Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 – The Year of Zelda

The year is coming to an end and there's no overstatement in saying that this year was the year of Zelda. While celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the franchise we were blessed with many new things. Alone three new Zelda titles were released this year:
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
  • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
There's no doubt that Skyward Sword was the biggest of these releases. Five years in the making, revolutionary controls, great gameplay enhancements and fun environments make this one of the best Zelda games and a fresh experience. It certainly wasn't perfect though, issues like bad fetch quests, linear game design and mediocre dungeons make it obvious that Zelda still isn't fully back on track. But it's a great game nonetheless and probably the pinnacle of the Wii experience.

The other two games weren't exactly new, but enhanced ports or "remakes". Ocarina of Time 3D made the old N64 classic feel much more contemporary, it looks great and plays nice and smoothly. It's the perfect way of reexperiencing Ocarina of Time, however, the lack of any new content was disappointing. The Four Swords Anniversary Edition on the other hand was my personal highlight this year, finally after eight years I get to play Four Swords whenever I want and the game offered one of the biggest challenges of the entire Zelda series - the Hero's Trial.

Next to these new games some Zelda games got a re-release on the 3DS Virtual Console:
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX
  • The Legend of Zelda (3DS Ambassador Program)
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (3DS Ambassador Program)
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (3DS Ambassador Program)
So far only one of these game is available to everyone, the other three were part of the 3DS Ambassador Program and are only available to you if you were stupid enough to buy a 3DS early (you've learned your lesson). But they'll most likely will be sold on the eShop sooner or later, for example The Legend of Zelda is already available in Japan. Well, the point is that this year was very strong release-wise. Only 2003 and 2007 have been as strong and only in Europe.

But that's not all of it, it wouldn't be the biggest Zelda year ever if it only was for the games. Nintendo celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Zelda and they celebrated it big time with different merchandise, special releases and events. Let's take a look at all their efforts:
  • Robin and Zelda Williams commercials for Ocarina of Time 3D,
    Four Swords Anniversary Edition and Skyward Sword
  • Ocarina of Time 3D Soundtrack CD for all early registrations
  • Link's Awakening DX as the first GameBoy Color Virtual Console game
  • a special remake of Four Swords dedicated to the anniversary available for FREE
  • a Zelda Flipnote contest
  • the Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony orchestras around the world
  • Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony CD bundled with all
    first edition copies of Skyward Sword
  • Golden Wiimote bundled with the Limited Edition of Skyward Sword
  • special Zelda stage in Super Mario 3D Land
  • three 25th Anniversary Zelda eShop cards
  • Limited 25th Anniversary Zelda Nintendo 3DS Edition Bundle
  • Golden Nunchuk (only Japanese Club Nintendo so far)
  • Hyrule Historia Artbook (only Japan so far)
  • the revelation of the official Zelda timeline
  • other merchandise like t-shirts and posters
Just compare this to the 25th Anniversary of Mario or Metroid. Mario got red colored hardware, the Flipnote contest and a disc re-release of an old SNES game. That's it. Metroid basically got nothing so far. Nintendo really put all their efforts into celebrating the 25th Anniversary and that felt great. Zelda got a lot of attention this year and saw many great additions to the franchise. Some of it was awaited for many, many years. Finally singleplayer for Four Swords, finally orchestrated Zelda music, finally the official timeline! What a year!

Of course most of it was done for marketing reasons, to built the hype. And I'm not happy with some of their stunts, for example adding preorder bonuses to Ocarina of Time 3D and denying a special Zelda 3DS bundle at first, so that Zelda fans would go for the game (and maybe a 3DS) early, and then releasing a 3DS Zelda bundle half a year later anyway. This is something that somehow ruined the Anniversary for me and I'm still pissed about it. Luckily I could sell my red 3DS for a good price, but I still lost quite some money and I probably won't ever buy a Nintendo system earlier than really necessary again. I've lost some of my trust in Nintendo due to this action.

Well, for myself I celebrated the anniversary by replaying pretty much all Zelda games, which was a nice and refreshing experience. I also finally got to 100%ly complete all Zelda games before starting Skyward Sword, a longtime goal of mine. So, that was basically my 25th Anniversary, I used the year to play a lot of Zelda (it's also my 25th year of age by the way, I'm as old as the franchise, I like that). And I will definitely always remember this year.

As a conclusion I can only say that this was without a doubt the greatest Zelda year ever. The only downside is that we probably won't get another year like that in the next 25 years until the 50th Anniversary. This amount of new Zelda games, merchandise and events in one year is pretty much unsurpassable. So, I hope you all enjoyed 2011, I sure did.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hyrule Historia Artbook Reveals Zelda Timeline

I guess you've all heard about the Hyrule Historia Artbook by now. It seems like the 25th Anniversary celebration never stops. Well, this artbook contains not only tons of nice (concept) art for all the games, it seems it also reveals the timeline! Yes, you've heard me right. For the 25th Anniversary Nintendo actually releases a timeline! Some people wished for that, but no one would have thought that Nintendo actually does that. All they ever did was talking about their super secret document that nobody is supposed to see. I guess they changed their mind (that or this is not the official timeline). The artbook will be released this Friday in Japan. There are currently no plans for this book to appear in the West.

I always wanted to post my own timeline here on Hyrule Blog. But I really hate the discussions and it seems like making your own timeline isn't necessary anymore. I like the idea of having an official timeline. Now if somebody says things like "it's still a linear timeline" or "The Minish Cap takes places after Spirit Tracks", you can say to his face "that's wrong!!" - and I love that.

Well, here it is (courtesy of Glitterberry):

The A Link to the Past split is caused by "Link failing". That's interesting and really weird. If Link failing is an option, it should be available for every game. So, each game should create a split with a hypothetical alternate reality where Link failed. Skyward Sword should create a new timeline, where everything got eradicated by Demise. It feels weird, so far the only game where Link's failure really gets hammered into your head is Zelda II - RETURN OF GANON. But I guess the third branch also was created by all the time travelling and I'm eager to read the full explanation.

However, generally I like the idea of having three splits. Usually you would cram all 2D games right into the child timeline after Twilight Princess creating one long branch. But giving the 2D games their own branch makes it look neater.

It also follows the symbolism of the series, where each branch of the timeline basically represents a piece of the Triforce. The Adult Timeline with The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, where Zelda has been an important character, represents the Triforce of Wisdom. The Child Timeline on the other hand represents the Triforce of Courage, where Link goes on his own, scary adventure with Majora's Mask, while Twilight Princess and Four Swords Adventures are also quite dark games. And the new branch of the timeline displays Ganon's rise to power, which is perfect for the Triforce of Power.

But I don't like the placement of the Four Swords games. Four Swords Adventures was basically the direct sequel to Four Swords, at least the intro makes you believe that. Well, on the other hand Aonuma once made a statement that Four Swords came before Ocarina of Time, which is probably the reason why the timeline puts the game there, but obviously it's contradicting with the intro of FSA. Also, I'd say that FSA really fits more into the story of the 2D games, especially since it shows how Ganon got the Trident. For me FSA was the Imprisoning War. You get the dark clouds covering Hyrule, Ganon is building an army inside the Dark Realm and the Knights of Hyrule are disappearing. It's all there and it feels much more war-like than Ocarina of Time, the only difference is that the Master Sword wasn't involved here. Instead they used the Four Sword to ban Ganon. However, the GameBoy Advance version of A Link to the Past basically backed this up, there you find the broken Four Sword inside the Pyramid. It's like Ganon broke from the seal and cursed the Four Sword, so that no one could ever use it against him. Also, in the child timeline they protected the Sacred Realm from ever being invaded by Ganondorf. But FSA deals with the Dark World in its entirety. So, if FS and FSA would take place before A Link to the Past, the timeline would be near perfect in my eyes. But I can live with that.

UPDATE: It appears that Aonuma was one of the editors of this book and that the timeline is indeed credible. I also did some "research" about FSA. The game was originally intended to be the Imprisoning War, which is why there are so many similarities, but then they simplified the storyline (see here), which is why the game was placed where it's now. It's sad actually, the game would have been awesome as the Imprisoning War. And yeah, Four Swords is not necessarily the direct prequel. So, well, I'm good with the timeline.

Source: Kotaku & Glitterberri

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Skyward Sword: Second Game Breaking Glitch

By now you've all probably heard about the game breaking glitch in Skyward Sword, where you can't advance in the game during the Song of the Hero quest. It's somehow triggered if you chose to visit the dragon in the desert first and by speaking to the Goron in Lanayru Cave before and after getting the part of the Song of Hero. The events in Faron Woods and Eldin Vulcano will now no longer be triggered. But fear not, Nintendo will provide a tool to fix your savefile.

It's sad that the only real non-linear part of the game seems to be the one causing the most trouble. Funnily while playing the game for the first time I actually tried visiting the Thunder Dragon first, but the Goron wouldn't let me enter Lanayru Gorge for whatever reason. So, at that time I actually thought that even the Song of the Hero quest would be entirely linear.

But now it seems that there's yet another game breaking glitch. It was reported once at GameFAQs and there's also someone over at ZeldaEurope who experienced a similar glitch. The glitch triggers the vulcano eruption sequence early in the game. You get trapped in the cell, but there's no way to escape it. The Mogma giving you the Mogma Mitts after lifting a barrel doesn't appear. In fact the barrel isn't even there. For the guy at GameFAQs it happened after the first dungeon while visiting Eldin for the first time. For the other guy it happened while he or she looked for the pinwheel. So far it's unknown what triggers the glitch, but it seems to be a rare occurrance.

Well, but lately Nintendo really has a thing for weird game ending glitches. Remember Metroid: Other M, anyone?

Skyward Sword Blade Journal, Hero Mode

So, after writing the sidequest guides for ZeldaEurope and farming like a lunatic I've finally started playing the Hero Mode. I will share my experience here similar to the Blade Journal, though probably not as thorough and interesting.

For starters, the Hero Mode is a simple 2nd Quest that features the following differences:
  • you take double damage
  • there are no hearts to heal you unless you're carrying a Heart Medal
  • the Goddess Sword already got the fully powered Skyward Strike
  • the True Master Sword now instantly loads Skyward Strikes
  • the Sheikah Stones offers you all visions right from the start
  • you keep your collection from the previous savegame
  • you can also fight Demise in the Lighting Round Boss Battle mode
That's about it. It all would be pretty cool, if they changed some more things. I would like to face tougher enemies like the rare Stalfos on a more frequent basis for example. But that's not the case, the rest of the game stays the same. Or they could have mixed up some sidequests like placing the Goddess Cubes in different locations. But they haven't. So, there's a lot of wasted potential here and all we can do is enjoy what little the Hero Mode has to offer.

Well, the problem with the missing hearts and the double damage can be quite tough in the beginning. Three hits kill you and this can easily happen, if you're surrounded by Bokoblins. However, it gets balanced by two things. You can now use the full Skyward Strike right from the beginning, which deals four times as much damage as the Goddess Sword itself. This is usually the best way to fight normal enemies from a safe distance.

Secondly you get to keep your collection, which was the main reason for me to farm items to begin with. And my collection is crazy. I got full 99 of each insect type and of 11 treasures. I didn't fully farm Eldin Ore, Ancient Flowers, Evil Crystals, Golden Skulls and Goddess Plumes, because there wasn't a real quick and effective way of farming those. However, I still got between 40 and 50 of each one of these. So, yeah, my collection is MASSIVE. This has two advantages. First of all you can now upgrade all items early, because you got all the necessary resources right from the start. The only remaining issue is money. However, Rupees aren't an issue at all, which is the second advantage. You certainly don't need so many insects and treasures, not at all, so you can sell them at night and make a lot of money. For example the Blue Bird Feathers are worth 100 Rupees. I collected 99 Bird Feathers, that's 9900 Rupees, which is the maximum your wallet could ever hold and more than enough to buy every last item. I'm not far into the game, but my equipment is already pretty impressive. I just got the Slingshot from the woods and the next thing I did was buying every single item from Beedle's Airshop except for the Piece of Heart (I need another Wallet Upgrade first). I got all three Extra Wallets, all three Adventure Pouch Expansion, the Life Medal (which might be a life savior), the Bug Net and the Bug Medal all at once. I also fully upgraded the Wooden Shield, the Slingshot, the Net and my first Seed Satchel, as well as my Heart and Revitalizing Potions.

When you first play the game you can't effort all this stuff for a long time. So, being able to buy all of it right away really feels great. I'm fully powered and ready for the first dungeon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Miyamoto on Retro and Zelda

In an interview with 1up Miyamoto said the following:

As you know, we have already collaborated with Retro for the Metroid Prime series in the past. And I think when we talk about any other franchise, Zelda might be a possible franchise for that collaboration.

That's the best fucking news in a while. If you followed my blog, you know, that I'm a huge fan of Retro Studios and their work. The Metroid Prime Trilogy is godlike and Donkey Kong Country Returns is one awesome platformer even for someone like me, who doesn't really enjoy platforming games that much. Ever since Metroid Prime I wanted Retro to work on the Zelda franchise. They are very good in understanding what made the classic games awesome and they know how to infuse this into a modern game. A Zelda game codeveloped by Retro could easily turn into the best Zelda game in a long time.

Well, it seems that after the successful collaboration between Nintendo and Retro to make Mario Kart 7 the chances for that now happening are quite high. And for me this would be a dream coming true.

Japanese Club Nintendo gets Golden Nunchuk

Seriously, I want one of these. But our Club Nintendo just sucks. I've been waiting all year for some nice Zelda goodies. Because of the 25th Anniversary I though the Club Nintendo would be swimming in Zelda merchandise. But there's NOTHING. Nothing at all. I saved a lot of stars over the years and there's nothing I could spent them on. And right now I'm constantly using them each month. This month I will lose 600 stars. 600!! I bet the Golden Nunchuk will be available next month and I won't have enough stars, because I lost the 600. It's times like these where I am just pissed about Nintendo.


The Minish Cap joins Ambassador Program

The full list of ambassador GBA games has been revealed and as expected The Minish Cap is among them. It's a very strong line-up of GBA games that also includes Metroid Fusion, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Yoshi's Island and Wario Land 4. But the Minish Cap is definitely the highlight of the list. If you bought a 3DS early, you can now get this game and enjoy it for free. It's also the fifth downloadable Zelda game available on the 3DS. Only the the Oracle games and the Game & Watch Zelda are still missing (and a potential 3D Classics version of A Link to the Past).

Well, so far there are no plans to make the GBA games available for purchase at a later date. But we all know that Nintendo will release them at some point.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Skyward Sword Sidequest Guide (German)

Just so you know what I've been up to lately, here's an update. I've been working on the sidequest guide of Here you can find individual guides. And this file contains all information in one 51 page large pdf file.

It covers basically everything. Pieces of Heart in order, Goddess Cubes sorted by region and order or by chests, Gratitude Crystals, wallets, adventure pouch ugrades, empty bottles, medals, and upgrades. It also contains the best farming spots and strategies for all treasures and insects. It got all the Gossip Stone informations, Goddess Walls, tricks and easter eggs. I think it's the first complete sidequest guide of the game available (for example IGN is still missing one Goddess Cube xD). Unfortunately it's all in German and I don't plan to translate it. But since I have some readers from Germany, I just wanted to inform you.

Check it out.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Got Zelda 3DS Limited Edition Bundle

I'm weak. I admit it. I'm weak. I should have boycotted this thing. For the simple reason that Nintendo screwed every Zelda fan, who bought a Nintendo 3DS early. For releasing Ocarina of Time 3D with not one but two preorder bonuses, so that a lot of Zelda fans would buy Ocarina of Time 3D at its release (like I did). For even denying that they plan a bundle at E3. This was probably the most evil marketing move Nintendo ever pulled off. And I'm still totally angry about it.... but I still couldn't resist buying it. :D It's really the bundle I've been waiting for ever since the start of the anniversary. And there's no excuse that this wasn't already released in June.

Well, here are some photos:

The Zelda 3DS is really beautiful, it's not a simple Cosmo Black mod, the entire lower side looks completely different and everything that was white or silver on the normal 3DS model is now golden. Some outer parts of the 3DS are sheer, which isn't the case with a normal model. And I got lucky this time, I got one of the "clicky" 3DS models, the one that makes a clicking sound when open and close it. Also, the buttons feel a little bit "clickier". While playing Four Swords on my red 3DS, I got quite some problems with the stiff D-pad. It even made some weird squeaking sounds. It might be just me, but the D-pad of my clicky Zelda 3DS feels much more responsive.

I think the "clicky or not" 3DS situation is another big issue. You don't have any control over what model you'll get, I think it depends in which factory the 3DS was made. You might as well get a not-clicky Zelda 3DS, if you're unlucky. I've never seen such differences in the production of a Nintendo product, that's not something that you'd expect from Nintendo.

However, the red 3DS is really sexy and until this point I wasn't sure, if I'm going to keep it or sell it. For now I have to keep it, because I need the system transfer update first, which will be released somewhen next week (what coincidence, Nintendo... a system transfer tool right when some idiotic Zelda fans might decide to buy a second 3DS? what are the chances? :D) - I hope it lets you transfer ALL of your data. Like Miis, Play Coins, play data and what not else. Because I got lots of play coins and I got lots of Nintendo employees from the press event in October in my Mii plaza. I wouldn't want to lose any of it. If this is done, I will probably sell the red one. There's no point in keeping two 3DS systems.

About the second Ocarina copy, I love the dual-sided cover. The US boxart isn't actually so bad as I thought, you just can't really see the golden effect on pictures. But they should always do this, I mean there have been at least two different covers for all the latest Zelda games. Instead of going with one cover in a region, they should include a dual-sided cover in all copies. That way I can chose which version I like more.

Well, so much about my big Christmas gift to myself.

My opinion? If you're a Zelda fan and don't own a 3DS yet, this is definitely worth getting. And it's not just Ocarina of Time, you will also be able to play the Four Swords Anniversary Edition, which you don't want to miss. If you're a Zelda fan and already got a 3DS, then I know exactly how you feel, because I am in the same stupid situation. And if you aren't a Zelda fan, then I'm not sure what you're doing here on my blog anyway.

Update: one thing though, they should have added Link's Awakening DX to the preinstalled software. That would have made the bundle a little bit more complete. And maybe Four Swords too.