Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 – The Year of Crossovers

2014 overview image with art, screens and merchandise

Another year has passed and for a year, which didn't see a new title in the The Legend of Zelda main series, this was probably a very lively one, especially when compared to the voids in 2008 and 2012. It all began end of January, where Iwata announced in an investor briefing that Nintendo is going to be less protective about their character IPs:

We will actively expand our character licensing business, including proactively finding appropriate partners.

And this ultimately led to various cameos for the Zelda series in other video games this year. There was the "The Legend of Zelda Zone" in Sonic Lost Word, where Sonic runs through Hyrule Field and the Goron Mines in the traditional green garbs. Speaking of, a Link costume also made it into Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

One of the highlights of these cameos was without a doubt Mario Kart 8, however. In its first DLC pack Link was added together with the Master Cycle Zero and the Hyrule Circuit, where you collect Rupees and activate switches for a shortcut.

As a perfect fit for this "year of crossovers" we saw the release of the next Super Smash Bros. game, both on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Though, nothing much happened with the Zelda franchise in the next iteration of Nintendo's allstar fighting game. We got new stages with the Spirit Train from Spirit Tracks, the Gerudo Valley from Ocarina of Time 3D, and Skyloft from Skyward Sword.

The Zelda franchise also saw a significant upgrade in the field of items in Smash – the Gust Bellow, the Beetle, Bombchus, a Fairy Bottle, Cuccos, and three new assist trophies: Skull Kid, Midna and Ghirahim. But there were no new playable fighters from the Zelda series and the recurring ones only changed a little, so overall the new Smash probably wasn't all this exciting for Zelda fans.

However, Zelda finally got its own well deserved all-star fighting game with Hyrule Warriors. You could probably even name this the "year of Hyrule Warriors", because this title was huge. Speculating about new characters and weapons, marveling at artwork and of course playing the game, where you can easily invest hundreds of hours – Hyrule Warriors dominated the free time of Zelda fans in the latter half of the year. And it will still keep going. Two more DLC packs are coming in early 2015, one about Majora's Mask and one adding new game modes, where Hyrule Warriors will probably keep the fans busy until the next Zelda game get released.

Otherwise we got a small blast from the past with The Minish Cap on the Wii U Virtual Console, as well as some NES goodness with NES Remix 2 (Wii U) and NES Remix Pack (Nintendo 3DS).

Monday, December 22, 2014

Super Smash Bros. 4 Unexcitement

When I started this blog in 2008, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was huge for me. Sadly I have deleted most of the post from the time, because they were more of a backlogging nature, but they showed my excitement for the game. I invested about 300 hours into Brawl, collected all stickers and nearly all trophies, created many stages and overall had a lot of fun with it. It's probably my favorite game on the Wii next to the Metroid Prime Trilogy.

Now we got this:

I could not replicate the same excitement this year with Super Smash Bros. 4, which just recycled Brawl in many ways (lots of stages, music, almost all characters), but also lacked some of the good parts like most stage editor elements, the Subspace Emissary or the stickers. Overall it feels all very lazy and that should not be of surprise, when the director of the game publicly states that he doesn't want to work on Smash anymore.

It's still a quality game and the gameplay certainly has improved over Brawl, for me it's the best gameplay and controls in the series. But while the core is great, the package feels entirely inferior to Brawl. One of the reasons might be the development of the 3DS version, which probably cut the resources in half. If they didn't make a 3DS version and put all their efforts into the Wii U game, it probably would have a lot more going for it.

Another big reason is Hyrule Warriors, where Zelda finally got its own allstar game. Ghirahim or Midna might not be "worthy" enough to be playable in Smash, but they sure are in Hyrule Warriors. And Koei Tecmo's character design is just absolutely splendid and beautiful, they did such a great job with this game that it's very easy to ignore the new Smash as a Zelda fan.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Beaten Link's Awakening Again

I honestly don't know, how many times I've played through Link's Awakening by now, but definitely over 20 times. The only other Zelda game, where I'm not exactly sure, how many times I played through it, is Ocarina of Time. With all the other games I remember quite well, how many times I played them.

But with Link's Awakening this has become some sort of Christmas tradition for me. It was Christmas 1997, where I got the game. And it was my first Zelda game. It took me months to beat it originally, I got stuck so many times in the silliest situations. I cried, when I finally beat the game, because such an amazing journey came to an end.

Today I beat it in one evening. It's a very short Zelda game and I know all the best routes through the dungeons, but it's perfect, if you want a quick Zelda experience.

It also brings back so many memories, each time I play it. The mystery the game had, when I only knew it from Club Nintendo magazin articles. The imaginations about the island Cocolinth running wild. It was like reading a good book.

I picked up the uncensored, original, monochrome German version of the game, which has the Claude M. Moyse translation humor. He was known for sneaking in some kinky translation here and there, so you get Buzz Blubbs talking about condoms and sharing juices. Or one of my favorite parts is the quest with the mermaid. She actually lost her bikini top and if you dive in front of her, she gets upset... and when she offers you a scale, pervert Link grabs something else first. Good times. :D

What I also enjoy a lot about the game are the secrets. Some of the Pieces of Heart and Secret Seashells are so well hidden that you really have to be thorough to look for everything. This was my first Zelda game and it taught me that there can be a secret behind every wall and under every bush. Sadly Zelda games kind of lost this, by now it's always very obvious, where things are hidden. Take the Maiamais in A Link Between Worlds for example. It's a fun collectible quest, but way too easy.

Hyrule Warriors: Fishing Rod?

This might sound weird, but when I look at Link's weapon list, it really feels like he's missing one weapon. Of course he already got seven weapons in total, but his tabular weapon menu basically screams "give me one more weapon". It just looks incomplete.

And there's still the issue that we haven't seen another new Water element weapon so far. There's one new Light, Fire and Lightning weapon and four new Darkness weapons. At this point I wouldn't even be surprised, if the Majora's Mask pack added yet two more Darkness weapons with Fierce Deity Link and Skull Kid. And only a Deku character would probably add another Water element weapon, however, there are more likely candidates for the remaining two character slots.

The solution? Give Link the Fishing Rod! This would happen as part of a free update - probably the last one, which comes alongside the Ganon/Boss pack and the two new game modes. That way the final update would be more exciting and Koei Tecmo could use this as a "thank you". On the other hand they could also add the weapon and/or its upgrades to the Termina Adventure Map, since Majora's Mask is now getting fishing ponds in the remake.

It would be a pure joke weapon, which is why it's not really potential paid DLC. But seeing, how they made the Spinner and the Dominion Rod work, they could easily come up with a full fishing moveset, where Link whips his enemies using the Fishing Rod and smashes them with giant fish that he pulled out of nowhere. Something absolutely ridiculous, but fun.

Speaking of joke weapons, I was thinking about about an 8-Bit Magical Sword and I guess it could be possible that the Magical Sword gets to be the 8-Bit variant of the Master Sword. It would get listed under Master Sword and be unique in the same way, so you cannot get duplicates or sell it. And it comes with the same Evil's Bane seal. Also, Link would have the 8-Bit Magical Shield while wielding the 8-Bit Magical Sword.

Hyrule Warriors: Majora's Mask Pack Speculation

One of the most fun to have with Hyrule Warriors besides playing the game is speculating what the game might offer in the future. We have two more DLC packs left. The last one will include two new game modes and isn't that interesting (yet), but the Majora's Mask pack certainly is, especially since it's accompanied by the 3DS remake later next year. Early 2015 will be all about Majora's Mask.


Well, the Majora's Mask pack will contain two new characters, three new costumes and a new Adventure Map. While I don't like the lack of integration of the paid DLC characters, they are still the most interesting thing here. And I narrowed it down to five likely candidates:

  • Fierce Deity Link
  • Skull Kid
  • Tingle
  • Happy Mask Salesman
  • Deku Princess

Each of these have something going for them and against them. Right now I still consider Fierce Deity Link and Skull Kid as the best choices. In some of my previous posts I had the theory that they might aim for less significant characters with the DLC, like Yeto or the Deku Princess, but that was obviously not the case with Twili Midna. They go for the big fan favorites here and those are certainly Fierce Deity Link and Skull Kid. After all they are the ones represented as First 4 Figures from the game! And with them all F4F would be playable.

With Fierce Deity Link there is a chance that he might just be a costume for Link and nothing else. He also could be both a costume and a character. They could make him a separate character, but also give Link an unlockable Fierce Deity color swap on the new Adventure Map just for fun. Or even a full costume, since they simply could reuse and downscale Fierce Deity Link's model as a costume. I already made several arguments, why he should be his own separate character, but this only applies, if they plan a moveset. And I think both Sheik and Twili Midna already made this clear that these kind of transformed characters get their own slot and won't just be some costume or weapon.

In a way Fierce Deity Link is actually very similar to Twili Midna. Both only appeared at the end of a Zelda game, but have a cult following amongst the Zelda fans. From Aonuma's message about here on Miiverse:

When I was developing Twilight Princess, I thought it was such a waste to let a beautiful princess like her only appear in the ending. Now Koei Tecmo Games has made my wish to see more of her come true.

Something similar could be said about Fierce Deity Link and I actually hope that they give him more to do in Majora's Mask 3D, maybe like a Cave of Ordeals, where you can play as him. It's just so much fun to use him. But Hyrule Warriors is the perfect chance to give this character more action and he's predestined to be in the game. Fierce Deity Link was the biggest power rush in the entire Zelda series and he makes a great fit for Hyrule Warriors, which is a all about overpowered fighters. And seeing how powerful they made Twili Midna, I don't see an issue with Fierce Deity Link being more powerful than Link. The DLC characters are separate after all, so it's not like he's going to make the game any easier.

Also, with Twili Midna they recycled lots of Cia's animations, which they haven't done with any other character yet. All of them got unique animations. But that probably happened, because they are to get the DLC characters done. And with the Fierce Deity Link they could recycle lots of assets, including the voice and some animations, from Link. That way they have more time to get one fully original character done. Though even Skull Kid for example would probably recycle some things, like the special attack with the moon.

Skull Kid is easily the poster child of Majora's Mask and he's also the humanoid helper villain much as Zant or Ghirahim, so there's a good chance that he will become playable with the DLC. Majora fighting Fierce Deity might also be a theme for the new Adventure Map and it even could make sense, if they need each other's materials. Koei will probably add a Challenge Mode mission, where you can fight both characters, so that you can get their materials without buying the new Adventure Map. Or it works like with Twili Midna, where she simply drops Midna's materials. This could work for Fierce Deity Link, but not for any other new character.

The big argument against Fierce Deity Link and Skull Kid is that they most likely would add even more darkness type weapons to the game, while we already got eight. While the element balance already got screwed with the Twilight Princess DLC, it still would be weird to completely ignore all other elements over the course of two DLC packs. And this is where the other characters come in.

I often see the Happy Mask Salesman named by fans and he certainly would complement Skull Kid as well as Fierce Deity Link would, if you want to characters with a connection, where one needs the materials of the other. But I'm personally not a big fan of this character idea for two different reasons. One is that he never takes action. He's this mysterious background character, who lets Link do his deeds in all of the games, where he appeared. Him taking action would feel as weird to me as kid Kafei suddenly slaughtering thousands of enemies, while he originally couldn't even fight Sakon. Still Koei Tecmo could make him work with a moveset, where he utilizes different ability masks, but I fear a moveset like that would feel very gimmicky, which is the 2nd reason.

We know that Tingle was already in development (see here) together with a Tingle Balloon weapon. But that doesn't have to mean anything. Like Midna's "Hair" weapon, he simply could have been scrapped. Maybe even Aonuma told them not to include Tingle, since he's not very popular in the west. And with the DLC there's now the problem that you can preorder everything without knowing what characters exactly will be included. So, it should better be something that doesn't disappoint the masses.

Also, Tingle is a recurring character like Impa or Ganondorf. And like these two he should get his own Hyrule Warriors incarnation and not be specifically from the world of Termina. So far all the characters taken from specific eras like Fi or Darunia only ever appeared there and nowhere else. While this also wouldn't apply to the Happy Mask Salesman and Skull Kid, these two at least had their only main role in Majora's Mask. So, it still makes sense to use their Majora's Mask versions. Tingle on the other hand probably had his most important role in the Wind Waker, but he even got his own games. I think Tingle would make the most sense as a character in the sequel, where he appears as part of the world of Hyrule Warriors. And in a potential sequel they have the room for more silly characters like Agitha, while in the DLC they want selling characters. However... we know for a fact that they already were working on Tingle, which is why he's still a very likely candidate. Either he got scrapped or he gets finished up for the DLC.

The Deku Princess is also more likely to appear in the sequel than in the DLC. In my previous post I gave several good reasons, why she should be an addition to the game. It would be important to have a Deku next to a Goron and a Zora to complete the Majora's Mask race trio. She would add another (much needed) water weapon and could come with a Woodfall stage, Deku troops and maybe even an Odolwa boss. However, seeing how the Twilight Princess Adventure Map didn't have any new content AT ALL, we're lucky to get a Clocktown Stage, if anything. So, my ideas were probably too optimistic for the DLC and it's more likely to have all these things in the sequel together with a Deku character. And while I still think that the Deku Princess would be the best Deku representative, she is certainly not Twili Midna level of popular to be hot cake DLC.

I should also mention Mikau, since he would be an awesome addition using the guitar as his weapon type and playing with electric attacks. He's a rockstar and the perfect fit for this Zelda rock music game. However, since we already have a Zora character, he's more likely to appear in a sequel as well.

Adventure Map

We can already listen to the 8-Bit Clocktown Music of the upcoming Adventure Map, so it's probably going to be an 8-Bit version of Termina. I thought the Twilight map was well made visually, though it lacked any new content. I still have the hope that they at least might make a Clocktown stage for this. Maybe they even create a free new scenario for Legend Mode in the 1.5 update, where the heroes got side tracked in Termina and where you're able to face the new characters without the DLC.

However, I thought the difficulty level of the Twilight map was a pain. It's not so much about the damage output, which totally makes sense for characters, who can have up to 40 Heart Containers by now, but about the A rank and 2nd Skulltula requirements, where you can't take more than 10/25 and 4 hearts of damage. It only results in a pure "All Attacks are Devastating" playstyle, where I use the Item Power-Up mixture to kill everything with the Sacred Bow at a safe distance. And that's not much fun.

So, if they really have to keep the same silly A rank and Skulltula requirements for everything, I hope that they will aim at a different difficulty level for Termina Map. The Master Quest Map was overall easier, but had the rules. The Twilight Map was very hard, but it gives double material drops. Maybe the Termina Map will aim at time limits, but you can use Ocarina item cards to get rid of them. So, this would be similar to the Twilight Zones on the Twilight Map.

Overall for the item cards they could use different masks. Use the Mask of Truth to read Gossip Stones and reveal enemies. Or use the Postman Hat to look into post boxes and unlock rewards. As for the rewards, those will probably have 8-Bit variants for the remaining six original weapons. I really liked the Power Bracelet + Raft combo and the 8-Bit Keys for Ganondorf, those were cool choices. Let's see, how the remaining 8-Bit weapons could look like:

  • Great Fairy: 8-Bit Fairy
  • Naginata: 8-Bit Bow
  • Portal: 8-Bit Compass
  • Baton: 8-Bit Recorder
  • Hammer: 8-Bit Food
  • Scale: 8-Bit Heart

Those are different from previous ideas, mainly because it seems that DLC characters and weapons are not getting 8-Bit variants. I used the Food as the Hammer because of the shape and because it's a reference to the Rock Sirloin from Majora's Mask, which was a Goron item in the game. The only other major items would be the Bombs and the Magical Sword. But it could be that Darunia is using the Bombs as his Hammer. The 8-Bit Hammer from Zelda II was also a nice idea, but it seems like they only use items from the first Zelda game.

The Magical Sword is a bit iffy. It could be used for the Naginata, but I guess it's also possible to have an 8-Bit alternative to the Master Sword, which works exactly like the Master Sword. And I also heard that someone met a Wiizro with an 8-Bit Blue Ring in a Network Link battle. Can't confirm this yet though. But the same guy also spotted Agitha with the Rupee as her Parasol.

And yes, I want to see a huge 8-Bit Fairy... lol. She would probably even carry an 8-Bit Potion around as her bottle.


Next to 8-Bit weapons there should be 16 more recolored default costumes, but also three new full model costumes. If Fierce Deity Link is not a playable character, he at least should be a full costume, which models the armor based on the artwork and every detail. A cheap color swap like in Super Smash Bros. 4 would only be acceptable, if he's also a playable character.

But since Link already got so many costumes, they should try to give other characters something here. So far only Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Lana and Cia received real costumes and it's time for some other characters to get some costume joy. Here are some ideas:

  • Goron Link costume for Darunia
  • Garo Ninja costume for Wizzro
  • Cremia / Malon costume for Lana or Zelda
  • Tingle costume for Volga

Goron Link is a no brainer. Darunia would get Link's hat, the gloves, the pants and the necklace, so that he looks like Link transformed into Darmani. This would be different from the Ghost Darmani costume, since it requires a modified character model and it would be based on Goron Link.

In any case it's weird that Darunia and Ruto already got Majora's Mask color swaps on the Master Quest Map. You would have thought that they save this for the Ternina Map. Or maybe they get Majora's Mask themes here as well. For example Ruto could have a Mikau reskin, where she has all his tattoos. Not sure about Darunia though...

I've always been a fan of the Garo race in Ikana and it would be nice to have a full blown Garo costume for Wizzro, since he's kind of the playable representative of all ghost beings. He also could just get a Garo Ninja or Poe Collector color swap on the Adventure Map, but I'm personally not a fan of color swaps, which could have been real costumes (like Skyward Sword Impa).

If Tingle's not playable, he could also be a ridiculous costume for someone. Volga in a Tingle costume would be fun, but I guess it's also a possibility for Link or even Darunia. But I hope that they give costumes to characters, who haven't received any special costumes yet. Link, Zelda and Ganondorf already got lots, Lana and Cia got a nice costume in the first pack and the Majora's Mask pack should have something in store for others. Impa or Sheik might be candidates as well. Maybe we might just get their Ocarina of Time costumes.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hyrule Warriors: Costume Packs Released

By now Nintendo has released the costume packs in Europe for 0,99€ each. With a small price like that I wouldn't mind more costume packs. Though I'm not entirely happy with the preorder costumes. The Twilight Princess costumes all look too dark and Zelda's dress in her Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess versions looks messed up while running. Besides these issues I really enjoy the variety. My favorites are Ocarina of Time Link and Skyward Sword Zelda.

I still think similar costumes for Impa and Sheik would be nice, as well as a Demise costume for Ganondorf. The Ocarina of Time costume for Link also could have red and blue versions.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Review)

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 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.

When Link is fighting against Mario, Samus or Captain Falcon, we're most likely talking about Super Smash Bros. – the fourth installment of Nintendo's iconic fighting game series now found its way onto the Wii U and with that it's time to take a look how it compares to the Nintendo 3DS version, with a focus on what's in it for Zelda fans.

It's best to check out out the Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS review at first, if you haven't done so already, because some aspects, like the selection of fighters and items, are identical between both versions. This review will focus more on what makes the Wii U version different.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl in HD

It's June 27th, 2008 – a special day for every Nintendo fan in Europe, where they finally got the most extensive Nintendo game to date, printed onto a dual-layer disc (much to the sorrow of some Wii disc drives). Super Smash Bros. Brawl created a milestone and was without equal at the time. While its gameplay might have been too slow and bumpy for fans of Super Smash Bros. Melee, the game offered many new fighters, stages, modes and extras, a gigantic soundtrack, as well as a couple of new features, like the Final Smash, Assist Trophies, a story mode and even a Stage Builder. Super Smash Bros. Brawl was also a gigantic love letter to the depths of the Nintendo universes, leaving some big shoes to fill for its successors.

Smash Bros. for Wii U main menu

And to fill them a lot from Super Smash Bros. Brawl got recycled in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. This already starts with the main menu, which – the Wii Fit inspired background aside – uses the same design and handling as its predecessor. This also means that you can only navigate it using the analog stick or D-pad, but not the pointer of the Wii Remote or the touchscreen of the Wii U GamePad, despite the large menu entries. Otherwise, about a third of the stages returns from the previous game, as well as the majority of the fighters (the exceptions being Snake, Lucas, Wolf, Squirtle, Ivysaur and the Ice Climbers) and most of the soundtrack from Brawl.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if you've loved Super Smash Bros. Brawl and spent many hours with the game, this might feel like a rehash, while at the same time it's missing some of the strengths of the predecessor. It just doesn't have the same level of innovation that each Super Smash Bros. game had before. The graphics are now in HD, there are 14 new characters and the gameplay is as solid as ever, but it's lacking the ambition of the other projects. The "wow factor".

The main focus was on delivering a first Smash Bros. for a Nintendo handheld with Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, as well as a Smash Bros. for Nintendo's first HD console with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. That was the main ambition behind this project, making two new Smash titles at once, but it feels like this came at the cost of something grander. This doesn't mean it's a bad game, however...

The Core

While the rest of the review will deal with all the new features around the Wii U version, let's start by saying that the core of the game is quite excellent. In 1080p at fluid 60FPS runs an established fighting game that can excite pro, hardcore and casual gamers alike.

After Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS just didn't feel right on the small screen, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is right at home on the big screen, where Smash simply is played best. And this is a solid new entry into the series, which doesn't really do anything wrong on the gameplay side, except for being somewhat finicky with the inputs.

For example it's quite hard to register a "tap" of the button, where the window of frames is simply too short and the game then thinks your holding the button, instead of pressing it shortly. This can make a big difference for the jumps, where there is a short and full variant depending on the input.

But otherwise there was a lot of fine tuning compared to Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where the game is somewhat faster now and the random tripping mechanic is gone. A lot of work also went into balancing the characters. Only time will tell if that's enough for fans of Super Smash Bros. Melee, which has been vastly preferred for competitive play so far. But in any case you'll get a good and extensive Smash experience with 52 fighters (including the three Mii Fighters) and 46 stages. And that's something.

Eightfold Smash

Probably the biggest innovation from the previous game is the "8-Player Smash", a version of the classic "Smash" mode, where you can play with up to eight players, as the name implies. However, you won't get any of the "Special Smash" customizations and you can only play on 15 of the 46 stages (some more by using the Omega-versions). 

You can also play just with five, six or seven players, but in any case it's remarkable how the game supports all possible types of controllers for this. Next to the Wii U GamePad, you can put Wii Remotes, Wii Remotes with Nunchcuks, Pro Controllers, Classic Controllers and GameCube Controllers (via a separately available adapter) into the hands of your friends. You can even use a Nintendo 3DS, though this probably should not be your first choice.

In addition you can alter the controls for all these devices, if you don't like the default ones. Like in Brawl this gets done via names, where you have to select them again, if you change between game modes. Unlike the Nintendo 3DS version, your choice of name and costumes doesn't get saved permanently, which gets quite annoying after a while.

Eight Player Smash on Hyrule Temple

Once everything is set up, the eight-player-chaos may begin. If you have more than three friends over for a visit, then this mode might be the ideal choice for playing together, but you will notice quickly that the four player limit in Super Smash Bros. was there for a reason. With eight players it creates an uncomfortable chaos, where it's easy to lose track of what's happening and where your fighter resides in the action.

There are some extraordinarily large stages specially made for that mode, like the "Great Cave Offensive" from Kirby's Fun Pak / Kirby Super Star or Palutena's Temple from Kid Icarus: Uprising. You may want to get a huge TV for those, because the image can zoom out so much that it's hard to see what's going on. This usually happens when there are players at opposing ends of the stage.

With that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U even shares a point of criticism with the 3DS version, where the small screen of the Nintendo 3DS simply isn't large enough for some of the larger stages. You have the same problem here, especially if you want to play via the Wii U GamePad. Once your fighter is only a few pixels in size, the playability says good bye.

The whole eight-player mode feels like an experiment, which didn't really work out so well. It would have been interesting, if there were more support for the transition, like five or six players, but this wasn't really optimized. There are only three more stages available, while there should have been a much greater selection for just five players.

Game Modes

Other than the 8-Player Smash, the selection of game modes seems more like a downgrade when compared to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. There is no story or adventure mode, which had its pinnacle with the Subspace Emissary. So, if you want to battle with your favorite characters through hordes of monsters and see them interact in epic cutscenes, then you will get disappointed. There is also no Boss Battles mode in the same vein.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS at least offered the possibility to go through a labyrinth full of monsters with its "Smash Run" mode, but this is exclusive to the handheld version. Instead there is the new "Smash Tour" mode, right at the start of the main menu, where this prominent placement might not be deserved...

Smash Tour board with four Mii players

Smash Tour is like a mix of Wii Party and Smash. You use Mii characters to move over a board, which offers fighters, items and the (slightly useless) stat boosts, which return here from Smash Run. You play between 15 and 25 turns, where for each turn you throw a dice to determine the number of steps you can take. Your goal is to collect as many fighters as possible until the end of all turns for the final battle. The more fighters you have, the longer you can stay in the game in order to win.

If you hit another Mii on the board, it starts a random battle, which includes all the players and where you can either win or lose fighters. Via the collected items, which look like trophies, you can gain advantages, both on the board and on the battlefield.

This isn't the most exciting mode, really. A lot of it is up to random number generation and things can get quite unbalanced, which isn't much fun. The mode is certainly a fun diversion every once in a while, which you can play with friends as a type of party game, but it doesn't offer any long lasting value. Fighting against the CPU also isn't any fun at all, where this mode shouldn't be of interest for solo players.

For single-player content there is about the same selection as on Nintendo 3DS: Classic Mode, All-Star Mode and the Stadium, which comes with Target Blast, Multi-Man Smash and Home-Run Contest. The Events from Super Smash Bros. Brawl return as well and completely new are the "Special Orders".

Classic Mode pedestal with trophy groups

Classic Mode is somewhat different from the 3DS version. You also have a choice before each round, but this choice is made on a board with groups of fighters in the form of trophies, which represent your opponents. You pick one of them and after a while new groups get added...

The main issue with this Classic Mode is the huge focus on battles with 6 to 8 fighters. If you find those confusing and like to play on the Wii U GamePad, then Classic Mode keeps putting spokes in your wheel with those. It's also not so simple to estimate which groups might lead into these larger battles. You can go for a small group with only three fighters, but it turns out to be a team battle (where you can pick your teammates).

If you lose, it will lower the difficulty on a continue. Initially you will pick the intensity by investing Gold, which you can earn in all other modes. The more you invest, the higher the difficulty will be and the more rewards you will be able to earn. If you want to master a certain intensity, you'll to do it without ever losing a battle, because it will otherwise lower the difficulty.

For the first time you can now also play Classic Mode with another player in co-op, which is also possible in many of the other modes, like All-Star. Speaking of, All-Star Mode now is played in the chronologically opposite order from the 3DS version, meaning that you start fighting against the youngest video game characters all the way up to the classics, like Mario and Pac-Man.

Target Blast now offers three different stages, but that's still not a real replacement for the Target Smash mode from the past. In the least there is also the new Trophy Rush mode from Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, where you to fight through boxes dropping down on you, in order to earn the desired collectibles. This works exactly the same as on the Nintendo 3DS, but isn't all that extensive either.

What returns from Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl are the Event matches, which now aren't linear any longer, but spread in all directions as some sort of map, where there are different maps for playing solo and in co-op. Here you have to master battles with special conditions or tasks. An interesting example for Zelda fans should be one event based on Four Swords Adventures, where four differently colored Toon Links fight each other, just like in the "Shadow Battles".

The one new thing, other than Smash Tour, are the Special Orders, where you go for ticket battles, which can be battles with special rules, Stadium modes and more. In the "Master Orders" you pay Gold for every ticket, where orders with higher difficulty cost more. Here you can earn rewards, like equipment, Mii outfits or alternate Special moves for your fighters. You can keep drawing tickets, as long as you enough of the ingame currency left.

This is different for the "Crazy Orders", where you have to invest either 5000G or a Crazy Order pass to participate. You don't have to pay extra for the tickets afterwards, but you're limited to ten minutes of play time and you also keep your damage from the previous battle. If you have battled enough, you can face Crazy Hand in one final battle. Only if you win this, you will get to keep all rewards. If you lose, you lose everything. It's somewhat similar to Classic Mode, but where you can decide at which points you go into the finale to collect as many as rewards as possible at beforehand.


While the selection of fighters is identical, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U have a different selection of stages. Those are available much faster than on the Nintendo 3DS or in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, however, where only eight of the fighters and six of the stages need to be unlocked here. And this can be achieved relatively quickly. Fans of the Zelda series don't have to do anything here, where all of its fighters and stages are ready from the get-go – even Ganondorf, who still had to be unlocked on the Nintendo 3DS.

There is a total of 46 stages in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, with a third being classic stages, mainly from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. For many franchises you get one new stage accompanied by an old one, where some of the old ones might feel redundant. An example would be "Smashville" and the new "Town and City" from Animal Crossing, where both of these feel very similar.  But two are better than one.

Link doing a spin attack with the Statue of the Goddess in the background

For Zelda there's one new stage with "Skyloft" based on Skyward Sword, where it works similarly to "Delfino Plaza", which means that a floating platform will take you to different places all over the sky island. You will fight on the Goddess Statue or on top of the waterfall for example, while the entirety of Skyloft can be seen in the background during the flights.

Next to the addition of Skyloft, the Zelda series even gets two returning stages: "Hyrule Temple" and the "Bridge of Eldin". Hyrule Temple was an excellent choice for the 8-Player-Smash, where there it's certainly one of the better stages for that mode. And the Bridge of Eldin probably has returned, because the design of the Zelda fighters is still based on Twilight Princess, where it's nice to have a fitting stage.

Nothing much has changed about these classics and it would have been more interesting to get the "Pirate Ship" back. A new version could have used the visuals from The Wind Waker HD, making a good fit for the Wii U, while Toon Link would have gotten something more from his games, where currently he feels like the odd one out, next to his realistic Zelda colleagues. (Update: this stage got later added as paid DLC, but without the visual upgrades of The Wind Waker HD. Hyrule Castle returns as DLC as well.)

One of the more interesting additions is the "Pyrosphere" from Metroid: Other M, which offers Ridley as a stage boss. If you attack him, you can bring Ridley over to your side and you can also try to defeat him to score a point. The boss action is a lot more dynamic here than it was on the Nintendo 3DS with the Yellow Devil or the Dark Emperor. Also, this really makes Other M look quite good, where it almost makes you want to play the game again despite its flaws. Almost.

Omega version of Hyrule Temple with the original stage visible in the background

Many of the (new) stages offer some special mechanics or gimmicks, but compared to Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS things are a little bit more down-to-earth. You also get the flat Omega variants of all stages, if you like to play more competitively. Again, it's a shame that there are no "Alpha" variants with platforms as well to offer some more variety, but it's still a great option to have, especially if you like a stage for its setting, but dislike its mechanics.

Stage Builder

If all those stages aren't enough for you, you can make your own in the "Stage Builder". This feature was missing on the Nintendo 3DS and it's nice to have this back, where you can have a lot of fun with this. It even makes use of the touchscreen of the Wii U GamePad, unlike the entire rest of the game and its menus. This is also the major difference compared to the Stage Builder from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where now you can freely draw your own shapes with this, which offers many new possibilities.

A Master Sword stage made via the Stage Builder

It does have its limitations, however, where the handling of the Stage Builder can be quite inconvenient. You are unable to move around your drawn shapes and you also cannot alter them via the eraser tool, where your only option is to delete them entirely and draw them again. But you might not be able to re-create the same shape exactly like you had it before... Luckily, there is also a grid, which lets you design things in squares and other geometric shapes, which makes things much easier and cleaner.

It lacks the large variety of placeable stage parts, however, where this time you only get springs, cannons, moving platforms and magma, all in two different sizes. The cannons shoot you around, like in the Donkey Kong Country games, which can be used for some fun setups, but overall Brawl just had a lot more to offer. There you had conveyor belts, ice blocks, drop blocks, ladders and even rotating platforms, as well as a variety of decorations. So, despite the possibility to draw freely, it feels more limited of what you can do.

There also wasn't much done when it comes to the backgrounds. There is now a sky world, a volcano, a space station, an ocean and some sort of city made out of blocks. All of those look very pretty and come with fitting textures, but you still don't have the possibility to use the backgrounds from normal stages, where you could build your own stage set in Skyloft or the Mushroom Kingdom. That's just not possible and you're limited to the five presets.

Collect and Connect

There is the option to connect the game to Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS for sharing Mii Fighters and customized fighters. However, these fighters can only be edited in the game where you've first made them, so you can't modify them any further after downloading them from the Nintendo 3DS and vice versa.

The Mii Fighters are a great addition to the series, where it's nice to have them to make your own fighter creations. But if you want the same Mii Fighter on both consoles, while keeping the Special Moves and equipment customizable, then this copy functionality isn't helpful. You either have to recreate the same Mii Fighter on the other system or use the original system to edit the fighter, where both of these options are somewhat inconvenient.

This limitation is probably in place to prevent you from sharing collectible items as well, but that's not a good excuse. While the trophies are different between the versions, the Mii outfits, equipment and custom moves are all the same. But you get most of these randomly anyway, where there is no good reason to not have them shared as well and synchronize your collections between the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS. Instead you have to get everything a second time now...

Zelda tapping Toon Link on his giant head

And it's not like collecting all these items is a lot of fun. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl you had the stickers, which got presented in a giant sticker album and offered some value next to the many trophies, with further references to all sorts of characters and things from many video games. But in Super Smash Bros. 4 it's really just a bunch of icons. Since many of the equipment items also come with a disadvantage, it's easy to ignore them entirely, but there are some helpful abilities, like starting the match with certain items.

At least the custom Special moves have some value and can be interesting, e.g. Link's large, but slow "Giant Bombs". Others might not be as useful, where for example Link's "Power Bow" does more damage, but the arrow drops down right at his feet, unless he fully charges the bow.

Most of the time you will play with the default Specials anyway, because you have to specifically allow and select the customized fighters, where the whole concept might get lost in the shuffle. The default attacks are the most balanced ones and there are only very few characters who offer real alternatives, instead of just variations of the existing Special attacks, like Palutena does. But there is a lot of potential here and it can be fun to experiment with the customized fighters.

Of course the popular trophies return another time, 716 in total, which you now can put into showcases or into a landscape to take pictures of them. For the Zelda series you'll only get trophies from the five big 3D Zelda games: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Again, it would have been nice to have the stickers, instead of the simple equipment icons, where those also had references to all sorts of other Zelda titles, not just the major ones.

You can also earn trophies, Special moves, music and even new stages as rewards for the Challenges. There are 140 in this game, all arranged in one big menu, which is much better than the pages on the Nintendo 3DS. There you had to complete a page first in order to continue with other Challenges, where things are much more fun on the Wii U. It does require you to do things in Smash Tour, however, where it's probably the best to just plug in multiple controllers and cheat around the randomization.

The Zelda Factor

As a Zelda fan, one of the main reasons to play Super Smash Bros. always has been the contents from the Zelda series. Before there was Hyrule Warriors, Smash was the only way of playing characters other than Link – like Zelda, Sheik or Ganondorf. And it always has been interesting what stages, music, trophies and items make it into the games to represent The Legend of Zelda.

Ghirahim's Assist Trophy making a stupid face

But Super Smash Bros. 4 isn't exactly exciting on that front. There is no new fighter from the Zelda universe and the veterans have barely changed, except for separating Zelda from Sheik. You still have the visuals from Twilight Princess for most of the characters, where Link and Zelda look somewhat grim here in Smash.

After Hyrule Warriors did an amazing job of portraying all these characters and more, the representation in Smash feels somewhat lackluster. They could have gone with the Skyward Sword looks for Link and Zelda, and maybe even replace Sheik and Ganondorf with Impa and Demise from that game to offer something new. Ganondorf is even still a glorified Captain Falcon clone, where not a lot has changed.

The only department where the Zelda series got a lot of attention are items. The Beetle, Gust Bellows, Bombchus, Cucco and Fairy Bottle all add to the arsenal, while fan favorite characters got turned into Assist Tropies with Skull Kid, Midna and Ghirahim. So, there is a lot more on the battlefield from the Zelda universe, if you play with items turned on. The Beetle and Gust Bellows are even devilishly strong, which let you score some cheap K.O.s.

There is also a lot of music, stemming from A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. There is even one piece from Link's Awakening and one from Four Swords Adventures, though both of these simply return from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Curiously, there is even music from A Link Between Worlds in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, while the Nintendo 3DS version didn't have anything from the latest Zelda, despite sharing the same system.

So, if you're only interested in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U because of Zelda, then you might consider getting Hyrule Warriors instead, where The Legend of Zelda has now its dedicated all-star title, which even lets you play as Midna and Ghirahim. But of course Zelda alone isn't the whole focus and the only reason to get this.


Smash is still best played with friends and here you can't go wrong with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. It's all polished, plays (for the most part) fantastically and has a good amount of content in the form of fighters and stages. It will not satisfy everyone, however. Many things got recycled from Super Smash Bros. Brawl to fill this title with content, while its also missing some of the strengths of the Wii predecessor, like the story mode or certain aspects for the Stage Builder. Zelda fans also shouldn't expect any major novelties here, where there's only one new stage and a couple of new items.

The Good:

  • Polished Smash gameplay in 60FPS and 1080p
  • Supports every possible controller
  • Big selection of fighters and stages
  • Mii Fighters

The Neutral:

  • Stage Builder lets you freely draw, but lacks most of the stage parts
  • Useful Omega stages, but no Alpha variants
  • 8-Player-Smash is nice to have, but can be too confusing

The Bad:

  • Not much new from Zelda
  • Lots of recycled content from Brawl
  • No Adventure mode
  • Smash Tour
  • Limited connectivity to the 3DS version
  • No stickers

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hyrule Warriors: Twilight Princess Pack (Review)

Zelda rounding up Bulblins with the Dominion Rod

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

Hyrule Warriors gets expanded on a monthly basis, where at the end of November the Twilight Princess Pack arrived with Twili Midna, the Dominion Rod, the Twilight Map, and more. There was also the update to version 1.4 with amiibo support and some improvements, where now it's time to review it all.

Again, this review is targeted towards players of Hyrule Warriors, where you should be somewhat familiar with the game and know the basics.

A Pack of Packs – Strictly Separated Contents

Like the last time, the Twilight Princess Pack costs 6,99€ on its own or can be obtained via the Heo of Hyrule Pack for the 14,99€, where you get all four DLC packs with a discount. In Japan things are little bit different, where Hyrule Warriors gets published by Koei Tecmo instead of Nintendo. This is why the Limited Edition Treasure Box set was only available in Japan, but they also let you purchase the DLC in other ways, which is mainly about getting the individual parts on their own. In case of the Twilight Princess Pack this looks as follows:

  • Dominion Rod (500Yen)
  • Twili Midna (500 Yen)
  • Twilight Map (500 Yen)
  • Costume Pack with the Postman and Ilia (200Yen)

You can also purchase the whole pack for 1200Yen (~8.11€) or the whole "All-in-One Event Pack" for 3000Yen. In Europe, Australia, and North America you only get to buy the packs, but not single parts of the DLC.

Why is this any relevant? Well, the alternate sales policy for Japan affects the DLC as a whole, because the single parts must work independently from each other. If someone wants to buy Twili Midna and only Twili Midna, then it would be bad if this person would also have to buy the Twilight Map in order to get her better weapons and additional Heart Containers. Or if someone only wants to buy the Twilight Map, then it would be bad if that someone could not complete it without Twili Midna. So, that's why she doesn't have any unlocks and gets all her things right away.

Twili Midna riding a huge Shadow Wolf like a boss

This was already a problem with Epona in the Master Quest Pack, but while the additional weapon types are at least bound to an active character, the DLC characters get completely sidelined. This was different for Cia, Volga, and Wizzro, but that's because they were part of a free update and then could be treated like the 13 original characters, where they got their unlocks on the Master Quest Map. But the rest of the DLC characters won't get any missions in the game, making them purely optional and with that somewhat irrelevant.

That's a shame and Koe Tecmo should evaluate whether these single offers even make sense. If most of the costumers buy the whole pack anyway, then it will be better to only sell the full DLC pack, so that everything can be connected. It would feel much more coherent and satisfying if Twili Midna had things to do on the Twilight Map. It's as simple as that.

Version 1.4.0 – More Levels, Materials, and Potions

The DLC gets accompanied by a free update, where this update actually installs the whole DLC. So, even if you should not want to buy it, it will take several hundred Megabytes on your system or external hard drive. That's probably another side effect of Japan's single purchase options, where Twili Midna still appears on the Twilight Map as an NPC for example, even when you didn't buy her. So, everything is at the ready, just not unlocked until it gets purchased, like DLC in a multiplayer game.

Other than the potentially unnecessary storage space, the update offers a couple of improvements. The biggest change is probably that the maximum level of your characters was raised from 99 to 150, just like in Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends. This gives everyone three more Heart Containers, but also lets them deal more and take less damage.

Twili Midna in the Training Dojo, it costs 11,925,282 Rupees to get her from level 1 to 150, she would have 35 Heart Containers then and gain 855 attack

Hero Mode is still rather tough, where you might think that this was designed for level 150 from the start. At least now you have a reason to play absolutely everyone once more, where it's only natural to put characters who have already reached the maximum aside for a while. Thanks to the update every character has some room for improvement again, where it feels like a good decision that this raise came only after a while.

It also helps with certain missions in Adventure Mode, which were way too difficult on level 99 still, where this has now changed. So, in case you're still missing some A-ranks, you can now go for them with some higher levels. The new level cap did have a negative impact on the new Twilight Map, however, but more on that later.

In addition to more levels, you can also now get a lot more materials, 999 of each type instead of just 99. And it's surprising how quickly you will accumulate 999 of those common bronze materials, like from Bokoblins, Bulblins, and Stalfos. But you'll have some good use for them, because there are three new Potion Mixtures, which cost between 100 and 200 bronze materials and can be very useful in difficult missions. However, there is still no potion to gain more materials.

New medals have been added as well for the new Adventure Maps and maximums, but this was it. There are no improvements to the smithy, no Classic Controller support, or a restart function in Adventure Mode. Challenge Mode was also forgotten once more, where you may ask what this addition was even about...

amiibo Support

Actually, there is one more thing that the update has added: the game now lets you scan amiibo on the title screen. Whenever you hold an amiibo to the NFC touchpoint you will get random weapons, materials, or Rupees. This can be done up to five times per day, which can be a fun ritual, but won't get you much. With some amiibo you will only get a single Rupee as a joke, but there is nothing that you can't easily get in the game otherwise.

a Link Super Smash Bros. amiibo put on the Wii U GamePad by someone's hand

Except... for the Spinner, the new weapon type for Link. To obtain it you'll have to scan the amiibo of Link or Toon Link once. Afterwards their amiibo will give a random weapon for Link from the already unlocked weapon types. The amiibo for Zelda and Sheik work similarly, which means you get random weapons for the respective characters.

The whole thing raises some important questions about the usage of amiibo. When amiibo were introduced at E3, the whole concept was about bringing toys to life. The amiibo were supposed to be a "buddy", who you can bring into the game as an ally or an opponent.

In case of Hyrule Warriors this could have made use of the bodyguard system from Dynasty Warriors, where you get one or multiple companions to follow and support you. The Free Mode in Hyrule Warriors basically already has this, where the intended main character of the scenario follows you around. So, for example, you scan the amiibo of Link and then it makes Link appear during the battle, maybe even Dark Link when you're playing as one of the villains.

This could have been a possible concept for amiibo in Hyrule Warriors, but it instead went down a different path, where DLC gets locked behind a figurine. This also makes Link's amiibo more valuable than the others, since now it's without a doubt the most useful of the current amiibo. Someone who only has the money for one will feel compelled to purchase Link, instead of the figurine that he or she really wants. It's not about getting the figurines that you like any longer, it's about what figurine gives you the best additional content.

It's also a very unfortunate approach for everyone who just wants the additional content, but not the figurine. For those the Spinner should be available by other means, but this isn't planned. Of course you can borrow the amiibo from someone and get the new weapon entirely for free, but you still have to jump through unnecessary hoops here for something that is supposed to be DLC. Ideally, the Spinner should have simply been part of the whole Twilight Princess Pack, where it thematically fits this perfectly anyway.

So, what Nintendo and Koei Tecmo are doing here with amiibo is very concerning and we can only hope that this will be an exception. These figurines should not act as a key to meaningful additional content, because otherwise we're just going a step backwards in the digital age.

The Spinner

Ignoring the whole amiibo affair, Koei Tecmo put a lot of effort into making an entertaining moveset for the Spinner. Everyone who enjoyed speeding through certain paths of Hyrule Field in Twilight Princess to bump into some Dinolfos and Bulblins will have fun with this new weapon for Link.

Link driving the Spinner against some Stalfos near Eldin Bridge

The Spinner is of the lightning element, offering a good alternative to the Gauntlets. Its special gimmick is creating up to three copies of itself, which you can summon with the first four combo attacks. You can push them away for remote attacks, detonate them, or make them oscillate. The latter is caused by your C5 and is especially powerful against giant bosses, where their weak point gauges can be depleted in one turn.

The large spiral pillar from the Mirror Chamber gets utilized as well, which lets you perform mighty stomping attacks and is good for posing at the end of a battle. For weak point attacks against captains and commanders Link will also summon multiple totems out of the ground, which makes it feel like this weapon was originally planned for Zant, before it became an amiibo advertisement.

No matter the character, the weapon is a lot of fun in any case and may become a favorite for some players. Like Epona and also the new Dominion Rod, all upgrades of the Spinner are unlocked right from the beginning and you will simply find them randomly during more difficult battles.

The Dominion Rod

Spinner, Ball & Chain, Dominion Rod... Twilight Princess has a lot of items with lots of untapped potential. And Hyrule Warriors taps into some of that potential by turning them into full-blown weapons, where Zelda now gets her hand on the Dominion Rod, the first piece of the DLC pack.

This completely focuses on the two types of statues that you could control in Twilight Princess via said item: the owl statues and the large hammer statue, which you had to bring from the top of the Temple of Time down to its lowest floors. Each of the combos summons one of the two, where a symbol below a freshly filled bar shows you the type. As long as this bar is still filled, the statue now will support your normal attack chain, which means that this is a moveset where your normal attacks can be modified.

Zelda guiding the giant hammer statue via the Dominion Rod to smash some Bulblins

Special Attacks use both statues in combination. The owl statue throws your enemies up and the hammer statue then bats them like a baseball, which looks funny. However, it's disappointing that large fist statues from Armogohma's chamber weren't utilized in any way, which would have been a good fit for finishers. And eventually they could have come up with new statues, instead of limiting things to the known ones.

The Dominion Rod is a very good weapon for covering large areas, where your normal attacks alone can already clear entire troops. On the other hand it's not really well-suited for duels or fighting giant bosses. Still, it's a good addition for Zelda, who didn't really have the strongest weapons so far and now at least got a reliable option when it comes to scoring many K.O.s.

However, it's questionable why the Dominion Rod was assigned to the darkness element. This neither makes any sense for the princess, nor the weapon itself, which feels a lot more like a light weapon. Darkness probably only got chosen, because Zelda already has a light weapon, despite the fact that this doesn't befit her and that there are already too many darkness weapons in the game. It would have been a much better fit for some of the other ladies in the game, first and foremost Twili Midna, but as a new DLC character she wouldn't have gotten two weapons at once. Still, it would be interesting if certain weapons were available to multiple characters, where the Dominion Rod could have been a weapon for both Zelda and Twili Midna.

Twili Midna

With or without the Dominion Rod, the highlight of the Twilight Princess Pack should be without a doubt Midna, who now becomes playable in her true form. And this finally puts the beautiful Twili princess into the spotlight, after she only got a small appearance at the end of Twilight Princess.

The assembly of her moveset is therefore somewhat vague. Her weapon type is the Mirror in different variations, but for attacking she mainly uses one of those hands, which Zant employed to defend the Sol in the Palace of Twilight and also uses as part of his own moveset, except that Midna's hand shines in green. The combos then summon different things, which includes the actual Mirror of Twilight, gigantic shadow wolves, as well as certain objects that Midna used to teleport in Twilight Princess – the Sky Cannon and a wooden bridge.

Twili Midna magically raising the mirror above her head to attack Bulblins with a beam of light at the Palace of Twilight

The weapon is a light and darkness hybrid, befitting its wielder. Defeating enemies fills a darkness gauge to amplify your strong attack, which summons a shadow circle around her for some good damage. The more the darkness gauge is filled, the larger the radius of this attack will be.

Her Focus Spirit Special makes Midna shed a tear, which shatters the air in front of you like a mirror. And during her Special Attack she whirls around the large spear, which she normally only uses via the Fused Shadow. So, her moveset is filled with many references, as you would expect, but some of it might seem somewhat random.

Overall she is a very strong character with mighty area attacks and also some good tools against giant bosses. Only in duels her possibilities are a little limited and the squeaky sounds caused by her shadow hand can be somewhat annoying...

The real problem is, however, that the new Midna gets rarely any use inside the game. She wasn't retroactively integrated into Legend Mode, even though this would have made sense in certain parts of the story. Since she gets installed via the free update and only unlocked via the paid DLC, this could have been used to fix Legend Mode on some ends. But this didn't happen, everything is as it were.

Her biography in the gallery states that her curse was lifted after the war, where Koei Tecmo made things a little bit easy for themselves. It was probably too much effort to alter various scenarios and cutscenes, but in the least the DLC chapter "The Ursurper King" from Cia's Tale should have been modified, so that Cia's and Midna's first encounter matches the later story.

Midna petting a shadow wolf in a victory scene at the Temple of Souls

The new Twilight Map features Twili Midna both as an ally and an enemy, but there is nothing for her to do as a playable character. Like the other DLC weapons, her higher weapon tiers are already unlocked and you will simply obtain them randomly. And instead of collecting Heart Containers and Pieces of Heart, she will simply get more hearts from level-ups, where currently she gets to a maximum of 35, five less than everyone else.

There isn't even an alternate costume for her available on the Twilight Map. The only thing you can do with her is play for fun and level her up. While this may be okay for some, to those who are primarily focused on clearing Adventure Mode Twili Midna won't be of much use, because most of the missions intend you to use the previous characters. Additionally, the new Adventure Map is rather difficult, where it will take a while to get her in shape, even if you use the Training Dojo (it costs 12 million Rupees to get her to level 150).

If you really like this character, the game won't stop you from using her. But it's still very disappointing that you will probably never experience in this game how Princess Midna shows you a new heart after opening a treasure chest...

The Twilight Map

Just like in the Master Quest Pack, you will probably spend most of your time on the new Adventure Map. This one is actually an 8-Bit version of the overworld from Twilight Princess (Wii version), only that it's turned by 90° counter-clockwise and very inaccurate. But some environments are still recognizable and you also get the typical dungeon battles, where you need to find a Boss Key and defeat a giant boss at the end, at the right places.

screenshot of the Twilight Map

The retro look is still charming and different items from Twilight Princess got turned into 8-bit Item Cards, where you can uncover various secrets via the Spinner or the Fishing Rod. Here it's for the most part obvious where you will need to use which item. The Compass is only relevant for rocks, where there may be multiple on the screen and you need to blow up a specific one.

Parts of the map may also be covered in twilight, where you get one of three Twilight Rules:

  • No Item Attacks!
  • No Special Attacks!
  • No Focus Spirit!

In addition, whenever there is twilight in place, you won't be able to see enemies on your map, which can be a problem when you need to take out a specific target. And this will make you realize how much you actually depend on the map in Hyrule Warriors.

All in all, the Twilight Rules are similar to the Master Quest Rules, with the main difference that they don't affect the entire map, only certain squares. And unlike the Master Quest Rules you don't necessarily have to deal with them. There is the Tears of Light Item Card, which will remove these Twilight Realms, so you can play the battles normally. That's very nice and makes you wish that the Master Quest Map had something similar.

Another feature of the Twilight Map are portals, where two of them are connected to each other. You'll need to clear the battle on the square with a portal in order to activate it. Then you can use it via the Ooccoo Item Card, which brings you to the other portal. This may not be all too useful, however, since you can just progress normally without the portals. But it makes it easier to advance into the western regions and is also a good option should you want to get to certain costumes earlier.

The map also improved the whole character restrictions. While they are still found very often, they will now go away whenever you clear a battle with an A-rank, which then allows you to play the battle as anyone. This already would have been desirable on the Master Quest Map, where it's a shame that Koei Tecmo didn't patch this in retroactively.

In addition, defeated enemies will drop twice the loot, so either two materials or one weapon and one material. This will prevent you from getting weapons instead of materials and also make it easier to complete the Badge Market. It even would have been a fantastic change for the entire game, but this is another unique feature of the Twilight Map. Similar to the "Rack up your KO count!" Challenge Battles from the Master Quest Map, this gives the slight impression that you should buy the DLC if you want an easier time with grinding.

While the world of Twilight Princess was turned into 8-bit, there aren't new locations from the game serving as battlefields. Snowpeak Ruins or the City in the Sky as new stages would have been fantastic, but instead you need be content with the 14 familiar battlefields from the base game, which will can get boring rather quickly... And that's super disappointing.

Shadow Battles

Even though there aren't any new stages, at least the 93 new battles will include some new mission types. Only a few old missions got recycled this time, where the Twilight Map borrows from both the original Adventure Map and the Master Quest Map for a bit. For example, the fun "Rack up your KO count!" challenges return, but they are a lot more difficult and therefore less useful.

More useful are the Challenge Battle that tell you to "Put an end to the enemy's divisive plan!", where you will be facing up to three dark versions of a character, e.g. three Dark Fis. When you damage them, they will split up, similar to Lana in Legend Mode. This will also split their life energies, which goes on until you have many Dark Fis in front of you, who all can be beaten in a single blow. This is perfectly suited to farm lots of experience and specific character materials, especially with the double drops. Half of the game's characters have such a mission on the map, where maybe the other half will be found on the upcoming Adventure Map for Majora's Mask.

Next to the divisive plan battles, there are also the "Learn the key to a balanced attack!" missions, where you have to damage a duo or trio of dark foes equally. That's a lot less fun and both of these Challenge Battle types make you primarily rely on Special Attacks, which can make the gameplay quite monotonous (or more monotonous than usual).

In "Team up and defeat the enemy forces!" you will have to decide between two possible allies. At the end you'll fight with your allies against the characters you didn't choose. This sounds like an interesting idea, but it gets ruined by the fact that your enemies are completely over-the-top. If you don't defeat them fast enough, they will call multiple giant bosses to their aid, get powerful boosts, or employ other unfair shenanigans.

If you're looking for something more relaxed, then the "Protect the Bombchu!" missions will be a good choice, where you simply have to defeat some enemy captains, so that the Bombchus can advance safely, like in some Legend Mode scenarios. Those are probably the easiest parts of the Twilight Map.

Twilight Map screen of an Adventure Battle limited to Zant and Ghirahim

The new Adventure Battles make also use of another mechanic from Legend Mode, where you will have to escort allies to Magic Circles in order to wipe out elite forces. In addition, there are scenarios with multiple elemental barriers, where you will have to hunt down Fairy Hunters, before they escape, but also stop Barrier Specialists from creating new ones. Those can get a little bit frantic, because there are important targets with a time-limit attached to them everywhere.

More Damage, More Frustrations

While none of the above may sound particularly bad, the real problem with the Twilight Map is the overall difficulty level. The Master Quest Map was overall easier, despite or sometimes even because of the Master Quest Rules, where it can be completed relatively quickly. The damage values were even lower than on the normal Adventure Map, so you didn't have such a tough time.

Ironically, the Adventure Map based on Twilight Princess of all Zelda games is now the exact opposite to the supposed Master Quest. Every small scratch will deal multiple hearts of damage, while for example Agitha with her giant bug can cost you 18 hearts at once. In itself, this isn't such a bad idea, because every character can now have up to 40 Heart Containers (except Twili Midna). And those Heart Containers should have a purpose, where the Twilight Map can act as an alternative to Hero Mode.

The real problem is that Koei Tecmo still insisted on the damage limits for A-ranks and the second Gold Skulltulas. Only with an A-rank you will have truly succeeded, where often this is even required for rewards and to proceed on the map. You have to defeat 1200 enemies within 15 minutes without taking more than 10 hearts of damage (25 in the red areas). The second Gold Skulltulas even require you to defeat the 1200 enemies without taking more than four hearts of damage. But those are already gone after a single hit, where you can't make any mistakes at all. It's like the entire Adventure Map turned into "Don't get hit!" missions. And since there is still no restart option in the menu, things get especially annoying.

Asking for perfection in a game like Hyrule Warriors is where the fun ends and the frustration begins. It's all about being extra careful and abusing the new potions, like the one that constantly powers up your items, which again can lead to an even more monotonous playstyle. And it makes collecting all those extra Heart Containers completely pointless when the ten starting hearts are the limit most of the time.

Ideally, damage wouldn't even matter for the ranks on the Twilight Map. And ideally, there wouldn't be any second Skulltulas at all, where they could have distributed the hidden spiders over more battles. If you didn't have to care about how much damage you've already taken, the Twilight Map could have provided a great challenge, without being too frustrating and without you relying on cheap tactics.

Interestingly, the weapon elements have a much bigger impact than usual. Every character and enemy in the game is weak against a certain element, where here a Ganondorf can be defeated as easily as a Bokoblin if you're using a light weapon. At the same time characters can have resistance against certain elements, where you will have to attack them for several minutes, slowly draining their health. So, the right choice of weapon can be the deciding factor, where it's too bad that most of the characters don't have such a choice and you're often even restricted. So, for example you may have to fight Zant with the Magic Rod instead of the Hylian Sword, all to your disadvantage.

It's also a matter of the right level, where the Twilight Map truly shows the dark side of the simple difficulty system in Hyrule Warriors. It's all just based on how much damage you deal and take, where leveling up your characters will make things easier. This took its course on the original Adventure Map, as long as you didn't feel the need to push in a certain direction. If it was too difficult in one spot, you could always try somewhere else and then return strengthened.

But despite going into the Twilight Map with all characters above level 99, after a third or so it all felt like running into walls, where you have to get everyone to level 150 first. But leveling up beyond level 100 is slow and arduous – a single level may cost around 100,000 Rupees. And the game comes to a tedious halt here, where either you take the time to slowly level up or you have to bear through it somehow.

And even if you get to level 150, you still can take massive damage. The basic damage of the Twilight Map is simply much higher than everywhere else, which you can test yourself by playing Network Links on the same level in all three Adventure Maps. So, it's unfair in any case and this is contrary to the otherwise very accessible DLC. The Twilight Map will be daunting and only possible to complete for those who are ready to play Hyrule Warriors excessively.

Costumes and Extras

If you're willing to take on the challenge, then the Twilight Map will offer one new costume for every character (except Twili Midna), much like the Master Quest Map. Luckily, you don't need an A-rank for those, just a simple victory. And it can be worth the troubles.

Cia in blue clothes holding up a sealed costume from a treasure chest

The 16 new variants of the standard outfits are arguably much nicer than the ones in Master Quest. Ghirahim even gets a special treat, where his new costume isn't just a palette swap. Instead he comes without the cape and looks like he did near the end of Skyward Sword, which is something that fans were hoping for. But even the simple palette swaps are very nice, like a golden and silver Fi, or blue clothes for Cia.

Other than new costumes, you can also find six new 8-Bit weapons on the Twilight Map. But those require an A-rank, which means that they will be very difficult to obtain. And that's a shame, because they are quite imaginative. For example, the 8-Bit Power Bracelet replaces the Ball & Chain with the Raft, while Ganondorf uses the keys for his sword.

Ganondorf fighting with the 8-Bit keys in a costume with orange hair

It seems like the Majora's Mask Pack will give each of the original weapons one 8-bit version to complete the collection. If you're not a fan of such silly weapons, then the new Adventure Map will only offer you four Pieces of Heart and one Heart Container to obtain for every character, which aren't really worth much, as already explained.

The Twilight Princess Pack also comes with two completely new costumes, where both Link and Zelda are in for some cosplay. Link poses as the Postman from Twilight Princess along with his banner, while Zelda shows up as Ilia. Those may not be for everyone, but they can be a lot of fun. Especially Link as the Postman offers the typical humor that such characters brought to the Zelda games. Both of these costumes get unlocked right away after downloading the DLC.


This is the first time where we are truly looking at a mixed bag with Hyrule Warriors. The new weapons are nice, Twili Midna is fantastic, the costumes are awesome, and the 8-Bit goodness is everywhere. On the other hand you have the poor integration of the new weapons and the new character, the questionable usage of amiibo, the absence of any new stages, as well as the frustrating difficulty on the Twilight Map.

Koei Tecmo wanted to keep the players of Hyrule Warriors entertained via the DLC, but the Twilight Map may just kill any appetite left in them. So, we can only hope that the Majora's Mask Pack will do things differently.

The Good:
  • Many more hours of additional play time
  • True Midna finally playable
  • Great new weapons and costumes
  • Lots of new mission types
The Bad:
  • Nothing to unlock for Twili Midna
  • No new stages
  • Insane damage on the Twilight Map
  • The Spinner is only available via amiibo