Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 – The Year of Rupees

2013 overview image with lots of Rupee arts

Another year passes by, time's running fast and as Zelda fans we look back to what I dub the "Year of Rupees". It's the year of rupees, because in the two new Zelda games that were released in 2013 - The Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds - Rupees are very important and because this year unleashed a giant attack on the wallets of the Zelda fans. I'm not kidding, when I say that this was the most expansive year to be a Zelda fan and collector. It makes the 25th Anniversary two years ago look fairly moderate.

Actually the year started with the aftershocks of the 25th Anniversary with Hyrule Historia getting its English release. It's the bible for every Zelda fan and it's nice to have it for the timeline section alone. Also, the Symphony to the Goddesses came to Europe with concerts in London, Paris and Berlin. I visited the one in Berlin and it was an unforgetable experience. In North America the 2nd Quest of the concert started shortly after and there were concerts in Australia as well. So, probably many Zelda fans worldwide visited the event and might count this as one of the most exciting days of the year.

While in 2012 it was totally silent around Zelda, we didn't have to wait long in 2013 to get our first Zelda announcement. Already in Januar Mr. Aonuma presented the first images of The Wind Waker HD, which would be released later this year.

In April we then got our first on the new handheld Zelda game, which was later titled A Link Between Worlds at E3. As I expected last year, they handled the newest Zelda handheld installment similar to Spirit Tracks: show the game in Spring, big presentation at E3 and then release the game before the end of the year. Nintendo likes to keep their games close to the chest lately. But it also turned out to be much more traditional than expected, while the 3D got utilized in a topdown view, the game also returned entirely to the world of A Link to the Past.

To bridge the time until the new release, we got to enjoy some old Zelda games again. Oracle of Ages & Seasons were re-released for their first time on the 3DS Virtual Console after 12 years and there are probably quite some people out there, who actually got to play these game for their first. I personally used this occasion not only to replay these games, but to compile the first thorough Ring Guide for the games, because it was about time that someone did this. I only played two Hero starter gamers though and I plan to replay the Linked Games in 2014 and also collect all 64 rings again for the first time since playing the original games on the GBC!

After the adventures in Holodrum and Labrynna gamers returned to the Great Sea in September/October, but this time in HD. With the Wii U Nintendo decided to take similar paths with Zelda as on the 3DS. They remade/updated an older Zelda and bundled it with special black hardware decorated with golden ornaments from the game. This time with The Wind Waker HD and the black Wii U Gamepad, which nicely matches the black 3DS from two years ago. The game alone probably wouldn't have lured all too many Zelda fans in, since it lacks any new features, but with the bundle one or the other Zelda fan might have bought a Wii U this year. I'm actually one of them. Though I haven't used my Wii U all too much after finishing The Wind Waker HD, however, next year looks quite promising for the Wii U. And if you're still interested in the "limited" bundle, you can still get it pretty much everywhere, which is a little sad.

Harder to get might be the Limited Edition of the The Wind Waker HD, which came with a special Ganondorf figurine. Since Nintendo doesn't bundle physical games anymore (the Wii U bundle only has a download code), the whole thing was a pure collectible item for people, who want the game with disc, box and cover together with something special.

The game itself did a great job to streamline the original The Wind Waker experience. It's all faster and more fluid, mostly thanks to the new Swift Sail. Another new addition are the selfies for the Pictobox and the Miiverse integration via Tingle Bottles, which led to a new and fun way to communicate with other Zelda players. The HD graphics are beautiful, though it doesn't feel as fresh as Ocarina of Time 3D did. Also, you only need to pay for three Triforce Charts this time, so Rupees aren't actually as important in the game as they used to be.

But Rupees are very important in the new game, A Link Between Worlds, which got released at the end of November for the Nintendo 3DS. While it features some new ideas like renting items, it's overall a back-to-the-roots Zelda experience close to A Link to the Past. It's open, non-linear, heavy on exploration, fast paced and lots of fun to (re)play. I like to call it the best Zelda game since Majora's Mask. As a fan of the classic Zelda games, A Link Between Worlds is the answer to all my prayers. Many years I have talked about the issues of linear and slow Zelda gameplay of the recent installments in the series, but A Link Between Worlds is finally a Zelda game that does everything right. Or at least most of it. This makes me really happy and this also marks the year 2013 as the return of classic Zelda.

It's still the "Year of Rupees" though. While Ravio takes all your money ingame, Nintendo and Prima Games aimed to empty your wallets in real life. As if the Wii U bundle wasn't enough, Nintendo also bundled A Link Between Worlds with a 3DS XL. And it's not half as good as the 3DS bundle for Ocarina of Time 3D was (which actually had the game in physical form, an AC adapter and other accessories), but still more expansive. Also, Nintendo released a small treasure chest with sounds to store 3DS cartridges (in case you actually got the game as a cartridge and not as a mere download), which depending on where you live could be quite hard to get. In Germany it was only available in Club Nintendo and sold out after less than 7 minutes.

Another treasure chest got released by Prima Games with the "Zelda Box", literally the heaviest Zelda collectible yet. It contains six of their collecter's edition hardcover guide books, one of them new (Ocarina of Time 3D) and one of them expended (Skyward Sword). They also released new hardcover guide books for The Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds, the latter not included in the Zelda box.

If you add all of this together, Hyrule Historia, tickets for Symphony of the Goddesses, two special hardware bundles, the Wind Waker HD Limited Edition, the Zelda box, other guide books and collectibles, then that's more than 800€/$ spent throughout the entire year on Zelda alone. This is ridiculous, it even makes the 25th Anniversary look cheap. Needless to say that there are probably many Zelda fans, who missed one thing or another, because they simply couldn't effort it.

However, the big storm should be over now. With the exception of the 2DS there's a limited Zelda edition of every current Nintendo hardware out there and considering how badly the current Wii U bundle sells, they probably won't make another Zelda themed bundle for the Wii U. The Zelda Box from Prima Games should be an one time thing (they made make a second box in the future though, starting with the A Link Between Worlds guide). And the Symphony of the Goddesses is on pause next year, so things should go back to normal, where Zelda things are rare and never too expansive and where the wallets of Zelda fans have a chance to regenerate.

And it's nice to see Zelda getting so much stuff and attention without any special occasion like the anniversary.

Monday, December 30, 2013

My little contribution to Zeldathon St. Jude

It's maybe not the best timing considering that there already has been another Zelda marathon two weeks ago, but whatever... I didn't follow the TSG marathon all too much and the new Zeldathon has a nice concept, where they are streaming two different games at the same time. So, if one game bores you, you can switch to the other, which includes some fun stuff like the CD-i games or Minecraft.

McGamer set up a Minecraft server just for this marathon, so you can even play with these guys. And since he's part of the Mindcrack network, even Minecraft developer Dinnerbone might join the fun (he even donated at the last marathon). For me as a Zelda and Minecraft fan this is pretty interesting.

So, I donated and joined the Minecraft creative server and made a little pixel art:

Nothing special, but better than nothing. There's a miniature version of Mabe Village right next to it, which is pretty cool.

Overall the server and the Zeldathon stream are really cool. I've been following the stream for most of the time and it's really enjoyable to watch. There are some fun guys there and they do a lot of fun things to keep it interesting.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Got the Zelda Box

Look what was under my Christmas tree this year (even though I put it there myself, lol):

I love it! When they announced it, it first felt like a rip-off, but for the current price (around 110€ on Amazon) and its quality (you get six 300+ pages books in color), I have no complaints here. The box is sturdy with a glossy outside, the golden bookmark looks amazing, the certificate is high quality and its nice to have all the books in absolute perfect shape. And I can always sell my old guides to get most, if not all the money back.

But one book is new and the other one half new: Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyward Sword:

With the original Skyward Sword Collector's Guide I had various complaints and it feels like this new version was completely overhauled. They didn't just add lists for the Pieces of Hearts and Goddess Cubes, they also improved many sections of the guide. For example the Imprisoned now has the shortcut strategy, where you jump on its head instead of attacking its feet, which is vital for the Lighting Round.

I don't have the original version at my hands (it's in my flat, while I'm currently back home), so I can't draw direct comparisons between the two versions, but just by skipping through the guide I can see that they put a lot more effort into it than with the original.

Completely new is the Ocarina of Time 3D guide in purple. It comes with its own section for Master Quest, where they even have all the mirrored maps for the overworld and new Skulltula lists. It's a really good one, but again I can't really tell the difference to the original paperback version, because I don't have it. It does have new 40 pages though, so there's new content.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hyrule Warriors Announced

Link going against a Lizalfos and a horde of Bokoblins from Skyward Sword

Well, I was hoping that they would reveal DLC for A Link Between Worlds on today's Nintendo Direct (for example a boss battle mode), some people hoped for Majora's Mask 3D, but instead we got something that probably noone saw coming... Hyrule Warriors. The new Warriors game taking place in the Zelda universe.

Last year the Dynasty Warriors series already got a Link costume, but looks like this collaboration just entered a whole new level... I haven't played any game of Tecmo Koei's Warriors franchise yet, but the One Piece game looks not too bad and I will probably get Hyrule Warriors, since I do have the Wii U and it looks somewhat fun.

But it also looks very cheap. The way they threw in all the models from Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess... ouch. It doesn't look very appealing and I'm not happy with the fact that Nintendo sold Zelda to a 3rd party developer like that. The only similar spin-off to Zelda would be Link's Crossbow Training, but this was just a small side game developed by Nintendo. Hyrule Warriors seems to be the next big game from Tecmo Koei, maybe even their biggest hit yet.

And that's not even all... Sonic Lost World will get a Zelda themed level...! Seriously? What's next, Zelda Kart? It seems like 2014 will be the year for (bad) Zelda crossovers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

72 Hour Zelda Marathon for Charity

In about three hours the guys from TheSpeedGamers.com start a Zelda marathon raising donations for the MercyCorps, who are currently responding to the recent typhoon disaster in the Philippines.

I kind of enjoyed the last Zeldathon hosted by McGamer, so I'm eager to see how this one will be like. But you guys should check it out, you can even win cool prizes, if you donate 10$ at the right time:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

99999 Rupees in A Link Between Worlds

I played so much Rupee Rush that I maximized the Rupee counter at the end of the game, lol:

Hero Mode: total Rupees found 99999, times defeated 00000

I tried to get above 1000 Rupees in Rupee Rush and kept playing the game for a while. Actually it doesn't take all too long to get 9999 Rupees in this game, once you know the tricks. Maybe not even 30 minutes. Whenever I play through A Link Between Worlds again, my first stop in Lorule will probably be the Rupee Rush... ah, no, you need the Sand Rod, so my first stop will be Thieves' Hideout and then this minigame. And you even have the Rupee eating fairy next door, I could feed her up with 3000 Rupees very quickly. This minigame is really imba.

My current record is 993 Rupees, so close to the 1000:

But you have to be quite lucky to get so much. It really depends on how many of the purple Rupees you're able to get. But I bought about five golden Bees now in the shop for 9999 each, just to get rid of all the Rupees... :-D
I've also set a new record in Hyrule with 309 Rupees:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I love Rupee Rush in A Link Between Worlds

I think, this is becoming my favorite minigame in Zelda. Usually I lose interest in the minigames, as soon as I got the price, but I can't stop playing this game. It has everything, a good minigame in Zelda should have.

1) You don't have to beat multiple difficulties to get the price. Just the one game, no tedium.
2) It's not mandatory to beat the game. You can just ignore it.
3) It's a lot of fun and has potential for always making new records without any ridiculous unlockables. (I'm looking at you, Cucco Run...)

The concept is simple. Just run around and collect as many Rupees as possible within 30 seconds. Estimating the 30 seconds is easy by simply listening to the music. The music goes exactly 20 seconds and changes the melody right before the 10 second mark. So, let the music run one time and then end the game right at the time, when the music changes in the middle of the song. If you got the right point, it's very easy to get the x3 multiplier in each game.

However, you can only swap items with quick swap, because going into the menu makes the time stop and therefore changes the timing of the music. So, it's best to select the best tools before the game and never change them. In Hyrule that's the Tornado Rod for the tiles and the Hammer for the rock in the northwest.

This is my current record in Hyrule.

In Lorule I got 915 Rupees. Lorule is somewhat different, because three items are useful here. Sand Rod, Hookshot and the Hammer. I suggest either using quick swap (which is bad though) or ignoring the Hammer. It's possible to navigate the entire area by using Sand Rod and Hookshot alone by using the stairs in the northwest. There's a big purple Rupee i the center, one on the pillar in the north and one on the pillar in the south. However, sometimes those are Rupee Likes (you can spot them by the larger shadow). But if you're lucky, they are all normal Rupees. Also, the pond in the center spits out about two purple Rupees per match.

I usually can score about 600 Rupees in the Lorule version and simply playing this game brings me from 0 to 9999 Rupees in a short time. I'm buying Golden Bees for 9999 just to get rid of all the money... :D

Well, this is a great minigame and probably one of my favorites, if not the best. Yes, it is random, but the good kind of random, where it always stays interesting. It's never frustrating, which I think is important with a minigame. For me it's a nice distraction from all the super frustrating rounds of Cucco Run's endless mode...

Overall I would have liked it, if this game had online leaderboards for its minigames, something where you can compare your highscores with the rest of the world. The minigames in A Link Between Worlds seem like they were made for something like this.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

100 Hours of A Link Between Worlds

My Nintendo 3DS tells me that I spent over 100 hours with the game now. This includes two full playthroughs, one through normal mode and one through Hero Mode. Two half playthroughs, one for checking, if the chests in Thieves' Hideout are missable, and the other one I just started for fun. Also, lots of time battling Shadow Links and collecting all 50 medals, both in normal and Hero mode, as well as playing the endless Cucco Run minigame and other minigames. Well, and quite some time, where the game simply was idle, lol.

But after so much play time, I think it's time to finally share some impressions about the game. To say some good things after all the nagging about the Cucco Run. This post contains spoilers for those, who haven't completed the game yet. So, don't read on, if you're in the middle of it.

Usually with a new Zelda game I blog about my progress each day. This started with Spirit Tracks, but I also did it for Four Swords (Anniversary Edition), Ocarina of Time 3D, Skyward Sword and The Wind Waker HD. But not this time. This time I got a review copy from Nintendo (thanks a lot!) for ZeldaEurope.de about three weeks in advance and naturally blogging about the game wasn't possible.

I didn't even write down all too much, which is a shame, because I don't remember my initial dungeon order anymore. Because this is one of the things that makes this game so great: the non-linearity, the freedom and the exploration. A good Zelda game is heavy on exploration and the previous games, especially Skyward Sword and Spirit Tracks, really lacked the exploration factor. They were very linear Zelda games with little freedom. A Link Between Worlds is the exact opposite and this really makes the game exciting. Thanks to the freedom every player has his own story, his own unique path through the game. And every story can be interesting.

As for my part, when I first arrived in Lorule, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the freedom. In a good way though. What I did was exploring every region first, even going to every dungeon entrance and then decide, which dungeon I would play first. But my first big goal was getting the Titan's Mitts. It's like the biggest item throughout the game, since you can rent and buy all others early. Only the big rocks (and the desert) remain as an obstacle. I even thought, they were required for the Skull Woods dungeons, because I missed the other path through the woods. So, my first goal was Thieves' Town, I think, because in A Link to the Past it was the dungeon that gave you the Titan's Mitt. But to my surprise you didn't get them there, but the Sand Rod at the end (at that point, I didn't know that the Master Ore would count as the dungeon item).

My next thought then was that each sage would give you a new item. After all you got the Sand Rod from one... so, I assumed that Rosso will give me the Titan's Mitt. Also, I wanted to upgrade the items, before I head into a dungeon that requires them. The first item, which I had bought, was the Fire Rod, because of the bigger discount. You save 600 Rupees instead of just 400. It was also the first item that I had upgraded. So, my next goal were the Ice Ruins. With about ten hearts, only some red potions and no stronger armor. And oh boy, I can tell you that was fun. I was close to dying a couple of times and I kept wandering around the dungeon, because it was so complicated. My favorite room was the one with the fairies, because I needed them quite often. It felt like a classic Zelda dungeon maze challenge!! It's definitely my favorite dungeon in the entire game and the only dungeon that comes close to the A Link to the Past quality of difficult maze-like dungeon design.

I don't remember the exact order after this point, but needless to say that all other dungeons paled in comparison after the Ice Ruins. I think, the dungeons were too easy with the enemies. A Link to the Past's dungeons had strong enemies and traps everywhere, but the dungeons here go very easy on you. It already started in Eastern Palace, where you can't find any Eyegors. And normal enemies from A Link to the Past often get treated as minibosses, which is a joke. I was hoping that Hero Mode would fix this and while the quadruple damage indeed provides a good challenge, the dungeons remain the same. It wouldn't have needed Master Quest style dungeons, but at least stronger enemies here and there would have been good.

Interestingly enough the overworld has tough enemies everywhere. I would even say that it's more dangerous than in A Link to the Past. For example you can run into Lynels really early, which is cool, because they're finally using strong enemies as an obstacle again. The overworld is also what makes you feel great about becoming stronger. The enemies in Lorule can dish it out and take in. And getting a stronger sword now becomes meaningful again! Finally it takes only half the hits to beat them. This is good classic Zelda design, which is still superior in every way. The Wind Waker was the first game to remove optional sword upgrades, where the difficulty progresses with the story and the story would give you a stronger sword at the right time. You can't feel the upgrade this way. And that sucks, I prefer the traditional Zelda, where sword upgrades were hidden and meaningful.

But A Link Between Worlds brought it back! But it didn't stop there... nearly every item receives an upgrade in this game and it's awesome. Collecting all the Maiamais is definitely the most rewarding collectible sidequest in the entire Zelda series so far. Sadly finding them all is a little bit too easy, but whatever.

The selection of items in this game is probably the best yet. I really enjoy the four different elemental rods and the other items, especially in combination of the new energy meter. Usually I try to save my arrows, bombs and magic for when I really need them (even though it's silly, because when you need them there's usually pots around). But I'm just this ammo saving type, I guess. However, with the energy meter I can use all items to my heart's content. And it doesn't feel cheap, because you can't spam the items. It's a great system that definitely has a bright future in the Zelda series. I never enjoyed all the items as much as in this game.

However, I spent quite some time looking for things that weren't there. Especially a 6th bottle. The inventory leaves a spot open, which is reserved for the Bow of Light, but I didn't know that and I really wanted to get everything before heading into the final battle. So, I kept looking for another bottle, which wasn't there. I think, I spent a couple of hours just running around and exploring every nook until I finally had the thought I might get something in the final dungeon. Though I thought it would be the Light Rod, because it would have gone quite well with the theme of the game.

I wasn't able to look it up, but that's a good thing. Usually there's the temptation to look up the solution in the internet, if something is unclear or if you get stuck. Because it's fast and easy. I usually try to avoid this, because I usually hate myself afterwards (the last time I did this was with one chest in Hyrule Castle Town in Spirit Tracks), but this time there was nothing to look up. And I enjoyed that, because the game had some really clever puzzles.

My favorite puzzle is probably the one in the Palace of Darkness with the Master Ore chest. I thought this was genious. I know that some people hate this particular puzzle and say that it was unfair or even against Zelda principles, because it made them look up the solution in the internet (like I said, don't do that!), but I personally enjoyed discovering the solution. There's quite some logic behind it, even though some people pretend like it's the most random puzzle ever.

But puzzles like that really bring me back in the days of playing my first Zelda game: Link's Awakening. Sometimes I got stuck for WEEKS, because I couldn't figure out a puzzle. There was no internet and I didn't want to buy the guide book from my pocket money, so it was either figuring it out on my own or "lose" the game. I remember that it took me a long time to get behind the "eyes" of the mask in Level 6, Face Shrine. At that point I was under the impression that every room in the dungeon is on the map. And I was really playing with the map the whole time. I didn't play The Legend of Zelda before, so I didn't know that the maps usually have shapes and that the "eyes of the map" were hidden rooms. So, I couldn't find the Power Bracelet L-2 or the miniboss and I got stuck forever. But did I complain that the game cheated or tricked me, when I found out the solution? No. I was happy that I finally figured it out. And I got smarter on my way.

Zelda needs more crazy puzzles like this, because usually the puzzles aren't really puzzles, but chores. You don't even have to think about it, you know the solution right away and just move the block on the switch. That's only natural after 16 other Zelda games. So, I love it, when a new Zelda games brings some fresh puzzles. And the best way to design puzzles now is to go AGAINST the Zelda fan's intuition. Do the opposite of what a Zelda fan might expect. This way you can make it hard for longtime Zelda fans, while new players might find the puzzle not too hard, because they have a different view on things.

The best example for this would be the Pegasus Boots in A Link Between Worlds. In A Link to the Past you needed them to chase the running man through Kakariko. And naturally you would assume the same for this game... but no! There are even Zelda fans, who didn't get the Pegasus Boots until the end of the game. It's hilarious. And I say Zelda needs more puzzles like this.

Overall I have to say that this was the best Zelda game in about 12 years. I'm more a fan of the Zelda classics, especially A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. They have the exploration, the optional upgrades, the clever dungeons, the high replay value and so on. And A Link Between Worlds really took me back to the level of quality of traditional Zelda. So, it joins my top 5 together with these games. I'm really, really happy with this new Zelda game. It feels like the majority of the prayers on my blog have finally been heard. And if it's any indication of what Zelda U will be like, then I'm really looking forward to it. Zelda is officially back on track.

Miiverse on Nintendo 3DS

Makar Link

Ah, this is great! Having quite some fun with this. Here are some of my posts:

I've already used some of these screenshots to update some of my previous posts, where this might come in handy for the future.

Also, Miiverse is probably the best platform to let Nintendo know what you want. So, I will praise the game there for its classic approach and the non-linearity, as well as occasionally complain about the Cucco Run's endless mode reward. :D

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Link Between Worlds Missing Energy Meter Glitch

It appears that there's a glitch in A Link Between Worlds, where the energy gauge will never be displayed throughout the game (see here). I'm hoping that Nintendo might consider to release a patch for the game to fix this.

Because if they do, they can also change the Cucco endless mode to unlock the Giant Cucco after 100 seconds, the way it should be. So, in case Miiverse launches on 3DS soon, make sure to complain about the ridiculous Cucco challenge to let Nintendo know. :-D The giant Cucco actually appears during the credits, throwing hearts at you, so if you want to have the best ending for your game, you'll need the Cucco. I'm usually not someone to complain about a challenge in a Zelda game, quite the opposite (Hero's Trial ftw), but Nintendo has never done such an extreme requirement for an unlockable in a Zelda game and the minigame is near impossible to beat. Hitboxes are huge, you don't have any chances/lives and it gets worse with every round. I've seen hardcore completionists, who even did the 100 super jumps in Super Mario RPG, struggling with Cucco Run's endless mode.

I used pause buffering (constantly pausing the game to create a slow motion effect) to get around the 350 seconds mark, however, at this point the Cuccos become so fast that even pause buffering isn't helping that much. Also, I fear that I will wreck the Start button of my 3DS, if I keep doing this. The 3DS is not exactly the sturdiest Nintendo system...

It's very unlikely that Nintendo listens to the complaints and fixes the game, but now that there is at least one glitch to fix, there's little hope.

A Link Between Worlds and DLC? Boss Challenge and Online Battle Modes!

This June Aonuma suggested in an interview with NintendoLife that they are looking into ways how to add content to a Zelda game in the form of DLC. Naturally DLC isn't an easy feat with Zelda, because you can't just add some new levels/areas to the game, unless you hide them under a tombstone like the Color Dungeon in Link's Awakening DX. But additional quests and dungeons also should yield a nice reward, which shouldn't be a bad afterthought.

However, A Link Between Worlds leaves certain interfaces for add on content, which could easily work and might even sell well. First thing is the absent Boss Battle/Gauntlet mode. After Spirit Tracks offered the possibility to battle all bosses again, Nintendo turned this into its own mode in Ocarina of Time 3D, which then made a return with the Lightning Round in Skyward Sword. And fans loved it! Battling bosses against the clock, going for highscores, battling all bosses in a row... Or alone the option to replay a boss whenever you want. It's great and every new Zelda should have it.

But... A Link Between Worlds didn't have one. In fact this is one of the very few complaints I have about this near perfect Zelda game that you can't replay the fun boss battles. I thought the bosses were great and the option to replay them is dearly missed. Also, battling all bosses in a row is always a nice challenge, definitely a lot more fun than some 17 minutes dodging minigame. So, where is it?

However, I can't help but feel that this was entirely intentional from Nintendo's side. A boss battle mode would make great extra content. I would easily pay 5€ for this. And maybe this is Nintendo's big plan here. Make the fans wish for a boss challenge mode and then release one as paid DLC.

The other obvious thing are online battles... the StreetPass feature is nice and all, I had a lot of fun with it, but overall it feels like another step back. The first game to have a battle mode was Four Swords Adventures, which had probably the most fun battle mode with "Shadow Battles", but it could only be played locally. Phantom Hourglass then offered online battles, which was great. But the gameplay of the battle mode wasn't as fun, nor the most Zelda'ish gameplay. However, it was online and connected many Zelda fans world wide. Spirit Tracks returned to a more fun concept with its battle mode (even though it wasn't nearly as great as Shadow Battles), but they cut the online. Again it was only local...

And now A Link Between Worlds finally returns to the great fun that Shadow Battles offered, but you can't even play against other people. It's only StreetPass and you fight bots. While the bots are really good (probably some of the most impressive AI from Nintendo) and the battles can be A LOT of fun, once you learned how to outsmart the AI, it's getting boring fast. I enjoyed the StreetPass battles for many, many hours, but after a while you just want a real opponent. Who does mistakes, but who also adepts. You want to play with friends and you also want to play online with people from Zelda message boards.

To integrate it, you would just talk to Gramps that you want to battle Shadow Links online. Maybe the bounties might be a problem, in case people are losing willingy to give you endless Rupees, but you could just leave the bounty rewards out. And have no penalties (like a counter how many games you've lost). If there's nothing to lose, less people will skip a match just because they're about to lose.

Also, they could add new arenas to the package. The five normal arenas are great and add to the replayability, but after a while you want some fresh places. New maps usually breath new life into an online game.

An online mode is probably not as likely, because Nintendo doesn't have the greatest affinity for online gaming, so this might remain a wet dream of mine. However, I could see a boss challenge mode happening via DLC in the next weeks.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

So Many The Wind Waker HD Wii U Bundles...

This must probably be the most unlimited limited edition of something Nintendo ever since the Limited Edition of The Wind Waker (though it was nice to get a new version together with Master Quest three years after the release for 25€... :-D). I went to an electronics retailer and they are absolutely everywhere. Piles of them! It's so sad, either Nintendo overestimated the demand or noone's buying them. Probably both.

At least this gives me the hope that buying this bundle wasn't a mistake that gets punished by some golden Wii U bundle later, when the new Zelda game gets released. Because whenever that might be, they'll probably still have to get rid off the Wind Waker bundles...

The 3DS Zelda Anniversary bundle with Ocarina of Time 3D on the other hand was sold out quickly and quite some Zelda fans didn't manage to get one, so there was actual demand for golden 3DS XL, which seems to be selling out as well. When they first announced the second 3DS bundle, I wasn't happy about it, because I felt betrayed as an "early adopter", but I grew to like it. It's nowhere as good as the first bundle with Ocarina, but it's nice to be able to play my 3DS games on a bigger screen and it allows me to fake StreetPass hits, which was very useful with A Link Between Worlds. So, the golden 3DS XL prove to be useful after all and not just a mere collectible, so I can somewhat justify the purchase.

However, it would be hard to justify buying a second Wii U, unless you live in a big house and want a second one for your bedroom. Also, I'm rarely using the first one. After The Wind Waker HD I stopped using the system alltogether. Mainly because of A Link Between Worlds, but overall there aren't any must-play games for me. The Mario games are certainly nice and I will probably play them some day, but after the mediocre Marios on the 3DS I'm really sick of Mario games right now. I tried Nintendo Land, but I don't like it at all. I'm anticipating Mario Kart 8 and Retro's Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but I'm not even done with the predecessors. I'm still missing some golden kart parts in Mario Kart 7 and in Donkey Kongy Country Returns I stopped at 160% or so. The completionist in me wants to finish those, before starting the new ones.

I think the first big must-play title for me will probably be Smash Bros. And I'm eager to learn, how the Zelda game will look like, of course.

Got my A Link Between Words Treasure Chest with Sounds

I just got this send from the UK yesterday:

The first 1000 registries of the game in the German Club Nintendo after 12AM on the launch date were rewarded with one. I've heard, the 1000 chests were gone after about 5 minutes, so you had to be really quick to get one.

This was the only way to get this chest in Germany without importing it. No retailer had it as a preorder bonus, which is a shame, because it was a lot easier to get this chest in other countries of Europe. But I'm happy that I got one. I love the sound effect, when you open the chest.

I will now use this to store my 3DS Zelda games. I have two copies of Ocarina of Time 3D due to the late bundle and one copy of A Link Between Worlds... that leaves space for two more 3DS Zelda games, Nintendo! *hint, hint* But I'm confident that the chest will be filled eventually. Majora's Mask 3D simply needs to happen now after all these Majora teasers and A Link Between Worlds is predestined to receive a great follow-up in the next two years.

The chest also stores DS games, so I could fill it with Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, but I honestly feel like those games don't deserve the chest. :D

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Link Between Worlds StreetPass Guide Version 1.1

Link fighting Gramps in the Desert Arena

Check it out!

I've teamed up with avengah and Petter1789 from the GameFAQs board (as well as some other people) to bring the StreetPass guide for A Link Between Worlds to the next level! It now includes an exact bounty calculation table, a list of all 20 pre-generated Shadow Links and their data, as well a list of all possible Shadow Link locations and the corresponding arenas. The arena gets chosen based on the Shadow Link's location and it's usually good to know what's coming.

I think the guide now covers absolutely everything about the StreetPass feature and was quite a piece of work. But similar to my Oracle of Ages & Seasons Ring Guide this is a much more complex side activity that is basically its own "Zelda science". Everyone can compile a Piece of Heart list, but these guides are full of extensive research. I'm proud of them and I hope that they will help you in the future.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Someone beat the 999.99 seconds in Cucco Run Endless Mode in A Link Between Worlds, Giant Cucco unlocked

This is from an anonymous poster in the comments, not my achievement:

Wow...! A part of me was still hoping that the giant Cucco unlockable wouldn't exist. :-D Thanks to the guy, who gave me the pictures. Here are his or her holy words:

after countless days of trial and error, endless frustration, anger and patience, I'd like to present to the Hyrule Blog with this:
proof that the Giant Cucco exists.

Yes this is real, and I did it all on my own along with my own research I did on how to beat it. I've achieved what everyone is saying here is the impossible, and I'm posting this to at least show the Zelda Community that this is possible and can be done with lots of patience.

The Cucco will be also shown during the credits, throwing hearts at you. So, this is basically required for the "best" ending.

I kept practicing the game the entire last week, but I'm just terrible at it... never made it past the 300 seconds so far, even though I played hundreds of games. But I never played games like R-Type in my childhood, so I still have to develop the required synapses, lol. But then again even R-Type isn't probably as unforgiving as this game.

By now I can beat the first phase for the majority of the time, so at least I'm getting my money back. The second phase is just a giant blur for me, but I'm getting better at it. There's usually an open area in the field and I just keep aiming at it. However, it's very easy to miss one of the small slowly moving Cuccos. Maybe I need to play this on the 3DS XL to have a better view on the playing field, but my otherwise completed savegames are stuck with a download copy on my normal 3DS and I don't want to do a system transfer. The third phase therefore isn't as bad for me, because it's hard to miss a giant Cucco, however, there it's very easy to get cornered with no way out.

I was about to give up after reading the latest Iwata Asks, where they state that noone in the development team or the Club Mario was able to do it. And we're talking about crazy Japanese here... So, for the sake of my sanity and the condition of my slide pad, I decided to stop this for a while. But after seeing the reward now, I fear that I won't be able to enjoy A Link Between Worlds ever again until I got that stupid chicken. :D So, I will keep practicing every now and then, you can only get better at it.

But some strategies and videos would be helpful, especially a list of what every phase does. It seems like the final phase has a mix of small and giant Cuccos, oh joy. Sadly the anonymous poster didn't leave any of his insights, but maybe he decides to change that! Or ideally someone finds a nice glitch that let's you survive the 999.99 seconds without any efforts, like they did with the 999 hits in Spirit Tracks, that would be the best case scenario for me. :D

But I'm still very unhappy about this. And I'm probably not the only one. Many people play Zelda for completion and this counts, so Nintendo's decision to include the most atrocious minigame accomplishment ever wasn't the best one... and on the other hand collecting all 100 Maiamais is probably the easiest collectible task ever in Zelda... what's with those extremes?

Dear Nintendo, if you ever decide to provide a challenge in Zelda, please try a boss rush/gauntlet mode or something like the Hero's Trial, but not some insane minigame reward... and not every counter in your games needs to be filled with 9s, thank you very much. ^^

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cleared all 50 StreetPass Challenges in A Link Between Worlds' Hero Mode

StreetPass player profile of Tourist with 50 medals

Cleared all StreetPass challenges a second time, this time in Hero Mode. It took me a lot longer, because I wanted to test for my StreetPass Guide, if using the Sand Rod on sand counts for the challenge. However, the sand arena wouldn't show up... it's only availabe in the desert, probably because the game wants to make sure that you bring your Sand Rod.

But having a second 3DS really came in handy with clearing all challenges, which makes me feel not as bad about buying the second Zelda bundle. It does have its use. :D

The fights in Hero Mode cause quadruple damage on you as well. So, the fights against Gramps are four times as difficult. It's a good challenge, but you have to handle them differently. The time limit is the best example. In normal mode it usually comes to your favor, but it here it does not. He does four times the damage and that counts, so he will win at the time limit. He also LOVES to use the Purple Potion, which gives him eight hearts of a head start. And you have to be very careful with Great Spins, since they can cause eight hearts of damage as well.

Of course you only cause normal damage. One strike from him costs you two hearts, one strike from you costs him half a heart. So, you have to hit him four times as often to win the match!

Usually I love to use the Hookshot in the fights to counter him, but this technique turned out to be too slow and inaccurate. Also, if he simply blocks and doesn't do anything, you can't hookshot. It's very difficult to defeat him in Hero Mode and it took me a couple of tries. You might also want to bring a blue potion, which further limits your possibilities in battle... Your best chance is probably in the ice arena, because this is the place, where the AI constantly hurts itself.

My new weapon of choice here is probably the Nice Sand Rod. The Nice Hookshot is better at stunning, because you will be drawn to your opponent and it also damages him per stun, which is nice. However, the Nice Sand Rod is easier to use. Also, you can counter Great Spins by releasing your own Great Spin about a split second later, which is a good opportunity to damage him.

It's a really good challenge, which I enjoyed (unlike some other Cucco game....), but also a very cheap one.

But because of that I like that I cleared all challenges in both normal and Hero Mode. I like the challenge in Hero Mode, but the fights are more fun in normal mode, because they are fair and balanced. They have the better replay value and offer the feeling of playing against another player. So, I can only advise everyone to clear all challenges first in a normal game and then later do the same in Hero Mode. Even if it takes a long time to do so.