Sunday, July 31, 2016

Twilight Princess Picross (Review)

My Nintendo Picross The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess Review

The only real worthwhile reward for your Platinum Points on My Nintendo at the moment seems to be My Nintendo Picross - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, made by Jupiter. You can get this for 1000 Platinum Points and it's only available til October 1st.

There's still enough time to receive this reward, since you can score up to 120 Platinum Points per week (see here) even without using Miitomo. We don't know, if this game will disappear into the same limbo, where the Four Swords Anniversary Edition went, so it's best to get this in any case, before it's gone. If you're still undecided, this review might help you out, but it will also give some general impressions about what may or may not be the start of a new series.

This review was written by a Zelda fan, who has never before played Picross, and is aimed at a similar demographic.

Zelda Themed Picross

If you've never heard about Picross before, it's a puzzle game, where you fill out little pixel graphics based on numbers. These are called "nonograms" and the best way to describe it would be "Pixel Sudoku". For each column and row you get a set of numbers telling you about the adjacent squares in the specific line. "3 5" means that there are three squares next to each other, followed by another piece of five squares. It doesn't tell you about the empty spaces around the pieces and that's what you have to find out in order to complete the picture.

The nice thing about these puzzles is that you never have to guess. If you have to, you probably made a mistake somewhere. But the puzzles are all designed in a way that there are always clear assumptions to be made of what can be filled in or crossed out, even if it's just a single square. For example if you have an "8" in a line of 15 squares, you know for sure that the square in the middle is always filled. That's where you start and this way you methodically carve out the whole picture, which rewards you with a colored pixel art at the end:

Skull Kid Pixel Art

What makes this game "Zelda" is the sole fact that all the art pieces and the background music are based on Twilight Princess. You get various items, characters and even places from the game as charming little pixel artworks and you get some nice remixed music pieces. Unlike Hyrule Warriors, where they also tried to incorporate Zelda gameplay elements into the Warriors formula, this stays as a pure Picross experience with a Zelda theme.

The only exception might be Midna, who's basically your guide through the game, also giving the quite lengthy tutorials in the beginning, where she explains EVERYTHING again and again, which makes you want to hate Midna, if you didn't already. This can be quite annoying, if you already understood the mechanics and just want to get started. It also has some rather questionable dialogues...

Midna saying that we've got such a nice hole in the middle there and that it would be a shame to accidentally fill it up

Controls and Hint Systems

You have two control schemes: one using the Stylus and one using the D-Pad and buttons. The Stylus controls are much faster and preferable, but you have to swap between the pen to fill out squares and the cross to mark empty squares using either the D-Pad or the Slide Pad. The L button probably would have been more comfortable for this, but otherwise the controls are fine.

At least the various options around the hint mechanics leave nothing to be desired and show Jupiter's experience with these type of games. You can activate an auto check for the hint numbers, where it automatically checks off any numbers that are already present in the line, so you don't have to keep track of all of it by yourself, which certainly makes playing a lot more relaxing.

In addition there's the "Navigation", which is similar, but somewhat more advanced. This can be toggled on and off at any time with the ?-symbol on your touchscreen or the shoulder buttons and it marks every line, where you can fill in or cross out something, in a blue color:

one of the picross puzzle screens with an 8x8 grid

This also speeds up the gameplay quite significantly, because again you don't have to go through every line in your head individually. Instead you can focus on the lines that matter. This may make things too easy and maybe you only want to use this feature, whenever you're stuck, which is why it's very nice that it's toggleable.

The blue help lines can also be confusing at times, because it's hard to grasp at what the game really wants from you. Sometimes it's just a single cross missing somewhere and sometimes it's a lot easier to ignore certain blue lines and focus on others instead.

A more drastic hint feature is the "Answer Autocheck", where it automatically tells you whenever you fill out a square that isn't there. It replaces it with a cross and gives you a time penalty, which will mess heavily with your highscores. Without it you may get into a situation, where you've made a mistake and then have to correct wider parts of the whole picture in order to find the solution. But without it you can also just try out variations and then remove the variable parts without any penalties, which is probably why it's a good thing that you can turn this off globally.

The "Hint Roulette" can also be turned off completely or otherwise it will ask you, if you want to play the roulette in the beginning, where it solves one randomly selected row and column for you, giving you a head start, which feels a little bit like cheating...

Puzzles and Game Modes

Ignoring the tutorials, there is a total of 91 puzzles in the game spanning three different game modes and sizes. There's your standard "Picross" mode and the more complex "Mega Picross" mode with 45 puzzles each and one big "Micross" puzzle.

the main screen with the different modes

The Picross puzzles give you the pure experience with 45 puzzles in the following sizes:

  • 10x10 puzzles (15)
  • 15x15 puzzles (25)
  • 20x15 puzzles (05)

It's best to start here and follow the mode to the end. The 10x10 puzzles in the beginning are easy enough and can be solved pretty quickly even by inexperienced players. The 15x15 puzzles then increase the complexity and may take around 15 minutes to solve. However, after a while you learned most possible patterns and the game starts to feel more and more like a chore, instead of a puzzle. This is where things can get a little boring and stale, where you might only want to do one or two puzzles per day, which is even why this review took three months.

But this is also, where the Mega Picross mode comes in. It's essentially a "2nd Quest" for the whole game, since it features all 45 puzzles from the normal Picross mode with a twist. You now get large numbers that span two lines, where you literally have to think around the corner. There are usually only one or two of these combined lines, but they add a new dimension to the puzzles, which makes them more interesting and challenging. It even plays a remix of the eerie Twilight Palace music in the background to make it all feel more serious.

The Micross mode then gets even more epic with the Ganondorf battle theme in the background and a large 80x80 puzzle. To make this work you get a global 8x8 puzzle, which you fill out in the beginning. Then each filled square turns into an individual 10x10 puzzle. Those are all quite easy and quick to solve, especially if you're already used to the larger puzzles or even the Mega Picross mode, but it's the sheer size of the whole picture, where slowly everything is coming together, which makes this mode really fun and addicting.

Sadly, there is only one of these Micross puzzles and compared to other Picross installments the Twilight Princess outing seems to be thin in content. At least another Micross puzzle featuring Twili Midna, whose beautiful face is nowhere to be found in this game, would have been lovely. Still, it takes around 20 hours to solve all puzzles and if you really enjoy them, you can also replay them for better times.

A Hylian Shield Picross


Since this is essentially available for free and there's nothing much else available on My Nintendo, you should get this, whether you're a Zelda fan, a Picross fan or both. It's a solid puzzle game with a Zelda skin that leaves little to be desired. And right now it looks more like a smaller Picross game in a potential series, where other (3D) Zelda games will be getting their own Picross installments in the future, e.g. a My Nintendo Picross - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword release in October, which probably would be something to look forward to, if the Twilight Princess Picross is any indication.

+ Nice puzzle gameplay with a Zelda theme
+ Charming pixel arts
+ Extensive hint options
+ Free for all
- Annoying tutorial
- Can get boring after a while
- Stylus controls could be more comfortable
- Only one Micross and no Twili Midna

Monday, July 25, 2016

Let's Update Majora's Mask 3D

If Majora's Mask 3D ever received a 2.0 update, what would it offer? What would it contain? In the "Let's Update" series on Hyrule Blog we talk about hypothetical updates to existing Zelda games that would provide meaningful improvements and possible content additions.

Majora's Mask 3D already did receive an update to the version 1.1, however, it only fixed some smaller bugs and errors. Let's do a little more with the game.

Visuals, Controls and Interface

The 3D effect should go deeper and the camera should be adjusted more to the back to avoid any 3D clipping errors. Overall it should feel more like Ocarina of Time 3D. And like in the prequel, you should be able to assign items to the I and II touchscreen buttons by selecting the item and tapping the button.

The Select button should open the item inventory, instead of the Bomber's Notebook. Notifications for the latter also should be deactivatable in the options menu. Everything still gets recorded, but the notebook won't show up every time you do or find something.

Many fans also probably would want the Zora Swimming to work like in the original game, without the barrier. This could be realized by making it so that tapping A twice and holding the button makes you swim faster. Naturally the Magic Pots in the Beaver Race wouldn't be needed anymore.

Warp and Save Points

Majora's Mask 3D did add Quill Statues for saving the game in several places, where some of them should be turned into actual Owl Statues for warping. These new warp locations should be:

  • Deku Palace
  • Goron Village
  • Pirate Fortress
  • Ikana Graveyard

Additionally the update should add new Quill Statues in front of both the Fishing Holes, so it's easier to save your progress during the fishing minigames.

New Skulltula House

There needs to be some new content and the easiest way to add something would be another Skulltula House, hiding 30 new Gold Skulltulas (or even 40 to make it a full 100 gold spiders in Termina). The Skulltula Houses both offer a lot of fun and a unique atmosphere, so adding one certainly would be appealing.

The best location would be in the Mountain Village, which never really has been an actual village with just one house:

The minidungeon itself would focus the usage of Goron Link and Hot Spring Water, so lots of ice and boulders. You should be able to enter and beat it right after acquiring the Goron Mask. Having the Fire Arrows makes the "Mountain Skulltula House" easier, but it shouldn't be required.

The reward would be another wallet upgrade, where in the end you can get the Colossal Wallet holding 999 Rupees. It's not the most original new reward, especially since the Ocean Skulltula House gives you the same thing, but there isn't any space for new masks or items. And that way it would be on par with our Ocarina of Time 3D Update.

Master Quest Mode

Another addition would be a Master Quest mode for veteran players. It's a 2nd Quest with the following changes:

  • Double damage
  • Hearts only appear when using the Couple's Mask
  • (Mirrored game world)
  • Stray Fairies hidden in different places
  • More and tougher enemies inside dungeons
  • Original boss fights
  • Original Zora Dungeon on the Moon

The Zora Moon Dungeon and the original Twinmold fight would make the game easier in these parts, but overall it should be a mode that attracts the fans of the original Nintendo 64 game in different ways.

It probably would be tough or too much work for GREZZO / Nintendo to alter the four temples in similar ways to the dungeons from the original Master Quest for Ocarina of Time, but in the very least they could make the selection of enemies more challenging, e.g. fighting multiple Dinolfos in Woodfall Temple or even Iron Knuckles inside the Stone Tower Temple. The Stray Fairies also should be hidden in more difficult places, where in case of the Woodfall Temple they could use some of the hiding spots that had been changed from the N64 version.

Whether the game world should be mirrored like in Ocarina of Time 3D Master Quest or the Hero Mode of Twilight Princess HD is questionable. But it probably would be interesting to see Termina in a flipped state and also not too confusing, since Clocktown and the dungeons have been built around symmetry. It's actually quite easy to imagine a mirrored Termina. The clocks would go in the wrong direction, though.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Metroid Prime Blast Ball: All Paint Job Feats

In Metroid Prime: Blast Ball you can collect 15 Paint Jobs for your mech that get unlocked by getting certain achievements. Here's a list of what you will have to do to unlock them all:

  • First Blast Ball Win
  • 10 Blast Ball Wins
  • 100 Blast Ball Wins
  • Won 7 Blast Ball Games in a Row
  • Scored within 5 Seconds
  • Scored 3 Goals in a Game
  • Performed 3 Assists in a Game
  • Performed 5 Blocks in a Game
  • Scored 50 Goals
  • Performed 50 Assists
  • Performed 100 Blocks
  • Pushed Ball over 10km
  • Ran over 10km
  • Beat a Challenge
  • Beat 10 Challenges

The unlockable Paint Jobs are:

Camouflage, Clover, Clubs, Diamonds, Fire, Flower, Hearts, Lightning, Polka Dot, Shark, Spades, Star, Kraid, Mother Brain, Ridley

These are not tied to specific feats. For each player it's completely random, which feat does unlock what Paint Job. For example in the above image you can see that the Shark Paint Job got unlocked by the task "Won 7 Blast Ball Games in a Row". However, this might be different for you and the Shark Paint Job can't be associated with that achievement. This means that you can't "show off" with a certain Paint Job, so just go ahead and chose whatever Paint Job you like best visually.

Additional Paint Jobs can be unlocked with amiibo:

  • Samus
  • Zero Suit Samus
  • Mario
  • Luigi
  • Peach
  • Rosalina
  • Bowser
  • Bowser Jr.
  • Skull - Any other amiibo

Apparently Super Mario seems to be really popular in the Metroid universe...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Majora's Mask 3D Fishing Journal 2, Final Day

With all the freebies on Thursday it felt like Nintendo honestly didn't want me to find time to return to my fishing sessions and catch that final piece for my collection, but I did it anyway and thus finally completed Majora's Mask 3D again.

The strategy to catch the Great Fairy Fish was pretty much the same as last time. Go do a lot fishing at the Ocean Fishing Hole during the first two days and then save your game at the Dawn of the Final Day, so you can reset, if you didn't have any luck. Now, keep using the door at the Ocean Fishing Hole with the Great Fairy's Mask on, until the hair glimmers. Then check for the Great Fairy Fish (you really have to go close to the crystal cave as Zora Link) and repeat, if it's not there.

Any small Fairy Fish then will do, it doesn't matter much, where they are. You don't have to push your luck and try to find a combination, where the small one spawns right in front of the big one. You can just lure him there and use your Fishing Rod to move him in the right spot.

Finally, reeling the Great Fairy Fish in takes a long time with the incredibly weak Young Link, for me it took 5 ingame hours with the Inverted Song of Time in tact. So, you probably don't want to try this after the final midnight, or else the moon might crash on your during the process. Play it safe.

Luckily with such a big fish the pillars in the water don't seem to be a problem. With smaller fish like the Ambrosial Amberjack the borders can really get in the way and make it hard to reel them in at the end. Landing fish on the shore is much easier. But this doesn't seem to be a problem with the really large fish, which just pop on the ground easily.

Here are my records of my second fishing playthrough (the values in parenthesis are from the German translation):

  • Termina Bass: 13cm (60cm)
  • Termina Loach: 22cm (79cm)
  • Groovy Carp: 5cm (38cm)
  • Sweet Ranchfish: 5cm (39cm)
  • Fragrant Reekfish: 10cm (52cm)
  • Mooranha: 5cm (38cm)
  • Postal Salmon: 34cm (97cm)
  • Cuccofish: 6cm (40cm)
  • Ancient Fish: 107cm (172cm)
  • Ferocious Pirarucu: 174cm (220cm)
  • Colossal Catfish: 117cm (180cm)
  • Lord Chapu-Chapu: 357cm (315cm)

  • Termina Seabass: 32cm (95cm)
  • Goodta Goby: 6cm (42cm)
  • Ambrosial Amberjack: 39cm (104cm)
  • Bashful Angler: 47cm (114cm)
  • Dancing Sea Bream: 21cm (76cm)
  • Fairy Fish: 11cm (56cm)
  • Ninja Flounder: 20cm (75cm)
  • Skullfish: 34cm (97cm)
  • Nuptuna: 97cm (164cm)
  • Grand Swordfish: 184cm (226cm)
  • Savage Shark: 223cm (249cm)
  • Great Fairy Fish: 342cm (308cm)

It took me a total of three cycles (about 6 real hours) to replay the fishing minigame and it overall was quite enjoyable. I probably wouldn't do it again anytime soon and rather try to improve the size records for each fish, but if you're only aiming at catching one fish per type to get the entries, it can be done pretty quickly.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Metroid Prime Blast Ball Released

Out of nowhere Nintendo released Metroid Prime Blast Ball to the public yesterday and I'm having a blast with this game (pun intended)! I discovered it last night and it was so fun and addicting that I stayed up until 7AM, which is quite unusual for me.

And this is great advertisement for Federation Force. Despite being a Metroid fan I wasn't really excited about it (understandably) and didn't even have this on my radar at the moment, but Blast Ball plays so well that I might give it a chance now. The fact that I'm almost exclusively playing on my New 3DS right now, also helps, but it's a good move from Nintendo's end.

At least Nintendo of Europe's end. The way I understood it for North America is that there the game is only a demo and if you want to keep playing, you have to buy Federation Force. In Europe it seems to be a standalone game, where they completely separated both titles. And I prefer this, because Blast Ball makes perfect sense as a small download title that you can play in between, without swapping any cartridges. In this form I will play it certainly a lot more, because it's quick and easy to access. And since I like Blast Ball so much, I still might give Federation Force a go now.

The gameplay itself is very simple, but hard to master. I guess, most people will compare it to Rocket League, but as an old Unreal Tournament fan it feels more similar to the Death Ball mod for Unreal Tournament 200x, only more grounded. And these matches can get very intense and exciting, where scoring a goal feels really satisfying. I especially like, how the goals get smaller after every score, because this makes it easier to catch up for the losing team, which result in more suspense for the overall match.

It could use some more fine tuning, though. The blaster runs out too quickly for my taste. I understand, why there's a limit, but I once too often couldn't score a goal, just because my blaster was on cooldown. And it's not like the small blasts are that great, it's just limiting and a way to have you charge as long as possible. And the ejection power-up is way too overpowered, the game probably would be better without it. A Missile Pack power-up would have been nice instead, where you get three fast and strong shots without charging.

There is some other stuff that needs to be improved as well...

  • The 3D is horrible. I already think that the 3D in Majora's Mask 3D looks too flat, but Blast Ball has like two layers. Even some paper fold book gives you more depth. It's like with the Wii U GamePad. The closer we get to the NX, the more Nintendo seems to abandon the 3D effect, instead of endorsing it. I still keep the 3D on, because it helps with judging the battlefield. It would just be better, if it had some real depth to it.
  • There is no online friend mode. You can only play with random people and that's completely stupid. Last night I was skyping with a friend and we both played the game sharing commentaries, but we couldn't play it together, which was really disappointing. This needs to be added.
  • There is no black list. Probably the most important feature from Tri Force Heroes isn't as desperately needed here, but I still saw people playing goal keeper for the enemy team or just trying to be "funny" in creative ways. And then I should be able to say "Squadala! You're off!"
  • When joining a new game, you might get many error messages first. Probably similar issues to Tri Force Heroes here.
  • Inactive players stay on too long. One team might be stuck with a player, who does nothing, or games can't start at all, because the host is idle. This in combination with the constant error messages can make it quite difficult to find a game.

But I do like the international aspect with the pre-set voice recordings in multiple languages. You can even alter the pitch, where the high and low pitch voices sound really funny. "Gooood joooob!" But you also get the foreign speak, where it shows you the translated message in the HUD, which gives you a nice sense of playing with people all over the world. Tri Force Heroes certainly didn't offer this...

I also like the "Indigo vs. Gold" theme over the traditional "Blue vs. Red" and the visual readability of them game is very well done. Even when switching sides I never have any orientation issues. Only the health meter could work better, because it flashes red, whenever you get hit, even if it is minor damage. It stays red, if you're in danger, but these flashes make you also believe that you're in danger for a split second, which is confusing. They just should add red effects around the crosshairs instead.

Well, if they fix some of these issues and keep the game up for free, I will certainly keep playing it for quite a while. Look out for "Tourian".

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: 4th SpotPass Gift

Koei Tecmo sends out a little reminder that this game still exists with another SpotPass Fairy and the following gifts:

  • 500,000 Rupees
  • 10x Golden/Delicious Elixir Soup
  • 10x Golden/Delicious Carrot

The fairy is the Master Quest Light Fairy design and with her we finally got all the SpotPass Fairies that are available in Japan (see here). Her name is "Phosa" in German or "Magnolia" in English.

I can make good use of the Rupees right now, because I completely burned my 9+ Million in order to get all characters to a Level 80 minimum. And getting more fairy food is always helpful. There is a total of 13 fairy slots right now and I haven't really bothered with updating my collection. I still have the last three gift fairies...

Hopefully they will also offer the currently unavailable fairy costumes (along with the Classic Tunic for Link) soon. Those would actually be great SpotPass gifts for the future, but all of this will probably end up as some extra DLC, if it becomes available at all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Majora's Mask 3D Fishing Journal 2, Day 2

Another day has passed and another 3-day-cycle of fishing is over. I have to say that playing this sidequest after everything else in Majora's Mask 3D does feel good. Link saved Termina from its demise already and now it's time to relax somewhat and do some fishing after all these troubles.

Yesterday the Sweet Ranchfish gave me trouble, but I could cut things short with this little fellow by just quickly exiting and re-entering the Swamp Fishing Hole and checking the side pond. Around 9AM on the first day I already got the Sweet Ranchfish and that's when the fisherman asked me the following...

This pond's all
fished out. Why
not try your
luck in the sea?

I said "Okay" and here we are. I spent the rest of the cycle fishing at the ocean and it's looking as good as yesterday. I'm now only one fish short and it's the big boss, the Great Fairy Fish. So, there's a fitting finale awaiting for tomorrow or whenever I'm lucky enough to meet the Great Fairy of Fish. Now, here's the list of what I caught today...

  • Termina Seabass: 32cm
  • Goodta Goby: 6cm
  • Ambrosial Amberjack: 38cm
  • Bashful Angler: 37cm
  • Dancing Sea Bream: 21cm
  • Fairy Fish: 9cm
  • Ninja Flounder: 20cm
  • Skullfish: 34cm
  • Nuptuna: 97cm
  • Grand Swordfish: 184cm
  • Savage Shark: 221cm

I caught two of the Savage Sharks, where it felt like the game wanted to troll me a little. The first Savage Shark was all over the place. Before I even could cast the lure and think about catching some smaller fish, the shark would already be on the other corner of the pond. It took several tries to lure him in. But one door later I saw one right at the shore surrounded by lots of these small Goodta Goby, which he also eats. And catching that Savage Shark never has been easier than this.

For both the Great Swordfish and the Savage Shark I used Fierce Deity Link, which made things really easy and epic at the same time. He's so strong that even catching a Nuptuna with Young Link gave me more trouble...

And I'm not looking forward to the loooong struggle against that Great Fairy Fish again, where you're also forced to use Young Link with the Great Fairy's Mask. But at least in this game the fish tend to give up after a while. If you pull them long enough, they get exhausted and you can just pull them in easily. It's when they start to show you their faces all the time. It's one of the things that makes the fishing in Majora's Mask 3D much more enjoyable than in Ocarina of Time. This and the fact that your line doesn't break as easily.

What's different in the Ocean Fishing Hole is that it takes a lot more time to scout for the fish you wants. You have to dive around as Zora Link for a while, where the border can be annoying, because the Fishing Hole Guy just keeps telling you not to swim out further. As much as invisible walls are terrible game design, they are certainly better than getting text boxes over and over again just because you're getting a little bit too close to the border...

You also have to try the corresponding masks in multiple places, which was another problem with fish like the Nuptuna. The Nuptuna looks like an Ambrosial Amberjack, which might make you insecure and keep trying with the Couple's Mask, but it's a lot larger and brighter and therefore somewhat easier to spot. It also seems to favor the third night around the carneval celebrations.

That's it for today and I will finish this post with some epic fishing screenshots... Behold!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Majora's Mask 3D Fishing Journal 2, Day 1

It's fishing time, again!

I did complete the whole thing last year, after Majora's Mask 3D got released, but I want to do it again and I want to do it a little bit more efficiently. I want to try to get all the fish in as few cycles as possible.

And overall I'm having fun with this, because this is easily the most interesting and fleshed out variant of fishing in the Zelda series, which at the same time really added something more to the different masks in the game, where many of them are only used once and now get to see some more value with the fishing.

The random number generation aspect can be off-putting, but all you really have to do is use the door and check the pond. And that's not really a big issue. In fact I managed to almost complete the entire Swamp Fishing Hole collection in a single 3-day-cycle. Here's what I caught:

  • Termina Bass: 13cm
  • Termina Loach: 22cm
  • Groovy Carp: 5cm
  • Fragrant Reekfish: 10cm
  • Mooranha: 5cm
  • Postal Salmon: 34cm
  • Cuccofish: 6cm
  • Ancient Fish: 107cm
  • Colossal Catfish: 117cm
  • Ferocious Pirarucu: 174cm
  • Lord Chapu-Chapu: 357cm

The only thing missing would be the Sweet Ranchfish. And I did in fact saw one, and despite being lured with Epona's Song he just wouldn't bite and then suddenly disappeared (probably because it was around 3PM, since he just appears from 6AM to 3PM). If that little fish wouldn't have been so fickle, I could start with the Ocean Fishing Hole tomorrow, instead of spending another cycle in the swamp for just one measly, little fish.

Otherwise it went quite well. I even caught three Lord Chapu-Chapus. Yes, THREE of them...

With Fierce Deity Link (and probably Goron Link) you can reel them in relatively quickly. When I caught my first Chapu-Chapu last year, I was playing as Deku Link and it took forever to reel it in (don't fish as Deku Link, ever). And this demotivated me from trying to catch him again until now, where I found that it's easy enough with the power of a god.

The Colossal Catfish also appeared automatically in the last hours of the 3rd day, because the earth is rumbling all the time. You directly get the jingle, when entering the pond, so you can just quickly leave and enter, until you hear the sound. You don't have to go on that pillar and stomp it as Goron Link each time.

And if you thought that the Zora Moon Dungeon was bad, try dolphin jumping onto that pillar... Yes, you can just hop there as Deku Link, but usually I'm checking the pond as Zora Link and then just want to quickly go up to the pillar to check for the catfish, where a dolphin jump seems like a shortcut, but it usually isn't. Anyway, if you visit the pond during the final hours, it saves you the trouble of going onto that pillar. But you also have to be careful that there's time left to catch the Colossal Catfish. Getting smashed by the moon, because you were too distracted with fishing, is probably one of the most unheroic ways of dying in a Zelda game, right after getting zapped by a shopkeeper for stealing.

Well, lets see, if I can get that Sweet Ranchfish tomorrow. That little...

Replaying Majora's Mask 3D

After replaying Ocarina of Time 3D, it was a logical choice to replay Majora's Mask 3D again as well and play both of the remastered Nintendo 64 Zelda games back to back.

And the one thing that I disliked the most this time was the flatter 3D, when compared directly to Ocarina of Time 3D. It just doesn't give you the same sense of depth and distance that Ocarina of Time 3D has. And there's no good reason for this, because the 3DS does have a 3D slider. If you don't want the 3D effect to be as deep, just regulate it down. Every 3DS system has this option and the game could look a lot more impressive, if the 3D was the same as in the predecessor.

But despite the lack of 3D, it was a very enjoyable experience overall. Majora's Mask is still one of my absolute favorite Zelda games, if not my favorite, so diving back into this title always brings me back to times of the Nintendo 64 and the childhood experiences in Termina. It's such a rich game world that is still unmatched in the series and just completely captivates you with its atmosphere and attention to detail.

More so in the "remake", where this time I could enjoy it a lot more. When Majora's Mask 3D came out last year, I wrote my Majora's Mask 3D Daybook and I was almost entirely focused on the changes, where some of them didn't make me all too happy. But once you know what you're getting with the new version, it's not so bad actually. It's still not the ultimate version of the game and probably never will be, but both versions have something to go for.

And what the 3DS version has to offer is the better overall replay value. At least that's how I feel right now after replaying it and when it comes to 100% runs. With the original game I rarely ever replayed it, because you can replay all the parts anyway. You can replay all the dungeons, bosses and quests and even make use of all the masks in them, e.g. killing bosses as Fierce Deity Link. As a kid in front of the Nintendo 64 I usually preferred just diving back into Termina, exploring every little corner and playing with all the possibilities. But I rarely started the game over. I did it once or maybe twice on the N64, once on the GameCube (which I never finished due to the freezing issues) and twice on the Wii. And that's not a whole lot considering that it's one of my favorite games.

The biggest wall were usually the minigames. Especially the Beaver Falls Race and the Shooting Galleries were rather off-putting. While the Zora Swimming itself got worse on the 3DS version, at least the swimming minigame got a lot easier, because the time isn't cut as short. I got stuck on one of the rings multiple times, but I still had lots of time left at the end. It's weird, because you supposedly have the same time limits, but either the time is running slower or you are swimming much faster on the 3DS. And while the Town Shooting Gallery was a pain with an Analogue Stick, I always get a "Perfect" score with the gyro aiming of the 3DS. So, there's that. Even the Deku Minigame got easier, because the Deku Flying lets you look down and marks your landing spot with a reticle. The Goron Race is still unfair as hell, but I won despite several crashes, as if the Gorons were all waiting for me at the end.

So, with the minigame wall gone I've suddenly discovered a whole new world of replay value, especially with all the things you can do around Clocktown alone after the initial 3-day-cycle as a Deku. There are so many sidequests and options, it's exciting and really draws someone like me back into the game, who usually wants to get stuff as early as possible. Before entering Woodfall Temple I already got the Adult Wallet, Bomb Bag, Big Bomb Bag, Great Fairy's Mask, Kafei's Mask, Bremen Mask, Blast Mask, Kamaro's Mask, Mask of Truth, Bunny Hood, Keaton Mask, Postman's Hat and 18 Pieces of Heart. There's so much to do and to get. And it rarely dies down, there are always new sidequests on the next step, even though the biggest wave certainly is in the beginning. But that's where it should be.

I also tried to do as much in one cycle without stressing myself. I usually play a new temple at the Dawn of the First Day, but there's enough time to do other things before and after the jump back in time. Of course the 3DS version is not as generous with this as the Nintendo 64 version, where it even was possible to beat the entire game in two cycles (including the first one as a Deku Scrub). Since the Song of Inverted Time isn't as powerful anymore, you don't want to cram too many activities in one cycle. Overall I used ten cycles in total to get everything done:

  • Cycle 1: Deku minigame
  • Cycle 2: Sidequests in and around Clocktown
  • Cycle 3: Anju & Kafei (partly), Southern Swamp, Swamp Spider House
  • Cycle 4: Woodfall Temple, Snowhead
  • Cycle 5: Snowhead Temple, Gilded Sword
  • Cycle 6: Romani Ranch, Ikana Graveyard
  • Cycle 7: Great Bay Zora Eggs
  • Cycle 8: Ocean Spider House, Great Bay Temple, Frog Choir
  • Cycle 9: Anju & Kafei (complete)
  • Cycle 10: Ikana, Stone Tower, Moon

This isn't all that impressive, only the last cycle really cut things close and only because I kept missing a fairy within the Stone Tower Temple, which led to some unnecessary tower flips, which could have been avoided otherwise. I also had trouble getting the Piece of Heart at Ikana Castle, the one on the pillars. Since the edge on the upper castle wall isn't completely orthogonal, Link just likes to slide off, instead of doing an auto-jump. I fell off that castle so many times and had to go back up (which isn't a short way, you have to get through multiple puzzles again and again) so many times, I really got frustrated and also lost quite some time here. Rolling before the jump was the key, by the way... The new Twinmold fight also takes a lot longer, which shouldn't be underestimated. So, it's best to go back in time before Stone Tower Temple as well.

And if you want to complete new fishing quests as well, at least two additional cycles will be required. But I will talk more about this in new Fishing Journal entries.

Replaying the game also brought back my interest in this guy:

That's such a crazily disturbing design for a good guy. For the longest time I imagined a Zelda fighting game and Gabora was originally part of it, smashing things with his sledge-hammer. So, he's certainly a new contender for Hyrule Warriors in a team-up with his buddy Zubora. But Majora's Mask has so many potential characters that I would look to see: the Happy Mask Salesman, the Deku Princess, the Deku Butler, Darmani, Mikau... And of course stages based on all the main areas. But lets save this for future Hyrule Warriors postings.

Well, here are some silly details about my playthrough...

  • Bomber Code: 53124
  • Lottery Numbers: 946, 103 and 159

The Bomber's Notebook can be annoying on a replay session, though, because it pops up every single time, when you get something. It disrupts the gameplay and overall the Bomber's Notebook doesn't provide much helpful information other than telling you, what you've already done. On the Nintendo 64 the notebook was a schedule, where you could easily see, which characters had important events on what time. On the 3DS it became more of a checklist for the sidequests and there should have been an option to turn the notifications off.

Now, it's more that the Bomber Kids themselves are useful with their rumors. They saved me from some bad trouble twice, because with both the Woodfall Temple and the Snowhead Temple I completely forgot to deliver the collected Stray Fairies to the Fairy Fountains, because there's so much stuff to do after these temples. But luckily the Bomber Kids were eager to tell me that. Good kids!

Last time I wondered, if it's possible to shortcut to the Bean Seller via the new hole on the outside of the palace walls. And it's indeed possible to do so, which means you can entirely avoid the right wing of the Deku Palace gardens and their guards. You just have to turn right in front of the palace and jump over the lily pads in the water to get to your first provision of Magic Beans.

Also, I had surprisingly little trouble with the Goron and Zora dungeons on the Moon. I didn't miss a single dolphin jump this time - just pull up, where you have these bubbles in the water. The Goron dungeon was a little bit trickier to get right, because Goron Link doesn't like to go straight anymore... But nothing of this was as frustrating as that Piece of Heart at Ikana Castle.

Well, that's it from my replay session of Majora's Mask 3D. I will talk more about the game in the upcoming days, where I will also will try to complete the fishing minigame a second time.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Nintendo Classic Mini: NES Announced

Not to be confused with the Nintendo Mini Classics...

I have this little LCD game, it's quite awesome. I'm not sure, if I'll should get this thing, though:

It has a certain appeal, because I've never owned a Nintendo Entertainment System myself, only borrowed one from school buddies. My first own home console was the Nintendo 64, so getting a NES, SNES or old systems with HDMI output in general seems like an interesting deal.

However, I'm not a big fan of the pre-installed Virtual Console library. My backloggery is already big enough as it is and while the collection of NES games certainly leaves little to desire, you still might miss a specific game, which will be more of a problem with other systems. With a "Mini Super Nintendo" for example, I would certainly miss Terranigma, which is one of my absolute favorite games of all time, but which never made it to the Virtual Console. And without it, the Super Nintendo is just not the same. And if you could collect and insert small cartridges, the collector's appeal would certainly be larger.

Anyhow, I'm also drowning in copies of the Zelda NES Classics already. I have both The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II - The Adventure of Link for GameBoy Advance, on the GameCube with the Collector's Edition, as well as on Virtual Console for Wii, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, where the Wii U copies are still untouched and probably even would give me a better experience than the Classic Mini System.

It's really just a Virtual Console collection box, which certainly will have some success, because there are many people, who loved the NES back in its day, but don't own any new Nintendo consoles. Or people, who just love the retro look. It's easily accessible and lets people reconnect with the past in a charming way. In a way Pokémon Go is seeing a similar phenomenon right now and Nintendo currently aims at people, who used to be Nintendo fans in their childhoods, to bring them back. Let's hope that they will also aim at the people, who adored Ocarina of Time back in its day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Early Swamp Spider House in Majora's Mask

I'm currently replaying Majora's Mask 3D and one of my absolute favorite places and favorite minidungeons after all these years is still the Swamp Spider House. Such a unique design, such great atmosphere, so much fun!

But what quite some people don't seem to know is that you can actually beat this minidungeon very early in the game, even before going to the Woodfall Temple. Contrary to popular belief you don't need the Bow or the Hookshot in this place. All you need is:

  • An Empty Bottle
  • 2x Magic Beans
  • The Sonata of Awakening
  • Bombs or the Blast Mask

That's it! You get the bottle on your way anyway, so you already have this on your list. All the other things that you need are available inside the dungeon, like bugs or Spring Water. I usually wait until I have at least one more bottle available, but this time I decided to go at it right away. And it wasn't as cumbersome as I thought, you only need to collect bugs thrice and Spring Water twice, where you find these things all around you, so one bottle does the job just fine.

How do you get all the Skulltulas on the walls? Simple. Most of them are moving along the walls and you only have to wait, until the reach the bottom. The others that aren't going near the ground can be killed with Deku Bubbles. In two of these cases you then need to plant the Magic Beans to get to them - one of the holes is under a boulder, which is why you need either Bombs or the Blast Mask. And in the central chamber you can use the Deku Flowers to reach the tokens. The Skulltulas hidden in beehives can be shot down with Deku Bubbles as well. In fact you can hit multiple beehives with one shot, so it's even faster to use Deku Bubbles than using the Bow.

Another hidden trick: if you shoot the big golden spiders in the central chambers with Deku Bubbles, they will pop out lots of Blue Rupees from their blue eyes.

The 3DS version also has a nice map of the place on one of the walls:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Let's Update Ocarina of Time 3D

As with my previous post, Let's Update A Link Between Worlds, this is supposed to give some ideas of what could and should have happened, if Ocarina of Time 3D ever received a free update with new content, similar to the Den of Trials update for Tri Force Heroes. Of course Nintendo will most likely not do any of this, but it's still fun to think about the possibilities, especially right after replaying the game.

Interface Improvements

First of all, the Select button should serve as an alternative way to open the item inventory, because that's just more similar to the original or how it works in A Link Between Worlds. The inventory itself could get another column and work the same way as in Majora's Mask 3D, but that's not a must. It just would make arranging and organizing your items a little easier.

The map system should also be more similar to what we got in Majora's Mask 3D. The way too small minimaps on the top screen should be removed. In case of dungeons, you simply get the navigational arrows directly on your map, otherwise the dungeon maps are totally fine. The overworld map, while looking pretty, is also completely useless during gameplay, where the minimaps should be transferred to the bottom screen and the visual art of the overworld map with its overview of the areas and Skulltulas checks will be only visible in the map menu screen.

Last but not least, if you have a Circle Pad Pro or a New Nintendo 3DS, the C-Stick should be used to view around.

Cave of Ordeals / Trials Minidungeon

It wouldn't be the first time that I bring up this idea, in fact I had a quite detailed concept for such a cave back in 2013. But it's the only thing that Ocarina of Time doesn't have: a trial dungeon, where you fight enemies room after room. Something like the Savage Labyrinth in the Wind Waker, the Cave of Ordeals and Cave of Shadows in Twilight Princess (HD) or the Den of Trials in Tri Force Heroes. This get never boring and they essentially have become a staple in the series.

I would place this near the Desert Colossus, so it could be a reference to the Cave of Ordeals from Twilight Princess, which got placed in the Gerudo Desert. That way this new dungeon also would be endgame material and accessible by both Child and Adult Link.

It should have five different stets of rooms based on the different temples in the game and their enemies, where you also have the ability to replay certain minibosses. Dark Link should wait at the end of the water section for example. And the whole dungeon should finish with a fight against three Iron Knuckles.

At the end a Great Fairy awaits, which will grant different rewards for Child and Adult Link. Which leads us to the last part of the update:

New Items

The game has two open inventory slots...! This still bugs me after five years, so let's fill them. Like with Majora's Mask 3D, you could just always add another Empty Bottle. There's no such thing as too many bottles - go ask Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland. But simply getting an Empty Bottle from a Great Fairy at the end of the biggest amount of enemies, which the game ever will have to offer, would be lame. And also not very useful at this point.

A way around this would be getting a Colossal Wallet at the end of the new dungeon, much like in the Cave of Shadows in Twilight Princess HD, which could now hold up to 999 Rupees. And in some location, maybe even at the entrance of the new dungeon, they could add a Business Scrub, who sells an Empty Bottle for a massive price, anything above 500 Rupees really, so that you will need to get the new wallet first in order to buy it.

And because all of this would still be boring, lets have a real interesting price with another Magic Spell based on the Goddesses. I call it "Hylia's Light" and it temporarily infuses your sword with a glowing light, which doubles your sword power. Like with Nayru's Love you can't use any other magic at the same time, so you have to strategically decide when to activate it. This should be given to Adult Link, since he already gets to play with the mighty Biggoron's Sword, so you can use this spell when replaying the dungeon as Child Link, which should be helpful with some of the mightier foes.

If you have any other ideas what an hypothetical update of Ocarina of Time 3D should provide, let me know in the comments!

Replaying Ocarina of Time 3D

To take a pause from the grinding in Hyrule Warriors: Legends, I decided to do another run through the Nintendo 3DS remakes / remasters of the Nintendo 64 Zelda classics, Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D. I started with Ocarina of Time 3D, will continue with Majora's Mask 3D and then finish it off with Master Quest 3D. That way I will be able to really compare both remakes back to back, while also judging the replay value of both games.

And as much as I love the Nintendo 64 Zelda games, which always have been part of my favorite Zelda games, I don't feel the immediate replay value anymore. I mainly wanted to replay Ocarina of Time 3D, because I haven't touched it since I first completed it in 2011 and because it looks really pretty - it's still one of the best looking Nintendo 3DS games with amazing 3D visuals. The 3D goes quite deep, I love the popout effects, when you get important items (it's like those Spiritual Stones are coming out of your 3DS screen) and it all looks very sharp. Especially the new models of all the characters look great (except maybe Saria, who looks somewhat derpy), it's all very well done for the most part (save for some texture fences and texture staircases here and there) and a satisfying new version of the N64 classic, which now really has a timeless feel to it.

Of all the 3D remakes and remasters that the Zelda series has seen in the last five years, this is still my favorite one. It really looks like an upgrade, it adds some interesting new features, but it also doesn't change much to the worse, like Majora's Mask 3D did, only some minor things. So, it overall feels like the superior version of the game.

Anyway, while I marveled at the visuals, I also feared that replaying the game itself will feel like a chore, because I've replayed Ocarina of Time so many times already that I don't know the exact number. And for some reason, when I replay a game, I always think about the parts first, which I despise. In this case it would be the random Heart Piece from the trolling Dampé on the graveyard, the Bombchu Bowling, the fishing, the horse races - it's usually the minigame stuff that ticks me off in Zelda, but these kind of activities are certainly much worse in the sequel.

Early on the game also feels super slow. I love the scene, where you first leave the forest and entire Hyrule Field unfolds before you. It gives this vibe of freedom that I want from a Zelda game. But it also takes forever to walk from A to B. Walking around Hyrule Field is slow and quite boring save for the Peahats, but you tend to walk around them anyway. And that's one of the challenges that they are facing with Breath of the Wild, where you do get a large world to explore, but you never want it to be boring. But I suppose the Guardians will be the super aggressive Peahats of the new game.

Now, after these initial hurdles, the game gets to be the classic, charming fun. I enjoy replaying the dungeons of this game, where the Forest Temple will probably be my eternal favorite, and it's also fun to collect everything again. There's potentially something to find in every corner and you can go at it, how you see fit. My playthrough wasn't extraordinary this time, but I still mixed things up a little bit, after getting the Master Sword:

  • Lon Lon Ranch
  • Ice Cavern
  • Fire Temple
  • Forest Temple
  • Gerudo Fortress
  • Bottom of the Well
  • Water Temple
  • Shadow Temple
  • Spirit Temple

One thing that they really should have changed with the 3DS version is replacing the eye switches in the Water Temple, especially the one at the end of the vortex tunnel. It's quite the long way to get there and you almost have finished the entire dungeon, but right at this point the game is telling you to stop and go back to get the Bow from the Forest Temple first. That's easily one of the biggest troll moments in the Zelda series and they just should have replaced it with a crystal switch, so you can beat the entire dungeon without the Fairy Bow, which would allow to complete this dungeon first in order. There's also an eye switch in the Fire Temple, but you can go around it and still complete the dungeon. It's just an optional shortcut.

It's also interesting, how the game world opens up to you in terms of fast traveling methods. In most of the later Zelda games you usually have the one warp song / item / ability that lets you teleport to a number of bird statues or similar warp points all over the world. It appears to be the same in Breath of the Wild and it certainly gets the job done best. But in Ocarina of Time it's really a combination of several things, like the six individual warp songs or the different portal gateways. As Child Link you can't use Epona, but there's the Owl in two places for shortcuts, like the one from Lake Hylia back to Hyrule Castle Town. You also get to use one more gateway.

The gateway system is also quite interesting, how it connects Death Mountain and Zora's Realm via the Lost Woods, as well as Zora's Realm and Lake Hylia as a child. The quickest way to get from A to B in Ocarina of Time can be a little maze puzzle in itself. For example, when you have to deliver the Eye Drops to Biggoron and can't simply use warp songs, most people probably ride towards Kakariko to climb Death Mountain from there. But I ride towards the forest, use the Gateway to Goron City and then take a shortcut through the Death Mount Crater. This route only takes half of the given time.

Now, while replaying the game, I also thought that there should have been one more gateway in the world: leading from the Desert Colossus into the Gerudo Fortress. It would have to be blocked with the big grey boulders, which require the Silver Gauntlets, so you can't use it as a child and you can't take it to bypass the Haunted Wasteland at first. It would be like the gateway from the Lost Woods to Goron City, where you have to get to Goron City the normal way first to open it up. But the Gerudo Fortress seems to be the only place that is not connected by means of fast travel. The fastest way to get there seems to warp to Lake Hylia, take Epona and ride to the fortress. And that takes a little patience, where it would be much nicer, if you just could warp to the Desert Colossus and then take a gateway into the fortress. They could even place it somewhere funny, like in the one empty prison cell.

Also, after playing Hyrule Warriors: Legends for the past months, it was inevitable that I tried to do combos at some place. It only happened once and curiously enough, it was inside the pot storage room in Hyrule Castle Town. That's somewhat ironic, because you can't actually break pots with combos in Hyrule Warriors, only with regular attacks, but I suppose it's one of the few places in Ocarina of Time, where you attack multiple things at once, which gave me the urge to press Y. And seeing Nabooru in this version of the game, makes me really want to have her as a playable character in the next Hyrule Warriors game, she looks lovely.

I also had to adjust to not using the Start or Select button to open the inventory. Actually, I wasn't able to adjust to this at all, I still kept pressing these buttons at the end of the game, only to be annoyed by the save game dialogue. At least this time I was playing with larger screens and a screen protector installed on the touchscreen, so navigating the inventory was a lot more convenient. When I played Ocarina of Time 3D first on my original Nintendo 3DS, I didn't have a screen protector installed and I was really careful with the touchscreen, which also was quite small, so I kept using the Stylus every time I wanted to change an item. And that was a real hassle.

Of course this was a 100% run and with Ocarina of Time 3D you at least want to beat the Boss Challenge once. Replaying the individual bosses for better time scores is overall a fun addition to the game. The Boss Gauntlet, however, is not, at least at first, when you just want to beat it once and be done with it. There's some luck involved due to the treasure chests and while the majority of boss fights are really enjoyable, the bane of my existence right now seems to be Bongo Bongo. I never remembered this boss fight as particularly difficult on the Nintendo 64, but whenever I attempt the Boss Challenge mode, I'm having issues with these awful hands. The targeting systems seems to fail me here often, where I can target one hand and stun it, but the other evades my crosshairs. And since the hands are super fast, you can't target them manually. What makes things worse is that Bongo Bongo is the second to last boss in the Gauntlet. I can just get to this point without a single scratch, but he might potentially kill me off. He didn't, though, but it was a close call (half a heart left) and luckily I got a Heart Container after the fight, so I could stay relaxed in the Twinrova battle.

In Master Quest this will be worse, because one mistake there really will kill you. Not looking forward to that one. But I suppose, I'll just have to practice Bongo Bongo a little more, because that's what the individual challenges are there for...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Many Studios Working on Zelda

That Zelda games aren't always developed by Nintendo alone, isn't a new concept. Ignoring the abominations made by Animation Magic and Viridis, the first successful cooperation between Nintendo and some other company to make a Zelda game was in 2001 with Oracle of Ages & Seasons on the GameBoy Color, which was developed by Flagship - a studio formed by both Capcom and Nintendo. This studio later would develop Four Swords and The Minish Cap for the GameBoy Advance, before it got dissolved.

In the following years we also had the studio Vanpool, which developed the Tingle spin-off series for the Nintendo DS and DSiWare, where Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland is probably the most noteworthy title. Then GREZZO took over the handheld Zelda realm and co-developed the Four Swords Anniversary Edition for DSiWare, as well as Ocarina of Time 3D, Majora's Mask 3D and Tri Force Heroes for the Nintendo 3DS.

So, on the handheld systems outsourcing the development has been going on for the majority of Zelda titles. But things have gotten more remarkable in the last year, where a total of five different game development companies aside from Nintendo have been spotted working on the The Legend of Zelda franchise:

  • Koei Tecmo developing the Hyrule Warriors series
  • GREZZO co-developing the Nintendo 3DS Zelda games
  • Monolith Soft co-developing Breath of the Wild
  • Tantalus Media co-developing Twilight Princess HD
  • Jupiter developing Zelda Picross

Koei Tecmo with its development teams "Omega Force" and "Team Ninja" is currently working on the DLC for Hyrule Warriors: Legends and afterwards will most likely start developing Hyrule Warriors 2 for NX. This spin-off series certainly is going strong and will probably deliver the best fan service to Zelda fans for years to come, where all the many fan favorites get to be playable on Hyrule's battlefields.

GREZZO has finished the development of Tri Force Heroes last year and is now working on their own game, Ever Oasis. But we might see them return to the Zelda franchise at some point in the future, if they aren't already developing something on the sidelines.

Monolith Soft known for their extensive worlds in Xenoblade Chronicles is currently supporting the development of Breath of the Wild, where Hyrule never has been larger and certainly will profit from the additional workforce. Before they also assisted in the development of Skyward Sword and A Link Between Worlds, but were only credited under "Special Thanks". Their involvement seems to be somewhat more important this time around.

Tantalus Media delivered the HD remaster Twilight Princess HD, where it's possible that they are also supporting the development of Breath of the Wild with high resolution texture work. Future HD remasters like a potential Skyward Sword HD might also get outsourced to this Australian studio.

Finally, there's the Jupiter Corporation known for their many Picross titles, which now just tacked into the Zelda franchise with My Nintendo Picross - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It's entirely possible that they are currently developing a new Picross game based on another installment of the Zelda series, e.g. The Wind Waker. Potentially all Zelda games with 3D visuals could end up getting their own Picross game, so that Zelda fans will have something to spend Platinum Points on in the future.

And that's just what we know so far. It has been hinted by Nintendo that a Zelda anime movie could be a possibility, where some Japanese animation studio might be working on something as well. And hopefully one day we can see "Retro Studios" on the list above.

Postbox: Ages vs. Seasons

Hi there,

I recently got Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages for 3DS, and never having played these titles before I was looking around to get some insight as to which to play first and why. Anyway, I was also reading through your excellent ring guide here:

Oracle of Seasons Ring Guide - GameFAQs

and there is a part with the following quote:

"(People prefer the first variant, because in a new game without any secret you will be permanently missing one Heart Container. And if you play Ages first, there's one spot on the overworld map, which cannot be visited. By using Ages as your starting point, you can keep both of these flaws in one save file.)"

That was part was confusing to me and kind of sounds counter-intuitive to my mind. I was wondering if perhaps you could offer some further clarity as to why this is desirable? Thanks.

When starting a new game you will have three Heart Containers, as opposed to a total of four Heart Containers, whenever you start a game with a secret (doesn't matter which type of secret). So, in the game file, where you first started, you will only ever achieve 15 out of 16 Heart Containers, which could be viewed as a "flaw" by some.

In Ages there is also a square on the overworld that can only be visited in a Linked Game. Otherwise there will be a blank square on your map, which could be viewed as another "flaw".

So, by choosing Oracle of Ages as your beginning, you only will have one "flawed" savegame at the end, where both the missing Heart Container and the inaccessible square are present.

Keep in mind that you will also play in the other direction afterwards, so you play AgesSeasons first and then SeasonsAges in a Hero game. That's a total of four savegames. And only one of them will have "flaws" in the end, so to say.

If you don't really care about that or even are using a generated Hero's Secret right from the start, you can just do whatever you want. But I generally feel like starting with Oracle of Ages is the more rewarding experience, because of the way, how things play out. The "Hero's Cave" (an additional mini dungeon in a Linked Game) is also more fun in that direction.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Network Link Farming

Network Links are something that I now just rediscovered for myself in Hyrule Warriors: Legends. One the Wii U I stopped using them at some point and on the 3DS I had both Network and StreetPass Links turned off the entire time, because they tend to get in the way. Sometimes you just want to do a certain mission, but it's blocked by a sturdy Level 99 Network Link, while it doesn't offer any worthwhile reward.

But now in my grinding phase, where I have all the best weapon tiers unlocked, they seem to be the best way of getting good weapons of the highest tiers right now. I had the same impression, when the Wii U game originally came out - early on it seemed like the best way of getting good tier 3 weapons. The Network Links offer a similar result to the Zelda amiibo, where you are guaranteed to get the highest available tiers of weapons for Link, Toon Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Sheik and both Midnas, with three stars minimum. However, it doesn't seem like you can get eight slots with these methods, so you have to settle for a 5 star, 7 slot weapon at best.

But since I personally don't care much for Duel or Special Skills, I can settle for 7 slots. It's better than farming on the same missions over and over again, where you have to be really lucky to find a weapon of tiers 4 or even 4+. You need a Weapon Rank II or III mixture, but then getting eight slots is very lucky as well. So, finding a perfect weapon of tier 4+ with 5 stars and 8 slots is too rare for my taste. And this is why I'm back to the beginning, where Network Links seem to be the best solution. (I still would like the abilities to buy stars and slots in the Smithy, because then you could just buy that last slot, even if it probably was very expansive.)

Farming Network Links can also be entertaining for a while, because the Network Link Adventure Battles are somewhat randomly generated based on certain templates. In general Network Links of the same level seem to give the same scenario, only the officers might have been swapped. But these templates seem to be entirely different on each Adventure Map, so there's some variety.

In general you want the Network Links' levels to be as low as possible, because the level doesn't seem to have any effect on the reward. And the higher level Network Links will simply take longer to finish. The problem is that the level is based on your highest Level character in the game. So, if you have someone on Level 150 already, all your Network Links will be on 150 and annoy people. And therefore the randomly offered Network Links tend to get quite high.

Luckily I have two people on my friend list, who just started the game. And Network Links from friends will be favored by the game, so each day I'm getting at least two low level Network Links on every Adventure Map. And while the Network Links of the same friend all have the same level, the mission type is completely different on every map. So, it doesn't get too boring and it's more than enough for my daily grinding sessions.

The Adventure Maps also all seem to keep their own quirks for the Network Link battles. The first Adventure Map usually has a recommended element and lots of enemies weak to that particular element. The Master Quest and Master Wind Waker Map keep their Master Rules. And the Koholint Map occasionally lets you chose a 2nd character. You can even find fairy food, if the underlying battle has fairy food available.

With this you can also notice that each Adventure Map has a different base difficulty. I keep playing Network Links from the same guy on the same level, but the difficulty increases on a noticeable scale with every map. Originally on the Wii U I even had the theory that every Adventure Map followed one the four base difficulties: Easy, Normal, Hard and Hero, where the Twilight Map probably was Hero. But it's not that simple, because on the Twilight Map enemies have a high defense, which can be countered by elemental weakness, which doesn't work as well in Hero Mode. And then the Termina Map might have "Hero" difficulty as well, but with much lower levels for every mission. It would be nice to see the recommended level for every square, because then it would be easier to judge the difficulties of the individual maps and missions. Some transparency with the difficulty in Adventure Mode would be nice, so it's not just always trial and error. Maybe in the next game...

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cat Link on the Hunt

Toon Link always looked like a cat, now he finally became one in Monster Hunter Generations:

Watch the trailer here.

I'm not a Monster Hunter fan, but this looks really funny. It also reminds me of this scene:

(art by Purrdemonium)

Hyrule Warriors Legends: Phantom Hourglass & Spirit Tracks Pack Expectations

Hyrule Warriors Legends will keep delivering throughout the year 2016, where two out of four DLC packs have been released already. The next pack is called the "Phantom Hourglass & Spirit Tracks Pack", which is scheduled for a release in September, where now we can take the time to speculate about its exact contents.

It's going to feature one new character, one new weapon for Toon Link and a new Adventure Map with new 15 pieces of fairy clothing, as well as the usual color costumes and new 4+ weapons. The upcoming character already has been leaked, but we don't know his weapon type yet, so these speculations will draw on the weapons instead.

Since there hasn't been an official announcement yet, the weapon part will be hidden under spoiler button!

The Weapons

The Adventure Map

Two words: Rail Map! There's no other way and it shouldn't be hard to translate this into some 8-Bit glory. Especially the travel music from Spirit Tracks in 8-Bit alone would be awesome. It's rather doubtful that they would do the Ocean King world from Phantom Hourglass, because this would just be a third Wind Waker Map. There's a lot more potential with the Rail Hyrule.

On both Wind Waker Maps you can see the 8-Bit characters sit in little boats. On the Rail Map they should sit in little minecarts (like in the Oracle games) and move on rails. You can only get to other screens, if they are connected via rails, where you have to unlock more rails to proceed. In a way it would be similar to the progression in Spirit Tracks.

Here are some Item Cards ideas with that concept in mind:

  • Compass (of Light)
  • Spirit Gems: make new rails appear
  • Tears of Light: destroy Dark Trains to make enemies appear
  • Rabbit Net: catch rabbits to unlock rewards
  • Stamp Book: used on Stamp Stations to unlock rewards

The remaining seven Item Cards could be based on the different cargos: Cuccos, Fish, Lumber, Iron, Vessel, Mega Ice and Dark Ore. Similar to the Instruments of the Sirens, they could offer different buffs, when used in the right locations. Or maybe it's just an alternative way to unlock rewards. Or maybe they do both.

Costumes and other extras

There will probably be the usual 16 recolor costumes, but it would be awesome, if they made an exception and give us Toon Link's engineer clothes from Spirit Tracks as one of the unlockable costumes. It probably will be just something disappointing, though, like a mere recolor costume in the engineer colors or in Linebeck's colors. Toon Link will also probably get his 4+ sword on this map, where the recolor could be based on that.

Interestingly enough, King Daphnes already got an Oshus recolor and Darunia already got a Biggoron recolor, because otherwise you would expect these with this pack. Darunia could still get something from Spirit Tracks, however, like the Goron Elder or Embrose. The Lokomo in general seem to be good material for different recolors, e.g. an Anjean recolor for Tetra. And Volga should get a Byrne / Staven recolor, because both characters feel pretty similar to each other. The bosses in general might offer some good colors, where it would be nice to see a Bellum costume for Wizzro, since with both it's really all in the eyes.

Anyway, as for the fairy clothing you shouldn't be surprised, if those really got the engineer clothes and a Linebeck outfit just to tease you... Cole's hats are also a must somewhere.