Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Got Hyrule Historia

duh-duh-duh-dumm *plays Zelda Get Item melody*

Mhh, my whole appartment smells like something freshly printed. The English version of Hyrule Historia was released yesterday and thanks to Amazon I already got my copy today. I bought the normal version, not the limited one, because I don't see why should pay twice as much just for different outer appearances. I also really like the green cover. Here are pictures:

I already had the chance to browse through the Japanese version and thanks to GlitterBerri, who also made the official translation, the important parts were already translated into English. However, this is the real deal. Every detail was translated, every mark on every concept art. And some of the stuff is very interesting.

For example originally there was going to be a "medal shop" in Skyloft's Bazaar, which made me curious. As you might know, I already dealt with the idea of additional medals. It seems like the idea of a medal shop was integrated into Beedle's Air Shop. But he only sells two medals, while the others are gotten from Goddess Cubes. So maybe they planned more medals at some point?

Some other interesting details:
- It appears that they originally planned a two player mode for Link's Awakening. There's a sketch of a special golem boss that resembles Ramrock, Gohdan and Mazaal and is fought by two Links. He's at the center of an abyss and one player has to throw the other player onto the head. There's a stake on the head that has to be pushed in with the Hammer, an item that is not in the game. Maybe this sketch was meant for A Link to the Past?
- For the Oracle games there was going to be a Magic Paintbrush as one of the central items making use of the GameBoy Color's colors.
- They originally planned a Shadow Sage in Spirit Tracks. Maybe the Dark Realm was going to be a fully developed realm earlier in development?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Wind Waker HD Announced

Beautiful. And I saw it coming, already one and half years ago! While I expected at the time that they would simply upscale The Wind Waker for the first big HD remake on the Wii U, I didn't imagine it to look this beautiful.

Don't get me wrong, the graphical enhancements on these pictures seem to be quite simple, not to say cheap. But they know how to cover this and the lighting looks very beautiful.

But I'm more excited about other changes. Ever since the game was released, it was critized for its lack of content, especially on the dungeon side. They could add more islands and dungeons to make the remake really worth getting.

And I expect the Tingler Tuner to be turned into something a lot more useful. On the GameCube you needed the GBA for it and it was only useful to annoy the player. If Zelda is really getting a new coop approach, enhancing the Tingle Tuner might be the first step. Of course it should use the GamePad (while the normal player uses the pro controller) and have more functions than just dropping bombs on the player. Detailed HD maps at least. Of course this doesn't have to be a coop mode, you could use the Tingle Tuner on the touchpad while playing the game normally with the Wii U GamePad.

There's one more thing that's crossing my mind: the 2nd Quest. Originally you and Aryll would get a different outfit, you would keep your figurines and start with the DX Pictobox, treasures chests are sunken at different places and you were finally able to read Hylian. While this is nice, the 2nd Quest could be so much more! First start amping the difficulty. Double damage and no hearts like in Skyward Sword's Hero Mode. Maybe also mirroring the game like in Ocarina of Time 3D Master Quest. Make changes to the dungeons. I previously also talked about, how the treasures are at different locations in the Japanese version. There you are following a chain of treasure charts to get one of the Triforce charts, while you get some of the Heart Pieces in dungeons. They could use the western version of the treasures for the main quest and the Japanese version for the 2nd Quest.

And there's the boss challenge. Well, considering that you can always battle most bosses again in Ganon's Castle, a boss challenge mode might be overdoing it, but it still might happen. Also, the Wii U GamePad is pretty perfect for taking pictographs for the Minintendo Gallery.

Well, there are many possibilities with this remake and I'm really excited about this. However, not excited enough to buy a Wii U. Unless they release a special limited Wii U with it, I'm going to wait for the brandnew Zelda game until I buy the new console.

The Return of Non-Linear Zelda?

So, the silence around Zelda was finally broken in today's Nintendo Direct show with a simple announcement from Aonuma:

We're going to make Zelda less linear again!

He didn't say it in this direct way, but it was the main point in my eyes. They want to rethink the conventions that dominated Zelda in the last years and go back to the roots of Zelda while doing so. He uses linear dungeon order and design, as well as playing in singleplayer as examples.

Now, if you followed my blog even for a little while, you should know that the linearity of modern Zelda games was always my main concern. I despise linear game design, it's lazy and boring. A video game is always the sum of its interesting choices. The real great Zelda experiences are the ones, where you explore Hyrule on your own, finish dungeons out of order or in different ways. It adds a richer experience and massive replay value to the games.

I went on and on about how Zelda should become less linear and finally my prayers have been heard!

However, they already promised the very same thing for Skyward Sword. He even mentioned in today's Nintendo Direct that they failed to keep those promises with the game. It was as linear as ever. And remember how they wanted to get away from the typical dungeon design and merge overworld and dungeons at some points? They used Faron Woods as a demo for an overworld dungeon. However, nothing of this remained in the game and they just added classic dungeons to the woods.

But this time it's different. This is the very first info we got about Zelda on the Wii U. It's the basis for this new game. And they have to keep the promise this time. So, I'm very confident that we will finally see the return of classical non-linear Zelda design. And needless to say that I'm very excited about this.

About the "playing alone" convention, I guess that they will probably work on some kind of coop mode, that uses the GamePad. If that's the case, this would also mean that the main game is still played with the Skyward Sword controls. I wouldn't want them to drop the controls just now, they deserve another chance. While playing Skyward Sword I always thought that the controls feels really nice and powerful. However, it was all the awkward "please slice in the given direction"-puzzle fights that ruined the experience. Most enemies turned into some dull motion control minigame and that was the wrong approach. So, for the Wii U game I would like them to focus on a more natural sword fighting experience, while the GamePad is used for some kind of coop mode, where you assist the player in many ways.

I guess a coop itself could revolve around maps and map making. Remember in the old NES days, it was common that Zelda was played by two people: one playing the game, the other one drawing maps. Maybe Nintendo wants to return to this principle, maybe by adding more interactivity to maps. Like being able to control the environment via the map. It would be new, but still "back to the roots" in some way.

Also, there are many other modern Zelda conventions that should be broken. Like the need of a sidekick character as a guide or the long tutorial phase at the beginning of each game. I hope Nintendo really looks into what fans disliked with past games and starts getting rid of all those ugly conventions.