Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Thoughts on Adventure Mode

Now the 3DS version of Hyrule Warriors won't be released until Spring 2016, which gives me enough time to finish the Wii U version until then. But with Hyrule Warriors Legends I hope that they do things differently, instead of just copying all the content over, especially with Adventure Mode. Since the game won't support as many enemies on screen as the Wii U version, they would have to refine all missions anyway for the A ranks and what not else. Might as well go for something different.

So, instead of giving us the same five maps again, I hope they will just feature different maps altogether. Since this is a handheld game, the original handheld Zelda game Link's Awakening comes into mind:

They could use items like the Roc's Feather, Power Bracelet, Pegasus Boots, Ocarina, Zora Flippers, Hookshot, Mirror Shield and Magical Rod as item cards. They could even use the monochrome version of Koholinth to go for classic looks:

In any case this map offers 256 squares, which is as much as the Adventure and Master Quest Maps combined. And I suppose, they could limit the characters a little bit. It would be fine, if they kept it at Level 99 and 30 Heart Containers again, basically the same as when the Wii Version only had the Master Quest DLC. With the later DLC Hyrule Warriors went completely out of control and turned into a massive grind fest. And hopefully they will keep the 3DS game lighter, I already put so much time in the Wii U version, I would be happy to get a more streamlined version on the 3DS.

Even if they keep 8-Bit weapons and all the unlockable costumes, there should be enough space to cram it all in there. If they redistribute all unlockables, they could also use the Legend Mode more efficiently. Cia's Tale could have Heart Containers and Pieces for Cia, Volga and Wizzro, as well as some Skulltulas. The same goes for the new Wind Waker missions.

If they need more space, they could always make their own maps in the style of Link's Awakening. I doubt that they would use the maps from the Oracles, because they haven't touched any Capcom Zelda material yet and those would offer too much space...

Since the Wind Waker seems to be an important addition, a map based on the ocean of the Wind Waker could also work for the Adventure Mode. However, this only offers 49 spaces and lacks the 8-bit charm. But maybe they could remake the islands of the Wind Waker in the 8-bit style of Link's Awakening? Like they did with the maps of Twilight Princess and Majora's Mask in the 8-bit NES style. This would certainly be a nice fit and they could have 8-Bit Item Cards of various items from the Wind Waker, like the Grappling Hook or the Deku Leaf.

So, we would have one main Adventure Map with Koholinth and a secondary, more challenging map with the 8-Bit Great Sea. And probably also a new Rewards Map for the Skulltulas. But that's it.

And drop Challenge Mode. That mode is just tedious and not much fun, I doubt the 3DS could handle the Ganon chaos anyway. Good riddance.

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Linkle & The Wind Waker Inclusion

Now there is this interview with Hayashi about Hyrule Warriors Legends, check it out. On the one hand he confirms that there will be at least one more character and I'm placing my money on Linkle. It would be awesome to have her, I love the design.

Her weapon was also shown in the trailer and she was a fan favorite, when Koei asked for new characters on Twitter, so I think she's a good bet.

Also, The Wind Waker is getting its own epilogue story, which takes place after the events of Hyrule Warriors. They acknowledged that the art style and the world of the Wind Waker clashes with the other games, so they gave it its own part.

I personally think that they could have tried giving the Wind Waker a more realistic look and style. Originally I was also hoping that they would make their own version of the King of Hyrule in the next game, who combines traits of Gaepora (Zelda's father in Skyward Sword) and Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule. The Sail / Boat could still be one of his weapons. But... on the other hand they also featured Fi and Midna straight from their games, so it's only natural that they would include the Red King of Lions, who was Link's companion in the Wind Waker, in his original version.

I'm still not all too happy about this mix, I liked Hyrule Warriors the most, when it all looked very cohesive and they had their own designs for everyone. Tingle then blew things out of proportion and now it's just a mess, where they could throw anything into the mix. But at least it really serves the purpose of an All-Star Zelda game.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

TriForce Heroes: Keep it Clean!

TriForce Heroes won't be your usual Zelda game, but at the same time I really hope that they keep it as traditional as possible with releasing this title. Just give me a game for once, Nintendo, without any fuzz around it! In the last years Nintendo developed some bad traits and ideally TriForce Heroes will stay clean of them. There are three simple rules, Nintendo would have to follow:

  1. No Limited Edition Hardware Bundle
  2. No Paid DLC
  3. No amiibo

1) No Limited Edition Hardware Bundle

Do you remember the last time, when Nintendo released a Zelda game without any Special Edition hardware attached to it? That was Spirit Tracks in 2009. Six years ago! Every Zelda game since then offered a limited hardware bundle with some golden Zelda design, even all the remakes. It all started with the 25th Anniversary in 2011.

As a Zelda collector this is nice and exciting at first, but became excessive and even stressful after some time. So far every Zelda game for the Nintendo 3DS came with a special Zelda 3DS! That's three of them! Of course no one forces you to buy these things, but as a collector you simply want to. For me this goes back to The Minish Cap and its golden Limited Edition GameBoy Advance SP. At release I already had a black GameBoy Advance SP and I wasn't the biggest Zelda fan at the time (I hadn't even played the Wind Waker yet), so I was rational and didn't buy it. And I still regret this decision today. Later it turned out that it would be good to have a second GBA, so I could play Four Swords with a friend of mine. So, I bought the golden GBA, but only a used copy from ebay. It does have some scratches on it and it would have been a lot nicer, if I bought this thing new, when I had the chance...

Because I don't want to make the same mistake again, I bought all the Limited Edition 3DS systems there were. All three of them. They are good investments, even "used" (I keep them in a very good state) I can easily sell them with profit at any time, so there's no real loss here. And as it turns out, they might come in handy with TriForce Heroes, because I could play TriForce Heroes with friends, who don't have a 3DS ready, thanks to Download Play. And I also might be able to cheat with the arena mode, so I can easily win those medals and materials by setting up two dummies. But... I don't really need a fourth one, especially since I already bought a New Nintendo 3DS XL this year with Majora's Mask 3D. And at this point every Zelda fan, who has some little interest in the 3DS, already should have one. So, hopefully Nintendo keeps things simple for once.

I wouldn't mind them releasing some Special Edition with some merchandise though, as long as they have enough quantities. That's another big issue with Nintendo right now, those Special Editions are usually sold out months before release. Then your preorder gets cancelled and you have to scout all the shops in your city in the hope that you might be lucky enough to find one remaining copy... or you have to pay twice as much on ebay. Being a collector is just not much fun anymore these days.

2) No Paid DLC

This might seem a little paradox, but I actually like DLC, because it can extend the life of a game significantly, it keeps it fresh and exciting over some time. And while I wouldn't want DLC for a normal Zelda game, something like TriForce Heroes is well suited for DLC. New stages for Coliseum mode, new costumes to unlock, new dungeons. It's all possible.

However, paid DLC on the Nintendo 3DS just sucks, if you have more than one 3DS system. Paid DLC is linked to a Nintendo Network ID and you can only link one 3DS system to your Nintendo Network ID. My original 3DS (the Ocarina of Time 3D one) is where I still keep all my downloaded games and content. However, with some games I prefer the bigger screen of my New Nintendo 3DS XL, so I use this system instead. But what to do with games, where they offer paid DLC? Smash 4 is a good example for this issue. I don't really know, what to do here. I prefer playing this on the bigger system, but I keep all DLC on the small 3DS... So, I haven't bought any of the DLC yet. And since the DLC is very expansive for some reason, I wouldn't want to buy it twice.

What does work though, is free DLC. Free content updates. I doubt that there will be DLC for TriForce Heroes, since A Link Between Worlds didn't even get a single update. They are keeping their files closed with a Zelda game and that's good. Zelda games should be a finished package. But if they consider to add future content to TriForce Heroes, e.g. new battle mode stages, then hopefully those will be free. That way I could easily install and use them on all my 3DS systems.

(Same goes for the Four Swords Anniversary Edition by the way. Since it's free, it's very easy to distribute. However, it's currently not available and I hope they will put this on the eShop again next year for the 30th Anniversary, so I can install the game on all my 3DS systems.)

Another good reason is that DLC divides the player base. It works for new characters. Someone might have a DLC character like Lucas and the others don't. It's not really an issue. However, as soon as there are DLC stage, tracks or even dungeons, you have people, who might not be able to join you anymore...

3) No amiibo

I love the costume idea and I'm looking forward to collecting them all. And ideally that would only involve me doing stuff ingame and not tracking down overpriced figurines in real life. amiibo is Nintendo's cash cow and I despise it.

amiibo are great, if it's really about the figurine and not about unlocking DLC content. Smash 4 for example treats the amiibo perfectly. You get a nice figure player addition, which you can train. And you buy the figurines of the characters, which you enjoy, and not the figurines, which give you certain content. With what Nintendo does in other games there's always the issue that someone just wants to get the content, but has no interest in the figurines. I boycotted Splatoon for this reason (amongst others).

It's not that I would never buy any amiibo, it's just that the ones that they offer currently don't interest me. The Smash amiibo are very ugly with their plastic poles. But if they had nice Hyrule Warriors amiibo for example, I would certainly buy some of them, probably starting with my beloved Cia. I don't care if they only give you a random weapon for the character, I mainly want the figurine and any ingame use is just an extra. And amiibo shouldn't obstruct the people, who just want to have a complete game. That's very important.

Of course with TriForce Heroes they could even go as far and create their own amiibo line for this game. Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks had these small figurine sets, which basically look like Toon Zelda amiibo. I just hope that it doesn't come to any of that. Let ingame collectibles like the costumes be true ingame collectibles. If I have to scan amiibo figurines to 100% a Zelda game, I won't be really happy with the game.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Give us E3 demos, Nintendo!

I really want to try out TriForce Heroes right now... but there are no local Best Buy demos in Europe. And overall it's a shame that Nintendo doesn't use the eShop to release E3 demos. Those could simply expire after the E3 is over, but in any case it's really the next big step for bringing the E3 home to everybody.

That has been their "excuse" for doing the Nintendo Digital Event, instead of a big press conference. But the truth is that they just want to save money and distributing all the E3 demos over the eShop might simply be too expansive... I guess?

But wouldn't it be nice, if we could simply download the TriForce Heroes demo and try it out for ourselves? I'm tired of watching videos of the game...

TriForce Heroes: Arena Mode Confirmed

So, apparently there is an Arena / Coliseum mode, which sounds somewhat similar to the Shadow Battles in A Link Between Worlds, with the addition that it supports three people and that there will be items in the stages (instead of choosing the items up front). I'm really looking forward to this, because it was a fun feature in A Link Between Worlds, which simply lacked the real multiplayer option (though it did have an impressive AI).

They haven't said, how this can be played. Ideally this has all the options as the main game: singleplayer, online multiplayer, local multiplayer and Download Play. I fear it might be just a local feature like in Spirit Tracks, because Nintendo likes to make these weird choices, but online could be a lot of fun for forum tournaments. And for a practice singleplayer they could just re-use the bots from A Link Between Worlds.

There needs to be some option to play it alone, because there are also exclusive materials for crafting new outfits in the arena mode, which is interesting. The costumes are certainly a great addition and they offer a global collectible for the game, which the Four Swords games so far always lacked. You had like collectible items inside the stages, like seeds and Heart Containers, but you would lose them at the end of the stage. Now this is something, which stays and which might even create good competition between the players. Similar to how you wanted the Medal of Courage in Four Swords, you want those materials / treasures to get new costumes, so you fight other players over them.

The costumes themselves also are a good collectible in general. Each costume has individual looks and features, reminiscent of the Magic Rings from Oracles or the Medals from Skyward Sword, but also offering a visual customization option for your character, like the costumes in Hyrule Warriors. Overall it seems like the Maiamai upgrades were all turned into costumes, meaning that there is at least one costume per item. But there are also other abilities like getting more hearts. There could be many different costumes in the game.

I do seriously hope that amiibo won't be part of this though. It does fit the costume idea, but I would hate to track down lots of amiibo in order to complete my costume collection. DLC on the other hand I wouldn't mind as much for this game, for example they could release new arena mode stages from time to time, either for free or cheap.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Metroid Prime: Federation Force Announced

Outside TriForce Heroes the whole Nintendo Digital event can be summed up for me with one word: underwhelming. Star Fox Zero didn't look all that great, other games already have been shown last year and then there was Metroid Prime: Federation Force...

Well, I was right about that Blast Ball looked like from a Metroid Prime Hunters sequel, but overall it's very underwhelming. This is the first new Metroid title in FIVE years. They cancelled a 2,5D Metroid on the 3DS and decided to give us this instead? It's even from the same developer, Next Level Games, who released this concept art from their original proposal:

It got ditched in favor of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and now this? Instead of playing Samus Aran and other cool space bounty hunters, you're going to play as federation troops? Those are cannon fodder! This is a massive step back from Metroid Prime Hunters and not very exciting.

I probably wouldn't mind as much, if they had announced Metroid Prime 4 for Wii U along with it, but they didn't. There weren't any news about Retro Studios or an actual new Metroid game. Very disappointing...

Metroid Prime 4 is the one big title the Wii U really needs next to Zelda U, in order to become a solid Nintendo system with a good library. Kensuke Tanabe is even actively talking about the game. Of course he makes it sound like nothing is in development so far, but he sounds quite similar to how Aonuma always denied Majora's Mask 3D happening. This and the fact that Retro Studios is working on something, still makes me hopeful for Metroid Prime 4 on Wii U. It needs to happen, the GamePad is simply too perfect for a new Metroid Prime.

TriForce Heroes Announced

Called it!

Well, I didn't make any super accurate predictions, but I did predict a new Four Swords game on the Nintendo 3DS with the graphic engine of A Link Between Worlds, the energy bar and online multiplayer, coming this year instead of Zelda U. The main difference is that instead of a Four Swords game, we got a "Three Swords" game. And you probably could have predicted this by putting more thought into the depth system of A Link Between Worlds, but anyway... I'm still proud of this prediction, especially since I didn't see anyone else predicting anything similar, not even a new 3DS Zelda, let alone a multiplayer title.

So, overall I'm quite excited to see this happening. It's something I wanted and it's something that has potential. Though the full potential might not be met, because I noticed several issues with TriForce Heroes. While there's a singleplayer mode (which they haven't shown yet), it just seems to be playing the multiplayer alone with two dummies. So, this is a pure Four Swords game, there's no singleplayer Zelda like The Minish Cap behind it. It also seems to be very linear, which it doesn't have to be. For example the first Four Swords let all the players roam freely around the current level. And they took away the competition in favor of a more puzzle heavy gameplay. The "Totem Time" looks annoying and it seems to be the most dominant mechanic, probably replacing the wall merge from A Link Between Worlds. But only cooperating without any real reason to screw each other doesn't seem like as much fun, it was what made Four Swords really unique in the first place.

I do like the costume concept, where different outfits offer different abilities. It's somewhat similar to the Magic Rings in Oracles, with the main difference that there are big visual clues to what player has what abilities, so this is nice. However, I didn't like Link in Zelda's dress or in the cheetah suit, which is illustrated in one of the artworks:

It's too much androgyny for my taste. And this leads to my main question: why three Links? Why not have Link, Zelda and a third character, each representing a part of the Triforce, each with their own abilities and unique costumes? (Somewhat similar to Trine.) The cheetah dress could be for Toon Zelda for example. Hyrule Warriors demonstrated that Zelda can easily participate in all the action and this would have added more depth to the game. On the other hand you probably would miss the Four Swords humor with multiple Links screwing each other... but it would have been nice to have Zelda and Link work together again like in Spirit Tracks and they might even could have achieved the same humor.

Still... I'm excited here and it honestly looks like Nintendo's best offering at this year's E3. I also hope that this time we get the StreetPass Shadow Battles from A Link Between Worlds as an actual online multiplayer component. This feature was a lot fun, but you could only fight bots. So, I really hope that TriForce Heroes comes with a good Battle Mode, like Four Swords Adventures did back in the day.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nintendo's Online Shooters: Splatrophy & Blast Ball

Last night Nintendo streamed the Nintendo World Championships 2015, which had its ups and downs. But in general I like that Nintendo is trying to do something with multiplayer shooters

Splatoon immediately caught my "splattention" at last year's E3 and it seemed like a fresh concept, Nintendo's unique take on the multiplayer shooter genre. However, down the road they made so many mistakes with this game that I won't buy it, until there have been some improvements. It does look like a lot of fun and I want to play it, but Nintendo made some choices here that for me personally are inacceptable and are an absolute no-go, especially for a full priced game.

When it comes to online shooters I'm kind of old school, my favorite always has been Unreal Tournament, which I play up to this day. For me this first person shooter game has been unmatched in terms of content, gameplay, weapons, environments and fun. With Unreal Tournament you usually get around six gametypes and 60 to 80 maps, as well as ten very different and unique weapons. And they're currently making a new one, which is looking very promising.

But if you're used to the standards of the old school PC shooters, something like Splatoon is hard to swallow. Only seven different stages at this moment? And you can only play two at a time online? Who thought, this was a good idea? A shooter lives from the variety, even though some fan favorite maps will be played all the time, variety is what keeps the game interesting. At least it's good that they're releasing additional stages for free and don't let you charge 3€ per stage like some other overhyped Nintendo game... But some of the DLC seems to be on-disc-content, where it's really silly that it wasn't available from the start with this little content.

And they're releasing content on a regular basis, which can be very important for a game like Splatoon. Trying new maps is usually what kept me playing Unreal Tournament for years, so it's a good thing that Nintendo has realized this principle. However, as of now there is just not enough content to justify a purchase.

I also don't like the amiibo practices... it seems like a good chunk of the singleplayer options is locked behind three different Splatoon amiibo, which just sucks and is very expansive for the players, who only want to play and get the locked content, but not the figurines. Especially the squid amiibo from the Special Edition is very expansive right now. Nintendo at the moment has a huge problem with creating these bubbles, where the supply absolutely doesn't meet the demand, which then results in these awful markets of highly limited products, where some people try to earn money with the desperation of some fans. (With Majora's Mask 3D Nintendo got the numbers right, at least here in Germany the special editions are nearly sold out, but you can still get them for the original price.)

The only solution for me here would be amiibo cards. If they were cheap and available enough (including the squid), I might give Splatoon a chance. And the amiibo cards would fully unravel the true nature of amiibo: they are just special keys that you have to buy to unlock content. An unnecessary hassle and even a step back from DLC.

I'm also interested in Blast Ball, which got shown for the first time at the Nintendo World Championships last night. It looks like a mix of Metroid Prime Hunters and the Death Ball modification of Unreal Tournament 2003 or Frag Ball in Xonotic. It really, really smelt like a new first person handheld Metroid, from the logo over the visual design. And there was also the fact that they coupled it with Super Metroid. Maybe it's a minigame in a new Metroid. Maybe it spawned from a handheld Metroid title that then got turned into its own game and franchise. We'll see.

However, as of now the game itself didn't seem to offer too much, it seemed more like a small eShop title. Even Death Ball from Unreal Tournament didn't offer that much, it was just a fun, small mod. But it's not like you can do any complex stages with a game like this... Well, right now I just want to now what its relation with Metroid is. Because just look at the logo:

This was taken straight from Metroid...

Talking about Metroid, for me the best multiplayer shooter Nintendo could make is a new Metroid Hunters on the Wii U. Metroid Prime Hunters was an excellent first person multiplayer shooter (the singleplayer was garbage, but the multiplayer was great), however, the Nintendo DS wasn't really the best platform for it. It lacked the good graphics and controls. But if they made something like this one Wii U, it could have great potential.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hyrule Warriors for Nintendo 3DS Trailer Leaked

Watch it here, before it's down.

I'm not a fan. Actually earlier this year I was confronted with rumors about a 3DS port of Hyrule Warriors and I couldn't imagine it. The 3DS is simply not powerful enough and the game just doesn't look and play as good. You don't even have enough buttons on the normal 3DS (which will support the port). But I guess, it's nice for everybody, who doesn't have a Wii U...

However, what's Tetra doing in this game? I already had problems with Tingle visually, but she's just completely out of place. I thought they would avoid Toon Zelda characters, unless they could make them fit visually, like for example Cole and Byrne. Even the Red King of Lions isn't tooo bad, because he has normal human proportions and a normal face. But Tetra is just weird. Originally Hyrule Warriors looked very cohesive, especially since they made their own designs for the main characters, but now it's starting to become this ugly hotchpotch without any rules.

Well, it might fit with the 3DS version, because the heavily downgraded graphics look more cartoony, but overall I would have preferred, if they made something like a "Toon Hyrule Warriors" for 3DS and keep it separate from the more realistic main game, instead of mixing everything. And you can actually transfer the characters to the Wii U version as well, so they will invade the more realistic looks of the main game:

I also wonder, how they will deal with all the DLC characters in the 3DS version. For the Wii U version it's clear that Tetra and the Red King of Lions will simply function as the other DLC characters, but on the 3DS they're not really DLC and they could give them missions. Will Wii U players miss out here? The trailer even showed a new golden Ocarina collectible.

I really wonder, what they will do here... I haven't even completed the Wii U version yet after hundreds of hours and I wouldn't really want to go through all the efforts again on the 3DS, especially all of Adventure Mode. If the 3DS version was "lighter", I might go for it... Maybe it has different modes next to Legend Mode or different Adventure Maps (maybe one based on Link's Awakening). Or if they let you share savegames between versions - that would work as well. But I can't imagine that they could just port all Adventure and Challenge Mode missions over, especially those with tons of enemies and giant bosses. There have to be some limitations to this, where they need to design new missions.

On the bright side: they will still update Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U. Maybe there are even more amiibo weapons (Ganondorf). Maybe they will improve some other things I criticized in the past. They also made a lot better use of the touchscreen in the 3DS version, maybe they won't copy over the character swapping feature, but I'd like to see the map on the Wii U GamePad, instead of the text messages.

You can also spot Linkle's Crossbow in the trailer:

I hope so much that they actually add Linkle and don't just give the weapon for Link or somebody else... but my feelings tell me that I will be disappointed. :D

Friday, June 5, 2015

Four Swords Online @ E3 2015?

E3 is coming and for Zelda fans it's probably the least anticipated E3 in a long time, after Nintendo announced that they decided not to have Zelda Wii U at the convention. Of course they always could change their mind to "surprise" us and maybe at least give another demonstration, but you shouldn't get your hopes up. Still, this doesn't have to mean that there won't be any Zelda news at E3. This brings me back to an idea I had in the past: Four Swords Online.

I believe that they have been working on a successor to A Link Between Worlds ever since the game was released. The engine is simply way too good not be used on another handheld Zelda game. They were also interested to try the Four Swords concept again for a long time, where they now have the perfect opportunity with the right engine, online multiplayer and fitting gameplay elements like the stamina bar.

Of course a sole multiplayer experience would disappoint many Zelda fans, which is why there also should be a fully fledged singleplayer Zelda experience with a Four Swords story, similar to The Minish Cap. For me the game would have three components:

  • Singleplayer Zelda game
  • Level-based Four Swords game
  • Shadow Battles

Everything can be played alone, so the Four Swords levels can be solved by controlling multiple Links at once, similar to how it's done in Four Swords Adventures and the Four Swords Anniversary Edition. And for the Shadow Battles they can re-use the bots they used for the StreetPass Shadow Link feature in A Link Between Worlds, so you can practice.

Since the engine was finished with A Link Between Worlds, it's entirely possible that a game like this could be released this year or early next year and take the spot that Zelda Wii U was going to have originally. We'll see about that... see you at E3!

PS: What I want the most from the upcoming E3 are news about Metroid.