Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 – The Year of Fierce Deity

Another year went by and while we have a big year for Zelda ahead of us with the 30th Anniversary, this year wasn't too bad either. We got one new remake, one new multiplayer game, and some more DLC. And all of it had one constant: Fierce Deity Link was in it. Ever since I first played Majora's Mask 15 years ago I was fascinated by this dark being and hoping that we would be able to play as the Fierce Deity again at some point.

Hyrule Warriors then made my wish come true first with its Majora's Mask DLC early in the year, which let's you play as Tingle and Young Link. The latter can turn into Fierce Deity Link via magic, where for the first time since the year 2000 fans could take control of this scary and mysterious being to defeat enemies with your mighty sword beams. In addition, the DLC came with an Adventure Map based on Termina, where you could find masks for the different characters as costumes, including a Fierce Deity costume for Link.

The remake Majora's Mask 3D would follow two weeks later, though I was not happy that Fierce Deity Link went from a boss killer to a fisher in this game. You can't easily kill Gyorg with him anymore, but they let you catch other fish instead... oh well. But otherwise the remake looked pretty good, offered an improved system for saving and time management, and the two fishing locations, where you fish with masks... including the Fierce Deity's Mask.

On the same day Nintendo also released the New Nintendo 3DS (XL), the presumably final iteration of the Nintendo 3DS line, where there was even a golden Majora's Mask Special Edition for collectors and fans.

At the end of February we then saw the final DLC for Hyrule Warriors with the Ganon Pack, which included the Boss Challenges and Ganon's Fury modes. This ended the DLC pass for the game, but it wouldn't take long before the game saw some news again...

March 2015 then brought the bad news: the new The Legend of Zelda game for Wii won't arrive until 2016, because Aonuma's team needs the time to implement some new ideas. Well, next year will be the 30th Anniversary, which is good timing, and for the rest of 2015 Nintendo had other things in store to entertain the fans.

One of those was the Symphony of the Goddesses, which returned to Germany with concerts in Düsseldorf, Munich, and Hamburg. They've played the new "Master Quest" program, where Majora's Mask saw a lot of attention in the form of two entire suites, posters, and T-shirts.

While the E3 in June didn't show us anything about the big Zelda for the Wii U, they had announced two new games for the Nintendo 3DS: Hyrule Warriors Legends and Tri Force Heroes. Well, I personally was hoping for an online Four Swords game to happen and I got my wish, where I had a lot of fun battling with other Zelda fans through the 32 levels of the Drablands.

One of my favorite features of the game are the outfits, which feel like a perfect hybrid of the masks from Majora's Mask and the Magic Rings from Oracle of Ages & Seasons, with things like a Goron and a Zora costume. The first update of the game then provided us with a nice Fierce Deity costume, which is pretty badass. Needless to say that many Sword Beams were fired in the year 2015.. 

The update also included the Den of Trials and a Linebeck costume, but a reunion with Linebeck also took place on the Wii U Virtual Console, where both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks became available in November.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Phantom Hourglass & Spirit Tracks (Wii U VC Review)

Logos of Phantom Hourglass und Spirit Tracks above a white Wii U GamePad

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

On November 13th both The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, the two Nintendo DS Zelda titles, became available on the Wii U eShop for 9.99€ each. Let's take a look at how both games play on the current home console and what you will have to keep in mind before purchasing. Both games got fully completed for this review.

Full Steam Back!

Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks were originally released for the Nintendo DS in 2007 and 2009 respectively. And thanks to their touchscreen controls, they are amongst the more controversial Zelda games. Regardless of whether you like the stylus-only input or not, the games offered some other weird ideas and concepts in addition...

screenshot of Phantom Hourglass with the golden boat on the ocean as displayed on the Wii U GamePad

Phantom Hourglass is the direct sequel to The Wind Waker and takes places on the ocean as well. But this time you're traveling on a steam boat, whose course has to be drawn on the map. To obtain the required sea charts you will have to visit the infamous Temple of the Ocean King multiple times, an enormous dungeon with a total of 14 floors, where initially you can only explore a few of them. These floors are patrolled by the so-called Phantoms, invincible enemies that you need to avoid. Also, the temple will drain your life energy, unless you are inside a safe zone or there is still sand running through the eponymous Phantom Hourglass, which essentially adds a time limit to the dungeon. Needless to say that the Temple of the Ocean King is quite controversial: some hated it, others welcomed the challenge (where the dungeon at least had some, unlike the other temples in the game). Other things of note are Linebeck's prominent character, the excellent Spirit Orb collectible, as well as the rather minimalistic soundtrack.

golden train on the way to Outset Village

Spirit Tracks on the other hand was a lot more melodic, where two years after the release of Phantom Hourglass Nintendo took up its game mechanics again and tried to implement them in a different way. Instead of a steam boat, you now take control of a steam train in order to reach new areas. Before you can do that, you need to get the Rail Maps from the Tower of Spirits, this game's central dungeon. Unlike the Temple of the Ocean King, however, you don't have to repeat the same sections multiple times and there is no clock running in the background. Plus, you now can also take control of a Phantom, one at a time, which leads to some unique gameplay ideas, where you have to play cooperatively. Partly, some of those ideas were even brought back in Tri Force Heroes with its "Totem" mechanik. On the other hand Spirit Tracks is much more linear, gated, and slower than its predecessor, for a rather dull game experience with little freedom.

So, both games have their similarities, differences, strengths, and weaknesses. And you can now discover for yourself which one you prefer on the Wii U, where both titles have been released simultaneously for the Virtual Console.

Return on the Wii U GamePad

Once you're playing Phantom Hourglass or Spirit Tracks on the Wii U GamePad, which is the only option because of the touchscreen controls, you will quickly get the feeling that both games should probably be on top of Nintendo's list for potential remakes. The pixelated 3D graphics haven't aged well at all and you will clearly notice the lower frame rate (despite it being stable), especially if you have played Tri Force Heroes right before, which is simply much better on these regards. The Nintendo 3DS game(s) will also make you miss their more traditional controls, where you steer Link via the analogue stick. While the touchscreen controls were a good choice for the Nintendo DS, since the games wouldn't have played as well with the D-pad alone, it's a different story with the Wii U GamePad in your hand(s), which is much larger and heavier than the Nintendo DS and therefore makes playing with the stylus in one hand quite uncomfortable.

Since Virtual Console games only get emulated and not ported, you will either have to make do with the touchscreen controls or wait for an actual remake. If you pick up the Virtual Console versions, however, then it will be advised to support the GamePad somehow, e.g. on a table or your lap. And you should definitely install one of Nintendo's screen protectors, because the many sword strikes with the stylus will leave small scratches.

If you follow these advice, then it will play mostly fine, and you also get all possible screen settings. You can split things, so that the Nintendo DS touchscreen is fully on the Wii U GamePad and the upper Nintendo DS screen gets displayed on the TV. Otherwise there are six different configurations for having both screens on the GamePad (and TV), where four of them come with support for left- and right-handed modes.

Screen Setting, Vertical Layout (Right-Handed): For games which use stylus controls only. Screen Smoothing OFF.

One even lets you use the Wii U GamePad vertically, which makes best use of the screen size and can be quite comfortable with the GamePad resting on your lap or a table. The option to have one screen in a bigger size and the other small next to it is also interesting. Since the upper screen gets mostly used for displaying the map in the Nintendo DS Zelda games, it's a good choice for using the GamePad horizontally, at least for the most part.

However, there is no option to display both screens right next to each other without a gap. This is fine with Phantom Hourglass, because the game takes a gap into account for displaying scenes that go over both screens, e.g. certain boss battles or the shooting gallery. But Spirit Tracks doesn't do the same and here it would have been nice if there were an option to remove or reduce the gap, so that these scenes look better. But this was already an issue with the original game.

Another problem with the original Spirit Tracks have been frame drops on the Nintendo DS, e.g. when being attacked by those tanks. But the game runs smoothly on the Virtual Console, which is fantastic.

Sadly, all those display options came at the expense of the usual controller setting, where you can freely change your button layout. For some reason this not possible with the Nintendo DS games any longer. Of course, with Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks it's not a big deal, because you will play via the touchscreen the entire time. But having the Virtual Console menu on ZR can be an issue whenever your GamePad rests on something while playing, because then the menu might be accidentally triggered. And here it would have been good if you could simply assign it to a different button.

All things considered, Phantom Hourglass actually plays quite nicely on the Wii U GamePad, where it was fun to play through the game via the Virtual Console once more. Spirit Tracks on the other hand doesn't get along with the microphone of the Wii U GamePad, especially when you want to play the Spirit Flute. Already with the Whirlwind item you will notice that you have to blow quite strongly in order for it to work, but playing the flute feels like a physical impossibility, because the GamePad won't allow for continuous blows...

an old Nintendo DS against a black background with a Spirit Flute play on the screens

There already have been similar issues on the Nintendo 3DS, which may be caused by the integrated noise cancellation of the microphone, which makes it impossible to play the Spirit Flute like you could on the older Nintendo DS models. And this creates a frustrating obstacle, where you just want to put the game aside... The Wii U also doesn't give you any options for configuring the microphone, but Nintendo really should have done something to make the game work, e.g. a button to simulate microphone input.


If you're familiar with Phantom Hourglass, then you will know about the infamous puzzle where you had to close your Nintendo DS. The Nintendo 2DS already had the same problem and the solution is also the same: you activate the Sleep Mode, which in this case gets achieved by calling the Virtual Console menu. This gets noted in the Virtual Console manual, but there are no hints about this in the game, which will certainly cause some confusions.

Also confusing may be some orphaned features in the games, specifically the Battle and Tag Modes. This gets addressed in the manual as well, but nothing was done to make them inaccessible, unlike in Oracle of Ages & Seasons on the 3DS Virtual Console, where you couldn't talk to the Blue Snake and so on. Quite the opposite, Phantom Hourglass even lets you open the Wi-Fi settings of the Nintendo DS! This is of no use, of course, because you can't play Virtual Console games online on the Wii U. But in the least Nintendo could have removed the menu entries in the game, so you won't be baffled by it in the first place.

The Tag Mode, which basically was a predecessor for StreetPass, also can't be used any longer, so you won't have the possibility to trade treasures and Ship Parts with other players. This may not seem like a problem at first, because you technically can find everything on your own, but the probabilities for them are biased, so that you will find certain treasures more often than others, which is different for every save file. This was to encourage you to use the Tag Mode and quite a problem a in Spirit Tracks, where getting all the necessary treasures for the Train Cars is a grind otherwise.

two chests waiting at the end of the Temple of the Ocean King, the clock shows 25:00, the best possible time

Luckily, you can use the Virtual Console Restore Point to put your luck a little more in the right way by reloading your game right before getting a treasure, until you get whatever you need. But even such methods will only help you so much.

The internal clock of the Nintendo DS also takes a role in collecting things, where the shop offers of treasures and Ship Parts change every day and the Masked Ship only appears at certain times. The Suspension and Restore Points will save the time when they got created, however. This makes sense from a technical point of view, but can be confusing at first. To synchronize the internal clock of the Nintendo DS emulator with that of your Wii U again you will simply have to reset the game via the Virtual Console menu. But don't forget to save within the game before that.


Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks were clearly optimized for being played on the Nintendo DS and if you have the choice, then you should go for the originals. Thanks to the extensive screen settings it's still quite enjoyable to play Phantom Hourglass on the Wii U, but the same can't be said about Spirit Tracks, where Nintendo needs to do something about the microphone issues.

The Good:
  • Lots of screen settings
  • No drops in the frame rate
The Bad:
  • Microphone issues in Spirit Tracks
  • No controller settings
  • Orphaned multiplayer functions

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tri Force Heroes: Hero Points Update

Tri Force Heroes was updated to version 2.1.0 yesterday as a little surprise. And Nintendo is still working hard on fixing the problem with people quitting all the time. It seems the black listing didn't do anything and now they give you rewards for not quitting, if you don't get your vote. This gives you Hero Points, which earns you free missing materials at the merchant and an upgrade for the Bear Minimum outfit.

I have completed the game already for 100% and if I play, I play to help others completing their challenges. And it's nice that this is now also rewarded. If you select "I can't decide" (which actually means "I don't care"), you will also get Hero Points. And this really brought me back into playing the game. It's a nice incentive for people to stay around and play more, help others.

The problem is, however, that you might run into a group of people, who all just select "I don't care" and clearly all have completed the game already. That's not much fun for me, I like the feeling of at least achieving some progress for someone else, being helpful, but also laying back. I don't want to be all "do this, come here, do that".

And the reward was a bad choice...

I kind of liked, how the Bear Minimum was a "Hero Mode" costume, making the game more difficult. If I score 30 Hero Points, it will be a better version of the Cursed Tights, making yet another costume obsolete and also destroying the only real challenge costume. Actually it's more a reason not to go for Hero Points...

They should have upgraded the Hero's Tunic in different ways for scoring Hero Points instead. It's called the Hero's Tunic anyway and right now it doesn't have any use at all. So, why not give this costume an upgrade instead? - The answer to that question turned out to be simple: the Dopples in the singleplayer mode are using the Hero's Tunic, so it has to stay neutral to keep things balanced there. On the other hand this would have been an even nicer reward, because it helps you with completing the singleplayer Challenges.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Replaying Phantom Hourglass on the Wii U

Last night I completed Phantom Hourglass on the Wii U Virtual Console. This is the fourth time that I have beaten this game and the third time, where I fully completed it for 100%, which means 25:00 Best Time, all Heart Containers, Spirit Gems, Fish, Treasures, Ship Parts and so on. Last thing to do was getting drunk at Beedle's until I achieved V.I.P. status.

Before that I was stuck getting the Golden Chimney and the Regal Ring, which took a while. At the end I even abused the Restore Points of the Virtual Console to get the job done. With the Regal Ring it didn't really work, when I won treasures at the archery minigame, it would give me everything but the Regal Ring. But then I made a Restore Point right before saving Nyave in the Southwestern Sea, where I got "lucky" eventually. With Ship Parts in the archery minigame it didn't work as easy though, because even after scoring 2000 points, it seems like there's only a limited pool of random of ship parts, which you can win at a time. So, the Restore Points only help a little. Also, the game has these phases, where it hands you new Ship Parts one after another in small bursts, probably after getting a certain number of duplicates or so. But while playing the archery minigame I usually keep getting the same junk, until suddenly the missing parts were popping in. And by using Restore Points you would miss these bursts.

However, like in my 2nd playthrough I was stuck with missing one final ship part, but at least it was nice that it was a golden part. That way I didn't lose motivation and I used to be a little more creative with building my ship. For example I used the Tropical Ship in combination with the other gold parts, which looks very nice, a lot better than with the actual golden hull, because of the nice grass.

Needless to say that I've played the archery minigame A LOT again...

But it plays very nicely on the Wii U GamePad, if you hold it sideways. I sat in an armchair, put my left arm on the armrest and the GamePad on my belly. This way I could play comfortably. I even got a 2400 score, which is pretty good, though I think my highscore on the Nintendo DS was 2500 points. I need to check this.

In 2011 I replayed the game on a rented copy, because I didn't want to delete any of the completed savegames on my original copy. (see my post here). I didn't complete the game at the time, because I didn't get to keep it anyway, but I took note of the treasure and ship parts values. Interestingly enough I got the exact same values again this time:

  • Pink Coral / Bright Parts: 1500
  • White Pearl Loop / Iron Parts: 50
  • Black Pearl Loop / Stone Parts: 800
  • Zora Scale / Vintage Parts: 800
  • Goron Amber / Demon Parts: 50
  • Ruto Crown / Tropical Parts: 50
  • Helmaroc Feather / Tourist Parts: 50

Was Recht ist, kommt wieder! This might have been coincidence, but maybe the random generation of the values is based on your name. I think, I also used "Tourian" on the rented copy, but I'm not sure anymore. In any case, I got the chance to finally complete the same "setting" and it's quite the powerful combination. There are no 150 Rupee values, but two sets worth 800 Rupees and two sets worth 1500 Rupees. You can make a lot of money here and I kept getting the stone and vintage parts all the time, until I couldn't see them anymore.

I was a lot more lucky with the fish this time though. I got a Stowfish quite early on a Loovar and the first swordfish shadow, which I had encountered, actually brought up the Neptoona! However, this wasn't until after the end of the game, because I first thought that the swordfish shadows would appear right after getting the Big Catch Lure. But you have to find a Rusty Swordfish on a normal shadow first... I kept wondering for the entire game, why no swordfish would show up, but it was actually my mistake. And that's why I was one Heart Container short, when I faced Bellum... Not that this makes any difference, but I simply like to be done with everything, before I got to the final boss.

Like the last time I've replayed this game, I decided to collect the 3rd and 4th Sea Chart in one go, but unlike the last time it went really smoothly. I got about 10 minutes left, when I reached the end. I also used my Speed Guide to get the 25:00 Best Time without any effort.

Now... there are good reasons, why you'd want to get the 3rd and 4th Sea Charts at the same time. One is that you don't have to return to the Temple of the Ocean King until after you've got the Phantom Sword. The other is that it lets you explore the entire 2nd half of the game freely on your own terms. You can play the three temples in any order, which leaves six possible ways of beating the game. And these are the orders I did in the past:

  • Ice Temple → Goron Temple → Mutoh's Temple
  • Mutoh's Temple → Ice Temple → Goron Temple
  • Ice Temple → Mutoh's Temple → Goron Temple

This time I actually decided to start with the Goron Temple for once. Then I went for Mutoh's Temple and for the first time I've played the Ice Temple last. This leaves the Grappling Hook for the end, where you will revisit most islands to find treasures with this tool, while Hammer and Bombchus are only useful in the Temple of the Ocean King. Because of this I previously preferred to get the Grappling Hook early, but it also has a nice touch to keep it for the end.

I probably won't replay the game for a fifth time, until Nintendo releases a remake, though I'm pretty certain that the Nintendo DS games will get remakes in the next generation after playing this. The graphics are extremely outdated and there's so much room for improvement. But I will talk about this in separate posts. Anyway, if that happens, I will go through Mutoh's Temple → Goron Temple → Ice Temple next. The intended order of Goron Temple → Ice Temple → Mutoh's Temple I will save for last, hehe. Only boring people play that.

But overall it was enjoyable to replay the game on the Virtual Console, though it gave my screen protector something to do for the first time. Before playing Phantom Hourglass there was nothing on it, but now it got quite some tiny scratches... Can't help it, but I have to say that those are probably the only Zelda games, where I don't like cutting grass. You rarely get hearts out of them and swiping the touchscreen like that isn't really good for it. And because of this, if Nintendo ever does remakes, I certainly want optional button controls, which should work fine with analog sticks or slide pads. I was a fan of the touchscreen controls back then, but after playing Tri Force Heroes it just felt weird.

I also had issues at first with understanding, how the internal clock works now on the Virtual Console to find the Masked Beedle and so on. You actually have to reset the game in order to synchronize the clock with the Wii u again. If you're using Return and Restore Points, they will have the time stored, when you left them. So, if I leave the game via the HOME menu now and come back in a week, it still thinks it's the 22nd December. Keep that in mind, if you ever want to play the Nintendo DS Zelda games on the Wii U.

That's it for Phantom Hourglass. I'm not sure, how Spirit Tracks will go... I won't be able to play it for some time and I got to the Ocean Lands, but the microphone on the Wii U doesn't really work for this game. Playing the Spirit Flute is pure pain...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tri Force Heroes: Coliseum Improvements

The Arena was one of the features of this game I looked forward to the most, since the Zelda series kind of has a long history of failed Battle Modes. There were the Shadow Battles in Four Swords Adventures, which were pretty awesome, but you could only play it with other people locally, so most Zelda fans never experienced this. Phantom Hourglass then offered an online mode, however, the game of controlling Phantoms and collecting Force Gems was very different and probably not the most fun for everyone. Spirit Tracks then offered a more fun Battle Mode, but dropped the online component. And while A Link Between Worlds had an excellent duel mode, you could only play it against an AI.

Finally with Tri Force Heroes there's the traditional Battle Mode experience online, but it has too many flaws to be enjoyed to the fullest. I find playing with Randoms rarely to be fun and playing with friends only works, because you're avoiding unfair advantages of certain costumes. But it's not too late to fix this. Nintendo has already released an update for this game and more will follow, where the Coliseum could potentially be improved. And with this post I want to give some ideas on how to do this.

Costume Balance

Ironically my new favorite collectible item of all times is stirring up most of the issues. So, fixing this is probably one of the most important things, because some outfits are outright overpowered. Mainly the Sword Master Sword, the Hammerwear and the Serpent Toga come into mind.

The Hammerwear needs some serious nerfing, even in the main game it's very unbalanced. It's very fast, very safe thanks to the stun effect and does the most damage in the game with SIX hearts. The strongest attacks, which you can do with other weapons, deal "only" four hearts of damage and those are either Spin Attacks or Big Bombs, both being quite unsafe. The upgraded Hammer should only do four Hearts maximum as well and it should become a lot slower, more similar to the Nice Hammer in A Link Between Worlds, but maybe not as slow.

The Serpent Toga is only really an issue in the Ruins, where you can render yourself invincible by picking up the Bombs and then staying in the center of your colored circle. Now, there's an easy solution for that: just make the Boomerang pick up Serpent Toga users. If that was possible, then there wouldn't be a problem. Also, maybe an option, where offensive play gets rewarded and not defensive play, would help, so that players just don't hide behind invulnerability.

The Sword Master Suit really causes trouble with its range and I'm not sure, what could be done here. The increased range is the whole point of the costume, but it's also what makes it so hard to counter, especially if there are no items in play. But this leads me to another point...

Item Selection

Now let's say you're actually going for an upgraded item, there's always the chance that you won't get it, because your opponents pick it up first. And then you're in there with a big disadvantage. Many matches are decided by pure luck right at the beginning because of this.

Now there's a couple different solutions here. One would be that downed players drop their item again. In theory it sounds good, however, your opponent might wear the Sword Master Suit and is pretty much untouchable with you not having any powers.

So, the only real solution would be making sure that you get what you want. Essentially they could just use the empty sockets to fill them with enough items for everyone. Like in the Forest there could be three Bows and three Bombs, so that everyone will be able to pick up what he prefers. This also would work for the Vulcano and Snowlands, but Riverside and Fortress would need additional sockets and on Ruins this wouldn't work at all, because this arena has all items.

Another way would be giving you automatically the item, which gets upgraded by your costume. So, for example selecting the Robowear equips you with the Gripshot on all arenas. This way all items could be utilized in all arenas at any time, making the game more interesting. It would also add more balance against Sword Masters in arenas without any items. It's an easy solution with good results, given that they have nerfed the Hammerwear beforehand. Because otherwise you would just get hammered everywhere and all the time.

Options / Rules

At the very least I want some way to turn off the Wallmaster in duels, because it can be really annoying and disrupting a good fight between two equal players. It could even be a general option or something like the Drabland Challenges, where you play the Coliseum under certain rules like "Evade the Wallmaster!" or "Fight in Darkness!". Even the volcanic rocks in the Sky arena should be a challenge like this, since these rocks can be fun, but they destroy a perfectly neutral arena.

So, before a match players can vote for a challenge / rule or the default game. And I feel like the following challenges could be interesting for the arena:

  • Evade the Wallmaster!
  • Avoid the volcanic rocks! / Don't get hit by snowballs!
  • Don't fall at all! / Avoid falling and quicksand!
  • Win without using a sword!
  • Fight in the dark!

Win Criterias / Game Modes

Now, this could be a topic on its own. In Tri Force Heroes the player wins, who died the least after 90 seconds. On a tie, the remaining hearts count. In A Link Between Worlds the mode basically was "Last Link Standing" and when the two opponents still were alive after a time limit, the player, who dealt the most damage, won. This was to counter Blue Potions, which otherwise would decide the game.

Now, with tactics like the Serpent Toga I previously felt that A Link Between Worlds had the better way and it should be similar with Tri Force Heroes. However, then costumes like the Queen of Hearts would become useless and it's all about having the best damage output. Defensive play should be legitimate as well. "When two people quarrel, a third rejoices." And if someone wins by simply evading and hiding, it's the other two players' fault, really,

Still, maybe there could be an option for different modes that have different win criterias, so that the players can decide. There could even be a mode, where instead of destroying each other, the goal is to collect the most Force Gems or Rupees, similar to the Battle Mode in Spirit Tracks.

Big Plays

For the StreetPass battles in A Link Between Worlds there were 50 medals to collect / challenges to clear. And boy, was that a lot of fun. There were challenges for all the different items, some tricky kills and more. In Tri Force Heroes you could already have one medal for each outfit, even ones that you usually wouldn't use in the arena. For example there could be a medal, where everyone wears the Tri Suit (which actually activates all the effects except for the Rupees, I've tested this). This would encourage people to try and use all the different costumes in the arena, not just the most powerful ones.

And this would make people play the Coliseum more. At least until they have collected all 50+ medals. Of course there needs to be some neat reward, maybe you get a special costume for clearing them all. This would be perfect for a Coliseum Update and here are some other examples for potential medals:

  • Cause 9 Hearts of damage with the Cacto-Clothes!
  • Win without using B or Y!
  • Win without losing a Heart!

This could keep us playing for a while. Naturally some people would just help each other out with these. I would probably abuse my 2nd Nintendo 3DS systems for the tougher challenges. But overall this could be a good idea to bring more life into the arena. And all they would have to do is importing this feature from A Link Between Worlds.

Additional Arenas

Two more areas get added to the game via updates and there should be at least two more arenas as well. One for the Den of Trials and one for whatever area they will add next. The Den of Trials arena could visually follow the Baneful Zone, which was rather unique at the end. Instead of winning specific materials, you would just randomly win a material from any area, since the Den of Trials doesn't have materials on its own.

Of course one or two arenas won't add much. Ideally there would be multiple arenas per area, instead of just one. Especially the Dunes come to mind, where you have the arena with the giant balance platform, but no quicksand. It would be interesting to have an arena with sand to fight on. Theoretically there could be an arena for every level in the game and since these are small places, they shouldn't be too hard to built. After all the Den of Trials has over 30 floors, which all could qualify as arenas.

WARNING: Den of Trials SPOILERS ahead!!!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Linebeck's Uniform and the Friendly Token Guy

It's noticeable that the Faux Hero, who gives you the Friendly Tokens at the front of the castle, only reacts differently to three outfits: the Timeless Tunic, the Tri Suit and Linebeck's Uniform. The first two are gotten from Friendly Tokens and it makes sense that he would react to them, but why also to Linebeck? Maybe this costume was supposed to cost Friendly Tokens as well, early on I speculated that there would be a costume costing the remaining seven tokens, which was before I discovered that you could sell them.

Also, with Linebeck's Uniform it's possible to read the secret message down at the water. Only the Tri Suit let you do that so far and the message was supposedly only readable by someone with many friends, while Linebeck is more of a loner. So, thematically it doesn't fit, which might be another hint that Linebeck's Uniform originally was supposed to cost many Friendly Tokens.

Other than that I also collected all 15 Friendly Tokens from the kid by now. I farmed them using all my 3DS systems, because the Zelda fan meeting later this month sadly got cancelled and I didn't want to wait until summer, before I was able to complete everything. And I still have another copy of the game, where I could collect them all over again. But with that I have 100%ed this game so to say. At least until the next big update hits.

Tri Force Heroes: Potential Outfit Abilities

Following The Cutting Room Floor there will be six DLC costumes in total for Tri Force Heroes. There are six placeholder slots for DLC costumes and the first two have been used by Linebeck's Uniform and the Fierce Deity Armor. So, I suspect that there are two more large updates planned, each housing two additional outfits.

I made multiple speculations posts about the outfits in the past months, e.g. this one, and by now it's safe to assume that Nintendo and GREZZO are actually looking at the abilities of the 64 Magic Rings from the Oracle games. I already talked about this here, but the Fierce Deity Armor actually covered two more of them, the Energy Ring (sort of) and the Steadfast Ring.

Now, instead of conjuring up new outfits, I simply want to think about what other abilities could still make sense for this game. Here's a list:

  • Ice and glass floors don't crumble (Roc's Ring).
  • Strong winds have no effect.
  • You can throw things further (Toss Ring).
  • You hold onto things even when taking damage.
  • The dark curses don't effect you (Whisp Ring).
  • No harm from electricity (Green Holy Ring).
  • Damage taken is always one heart (Protection Ring).

Some of these could be combined into one, for example the first two abilities could go into some birdman / Rito outfit. The abilities to toss further and hold onto things could also make sense in one strong man suit. And the last three abilities could be combined into some protective armor. Yes, this is similar to what I had in mind before, but I wanted to list the individual effects, since they could just become side effects to new costumes like it was with the Fierce Deity Armor. Or how the Linebeck's Uniform adds 10 seconds to timed missions as a bonus.

The latter actually makes me believe that the Fairy Costume still will be a thing, since the ability of adding a fairy would be quite similar. It could also have some of protective properties, e.g. defending you from curses. That way a Fairy Costume would be a good choice for the Den of Trials. And I'm still holding onto that Bee Costume idea, where cutting grass releases bees to help you in battle. It just sounds too fun not to happen...

Actually both of these costumes could accompany some sort of A Link the Past / A Link Between Worlds DLC with areas and dungeons from these games.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

30th Anniversary Replay List

With the 25th Anniversary I decided to go through all Zelda games again, one way or another (see my replay posts). I had completed the original Four Swords for the first time in that year and I even went through the BS Zelda games again, so it was quite a year of playing Zelda for me. Now, the 30th Anniversary will be a thing next year and I'm already getting the feeling like I will play a lot of Zelda during this anniversary as well.

The following games I will replay for sure:

  • Oracle of Ages (3DS VC, Linked Hero's Quest)
  • Oracle of Seasons (3DS VC, Linked Hero's Quest)
  • The Wind Waker HD (2nd Quest)
  • Twilight Princess (new HD version)
  • Phantom Hourglass (Wii U VC)
  • Spirit Tracks (Wii U VC)
  • A Link Between Worlds (Hero Mode)

I've already started with Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, because I'm reviewing for ZeldaEurope how these two games are playing on the Wii U Virtual Console. Unlike last time I will play both of these games simultaneously. My original Nintendo DS copies are "full", both savegames done 100% with all Ship Parts and Train Carts collected, so I never would want to delete those. But with these new VC copies I have the necessary room for additional playthroughs.

I've already replayed A Link Between Worlds this year to prepare for Tri Force Heroes, but I still have to complete the Hero Mode there, which I will save for later. This includes going through all 50 StreetPass challenges again, but I enjoy the Dark Link fights a lot, even a lot more than the arena in Tri Force Heroes, sadly...

In 2013 the Oracle games were released on the 3DS Virtual Console and I used this as a project, where I get all 64 Rings from scratch again. I've even written my popular ring guide at the time. However, I started with two simultaneous Hero's Quests using the same GameID. I basically started a new game in both Ages and Seasons, where I could share the rings. The actual Linked Games I saved for later and it turns out that this will happen during the 30th Anniversary.

It's similar with The Wind Waker HD. I first played this, when it came out in 2013, I got all the figurines during the 1st quest, but I saved the 2nd Quest for later. I didn't have an HD TV at the time and I still don't have one yet, but I will get one next year and The Wind Waker HD will be one of the first games I play on it.

And with Twilight Princess HD I will sort of replay Twilight Princess by playing the new version. I've fully completed both the GameCube and Wii version of Twilight Princess twice and while I'm actually in the mood for the playing this game again, I don't feel like ever going back to the old copies. So, I have to admit that the timing of Twilight Princess HD is pretty nice for me, even though I still think that they should have saved this remake for the next generation.

As for the rest, on both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U I have a couple of unplayed or unfinished copies of Zelda games around, mostly for Virtual Console:

  • The Legend of Zelda (3DS & Wii U VC)
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (3DS & Wii U VC)
  • A Link to the Past (Wii U VC)
  • Ocarina of Time (Wii U VC)
  • Ocarina of Time 3D (2nd copy)
  • Majora's Mask 3D (download version)
  • Tri Force Heroes (retail copy)

All of these could be potential targets for more replays. The NES classics I had fully beaten on the Wii VC the last time, so on either 3DS or Wii U it should be easier, since there I can use save states for a more comfortable experience. You can save right before the bosses or difficult parts.

It's a shame that the Wii U Virtual Console doesn't allow you to import your saves from the Wii Virtual Console, because otherwise I could already check most of the games there as "complete". But currently I haven't touched anything on the Wii U VC yet. I only got them, because you can get them for cheap and it looks nice to have some sort of collection.

A Link to the Past should go well alongside A Link Between Worlds, but I'm not sure about the Nintendo 64 Zelda games. I suspect that Majora's Mask will be released on the Wii U Virtual Console next year as well, so I have both empty copies of the original versions and the 3DS remakes. I probably will stick with the remakes though, since I don't have as much experience with them and because the play better.

Interestingly enough I do own two copies of all the 3DS Zelda games. I got two retail copies of Ocarina of Time 3D, because of the Anniversary Edition bundle, which got released later and featured a different cover for the game. I got both a retail copy and a download copy for A Link Between Worlds, Majora's Mask 3D and Tri Force Heroes. The retail copy of A Link Between Worlds is what I'm using for replaying, I originally played a download version. The download copy of Majora's Mask 3D came with the Special Edition New Nintendo 3DS XL and remains untouched so far. And I bought Tri Force Heroes in the eShop, when it came out, and later got a boxed review copy from Nintendo (which is very useful for testing the arena and the like). Now, with Tri Force Heroes you can always replay all levels anyway, but if I ever feel like starting over from scratch with all the costumes, I will use my retail copy. I even started collecting Friendly Tokens there, when I farmed them for my main game.

So, there's that. What games are still left?

  • Link's Awakening
  • Four Sword
  • Four Swords Adventures
  • The Minish Cap
  • Skyward Sword

Link's Awakening I usually replay once per year anyway, because it's a tradition and because you can quickly beat it in one sitting. I'm not sure about the Four Swords games, I probably won't play them on my own, but I might play them with other Zelda fans during ZeldaEurope fan meetings. They might also re-release Four Swords Anniversary Edition for free again, where I might install and play it on one of my other 3DS systems. The Minish Cap I've already completed last year on the Wii U Virtual Console and I don't feel like playing it again, unless they put it on the New Nintendo 3DS as well.

And then there's Skyward Sword, where I really would like to replay it, before Zelda U hits. Mainly because that way I would go through all 3D Zelda games again before the new one, but also because I haven't played this since fully completing both normal and Hero Mode, when the game was released back in 2011.

Of course this is also a question of time and other games might get in the way, especially Hyrule Warriors Legends might turn out to be quite time consuming again, while at the same time it basically counts as replaying Hyrule Warriors all over again. But I also wanted to check out the new Unreal Tournament next year, though I will try to set my focus on Zelda to honor the 30th Anniversary as much as possible. The next big anniversary will be in 10 years, since 35 years doesn't count as a special anniversary, so both Nintendo and Zelda fans should make this one count.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tri Force Heroes: Ideas for Future Updates

Overall I'm pretty happy with the first update of Tri Force Heroes. First of all it's free, so it doesn't split the community and I can install it on all my 3DS systems without paying extra. And you don't look a gift horse into the mouth. I wouldn't be even sure, how much this should be worth... maybe 0.99€ or 1.99€, but not more. It only adds one hour of gameplay.

But I like that this goes in a different direction, where you might enjoy replaying the whole thing. In my previous posts I pointed out how well one new area could be packed as DLC with four new levels, 12 challenges, new materials and outfits and one new arena. But this wouldn't solve the main issue with the game. Once you're done with all the challenges, you're done with the game and you move on, unless you really enjoy helping others getting there. It's in the nature of a Zelda game and the lack of multiple save slots doesn't help with the situation either. But there needs to be something that keeps you playing. And having some interesting modes like might do that, at least for a little while.

Right now the Den of Trials has only one level, but it's entirely possible that they will add more levels to this area with additional trials, especially a Boss Rush comes to mind. There also should be space for another area, which should be used for something different, e.g. a Realm of Memories for the 30th Anniversary.

(It would also be nice to have some sort of random mode. What added real replay value to Four Swords was the random selection of floors in a level. You never knew what you would get and that way things kept being interesting. I would picture the final version of Vaati's Palace as the basis, where you would fight every boss from the game and get random floors from the entire game in between. Maybe something like this could work in Tri Force Heroes as well. Have a random floor, have a random challenge, fight stronger enemies and fight the bosses in between. The only problem I see here is that the outfits wouldn't work with random floors at all. Even in the Den of Trials you're already stuck with costumes that are helpful in all situations. The Goron Garb might be nice in the Fire Zone, but it won't help you in the next one. So, this idea might not make sense...)

This is what I have in mind right now: one Boss Rush Mode update and one Anniversary update, both featuring two additional costumes for a total of six DLC costumes. Naturally I will speculate more about the costumes later, but it looks like I was on the right track following the Magic Ring abilities from Oracle of Ages & Seasons. Now we got the Steadfast Ring as an additional effect for the Fierce Deity Armor and it's entirely possible that some other remaining ring abilities will come back as well, e.g. the Roc's Ring, even if it's just as a side effect.

Besides the additional content Nintendo and GREZZO hit the nail on the head with their improvements. I think it pays that there is now the Miiverse, Nintendo is finally getting direct feedback from their customers and they can improve their games based on that. So, stuff like buying Friendly Tokens or the measures against quitters are very welcome and are probably based on feedback.

And hopefully future updates will also address the much criticized singleplayer mode. I would just do the following:

  • Have the Dopples follow you by pressing R.
  • Being able to chose outfits for Dopples.
  • Steer a totem with any Link.

If we would have these improvements, the singleplayer should be fine. With the outfits maybe there should be the restriction that one outfit can't be used twice, so you can't abuse the Tri Suit and the like. I got used to the fact that you can only profit from one costume in singleplayer and actually equipping all Links with outfits might be too powerful for singleplayer.

The other big feature, which could use a lot of improvements, is the arena. I was a big fan of the StreetPass battles in A Link Between Worlds, but I can't seem to enjoy the arena that much. A few things could help though:

  • Whoever did the most damage should win.
  • Additional arenas, especially a basic arena without gimmicks.
  • Dark Links as singleplayer bots.
  • Option to turn off the Wallmaster in duels.
  • Balancing some outfits like Hammerwear.
  • Medals.

The last point is important, there should be something like the 50 Challenges in A Link Between Worlds. Win wearing Bear Minimum! Win without using B or Y! Win against the Sword Master Suit! All the costumes alone would add enough potential for many different challenges and this would motivate players to keep playing the arena, while using all sorts of different costumes, instead of resorting to the few overpowered ones.

It might even be that one of the updates focuses entirely on the Coliseum mode instead of adding new areas to the game. Could come with two outfits specifically designed for the arena. To be honest, I don't really need or want a Boss Rush, so having an Arena Update and an Anniversary would be great.

PS: I would also love more music for the Lucky Lobby Ball, especially some songs from Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, mainly Palace and Town, and the Underworld theme from The Legend of Zelda. Also, the Lake Hylia or House theme from Four Swords Adventures to have something from this game as well. These are like the only Zelda games with music from Nintendo that don't get featured by the Lobby Ball. And of course there are many other great songs, which could appear.

Tri Force Heroes – Den of Trials Review

The three Links in the Tri Suit going through the entrance hall of the Den of Trials with various Triforce portals

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

This Thursday saw the release of the first major update for The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, which includes one new area and two new costumes for free, next to some improvements. Well, let's look this gift horse in the mouth and see how it enhances the game.

Tri Force Heroes has been available for six weeks now and many players are probably done with the game already. As discussed in the review, the Drablands will get emptier over time, because there isn't really anything left to do once you've cleared all challenges and collected all the outfits. It doesn't offer the same type of longtime motivation as games like Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS or Mario Kart 7, which you can keep playing competitively. Well, there is the Coliseum, but it's not sophisticated enough to be as engaging. As a result, less and less people will play Tri Force Heroes online over time and it will become more and more difficult to find other players. And here it will be important that Nintendo offers more content to bring the players back.

It seems that for Tri Force Heroes Nintendo is following a similar strategy to Splatoon, where they are releasing the new contents for free to keep the game interesting. This apparently wasn't always planned like this, however, because some datamines have revealed texts for Tripini (the clown guiding you through the update) that spoke of new areas as paid DLC. But it was certainly a good call to not lock any new contents behind a paywall, because this ensures that most of the players will return for them, and not just the ones willing to pay.

In addition, owners of multiple Nintendo 3DS systems can use this DLC on all their systems without the need to buy it multiple times. And if the new additions required any payment, they probably wouldn't be worth it in the first place, because it's not that much. But let's go over it all in detail.

The Den of Trials

When Nintendo announced that the new area will contain "over 30 levels" this was reason to be excited – after all this area would have been as large as the entire main game. But unfortunately, this was a misunderstanding, because instead of "levels" they meant "stages", the basic floors. Normally, an area in Tri Force Heroes is divided into four levels with four stages each. But the Den of Trials is just a single level with a total of 40 floors.

ingame map showing the Den of Trials with a white circle marking it

On each stage you will have to defeat all enemies in order to continue. For Zelda veterans this should sound very familiar, because it's essentially the same as the Savage Labyrinth from The Wind Waker, the Cave of Ordeals from Twilight Princess, or the Treacherous Tower from A Link Between Worlds. You know the drill. So, the Den of Trials isn't a full-featured area with new puzzles, bosses, and all that, but more of a minigame to test your skills.

The downside is that this is just a short experience. If you simply want to play through the Den of Trials once, then this will take about an hour, which isn't much compared to the rest of the game. On the other hand this type of dungeon is usually quite popular with the fans, since it offers a different type of challenge and bit of replay value. And it's exactly this type of content addition that Tri Force Heroes may need to boost its online activities.

The 40 stages of the Den of Trials are divided into eight zones with five stages each. These zones are based on the eight original areas, so there is a Forest Zone, a Flooded Zone, a Scorching Zone, and so on. The fifth floor is always a safe room, where you can find treasure chests with materials from the corresponding area, as well as a fairy and a Squiddy to refill your life energy. The game gets saved here and you will also obtain the entry point for the next zone.

Yes, this is unlike the Cave of Ordeals and co., where the Den of Trials starts inside a giant hall with Triforce Gateways to all eight zones (see image at the top). Should you get defeated and/or start over, then you can make use of them, as long as all three players have gotten to the respective zone already. This means that the Den of Trials isn't so merciless to put you back to the first stage after a failed attempt. And in order to progress you will only have to beat four stages at a time, which keeps the motivation up.

The Link's playing whack-a-mole in the Frozen Zone

But it still might make sense to start over from the beginning or an earlier zone anyway, because you only get one fairy initially and you shouldn't underestimate the challenge in multiplayer. It's actually a good idea to collect more fairies by clearing the easier zones once more.

Part of the difficulty are also the dark enemies, which were nowhere to be found in the main game. Those deal double damage, take twice as many hits to defeat, and can neutralize you for a short time with some dark magic, which prevents you from using your sword or items. These enemies are especially deadly in multiplayer, where your hear meter can be erased within seconds.

This is also why the Den of Trials is a lot easier in singleplayer, since the Doppels are invulnerable and you don't have to coordinate with other players to perform totem attacks. Experienced solo players should be able to play through the Den of Trials in one go and the real challenge is found in multiplayer. But unlike with the other areas, the game doesn't take note whether you have beaten the Den of Trials in multi- or singleplayer, where some people may not even want to give this a try online, once they are done with it alone...

New Old Enemies and Sounds

The Den of Trials offers a small surprise with an enemy type from A Link Between Worlds, which hasn't appeared in Tri Force Heroes yet: the Gimos, living statues made out of stone, fire, or ice. This is a nice addition, but it would have been even better if they had imported a couple more enemies from the previous Nintendo 3DS Zelda game, e.g. the Mini-Moldorms, Goriyas, or even the Lynels. At least the new dark variants of the existing enemies offer some variety, because you will have to watch out for their altered attacks.

A special highlight also awaits the players with the final battle on floor B39...

Other than the music for the finale, the Den of Trials offers two new music tracks: a dark melody fills the hub area, making Tripini, the clown seem almost scary. And during the normal floors there is a catchy tune that will spur you on – very much perfect for this type of challenge.

New Outfits

The 36 costumes from the main game didn't really leave much to desire, which is probably why there are only two new ones in the update. And those are really playing the nostalgia card, where they are based on fan favorite characters from past Zelda games.

Linebeck's Uniform in the dressing room

First we have the uniform of the infamous seafarer Linebeck, who had a main role in Phantom Hourglass and whose descendant sold you the train cars in Spirit Tracks. As a good fit for the character this outfit is mainly for your self-interest, because it shows you the content of closed treasure chests.

This is of good use in singleplayer, because will give up the advantage that you may have with other costumes, but it guarantees that you will get the material you want at the end of level. In multiplayer everyone will see the contents of chests as long as someone in the team wears the new outfit, so it won't make you completely unpopular. It also works with normal chests, so that you strategically can save the ones with hearts for later. But that's not a huge advantage.

Curiously, the outfit also has a secret perk in challenges with a time limit – you will get ten additional seconds at the beginning, which could even be a reference to the Temple of the Ocean King and its time limit. The abilities of some other outfits, like the Cheetah Costume, will give you a bigger time advantage at the end, but at least Linebeck's Uniform has something else going for it. You also will use a telescope as a sword for a nice detail, but that's just a visual effect.

Fierce Deity Armor in the dressing room

In any case, it most likely won't be as popular as the Fierce Deity Armor, which you get as a reward for clearing the Den of Trials once. If you don't count Hyrule Warriors, this is actually the first time since Majora's Mask where you can slip into the form of this dark and mysterious god.

In Tri Force Heroes this transformation will grant you double damage and sword beams at full health, which are fired in four directions simultaneously. In addition, you can fire these sword beams with a Spin Attack, even when your heart meter isn't completely filled. These sword beams are normal sized and the sword has also only the normal reach, so it doesn't make the mighty Sword Master Suit obsolete, even though it could have. The Fierce Deity Armor is more of a solid alternative, where the players will have to decide for themselves which of these two outfits is better. And that's good.

It also comes with an additional perk: it increases your steadfastness, so that enemies won't knock you back as easily (similar to the Steadfast Ring in Oracles of Ages & Seasons). This is very useful against those pesky Hardhat Beetles, which otherwise will easily send you right into the next abyss. But your opponents in the Coliseum also won't be able to push you back, which can give you the edge.

However, the sword beams are causing some issues with the sound. Especially when all three Links are using the Fierce Deity Armor and its beams at the same time, e.g. while juggling the Lucky Lobby Ball, this creates some unpleasant noise in the speakers of the Nintendo 3DS.

Other Improvements

Thanks to Miiverse, Nintendo has a much better insight on what the players like and what not about their games. Certain problems get regularly posted in the communities, where it's not a big surprise that Nintendo has addressed some of the concerns with this update.

For starters, you can now purchase Friendly Tokens for 2000 Rupees each from the Street Merchant. You won't get this offer before finishing the game, but at least this guarantees that every player now can obtain the two outfits that required these tokens, whether they prefer to play alone or online. This also prevents these outfits from becoming unobtainable by selling your Friendly Tokens, of which you can only get 15 in total. It's a simple solution for this problem, but it works.

Linebeck Link standing before a Friendly Token offered by the Street Merchant in Hytopia Castle Town

While the Friendly Tokens appear quite often in the shop, it's part of the random selection and not available every day, unlike the Frilly Fabric. It also has no effect on the faux hero in front of Hytopia Castle. He still counts how many Friendly Tokens he has given you, where the goal of collecting all 15 remains. But of course that's not as important as getting the actual outfits which require them.

Next is an issue that has plagued the online play: quitters. Both in the main campaign, as well in the Coliseum people were a problem who just quit the game for whatever reason. In the Coliseum you can simply not quit anymore, which is okay for the short match duration of 90 seconds. Otherwise you are now always able to put players on the Blacklist, even when they have quit the game. And this should discourage those who drop out of a party whenever something isn't going their way.

(Update: Of course this problem wasn't solved as easily after all, because you can still end a game by turning off the Wi-Fi of your Nintendo 3DS in order to disconnect. As an additional measure "Hero Points" got introduced in version 2.1.0, which encourage the players to finish a level even when they didn't get what they wanted.)

The matchmaking for playing with randoms was also refined a bit with an additional question. In the main game you can now state if you want to go slow or fast – either you want to take your sweet time or you want to make quick progress. However, this should often coincide with whether you want to play challenges or not, where this additional choice may be redundant.

At least the choice in the Coliseum makes more sense, where you can pick between budding and experienced. But it won't prevent experienced players from saying they are not, unless they are wearing the Sword Master Suit. And overall these options might split the already shrinking community even more, so it may not be the best they could have done.


To enrich Tri Force Heroes it needs new attractions, which stand out from the game's normal areas and offer some more long-time motivation. While the Den of Trials goes into the right direction, it's too short-lived and will only keep those busy for longer who are willing to seek out self-made challenges.

It would be interesting if the Den of Trials were to get expanded by additional level of a different kind, like a boss rush. And there is still space for another area, where hopefully Nintendo and GREZZO will come up with something interesting. At least it's fantastic that they are keeping it free, so that the entire community will make good use of the additions.

The improvements also struck the right nerves, where hopefully this won't be the last update to address some of the biggest concerns, like the singleplayer mode.

The Good:
  • Free
  • Classic endurance dungeon
  • New enemies and music
  • Nostalgic outfits
  • Some first meaningful improvements
The Bad:
  • Short-lived
  • Some noise issues with the Fierce Deity
  • New matchmaking options don't seem helpful

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Zelda U @ Game Awards 2015?

Exactly one year ago at the game awards we got the last extensive look at Zelda U (see here). Except for a small snippet at the last Direct, we didn't see anything else. So, I'm pretty sure that we're going to see Zelda U again tonight. What else would they show? Certainly not the NX and they already showed a lot of Starfox Zero (Effort) this year... So, it's time for Zelda U again.

Also, the demonstration last year was an important turn of events. There have been many concerns that the world looks to empty, which probably was one of the main reasons for Nintendo to delay the game for an entire year. And now it's time to show what they have accomplished in this additional year. They need to show the difference, to show what you can explore and find.

I would also like to see a dungeon. So, maybe do something similar to last year. Start in the overworld, explore a bit, show that the world has more to offer now and then go into a dungeon to show what has changed here.

Update: Or they could just show nothing at all... too bad.

Fierce Deity Armor = Red Ring + Light Ring + Steadfast Ring

We already knew that the Fierce Deity Armor would work similar to the Sword Suit, just with four beams instead of one. However, I was surprised to learn that it brought two more Oracle of Ages & Seasons Magic Ring abilities back. One is the Steadfast Ring, which nullifies all knockback. I already covered this in my previous ideas like the "Heavy Armor", but it's especially useful with Hardhat Beetles. And now it's in the game thanks to my all time favorite Fierce Deity Link. The other ability is to shoot sword beams even when you're not at full health by doing a Spin Attack. This is similar to the Energy Ring, however, instead of replacing the Spin Attack you do both. Pretty nice.

Though I have to admit I kind of dislike the short range compared to the Sword Master Suit. I guess, this keeps things somewhat balanced, so the Sword Master Sword doesn't turn obsolete, but in the arena the Fierce Deity is inferior to the Sword Master, which feels like a bad joke...

Linebeck's uniform also has a hidden feature: you get 10 seconds extra in time limit challenges. Probably not worth it, since other costumes can save you more time overall, but it's good that this costume isn't just for personal benefits.

The Den of Trials is very short lived, but fun. Turns out with "40 levels" they meant actual floors, not 40 stages... So, it's just one stage really and more like a minigame, which compares to the Treacherous the Tower. Took me less than an hour to beat. But some enemies from A Link Between Worlds return and the final fight was awesome...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tri Force Heroes: All Drablands Diaries Secret Easter Eggs

Link looking chic in the Dapper Spinner and carying a total of 44444 Rupees

In Tri Force Heroes you can find the Drablands Diaries all around Hytopia, which tell of a journey through the individual areas. In each book there is a hint about a special object in the levels of each area, where the journalist took a photo of it. The game invites you to follow in his footsteps, where I've been taking screenshots of all of these secrets for Miiverse. Here I also want to share my collection with a brief explanation of all the secrets.