Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 – The Year of Legends

Another year went by, much has changed, much was announced, but one thing is for sure: this was another good year for the Zelda franchise despite the fact that we're all still waiting for the main dish. Ever since Aonuma had announced the next big The Legend of Zelda game for Wii U in early 2013, Nintendo and friends made it their mission to keep us Zelda fans entertained as much as possible in the meantime. New handheld games, remasters, spin-off titles, DLC, merchandise, concerts... The last four years always gave us something new to look forward to and 2016 was certainly no exception. Here's an overview of the most important things that we got throughout the year:

  • Twilight Princess HD + Wolf Link amiibo
  • Twilight Princess Picross
  • Hyrule Edition New Nintendo 3DS XL
  • Hyrule Warriors - Legends
  • Hyrule Warriors "Legends of Hyrule" DLCs
  • Breath of the Wild E3 Demonstration
  • Twilight Princess Manga
  • 30th Anniversary amiibo
  • 30th Anniversary Game Music Collection (in Japan)
  • Hyrule Graphics (in Japan)
  • Symphony of the Goddesses 2016 Master Quest Tour

It's also been the year of the 30th Anniversary, however, Nintendo had been a little late to the party and when compared to their efforts of the 25th Anniversary, it felt rather rehashed and unexciting. New books, more concerts, some amiibo... Because Breath of the Wild had been pushed to 2017, Nintendo probably didn't want to go too far with the marketing, but it's great that they at least acknowledged the 30th Anniversary with a nice logo and devoted some goodies and events to it.

Interestingly enough, the month right after the anniversary date (February 21st, 2016) featured a total of three different game releases, but none of it was officially linked to the 30th Anniversary in any way. We got The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD together with the Wolf-Link amiibo, My Nintendo Picross - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and also Hyrule Warriors - Legends, all in March 2016. That's one strong month!

Hyrule Warriors - Legends was also the real star of the year and of the 30th Anniversary. Koei Tecmo really was celebrating 30 years of Zelda with this game by making all sorts of different characters playable. It kept the fans entertained throughout the entire year with new DLC packs releasing every two months until the end of October. You can easily spend hundreds of hours on this title and it can keep you playing Nintendo 3DS on a daily basis. Other than what was already achieved with the Wii U version, the game set its focus on the Wind Waker at first and and afterwards on various Zelda handheld titles with the DLC. And with Linkle there also has been a new original character, where the whole discussion around a female Link has seen quite some controversy this year, but she's overall a very cheerful addition to the game.

While Breath of the Wild wasn't released in 2016, it was finally shown again after one year of silence with a huge demo at E3 2016, where for the first time Nintendo devoted an entire E3 just to one game. That's how big it is. And it certainly made the Zelda fans talk. Could there be a female Link? When will this game take place in the timeline? How big is the world really? Rarely a new Zelda game spawned this much discussion upfront and we will see, how it will hold up next year.

On Hyrule Blog

With the 30th Anniversary at hand, it's only natural that this was one of the strongest years for Hyrule Blog, in fact with a total of 222 post it's the second strongest year only after the 25th Anniversary in 2011. This is not a coincidence and isn't just due to the anniversaries, because between these dates I've been writing news, reviews and guides for the German fansite, which took its toll. Earlier this year I decided to stop and leave the site, which I haven't regretted. Now, when it comes to Zelda, my entire focus lies on this blog (and a little on GameFAQs), so it's getting a lot more attention.

But on the other hand this also has been a very eventful year. Replaying a majority of the Zelda series, playing lots and lots of Hyrule Warriors - Legends, talking about Breath of the Wild and doing some other fun stuff, like watching the Animated Series, led to an eventful year on this site. I can't promise to keep this up, but I will certainly try, because my love for this franchise is stronger than ever.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Midna's Christmas Spirit

Merry Christmas, everyone! The above artpiece is Midna's Christmas Spirit by VanEvil and one of my favorite fan arts out there. It's five years old now, but it's still worth sharing. Princess Midna is just perfect for that Sexy Santa look.

Hyrule Blog will be on hiatus next week. I'm currently preparing my end-of-the-year review, which will be published on December 31st, as always. Don't expect anything else in the meantime, but do enjoy the holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

30th Anniversary Replay List, 3rd Update

2016 is almost over and in this year The Legend of Zelda became 30 years old. To celebrate I've decided to play through many Zelda games again, which I used as an opportunity to clear my backlog on both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. I'm not in a hurry, I just want to entertain myself with as much Zelda as possible before Breath of the Wild comes out, the next big milestone in the series. And wrapping up everything the series currently has to offer, feels good as a preparation for this milestone.

Anyway, I already was done with the Nintendo 3DS library at my last update in August. Here are all the posts in chronological order:

On Nintendo 3DS

Right now I kind of want to return to Tri Force Heroes as well, not to replay it from the start, but maybe to help some people out there with their challenges. I might also go through all the Capcom Zelda games for a third time, but let's see about that.

Nintendo doesn't like to acknowledge it, but there is still the Wii U, and here I was busy with the Virtual Console and the following titles:

On Wii U

I haven't touched Zelda II - The Adventure of Link yet, but I'm not opposed to replaying that either, after I just recently rediscovered my "love" for this game. However, since my last playthrough on 3DS wasn't that long ago, I still might wait a little.

I've also played through the BS-X Zelda games on emulator again, this time with full fan voice acting, which was pretty nice:


Now, what's left? As a countdown to Breath of the Wild, I want to play through all 3D Zelda games again on my Wii U, probably one per month (I suppose the June release is pretty realistic at this point). So, this is the list:


  • Ocarina of Time (Wii U VC)
  • Majora's Mask (Wii U VC)
  • The Wind Waker HD (2nd Quest)
  • Twilight Princess HD (Hero Mode)
  • Skyward Sword (Hero Mode)

With The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD this will actually be "new" territory, because I haven't played the 2nd Quests yet. I want to get a nice new TV early next year and then enjoy these remasters in HD glory for the first time. With the N64 games on Virtual Console I want to see, how well they hold up, after (re)playing their remakes on Nintendo 3DS, and I also want to experiment with Restore Points a little. And I haven't played through Skyward Sword since early 2012, so this will probably be the most interesting replay experience for myself. I'm keeping that for last.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Replaying The Minish Cap on the Wii U

Another chapter in my quest of replaying the Zelda games during the 30th Anniversary has completed. I'm continuing to browse through the Wii U Virtual Console library and there gave The Minish Cap another go, after already completing it back when it released for the service in May/June 2014. This was the eight time that I've beaten (and completed) the game. I've did so four times on the GameBoy Advance SP, twice on emulator playing the improved US version, and now twice on Wii U Virtual Console.

And each single time was sweet. Sure, the game isn't perfect and I wouldn't rank it among my all-time favorite Zelda games. It's quite linear and way too easy, has some glaring issues for completionists like me, but it still offers a very nice experience. It's really Capcom's love letter to the series, where all their efforts from the Oracle games and Four Swords were coming to together for one final (normal) Zelda game.

The Virtual Console version is also pretty nice. It looks and plays great, where the Wii U GamePad feels like a big GameBoy Advance. It has all the good Virtual Console features, though I didn't find any good usages for Restore Points other than the figurine drawings, and even lets you view the original manual. The only downside is there for Europeans with the fact that it employs the inferior European version of the game. How is it inferior? Let's see...

  • You can't buy the 3rd Bomb Bag Upgrade from the shop.
  • There is a glitch with not correctly fusing with Eeenie, where you can't complete the Goron sidequest and this miss an Empty Bottle and the Mirror Shield.
  • Kinstone portals and helpings stay permanently on the Map and don't disappear, once you've visited these places / got the treasures.
  • You can't warp on top of the Wind Tribe's tower.

It's mostly the missing Bomb Bag Upgrade that's nagging me, but overall the other points are good reasons as well. It would be nice to have them release the U.S. version of the game on the New Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console like they did with A Link to the Past.

Anyway, my main motivation to replay the game other than the 30th Anniversary of EVERYTHING was to fill the Oracle houses with other occupants this time. In my first Wii U savegame I went for the classic Nayru in blue house and Din in red house combination. This time I had Din in the blue house and Farore in the red house. And if I ever decide to play it on Wii U again, Farore will go in the blue house and Nayru in the red house, so that every Oracle got placed in each house at least once. Let's all be salty that there never has been a third Oracle game, because if there was, we probably wouldn't have to make this choice.

Overall it's always surprising how chock-full this game is with sidequests. With a town in the center of its world, it almost reminds you of Majora's Mask, just as a rainbow-happy-shiny 2D version. There are also quite some main quests that really feel like sidequests, e.g. when getting the Pegasus Boots or the Flippers, because both have you explore nooks around the town and collect contextual items. Or some quests even have you fuse Kinstones.

Apropos, that's easily the best feature of the game. Kinstone fusions! It just always feels so rewarding, even if you're just getting "rarer" Kinstones or some Rupees out of it... But how it spawns a treasure chest in the environment or opens a new passage way, is always exciting. Such a great feature! I still remember the E3 2004 demo (playable at the Games Convention in Leipzig), where one demo level let you explore South Hyrule Field and do a lot of Kinstone Fusions. It was very different from the final product, even Malon and Epona were there. But this already had me sold on the final game!

What drags the whole sidequest sections down is the Minitendo figurine collecting, because it essentially has you pause the action for a while to play a boring lottery. It's necessary to do this ever so often, because you don't to waste any of the bigger Mysterious Shell caches after hitting the 999 shell maximum. So, you have to keep spending, if you don't want to lose in the end and do a lot of grinding. In the past I would go for the extremes, either spend only one shell (which makes a lot of sense early on, as long as you stay above 50%) or maximum. This time I usually tried to stay between 20% and 25% for very good results. I only had to do little grinding in the end, so little that I "completed" the collection and got the final Heart Piece for the first time before beating Vaati. Herb, the figurine enthusiast, only checks if you have the 130 original figurines without the six extra ones, so he lets you in his house already at this point. He then even does mention the Carlov Medal despite you not having the thing already, which is a little oversight by the developers.

What also annoyed me a lot this time was Ezlo. People say that Navi is annoying, but he can be a real deal breaker. The problem with him is that he disrupts you in your actions. For example there is a puzzle that requires the power of the Four Sword, so I start loading it, but then he pops up to tell me the solution and I have to start all over again. Ugh!!! He already has the entire SELECT button dedicated exclusively to his unnecessary guidance, which means there's no reason for him to pop up at all, unless it's story-related... Easily the worst sidekick after Fi.

I also usually enjoy replaying the dungeons, despite them being quite linear. The only real exception here is the Fortress of Winds, but that's probably my least favorite dungeon in this game. The others all have a nice flow to them and I especially like, how they tried to mix things up with the sequence of the dungeon items later on:

  • Deepwood Shrine: Map, Compass, Item, Big Key
  • Cave of Flames: Compass, Map, Item, Big Krey
  • Fortress of Winds: Compass / Map, Item, Big Key
  • Temple of Droplets: Big Key, Map, Compass, Item
  • Palace of Winds: Item, Big Key, Compass, Map
  • Dark Hyrule Castle: Map, Compass, Big Key

Getting the Big Key first in the Temple of Droplets or starting with the item in the Palace of Winds felt like quite fresh ideas. It's something that Zelda dungeons usually don't do, so this is definitely noteworthy.

That's it for my thoughts while replaying this game. If you want to read more, you can check out a similar post, where I've replayed the game for the 25th Anniversary, five years ago.

"Thus did Touri's quest come to an end.
But surely this is not the end of Zelda and Touri's adventures in Hyrule.
The legend will continue as long as the power of the light force echoes throughout the ages."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Blocks of Choice

While replaying the Minish Cap on the Wii U Virtual Console, an odd detail about both the Minish Cap and Oracle of Ages came back to mind. With the exception of Four Swords, all Zelda games directed by Hidemaro Fujibayashi present the player with various choices during sidequests that affect the gameworld and its characters permanently in various ways. This includes the animal buddies or the son of Bipin and Blossom in the Oracle games, the Oracle housings in the Minish Cap, as well as Peatrice's affections and Cawlin's letter in Skyward Sword.

If you want to experience the different results with all of these interesting choices, you have to replay the games. But there's also another choice found in two of these games that can only be labeled as "minor". There are blocks that can be moved in either direction that will stay in their new position for the rest of the game. One is the barrier rock found at the beginning of Oracle of Ages:

You can move to the left or the right. And it will stay in that position indefinitely. Moving it to the left is preferable, because it never gets in the way there. But with the nature of having various savegames in the Oracle saga to experience it all, you might want to have at least one savegame, where the rock is moved to the right. For the sake of completion, basically.

This same behavior has been copied in the Minish Cap by the statue of Minister Potho that can be found inside the Funday School:

Again, you can move this to either side and it will stay there for the rest of the game. Now, if you're replaying the game to have different Oracles inside the houses, you might also want to consider to change things with the statue, just so that your different savegames cover all possibilities. It's a minor thing, really, but that's what makes it so noteworthy. It's odd, how such an unimportant choice can leave a mark on your savegame.

Also, I think, the same applies to the one throne in Dark Hyrule Castle, where you fight the first Darknut. You can also pull the throne either to the left or the right and it will stay there.

Well, Hidemaro Fujibayashi will be back to directing Zelda with Breath of the Wild... Let's see, what weird choices we will have to make then.

Breath of the Wild: Potential Seasons

The latest trailer for Breath of the Wild also brought along another topic - a potential change of seasons or at least seasonal areas:

With a giant open world Zelda game I always imaged having a dynamic change of seasons inside the game world. It wouldn't necessarily have to be a big gameplay element like in Oracle of Seasons, but something that makes the world feel more alive by simply altering the visuals of the environment. It could work like the fishing pond in Twilight Princess, just in the grand scale of the entire game, instead of being constrained to a single area. Realistically only the winter would make any real difference with frozen waters and snow masses. The other seasons would simply be there for a visual change.

It could even tie in to the internal clock of your Nintendo system, similar to Animal Crossing, but this would just make people change the clock around. It's better as an ingame system, but where you also want something like the Rod of Seasons to change between seasons. It could be as simple as "sleeping" through many days or it could be an item / ability or even something in the environment that manipulates the seasons, like some Sheikah weather control system.

However, it's doubtful that Breath of the Wild will offer actual seasons and a way to change them. It's more likely that we simply have areas in different seasons. In the trailer the transition from green trees to a Fall color doesn't happen in the same spot, they show us different trees. This week they also released a screenshot on Facebook that gives as a different look at colored trees:

It might be that this is just a junk in an otherwise green environment. Unless of course that those are simply a type of tree that gets colored leaves first, which would be pretty impressive, if they took this all into consideration.

But if you think about it, the game already has snowy / winter areas like the Mt. Hylia and the Hylia River at the Great Plateau. They would lose some of their meaning, if all of Hyrule could look like this. On the other hand, in Winter you could potentially go snowboarding everywhere, which would be pretty awesome. And even in Oracle of Seasons the game world had areas, which weren't affected by the seasons, like the Samasa Desert and Goron Mountain, where the latter was always in Winter as well. There are also deserts in Breath of the Wild, which wouldn't be affected either, and it simply could be that the change of seasons is something going on in the "normal" areas.

It's hard to tell at this point. Realistically we probably should only expect areas with different seasons, but Nintendo has teased it in a way, where a dynamic change of seasons also comes to mind and with it some fun potential, mainly through the Winter.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Breath of the Wild: Villages of the Sages

The Life in the Ruins Trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has given us our first glance at villages in the game:

The village displayed in the trailer is somewhat reminiscent of Ordon Village from Twilight Princess. You have this farmer's village vibe going on, you can spot Cuccos, people are planting carrots, and there is a watermill and a building, which appears to be some sort of mayor's house. And it's most likely not the only village in the game.

Well, I'm going to make an educated guess here that this game will loosely follow the idea of Zelda II - The Adventure of Links, where you have several towns named after the sages from Ocarina of Time. It would make sense for Nintendo to make some connections to this game as well, because Breath of the Wild most likely will take place after all the Zelda games. And so far Zelda II has been the Zelda game with the largest world , where it would be nice, if Breath of the Wild takes some of it into consideration, even if it's just naming references. But some people were also speculating that the bird people that we saw in the trailer are in fact the Fokkā from the Great Palace. So, this new footage certainly did leave some Zelda II impressions.

The biggest challenge, however, will be avoiding that the villages and towns end up as generic as in Zelda II - The Adventure of Link. There were seven in total (not counting the ruined Kasuto) and they all have their set of standard villagers, including the Healer, the Old Woman, who replenishes your Magic, and the Old Man, who teaches you a new spell...

You don't want to end up with generic NPCs like that. And you want each individual village to be worthwhile for exploration, with individual NPCs that have something to tell and with some stuff to do and to find. And that will be a massive challenge for Nintendo.

The best towns in the Zelda series so far were Clocktown, Windfall Island and Skyloft by a margin. But these towns really had full attention - Clocktown was without a doubt the central and most important place in the game and the same goes pretty much for Skyloft, while Windfall was the big meeting and trading place of the Great Sea. You had lots to explore, many interesting NPC interactions and sidequests, but that's because Nintendo really set the focus on them. The other "villages" didn't have as much to offer, if there even were any.

With a large world as in Breath of the Wild you want to balance things out a little bit better. There doesn't seem to be some sort of central village in the game or else we probably would have spotted it already. It seems to be just smaller villages scattered around the various areas. And if they really follow the naming conventions of The Adventure of Link, they might tie to different races as well, e.g. "Darunia" could be a Goron village, "Ruto" a Zora village and "Nabooru" a Gerudo village (we be lovely to meet this tribe again). We could be looking at "Rauru" with the above village...

However, in that case simply naming the villages after the sages from Ocarina of Time probably won't be enough, where you might need to use names from characters like "Mido" again. There probably are multiple settlements of humans / Hylians like the above, not just the one village. And there are potentially a lot more tribes than usual in this game. It would be amazing to have a game here, where many different races from the Zelda series come together. Goron, Zora, Gerudo, Deku, Koroks, Mogma... all in this world. There's certainly enough space to cover the most prominent ones, while also introducing new tribes at the same time. The bird race might even be a new one, if they don't turn out to be the new Rito or Fokkā.

But it's too early to say anything for sure, because we haven't seem much of the friendly population in Breath of the Wild. Next to the above village, we only saw some houses and farmers in the very first footage from E3 2014 and a horse stable in the new trailer:

This place in the trailer raises another interesting point: people are not all that static in Breath of the Wild anymore as they are used to be in the previous Zelda games. You can see people fight monsters and you can also see people travel. There is a guy on a horse and another guy, who looks like a traveling painter (his hair is even shaped like a brush). And it might be that you meet people dynamically on your travels to keep things interesting. The Bird Link guy might even be another traveler that you meet occasionally throughout the game, while this was already confirmed for the minstrel bird guy.

And this is a big step forward. Especially in the Wind Waker it was kind of weird, how you barely ever met anyone besides Beedle, the Salvage Corp and a freaking Ghost Shop, most likely because it wasn't really possible to implement this at the time. But it would be nice to meet people on your travels outside of villages to make the game world feel more alive.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Breath of the Wild: amiibo Goods

About a week ago Nintendo showcased what the new 30th Anniversary amiibo do in Breath of the Wild via tumblr. They simply deliver goods:

  • 8-Bit Link spawns barrels with Rupees
  • Ocarina of Time Link spawns meat
  • Toon Link spawns fish
  • Toon Zelda spawns plants

This is nothing exciting, but it might be quite helpful. I do prefer, if amiibo aren't required to get the full game experience, so I'm good with this sort of helpings. You can get all these things in the game, it's just that these amiibo functions work as emergency provisions. It can be compared to the amiibo usage in Hyrule Warriors, just somewhat more flashy.

The Wolf-Link amiibo might even be a similar case, where Wolf-Link simply could be a special dog, but you can befriend any dog in the game. We'll see about that, but in any case I still think that the Wolf-Link amiibo does deliver the best amiibo usage I've seen so far, at least in Breath of the Wild.

I'm not expecting much of the other Zelda amiibo. They probably work in the same fashion and spawn certain goods in front of you:

  • Archer Link spawns Bows and Arrows
  • Rider Link spawns a Horse
  • The Guardian spawns a Guardian
  • Smash Link spawns random melee weapons(?)
  • Ganondorf spawns random enemies
  • ...

I'm not entirely sure about the Smash amiibo. So far everything seems to spawn something in front of you, it's even how the Sheikah Slate uses the amiibo rune. Ganondorf might just spawn random enemies or rain destruction on that place. I hope that he's not required for some sort of extra "Hero Mode" again like he was in Twilight Princess HD. I'm not sure, if Toon Link or Zelda would do anything different from the new Zelda amiibo, but in case of Sheik getting something related to the Sheikah (technology) would be nice.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Breath of the Wild: Heroes of Hylia

This is Link. He wields the Master Sword and he bows down to a figure, who might be Princess Zelda or some other incarnation of the Goddess Hylia. We don't know, who the woman is, but Nintendo certainly wants us to speculate over the contents of the new trailer.

There's also another faceless shot of a woman in the trailer, who's wearing a blue garb very similar to Link's:

She has blonde hair, she has an Adventure Pouch on her belt and it seems like she's holding the Sheikah Slate in her hands, but that's not sure. This is all essentially screaming "female Link", but it also might be that this is simply Zelda in a time, before Link woke up. Or she might even possess her own Sheikah Slate. In any case this looks a lot like a female character, who's potentially playable in some form. Why else would you put her in full adventure gear?

It could be that the blue-white-gold tunic is essentially something of a faction related to the Sheikah and/or the Goddess Hylia. It wouldn't be the first time that Nintendo uses Link's tunic for a group of people, e.g. the Kokiri, the Hyrule Castle Guards in Spirit Tracks or the Knights of Skyloft. But it doesn't necessarily explain the gloves or the Adventure Pouch. This female character is dressed for action.

There's also the bird guy, who is geared up to play hero:

Let's call him "Bird Link" for now. He's also wearing the same color scheme, though the blue tone is mostly in his scarf, but it seems like there are multiple characters in the game, who drive to be the Legendary Hero or at least fight for the good side in some form.

It's noticeable, how they are all dressed in a blue-white-gold color scheme, where the main color is blue and the game has the classic "Blue vs. Red" video game symbolic going on (which even was adapted by Hyrule Warriors). It's mostly reflected in the Sheikah technology, where blue represents a friendly state, red/pink/purple represents a corrupted/evil state and orange stands for a neutral state (like the Shrines that you haven't completed yet).

And the good guys are essentially all wearing the Sheikah Blue (trademarked color) to show off their disposition, all fighting for the Goddess Hylia. Blue isn't actually her color, but Nayru's, where Hylia usually was represented with either gold or a bright light, which might be where the white and gold color parts in all these outfits come in.

It will be interesting to see, how all of this will add up. But the most important question is right now, whether there are any playable characters next to the Link that we know and have seen so far. May it really be a "Linkle" as a gender choice or a playable Zelda, where you either get to play as her in some sort of 2nd Quest or special sequences in the game (maybe even flashbacks). It might also be that you get to play as the Bird Link at some point.

There's quite some potential here and hopefully Nintendo doesn't just do all this teasing without any bigger significance behind it.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Breath of the Wild: Ruins of the Past

Ever since the E3 I've been a huge advocate of the timeline merge theory for Breath of the Wild and the new "Life in the Ruins" Trailer just breathed new life into this theory.

We've entered a world, where the old Hyrules lie in ruin. We've already seen, what's the the remnants of the Temple of Time and Hyrule Castle from Ocarina of Time at the Great Plateau. We've also already seen the pedestal of the (now rusted) Master Sword from A Link to the Past and what appears to be the Great Bridge of Hylia. There's also talk of an "ancient ocean" in the game and we have the Koroks living in Hyrule. And now, in the new trailer, we can spot the ruined fountain place of Hyrule Castle Town from Twilight Princess:

It even still has one of the red banners at the side. Of course fan theories are shifting left and right again, with many of them now placing the game after Twilight Princess. But how does all of this really add up? How can there be the ruined Castle Town from Twilight Princess, while the Temple of Time looks still a lot more in shape than it was in the game?

Well, it doesn't add up, unless you add it all together into one new timeline, where all the universes somehow got merged, probably by the power of the Triforce. This created a massive, new Hyrule, where everything of the past Zelda games is coming together. But it also all fell to ruins, probably because of the dark powers of Calamity Ganon that might also have risen with the unification of the timelines.

With such a story, Nintendo can create a fresh start for the Zelda series, while still building on what they had created with all the games from the past 30 years. It's very symbolic in a way, we're entering this new era for Zelda by living in the ruins of the past.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Breath of the Wild: Game Awards 2016 Trailer and Footage

Good Morning,

like two years ago Nintendo is using the Game Awards as a platform to showcase the new big Zelda game a little bit. Just this time they had to resort to some Treehouse guys, instead of having Miyamoto and Aonuma play the game themselves. Anyway, there is a new trailer and new gameplay video.


If you don't want to get "spoiled" any further and just dive into the game with the knowledge from E3 or even less, don't watch the trailer.

The gameplay video on the other hand is basically spoiler-free. They just run around in some forest / ruins area and fight against some new monsters like Lizalfos. The focus is on diverse fighting tactics, e.g. using stealth instead of charging in, using projectiles and the like. Well, I never really care for the fake attitude of the Treehouse people (it all feels so acted with these guys), but it does bring across a good point with the whole fighting. Going back to the NES games this year, it made me realize, how much tough enemies can make a difference in a Zelda game. It has been neglected a lot in later Zelda games and it's nice to know that it's not all just cannon fodder anymore. I'm especially interested to see some real tough enemies in dungeons, e.g. Darknuts.

There are some new weapons in here, namely Electric / Lightning Arrows (used by the enemies) and a Lightning Rod in Link's inventory. So, there's one more set of Elemental Arrows and Rods. I wonder, if these will always come in pairs, since there's probably also an Ice Rod.

Well, the trailer does show new things and at beforehand I expected two things that could be showcased. One was villages and the other was gameplay of actual dungeons (not shrines), because those are essentially the two big misunderstandings of E3. People thought that this game doesn't have any villages or many NPCs. And it should be no surprise that the trailer is basically plastered with village footage, though nothing of it strikes me as particularly interesting yet.

The biggest challenge will be making these villages not generic, which is a big issue with games like Skyrim. What good are lots villages and people, if they don't have a story to tell and if they are not relevant to the overall picture? It gives you something to explore, right, but it might also feel meaningless. We'll have to see, how well Nintendo will handle this.

You can also spot a dog following someone around. It might be just that this is just like in Twilight Princess, where you can play with dogs, or it might be that Wolf Link is just a special dog, while you can have others.

What got me excited the most was probably a glimpse at seasons or the possibility of it. They do show trees transitioning to fall colors. And with a Zelda game of this size I always imagined that seasons should become a thing again. It doesn't have to be an active gameplay element like in Oracle of Seasons, but in the very least it should keep the world more dynamic. Something like in the Fishing Pond of Twilight Princess is good enough, as long as it works worldwide.

There is also a new bird race, who are traveling through Hyrule, and the one in the trailer looks suspiciously similar to Link in his gear:

He even has the Skyward Sword air pants, as well as a bow and potentially other gear. He boards that flying ship that we've seen before in the E3 footage. It's interesting and he seems to be of importance to the story, at least the trailer makes it look so. The new bird race might be a new version of the Rito, but they also might remind you of the Fokka enemy from Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, which were present in the Great Palace.

At the end Link also bows down to someone, who might by Zelda or Hylia. Teaser. Well, right now I'm getting some Skyward Sword vibes from all this and that's not positive, because I'm not a fan of the story in that game. Update: You can also spot another woman, who looks a lot like a female Link. It might be that this is just Zelda in a different outfit, but she seems to be holding the Sheikah Slate.

I will talk about all the aspects of the new footage in individual posts later on, when I have more time!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Nintendo: Zelda 30th Anniversary 3DS Theme

Just a couple of days ago I made some reward suggestions for My Nintendo and suddenly Nintendo puts up stuff for Zelda fans, which is nice.

They made a special Nintendo 3DS HOME Menu theme for the 30th Anniversary of Zelda for 300 Platinum Points:

There are also three Zelda Orchestra videos available for 100 Platinum Points each. Together that's 600 Points well spent. Since these rewards aren't listed in Europe yet, I have yet to try them. I will update this post, as soon as they became available.

Update: One month later, at the end of the year, they still weren't available in Europe...

Hyrule Blog Historia II

This is the 1000th post on Hyrule Blog.

(Disclaimer: This number might not be accurate in the future due to retroactive changes to this blog, e.g. adding some translated reviews or deleting silly posts. But as of now, this is exactly the 1000th post.)

This year in June I was already celebrating the 8th Anniversary of Hyrule Blog, because I felt like doing so right before E3 and there was also a nice total of exactly 888 posts at the time. But both Breath of the Wild and all the Hyrule Warriors - Legends DLC gave us a lot to talk about, so we already accumulated 112 more posts in the meantime.

Seriously? That's a lot!
A lot! A lot!!!

With 1000 posts in total there really is a lot to read on this site, if you ever get bored. But with this post I want to give an overview of the different article series that happened over the course of these 1000 posts. Most of them will be game journals, where I shared my impressions while playing a new Zelda game or replaying old ones. But there were other interesting series as well.

Feature Article Series

  • The Future of Zelda
    This was the name of the first post on Hyrule Blog, which spawned a series of posts about what could be next for Zelda in the upcoming years. This was running until 2012, at times where you couldn't really do anything else but speculate, because nothing much was known about Nintendo's future plans for the Zelda. The years after always gave the Zelda fan community something to look forward to, so the "Future of Zelda" series was put to sleep. But I might return to it after Breath of the Wild...

  • Zelda Year Reviews
    At the end of each year I look at all that's happened for the Zelda franchise and sum it up with a nice graphic. These posts may vary in quality, but right now I'm preparing a good one for 2016.

  • Zelda and Multiplayer
    Long before Tri Force Heroes was a thing, in early 2010 to be exact, I've written a series about the various multiplayer outings of the Zelda games and the frustrations that came with them. It's essentially a cry for Tri Force Heroes, which in the end also didn't do everything right and probably deserves another "Zelda and Multiplayer" entry.

  • Zelda Manga Journey
    I do like Manga & Anime (mostly One Piece, but also some other stuff like Akame ga Kill!), so it was inevitable that I would review the entire Zelda Manga series by Akira Himekawa at some point. This was during the 25th Anniversary in 2011 and nothing much has happened since then, except for the new Twilight Princess manga, which was just released in Germany two weeks ago.

  • Excuse me, Episodes
    Believe it or not, I do enjoy watching the cheesy Animated Series for The Legend of Zelda. And this year, as a countdown to E3 2016, I was having a little fun with each individual episode.

  • Let's Update
    This is a newer series, where I think about, how the newest Zelda games could potentially benefit from getting updates and DLC. This includes improvements over some issues, as well as new features and content.

You might also find some additional highlight posts in my Zelda Articles section, but this has been very loosely labeled and it might be missing a few...

Game Journals

  • Mystic Quest
    This was quite the weird entry to this blog back in 2008, but Mystic Quest (a.k.a. Final Fantasy Adventure or Seiken Densetsu) was one of my favorite Action RPGs and thus one of my favorite games on the GameBoy next to Link's Awakening. I never did beat it back in the day, though, which is why in this series I'm returning to this gem to finally conquer it. That's the only game that hasn't to do with Zelda, which has gotten a journal series on this blog, but I've also occasionally talked about other games that I like in individual postings.

  • BS Zelda Tour
    The Zelda games for the BS-X Super Nintendo add-on are wildly unknown, which is why I made it my mission to bring more attention to them here on Hyrule Blog. I gave detailed insights into all the different episodes with my original "BS Zelda Tour" back in 2009, while also replaying the games with newer and improved versions over the past years, including the dubbed versions of 2016.

  • Spirit Tracks Rail Diary
    Spirit Tracks was the first Zelda game to be released during the run of this blog and it was also the first time, where I blogged about my progress and my impressions while playing the newest Zelda game on a daily basis. It's one of my least favorite Zelda games, but I still had some fun with it back in the day.

  • Replaying the Zelda Games
    In this long-running and probably never-ending series, which essentially started with the 25th Anniversary in 2011, I go through all the Zelda games again and again and share my impressions. Sometimes I try to achieve something new that I have never done before. Sometimes it's just been a while and feels good to return to the games.

  • Four Swords Rounds
    Four Swords was for the longest time the one Zelda game that I couldn't finish, until I managed to finally find someone to play it with me in 2011. Afterwards the Anniversary Edition was also released, which gave me additional access to the game thanks to the new singleplayer mode.

  • Ocarina of Time 3D Quest Log
    The first of many 3D Zelda Remasters was welcomed by me with a series of eight posts, where I go through both the normal game and Master Quest.

  • Skyward Sword Blade Journal
    After Four Swords and Ocarina of Time 3D it was finally time for the big new game, the game of the 25th Anniversary, filled with amazing moments, but also quite some disappointments. My 12 day journey, as well as two Hero Mode entries, can be read in this series.

  • The Wind Waker HD Logbook
    Two years after Skyward Sword we arrived on the Wii U system and are playing the next remaster with The Wind Waker HD. Besides the lack of any new content, it was quite enjoyable. Lots of fun with Miiverse posts and Tingle Bottles!

  • Majora's Mask 3D Daybook
    After skipping both A Link Between Worlds and Hyrule Warriors, because I got review copies for these games roughly one month ahead of release and couldn't talk about them while playing, I finally returned to my journals with yet another remaster. This one is mostly about the changes and sidequests, with a focus on the new fishing feature, where I even made a separate Majora's Mask 3D Fishing Journal.

  • Twilight Princess HD Diaries
    Sadly, after also skipping Tri Force Heroes, because I was too busy playing it with other people, my next journal was again about - you guessed it - a Zelda remaster. In a total of six days I take a look at all the smaller changes that the Wii U version has encountered this year in March. I even plan to return to this series, when I play the new Hero Mode.

  • Hyrule Warriors Impressions
    After Hyrule Warriors was released in 2014, this blog essentially changed from "Hyrule Blog - The Zelda Blog" into "Hyrule Blog - The Hyrule Warriors Blog". There are tons of posts about Hyrule Warriors on this site, where otherwise we wouldn't even be close to the 1000 yet. The above series highlights some of the finer posts, where for the most part I take a look at the various additions that came with Legends and all the DLC this year.

I especially regret not having journals for both A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes, because I really like these games and would love to read my initial thoughts about them. But it can't be helped. I can only try to keep doing this with upcoming games, where Breath of the Wild would be the next target.

Anyway, I hope that with this overview you may find something to browse in the history of 1000 Hyrule Blog Posts. Or feel free to use the archive on the right side to look around. You might discover something interesting.

Off to 1000 more posts!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Replaying A Link to the Past on the Wii U


After skipping over Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, which I just beat in August, my journey through the Wii U Virtual Console continued with A Link to the Past. I've already beaten the game on Nintendo 3DS earlier this year and directly compared it to A Link Between Worlds, so you should read that instead, because the playthrough was a little bit more interesting.

This time it felt more like a chore to be honest. I'm going through my backlog of Wii U games now and the redundancy towards the 3DS library really shows here, where the motivation for some of the stuff is quite low. At least with the NES and N64 Classics I have certain goals for my replay sessions, but A Link to the Past was just there, waiting to be completed yet another time.

I don't feel as strongly about A Link to the Past as the other classic Zelda games, most likely because I never owned a Super Nintendo as a kid and I wasn't able to play it before the GameBoy Advance times. I still see it as a great game, it has one of the best overworlds in the series, which Nintendo has reused twice over the years (in Ancient Stone Tablets and A Link Between Worlds), the visuals are nice, the music is great and it invented so many things for the Zelda series. Treasure chests, cutting grass, dashing into trees, lighting torches, Cucco Revenge Squads and so much more... A Link to the Past certainly defined the series.

But after a strong beginning, the second half of the game really is just dungeon crawling and most of the Dark World dungeons aren't as enjoyable. Of course they aren't supposed to be nice places, but they also didn't have to be as annoying, especially with letting you run in circles.

This time I played Misery Mire early (after Thieves' Town and the Swamp Palace), so that I wouldn't have to take to do the complicated backtracking in the Ice Palace. However, when I reached the end, where I could have just placed the block, I realized that I missed a key and since I always do 100% runs with the dungeons fully explored and cleared, I had to go through the entire Ice Palace again looking for said key. I also tend to always miss a key somewhere in Misery Mire, but it's not as terrible there.

Another troll moment is in Ganon's Tower, where you defeat the Armos after that long and complicated room with the invisible bridge. You now have the choice to go either up or left. The way up brings you to the Big Key, while the way left locks you out and then you have to do it all over again, both the puzzle and the Armos fight. Not nice, Nintendo!

At least I've learned something new this time. You can actually turn the "Rabbit Beams" (the rotating stars that follow you around and turn you into a rabbit) into a fairy by sprinkling Magic Powder on them, exactly like with a Anti Fairy. That was news to me and sadly I only learned this in Ganon's Tower. I'll try to use this to my advantage the next time, whenever I decide to play A Link to the Past again, probably on the Switch.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Postbox: Bipin & Blossom's Son

Hello Tourist and congratulations for all the good work, especially about the Oracles!

I would like to ask you something about Bipin and Blossom's son, whom I called Link. I play the games with a New 3DS XL and the bought and downloaded versions (PAL I think).

I have chosen to take the Ages-Seasons-Seasons-Ages route and right now I'm at the first Seasons' Linked playthrough (with Ages' Secret to Holodrum), with 6 of 8 Essences of Nature at the moment.

At the initial Ages' completion I think that I have reached Link's childhood by 150 Rupees and Sing decisions, if I recall correctly. The result was the Shy one.

The problem is that at the Seasons' continuation, things seem to have stuck at this point. Link's parents refuse to ask me any questions and just keep telling me the initial hello stuff. It is as if the game thinks I haven't got any Essences yet. If I speed-catch Link, he says "You're Chris? I'm Link! No way!", or something like that.

If game mechanics correlate this situation with time somehow, besides story progression, neither changing seasons with the Rod, nor planting Gasha Seeds and harvesting them seem to have an effect so far. Even though I must confess that only after Level 6 completion I started to plant Gasha Seeds, because some Level 4 & 5 randomness rings are left for the collection, so it wasn't very urgent. I have harvested about 20 Seeds so far.

Could all this be a glitch?

Could I miss something that as long as I don't do it, the growth from childhood to adulthood effects aren't triggered?

Is there really an option for a forever Shy child? I certainly hope not, just for completion's sake.

The funny thing is that there are some opinions and discussions around the Web that comment about too much pampering! Well, I admit that according to this way of thinking, yes, I have pampered the child a little bit, but I didn't mean to freeze things forever!

Any clues or ideas?

Thank you very much and keep the devoted work!

Chris from Greece

Hey Chris,

thanks for the message!

The child's growth is indeed triggered by planting Gasha Seeds. However, 20 should be plenty, so it's weird that you haven't made any progress yet and neither the child nor the mother give you any choices.

As far as I know, there is no glitch or bug or bad choice that might prevent you from evolving the child. Even a baby can be fully grown in a Linked Game. So, that's the good news, we just have to find out what's blocking your progress. Try keep planting Gasha Seeds and visiting the family regularly in between. Also, try some of the lower class Gasha Spots as well, it might be that you also have to use some of them.

Let me know in the comments, whether this worked or not. If not, I'll do some more research. If anyone has any ideas, also please post them in the comments.

PS: Good choice with the Ages → Seasons → Seasons → Ages route!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Nintendo Reward Suggestions

Well, My Nintendo still hasn't seen any improvements... In order to not lose any of my "hard earned" Platinum Points, I had to buy the Mario, Donkey Kong and Isabelle Nintendo 3DS Themes, which I'm never going to use. But it's better than nothing or any of the useless discounts. And I'm still at around 3000 points, where I will face a loss of points every month from now on.

And this doesn't have to be. They could make the whole service so much more interesting and exciting by putting some actual content on it, mainly DLC. Here are some suggestions:

  • Another My Nintendo Picross game. The Wind Waker Picross, Skyward Sword Picross, something... I suppose that it might be already in the works, but naturally it will take some time.

  • Four Swords Anniversary Edition. Many people haven't gotten this back in 2011/2012 and it was supposed to be a free game. No harm is done by re-releasing it via My Nintendo, except for maybe the fact that the singleplayer mode works much better than the one in Tri Force Heroes.

  • Hyrule Warriors Legends Gifts. Link's Classic Tunic and four sets of My Fairy outfits were only available as gifts for preorders or other promotional events. If they don't decide to add them via future updates, they could offer codes via My Nintendo.

  • Super Smash Bros. for Wii / Nintendo 3DS DLC. It's needlessly overpriced. And we're probably getting it all anyway with Super Smash Bros. for Switch, which is why you shouldn't buy any of the DLC as of now. But having some of the content available as goodies on My Nintendo would be nice. However, they probably would make it cost Gold Points...

  • Swapdoodle add-on packs. Swapdoodle is the successor of Swapnote with the key difference that you have to pay for new features like additional colors this time, which is quite the bold move by Nintendo. I wouldn't invest any money in it, but I certainly would put some Platinum Points into the add-on packs, before the app will be taken down again because of dick pics.

  • Nintendo Badge Arcade Free Plays. This is a similar situation. I rarely ever put actual money into this thing, only of it was a 0.50€ sale game and if there were some Zelda badges that I really wanted to get. And even that made me feel bad. But buying tickets with Platinum Points every now and then would be sweet. They are already offering something similar for Miitomo, so why not this as well?

Anything would be better than what Nintendo currently offers. It feels like Nintendo doesn't know what to do with the service. They wanted to shift from the Club Nintendo to digital goods, but they are not willing to hand out anything worthwhile. And the different currencies are also problematic, because most of the better rewards will be locked behind Gold Points.

For example the The Legend of Zelda x Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack costs 60 Gold Points. Now, all the people, who don't like to invest into the eShop (for good reasons), will be excluded from rewards like this, while their retail games don't yield any bonus (unlike before with Club Nintendo). Ideally the retail games would contain Gold Point cards. You can even redeem point codes, but Nintendo doesn't seem to use this feature...

My Nintendo could be good, but right now it's just a giant turd, but Nintendo isn't really trying.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hyrule Warriors: Collaboration Character?

With a potential 30th character slot open in both Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors - Legends, I had another thought. What if Koei Tecmo planned to include a character from another Nintendo game as further collaboration and as a way to test reactions about future "Nintendo Warriors" installments? After all they expressed interest in Mario Warriors and Pokémon Warriors in the past...

I'm personally not the biggest fan of the idea, because I want Koei Tecmo to focus on Hyrule Warriors for now. There's still so much potential left and with a sequel we could easily go up to twice as many characters. There are many good characters left, who would have deserved the 30th slot, such as Hilda, Linebeck or Groose, so adding some character from another game would leave a sour taste, especially if it's some completely lame entry like Mario or Marth.

I don't even see the appeal in a Mario Warriors or Pokémon Warriors. Koei Tecmo already did make the Pokémon Conquest games, while Pokémon Tekken should give the Pokémon fans the fighting action that they want. And Mario has enough spin-offs as it is. The only Nintendo franchise that I could see getting a Warriors spin-off in the distant future, is Fire Emblem. But that's certainly not as popular as Zelda and having a Fire Emblem character in Hyrule Warriors right now probably wouldn't mean much to the fans.

However, there's one character that I could imagine to be part of the game and where I certainly wouldn't mind the cameo: Samus.

She would fit the roster of beautiful and strong females very well. They could even implement her Power Suit as a Focus Spirit mechanic, which could be pretty cool. And it would be a nice way for Koei Tecmo to honor the 30th Anniversaries of both Zelda and Metroid together.

In 2012 one of Koei Tecmo's earlier collaborations with Nintendo were costumes in Dynasty Warriors Vs. on the 3DS, see here. Next to a Link costume, they also had one of Zero Suit Samus:

So, both of this can be viewed as their preferences at the time, where Hyrule Warriors became a reality two years later. A Metroid Warriors wouldn't carry much potential on its own, but in the very least they could have Samus guest star in Hyrule Warriors. This could even tie in to amiibo, so that it's only available for people with a Samus or Zero Suit Samus amiibo... Nintendo would certainly love the idea.

Now, such a cameo character would at least explain, why it's not as neatly integrated as the other DLC characters were in Legends. You wouldn't want to suddenly run into Samus on Hyrule Field or collect her Heart Containers from Lorule, because she's out of place in this universe. It makes sense to keep such a character completely separate from the rest of the game, while it still could be fun to play as her. So, it could add up.

Again, it's more likely that the 30th character slot won't ever be filled, but that won't stop us from speculating. And if it has to be a character from another franchise, then Samus probably would be the most exciting addition.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Breath of the Wild in June 2017?

The rumors about a delay of Breath of the Wild, where the game won't be available at the launch of the Switch, seem to thicken now, with a potential release right after E3 2017. The game was accidentally listed by Target for a June 14th release (see here), while Laura Kate Dale shared about rumors on Twitter with a release date for Friday, June 16th.

Overall I'm fine with this date, it should give me enough time to go through all 3D Zelda games on my Wii U again next year, before Breath of the Wild comes out. It's also a nice time to take two weeks of vacation. :-D

What really annoys me in those rumors is the fact that Nintendo won't be releasing the Wii U version at the same date, but one week later. I completely believe this, because this would be typical for Nintendo. Ten years ago, when Twilight Princess came out, it was the same thing. Even worse, the North American Wii version came out one entire month before the European GameCube version, and in that time I got spoiled with the final boss of the game, before I even had the chance to play it. Things go down on the internet a lot faster these days, so if you're resorting to the Wii U version, then you have to stay offline for more than a week and that right around and after E3! What terrible timing. As usual some people will find the game in stores early and then you might even be confronted with spoilers, while you're just watching E3 news. And that would suck.

Also, it would be essentially another gigantic middle finger for all Wii U adopters. "What? You bought the Wii U in 2013, because we promised you a nice new Zelda game back then? Well, we got news for you! You shouldn't have! The Switch version will be released first and the system will also have all the best Wii U games with new content and enhanced features! But it's your own fault, really, for buying the Wii U, hahahahaahaaaaa!!!!"

So, I'm completely fine with a June release, but in the very least I hope that this part of the rumors will turn out wrong and that Nintendo has the decency to release both versions on the same date. In case they're not releasing a Special Edition limited hardware Switch bundle alongside the game, which I don't want to miss as a Zelda fan, I will stick with the Wii U version. I won't buy the Switch until the inevitable Zelda edition is available, that's for sure.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: 8th SpotPass Gift

Just as a reminder, we're getting another SpotPass gift for Hyrule Warriors - Legends today. This was already announced a month ago (see here), but nevertheless it should be mentioned again. Here are the goods:

  • 1.000.000 Rupees
  • 5x Golden/Delicious Light Fruit
  • 5x Golden/Delicious Mushroom Spores
  • 5x Golden/Delicious Elixir Soup
  • 5x Golden/Delicious Hyoi Pear

It doesn't accompany any update, but in case we're really getting a version 1.7.0, I would expect it to be released around Christmas. Such an update would add at least one of the two missing fairy designs (Fire and Lightning), as well as the various special / preorder offerings, which includes the Classic Tunic for Link and some fairy clothing. Some people already have this stuff (I got the Classic Tunic and the Classic and Twilight Sets of clothing at launch), but together with the additional fairies there should be something new for everybody as a nice little Christmas gift.

We'll see. It's not certain, but the fact that we're still getting SpotPass promotions might lead the way to one final update that completes the game.

Update: It appears that North America didn't get the 1 Million Rupees this time. Might be an oversight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Time's End II & Terrible Fate

Theophany is back with a follow-up to his Time's End album from four years ago! To top things this time, he cooperated with EmberLab creating a massively amazing Majora's Mask fan animation about the Happy Mask Salesman and Skull Kid receiving Majora's Mask. Really good stuff, so check it all out:
Theophany on Bandcamp
Terrible Fate on Youtube

It seems like Theophany focused on the Woodfall / Swamp region with this album, while the first album was about Clocktown, so we might get more releases for the remaining regions in the future...? I certainly wouldn't mind at all!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ciao Ciao, Cia

This is a continuation of this post.

After completing the Lorule Map and with it the entirety of Adventure Mode, there isn't much left to be done for me in Hyrule Warriors - Legends except for grinding. I'm not in a rush with this, mostly just playing one hour per day, but ideally before Hyrule Warriors 2 comes out I want to be done with the game and have every character in their best possible form, which means Level 255, at least one perfect weapon build and all badges. The latter is already finished, so what's left is mostly leveling everyone up, unsealing weapon skills and collecting best possible weapons for the new additions.

And naturally I already achieved these goals with my favorite character, Cia... There she is, full 255 Levels and 60 Heart Containers:

The attack level becomes pretty ridiculous, it's nearly 700 more than a weapon with Legendary on it:

In the end I mostly played her on the first Adventure Map and the first half of the Great Sea Map, where I was clearing them from Item Cards and where you only get very little EXP, to prolong the process as much as possible, while unlocking a Legendary weapon seal on the way. So, I took my sweet time with her.

That Legendary weapon seal was also the last missing piece for her "perfect" weapon:

I know that Legendary doesn't make any real difference in the end due to the damage cap and high attack power you get from the levels. So, it can be a waste to put this on your weapons, but I do it anyway, mostly for the aesthetics and because it doesn't really feel complete without it. You want to break at least one of these seals with every character to show your determination.

And I personally don't know what else I would put on the weapons anyway. I'm not a fan of the Duel or Special category skills, because they are highly situational. "No Healing" is only good in Adventure Mode, but it can be a hindrance whenever you're not bound to A ranks or whenever you want to use the "Heart Strong" skill. "Defenseless" is also bad, if you like the occasional blocking, e.g. against Manhandla. (I wish that "Heart Strong" was actually a skill under the Special category, which makes more sense, because nearly all the Special skills have a downside, while the rest of the Augment skill don't. And the opposite of Heart Strong, Adversity, also falls under the Special category.) "VS Dragon" is pretty nice, but then again it's only useful for missions with the corresponding enemies in it.

And with Bombos active you don't really need the additional damage boost, in fact the new Heart Power skill should be more than enough. The only other must-have is "Hasty Attacks", though not every weapon is actually better with it (depends on how much you rely on certain combos and such). But it's certainly a skill that I enjoy with Cia, especially deploying the C6 quickly for the giant bosses can be crucial.

On a site note, I don't really like the looks of her "Crackling Scepter", because it doesn't go as well with most costumes as the beautiful Scepter of Souls. The latter makes a great combo with her new Koholint costume for example:

The "golden" Crackling Scepter only looks okay with her Master Wind Waker costume, which is also quite nice, but I do prefer the above combo.

Anyway, I won't have to worry about that for a while, because now Cia has to rest and it's the other characters' turns. After I'm done with the majority of characters, I want to play Legend Mode / Free Mode in the "Hero" difficulty, which is where I probably will use Cia for most of the time again. But until then it's good-bye.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Replaying The Legend of Zelda on the Wii U

Someone get a vacuum cleaner.

The NES Mini was released one week ago and I was able to try out the device at a retro gaming party, which was fun. But it also made me want to play the NES Zelda Classics yet again, which is why I decided to go at The Legend of Zelda on my Wii U Virtual Console.

I've already replayed The Legend of Zelda on my 3DS earlier this year around the 30th Anniversary, which I personally liked more, because the game looks much sharper on the 3DS screen and the D-Pad of the Wii U GamePad is too stiff. But I want to play all my Virtual Console games on the Wii U next to reduce my backlog. Anyway, since my last playthrough wasn't many years ago, this wasn't a playthrough to refresh my memories of the game. It was more an attempt to harden my memories, because this time I had decided to play completely without the help of any solution maps and without planning ahead. I was still using Save Points for a deathless run, but otherwise I wanted it to be the pure exploration experience of the original, where you have to deal with all the hidden secrets and maze-like dungeons fully on your own.

I first played this game back in the late 90s, where I only had some maps of the Level 1 and 5 dungeons from the infamous Club Nintendo magazine and no internet to help me out, so the rest I had to figure out on my own. Burn all the trees! Bomb all the walls! Find your way through the dungeons! I wanted to replicate this experience, but of course after beating this game several times (including one half a year ago), I was bound to remember some stuff. It's not like I had magically forgotten everything about the game.

For example, I had a rough idea, where the three truly hidden Heart Containers on the overworld are. The two Heart Containers that need the Raft and the Ladder are easy to find, but the others are well hidden and you can get them right at the start of the game (at least in the 1st Quest), which is invaluable.

Some of this stuff is hard to remember, because there are so many different versions of the same world. You have the 2nd Quest, but also the BS The Legend of Zelda game, where most things are in different locations as well, e.g. the Level 2 dungeon is located at a place, where you'd normally find a Heart Container in the 1st Quest of the NES game... So, things can be a little confusing.

There's some additional trial and error with finding all the cave / dungeon entrances on the overworld, if you don't know the exact wall to bomb or the exact tree to burn. Sometimes you have just long rock walls or tree lines over the entire screen and you have to find the one square that holds a secret. You can only use your HUD as an orientation, really, and during that I noticed that the caves at the southeast beach are right below the "x" of the Bomb counter. So, X does mark the spots here, which is a nice little trick, if you want to impress others watching you play.

Since I had a rough idea, where everything is located, it wasn't all that ridiculous. Only in the 2nd Quest there were to things that gave me trouble, where I couldn't help it and looked them up eventually. One was a Heart Container, which is found at the graveyard. In itself it's not too hard to find, because you just have to push the right grave, but trying to move every single tombstone is a deadly endeavor, because they all keep spawning Ghinis, which keeps hurting you. Unless you really like dying, it's best to ingrain the spot, where the Heart Container is found, into your soul. The other lost item was the Magic Book, which is randomly found in a room with "weaker" enemies in Level 4, if you push the right block. If you have an idea, where moving blocks could open a stairway, you automatically start testing and it's often blocks in similar positions. But in that case it didn't even occur to me that the room could hold a secret like that, especially since it's quite early in the dungeon.

Even if you remember the exact locations of all the items, memorizing the dungeons is a different topic. It's not like in later Zelda games, where every room is unique and recognizable. It all very much looks the same and fighting through the hordes of annoying Darknuts, Wizzrobes, Like Likes and Bubbles doesn't really encourage exploration. At least you don't have to test every part of the walls, because if there's a hidden pathway, it's always right in the center. But the aforementioned blocks are a different topic and there will be still many walls to test, where studying the maps is more important than ever here. Bombs became the rarest and most valuable good in the game, because you also might need them for fighting (especially with the many Triple Dodongos in the 2nd Quest) and you're limited to a maximum of 16 of them. This completely changed with A Link to the Past, where you can carry many more and where bombable walls are usually cracked. And even if they aren't, you can use your sword to test them, instead of wildly placing bombs everywhere.

If you use solution maps, you know where all the destructible (and go-through) walls are and you can also plan the most efficient routes through the dungeons, instead of aimlessly wandering through the mazes. This makes the game quite easier and does take away an essential part of the challenge, which is why I didn't want to resort to maps this time. And with the 1st Quest things aren't too bad at first, it's really the Level 9 dungeon that gave me the most trouble. You have to learn this maze part by part and there's no quick way out of it in case you need to recover (and you will need to recover thanks to the constant Wizzrobe spam). But it's arguably the toughest dungeon in the game, not even the Level 9 of the 2nd Quest comes close to it - in fact it's much nicer, because it focuses on a long series of T-junction rooms with a block in the center, where you don't have any enemies. And you can quickly find your way out of the whole thing, in case you want to stock up on potions and/or bombs.

And all that stocking up made me realize how grind heavy The Legend of Zelda actually can be. You need lots of Rupees for the good items early on and always more for Potions later in the game. You also need to refill your Bombs, which aren't dropped by every enemy. I basically follow a circle route along the woods in the east, the shore and the fairy fountain near Level 1. The Blue Tektites and the Leevers at the beach give lots of Rupees, while Moblins and Blue Octoroks potentially leave Bombs behind.

I kept going through that grinding cycle a lot and these guys are mainly at fault:

Blue Wizzrobes and Blue Darknuts. They eat your health away swiftly and even with the Magical Sword they still need multiple hits to be defeated (three for the Blue Wizzrobes and two for the Darknuts). Their movements are erratic and even with the Blue Ring every touch costs you a heart. It's lucky that they never appear alongside each other, the dungeons either feature Darknuts or Wizzrobes, but never both.

Other than the enemies, what annoyed me the most during my latest playthrough were dark rooms. They don't add anything to the gameplay, unless you really have no Candle and have to find your way through the dark. But otherwise it's just the same procedure of going into the menu to equip the candle and use it. All this does is disrupting your game flow and later on I sighed at every dark room that I encountered, because you never really have the Candle equipped already. It's less of an issue, if you have the Magic Rod and Book and like using it, but as I said earlier, I was unable to find the Book at first.

Still, it was overall a fun experience. I'm always amazed, how well this game holds up for something from the NES era. And if you've never played it before, I can only advise to pick it up on the Virtual Console or via the NES Mini console and to avoid all maps or other guides that you can find on the internet. Try to discover all the secrets of this game on your own for the true experience!