Navi Trackers was excluded from the US and European versions, is unknown.

E3 2003 versionfinal Japanese version

In the game you have to visit the pirates, who are carrying flags with numbers on them, in the correct order up to 100. This gives you medals and you can also collect up to four "Lucky Stars", which multiply the value of your medals and make you walk faster (similar to the Pegasus Seeds in Four Swords). To get the medals you have to pay three rupees for them, but the number of rupees is later multiplied by the Lucky Stars.

There are several items to help you including the Magic Hammer, Roc's Feather, Pegasus Boots, Shovel, Magic Cape, Warp Balloon, Pirate's Charm, or the Unlucky Pot. The latter is used to blind the other players, but you can also hit them with normal pots or the Magic Hammer, if you like. When you get hurt, you will loose rupees. With the Pirate's Charm you can ask the Navigator to help you. There is also a series of minigames, one randomly chosen minigame is played at the game start as a chance to get some items. And others are played during the game, hosted by the amazing Salvatore on the TV screen.

There are 12 different maps in the game, which have to be unlocked one after another. Each level also has a Secret Seashell. Every of those hidden shells unlocks additional features for the game like minigames, the other Navigators or the Expert Mode.

The nice thing is that you can actually play this alone against the clock or against a CPU controlled Tingle, unlike Shadow Battles or the original Four Swords, which are both not playable in Singleplayer. The GameBoy Advance graphics are quite beautiful and with the exception of the Link sprites absolutely unique in the series, so it's even more a shame, that this wasn't released world-wide. It would have been definitely a great addition to Four Swords Adventures. Due to the GBA connection it's also unlikely, that this game will somehow get a rerelease on the Wii, though you could use a Nintendo DS instead. So, this one is probably as lost as the BS Zeldas are.


GBA Screenshots:


GameFAQs Navi Trackers Guide by Tatsumaki13
Zelda-France.com (screenshots)
ZeldaLegends.com Gallery
WWDaYo's Youtube Account

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Third Oracle House in The Minish Cap

OMG, I just found out how to build the house for the last Oracle in The Minish Cap. Here's a screenshot:

Just joking. I made this one in Photoshop and thought it was worth a little blog post, since there haven't been any updates for a while. This is probably one of the most asked questions about The Minish Cap and one of the biggest myths of the game. And that's because it's quite confusing...

You have all three Oracles from Capcom's original Zelda games, Oracle of Ages & Seasons, waiting in the inn to find a new home. And you can get Gorman to rent out the first house and the carpenters to build a second one. But there's no way to build a third home. Gorman observes the spot with the cats and even says in the European version that he could build another house there, if he could get rid of them. But there's no way to get rid of the cats manually and when they are gone at the end of the game, Gorman will be gone as well. It's only natural that a lot of people wonder how to build the third house or why there's none. I've tried to find an answer to the second question, but I haven't found any statements from Capcom about that.

One theory would be that this is basically another reference to the Oracle games. Originally they had planned a trilogy, but one game was scrapped due to the difficulties of connecting three games. So, in the end they could just make two games featuring only two of the Oracle, Din and Nayru. Farore then turned into a side character, the "Oracle of Secrets", who helped you linking both games. So, that only two Oracles can get a new home in The Minish Cap could be a nod to the fact that they scrapped one Oracle game, where the two available houses are even colored red and blue. It might be disappointing for the player that he can only have two of the Oracles, but I guess scrapping one game was very disappointing for Capcom as well.

But you get to choose which Oracles should move into the two open houses and who has to stay at the inn. Every of the Oracles gives you her charm, which is a bottled item that temporarily makes you stronger. Also, Link will be shown in the alternate tunic colors from Four Swords. Din's Charm boosts your attack power, while Nayru's boosts defense, similar to the Red and Blue Armor from Link's Awakening DX or the Red and Blue Ring from the Oracle games. Farore's Charm boosts both, but with lesser power, similar to the Green Ring. I normally choose Din and Nayru, because it's classic, but purple Link looks good, too, while offering a nice middle ground.

If you want, you can use the above screenshot to fool people. But please credit this blog afterwards, if you do.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Metroid Prime Trilogy

You notice a good game, when you don't hesitate to buy it again for another system and have lots of fun replaying it. Metroid Prime Trilogy offers three of those games on one disc. By now I've completed all three games at 100% and unlocked all of the extras with the exception of the Corruption soundtrack and some minor artwork. And allthough I've already played the previous versions of all three games, it was a great experience.

Of course the most important addition is the new control scheme for both GameCube games. In Japan Prime and Echoes are simply part of the New Play Control! series, but luckily Nintendo of Europe and America decided to release the Trilogy instead. The upgraded controls are very simple, it's basically just the aiming via the pointer and flipping the Wiimote to activate the Spring Ball while being in Morphball mode. There are no other big motion controls like throwing the Nunchuk for the Grapple Lasso or interacting with the environment with your Wiimote in Corruption, but that's fine. And the controls make the games much more easier. You don't have to target everything manually, which saves time, and some of the Morphball puzzles get a lot easier thanks to the Spring Ball, best example is the Energy Tank in Transport Tunnel A in the Magmoor Caverns. Overall the difficulty of the first two games was reduced a little, the new "Normal Mode" is more like an Easy Mode. But since I have beaten the games on the GameCube, which was quite challenging for me, I don't mind this as well. This way I could enjoy the second trip through the games much more and I was able to focus more on getting a complete Logbook collection, which I haven't done before. And there's always the new Hypermode difficulty for all Metroid veterans.

If you beat one of the games, your save state for this game gets erased and you start over from the beginning. But all your Logbook entries are saved, so if you have completed your Logbook in your first playthrough, you get a 100% filled Logbook from the start and everything is pre-scanned, which makes replaying the games even more relaxing. And if you've missed something, you just have to focus on the missing parts and not on the other scans. It's basically like the 2nd Quest in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where you keep your Minintendo figurines and where it's easier to finish your collection. And completing your Logbook can be a challenging task, especially in Corruption. There you have like 10 different, exotic Space Pirate types like the Armored Shield Trooper, that you can potentially miss. Every time you encounter Space Pirates, you basically swap to the Scan Visor first instead of blasting them to Pirate Hell immediately. Or the bosses in Echoes, where every single body part can be a different Logbook entry, can bother you as well. But I don't have to worry that about anymore, because my Logbooks are filled and they stay that way for the next time, when I'm going to replay these games. Nice.

The scans are also important for the credits. Both Prime and Echoes now use the credit system from Corruption for unlocking bonus content like artwork, a complete soundtrack, dioramas, a screenshot tool and extras like the Fusion Suit for Prime and the Ship Bumper Stickers and the Mii Bobble Head for your gunship in Corruption. However, the credit system for Prime and Echoes is much simpler than the one for Corruption. You collect orange credits for beating bosses in Prime and purple credits for bosses in Echoes. Additionally there are silver credits for collecting the Chozo Artifacts and Sky Temple Keys and for completing your Logbook. Completing both games once on any difficulty level is enough to unlock all the bonus content for the games including the Fusion Suit. Unlike for Corruption you're not forced to play through the games in Hypermode again or to trade those stupid, annoying Friend Vouchers (thanks again to RossMadden and Howser1994 from GameFAQs/Gamespot forums for trading with me).

All three games got a global main menu with a nice new music track using the pointer controls similar to the menu in Corruption. However, the ingame menus of the GameCube games and the menu of the multiplayer mode remain the same and don't use the pointer, Nintendo really should have updated those menus too. Additionally an option to swap the menu style would have been nice. The Japanese New Play Control! versions got their own new menus similar to the original menus from the GameCube versions, which could have been easily included. They could have added them as an unlockable bonus and it would have been nice to use the classic style menus, I love the menu and menu music in Prime. But it's not that important, just an idea.

The multiplayer from Echoes works fine, even with a small TV. However, some new leves and online functionality would have been awesome, but I'm happy that they didn't just simply cut it out alltogether.

Overall this is one awesome compilation, definitely one of the best videogame compilations ever next to Super Mario Allstars and Unreal Anthology. If you have missed out one of those games or more, Metroid Prime Trilogy is a must-buy for you. But getting the Trilogy is still worthwhile for someone like me, who has played all three games before. The new controls really add something to both Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and make these games even much better and more enjoyable than they were already.

If you're a Zelda fan and wonder, if you should get this, do it. Zelda and Metroid both share a similar Action Adventure core gameplay. In Metroid you will explore large, coherent worlds and collect new items to proceed into new territories. There are also lots of puzzles and hidden collectibles like Missile Expansions, Energy Tanks and scans, which will keep you busy for a long time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spirit Tracks EU Release Date

Nintendo of Europe has announced their Winter 2009 lineup and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is going to be released on December 11th, four days after the US release and not on the Friday before like I hoped. The same with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which is going to be released on November 20th here. Still, with Spirit Tracks that's only four days, where I have to avoid any Zelda related site and any spoilers on them. We have seen much longer waiting times here.

Right now I'm playing the more than awesome Metroid Prime Trilogy, which will probably keep me entertained until the release of New SMB Wii, which then should keep me entertained until the release of Spirit Tracks.

Also, Nintendo is celebrating its 120th birthday right now, the company was founded on September 23, 1889. This could lead to an interesting press conference this month.

Source: Nintendo of Europe