Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland

As I promised at the beginning of this year, here's my review about the most bizarre installment of the Zelda series (not counting the CD-i games), Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland or just "Tingle RPG" in short. This game was released for the Nintendo DS some time before Phantom Hourglass hit the shelves, but it came out in Japan and Europe only, since the game wasn't very successful and the Americans aren't the biggest Tingle fans in the world. Well, I live in Europe, so I guess that's not a problem for me. It was developed by Vanpool, which is the second time Nintendo employed a third party developer to create a Zelda related game since Capcoms handheld Zeldas. I won this game on a German Zelda quiz, otherwise I probably wouldn't have played it, since I was a huge Tingle hater. That changed however in the moment I laid my hands on this game.

Well, what's the goal of this game? You start as a lazy character, you can name yourself, but who gets then turned into a "Tingle" by Mr. Rupee, who tells him the tale about rupeeland, where he swims in money, never has to work again and where beautiful women fall for him. Well, this is enough motivation to get on your feet and make your way to Rupeeland. For this you have to feet a magical tower with lots and lots of rupees, causing it to grow larger, so you can reach new territories after each step with your balloons. On the other hand after becoming a Tingle rupees are your life energy. If you loose all your rupees, you die. However, this game comes up with some awesome plot twists and it explains, where Tingle's weird behaviour comes from, including his love for rupees and fairies, as well as his catch phrase "Kooloo-Limpah". And it's all freaking hilarious, if you still hate Tingle after playing this piece of art, something is seriously wrong with you.

Rupeeland actually feels like a Zelda game except for the facts, that you're playing Tingle, that the combat system is quite different and you have this weird bargaining system. In terms of controls and graphics this game is pretty much the opposite of Phantom Hourglass. You control Tingle with the D-Pad and interact with the environment by touching things with the Stylus. Basically you just do "clicking", this game is not as touchpad intense as Phantom Hourglass is. Also, most of the graphics are in 2D, except for some boss battles and cutscenes. The 2D graphics are all nicely made and the environments look fine. I think, people who prefer a classical 2D Zelda over Phantom Hourglass are going to like this. The music is actually quite good, if there's one. Most of the overworld areas in the game only have some kind of an introduction fanfare, but then it switches to ambient sound effects. But most of them sound like they came from the Nintendo 64 Zeldas, which produces a very special atmosphere, even if there's no music.

What makes "Tingle RPG" different from a Zelda game are these weird combat and bargaining systems, maybe deterring the diehard Zelda fans, so let's begin with those. Fighting isn't done like in Zelda, you basically drag enemies in a cartoony dust cloud battle and click on it to support Tingle or his bodyguards in the fight. Since Tingle isn't the strongest fighter, you have to hire bodyguards to do most of the dirty jobs. The trick, which makes this whole combat system actually very addicting, is to drag as many enemies as possible into one single cloud, because the spoils and profits become much better then. The more enemies you defeat in one battle, the more and rarer items you get. The bargaining system on the other hand isn't as much fun, actually it sucks. Everything in this game has a price, even conversations about special information. But unlike in the games of the main series, you don't get to know the actual price, so you have to bargain. You pay too much rupees, you loose money, you pay too low, you loose even more, because all the bargained money will not be credited. This can be seriously annoying and leads to lots of turning the NDS on and off. Your best chance is using a guide like this one, which shows you all the prices in the game. This saves you a lot of trouble, money and nerves and makes this game actually quite enjoyable.

I already mentioned the bodyguards, there are 30 in the game, while you only can hire one bodyguard at a time. You get them in three times three categories, there are three weight classes and three classes of behavior. There are small, medium and large bodyguards, as well as passive, aggressive and smart ones. So, you get nine different types of bodyguards, which repeat themselves on every of the three continents, which makes 27 in total. A small and passive bodyguard is the cheapest, while a large, smart one will cost the most. You can hire those guys in saloons, where some kind of weird robed race lives, which resembles the Subrosians from Oracle of Seasons. However, the different sized bodyguards have different abilities, a small one can creep in holes and recover treasure chests out of them. Medium bodyguards can open closed doors (there are no keys in dungeons) and heavy bodyguards can destroy certain types of obstacles. So there's a lot of backtracking in Rupeeland, because you have to revisit every dungeon with different types of bodyguards to get all the treasures. Also, there are three more "Drifter Bodyguards", which are hard to get, but are the strongest bodyguards in the game. They don't use potions, you can't hire them in saloons and you can't rehire them, if they loose all their energy, but they are cool and do have some special abilities. Since you keep lists about all your bodyguards, to find all the drifters is basically a sidequest.

Talking about sidequests, let's take a look at the items in the game. There are tools and supply items. Tools are the actual useable items and include a shovel, the Bone Ocarina and 23 bottles. Yes, you heard me, 23 bottles. You can fill up the bottles with lots of stuff, including molotov cocktail style bombs, healing potions for your bodyguards, perfume, sleeping gas, hand potion as well as juices, soups or stews. The latter ones are for selling only, you can earn a lot of rupees by selling these items to the right persons. The Bone Ocarina calls a cursed pirate ship on docks, which crew reminds you of the skeleton pirates in Oracle of Seasons. You can also use the Bone Ocarina to open the ten hidden pirate treasure chests. About the hand potion, this one calls a Wallmaster, which transports you back to the entrance of a dungeon. Much like in Zelda, but this time on actual purpose. The perfumes are inspired from the Scent Seeds in Oracles (again) and help you to lure enemies. All this stuff can be cooked in your cooking pot at home, but you need the recipes. There 31 recipes in the game for pretty much everything including all the stuff I've mentioned above, which means that even the bombs are made from a recipe. You need to collect ingredients for the recipes, which are listed in the supply item menu. There so many of them, you can hardly count them all. There are also other non-ingredient supply items, which can be sold for a lot of rupees to specific persons. For example the blacksmith loves rare weapons from your enemies. Also, drawing maps is part of the sidequests. Of course, since this was Tingle's initial task in Majora's Mask. Well, you basically buy maps and add some missed details to them like special sights by just circling them with your Stylus on the map. Then you can sell the finished product.

Now, the best part about Tingle RPG are the environments and dungeons. You have to discover 11 different regions in total, including a pirate island, the Lon Lon Meadow with its scary alien cows reminding you of the abducted cows in Majora's Mask, the Deku Forest, swamps, an ice island, the large Mt. Desma, the mystical Auros Ruins and Fairy Garden, a beautiful fairy paradise which turned into a deserted wasteland. Every time the tower is growing, a new area can be visited. This may sound very linear at first, but the actual quests on the different islands and areas are totally non-linear. It doesn't even matter, what you do to get enough rupees for the rise, so for example if you want to skip a dungeon, that shouldn't be a problem. Apropos, every second area is home to a dungeon, all of them being well designed and mostly non-linear. I especially liked the Deku Temple with its dramatic remix of Saria's Song as background music, it holds a great atmosphere. Also, the Insect Cavern with its pitchblack rooms and poison gas areas was a real nightmare and the large Desma Labyrinth provided some clever puzzles. I wish, the real Zelda games would have dungeons like that. At the end of each dungeon you will find a large treasure chest, which holds the boss of the dungeon. Each boss has his own unique design and features a different style of gameplay, you can consider the boss fights to be the minigames in Tingle RPG.

There are also some more downsides next to the whole bargaining. First thing is, that you can only save at your house. Well, actually this wasn't an issue for me, since you can get back to your house every time and basically get everywhere from there pretty fast with the help of the tower. The second issue is, that it's sometimes pretty hard to get the required amount of rupees to procede in the game, since the tower starts shrinking after a while. But even this can be handled with the right strategies, so overall I had a lot of fun with this game, especially with its genius sense of humor and its style. For example when you solve a puzzle and your bodyguard takes a subwoofer out and plays the classical Zelda "riddle solved" jingle on it, it definitely puts a smile on your face. This is one of the moments, where the game really shines. Well, I would recommend Rupeeland to every Zelda fan out there, who think, that their Nintendo DS system didn't get too much attention. It's not as good as most of the actual Zelda games, but if you're looking for a new fix, because you've played all the Zelda games up and down, then this is for you. I especially recommend this game to the Tingler haters, because I promise you, he won't annoy you anymore after playing this very bizarre and funny Zelda spin off.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Legend of Princess

Look, what I've found today. This is basically the most awesome Zelda fangame ever made, developed by Joakim Sandberg (Konjak). Meant to be a parody on Zelda, Legend of Princess a side scroller like Zelda II was and it's freakin' funny. If you ever thought, it's a bad thing, that A Link to the Past got away with Link having purple hair, then this is for you. The arcade fighting style is insanely fast and covers a bunch of cool sword moves including the sword wheel, which is some kind of wall climbing spin attack. The 16Bit graphics are gorgeous, everything looks pretty detailed.

There is only one level in this game and it's pretty short. But it has a very high replay value, since it's quite challenging. There is also some kind of difficulty system, since you have to choose two items at the start, but every item provides a different level of challenge. Of course you're always equipped with Sword and Shield, but you can choose an item for range attacks and one more item to increase your jumping ability. The offensive items include a very stylish Boomerang, a Bow and the Bombchus. The movement items are the Roc's Feather, the Hookshot and a Cucco. See, the Roc's Feather is pretty easy to control, it basically allows you to double jump and float, while the Hookshot has to be attached on the ceiling to gain high. And the most difficult one to control is the Cucco. So, you can replay the game with different items whenever you want. In addition during the game you can collect a fairy and imprison her in your bottle for the known purpose, there are no heart containers, so this stays a 3 heart quest. However, I really like the style of the items and everything else, especially the Boomerang looks cool when thrown.

The dungeon is called the Dirt Temple and it holds three bosses, featuring Dark Link, a Phantom Ganon style creature and an "armored monster with crippling weak-point". Those boss battles are all really well made, I wish the current Zelda games had stuff as good as this. Normal enemies include Octoroks, Keese, Tektikes and Zoras, while most of them are actually overworld enemies and not enemies from dungeons in the real Zelda games. Well, I guess that's part of the whole parody as well. There are lots of well hidden treasure chests and your goal is to collect as many rupees as possible to beat the highscore (which reminds me on the BS Zeldas). The only downside are the controls, you can't modify them, and I'm getting confused by doing the walking with the right hand and the action with the left, normally it's the opposite. But seriously, this game is great fun and simply one of the best fanmade Zelda games ever. This should be released on WiiWare, because that would be pure badass.

Click on the link below to find more about this game. You can watch vidoes there and even download it for FREE.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Turok: Rage Wars

Have you ever played a game, that pretty much sucked in everyone's eyes, but you still liked it so much, that you kept playing it? Well, that's the case for me with Turok: Rage Wars, which is pretty much the Unreal Tournament of the Turok series and even was developed in the same year, because Acclaim decided to follow the trend of those arena shooters at this time. So, it was based on the multiplayer mode of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil and focused on multiplayer deathmatch only. The game featured 17 different characters, 20 different weapons, 36 maps and 4 multiplayer gametypes.

Well, where do I start? There were five different ways of playing this game. The Multiplayer, the One Player Trials, Two Player Trials, Time Trials and Frag Fest. The Multiplayer mode let you play with up to three other players or bots. You selected your favorite character, weapons, the map and the rules before the match. Basically the map determined, which gametype was played. There were Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Frag Tag and Capture the Flag. Yes, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch got different maps, which was pretty weird. Frag Tag or "Monkey Tag" was a Deathmatch variant, where one player got turned into a monkey, a chicken or a small dinosaur. He had to reach a platform, which transformed him back into normal and the other players had to kill him. There was also a "retaliation" pick up, which you only could collect as a tag and transformed all other players into tags. Capture the Flag on the other side was one way, there was only one flag and one or two delivery points, no bases. The singleplayer, however, had a different ladder for every character using the maps and gametypes from the multiplayer mode to create different scenarios including up to four bosses. You could unlock new characters and weapons here and collect the minigame icons, which unlocked Time Trial and Frag Fest. The Two Player Trial let you clear the complete mission tree with two players, you could earn a medal for doing so (well, at least in the European version). Time Trial offered the whole ladder, but with time limits for every mission. And Frag Fest featured an insane ladder with nearly impossible to beat scenarios for skilled players.

At the beginning you had only three characters to choose from, but you could unlock 14 more including the boss characters. Unlike in Turok 2 they were basically all the same except for the Raptor, the Mites (some kind of bugs) and Tal'Set. The former two were faster, but had to rely on melee combat only. Tal'Set on the other hand was a Weapon Master, he could carry all weapons in the game, but switching weapons was based on random input. All the other characters had to choose 5 different weapons before the match. Two weapons using bullets, two energy based weapons and one weapon using explosive projectiles. In addition you got the Warhammer as your default melee weapon. The armory included most of the weapons from previous installments as well as some new entries, including the infamous Chest Burster, Napalm Gel, Inflator or the Cerebral Bore. Latter was one of four pick up weapons including the Proximity Mines, the Iron Claw and the Sentry Turret. Next to those the maps contained different sized health pick ups, three different types of ammunition packs and the Power Core. The Power Core was the only power up, but it gave you a random ability, like different shields, Regeneration or Massive Damage. There were 13 different abilites alltogether.

If you'd like to know my favorites, my weapons of choice were the Shotgun, the Minigun, the Rocket Launcher, the Inflator and the Plasma Rifle or the Flare Gun. My favorite characters were Bastille or Tal'Set, both being unlockable boss characters. And my favorite map was Hopeless, you can see the map on the picture above (though with different textures than in the final version). I even tried to remake this map for UT2004, but never finished it. The maps of this game are all pretty simple, but their layout offered a very nice gameplay, so they are totally worth being remade.

So much about the gameplay, what I also really liked about this game and which was different from other arena shooters, was all the unlockable stuff. In the singleplayer you had to unlock weapons and even their secondary fire modes, as well as more health and ammo capacities. You could also unlock 14 new characters for all the game modes there, which was the most encouraging reason to play the singleplayer. And another task was to collect 36 minigame icons to unlock the Time Trial and Frag Fest game modes. But the best is yet to come, the real deal were the 50 medals. Basically you got those for different achievements in all the game modes, mostly in the multiplayer. There was one medal for every map and some special achievements like "Attained 25 frags in 10 minutes" or even funny stuff like "Killing yourself 5 times". It was fun to collect all of those and they gave you new skins for the characters as well as new ranks and even new "cheats". I managed to collect all except for one, which required four controllers to beat, but I only had two. You can see a photo of my collection on the picture above. As you can see I named myself "Majora" at that time, not the most imaginative nickname, I know.

Well, that's it. I had a lot of fun playing this game with friends back in the old times. This was my Perfect Dark, even though I would never dare to compare these two games. I consider Rage Wars to be the best Turok game next to Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, which was the best singleplayer Turok game. But that doesn't really mean anything, since most of the Turok games were all just pieces of crap, especially the not so cool new one using the Unreal Engine 3. However, I hope, you enjoyed reading this rather untypical entry on my blog, see you next time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Smash Bros Brawl Stages IV

Only two stages this time. Made them about a week ago, but didn't feel like creating any new stages.

  • Name: Small Fortress
  • Comment: Small Tower 2
  • Size: Small
  • Music: Preparing to Advance
  • Download

This is a remake of my first stage, "Small Tower", using the mountain theme. I also wanted to create a third version of this stage in the factory theme, however, this somehow let to the idea of the "Sanctuary" stage.

  • Name: Sanctuary
  • Comment: Spacejump Arena
  • Size: Medium
  • Music: Multiplayer (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
  • Download

This arena was built for airfights, the spring at the bottom fires you up in the tunnel, where most of the fighting will happen. It's lots of fun. Music comes from the multiplayer of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and the name of the stage was inspired by the Sanctuary Fortress from the same game.

To play the stages, simply download the files in the \private\wii\app\RSBP\st directory on your SD card. Enjoy.

If you're looking for older stages, just visit the Download section.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Super Smash Bros coming to Virtual Console

Today, on January 20th 2009, Super Smash Bros. was released for the Japanese Virtual Console. It's original launch date was January 21st 1999, exactly 10 years ago, so this can't be coincidental. Hopefully, they will release the game in Europe soon, since I haven't played it on the Nintendo 64, I'm very curious about it. I hope, they don't wait until the corresponding local release dates, because this would mean, we in Europe have to wait until November... well, if the US gets this game at the end of April (on Monday April 27th to be exactly) and Europe not afterwards then I will be definitely concerned.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Smash Bros Brawl Stages III

You see, I love the Stage Builder. Things like that definitely help to keep the game fresh, don't they? So, again I have 5 new stages for you. This pack features some nice successors to previously made stages.

  • Name: Small Tower
  • Comment: -
  • Size: Small
  • Music: Attack
  • Download

This is the first stage, I've ever created. No, wait, actually it isn't. I've made a large stage called "Tower", which was similar to this one, but way too large. So, I deleted it and made this smaller version. It isn't anything special, but if you want to know, how I've started using the Stage Builder, take a look.

  • Name: Laddering Place
  • Comment: -
  • Size: Small
  • Music: Unfounded Revenge
  • Download

Spiritual successor of the Crumbling Place, but this time it's all about ladders. Well, don't let the picture fool you, there are two more ladders on the sides, that got cut off on the image. I prefer to close ladders with a block on the top, because it looks better and it's tricky to jump on the top of the blocks from the ladder.

  • Name: Bouncing Place
  • Comment: -
  • Size: Medium
  • Music: Underground Theme (Super Mario Land)
  • Download

Spiritual successor to both the Crumbling Place and Laddering Place, but this time it's all about jump springs. But like in it's predecessors before, it's not overdone, there are four springs in the stage and you can bounce from one to the next all over the place. Gameplay is still fine.

  • Name: Tetris Terror 3
  • Comment: -
  • Size: Medium
  • Music: Tetris Type A
  • Download

There are three different themes availabe in the Stage Builder, so it was only a question of time until I've done a third Tetris stage for the remaining theme. This time the stage is more solid, the blocks are connected with thin platforms, so you don't have to be so afraid of falling into death like in Tetris Terror 1 and 2. There are ice blocks again and a large spring in the center. It could be considered a normal stage, if the blocks wouldn't have the shapes of Tetrinos.

  • Name: Deck 17
  • Comment: Unreal Tournament 2
  • Size: Medium
  • Music: Theme of Solid Snake
  • Download

This is the successor of my Deck 16 stage, this time mirrored and in the castle style to look like Deck 17 from Unreal Tournament 2004. There is spring in the lower area to feature the steam jump pads of the original version. Music comes from Metal Gear, again. I've also improved the old Deck 16 stage, so take a look.

To play the stages, simply download the files in the \private\wii\app\RSBP\st directory on your SD card. Enjoy.

Also, take a look at previous releases:
Smash Bros Brawl Stagepack I
Smash Bros Brawl Stagepack II

I've also uploaded (most of) the stages on, in case you've wondered.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Miyamoto patents hint and digest system

This may be the first information about what you can expect in the next Zelda game. On January 8th 2009 a patent of Shigeru Miyamoto was published by the US Patent & Trademark office. It contains technical information about a new hint system and a digest mode, both of them may be used in the next Zelda game.

However it is called "Computer-readable storage medium having game program stored therein, and game apparatus" and reading patents is a skill of its own. But if I understand the specifications correctly, it does the following:

  • The hint system let's you view demos how to solve certain puzzles in the game, if you can't solve them.

  • The digest mode gives you the possibility of replaying certain parts of the game without the help of seperate savegames.

You can read the full patent and even view images about how the systems work here. This information is still unconfirmed and brand new.

My thoughts:

Well, if the digest mode works like I think it does, it is actually a really cool idea. In previous Zelda games like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess I used to store extra savegames for the dungeons on seperate memory cards, so I could replay them any time. With the digest system, something like this wouldn't be necessary. You just unlock the "scenes" by playing through the game.

About the hint system, obviously Nintendo wants to take players into consideration, who gave up on a game midway through, because it was too hard or frustrating or whyever. However, this isn't bad news. That's definitely better than simply making the games easier. Those, who can't solve the puzzles or beat the bosses by their own, just play in the hint mode and everything is fine. So, games can be hard again.

Source: US Patent & Trademark Office

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More Smash Bros Brawl Stages

As I promised, here is the rest of my selfmade stages. There aren't as good as the stages I posted here, but better than nothing.

  • Name: CD Factory
  • Comment: Get Stickers and CDs
  • Size: Small
  • Music: Underground Theme
  • Download

This isn't actually a real stage to play with, but one to get lots of CDs and stickers, which helps you completing the CD collection very fast. Just plug in a second controller and let it use a character, who doesn't get in your way, like Pikachu. Deactivate all items except for Mr. Sandbag and turn the item rate on "high". Then select Bowser for yourself and start a match, preferably a Special Brawl using Metal, Heavy, and Fast rules. Move the fake second player on the ice platform under the left conveyor, station your own character right next to the ice blocks, where the conveyors end, and start smashing the sandbags for CDs and stickers. You probably already seen this on Youtube, the only difference is, in my version there is a wall in your line of fire, so the sandbags won't fall off as easily as in the common version. And on the top of that wall I put a conveyor, so you won't miss any items.

Note, if you got all the CDs but like to collect all stickers, use 5 to 6 minute matches, because there's a limited collection of stickers during a match, which repeats itself after a while. Which means, after approximately 6 minutes in a Metal Heavy Fast Brawl you should get all the stickers obtainable in one match, so you should start a new one.

*updated on January 20th, 2009* I've improved the stage a bit, making it more compact.

  • Name: Ice Peak
  • Comment: -
  • Size: Medium
  • Music: Step: Subspace Ver. 3
  • Download

Something for the Ice Climbers fans. It's a small and nasty map.

  • Name: Fearsome Ruins
  • Comment: Very scary ruins
  • Size: Medium
  • Music: Snowman (Mother)
  • Download

This is an exact replica I've made of the example stage found on the official Super Smash Bros. Brawl site, the Smash Bros. DOJO. So, if you want to play this "official" map, but are too lazy or unskilled to use the Stage Builder, just download it from here.

  • Name: Crumbling Place
  • Comment: -
  • Size: Small
  • Music: With Mila's Divine Protection
  • Download

There isn't anything special about this stage, it's small and you have a lot of crumbling blocks on the ground to add a lot of chaos.

  • Name: Windmill
  • Comment: Go Around, Go Around
  • Size: Medium
  • Music: Song of Storms (Ocarina of Time)
  • Download

Finally something related to a game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to be more accurate. This level uses one of those funny wheels, you can unlock, so I added the Song of Storms as a background music, to give this level a little windmill like feeling. Go around, go around.

To play the stages, simply download the files in the \private\wii\app\RSBP\st directory on your SD card. Enjoy.