Friday, May 31, 2013

Oracle of Ages & Seasons (3DS VC Review)

This review was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2022 by the same author.

Yesterday both Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons became available for download in the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Until June 20th they will only cost 4.99€ each, while normally a GameBoy Color title costs 5.99€. In Japan this offer will be only available if you buy both games at once, but in Europe it works for individual purchases also. So, if you're interested, then you should consider to take the deal in the next three weeks.

But first let's maybe take a look at how the Virtual Console variants fare... Sadly, in this case it's far from ideal that Nintendo only delivers slightly modified ROMs. These game really could have profited from some general improvements.

One of the things in question is the "Game Link" functionality. Originally, it served the purpose of linking both titles without the need passwords by using two GameBoy Color systems and a Game Link Cable. Of course, at the time this wasn't really any more convenient, where it probably didn't see as much usage. But like the multiplayer mode in the Virtual Console version of Tetris, it's now just completely fallow.

The menu items are still there, but nothing happens upon selection. You also can't talk to the Blue Snake at Vasu Jewelers any longer, which allowed you to transfer Magic Rings between systems. The blue book right in front of the snake also can't be read any longer, which could be confusing. What if someone tries talking to the Blue Snake or reading its book and then simply assumes that it's the same with the red site? The digital manual for the games also doesn't give any notice about this...

While it's not surprising that this functionality didn't make it into the Virtual Console version, it's still a missed opportunity. On the Nintendo 3DS they could have implemented the "Game Link" in much more practical means, since the save files for both games are now on the same system. When using the Game Link feature it could have automatically linked the files, so that you can at least avoid the lengthier passwords (the smaller Secrets weren't covered by the Game Link). And that's a shame, because the games would really profit from something like that.

The second point of criticism concerns the 100 Rupee Advance Shop. That's a special shop that can be accessed in both games early on the village at the beginning:

The Advance Shop in Lynna Village (Oracle of Seasons)The Advance Shop in Horon Village (Oracle of Seasons)

These shops only opened when you were playing the games on a GameBoy Advance. Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were released after the launch of the next generation GameBoy, which is why this shop was included as an exclusive for owners of the new system.

It's nothing major – you can buy one Gasha Seed and two Magic Rings for 100 Rupees each, where one of the rings was only available in the shop and nowhere else. In Ages it was the "GBA Time Ring" and in Seasons the "GBA Nature Ring". It's really not much, but for some it might have been an incentive to play the games on the GameBoy Advance at least once.

screenshot of the Virtual Console version with the shop closed in Horon

So, how does this look on the Virtual Console? Here the shops stay closed and there is no chance of purchasing these additional rings. While they don't have any special functionality, they will end up missing from your ring collection, which can be a nuisance for those who would like to go for 100% completion. You could make an argument that this faithful emulation, but they've already tampered with the games. And here it's sad that Nintendo went through the trouble of removing all Game Link dialogues, but they couldn't be bothered with opening the Advance Shops...

Luckily, there are still ways of getting these rings, since the old password system works exactly like in the original games and can be used to obtain them. Here is a small guide how to do so:

How to get the GBA Time Ring and the GBA Nature Ring in Oracle of Ages & Seasons for the 3DS Virtual Console

You can even use your Secrets from your old GameBoy Color games if you still have those!



If you don't mind using archaic passwords or that the Advance Shops can't be entered, then you will get two wonderful GameBoy Color classics made by Capcom, which still are a lot of fun. They aren't quite on the same level as Link's Awakening, but they will offer many charming hours and lots of references to the previous six Zelda titles.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to get the GBA Time Ring and the GBA Nature Ring in Oracle of Ages & Seasons for the 3DS Virtual Console

Okay, this is a simple guide that explains how you can still get the missing rings on your 3DS VC versions of the Oracle games. As you might know, the 100 Rupee Advance Shops stays closed on the Virtual Console. You can't enter them to buy the exclusive rings. The rings are worthless, but you still might want them to complete your collection. And this is how you can do it.

1) Using password manipulation

For this you basically just use this table made by banjoo kazooie at GameFAQs on your already aquired Ring Secret. I haven't tested it yet, but I trust that it works just fine. All you need to to is swap the fifth and fourteenth character of your Ring Secret. The tricky part is getting the correct fifteenth character, which is a guessing game, where you have to try out all 64 different characters.

But this has the general advantage that this works with games, that you've already started. You can't get the rings until you've completed your first game, however. Of course this is not a real issue, since the rings are only there for completion.

2) Using the password generator

This only works if you start a new game. But it has some other advantages, so I would recommend doing this, if you haven't started a new game yet.

First of all download this password generator. It's the holy grail for every Oracle fan and lets you do many nice things. Just execute the file and follow these steps:

  1. On the top right select "New Game (Hero's Secret)"
  2. Enter your ingame name in the field "Hero's Name"
  3. Chose your Game ID (a number between 1 and 32767) and write it down somewhere!
  4. Check "Ring Secret" and click on "Choose..." right next to it.
  5. In the submenu check "15. GBA Time Ring" and "52. GBA Nature Ring" and hit "OK".
  6. Then simply click on "Make Secrets" to get your passwords

All the other variables are meaningless at this point. For the Hero's Secret it doesn't matter, which game you chose or what your animal buddy should be. That's still up to you. And the name of the child can be changed afterwards. (Don't get irretated by this! You can still chose your animal buddy! There won't be any linked events. It's like starting a fresh game.)

You should receive two passwords, the Hero's Secret and a Ring Secret for two rings. The Hero's Secret is nearly identical to starting a new game without any passwords except for four differences:

  • The save file will be marked with a Triforce
  • You start with four hearts (instead of three)
  • You have the Victory Ring in your inventory (yet to be appraised)
  • You can use Ring Secrets from the start

Yes, it's essentially a minor New Game+, but the part with the ring secret is very important.

Now chose the game, where you want to start. It doesn't matter, if it's Ages or Seasons, the Hero's Secret works both ways. Simply select an empty savegame slot, then select "Secret" and enter the Hero's Secret. You should get a new savegame with the name, which you've entered into the password generator, and a Triforce on it. Play and you'll notice that you're on the beginning of the storyline (and not in a linked game). After the intro sequence happened, you can go straight to Vasu's ring shop (the house with the ring sign on the roof). Talk to him to receive your ring box. Then talk to the red snake and tell her the Ring Secret that you got from the password generator. If you now check Vasu's ring list, you can see that you've gotten both missing rings!

From now you can keep playing like normal. At the end you will receive the normal secret for linking to the other game. Ask the red snake again to receive an updated Ring Secret, so that you'll carry over the GBA rings. That way you can copy over your rings to all files that you've started with the Hero's Secret and all files connected to them! So, let's say you started a new game in both Ages and Seasons with the Hero's Secret, you can already share between the games. It's pretty cool.

You can also use this system to cheat and get all 64 rings from the start. But that's lame. However, you need to remember your Game ID, if you want to generate any additional secrets. Without the accurate Game ID the passwords won't work. So, write it down when you generate the passwords!

You can find more information about the Hero's Secret and how to get all 64 rings in this post: Using the Hero's Secret to get all 64 Rings

3) Using old passwords

Probably the easiest approach. If you had the games for the GameBoy Advance you can also simply use your old passwords. Just look for the Hero's Secret and your latest Ring Secret and use them on the VC.

No Advance Shop or Game Link in the Virtual Console Release of Oracle of Ages & Seasons

Three hours ago the Oracle games were released for the Virtual Console.

While there's still the general dilemma of a missing Nintendo account, which is why you shouldn't buy any games on Nintendo's eShops at all, with this release Nintendo really blew it.

1) No Game Link

The Game Link was a special feature in the original version of the games, which let you connect the two games without any passwords by using two GameBoy Color or Advance systems. Of course the passwords were probably easier to use, so no one really bothered with it. But on the 3DS they could have made it so that the other savegames are automatically recognized. All information is stored on the same drive. You would just select "Game Link" and the savegame from the other game, which you want to connect to. Very simple. I've already dealt with this idea in an earlier article:

Oracle of Secrets

On the 3DS Virtual Console everything Game Link related just does nothing. If you press A nothing happens. You can't talk to the blue snake at Vasu's shop or read the blue book there, which is somewhat confusing. What if someone tries to talk to the blue snake and then just assumes that the red snake also doesn't do anything? It's not even in the manual...

This is a missed chance. With an automated Game Link system the games would have been truly awesome. But so you have to use an ancient password system, which Nintendo even promotes as something truly great.

2) No Advance Shop

The 100 Rupee Advance Shops can't be entered. That way you can get the GBA Time Ring or the GBA Nature Ring and that way fail to complete your ring collection. For 100% completionists this is a real shame. Also, Nintendo edited the game to get rid of all the Game Link functionality. But they couldn't edit it to open the Advance Shops? That's disappointing.

Of course you can still get both rings using passwords. But I will deal with that in a separate post.

This is probably the most disappointing Zelda VC release yet... Nintendo always competes with free emulators here. Of course ROMs are illegal. But they easy to get and the Visual Boy Advance emulator is superior in so many ways... for example it lets you enter the Advance Shops. A simple thing, but still appreciated.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Symphony of the Goddesses (Report)

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses logo

This report was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2022 by the same author.

It poured yesterday in Berlin... Maybe that's because the Song of Storms was rehearsed in the Tempodrom, but it didn't stop the many Zelda fans from gathering in front of the building despite the bad weather, yearning for the admission. And I've been there as well, where I want to share my impressions from this exceptional concert.

The idea for the Symphony of the Goddesses came from the three concerts in London, Tokyo, and Los Angeles, which took place in 2011 in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda series. Out of this came the current line of concerts by Jason Michael Moore Productions, which has toured through 20 cities in the US and Canada last year. Afterwards the Symphony of the Goddesses also went international with additional concerts in Sydney, London, Paris, and now finally Berlin.

And there I was, in the rain, at the gates of the Tempodrom, where the concert was taking place. Maybe it was the bad weather, maybe the German fans aren't as big of an extrovert, but there weren't many crazy cosplayers to be seen during the event. A Link here, a Medli there, but for the most part it was just Zelda T-shirts and accessories, like a dashing Ezlo cap. In any case, it felt great to be with like-minded people, who were all there for the same reason: The Legend of Zelda.

In the lobby you were able to buy some Symphony of the Goddesses merchandise: a T-shirt for 25€ and a poster for 10€. This is where most of the crowd was, but this didn't matter, as long as there was something with "Zelda" written on it. And unlike in London, where everything was sold out rather quickly, they had enough for everyone, so that you could still buy something after the concert and even get one of the booklets, which were originally reserved for the 99€ tickets. The booklet introduces you to the main staff behind the Symphony of the Goddesses, as well as all 16 mainline Zelda games via artworks and their covers, combined with some quotes from the media, telling you about the momentous experience of Zelda in English, German, and French.

Past by the merchandise addicts you would find your way into the large concert hall, where the actual event was going to happen. The "cheaper" seats on the upper tier were actually not too bad – you have a great view on the whole orchestra, unlike down in the "manège" (the Tempodrom is based on a circus tent, where originally it was even housed inside one), though there you're closer to the musicians.

Said seats in the circus ring were fully taken, as were the ones in the lower and middle tiers, but the four outer blocks of the upper tier were almost empty, where they've probably redistributed some seats, giving a sad impression. So, it was not full house, but considering that the the concert was right in the middle of the week they should be happy with the sales numbers.

During the wait you could listen to different background musics from the Zelda series, which included tracks from Four Swords Adventures or the Forest Temple music from Ocarina of Time – songs that weren't part of the concert, but offered some more variety during this evening.

A rare sight were the many Nintendo 3DS users, who used the waiting times to polish the buttons of their handhelds. This was probably due to the limit of ten StreetPass encounters in the StreetPass Mii Plaza, which compelled some people to trade puzzle pieces and play StreetPass Quest before and after the concert, as well as during the intermission, just so that more Miis can move up... If you could be bothered with this, you certainly had the chance to complete some puzzles, which is a rare opportunity.

But StreetPass, merchandise, and cosplay were just small distractions. The real reason why we were all there was the wonderful music as played by the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg, accompanied by the Berlin Military Chorus. The symphony was composed by Chad Seiter, who has worked together with Michal Giacchino on different J. J. Abrams productions, like LOST or Star Trek.

The orchestra was conducted by the young Eímear Noone, who is known for her works on various Blizzard Entertainment titles. The Irishwoman was already the conductor during the recordings for the 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD, which was part of the Limited Edition release of Skyward Sword. Her German is pretty good, by the way, where she has used her language skills to introduce herself after the overture.

Then the producer entered the stage, Jeron Moore, who did so several times to announce the next pieces and explain the intention behind them. Moore revealed himself as a Zelda fan of the first hour, where he wanted to express his passion for the legend with this production, and this was clearly noticeable. With confidence he introduced the different compositions and he had a knack of enchanting the audience. There was a real Zelda fan in front of us, who let this unique experience come true.

Sadly, his interpreter wasn't as confident, who was there to translate Moore's word into German for the audience, but did so miserably. Not only was he acting like a fool on drugs, it seemed like he has never even heard of Zelda before the concert and therefore was unable to conceive Moore's statements up to a point where he stopped doing his job altogether. He actually translated the titles of the games into German, which is just confusing, because the games still have their English titles here, and even the title of the whole event, incorrectly so, where it turned into the "symphony FOR the goddesses". It seemed like the actual translator couldn't attend and instead they had brought in some comedian as a replacement.

Luckily, the majority of Zelda fans have sufficient command of the English language, so that Moore was able to reach the audience despite the lack of a proper translator. After a while it even felt like this whole act was intended to create some laughs. But for those who don't speak English this was certainly a nuisance, because they didn't have a real chance of understanding Moore. And for everyone else it was just embarrassing.

photo of the stage during rehearsal, there is a large screen behind the orchestra with a Hylian Crest displayed

The poor translations aside, the selection of music was certainly satisfactory. If you have listened to the 25th Anniversary CD before, then some pieces that were played on this evening will have been familiar to you. But of course it's a whole other experience to have them performed by a live orchestra right in front of you. It's almost surreal. And more than half of the compositions weren't actually part of the CD for a whole new experience.

The full program was as follows:

  • "Overture"
  • "Dungeons"
  • "Kakariko Village"
  • "Songs of the Hero"
  • "Prelude ~ The Creation of Hyrule"
  • "Movement 1: Ocarina of Time"
  • "Movement 2: The Wind Waker"
  • "Fairy Fountain"
  • "Movement 3: Twilight Princess"
  • "Movement 4: A Link to the Past"
  • "Ballad of the Wind Fish"
  • "Gerudo Valley"
  • "Suite from Majora's Mask"

The Overture was actually the 25th Anniversary Medley, which was played during E3 2011 to start this whole line of Zelda concerts. With "Dungeons" the musical journey went into the underworld of the first four Zelda titles, including the Light World dungeons theme from A Link to the Past, the Bottle Grotto from Link's Awakening, and of course the classic Level music from The Legend of Zelda. With the fan favorite Palace theme this also offered the only piece from Zelda II - The Adventure of Link – a game that could have been featured more richly.

"Kakariko Village" covered both the traditional version from A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, as well as the version from Twilight Princess, which was already part of the Orchestra CD. "Songs of the Hero" then was devoted to the different Ocarina songs from both Nintendo 64 classics: the Song of Time, the Serenade of Water, the Song of Healing, and the Song of Storms.

At its core the Symphony of the Goddesses was meant to be a classic symphony, however, divided into four movements. These movements featured the games Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and A Link to the Past, each with their own extensive medley. It started with Ocarina of Time, specifically the song about the creation of Hyrule – very befitting for a "Symphony of the Goddesses". They've also played the title theme, the Deku Tree theme, and the battle against Ganondorf, amongst others.

Another highlight then came with the second movement. For the medley about The Wind Waker conductor Eímear Noone put away her normal baton and took something out of a casket decorated with a Triforce: it was the Wind Waker, which she then used to conduct the rest of the concert for some guaranteed cheers and applause. The medley itself was mostly the same as the one on the Special Orchestra CD, which was also true for Twilight Princess in the third movement.

There was a short break after "The Wind Waker", which ended with the classic "Fairy Fountain" melody, which has accompanied the main menus of many Zelda games since A Link to the Past. This is also part of the Orchestra CD, in case you're interested.

Moore compared the four movements with the split timeline from Hyrule Historia and then asked the audience what would come next. Apparently, in Paris one of the answers was "Skyward Sword", which by the way only got featured in the Overture via the Ballad of the Goddess, but the German fans were a little bit "smarter" and welcomed A Link to the Past as the finale with applause. Many of the great melodies in Ocarina of Time, like Zelda's Lullaby, originated from this game, which is why it certainly deserved a movement of its own. And you can never get enough of the infamous Dark World theme anyway. So, A Link to the Past was certainly one of the highlights of the concert and a fantastic conclusion to the symphony.

I could have informed myself about the entire program upfront, but I didn't and seemingly wasn't the only one, where we got surprised with not one, not two, but three encores. It led to a total of four standing ovations before the concert was actually over! People applauded until their hands hurt. But it was well deserved and the audience ecstatic about every additional track announced by Moore.

First of the encores was the "Ballad of the Windfish", where words will fail to describe it beauty and this put me right back into my childhood, where I've played the eight Instruments of the Sirens at Mt. Tamaranch with the GameBoy in my hands. Then it was the turn of one of the most popular tracks from Ocarina of Time: "Gerudo Valley". Equally delightful were the bizarre sounds for Majora's Mask, a game that would have been dearly missed otherwise. In its suite they've played the opening, some of Majora's themes, Calling the Giants, and Clock Town.

Those who were listening with a trained ear might have caught some musical mistakes, but overall you have to say that the Film Orchestra Babelsberg really stood behind the music and gave it their all. On the big screen you could occasionally see some interesting closeups of the performers and follow the interaction of the different instruments.

However, the screen got mainly used for showing different ingame scenes, which were perfectly coordinated with the music, even with some excellent transitions. For example, as the music of Clocktown arrived at the Third Day, the screen displayed the "Dawn of the Final Day" message. It's also noteworthy that they didn't shy from using some more curious footage. Like, you could watch a Gossip Stone going up like a rocket, Link being attacked by a Cucco Revenge Squad, or a seagull flying around Windfall Island. But they also didn't shy from spoilers, where they've shown the final boss battles in A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess.

The sublime synergy of music and gameplay footage certainly caused some goosebumps in the audience and also some tears, the good kind. Dwelling in childhood memories, crying in joy, cheering... The concert was pure emotions. Sadly, with the younger audience there were also some who confused such a concert for a soccer game, which can be annoying. But luckily, this stayed within limits.

The Symphony of the Goddesses is without a doubt one of those evenings where you wish that it never ends. In any case, it leaves you wanting more, where it would be nice to have an album with the full program in the future. And some games, like Skyward Sword or The Minish Cap, didn't get much attention (though, in case of the Capcom games this may be a rights issue), where it would be nice to hear more from them in the upcoming "2nd Quest" program, which starts in Atlanta on June 6th.

Another important part of the evening were the many Zelda fans. All of us are connected by the beautiful memories of playing the Zelda games, which we all shared during this evening's entertainment. You may be a weirdo for some when you're listening to the Dark World music instead of the newest David Guetta song, but not in this place. At the Symphony of the Goddesses you are with other Zelda fans, who love this music as much as you do. And it feels great.

The music and the people made this evening into an unforgettable experience, where I would be happy to visit the second season of the Symphony of the Goddesses if it were to return to Germany.

Symphony of the Goddesses Merchandise

Yesterday I was at the Symphony of the Goddesses event in Berlin. And you were able to buy merchandise, yay! It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it says "Zelda" on it, I will be stupid to enough to buy it. But they had some beautiful posters and not too shabby T-shirts:

The poster comes in the size of 100x70cm and looks really pretty. Definitely worth it, prize of 10€. The shirt is a little boring, but in good quality. Somewhat overprized at 25€, but oh well...

I was also able to get one of the booklets that were reserved for the VIP class. At the end they would give them away to everyone else, as long as you bought a poster or a shirt. There's nothing really in it, covers and art from all the main games, as well as some quotes from gaming sites how important Zelda is and so on. Last two pages introduced the producer, the composer, and the conductor of the whole thing, which is probably the most interesting part. But it's a free gift, so whatever...

You can read my dedicated review in German at ZeldaEurope. But I'll add a short review in English tomorrow or so.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Symphony of the Goddesses Tonight

Today's the day. Symphony of the Goddesses in Berlin. It's rare that some Nintendo-related event comes so close to where I live, I'm really happy about it and looking forward to it.

I'll be there with some girls from the ZeldaEurope staff in block 6. Also, I'll bring my 3DS for Street Passing (almost forgot that, thanks to the guys at ZeldaUniverse Forums to point that out), watch out for Tingle. :D

I'm excited. See you there!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oracle of Ages & Seasons: Using the Hero's Secret to get all 64 Rings

As you might now the Oracle games are going to be released on the 3DS Virtual Console next week. For many people this might be the first time actually playing those games. The games do have a rather complicated password system, as well as a massive collection of 64 rings with different powers, probably the biggest attempt of incorporating RPG-like elements into the Zelda series. And often you see questions like...

"Is it possible to get all 64 rings in one file?"
"What is the Hero's Secret good for?"

So, I thought I should add a little guide to my blog answering these questions.

The first thing you need to know is that you can't get all 64 rings in one single playthrough. That includes a linked game, because depending on which game you've played first, the additional side dungeon, the Hero's Cave, will look entirely different and the additional sidequests that get unlocked via secrets are different as well. And so are the rewarded rings. Three rings are exclusive to a specific order of the games:

Seasons → Ages:
  • Armor Ring L-3 (found in Labrynna's Hero's Cave)
  • Heart Ring L-1 (Temple / Great Fairy's Secret)
  • Swimmer's Ring (Diver's secret)
Ages → Seasons:
  • Power Ring L-3 (found in Holodrum's expended Hero's Cave)
  • Snowshoe Ring (Mamamu Yan's secret)
  • Spin Ring (Mayor Plen's Secret)

There's also the Victory Ring that you simply can't get in your first playthrough, so at the end you can only get a total of 60 rings. And this is where the Hero's Secret enters the equation. The Hero's Secret is yet another password that you will receive after beating Ganon in a Linked Game. The Hero's Secret is special, because it can be entered in both games to start a New Game+. There are only four differences when starting a new game with the Hero's Secret:

  • The save file will be marked with a Triforce
  • You start with four hearts (instead of three)
  • You have the Victory Ring in your inventory (yet to be appraised)
  • You can use your old Ring Secret from the start

The latter point is the most important one. You can start a new game, head to Vasu, talk to the red snake and enter your old Ring Secret from your last playthrough (the one where you beat Ganon). Let's say you got all 60 rings there, you can instantly copy them to your new game. With the Victory Ring you'll have 61 rings now. You can even get a new Ring Secret (talk to the snake again) and enter it in your old save games to get the Victory Ring in all previous saves.

So, the Hero's Secret makes it so that your Ring Secret becomes universal to all your save games. All files will share the same Ring Secret; if you get a new ring in any of the files, you can share it with all others. And in the end it can basically be used to start a new game with all 64 rings right from the get-go.

Let's say you've played Ages → Seasons first and beaten Ganon at the end of Seasons. As soon as you'll get the Hero's Secret, you enter it in Seasons again to start a New Game+ to play in the other order (Seasons → Ages), where you finally can finish your ring collection. Which means you have to beat both games twice in order to get all 64 rings. But since all the events in a linked game and the Hero's Cave are entirely different this time, it's worth it.

And that's it. If you have any question, feel free to ask in the comments. If you're from Germany, you might wanna check out my extensive ring guide on ZeldaEurope. Also, there's this password generator, which let's you create passwords for Linked Games, Hero's Secret and Ring Secret. You can basically cheat to get all 64 rings with that thing, if you're too lazy to collect them all for yourself.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dark World confirmed for A Link to the Past 2

I was writing an article about the world of A Link to the Past 2 and whether there should be a Dark World or not, but Aonuma saved me the trouble by stating there is in an interview with CNET.

The remaining question is: is that it? Are we just going to play the same world again?

Nintendo has an overworld problem with Zelda. For me personally the overworld was always the most important thing in a Zelda game. The real star of the game. Challenging dungeons are nice (if they are challenging, not like those dungeons for 3 year olds in the last games), but the main motivation always comes from exploring the overworld. I remember the first time playing Link's Awakening... I would just leave a dungeon as soon as I got the dungeon item, because with it I could explore new areas of Koholinth. Exploring an overworld, finding villages, caves, hidden, treasures... that's what the real beauty of Zelda was to me.

But lately Nintendo just f*cked up the overworlds. Either by having very bland and empty worlds or by having worlds that are seperated into individual levels. Or both. What they offered in games like Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword was just terrible. It didn't give you this nice sense of exploration, which the original games had. The Nintendo DS games had just lots of boring mini areas connected by a travelling minigame. And Skyward Sword had an empty sky world that connected to areas which worked in a level-like fashion leading to the next dungeon. Completely lacking the feeling of freedom and exploration.

Nintendo proved that they're completely incapable of designing good overworlds. Which is probably why they're just re-using the old ones now... In Germany we have a saying: "Besser gut geklaut als schlecht erfunden" (better a good imitation than a bad invention). Of all the 2D Zelda games I'd say A Link to the Past had the best one. Close to my beloved Koholinth. So, yeah, maybe it's better to use an old world like this as the playing ground instead of making a new world that sucks anyway. But... we already explored this world! We explored it on the SNES (twice actually if you played the BS Zelda), on the GBA and on the Wii Virtual Console... I know ALttP's world like the back of my hand. And it looks like Nintendo is staying pretty close to it:

(image by RagnarokX from NeoGAF)

So, the only thing left to explore is what has changed in the remake. Some of us already had a similar experience with Ancient Stone Tablets, which reused ALttP's world back in 1997 for a half-new game. Which could be quite confusing, I mix up both games when I'm playing A Link to the Past now. I start to look for caves where there aren't any. It might not be as problematic in the 3DS game, because the 3DS game got a different look, which helps you to distinguish it all from the classic. But I feel like the only reason to explore will be looking for the things that have changed.

This can be exciting of course, returning to an old home and exploring what has changed over the years. It's an interesting feeling. But will this be enough for this game? I was actually hoping that instead of returning to the Dark World, they would add new areas. (And maybe they will, there's a lot of potential here.)

What's weird about the Dark World is that story-wise it shouldn't exist anymore after A Link to the Past. After Link got the Triforce, the Sacred Realm should have healed. In Ancient Stone Tablets Nintendo also returned to the Dark World after the events of ALttP, which didn't make much sense, but this game was clearly stated not to be canonical part of the timeline. So, how did the Dark World return? I hope they have a good story explanation for this without messing up the established timeline.

Of course story isn't really what Nintendo is concerned about when making a new Zelda game. It's not really necessary to bring the Dark World back, they were able to cramp eight dungeons into the Light World of Ancient Stone Tablets, they can do it again or they could just add new areas alltogether. So, there is a good gameplay reason for the Dark World comeback. Maybe the Dark World looks really, really insane and twisted in 3D. That would be crazy. Or they mix it up with the wall merge. Maybe going into a mirror when you're a wall painting makes you switch into the Dark World. So, instead of the portals in the original you would have mirrors on walls. This sounds like something Nintendo would do.