Thursday, January 5, 2012

Skyward Sword Blade Journal, Final Entry: Hero Mode 100%

It's been a long journey, but it finally came to an end. Minutes ago I've beaten the Hero Mode and with that fully beaten the game for 100%. Since I tied all lose ends before Skyward Sword, this also means that I've fully beaten the entire Zelda series. Nothing left to do.

Well, as soon as you get a Heart Medal (from the second Goddess Cube in Lanayru) and hearts start to return, the Hero Mode gets a lot easier. Well, but a single Heart Medal doesn't seem to bring back all hearts (for example there still weren't any hearts in the boss room of the Skyview Temple), I think you have to carry both Heart Medals to get back to the state how it would normally be. But I might be mistaken. However, during the Hero Mode I definitely had more trouble deciding which items I should carry in my Adventure Pouch. During the normal game I usually just would change the content of my pouch if I got some cool new stuff. But in the Hero Mode you definitely want to keep both Life Medals with you and at least one Heart Medal. And you should carry one or two potions. And if you're a fan of the Sadred Shield, you also want to bring a Revitalizing Potion++ just in case. See, we already used 7 of 8 spots in the Adventure Pouch, so there isn't much room for capacity upgrades or any other medals. During my first game I would bring at least one additional Bomb Bag, one Quiver and a Seed Satchel. And I would always carry the Treasure Medal. While I still tried to use my Treasure Medal, I rarely used any capacity upgrades or any other medals like the cool Bug Medal. But it's nice that during the Hero Mode you have to worry more about the content of your pouch instead of just carrying whatever you want.

You also become much more efficient. I can beat most bosses without getting hit by now. And you learn a lot of tricks. For example I learned that you can actually destroy the Beamos by shooting an arrow into their eyes just like in Twilight Princess. I had to learn this the hard way during the Sand Ship, the room with the three Beamos defending the Boss Key is really nasty. But if you know the tricks it all gets a lot easier.

And not everything gets harder. The True Master Swords now lets you instantly load sword beams, which is really cool. And you get used to it quickly, I wouldn't want to return to the slow and weak beams from the early beginning.

Probably the toughest challenge in the entire game is mastering the Boss Challenge during the Hero Mode to get the Hylian Shield. For that you have to beat eight bosses in a row without any recovery items and with double damage. Actually I can beat most bosses without any major damage or without getting hit at all. The Imprisoned for example is always an easy win if you rely on the "jump on the head" strategy. Never attack the feat in any of his versions. You can stun him with the Groosenator and then jump on his head in the 2nd or 3rd fight. If you follow these tactics, you won't get damaged during the Imprisoned fights. That's three safe fights already. The first two Ghirahim fights are also quite easy. Scaldera and most of the other bosses shouldn't be a problem as well. Only the third Ghirahim battle might be difficult, but with some training you will manage this one as well. You don't have to worry about Demise, he always comes last, so you don't have to worry about him for the Hylian Shield. The only real problem is the Horde Battle, the one where you fight against dozens of Bokoblins and other enemies at the Sealed Grounds. Every hit costs you two hearts and there's no recovery, even if you try just dashing right through the whole thing you will get hit a lot. You might be lucky and you don't have to face the Horde Battle, but the chance that the fight gets selected during the eight battles is 70%. I first tried to beat the Boss Challenge without any tricks, I selected the third Ghirahim fight, performed well and then continued to play. It all went smoothly until the Horde Battle, which just murdered me.

But there's an easy and cheap way to get the Hylian Shield anyway called using the Guardian Potion+. You can drink it right before talking to the Dragon and the invulnerability effect will carry over to the fights. The Guardian Potion+ makes you invulnerable for three minutes, but you can lenghten this time span with a Potion Medal. You might wonder about this, because medals are not allowed during the Boss Challenge. But the Potion Medal only takes effect in the moment when you drink the potion. If you drink a potion while not carrying the Potion Medal, the effect will last for three minutes. But if you drink it while carrying the Potion Medal, the effect will last much longer, even if you put the medal back into the storage. So, if you drink a Guardian Potion+ while carrying a Potion Medal right before entering the Boss Challenge, you can stay invulnerable for multiple boss fights. The next step is to select the Horde Battle first, so you can get through that one without any damage. I could make it within three minutes and I was lucky that the third Ghirahim battle would follow instantly. But the effect of my Guardian Potion+ lasted until the 6th fight and the Hylian Shield was mine at the end. Using the Guardian Potion+ might be totally cheap, but it saves you from a lot of frustration.

When you reply a game you tend to do things differently. I personally have the most fun with replaying Zelda games that are less linear. Like playing dungeons out of order, using different paths or whatever. Sadly Skyward Sword is very linear for the most part. I occasionally tried to break the game course, but the game wouldn't let me. For example this time I tried entering the Vulcano Summit without the Fireshield Earring, but Fi just stops you right before the entrance. Or in the Fire Sanctuary I tried leaving behind the Mogma, who gives you the Map, but again Fi stops you. The only real non-linear parts happen when you're supposed to collect or discover multiple things at once. But in case of the three dragons I didn't dare to experiment much because of the game breaking glitches. And you can prematurely play the enhanced Skyview Temple, but I already discoverd this during my first playthrough.

But to enhance the replay value the developers included some choices of how to deal with certain characters during sidequests. In each case I already tried both versions for the ZeldaEurope sidequest guides, but I ultimately had to chose one. In my first game I decided to give the paper to the hand and to reciprocate Peatrice's feelings. So, during Hero Mode I did the opposites. Sadly I liked the previous results a lot more. The Pipit and Karane couple is boring and you're missing out one entire character, so I suggest to give the paper to the toilet. In case of Peatrice I thought it was more funny if she's in love with you. If you reject her, she later says that she got over you and now will get prettier every day. But nothing really happens. Maybe what she's saying is more funny in Japanese, but it would have been more funny and interesting if she actually gets really pretty after this choice. In case of Pipit there's also a dialog at his mum's house after you've cleaned it, where you can make a choice, and it's more fun to tell him the truth. But overall it feels like I made the inferior choices during Hero Mode and now my Hero Mode savegame doesn't really look like an ultimate savegame to me despite the nice Triforce emblen that decorates it after beating Demise.

This and the fact that my savegame tells me that I spent nearly 150 hours with the game. That's a lot and a majority of the time came from research for my guides as well as from crazy farming. But generally I don't like it when it measures the time. I already hated that in Twilight Princess, because now I feel like I have to beat the game in a faster time. I was able to fully beat the Hero Mode within 35 hours. If I hurry through the normal game and play the Hero Mode again, I could get a "better" savegame. I know this is idiotic, but something like this just bugs me. But I will replay Skyward Sword some day anyway and that might be a good motivation.

I will close this post with a fun fact. When Demise gets revived the same music is played as when you meet Batreaux for the first time. Due to that I just couldn't take this scene seriously.

UPDATE: I noticed something odd (spoilers ahead!!!!). At the end of my normal savegame Groose is standing next to the young Impa at the Gate of Time in the past. In my Hero Mode savegame he isn't there anymore. Where is he? He must be still in the past, because he's there in the cutscenes after the final boss battle. Either this is some kind of weird glitch or an easter egg, but I couldn't find him anywhere...

My final review of Skyward Sword will be finished soon.


Anonymous said...

I decided not to take even one Heart Medal with me during Hero Mode after having one equipped for... five minutes. Just made that Mode too easy for me, and I wanted to have more of a challenge.

I was very lucky with my Hylian Shield. I didn't have to fight the horde. Your trick sounds good, though.... but still a bit cheap ;)

In the end, I enjoyed the Hero Mode, but it could have been better (you know that for yourself, though). Bit I really got a lot better at fighting.

And yes, The Imprisoned is a lot easier with the head tactic.

TourianTourist said...

I was thinking about not using any Heart Medals as well. But then I would have to buy Heart Potions more frequently. ^^

Anonymous said...

I liked that "I gotta buy potions now"-aspect very much ;D

I also limited myself by not sitting on chairs to recover. The only exceptions were in Eldin Volcano during the "Hero Song"-Part, since there was no other possibility to heal myself and haveing only two hearts is... bad (I wanted to have a deathless file, and I achieved that), and I once took place next to that one Goron with the wagons (he then talks to you, which I find nice).

Hero Mode was nice, but I would have loved more enemies, different places for Goddess Cubes and stuff like that. That one section in Skykeep, for example, is absolutely aweseome (the one where you get surrounded by enemies in the "Ancient Cistern Demonish Dungeon"-Look). I got really efficient at killing most of the enemies during Hero Mode, and I would have loved to prove that by slashing through tons of Stalords. The Horde "Boss" is a nice feeling, though. You really feel extremely powerful when you kill Moblin after Moblin.... =D

TourianTourist said...

You can always make the game more challenging by limiting yourself. The most common approach is the "Three Heart Quest" or in case of Skyward Sword a Six Heart Quest. Or you could always carry the Cursed Medal - who needs Potions or a shield, right? :D

Anonymous said...

Uh, that sounds a little too heard for me ;D I played the boss fights REALLY defensively most of the time, especially the last two.

Anonymous said...

About Groose... It turns out that if you talk to the Elderly Impa, she tells you that he ran out and is probably standing by his catapult.

BongaFish said...

Heart Medals virtually nullify Hero Mode. It's like they hand you a cheat code in the form of an item. What the hell is the point of going through 50 hours of gameplay in anticipation for extra content, then find out ten hours into it, that Hero Mode has a handicap item? Now, not only do you have extra treasure and puzzle knowledge from the last adventure, you now get hearts again, too. So it's actually even easier than Normal Mode!

Sure, you can make it hard by choosing not to use the medal, but you shouldn't have to choose to ignore an item to make a video game challenging. Normal items are SUPPOSED to be used for strategic advantage, not optional game changers. It's like Nintendo finally recognizes our desire for a challenge, then silently whispers, "...But in case it gets too hard, Mommy Nintendo's gonna be right here next to you to hold your hand."

Shieka Stones on Normal was similar, but that's an example of a well done handicap. First of all, rather than being a casual item, it was MEANT to be sort of 'cheat.' Secondly, it was put so out of the way that the only times you bothered to use it was during puzzles that stumped you so hard that you would have just Googled for solutions, anyway.

If Heart Medals must be in Hero Mode they should at least be more disadvantuous than taking up a slot in your pouch. They should act like the Cursed Medal, or lower the maximum of your heart gauge. SOMETHING.