Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 – The Zelda Void

It's time for the traditional review of the year. This won't take long, because there's nothing really to review. 2012 is there together with 2008 as one of the most silent Zelda years. (Well, that is after the release of Ocarina of Time, it's hard to judge the years before that, you were much younger and the internet drastically changed our media consumption rate.)

However, this is not a complaint and the reason for this silent year is very simple and natural. 2011 was the year of the 25th Zelda Anniversary and Nintendo shot all their Zelda bolts at the time. Ocarina of Time 3D, Four Swords Anniversary Edition, Skyward Sword, Hyrule Historia and so much more. It's more than enough to keep Zelda fans entertained until today (in theory). So, it's only natural that Zelda went into a pause. However, there were still new things to enjoy, at first we got some additional aftermath of the Anniversary, especially people in North America got to enjoy the Symphony of the Goddesses tour and Hyrule Historia was announced to get a western release, though it won't be released until early next year. And I still hope that the Symphony of the Goddesses tour to comes to Europe at some point...

But hey, I nearly forgot... we got Battle Quest! :D 2012 was definitely a big year for Nintendo with the release of the Wii U. I'm not sold yet, but that is probably only a matter of good games. If you already have a Wii U, there are some small Zelda cameos to enjoy. There are Zelda costumes in Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition and you can use Zelda characters in Scribblenauts Unlimited. But probably the biggest thing was the Battle Quest minigame in Nintendo Land. I really hope that Battle Quest is not a foreshadowing of what to expect from the Wii U Zelda game. Zelda became more and more linear and now Nintendo finally made a Zelda rail shooter experience. It's not even funny. And naturally Nintendo uses their new horse power to create Zelda's Epic Yarn... Zelda Wii U better turns out to be the entire opposite of Battle Quest or it will most likely become another Wind Waker (that means charming, but unsuccessful).

So, I guess, you could say that 2012 wasn't so bad considering how much stuff we got in 2011, we still got a minigame, some cameos and even a whole concert tour. There was one thing completely missing though, anything about future Zelda games. As in 2008 we are at a point where we're completely in the dark. We don't know anything about the upcoming Zelda games for 3DS and Wii U except for some small Aonuma quotes and rumors.

And this is what I expect from 2013. The next generation of Zelda games will be revealed next year! The Nintendo 3DS Zelda game will most likely get released first, probably one year before the Wii U game. I'd expect first impressions as early as GDC 2013. Definitely at E3. And it's entirely likely that the 3DS Zelda game is scheduled to be released at the end of 2013, it's in the current two years cycle for Zelda handheld games (Phantom Hourglass in 2007, Spirit Tracks in 2009, Ocarina of Time 3D in 2011). We were at the very same position in 2008, no one expected much from 2009, but then Spirit Tracks got announced and released in the same year. I expect the same for 2013 and the 3DS Zelda game. The game will most likely be codeveloped by Grezzo to get it done as fast as possible, while the main Zelda team works on the Wii U game. So, they've been working already one and a half year on the game!

What will it look like, how will it play? I'm expecting that they went with the Toon Zelda style, they probably enhanced the Phantom Hourglass engine it made it more beautiful. But they dropped the Stylus and touchscreen controls in favor of 3D perspective puzzles as in Super Mario 3D Land. So, it would be a more traditional button control topdown view experience, but have some innovation in it as well. This is what I expect from the current Zelda team, but I'd be happy to be surprised with something else.

The Wii U Zelda game is a different beast, I'm expecting a late 2014 release here. We might see something at E3, maybe we'll only get some tidbits like at E3 2009, maybe we'll get a full fledged demo like at E3 2010, but most likely something inbetween like a trailer. We'll see, it's hard to tell. It's also hard to tell, how the game will look and play like. Will they go with the more realistic style of the Wii U Twilight Princess demo, after it got praised so many times? Or will they keep the Skyward Sword visual style? Maybe something else entirely? Will they drop the Skyward Sword controls in favor of the new gamepad? For me it's easy to picture the 3DS Zelda game, but with the Wii U game anything is possible.

Happy new year, everybody!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Curse of the Master Sword

The sword - it is undeniably the most important item throughout the Zelda series, it's your primary weapon and also used as a tool to cut grass or activate certain switches. Since Zelda needed its own Excalibur, A Link to the Past introduced the Master Sword, which has become a staple throughout the series and an icon for the entire Zelda franchise. And with it swords have more and more become an essential part of the story in Zelda games, the pinnacle now taking place in Skyward Sword, which deals with the creation of the Master Sword. However, this development didn't come without a price...

One of the main essences of Zelda is growth. Growing from a weak and young boy into the hero of the legend. (With the expection of Zelda II) you do that exclusively by collecting items, that make you stronger. Better armor and shield defend you from nasty enemy attacks. Bombs open paths through walls made of stone and enemies. Bow and arrow let you fight distant foes. But the most important item is the sword. Getting a better sword makes you insantly feel more powerful. Now you can finish off the more dangerous enemies with fewer strikes, kill smaller foes with a single strike or even shoot beams to kill from safe distance. Your sword makes the difference.

Which is why in the first half of the series most sword upgrades were optional and safely hidden somewhere. The Magical Sword was hidden under a tombstone and only given to you, if you already had twelve Heart Containers. With it the fearsome Lynels on Death Mountain suddenly become much less of a problem. Getting this sword feels like a real achievement.

The Seashell Sword in Link's Awakening makes you go from zero to hero after collecting twenty Secret Seashells. It's not only twice as powerful as your normal sword, it also shoots mighty Sword Beams, which makes the stubborn Moblins on Koholinth pop like little bubbles. Getting this sword feels like a real achievement.

In Majora's Mask you take your weak Kokiri Sword from Ocarina of Time, sharpen and gild it to make it a lot stronger. Later in the game you can also find the mighty Great Fairy's Sword, which can kill a Dinolfos with one strike. Getting these swords feels like real achievements.

Now with the Wind Waker things changed. Suddenly all sword updates were mandatory, you get the Master Sword and upgrade it two times as part of the main quests. The game grows with you in these parts, you got stronger, but so did the enemies. You can't miss the upgrades and they don't feel like they were well desired. It doesn't really feel like an achievement.

The Minish Cap now did a similar thing with the Four Sword. In Twilight Princess you only got the Master Sword midways and that's pretty much it. No further upgrades expept the light thing, which was useless outside of the Twilight Realm and also mandatory. Both Nintendo DS Zelda games now got Master Sword-wannabes with the Phantom Sword and the Lokomo Sword. They look similar in shape to the Master Sword and they were also mandatory, usually with the function to strike Phantoms. And Skyward Sword just extended the pattern from the Wind Waker.

After the Oracles all Zelda games only offered mandatory sword upgrades, which I like to call "Story Swords". They are essentially based on the Master Sword from A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. However, both these games did more than just the mandatory main weapon. A Link to the Past did two things with the Master Sword, that didn't make a return in the series: it tempered and gilded the thing as optional upgrades. With these upgrades the tough bosses and enemies get easier to beat. Playing with only the normal Master Sword is a lot tougher. Ocarina of Time on the other hand offered an interesting alternative with the optional Biggoron Sword. It deals twice as much damage as the Master Sword, but you can't use your shield with it.

While the later games took the concept of the Master Sword and kept it, they forgot about the optional sword upgrades. You HAVE to get the better swords in order to progress through the game. Getting and upgrading the Master/Four/Phantom/Lokomo Sword happens at a fixed point. Enemies become automatically harder at this point and you don't feel like you achieved anything for yourself. You only get the necessary tools for progressing. The Master Sword just has become the key for the next area/dungeon, in Skyward Sword this is even literally the case where you open portals with the sword.

Optional sword upgrades are more interesting, because you can miss them. The enemies become tougher and tougher to beat throughout the game and your little Wooden Sword becomes more of an hindrance. There are fierce enemies like the Lynels that take eight hits from it, but with the White Sword it's only four and with the Magical Sword you can suddenly kill them with two hits. It feels amazing, like you have gotten a lot more powerful. It feels like a real achievement.

And that's why Nintendo should try to get away from the "Story Swords" back to the "Hidden Swords" from the classics.

And the Master Sword Shall Sleep Forever...!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I guess, we've all seen this tweet..

Here's another pro-tip: don't buy a Wii U for Christmas!

It generally seems to be a bad choice to buy any video game system at launch or early in its life cycle. There will always be a better version of the system and usually there are some flaws that get fixed after while.

The GameBoy Advance got the much slicker SP update, the Nintendo DS got its Lite version and the 3DS got the Zelda Limited Edition. Early Wiis tend to have trouble with their disc drives and now the Wii U needs a two hour update... not to mention any price cuts that occur in the meantime.

Unless there's a game that you simply MUST HAVE, I can only advise everyone to wait as long as possible before you buy a handheld or a console. They always get better and cheaper. Wait for a nice bundle, where you simply can't say "no" to it.

So, everyone who got a Wii U at Christmas and feels happy about it... wait until you see my Wii U Pro Limited Zelda Edition that I'll get myself for Christmas 2014. :D

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time's End: Majora's Mask Remix

I already covered this on ZeldaEurope, but it should be mentioned here as well. Today a new remix album from Theophany got released. You might remember him from Crystal Flash, his previous album focused on Metroid. But now he's back and better than ever.

Just in time for the end of the world the album focuses on the dark end time music from Majora's Mask. It's great quality and entirely free (though you can buy the album at a price of your choice to support the artist).

Time's End Site
Listen and buy on bandcamp
Download via mediafire

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Storytelling in Zelda games

Everybody loves a good story and in most modern media a story is told in a linear fashion. It doesn't matter if you read a book, watch a movie or a good TV show, you get the information in a supposed order. While, there's nothing wrong with that and also ensures surprises and cliffhangers, there's another way of storytelling only possible in interactive media like video games. Like Sherlock Holmes you're diving right into the situation and piecing together the giant puzzle of the story. And this is how story telling should work in a video game.

Metroid Prime is a nice example for this. It's a game, where you fully explore a world similar to the gameplay of Zelda. It has a very deep and interesting story, yet there are no major cutscenes in the game. Most of the story is told via scanning the environment. You get log book information from scanning lores, computer panels, enemies and more. And piece after piece you puzzle together the magnificent story around the Phazon. You're entering this foreign environment and piecing together the clues all by yourself. It's a much deeper experience than any movie could ever deliver.

Of course in Zelda you can't scan things. Still Zelda offers many different similar storytelling devices. You talk to people, read books in houses, decipher inscriptions on ancient stone tablets or listen to Gossip Stones. Especially the Nintendo 64 Zelda games, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, did a great job with that. One of the reasons, why people enjoy OoT's Hyrule or Termina's Clocktown so much, is because they really let you dive into these worlds. There are many secrets to discover, which makes these game worlds so much more interesting, alive and fascinating. And the information you get from the people and Gossip Stones stimulize the player's imagination in ways, a cutscene couldn't ever deliver. It's like the difference between watching a movie and actually reading the book. But even better, because it's an interactive experience, where you discover the information by yourself.

The storytelling in Twilight Princess on the other hand relies almost entirely on cutscenes. When you're in Hyrule Castle Town you can't talk with most of the people there and the few responsive individuals don't have anything interesting to say. It's boring. There's no story here. On the other hand you ran from one scripted sequence to the next, it's the most cutscene-heavy Zelda game next to Skyward Sword. An experience that is almost movie-like and I don't mean that in a good sense. In Twilight Princess you get to watch little movies about Midna, the Twili and whatever, one after another in a linear fashion. It's just right into your face, you don't have to do anything except finishing the main quests. While in the N64 Zeldas you discover all the secrets by yourself, like about the Sheikah or how the Gerudo society works. There's no big cutscene telling you everything about the Gerudo on your way to the desert. You learn this stuff by yourself, which makes it such a richer and more satisfying experience.

Another nice example would be the stories by grandma in the Stock Pot Inn. While technically they are "cutscenes", it's something you discover all by yourself. And something you might miss. But this is what it makes so rewarding. The Skull Kid and the Carneval of Time are all part of the mysteries in the game and you just found some important pieces of the puzzle. Games are about winning or losing and getting the rewards or failing to get them. The complete story is your reward and it shouldn't be handed to you on a silver platter.

But again this is all part of the giant linearity problem. The developers at Nintendo are way too much afraid about their customers. They can't handle this, they can't handle that, that is too hard, this must be made easier, let's put in Super Guides and and make everything linear. Non-linear world design is way too confusing for the tiny brains of Nintendo's customers. That way we make also sure, that they don't miss any of our genious content. - It's the same with the story, it would be such a shame if you missed any parts of it, so they make sure to shove it all right into your face.

And cutscenes are always game stoppers. They take away the control from the player, which is always bad in a game, which is supposed to be an interactive experience. If I want to watch a movie, I wouldn't be playing a game. You should always have the feeling that you're in control and not just part of some script.

I was actually excited, when I learned that Skyward Sword brought back the Gossip Stones, because on the N64 they were always the source for some of the most interesting details. Too bad that most of the information you get from them in Skyward Sword is about what you can win at minigames. Skyward Sword definitely follows the linear movie-like pattern, the game has many cutscenes and only little to explore. And say, what fascinated you more? Hyrule and Termina on the N64 or the world of Skyloft?

Explorative storytelling is part of what made the classic Zelda games so much more magical. And it's one of the things Zelda needs to get back in order to return to former glories.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wii Play, U Suck

The Wii U is out of the box... for two weeks now in the US and since Friday here in Europe. Not much excitement on my front though. And I probably won't get a Wii U in the near future and it most likely will depend on the Wii U Zelda game, which will arise 2014 or whatever...

But it wouldn't be the first time, that I skipped over a Nintendo console. I didn't get the GameCube until late 2005, at the time the most interesting thing about the Wind Waker was the Master Quest disc bundled with it. And the GameCube didn't feel like an attractive gaming system until I had the chance to test a demo of Twilight Princess at the Games Convention 2005 in Leipzig. That's what changed my mind about the system and made me get a Cube together with all the Zelda stuff for it.

But as cliched as it may sounds, right now the GameCube looks and feels like a much better gaming system than the Wii U ever will be. Why? The GameCube was solely about the games! You insert a disc, you play, no big fluff. The Wii U? You get Miiverse, TViii (lol) and lots of more junk that doesn't have to do anything with gaming. It's all bloated and all of it is not going to matter in ten years. Nintendo's biggest strength used to be making timeless systems and games. I can still put some batteries into my old GameBoy and play Link's Awakening on it. And when I visit home, where all my pre Wii/DS era video game stuff is at, I really enjoy bringing out my GameCube and play the Zelda CE for example. That stuff is timeless. Well, maybe except for the Scart cables and the batteries, but otherwise pretty timeless. The Wii U in ten years? All the Miiverse, TVii, Wii-ever crap won't matter, if they still work at the time that is. Only the games matter then. In fact for most people that's already the case. Or is there actually someone, who's excited about Miiverse? Or buys a Wii U to watch TViiii? (At least in Germany we won't get TViii, it's not important.) So, as always with a Nintendo console, it's the games that will ultimately matter. But what can we expect from Wii U games?

Will we get timeless games that you even can enjoy in ten or twenty years? Or will we get gimmicky Wii U GamePad games?

The biggest gimmick about the GameCube was the GameBoy Advance connection, which is a tad similar to the whole Wii U Gamepad stuff. I didn't like the GBA connection. The Tingle Tuner was an aweful feature and playing Four Swords Adventures with the GBA can gave you headaches, because you had to constantly refocus your eyes between the big screen and the GBA screen... sadly Zelda had to be guinea pig for this gimmick, while all other big Nintendo titles stayed safe from it.

And Zelda remained to be the primary guinea pig for Nintendo's new hardware features. Zelda was THE game to make the most out of the features of the Nintendo DS and Wii, may it be the touchscreen controls or the Wiimote swinging. However, with the Wii and the Nintendo DS the innovative controls helped to provide a more natural and intuitive gaming experience. Especially playing Zelda Skyward Sword with the Wiimote and Nunchuk felt great (it was all the "please slice in the right direction"-puzzles that ruined the experience).

Now, with the Wii U we got innovation just for innovations's sake. With no true advantages more than "you can now play Mario while your girlfriend watches Grey's Anatomy". The console comes with this expansive GamePad and now all big Nintendo games simply have to use it to give the consumer the feeling that he or she didn't buy the pad for no good reason. And of course Zelda will be up front to be the guinea pig again. They won't try to improve what they've started with Skyward Sword and labeled as the best possible Zelda experience. They'll scrap it and do something with the GamePad instead, Aonuma already confirmed that. And I'm really skeptical about that.

One more thing I don't like about the Wii U is the so called "backwards compatibility". With previous systems it was very simple. I put my GameCube discs into my Wii and they run. I put my GB games into my GBA and they run. I put my GBA games into my Nintendo DS Lite and they run. I put my Nintendo DS games into my 3DS and they run. All nice and simple. With the Wii U? In order to play Wii games and use transferred download titles you have to boot up the old Wii interface. Seriously? Imagine you install Windows 7 on your new fancy computer, but in order to play your favorite PC games you'd had to boot up Windows XP again. That would be aweful! No one would like to do that. But with the Wii U and Wii games that's what it is. And there's no good excuse for this.

Instead of focusing on useless crap like Miiverse and TVii they should have focused on these issues. People may have large Wii libraries and naturally they want to carry over their Wii games to the Wii U without them being treated as some foreign beings. And they want to keep using their virtual game libraries without any downsides. If I buy a game like The Legend of Zelda digitally I should be able to download and play it on all future systems. I shouldn't have to boot a different OS in order to play it or even pay for it again, just because it's now in HD, has some 3D effects or save states...

Whatever the Wii U will bring, I just hope that Nintendo returns to focus on what matters most: not gimmicky hardware, not gimmicky features, but the games.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2013 Zelda Calendar

Did you know that there's an official Zelda calendar licensed by Nintendo? I didn't. Immediatly after I learned about it I bought one on Amazon:

As you can see on the back of the calendar, it spans rather typical art from the last five retail games, Twilight Princess, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyward Sword. Usually the different cover arts. So, while the quality is very nice and shiny, it's overall nothing special and a little bit boring.

But I like that the calendar has one additional page at the beginning that spans the months September til December 2012, which means I can already use it. Which is quite nice.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

3DS Virtual Console: Zelda II

Zelda II - The Adventure of Link is now available on the European eShop for all non-ambassadors. I think we are the first to get this and my inner Zelda collector forces me to buy this, so let's take a look.

Zelda II will probably be THE game profiting from the restore point feature. Next to Super Mario Land. Well, with Super Mario Land a part of the game's experience was to fail and start over, otherwise it's a terribly short game. So, the restore points make this game a little bit too easy maybe. Zelda II on the other hand is just brutal and unforgiving, being able to save right before a boss makes this game so much more less frustrating and enjoyable. I'd wish the Wii version had this when I replayed the game last year for the anniversary.

But of course the new restore point feature is probably part of the reason why I had to pay for this game yet again, even though my Club Nintendo account (which is linked to the eShop) clearly tells Nintendo that I already bought the game for the Virtual Console on the Wii (and the NES Classics version for the GBA). That Nintendo is charging you again for the same game, just because the emulator "improved", is ridiculous. Emulators on the PC offer me ten quick saves, screenshot tools and many more while being completely free. Of course you shouldn't download any illegal ROMs, but they are very easy to find. And Nintendo is competing with that. If it wasn't for my inner collector, I would never buy any Virtual Console games. Playing the games on the PC is just much better and completely free.

Nintendo has to improve their Virtual Console service. And they should start with a unified account based library. Oh, wait, we already got that in Europe, but Nintendo decided to ignore it...

PS: I'll save this one for the next big replay session. Together with Zelda I. I've already beaten the VC version of Link's Awakening though, did it while writing the guides for ZeldaEurope.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bigger and Better Rumors

You've heard the rumors.

Overall it reads exactly as the stuff Nintendo said about Skyward Sword. It was said to be the biggest Zelda game and Nintendo's biggest project yet with a hundred people working on it. It was supposed to be revolutionary with its controls. It got tons of orchestrated music. It even had a Faron Woods dungeon demo, where the entire woods would act as a dungeon. Just take some interviews about Skyward Sword, replace Wii MotionPlus with the new GamePad, add some talk about detailed HD visuals, dodge all specific details and what you get is this pile of rumors above. Everyone can come up with that.

I had an "inside source" once. No one big, but informative. He told me all about the Four Swords Anniversary Edition, before anything was known, primarily because I cared a lot about the game and he wanted to me to know. But I had to promise him not to leak anything (which is why I made some spot on speculation posts instead), because he feared for his job, and he was very specific on how the singleplayer worked and what the new levels offered. So, if you go out and leak some information, why not tell us how they use the Upad in the game exactly? Or what's the hardware feature that they included for Zelda. It just tells you how glorious and large everything will be, but it lacks any details.

And I do not like the idea of focusing on the Wii U Gamepad. Of course it's the new toy and it would look bad, if one of the main titles doesn't use it. But with Skyward Sword they acted like the Wiimote and Nunchuk is THE way to play Zelda. And frankly they were right. The controls felt great, you got sword and shield in your own hands, everything was intuitive. It was the forced way of how you used the controls in the game that no one liked. All those terrible "slice in the right direction"-puzzles. If you use the controls in more natural sword fights, it could be really awesome. Only a few fights in Skyward Sword felt truly natural. I enjoyed battling Demise, but that was the last fight in the game. Most of the other fights just felt wrong, including long time enemies like Stalfos or Deku Babas. Now imagine fighting one of the Darknuts in Twilight Princess with the new controls - that could be fun! But instead of focusing how to make it right, they throw it all away and just focus on the newest gimmicky toy. Actually I would fully believe that! Because that's seems to be the new Nintendo way... sadly. So, I wouldn't wonder, if large parts of these rumors turn out to be true.

But I can't think of any fun or natural way to use the Upad to play Zelda. 2D Zelda maybe, but not a 3D title. Especially if they want you to hold the pad in front of the TV screen all the time. Like in the Zelda Nintendoland minigame, Battle Quest. I can play Skyward Sword all day long only using my wrists. But stiffly holding that pad in front of me? No way.

What I like is the ambitious part. Zelda hasn't been ambitious in a long time. With every new game they have a new main gimmick, some new visual style and that's all "good enough". For example it's always the same number of dungeons, some have more, some has less, but no other Zelda game has surpassed A Link to the Past yet in number and size of dungeons and that was the third of 16 games! What's up with that? But whenever Nintendo tried to increase the scope, it became a problem of emptiness. Hyrule Field in Twilight Princess is large but empty. Which is why they preferred to make more "dense" areas in Skyward Sword. But now they suddenly have the resources to make everything bigger? I sure hope so.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One Million Rupees

So, I've finished this game recently:

New Super Mario Bros. 2 - a big pile of recycled content covered with a coin collecting gimmick. It's definitely not the first time that Nintendo recycled the content of one game to make another. But it's the first time that such a follow-up lacks any ambition. For Majora's Mask they reused pretty much everything from Ocarina of Time, even the characters. But the game was so full with great new ideas, interesting gameplay mechanics, dense atmosphere and amazing new worlds that only few people cared about the recycling. In case of New SMB2 it all just feels like an expansion pack for New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

They tried to hide this with the new main gimmick of collecting as many coins as possible. While this gives you tons of lives, it doesn't add anything else. There's a main counter for coins, but nothing to unlock except for a new title screens that gets unlocked by collecting one million coins. Nintendo actually advertises the game by challenging you to collect one million coins...

So, I've fully completed the whole game (five sparkling stars) and guess how many coins I've collected... probably close to the million, huh? ... Actually it's just around 50.000 - 1/20 of the main goal. What teh eff, Nintendo?

Well, I could start playing Coin Rush mode and grinding coins everywhere, but for what really? So, that the title screen changes? But even if I would go through the effort, there's actually another one for 10 million. That's just too much and collecting coins is not much fun at all.

How could Nintendo screw this up so badly? This is weird, because they made a game with similar mechanics, which got the coin collecting concept entirely right - The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition. This little free gem was all about collecting as many Rupees as possible. There's also a main counter for Rupees and you unlock harder levels by collecting more Rupees. You need 5.000 Rupees in a normal stage to get the best key and you need to collect 30.000 Rupees alltogether to unlock the Hero's Trial.

30.000 Rupees are not hard to get, you might even get them at once in the 12 floor version of Vaati's Palace. Still you might continue to play, because collecting Rupees in this game is fun and there are many different random levels. You will turn every rock, cut every piece of grass and fight with your buddies over all the treasure chests just to get those precious Rupees!

Right now I have collected a total of 410.000 Rupees. It's the entire opposite of New Super Mario Bros. 2! And instead of collecting one million coins in New SMB2 I'll challenge Zelda fans to collect one million Rupees in Four Swords instead. Probably the better waste of time.

To encourage you to actually reach the million coins Nintendo of Europe gives away prizes. So, I thought, I'd give it a try. A Mario fan package is definitely more interesting than just a different title screen. Reaching the million by just playing is of course nearly impossible or you'd have to waste tons of time. So, you have to use some tricky farming methods to win as many coins as fast as possible. I started with the dual Goomba pipes in 2-4, but check this out. Extremely easy way to reach the 30.000 cap in Coin Rush mode. Got the million within two hours...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Signpost Maze

Another one of my infamous solution graphics, this time the Signpost Maze from Link's Awakening and Link's Awakening DX. Again those were made for ZeldaEurope.

PS: In case you wonder what the point of this post and the one before is, this is my unique way of telling you that I'm very busy with working on guides for ZeldaEurope. Doing that is already more than enough Zelda stuff in my free time, which is why this blog gets neglected at the moment. However, the new ZeldaEurope site will launch soon and then I'll return here to rant about Zelda. Already got some ideas, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pothole Maze

Two solution graphics of the Pothole Maze in Link's Awakening I've just made for ZeldaEurope's guides:

Did you know, that this kind of puzzle made its way into some of Four Sword's levels?

Signpost Maze will be next.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Perfect Start

For the near future, until we know more about Zelda on the 3DS and Wii U, this blog will focus on what's wrong with modern Zelda and how to improve it. Nintendo's goal is to make Zelda more popular again and they can't do that with the current Aonuma Zelda formula, because it's this formula, which is the problem. A lot has to change.

Check out this Kotaku article. It deals with a very important point: in the classic Nintendo games you jump right into the fun. There are no tutorial phases in Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. You get the sword right away and you start exploring. The essence of the game is there from minute one.

Modern Zelda completely lost track of this. There are lenghty tutorials for all the newly introduced gimmicks and there are many cut scenes you have to endure, before the real funs starts. Skyward Sword is a perfect example for this. They don't just let you go explore the world below, first you have to find your bird, learn how to fly in some ceremony, watch many cutscenes and so on.

When I observe my gaming behavior I usually prefer games, where I can jump right into the action. For example on the PC I like playing Unreal Tournament or Minecraft. The latter is a nice example, because its Survival Mode shares some similarities with the traditional Zelda gameplay. You get dropped right into the world, you start collecting stuff (to built better items) and you can go, whereever you want. You are free to explore the world like in the first Zelda game. The only restrictions are your own powers. As you become stronger, you can go explore the dark undergrounds. Zelda used to be like that, but it turned more and more into a guided and linear experience. And by now it takes you an hour to get into the real action.

It is very good that Nintendo is looking into this phenomenom. However, Miyamoto sees two major problems with this: one is the game elements that require teaching and the other one is story telling. I think the real problem are actually the teaching and the story telling. Both have to go.

Learning by doing. Actually Skyward Sword's controls were so natural and intuitive that they didn't require any tutorials, you just could learn them on the fly. And in fact there weren't many tutorials, for example you could skip the sword tutorial entirely. Which is the right way. Let the people learn the new stuff by theirselves and only include some optional help for those who really need it. For example Ocarina of Time introduced the 3D targeting controls, but they didn't force any tutorials on you. Beginners would talk to the Kokiki or read the signs at the training center. Experienced players just skip right to the Deku Tree. And that's the way how it should be. It also adds to the replay value. If you already played the game, you certainly don't want to endure any tutorials. Tutorials always should be optional.

Only the flying got its own forced tutorial sequence in Skyward Sword, because this was the new gimmick. But do we really need flying in a Zelda game? Or trains? Or becoming a wolf? Modern Zelda revolves around gimmicks, each new Zelda game gets its own share of new gimmicks. And usually those gimmicks don't have anything to do with traditional Zelda, which is why they get tutorials. For the next Zelda game Nintendo should not think about what amazing and creative new ideas they could stuff into Zelda, but they should focus on the core elements. Exploring, fighting, discovering secrets, collecting items.

And story telling shouldn't be in the way of the gaming experience. Never. I entirely dislike any movie-like games. If I want to watch a movie, I watch a movie. Games are about interaction. Games are about choices. Cutscenes are crap, because they don't offer any interaction or choices (at least not in Zelda, cut those silly multiple choice options with no effects). A video game has many more interesting possiblities of HOW to tell a story. Video games are the only media that allow non-linear story telling. You should explore the story by yourself while exploring Hyrule. By talking to people, reading old books or writings on a wall. Zelda offers many interesting ways to explore a story instead of just showing you cutscenes.

Majora's Mask does it right. You get dropped in Clocktown, where you EXPLORE the story all by yourself. You talk to people and you learn more about the town, the carnival and the Skull Kid. You listen to granny's old stories and get to know more about the backgrounds. It's an amazingly satisfying experience. Zelda doesn't need any lenghty cutscenes. Zelda doesn't need linear story telling. Zelda doesn't need an intro phase filled with cutscenes.

The goal for the next Zelda game should be the following: give you a sword as soon as possible and drop you into the open world as soon as possible. Don't force anything, let the player explore the magic of Hyrule all by himself. For a perfect start into a good game.

No Retro Zelda For You

So, when Miyamoto talked with Wired about how smooth the collaboration with Retro Studios went while making Mario Kart 7, he hinted that Zelda might be next.

Of course this caused massive hype among Zelda fans including myself. Retro understood perfectly what made the classic games great and they knew how to infuse this into a modern game. The Metroid Prime Trilogy is simply one of the finest Nintendo products of the last ten years and Donkey Kong Country Returns was a fun platformer. Zelda fans want Retro to work on Zelda, because those guys could bring Zelda back to glory.

But now Miyamoto denies in an interview with IGN that Retro is working together with Nintendo on the next Zelda, because the collaboration suddenly would be too difficult. Seriously...?

Okay, I understand that in Mario Kart 7 the labor division was probably a lot easier, since Retro was working on their own tracks. But you could still split the work of a Zelda game. Retro could make the dungeons for example. I trust in (old) Retro that they would return to the non-linear, maze-like dungeon design of the classics. So, at least the dungeons would be awesome.

But the problem seems to be a lot deeper than just issues in collaborating. According to these reports (as seen on ZI) Retro Studios is falling apart, most of the core employees have left the company over the past few years. Retro is not the same company anymore, who made the Prime Trilogy. So, Retro has to prove yet again that they're the right guys to work on projects like Zelda. Let them revive another classic franchise, let's say Starfox or F-Zero, so they can show what the new Retro can do.

I'm sad about what's happening at Retro, because I saw a chance for Zelda in this studio. But now this chance seems to be gone.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Zelda Wii U still in Experimental Stage

Miyamoto in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

What we continue to ask ourselves as we have over the years is, “What is the most important element of Zelda if we were to try to make a Zelda game that a lot of people can play?” So we have a number of different experiments going on, and [when] we decide that we’ve found the right one of those to really help bring Zelda to a very big audience, then we’ll be happy to announce it.

With the last game, Skyward Sword, that was a game where you had motion control to use your weapons and a lot of different items, and I thought that was a lot of fun, but there were some people who weren’t able to do that or didn’t like it as much and stopped playing partway through it. So we’re in the phase where we’re looking back at what’s worked very well and what has been missing and how can we evolve it further.

With Skyward Sword we had a long experimental stage. It took five years to make the game, mostly because they experimented for a long time. There was even a phase, where they experimented with a first person perspective, which spawned Link's Crossbow Training. It took them five years to make a streamlined Zelda game with spot on intuitive controls. When the game was released half a year ago, Nintendo acted like the controls were the perfect way of playing Zelda. Aonuma even told the ONM, that they can't go back to button controls. But now it seems like anything is possible. The Wii U is a game system with multiple control layouts. You can use the Wiimote and Nunchuk, the new pad or a typical dual analog gamepad. But in case of Zelda I'd say stay with the Wiimote controls.

The problem with Skyward Sword were not the controls. But how the fighting felt unnatural. Suddenly all fights revolved around "swing in the right angle" puzzles, which wasn't much fun. Stalfos were holding their swords in weird ways just to offer an obvious week point. I think the controls were great, but the fighting and all the motion control puzzles sucked ballz. It would have been much more fun and satisfying to use the new controls in more natural fights. However, I fear that Nintendo doesn't see the flaws in the ways how modern Zelda games tend to work and just keeps throwing new input methods at us, which won't change anything.

Nintendo shouldn't focus on the controls for once, but on the game. They lost track of what a good Zelda game has to look like. Their experiments hopefully will focus on what made the classic Zelda games great. The ones on the NES, A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. One might blame me for being blinded by nostalgia, but there are reasons why many people favor the classic Zelda games over games like Skyward Sword or Spirit Tricks. Those games were about exploring and discovering secrets. The fights were tougher, the worlds were more open and dungeons used to be more non-linear and maze-like. Discovering hidden stuff and getting better items felt more satisfying. Modern Zelda games got very linear, too easy and too focused on gimmicky puzzles. Modern Zelda games are bloated with stuff like cut scenes, long tutorial phases, annoying sidekicks and are full of gimmicky gameplay elements like Silent Realms, which shouldn't be part of a Zelda game to begin with.

If they want Zelda to be successful again, they have to strip it down. Down to the very NES basics. Down to the core of what Zelda was supposed to be. And this is were they should start.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest Announced

If you read the post's title alone, you might be pissing your pants for excitement. "The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest? That sounds awesome!" Too bad it's just some stupid minigame in Nintendo's next minigame collection for the Wii U: NintendoLand.

The game will feature Miis dressed as Link in an on rail shooter experience in fabric visuals. Two of them can swing the sword similar to Skyward Sword, while the first player uses the Wii U Gamepad to fire arrows with a bow. That's pretty much it... nothing exciting here, much like the rest of the Nintendo E3 2012 press conference.

And I'm pissed that a cool name like "The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest" gets wasted on a minigame.

Source: Kotaku, NintendoEverything

Brace Yourselves, the E3 2012 Nintendo Press Conference is Coming

Two in fact, there will be a seperate Nintendo 3DS event later on Thursday at 3AM.

Well, the Nintendo Direct event yesterday was rather disappointing. I didn't like the bad Big Bang Theory imitation, it wasn't really funny, it distracted from the product and it didn't feel like something, where you would identify yourself with, whether you're a gamer or someone who is interested in the Wii for other reasons like family or WiiFit. The new controller feels forced, Iwata acted like it's the must have solution to many problems. I don't see it. Not to mention that they shouldn't even consider pop psychology crap like "Alone Together", which probably aims against all technology as something bad, I don't see how a new separate screen in your household would help with the "together alone" problem. It rather amplifies it, now your wife can watch Grey's Anatomy, while you play Super Mario on the pad. I actually thought that Microsoft's SmartGlass was a much nicer approach. It didn't feel forced and some ideas like having a map of Westeros while watching Game of Thrones were quite cool (that would in fact be quite helpful, since the show jumps around so often). I'm not a fan of the new controller, I can't see myself playing Zelda with this thing, and I don't like the Miiverse idea that much. My Wii is now turning into Facebook? That's the last thing I wanted, it's a fad that won't add anything to the games in ten years. Most Nintendo games have something in common: they are timeless. You can play A Link to the Past in 20 years and it's still a great game. They shouldn't add any ephemeral features like social networking to their games.

But all hope now lies in the games. The ship Nintendo rise and sinks with its games, the stupid Wii U is just a box I have to buy to play Zelda. We'll definitely learn more about New Super Mario Bros. Mii and 2. As well as Luigi's Mansion 2 and maybe Super Smash Bros Universe (have you seen the Playstation Allstar copycat? trolololol). I don't expect Metroid and I'm not sure about Zelda. It only has been half a year since the last release and they shouldn't have come far. But a simple teaser (trailer) is still a possibility, at least for the 3DS Zelda, just to get people excited and maybe to show the direction of the new games. Maybe a confirmation that Retro is working on Zelda Wii U (that alone would get me hyped). Maybe another Zelda Wii U tech demo that shows more of the Wii U's power. We'll see in a few hours.

Enjoy the show, everybody!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ocarina of Time 3D and Add-On Content

This week Nintendo released their first official add-on content for a 3DS game, a patch for Mario Kart 7 that prevents you from using some glitch based shortcuts (the one Wuhu track for example). As we all know Nintendo is against "releasing incomplete products", so you should't expect downloadable MK7 tracks or new Super Mario 3D Land levels for 4.99. And definitely not downloadable content for a game like Zelda, where DLC would be hard to include (unless there's multiplayer).

Still I would like to talk about the possibility of Ocarina of Time 3D getting new content, because it could fix the biggest mistake of the remake - the lack of any new content. Like a new optional dungeon offering some bigger challenges. It could be placed as a cave or even a secret grotto somewhere in the Desert Colossus area. Or if you only want Adult Link to enter the dungeon then somewhere in the Haunted Wasteland (this place is perfect for adding some secrets). It could be another 50 story fighting dungeon like the Cave of Ordeals. That still would be better than nothing, especially if it let's you rebattle Dark Link. And it should get even harder in Master Quest. As rewards they should try to fill the two empty slots in the item menu, more bottles or a telescope, something. Maybe new potions that come with the new bottles and can be refilled in the dungeon any time. A larger wallet would also be nice, even though this wouldn't fill a slot in the item menu. But there could be a reward after every 10th floor.

The Cave of Ordeals idea is quite minimalistic and it might sound desperate that they just should add something. But I can't stress it enough, that Ocarina of Time 3D was a missed opportunity and DLC might be a way to fix this.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Future of Zelda 2012

I opened this blog in 2008 with a post called The Future of Zelda, at a time, where little to nothing was know about it. We knew that something was in development, but there were no announced titles, no concepts, nothing. 2008 was a total void for Zelda fans (save for Smash Bros. Brawl). Right now we're back in the same situation. We left the 25th Anniversary behind us, played many cool new Zelda titles and enjoyed many Zelda goodies such as Hyrule Historia. And now there's nothing. Nothing left to do, nothing to look forward to. We just know that something is in development, but we know nothing about the upcoming game(s). We've entered the Zelda void. Maybe they'll show us something at E3, maybe not. But until then we can only speculate and this is why I will post a new edition of my "the Future of Zelda" article.

A Tale of Two Games

It's not uncommon that there are two Zelda games in development at the same time. Actually it has always been that way ever since Majora's Mask. Right now Nintendo is working on both a 3DS Zelda game and a WiiU one. The 3DS game is probably getting the full priority, while the WiiU Zelda game most likely is still in experimental stages. But for those two games pretty much anything is possible. It's still unclear what play style, perspective or controls they will have. Or how the graphics will look like.

Originally the handheld Zelda games would go with the classic topdown perspective, while the big console Zeldas used the 3rd person play style of Ocarina of Time. But with Ocarina of Time 3D we now got a third person Zelda on a handheld and the new Zelda game on the 3DS might even follow that play style. But unless the WiiU Zelda now goes back to the topdown view, it would mean abandoning the classic Zelda play style. And I guess many Zelda fans wouldn't like that. Of course it's not like with Mario, where the 2D Mario games are ten times more popular than the 3D ones, but "2D Zelda" still should continue to exist. Well, what do we know about the upcoming Zelda game for the 3DS? Nothing really, only some statements by Aonuma. The biggest quote is probably that the game will be something "where 3D really matters". Aonuma also stated that the game will be based on what they built for the Nintendo DS Zelda games (see here). Both of this lead me to the speculation that the 3DS Zelda game actually might be a classic "2D" Zelda experience from the topdown perspective.

Why? In Ocarina of Time 3D the 3D effect didn't really matter. It looks nice, but turning it off doesn't change the gameplay experience in any way. In Super Mario 3D Land, however, certain bonus levels provided optical illusions in a fixed perspective, where jumps were hard to judge with the 3D turned off. Here the 3D really mattered. And ever since they introduced the "3D Classics" I was obsessed with the thought of seeing classic Zelda dungeons with a depth added to them. Imagine the dungeon room going into your screen. Super Mario 3D Land even got a Zelda stage, which shows how this would look like. I think the fixed topdown perspective would work great in combination with 3D. And in case of a topdown Zelda it would also make sense for them to built on the Nintendo DS Zelda engine. However, the stylus controls probably won't return. The 3D screen isn't a touchscreen, so you can't have both and the game will probably implement very old school Zelda controls. So, I guess the 3DS Zelda has a good chance to be a very old fashioned Zelda experience.

On the WiiU I really don't know what to make out of that tablet controller. Also, Nintendo praised their Skyward Sword controls so much, it would look stupid to abandon them immediately. The WiiU Zelda should keep the Skyward Sword play style and focus on nice graphics. They've shown us the incredible Zelda graphics demo and this is what the fans now want. They already made the same mistake with the 2000 Space World GameCube Zelda video, which looked pretty amazing at the time, and then making the Wind Waker instead. They shouldn't repeat this mistake, they've shown us the shiny Temple of Time and now fans want this or at least something similar impressive.

About the controls? All I see in that controller is something similar to Four Swords Adventures. But playing that game with the GameBoy Advance in your hands was pretty uncomfortable. Even though it always says things like "look at GBA screen" and "look at TV screen", switching between screens gets pretty confusing and annoying, It's a terrible play style. So, what could you use the tablet for? For maps and menus, naturally, similar to all the DS and 3DS Zelda games so far. But using this controller would mean giving up the Wiimote play style. And Skyward Sword felt pretty good and natural. So, what's more important? Having an easy access to maps and menus or the cool sword controls? I'd go with the Skyward Sword controls all the time. The WiiU controller could become a glorified "Tingle Tuner" though... okay, the Tingle Tuner was just an aweful feature with its only use to annoy the main player. But the general idea isn't that bad. It happens that you play Zelda and there's someone watching you play the game. That person could use the WiiU controller to study maps and give valuable information or even influence the environment in some ways like shown in the tech demo.

Majora's Mask 3D

Okay, it is actually not true that we don't know anything, because Majora's Mask 3D is pretty much a given. They just said that they will develop an original Zelda game for the 3DS first, before they release another remake. But Majora's Mask 3D is a simple task, take Majora's Mask and make it look like Ocarina of Time 3D. This time though they should definitely add some actual new content. Like a new dungeon or whatever. I will write a more detailed post in the future about MM3D ideas, but one feature I would like to see is expending the game's Pictograph item into the Pictobox experience of the Wind Waker including a new figurine collection. It's a perfect fit, the figurines would look awesome in 3D and thanks to the repeating 3 day cycle there wouldn't be any missables, which was the worst thing about the figurine collection in TWW. And it should work a little bit easier, for example you shouldn't have to wait one day for a figurine to be made. The figurines should also be stored in your inventory, because otherwise you would lose them on your time travels. Also, a Master Quest for Majora's Mask would be pretty sweet. Expect more thoughts about Majora's Mask 3D soon.

Grezzo and Retro

Grezzo established theirselves as the Zelda remake guys, they made both Ocarina of Time 3D and the Four Swords Anniversay Edition. And they probably will also develop Majora's Mask 3D, when it's time. Until then I think they will work hand in hand with Nintendo on the 3DS Zelda game. No matter how the game will look like, their experience and manpower will be an asset. Another valuable asset for Nintendo has been Retro Studios, who have made some pretty amazing games in the past ten years. It already has been hinted by Miyamoto that they could work on Zelda and let me tell you that this would be the best damn thing that happened to Zelda in a long time. They have a good understanding of what made the classic games great and how to put it into a modern game. They could bring Zelda back to its roots, while still giving you a fresh and modern Zelda experience. Of course Nintendo wouldn't hand over their next Zelda game entirely to Retro. So, I think the next two Zelda games will be born under the star of codevelopment. The 3DS Zelda game will be codeveloped by Grezzo and the WiiU Zelda game will be codeveloped by Retro. More manpower for Zelda.

Zelda on the eShop

Let's not forget the realm of the eShop, where past Zelda game will make their return. The Legend of Zelda already found its way to the 3DS Virtual Console and the remaining ambassador games, Zelda II and the Minish Cap, will most likely follow. Also, don't forget Oracle of Ages and Seasons, two games that haven't been available since the GameBoy Color days. The Game & Watch Zelda could also be remade, an actual 3D version where the 3D effects are used to properly emulate the LCD effects would be lovely. Talking about 3D remakes, I still think it would be an awesome idea to get a 3D Classics version of A Link to the Past, based on the GBA version and including the Ancient Stone Tablets addon levels. For the ultimate version of A Link to the Past. I would love to buy that.

Anyway, some Zelda classics will definitely see a return as downloadable games. But I would also like the idea of new 2D Zelda games as exclusive downloads. Similar to the Four Swords Anniversary Edition without the remake part. Imagine a new Zelda game in the lovely style of the Minish Cap. Or something in the improved ALttP style from Four Swords Adventures. Small Zelda games for a small price, no big new gimmicks here, just classic Zelda gameplay. I would love to buy that.


A big "NO" here at the moment. The Tingle series is over and the Zelda team shouldn't waste their time on something like Link's Crossbow Training 2 or Link's Fishing Adventure.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nintendo Direct April 2012

Today Nintendo hold another of their Nintendo Direct news events. While there's no Zelda related stuff here, there are some things I'd like to point out.

First of all it's nice to get a face for Nintendo of Europe, Satoru Shibata, the president of NoE. Nintendo of Japan always had Iwata und Nintendo of America had Reggie Fils-Aimie. I think this is the first time that Shibata took the spotlight and I like this development.

Then guess who's celebrating his 20th Anniversary?

Yes, Kirby is getting a anniversary compilation later this year. It seems a little bit random that they've now started to celebrate a 20th Anniversary, while they've ignored the 25th Anniversay of Metroid. But the truth is that they'll probably celebrate the anniversaries, whereever it fits best and makes the most profit. The 25th Anniversary of Zelda came with a good timing because of the releases of Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyward Sword. The anniversary goodies and the games perfectly boosted each other resulting in more profit.

Metroid right now is pretty much dead, which is why Nintendo ignored it mostly save for the Virtual Console releases. In case of Kirby they already tried to promote the franchise last year with the Kirby TV channel. But the new Kirby game, Kirby's Return to Dreamland, got lost in the shuffle of many other good releases such as Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. The 20th Anniversary of Kirby might be an attempt to bring the new Kirby game back in the spotlight. People, who've overlooked the game before, might buy it now.

One last thing of notice is the new Nintendo 3DS update which lets you organize your stuff in folders. I like that, however, these news reached me one day too late. Yesterday I cleaned my 3DS from all the downloadable demos and videos, while I just could have put them in folders... :D

Thursday, April 12, 2012

3DS Virtual Console: The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda is one of three Zelda games that were part of last year's Ambassador Program, where early 3DS adopters received free games as a repayment for the early price cut. However, these games will also become available for everyone else one after another and today The Legend of Zelda hit the European eShop. You can download it for the price of 5€, which is the same price as on the Wii Virtual Console.

I've already downloaded the game and tested it. It looks a lot sharper than the muddy Link's Awakening DX, which is satisfying.

Well, the purchase did hurt a little bit. It's not that 5€ are a big deal, the price for the game is okay, but I've already bought the game for the Wii Virtual Console. And I'm mad that this doesn't count. I've got a Club Nintendo account, where all my purchased games from the last ten years are registered including all Virtual Console and eShop games. And this account is linked to the eShop. So, Nintendo has a database, where they can clearly see, that I've already bought the NES Classics version of Zelda for the GameBoy Advance and that I've also downloaded the game for Wii. Why shouldn't this count? Why should I have to pay for the game a second or a third time? Just because it is on the 3DS? If the game had 3D effects like Kid Icarus then I would understand, but it doesn't. It's the same old game. Or is it because VC games now got a save state? That's not really a good reason and common emulators offer 10 quick save slots, which lets this new feature look rather pathetic. So, why do I have to pay?

Of course no one forced me to buy the game for the fifth time (except for my inner Zelda collector), but generally it would be nice to have a cross-system Nintendo account where all your downloaded games are stored and can be redownloaded on all of your internet-ready Nintendo systems. The thing is that this account already exists in Europe, but it isn't used...

On the bright side this game also marks the return of the Zelda channel in the eShop. Four Swords is still gone though.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ganon's Apprentice Comic

At Zelda Universe Forums some guy published an Ocarina of Time comic from the Norway Club Nintendo magazine.


It's a short story, where Malon gets kidnapped by one of Ganondorf's henchman and Link seeks out to rescue her. The drawing style is quite edgy, just take a look at Malon:

I didn't know they used botox in Hyrule... And I didn't like that the focus of the story was on some evil guy called Radamantro, Ganon's apprentice, who was made up for the comic and never appeared in the games. But overall it's quite cool and full of nice details, for example you can spot Majora's Mask next to Ganondorf's throne. So, it's definitely worth a look.

But that's not the reason why I'm posting this. Today I've made a German translation of the comic for ZeldaEurope, which you can read here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Adventures of Stink

So, last weekend Jade from ZeldaEurope and I decided to torture ourselves by watching the Zelda Animated TV series. *plays intro*

The show ran in late 1989 as part of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show on Fridays. Though Zelda II was already released at the time and enemies from the game even appear in the show (like the Moby or Deelers), the show mostly just takes the story from the first game into consideration. So, it appears that there are only two Triforces and the Triforce of Courage never gets even mentioned. Ganon resides at Death Mountain, where he has the Triforce of Power and his Evil Jar (this is where the enemies go, when Link "kills" them), and constantly tries to steal the Triforce of Wisdom from the castle, where Link and Zelda live. This is the status quo of the show and no matter what happens, it will be restored at the end of each episode. So, if one party has the chance to get their hands on the other Triforce, you already know that they will fail.

You also know that Link will always fail to hit on Zelda, no matter what. For the show the silent protagonist Link, who we all know and love, got turned into this jackass, who always try to get to first base with Zelda. It's weird, because normally you would identify yourself with Link, but here he can be hard to sympathize with. Zelda on the other hand literally wears the breeches in this show. She can be a bitch, but she is a lot tougher than in any other Zelda media. She even saves Link's life more often than he saves her.

And then there's Ganon. Like with all Zelda characters at the time there was only little known about him, he was basically just a big fat pig, which was able to cloak itself and teleport. So, they gave him Skeletor's voice, charme and character and made him teleport all around the room like he's drunken. And he has this ridiculous laugh, but that's about it.

One last thing of notice is that they used sound effects directly taken from the game. Like the sword beam or when Link gets items from his magic pouch, that magically shrinks all his stuff. This is actually pretty interesting, because no game so far tried to explain how Link is able to carry all his junk. Except for Skyward Sword, where you got the Adventure Pouch, which seems to be inspired by this.

We watched the German version of the show, but I've also seen the English original before. But the German dub definitely adds to the overall cheesiness of the show, the infamous "Excuuuuse me, princess" catchphrase gets replaced by two different catch phrases based on the situation. One is "Ich tuuuuuuu mein Bestes, Prinzessin" (I'm doooooooing my best, princess) and the other one goes "Es tuuuuut mir Leid, Prinzessin" (I'm soooooorry, princess). It's just sounds so ridiculously bad.

If I had to pick my favorite episode, it probably would be "The White Knight". Link and Zelda meet this snobby prince and Zelda totally has the hots for him. Of course Link, who gets called "Stink" by Zelda in front of the prince (hence the title of this post), gets jealous and lucky for him the prince doesn't like to get his hands dirty. But in the lands of the fantasy world Hyrule you would think that they could come up with more interesting problems. The Zelda universe was already pretty deep and exciting during the NES era and the possibilites for stories are exciting. However, instead they end up building a water park for King Harkinian or solve other ridiculous problems like Moblins building a labor union...

Well, we had a good time watching this. It's not as bad as the CD-i games, but for a Zelda fan it still can be quite embarrassing. However, if you manage to ignore the bad quality and the fact that the show was aimed for young kids, you can have a lot of fun with it. The show can be unintentionally hilarious. But it's not the end... Jade then pointed out that the Zelda Valiant Comics are based on the TV show, so I decided to check them out for the first time. And these comics are really the continuation of the show.... oh, my Din!

After the show got cancelled these Zelda comics appeared during the year 1990, there seem to be six or seven magazines in total. While the comic is based on the show, it also fully deals with the world from Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, which got mostly ignored in the TV show. The castle from the show is now the North Palace and other locations from Zelda II like the individual towns are mentioned and visited. You even get this nice map with the first book:

The scale of the area from the first game is way too large, but overall it's really cool. The world from Zelda II never really got so much attention as here and the comics make you wish that some game might return to Northeastern Hyrule in the future.

Also, Link actually carries the Triforce of Courage in the comics, which he got from the Great Palace. There's only one Zelda, however, so it's the Zelda from the show and the first game who fell asleep and Link had to safe her instead of a different princess from a distant era. I thought it would have been interesting to have a second Zelda next to the one from the show. You know, for jealousy and stuff, because after all Link hitting on Zelda is still part of the comic. Overall the tone of the comic is a lot more serious and darker than the show, for example there is one chapter where Link aquires the Triforce of Power, which then corrupts him and turns him into another Ganon. That's pretty deep stuff, but then comes the moment when Link tries to kiss Zelda (usually at the end of a chapter), which ruins everything and immediatly takes you back to the Super Mario Super Show's cheesiness.

And there's some other weird stuff in the comics. You actually get to see Link's parents in a land called Calatia. And Dark Link is not really a shadow, but more like a shapeshifter, while the Thunderbird is just a red eagle. So, while the comic is a lot better than the TV series, it's still quite weird.

If you're interested, you can watch the show here and get the comics here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Link and Samus Costumes in Dynasty Warriors Vs.

Dynasty Warriors Vs. for the 3DS will feature Link's Skyward Sword outfit and Samus' Zero Suit as unlockable costumes:

I've never played Dynasty Warriors, but I doubt that this will change my mind. Damn, this looks weird. Especially Samus. I understand that these are Dynasty Warrior characters wearing Nintendo outfits. But it looks really weird.

Normally I'm into these kind of cameos, for example I love SoulCalibur II for the sole reason of having Link as a character and I got DOA:Dimensions for the Metroid stage. So, having both Link and Samus as a cameo would be pretty exciting. Maybe there are characters in the game, where the costumes don't look completely weird. But I doubt it...

Source: Kotaku (news) / NintendoEverything (pictures)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yarna Desert Skeleton Secret

So, a friend of mine got this huge batch of old Club Nintendo magazines. For those who don't know what a Club Nintendo magazine is, that was basically one giant advertisement in form of a paper available for free at local retailers in the 90s. It was mostly all propaganda (all games were really good and you should have bought them), but it was still nice to have. I'm sad that I've thrown my magazines away (though I saved all the Zelda articles in one big folder, in clear film) and looking through the magazines brought back a lot of childhood memories.

And then I stumbled over something shocking in the tips and tricks section of one magazine. There's a secret in Link's Awakening, which I didn't know about! There's no Zelda game which I have played so many times and so intense as Link's Awakening. And I seriously thought that I knew everything about it. That was until now. When you sprinkle Magic Powder on some remains in the Yarna desert, it tells you about the bombable wall in the cave above, where you can get a Piece of Heart.

I was quite surprised about this, earlier I thought that the Piece of Heart was just hard to find if you don't know that you can bomb the wall here. But it seems they've put a hint about it in the game. There's no reaction if you sprinkle on any of the other remains in the desert, so this seems to be an exceptional occurrence. But it might be that there are similar hints hidden throughout the game and I will sprinkle on EVERYTHING on my next playthrough... For example there's another Heart Piece cleverly hidden behind a wall in a cave in the Ukuku Prairie. There could be another hint about this heart hidden somewhere. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Zelda eShop cards

So, yesterday I've made a trip to Berlin visiting a friend and on my way I finally got the Zelda themed eShop cards at a Gamestop. It seems like Gamestop is one of very few shops in Germany, where you can buy these cards. I couldn't get the cards anywhere in my town and you can't order them online. Well, Gamestop had plenty of them and I bought one of each version. That's 45€, probably enough for all Virtual Console games I'm going to download in the future.

Here are the cards:

I already downloaded Link's Awakening DX, since I buy all available Zelda games for all my systems - for the collection. Virtual Console games now have a nice save state option, which works like quick saves in every common emulator. While the save state has a nice screenshot on the touchscreen, showing you where you were, there's only one save state per game. Well, but it's better than nothing and can be used to save before bosses.

On the downside I think that the visuals aren't that great, I was hoping that the game would be sharper. I'm used to playing GameBoy games on emulators, where the graphics are upscaled by simple nearest neighbor interpolation, which looks sharp and crisp. On the 3DS it's rather muddy. I would like to have more options here, like an option where you set whether the image should be stretched or not. If it's not stretched, it doesn't use the full high of the screen, but it at least looks sharp because the transition of the pixels is 1to1. Also, an option where you could switch to the classic monochrome GameBoy version would be awesome too. I always preferred that one. So, I'm a little bit disappointed about the quality and for now I will save the money for later.

UPDATE: You actually can change the resolution by holding down Select (or Start) while loading a VC game. It then shows a very nice GameBoy or GameBoy Color frame that uses some 3D effects. Also, in old GameBoy games you can change the visuals into a greenish GameBoy look by pressing L + R + Y. So, there are in fact some nice options for your VC games, just hidden...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oracle of Seasons: Hero's Cave Chest Puzzle

As I already mentioned, I'm currently revising guides for ZeldaEurope. Right now I'm working on the Oracle guides and today I made this nice graphic for the final puzzle in the Hero's Cave from Oracle of Seasons. I thought I also could share this here, since I have been neglecting my blog lately (in favor of ZeldaEurope and Minecraft :D):

Well, if you ever happen to get to this room, you can use my solution. As an explanation, the floor tiles resemble Holodrum. There's the desert in the southeast, the sunken city in the northeast, the mountains in the north and the lakes in the center. The eight chests stand for the eight dungeons in the game and you have to open them in the proper order.

There's also a nice trick for the room before this one. There's this nasty Boomerang puzzle, where you have to throw the Magical Boomerang through a tight tunnel, which is difficult to do. For the trick just stand in the lower right corner of the room next to the blocks and throw the boomerang up. Then walk left, so that the boomerang hits the switch on its way back to you. It will move right through the blocks.