Sunday, June 29, 2014

DLC for Mario Kart 8 might be DLC done right

... except for that ugly Mercedes kart, that's just unasked for. But it's free, so whatever...

My point is that so far we haven't seen or heard anything about DLC for Mario Kart 8, while there clearly is demand. Imagine a Kong Pack with Diddy Kong, Dixie Kongy, Cranky and Funky Kong! I would pay for that... or a "Scary Pack" with Dry Bones, Dry Bowser, King Boo and Kamek.

But it doesn't look like they planned any big DLC in advance. They might have left out some fan favorite characters like Diddy or Bowser Jr. on purpose, but it's not like they're rubbing it into your face "hey, you want to play with Diddy? then you have to pay extra". It would be more like something that they added in advance, because the fans were asking for it. And if they make it free, it would be even better.

It's the opposite of that Mario Golf game for 3DS. There they announced DLC with new characters and courses on day 1. It's clearly something they planned to do, before the game got released. And that's a huge no-go, but also a disturbing trend in the gaming industry that finally found its way to Nintendo. Jokes like on-disc DLC were common in the past. You should never rip off your customers like that. But I wouldn't want to play golf without a Wiimote anymore, so I'm not buying this game anyway. The rip-off DLC is just another turn-off. Of course with Mario Kart 8 it could be that they don't plan any DLC at all or otherwise they probably would have done it similar to Mario Golf.

These are the golden rules for DLC:
  • It should be new content, not content cut from the game.
  • It should be something that keeps the game fresh.
  • It should be free or at least very cheap.

So, where am I getting with this? After all this is a Zelda blog... and yeah, one of my problems with Hyrule Warriors is that they already prepared three DLC packs in advance... sure, with the Treasure Box edition you get them all for "free", but what if they make more? If I really like a game, I want everything available for it. I want all the addons and stuff. Even if it's just some costumes. And Koei Tecmo can be pretty extreme with that. Dead or Alive 5 had costume packs worth of around $120! That's twice as much as I would pay for the game. And it's only costumes! Not new characters or stages or anything that actually might give a fresh gameplay experience... let's hope they keep it more moderate and interesting with Hyrule Warriors.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hyrule Warriors: Character Wish List per Game

So, let's say, it's really just the games Skyward Sword, Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and mayyybe A Link Between Worlds that will have character appearances in Hyrule Warriors, meaning that the post-Skyward Sword'ish Hyrule in the game gets connected to the Twilight Realm and Lands, Termina and Lorule by Cia, which makes the most sense. Let's make lists with potential characters from each of these games. For the fun of it. It seems like every character has a defined weapon, so I'll try to add something that would make sense.

Skyward Sword (current era):

  • Scrapper (Scrap Hands)
  • Groose IV (Bazooka)
  • Fi (Blade Wings)
  • Ghirahim (both his different swords from SS)
  • Demise (Dark Master Sword)

I'm not a fan of Fi, but having her as some blade spirit character, dancing through hordes of enemies and cutting them in the act, could be pretty awesome. And if the enemy characters will be playable, as many hope, the three dragons could act nicely as large bosses.

Twilight Princess (link to the Twilight Realm and Lands):

  • Dangoro (Magnetic Gloves)
  • Hero's Spirit (Hero's Sword)
  • Yeto (???)
  • Ganondorf (Sword of the Sages from TP, dual sabers from TWW, Trident from classic games)
  • real Midna (???)

Well, we already got quite some characters from TP. Ashei is a name, I see popping up here and there, but overall I didn't like her that much in the game or any of the Resistance members. Purlo could work as a realistic Tingle replacement, however, his fighting style would be in question. I definitely want Princess Midna (her humanoid form) form as a playable character, because she's so pretty.

Ocarina of Time & Majora's Mask (link to Termina):

  • Shiek (some Ninja weapon stuff)
  • Darunia (Megaton Hammer)
  • Saria (Fairy Ocarina)
  • Ruto (some water magic stuff?)
  • Nabooru (halberd or dual scimitars)
  • Shadow Link (Shadow Master Sword)
  • Phantom Ganon (Phantom Staff)
  • Twinrova (Fire & Ice Rod)

  • Deku Butler's Son or the Deku Princess (Deku Nuts or Deku Leaf)
  • Darmani (Goron Fists)
  • Mikau (his guitar, spear or Fin Blades)
  • Tingle (Tingle Balloon)
  • Skull Kid (Flute)
  • Fierce Deity (Double Helix Sword)
  • Majora's Wrath (Blade Whips)
  • Gomess (Dark Scythe)
  • Garo Master (Dual Flaming Blades)
  • Igos du Ikana (Broadsword)

To me it would make sense to only use Termina, since this world has counterparts for most characters from OoT. But I doubt that they would leave out all the stuff from Ocarina of Time. Especially having Darunia with the Megaton Hammer and Nabooru as fighters would be awesome, I'd really like to see these two. On the other hand I definitely want Mikau instead of any other Zora, but we don't really need Darmani AND Darunia... as for Saria, the Dynasty Warriors series actually has characters fighting with musical instruments, so she might become something similar.

A Link Between Worlds (link to Lorule):

  • Ravio (Tornado Rod)
  • Hilda (her staff)
  • Osfala (Sandrod)
  • Yuga (Painter Staff)

Imagine a Ravio in the style of Link in this game and Hilda in the style of Zelda! ALBW could also act as a portal to lots of classic 2D Zelda stuff including characters from the Oracle games. After all these games are all from the same timeline. With that being said, I'd actually like to see some characters from the Oracle games as well:

  • Din (Rod of Seasons)
  • Nayru (Harp of Ages)
  • Farore (Book of Secrets)
  • Onox (Ball & Chain)

Farore fighting with a magic book might be too similar to Lana though. It's the same reason, why I didn't include Veran, because we already have Cia.

There's also the open question of mounts. Some Warrior games had them and it would be interesting to incorporate horse battles like in Twilight Princess. Next to Epona you could have Moosh and Dimitri as mounts, the Bokoblin boars from TP or even Loftwings.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hyrule Warriors: The Soul Gate

The story is coming together more and more. Remember, how the previous hero was said to have split the great evil into four parts, one hidden in the current realm of Hyrule and three of the vanished into time and space? It looks like Cia is using the Soul Gate to retrieve the three other parts by opening portals to these places. One obviously leads to the Twilight Realm and the Hyrule from Twilight Princess, the Era of Twilight. A second one seems to be connected to the N64 Zelda games. I'm guessing it leads to Termina, because of the moon, so this is the Child Era.

How it links to the world of Skyward Sword is not entirely clear, but I still like to think that the game takes place some time after the game, like in the Era of Prosperity, where the Hyrule Kingdom got established. Even if it's placed in an alternate dimension, this alternate dimension still could have had Skyloft and the like. This might even explain, why we have the Statue of the Goddesses still on Skyloft, as it gets destroyed.

But I hope that the Skyward Sword era doesn't have its own portal, because I still would like to see a link to Lorule, so that we get Hilda, Ravio and Yuga as playable characters. Of all the remaining games, A Link Between Worlds would be the one with the most potential, still fitting into the overall style of Hyrule Warriors.

(Update: by now it's confirmed that the Skyward Sword era has its own portal and also that A Link Between Worlds wasn't taken into consideration, because the game wasn't released during the planning stages of Hyrule Warriors!)

Of course it could just be that Cia opened portals to many different time periods by trial and error, so we span the entire timeline. But with games like The Wind Waker or Spirit Tracks it's obviously not so easy to fit them in, without changing the style of these worlds and their characters completely. They obviously aimed for the more realistic 3D Zelda games with this. Mainly because they can easily reuse the assets from these games. I still hope that Lorule finds its way into Hyrule Warriors though, it would also make a great system, where Hyrule is connected to Lorule, Termina and the Twilight Realm at the same time. Also, Ravio and Hilda could look really awesome and badass, if you made them look more realistic.

However, this all means that we can say good-bye to certain character ideas including Medli, Vaati and Byrne ... well, actually that's it from my list, most of my character ideas have been from the more realistic Zeldas anyway. Onox could still fit in somewhere and he matches the Warriors style too perfectly to ignore him. Or simply have a boss similar to his design. After all he is just some pimped Iron Knuckle.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hyrule Warriors Character Craziness!

You've all probably heard it by now, but Agitha will be playable...

Yes, the crazy bug girl from Twilight Princess! While this might seem totally random, she actually has her fans. She fights with the parasol and summons insects to attack. But what's really important about these news: it opens the window to total character craziness! If she made the roster, anyone can! The demo had only nine slots for characters, so people were worried that's it. Don't be! Dynasty Warriors 8 has over 80 characters and while it probably won't be so many in Hyrule Warriors, the possibilities look great right now.

Also, in Dynasty Warriors the characters can have very absurd and crazy fighting styles and weapons. Let's say for example a girl that fights with a parasol and insects. Or fighting with a book, or musical instruments ...

About Lana, she obviously was inspired by Nayru (Lanayru) with her design and everything. And they might do the same with Din and Farore. It would be nice to have something similar to the three Oracles here.

For many fans this game will probably become a dream come true, when their favorite characters from Zelda suddenly become playable. So, let's extend my wishlist from last time a "little bit".

Good guys:

  • Link
  • Zelda
  • Impa
  • Midna
  • Agitha
  • Lana
  • A Din-Girl
  • A Farore-Girl
  • Goron Sage / Fighter (Darunia, Rosso, Darmani, ...)
  • Zora Sage / Fighter (Ruto, Mikau ...)
  • Gerudo Sage / Fighter (Nabooru)
  • Kokiri Sage (Saria, Fado)
  • Rauru
  • Some Deku
  • Medli (more realistic, adult form)
  • Groose
  • Scrapper
  • Tingle
  • Hilda
  • Ravio
  • Happy Mask Salesman
  • Fierce Deity

Bad guys:

  • Cia
  • Valga
  • Wizro
  • Ganondorf
  • Zant
  • Ghirahim
  • Yuga
  • Dark Link
  • Vaati (the mage form)
  • Onox
  • Byrne
  • Majora's Wrath
  • Gomess
  • Skull Kid

With characters like Skull Kid, Byrne and Hilda it's not entirely clear, on which side you would place them on, but whatever. I think what defines a character in Dynasty Warrior is his or her weapons. The way the fight. And considering that I certainly wouldn't miss out certain bad guys. I want Onox' spiked ball & chain. I want the blade teetotum creating whips of Majora's Wrath. I want to play with Gomess' large scythe.

I'd also love to see Yuga as a playable character, where you can turn all those pesky Hyrule foot soldiers into paintings... :D

The more I think about Hyrule Warriors, the more it offers things, I wanted to experience for a long time. About nine years ago I actually made a sketch for a Zelda fighting game based on Unreal Championship 2 - The Liandri Conflict. It had playable characters like Link, Din, Mikau, Nabooru, Dark Link, Stalfos, Ganondorf and so on, each with their own weapon and mount. Also, in Majora's Mask I dreamed about picking up certain enemy weapons (like Gomess' scythe) and use them for myself. So, in many ways Hyrule Warriors might be an old dream coming true. But I'll make an own post about that in the near future.

Update: I removed the characters, who probably won't make an appearance due to the limited time space links. It currently looks like all the characters will come from Skyward Sword, Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. I still have hopes for Lorule and A Link Between Worlds though.

Super Smash Bros. 4 looks unexciting and uninspired, gets owned by Hyrule Warriors

Just today's screenshot perfectly sums up everything I think about Smash 4 at the moment. How lazy can they be? "Hey, I heard, you guys want Link's Skyloft clothes as a costume in Smash 4, so we made it into a color for his tunic..." I just get more and more the impression that Sakurai and his team didn't really want to work on a new Smash Bros, so they're just making Brawl Version 1.1 and be done with it. Take Super Smash Bros. Brawl, swap the stages, add some new characters, replace the Subspace Emissary with that Smash Run mode, ready is the new Smash.

There's nothing new or exciting about this. You can customize the B-moves, which is nice, but only really used for Palutena. Why can't there be different weapons/attacks for Link as well? And otherwise I don't see anything of relevance. One simple thing I wanted is actual costumes. Instead of just changing the color of the character, gives us different clothes. Every other fighting game does it and I didn't how lazy Brawl's color skins were. They did it for the Villager and the Wii Fit Trainer, you can ever swap the gender with these characters(!), so why not for the fan favorites? For Link I wanted his Skyward Sword clothes, for Toon Link the blue shirt from The Wind Waker and his conductor uniform from Spirit Tracks. Instead we get these lazy paint jobs.

Also... compile a list of playable characters, which fans wanted for the game... Dark Samus? Make that an assist trophy! Ridley? We just copy the stage from DOA:Dimensions! Midna? Assist Trophy! Ghirahim? You can bet, he will be an Assist Trophy as well... Impa? We just give you Sheik again as its own playable character!

I do in fact like that they separated Sheik and Zero Suit Samus (the latter probably my most anticipated character in the roster), but I'm sick of Sheik and seeing the exact same characters for Zelda again. Only the princess offers something new with the Phantom Smash, but they all have the same lame Ultra Smash again and so on.

But the less I get excited for Smash 4, the more I get excited for Hyrule Warriors. Wanna play as Midna or Impa? Not a problem there. And with the announcement of Agitha you can be sure that Hyrule Warriors will offer every fan favorite from the Zelda franchise. Hyrule Warriors does, what Smash 4 doesn't.

It's really just Brawl Version 1.1, it doesn't feel like a new game. Like the next big step for Smash. And those ridiculous Amiibos certainly don't help with the situation either.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Grezzo Working on a Legend

Good news today, everybody!

Grezzo recently teased what their upcoming project is in their latest job openings:

It says "Would you like to make a legend with us?" with the Densetsu kanji being used like in each Zelda title and with a golden shine. That's a pretty big tease! But I'm happy to learn that we have Grezzo back on Zelda again. The more people working on the franchise, the better.

But... they are hiring programmers and planners and according to sunny_red51 on GameFAQs they need the programmers for "character control, camera, UI support, map management, game progression management, etc." and the planners for "text supervision, script and data creation supervision, and level design supervision" ... and while it does sound like stuff you'd expect for a Zelda game, it doesn't really sound like a remake as in Majora's Mask 3D.

Of course they could add lots of new content to Majora's Mask 3D, but will they really? On the other hand, I fully expect to see a follow-up to A Link Between Worlds, using the same engine to create a new game. Like a new Four Swords game or something else entirely. And since the main Zelda team seems to be very busy working on Tek Arrows, it might be that they outsourced that to Grezzo. They are good at taking something existing to make something new out of it. Like they essentially did with Ocarina of Time 3D and the Four Swords Anniversary Edition. Just that this would be the next big step, which I already suggested in the past.

That might also explains, why Aonuma is so hesistant with Majora's Mask. They need Grezzo to do something new instead. Of course it could still be that they are making Majora's Mask 3D. Maybe they plan new environments or something like MM Master Quest. Or they are working on BOTH a new Zelda 3DS game and Majora's Mask 3D, which is why they need to hire more people. That would be the best case scenario, where I would explode in a fountain of joy.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Zelda 3DS / Wii U Release Rythm

With Majora's Mask 3D I'm starting to think that they are going to wait for a Spring/Summer 2015 release to pass the time between Hyrule Warriors and the new Zelda game for Wii U. Aonuma already announced that the new Zelda game will get a playable demo at E3 next year, which means the game won't be released before then. Considering how little they showed us at this year's E3, it's very likely that Zelda U is aimed at a holiday 2015 release.

Also, by releasing Majora's Mask 3D some time after Hyrule Warriors, it creates a nice alternating pattern for Zelda between the two Nintendo gaming systems:

  • Wii U - The Wind Waker HD (October 2013)
  • 3DS - A Link Between Worlds (November 2013)
  • Wii U - Hyrule Warriors (September 2014)
  • 3DS - Majora's Mask 3D (Spring/Summer 2015)
  • Wii U - Zelda U (late 2015)
  • 3DS - ALBW follow-up (2016)

You get a game on the Wii U, then one on the 3DS, then one on the Wii U again and so on. Also, there's something new for Zelda fans regularly without any big pauses. The longest pause is between A Link Between Worlds and Hyrule Warriors, where we're currently in. But this year we also get lots of Zelda stuff in other games like the Zelda level for Sonic Lost World, Link's costume in Bayonetta and of course Super Smash Bros. 4.

Majora's Mask 3D or Bust!

Aonuma hears the fans. The fans ask for Majora's Mask 3D and he listens and he acknowledges... but while it's nice that Nintendo is actually listening to their fans, it's entirely worthless if they don't do anything.

If I'm unhappy with something in Minecraft, there are many ways to tell Jeb and Dinnerbone, like Twitter or reddit or their bug report system. They listen and if they agree, they will change the game to make more like the fans want it to be. If I'm unhappy that I can't access the GBA shop in the Virtual Console versions of the Oracle games, I can post it on Miiverse. And maybe they'll listen. But nothing will change.

What's good it good for that you can tell the people at Nintendo about what you want, if they don't care? And if they even start to tease their fans about it, to play with them or to make a joke, the relationship gets very unhealthy. So, in case Majora's Mask 3D won't be happening, Aonuma walks on very thin ice here.

The good news is that there weren't any news about Grezzo, the developers of Ocarina of Time 3D. Last year around this time they were occupied with the Flower Town game for the 3DS StreetPass lobby, so they were not able to do anything Zelda. So far I haven't seen any news about them, they are not working on Codename STEAM or something (it actually didn't feel like there have been all too many 3DS games).

When they announced that Grezzo was working on the Four Swords Anniversary Edition, I was happy to learn that we have now an entire team dedicated to improve older Zelda games and maybe to work on new Zelda titles in the future. And I was sad to see them make some flower game instead of Majora's Mask 3D.

Some fans now hope that they save Majora's Mask for something bigger, like an HD remake or a remake for the next handheld system or even a sequel. But the reality is that Majora's Mask wasn't popular with the masses. In school I had a couple of friends who really liked Link's Awakening and Ocarina of Time, much like I did. But with Majora's Mask they lost interest in Zelda, while I got in it deeper and deeper. It's a game that the hardcore Zelda fans enjoy and celebrate, find fascinating and like to play. And Aonuma already admitted to that.

The thing for me is that Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask belong together. The development of Majora's Mask started as a N64DD addon for Ocarina of Time under the title of "Zelda Gaiden". It would later turn into a standalone N64 game, but both games share the same engine, the same interface, the same controls, as well as many graphics, models and sounds. The two games are siblings.

This also makes it easier for Nintendo. Fans are asking for something with Majora's Mask, Majora's Mask 3D is the cheapest way to "satisfy" them, because half of the work was already done with Ocarina of Time 3D. They can reuse all the assets, much like they reused all the assets in the original N64 game.

But you can't just separate the two. From the first moment I played Ocarina of Time 3D, I wanted the same for Majora's Mask. I imagined how amazing the game would look like on the 3DS, especially with the moon hovering over you in 3D. But this also works the other way around. If they made Majora's Mask HD, fans would ask for an Ocarina of Time HD, the game was much more popular after all. And why wouldn't they? What you do with one of the games, you better do with the other.

If not, it would be like releasing New Play Control! versions of Metroid Prime and Pikmin, but not their sequels. It would be like making an HD remake of Super Mario Galaxy, but not Super Mario Galaxy 2. It would be like releasing Phantom Hourglass on the Wii U, but not Spirit Tracks. Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask simply belong together.

And that's the whole reason, why I want, why I need Majora's Mask 3D - not Majora's Mask HD or some Majora's Mask sequel, but Majora's Mask 3D.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

E3 2014 Thoughts

I don't know, but this year's E3 feels somewhat empty to me. I don't care much about Microsoft and Sony, when I'm not playing Nintendo consoles, I prefer to play on the PC, usually Minecraft or some arena shooter. Minecraft is regularly getting updates and a new Unreal Tournament is in the making, hand in hand with the Community, so my gaming needs outside of Nintendo are fully satisfied.

My Nintendo gaming needs, however, hunger for more. I was hoping for Majora's Mask 3D (for Din's sake, Nintendo, stop teasing us with it and just deliver) or a new Metroid, but nothing. I think that Nintendo's take on the multiplayer shooter genre with Splatoon is charming and the more I see about the game, the more I like it, so I will probably give it a try. It's also good to see Nintendo making some new IPs, they had a lot on this E3 with Splatoon probably being the most awesome. I also liked Captain Toad for some reason, though I haven't even touched 3D World yet. Mario Maker looks like fun as well (I always enjoyed the stage builder in Brawler), but it definitely needs more options. More powerups, enemies, different backgrounds. And maybe some day we'll get a Zelda Maker.

But the biggest things seem to be the new Super Smash Bros. and Hyrule Warriors. Smash looks solid, but overall it doesn't seem to be all that different from Brawl. And stuff like collectible figurines certainly are not helping with that. I like the new Zero Suit Samus as a character (the invitational tournament was even won by someone playing with her), so I'm going to have one more main character next to Toon Link and Kirby, which is good. But overall it doesn't feel as exciting as Brawl did, when it came out. (I even started my blog at that time!)

Hyrule Warriors got me really excited last month with all its info, but the E3 stuff was somewhat underwhelming. Zelda looks awesome and really beautiful as a character, but the inclusion of Imp Midna and the Twilight Realm as a stage brings this mishmash feeling of the first trailer. I was hoping for a more consistent storyline and even a place in the timeline, but I can't see how they will be able to throw that into the mix without it being too crazy.

Of course on the other hand, Hyrule Warriors will be a fanservice game and Midna certainly has many fans. But I personally would have preferred her human form as a playable character, because it would make more sense storywise, taking place before the events of Twilight Princess... and because it would add to the sexy. :D I also would have preferred Demise over Ganondorf, but whatever... (Update: it has already been confirmed that the game won't take place in the timeline, but some alternate dimension...)

And overall I was positively surprised that Miyamoto's big Wii U GamePad games didn't turn out to be Zelda... yet. I still expect Zelda to use the GamePad in many ways, but there's now the chance to have optional Skyward Sword controls, since they haven't given any indication of turning Zelda into a big GamePad experiment.

I also like the Treehouse live stream a lot. That's a good way to do an E3, I almost feel like being on the convention myself.

The Legend of Zelda: WTF Announced for 2015

What... was... that...?

Seriously, I loved the whole part with the beautiful landscape in the background, where Aonuma talked about a world without borders, where you can go and explore anywhere. For someone like me, for whom exploration is the most important thing about Zelda, that all sounded quite nice, even though I don't need a massive world, I need an interesting world. If it's all just empty and boring like in Twilight Princess, it's no good to have large open landscapes. But it looked really beautiful, I have to say:

Also, it seemed like the game uses a fixed camera... which I think is very weird. But I could make peace with that, if the whole thing suddenly didn't went madshit with a giant crawling laser-robo-octorok-spider-thingy blasting the whole environment into pieces and yet another cel shaded Link going into battle using the Tek Bow from Turok 2. What the hell was that? Looked like some generic PS/XBox action game, but not Zelda.

At least it looks like I was right with my prediction about the bow being very important in this game. It was even his primary weapon, Link didn't have a sword in the footage! (Or whoever that is. Aonuma seems to be fishy about it.)

Also, my idea about changing the environment by drawing on the GamePad might also make sense. If the Cyber Octorok is able to destroy the environment, like the bridge above the water, there should be some way to repair it. Unless the whole sequence is scripted, but that would be lame.

Monday, June 9, 2014

E3 2014 Mini Hype

I'm neglecting this blog as of late, but that's mainly because there was no big Zelda news except for Hyrule Warriors in the last months and I'm usually writing my share of Zelda of things for ZeldaEurope, where I don't feel like repeating these things here again.

But tomorrow is a big day and we can all be officially excited. Zelda U is going to be shown most definitely. They promised. And we will probably learn how the games looks like, how it will play like and what it will revolve around. I'm guessing something more with a bow or with maps would work good with the GamePad. Or something like the Lens of Truth. We only know that it's going to focus on exploration and an open world (which I love), so maybe doing something major with maps could be it. Or maybe just don't focus on a big gimmick for once, but with the Wii U GamePad the chances for this are very slim. However, with less than 24 hours left I won't think about that too much now.

Hyrule Warriors will be important as well. They already announced that they are going to show more playable characters and I'm eager to learn, who they will be and how they'll play like. That is already set and ensure some fun tomorrow, no matter how the other announcements are going to look like.

And there's still Majora's Mask 3D or something with Majora's Mask in general. They didn't do all these teasers last year for nothing. Of course it all could be that the new Wii U game will be tied to Majora's Mask in some way, like Nintendo Life is speculating. But I'm still hoping for MM3D, plain and simple.

On the non-Zelda stuff I'm hot for Metroid. It's been too long.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Minish Cap (Wii U VC Review)

This review was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2021 by the same author. Nintendo had provided a download code.

A week ago last Thursday the GameBoy Advance classic The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was made available as a download for the Wii U Virtual Console. So, let's examine how the title does on the new home console and how GameBoy Advance games fare in general on the Virtual Console.

The Minish Cap uses up 61MB on the hard drive, even though the download was about 35MB larger (probably for the emulator), and costs 6,99€ in the eShop. That's one Euro cheaper than Super Nintendo titles, but that doesn't mean that GameBoy Advance titles are worse by any means. In fact, this might be the new flagship for emulation on a Nintendo system.

Link in the Minish Woods without a hat

It's not obvious at first why Nintendo went with the Wii U, instead of the Nintendo 3DS, but the Wii U GamePad feels like a big GameBoy Advance and plays like one. The upscaled graphics of the GBA titles are razor-sharp and The Minish Cap never looked better than on the Wii U GamePad (at least officially). There are black bars to the left and right on the GamePad, as well as all around the screen on the TV, but those shouldn't really bother anyone.

It's of note that the gamma values were adjusted to make the game look more natural and not as jazzy. Games on the GameBoy Advance were originally very bright to compensate for the screens without any illumination. But of course this isn't necessary any longer on the Wii U.

You can also activate screen smoothing for GBA games, which is a new Virtual Console feature and makes the upscaled graphics look less pixelated. You can change this in the options or even comfortably switch between both modes by pressing down the right analog stick. On the Wii U GamePad things look better without the screen smoothing, however.

Sound and visuals get transmitted to both the TV and the GamePad at the same time. If you don't want to play with the GamePad, you can also use a Pro Controller, a Wii Remote, or a Classic Controller. For each controller you can freely change the bindings for the buttons (unlike on the Nintendo 3DS), which gets memorized on a per-game basis. So, for example, if you want to use ZL and ZR in The Minish Cap instead of L and R, then this is entirely possible.

And of course you can also create and load a Restore Point, where you can save and load the game at any time (e.g. right before a boss), which makes things certainly easier. In the Virtual Console menu you get a small preview picture for both the last Restore Point and for creating a new Restore Point, which feels a lot more intuitive here.

Opening the Virtual Console menu can be freely assigned to any of the buttons as well. This is ideal for those who don't want to use the touchscreen with their fingers (with Virtual Console titles on the Nintendo 3DS it was necessary to use the touchscreen for all these things).

But most of this isn't really new, because it uses the same basics as the Virtual Console for Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES titles on the Wii U. However, other than the screen smoothing, there is another novelty that comes with the GameBoy Advance titles: you get to view the original manual of the game. You can open it via a small question mark icon in the lower left border of the touchscreen, then scroll through the pages and even zoom in.

a screenshot of the manual about the items in German

This is a lot more charming than the usual manuals for Virtual Console games, where this has a lot more value, since you get a little bit more than what's effectively just the download of a ROM. So, overall the GameBoy Advance Virtual Console is really good. It's of note that Nintendo had the help of M2 here – this is another studio, which worked on the 3D SEGA Classics for the Nintendo 3DS before and therefore had already some experience with enhanced emulation.

The Minish Cap itself didn't get enhanced during all of this, however. For customers in North America this shouldn't be of any concern, but in Europe we're still dealing with the same old game, which sadly was based on a unfinished version. Compared to the versions from North America and Japan this one has a couple of downsides:

  • Stockwell's Shop doesn't have the Bomb Bag upgrade, which normally is available for purchase after the Boomerang. So, you can only carry 50 Bombs at max in the European version, instead of 99.
  • There is a bug that prevents you from fusing Kinstones with Eenie under certain circumstances. As a result you can't summon all the Gorons, so you won't be able to get one of the Bottles, Biggoron, and the Mirror Shield at the end.
  • Places where you have opened doors or helped people via Kinstones are permanently marked on the map, even if you already have visited them.
  • You can't use the Ocarina of Wind at the portal to the Palace of Winds, which means you have to climb down the entire home of the Wind Tribe before you can leave the place.

These are all good reasons for European Zelda fans to play the North American edition instead. And it would have been very desirable to get that upgraded version on the Virtual Console, which could have been even a reason to buy the game (again) for some. Of course this probably wasn't easily done with the translations, which are missing in the other versions, but as a result you're still looking at an empty shelf slot at Stockwell's or risk to miss a lot of items (make sure that you have the blue Kinstone piece with the angular shape on the crack before you fuse Kinstone with Eenie, one of the farmers).

Link in Stockwell's Shop with no Bomb Bag upgrade available

Otherwise there isn't much to say about The Minish Cap itself, other than that the game has aged remarkably well. After Oracle of Ages & Seasons and Four Swords, Capcom delivered their swan song – their final masterpiece – with this game, where it's okay to be sad that Flagship, the studio behind these games, was dissolved afterwards. The 2D graphics were painted with a lot of attention to detail and feel sort of timeless, especially when compared to the top-down Zelda titles on the Nintendo DS. And this really shows on the Wii U GamePad.

If you're unfamiliar with The Minish Cap, you'll get a carefully crafted Zelda adventure with a total of six dungeons and a lot of side-quests. Based on the idea for the Gnat Hat from Four Swords, Link can shrink himself and dive into miniature worlds. The game is quite linear and more on the easy side, but it's overall so charming that it's hard to say anything bad about it. And on the Wii U Virtual Console it plays better than ever.

Link climbing a beanstalk