Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U: Pirate Ship Returns

screenshot of the Pirate Ship stage with multiple characters fighting

Today another update for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U gets released to support the newest DLC, which comes with a Super Mario Maker stages, as well as the Pirate Ship from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The latter will only be available in the Wii U version, however, and costs 1.99€.

Well, just like Hyrule Castle, I would have liked this stage to be part of the base game or at least a free update. The DLC for Smash 4 seems rather overpriced, especially when compared to Hyrule Warriors and Mario Kart 8. These games also got DLC bundles at a discount, but Smash 4 only sells its downloadable contents individually and most of it is made out of returning fighters and stages, where it's just not very attractive.

In the very least they could have based this on The Wind Waker HD visually, instead of just copying the stage from Brawl. However, the Omega version of the stage offers something new and is quite ingenious:

Pirate Ship Omega variant as a lookout platform.

It's one of the lookout platforms! I really like this. It looks like a whole other stage.

Source: Nintendo of America

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

TriForce Heroes: Ice Shield, the Last Item?

According to Famitsu there will be nine different items in the game. So far we know eight of them:

  • Bombs
  • Bow
  • Boomerang
  • Hammer
  • Armshot
  • Gust Jar
  • Fire Gloves
  • Water Rod

So, what could be the last remaining item? It makes sense to look at A Link Between Worlds first, because five of the traditional items from the game return with slight modifications to the Hookshot. Of note were the four elemental rods, where it seems like they are replaced by weaker items dealing with elements. The Fire Rod gets replaced by the Fire Gloves and the Tornado Rod by the Gust Jar. And the Water Rod is similar to the Sand Rod, only on water and with a weaker effect. It might even still have an effect on sand and other things by watering them.

Now they probably did that to balance the multiplayer gameplay, but it also reminds me of the situation in Spirt Tracks, where compared to Phantom Hourglass the three new items were a lot weaker. No overpowered Magic Hammer anymore or in this case Fire Rod. But it also removes the verticality of the rods. The elemental rods added a lot of vertical gameplay to A Link Between Worlds, but they now want you to use the new totem mechanic everywhere. So, instead of shooting a huge pillar of flames, you have to climb the other Links and shoot fireballs from the top in order to attack flying enemies with fire. Makes things a little bit more difficult.

I guess that the last item will have something to do with ice, so you still get the ability to freeze enemies. That's some team play, which I would like to see, where one player freezes the enemies and the other smashes them with the Hammer. You couldn't even do that in the Four Swords games. An ice mace or an ice ball & chain could be interesting to have, but of course with that you probably wouldn't need the hammer anymore.

What could be possible is an "Ice Lantern", which emits light, but freezes things. This way you would have to be close to your enemies in order to freeze them and they could also bring back the classic lantern item. But a lantern, which puts out lights instead of creating them, would be weird and you would have the Gust Jar to blow out lights and cool down things. Plus the Fire Gloves seems to take over the lantern functionality pretty much.

However, it's also noteworthy that there doesn't seem to be a shield equipped to the shoulder buttons... but maybe it's one of the pick up items like in Four Swords? It could even be an "Ice Shield", which freezes enemies, if they touch it, though this wouldn't be exactly innovative for a fantasy action game. But otherwise this would be the first Zelda game without a shield. (I don't think that a costume would give you a shield, only upgrade it.) It also would work well in the combination with the Hammer, where one player defends and the other player smashes the frozen enemies. The more I think about it, the more I like this Ice Shield idea. It makes a lot of sense.

Of course the last item doesn't necessarily have to do anything with ice. It could be a different element or it could be no element at all. Some sort of digging item like the Mole Mitts could potentially return for example...

We'll see. I hope, Nintendo won't reveal the new item, until the game gets released, so we can find it out ourselves. And maybe there are more than nine items, who knows...?

Interesting timing for my post, a couple hours later Nintendo revealed on the site that with "nine items" they counted the sword apparently. Oh, well...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

TriForce Heroes: More about the Costumes

In the current Famitsu magazine there's an article about TriForce Heroes, which you can find here. NintendoEverything also provided a translation of the important facts and in it we learn some more information about the best part of TriForce Heroes: the costumes.

Apparently there are at least 36 costumes in total. This is a good number, it should come very close to the selection of abilities we had with the 64 Magic Rings, if not even succeed it, since some costume provide multiply buffs and many Magic Rings were pretty much useless. The translation also hints that there might be even more, because they apparently didn't count the costumes coming from the Coliseum Mode. I'm at least happy that Nintendo didn't spoil all the costumes yet and there's still the chance for that bee costume!

See this costume? It got featured in the artworks a couple of times already, it's even on the cover of the game. And it seems like this is one of the better costumes, it gives you both the double sword damage and the sword beams. So, it's a combination of the classic Red Mail / Red Ring / Spirit of Power ability and the Spirit of Courage. Nice. I was afraid that the 8-Bit costume would give you the sword, but this is a nice one.

It still might also cause the Fire Arrows, which got shown in one of the artworks... But it's more likely that this gets done by the Fire Gloves, because in that artwork the Red Link seems to be touching the arrow with them:

Originally I thought that the "prince" costume was responsible for the flame arrows, but that doesn't seem to be the case. And it makes sense to have the items interact in different ways.

I'm also surprised by the versatility of that Goron Garb. It makes you invulnerable to fire, you can swim in lava and you can even cross lava fountains. So, it's not like there's only one simple perk, the way it was with the Magic Rings. These costumes are a lot more fleshed out and I like it.

Famitsu also confirmed our theories about the Tingle and Aristocrat costumes. The Tingle costume or "Balloon Tights" seems to save you from falling into an abyss by using the balloons. And the Aristocrat / King costume gives you more Rupees.

From the official Japanese website we learn some more details. The Cheetah costume simply makes you walk faster, as we had guessed. With the Zora costume you can swim against strong currents. The Bomb costumes makes all bombs, which you pick up, larger, not just your own ones. So, you can even turn small enemy bombs into huge ones. And the Tingle costume does indeed save you from an abyss, but there's a limit. You have three balloons and they pop.

And it seems that 36 really is the total number.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why not Toon Hyrule Warriors?

So, Toon Link will be playable in Hyrule Warriors Legends according to the latest news, next to Tetra and the Red King of Lions. He won't be playable in Legend Mode, but you can use him in the other game modes. With him we now got three different versions of Link in the game. And I can't help but wonder, why they didn't make a Toon Hyrule Warriors instead?

The engine doesn't run all that nicely on the 3DS. There are fewer enemies and everything is shown in a cel shaded and outlined style, which looks like a massive downgrade from the original on the Wii U. And of course it is. In general I also don't like, how they mix the more realistic Zelda games with the Toon Zelda games, because these styles heavily clash, even if they use cel shading on the original characters. The proportions are just off. The game becomes a visual mess.

And now that there's Toon Link, there could be a Toon Zelda, a Toon Ganondorf and a Toon Tingle as well... And I feel like it would have been the better solution to keep all of this separate in a completely different Hyrule Warriors game. With an entire toon roster:

  • Toon Link
  • Toon Zelda
  • Toon Ganondorf
  • Toon Lana
  • Toon Cia
  • Toon Tingle
  • Tetra
  • Red King of Lions
  • Medli
  • Makar
  • Oshus
  • Cole
  • Byrne

That's 13 characters already, like the original roster of Hyrule Warriors. Why not make a new story with Lana and/or Cia (toon versions), which involves the eras of The Wind Waker / Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks? The Four Swords games would also fit visually, so you could have Vaati or Ezlo. And later of course characters from TriForce Heroes.

This way there would be two different Hyrule Warriors series. One on the home console with the "cool and realistic" Zelda stuff. And one on the handhelds with the Toon Zelda universe. I would find that a lot better than recycling Hyrule Warriors on the handheld and mashing Toon Zelda stuff in there. But maybe this is even the direction they want to go in the future and they are just breaking first new ground here. After all the whole The Wind Waker part in Legend Mode will be separate, its own story at the end. Maybe in the future they will expand this to its own game.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

TriForce Heroes: Hookshot, Clawshot or Switch Hook?

Take a look at the artwork of the new Hookshot in TriForce Heroes:

It looks different from the one in A Link Between Worlds and in the new trailer you can clearly see it using a claw. I already noticed this in my last post, but I wanted to give it some more thought. The Clawshot itself was made for 3D Zelda games to keep Link hanging, where he is. That's not all that useful for a topdown Zelda. So, I wonder, if they brought the Switch Hook from Oracle of Ages back? With it you could switch places with certain blocks and enemies. But in case of TriForce Heroes it could add an interesting mechanic, where you switch places with other players.

With the Gust Jar you push other Links away from you. With the Boomerang you can bring other Links to you, making the Boomerang a lot more useful this time around. Now with the Hookshot in A Link Between Worlds you were able to draw yourself to a Shadow Link. Maybe that's still what it's doing here and they only added the round claw, so it would not give the impression of hurting the other Link. Maybe that's all there is to this. But that would be too similar to what we already have with the Boomerang and a Switch Hook, where the players switch places, might add some more interesting mechanics and possibilities.

Apparently it's called the "Armshot". So, I guess, it's really just about not "hurting" the other Links, when you attach to them.

TriForce Heroes: All Costumes Revealed?

Nintendo really likes to spoil their Zelda games in advance, so much that they will show you every item, every dungeon and every boss long before the game is available to the public. And this time they did it with the costumes, if you don't mind the spoilers, you can find a gallery with a total of 24 costumes here.

I was looking forward to discovering all the costumes myself, so it's kind of disappointing to see all of this already (and because I write new for ZeldaEurope I can't really escape it). I somewhat hope that this is not all of them, but this feeling of hope with Nintendo usually means that this is really all of them... And 24 is not the worst number. While the similar Magic Rings in the Oracle games had a total of 64, easily half of them were pretty much worthless. So, if there are around 32 costumes, this would be on par and you would have as many costumes as stages, maybe even one costume best for each stage.

But in any case Shikata was probably exaggerating about the amount of content. It seems to be a typical illness for Zelda's producers and when he says that there are so many costumes, it will keep you playing for two months, it probably means that you can easily get all costumes within two days...

Anyway, it looks that quite some of my costume ideas actually were a reality including the Anouki parka, the classic Zora costume, the Fairy costume and Tingle:

But next to Tingle there's also a King costume with lots of Rupees on the outfit, which makes me wonder about the abilities. My guess was that a Tingle costume gives you more Rupees, but maybe that's what the King costume does and Tingle's costume is for something else. Maybe it lets you float a little, that's my best guess for now. Or it has something to do with maps.

And I can't help but wonder what some of the other costumes do. I suppose, the Hammer Bro costume gives you the Nice Hammer. But what does the costume with the teddy bear sweater do? Or the shaman? Or the 8-Bit Link? With the latter I'm thinking about having classic sword beams, but it would suck, if you would need this costume to shoot beams. That and a Fierce Deity Link costume would have been more awesome. Or what's the terrible cheerleader supposed to do? I'm not a big fan of all the girly costumes, they're really pushing Link's androgyny here and it makes me wish for a playable Zelda even more. Princess Zelda in a cheerleader costume would be cute, Link not so much...

I'm also missing some costumes that came to mind. There's nothing I would relate to upgrading the Hookshot or the Gust Jar for example. I suppose that each item will get a buff by costume. In A Link Between Worlds all items had a nice variant, so why not here? They can just copy the ideas, e.g. the upgraded Water Rod will create streams that don't go away. Or you can hurt enemies with the upgraded Hookshot. (If that's really a Hookshot, it looks more like they brought the Switch Hook back, which would be interesting for the multiplayer mechanics.) Also, I really expected there to be a Bee costume based on the Bee Badge, which is nowhere to be found here. So, I still have a small hope that the presented costumes were not all of them. Let's see.

According to GameXplain the "Fairy" costume is actually for the Water Rod. You can even see the upgraded Water Rod in the video. And it's certainly more than those 24 costumes, because in the same video we got to see a Ninja costume, which wasn't featured in the artwork collection!

Update 2:
Famitsu confirmed that there are at least 36 costumes. That's a good number!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

TriForce Heroes: Japanese Feature Trailer

Check out the teaser site or Youtube.

I know that many people don't like the silly story about the fashion kingdom and the oddly "cursed" princess, but it reminds me of "The Princess and the Pea" and other more carefree fairly tales. Not every Zelda games needs some "epic" approach for a story and it's good that they save this little side story for the multiplayer game. With Four Swords Adventures they tried to wrap an epic storyline around it by portraying the Imprisoning War, but this backfired to a point, where it's not even in the same timeline anymore. Anyway... the princess looks pretty, even with the full body spandex on, lol.

Talking about that, they revealed some more costumes in the trailer and I actually got some predictions right. The Zora costume is exactly how I imagined it, with Link's head looking through the mouth of a classic River Zora. It's awesome and I love the swimming speed, it makes a real difference. I wish, A Link Between Worlds had an upgrade like that, because the swimming there always felt kind of slow to me.

Other than that there's the Parka. Sadly, they didn't put an Anouki reference in there, but it has the traction on ice ability, similar to the Snowshoe Ring from the Oracle games. And there's a Fairy Costume, though it's still unclear, what it does.

They also revealed a new item, which seems to be the Water Rod. It kind of works like the Sand Rod on water, where it creates water streams to step on. The Hookshot is back, which is nice, because this used to be my favorite weapon in the Shadow Link battles. They've even shown the arena mode for the first time in a sky arena with falling rocks.

Single player so far looks really lame, because it seems like you have to keep switching between all three Links the entire time, which could be tedious. I wonder, if there's at least a way to have them follow you around... it would suck, if you have to carry them all the time or have to go the paths three times each.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Nintendo 3DS XL Hyrule Edition Announced

So, three different Zelda 3DS systems weren't enough after all? Well, there's no point to complain about excessiveness by now... we're far past this and I guess you can always place your bet on the Limited Edition hardware for every upcoming Zelda game in the future, including Zelda U.

Technically they didn't even break the rules, which I had defined to keep the release of TriForce Heroes clean, because this is not a bundle for TriForce Heroes. It doesn't come with the game... But it does get released around the same time and it seems somewhat unnecessary nonetheless. The other Limited Editions so far at least offered an upgrade for those, who already got the previous Zelda model. I'm even very happy that I got that Majora's Mask Edition of the New Nintendo 3DS XL, as I pointed out in my last post. But why release this one so soon after? There will always be some fans, who would have preferred this design over the last one and now are unhappy, they didn't wait half a year longer...

As always Nintendo keeps teaching their costumers it's best to wait. Don't buy Nintendo systems until the very last minute, because there always could come a better model. I can't even wonder, if there are any Zelda fans left, who haven't bought a Nintendo 3DS yet and have waited for this model. Because there are. I even got one in the comments earlier.

This is very different from the successful Wii days, there you didn't want to wait to buy the console, you wanted that Wii on day one with Twilight Princess. And you didn't miss out for buying early; in fact later models of the Wii lacked features like GameCube compatibility. And there was no golden Wii coming with Skyward Sword, just a golden Wiimote everyone could enjoy. With the Wii U there are certainly many Zelda fans, who are still waiting for that gold edition next year (and the first real Zelda game for the system of course). And you can bet that they will be happy in the end, not the early adopters.

But so far it looks like this Hyrule Edition of the New Nintendo 3DS XL will be exclusive to GameStop in the US. If it doesn't come to Europe, I certainly won't try to get my hands on it. If it does though (and I suspect as much), I will probably buy it for my collection. It's not like they lose in value, you can always sell them off later for a better price.