Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Breath of the Wild - The Champions' Ballad: Final Predictions

According to Nintendo, the Champions' Ballad DLC for Breath of the Wild is still planned for a release in December. If this holds true, it's likely that we're getting more information including an accurate release date very soon. But they also shouldn't rush things like they did with the Master Trials DLC...

In any case it's quite exciting that we still know so little about the 2nd DLC pack. The bullet points from the official site give us still a rough idea:

  • A new dungeon
  • An original story
  • Additional challenges

Apparently the DLC will also implement some sort of epilogue storyline, taking place after the battle with Calamity Ganon, where Zelda visits Riju, Teba and probably the other Champion "descendants" as well. Or those are just new memories, where Zelda visited the past Champions - it's not entirely clear yet. In any case, you will still play as Link, but it will focus more on Zelda, according to Aonuma at Japan Expo 2017. Oh, and there's the infamous Lobster Shirt available as a new armor piece. See this post for more information.

Adding new contents?

Theoretically, with a game like this they could always add more of the same: more Sheikah Shrines, more Korok Seeds, new enemy types, new weapon types and so on. However, there's a certain finality to how they implemented things with the main game (and the first DLC). If you trade all 120 Spirit Orbs, the Goddess Statues will tell you that you can't get any stronger and that you shouldn't seek out for more power, because there aren't any shrines left. Hestu "rewards" you for collecting all 900 Korok Seeds, Kilton rewards you for defeating all overworld bosses and Symin "rewards" you for completing Hyrule Compendium. While they added the golden enemies and Sky Octoroks in the first DLC, those are exclusive to Master Mode, which is why they could be retroactively added to the Compendium. This trick wouldn't work in the 2nd DLC, though, so it's likely that we don't get to see any new enemies or weapons there.

What doesn't have such a finality to it are the treasure chests and Nintendo used plenty of those already in order to distribute new armor pieces in the DLC and updates. But that doesn't really add anything to the world... Once you found and opened these chests, they are gone forever and the environment stays as empty as before. With weapons there is also the little trick that they might simply not register in Hyrule Compendium - all the exclusive amiibo weapons currently don't count, but they are still in the game.

Of course they could add more Shrines, Koroks, weapons and even enemies by putting them into a special DLC category. There could be "EX Shrines" that have a different color and don't reward you with Spirit Orbs, but with something else, e.g. keys to the new dungeon. There could be special red Koroks, where Hestu gives you new rewards for them. And Hyrule Compendium could even get its "EX category", which doesn't count for completion. That's even good practice, because the people, who don't buy the DLC, still want to get the sense of completion that you have normally, while the DLC adds on top of that.

But simply adding more of the same also wouldn't be very original, especially if we already have more than enough shrines and Koroks. The majority of players won't even have found them all yet. The same couldn't be said about enemies, where the selection feels a little limited, but it's unlikely that we're going to get new enemy types at this point, even if it would be awesome. However, usually you would expect a boss for the new dungeon, where there are multiple possible scenarios. They could re-use the Blights for this, because there is currently no way to re-battle them. Or they could add some new boss, who might not get an entry in Hyrule Compendium. Battling Dark Link or Shadow Link, as a mirror image of yourself, comes to mind here. And this would be a nice throwback to the free "Den of Trials" DLC in Tri Force Heroes, where they added Shadow Links as a new enemy type at the end, while Nintendo could remain lazy with the DLC.

However, enemies aside, for the "new challenges" it would be nice to get something entirely new, something the game didn't have before. And not just some new side quests, where they drop a treasure chest somewhere and leave you a hint that pops up as soon as you start the game after the update. That was probably the lamest way of including DLC ever.

There is also the potential of new memories, where they certainly have to break through the current finality. It would be really nice to get more memories about the four Champions, e.g. how they were chosen for the job in the first place, but Impa's Main Quest about the memories is already completed in the main game as well... Alternatively it could start a new Main Quest about additional memories, after you've finished the first one.

But there's something else that could add to the story, while at the same time it would add something new to find in the game: Gossip Stones. They used to be something created by the Sheikah in the distant past, where in the age of Sheikah Technology they could be modernized and respond to your Sheikah Slate, adding new information about the world and its past. This gives a new incentive to explore all over the world again, where the "Gossip Stones" should probably become a new default entry to the Sheikah Sensor, next to Sheikah Shrines. Additionally all information from the Gossip Stones would be stored in your Adventure Log, similar to the memories.

A new dungeon?

Supposedly, what most people want out of this is probably the classic Zelda dungeon experience. It's likely that Nintendo is still going to re-use the Sheikah Shrine assets to built a classic dungeon, where you can't climb, but solve rooms with puzzles and enemies.

We already talked about the boss, where Dark Link seems like an excellent (and cheaply made) candidate. It even could tie into retrieving the Triforce (of Courage) in this game and provide a large throwback to Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, a game that has been more on the fans' minds lately. (Adding Fokka enemies on top of that would be amazing, but that's unlikely, as discussed already.)

What's also part of the classic dungeon experience is getting a new item along the way. However, Breath of the Wild doesn't really have traditional items, it has the Sheikah Slate Runes for that, but it's entirely possible that they might add a new Rune for this dungeon. However, it should be something that also remains useful outside of the dungeon. The simplest idea here would be a new type of the Bomb Rune, which works like Bombchus or Bomblings. But this wouldn't feel all that special. According to Kotaku Nintendo also experimented both with Beetle and Hookshot Runes, but they didn't turn out as fun:

Hookshot was [one] we experimented with and tested, as well as [the] Beetle from Skyward Sword. After a lot of experimentation and testing, we weeded out all the ones that had potential to detract from the gameplay and enjoying the game. What’s left currently, the four items, were really what would draw out the fun of the game.

But maybe they can improve on the Hookshot idea and with that provide an additional tool for climbing in the game, which would be very useful outside of the dungeon as well. The Beetle on the other hand doesn't seem as promising. It was an exciting item in a game like Skyward Sword, but with the freedom that Breath of the Wild provides it would almost feel pointless.

An epilogue?

This is probably the grand picture of the 2nd DLC: the game continues after the final boss with new scenarios. So far the only Zelda games that did this were Oracle of Ages & Seasons, where this was used for the Linked Games and ultimately resulted in a new final boss at the end of that.

It could be similar in Breath of the Wild, where a new danger now lurks on the horizon. There's probably a good reason, why Princess Zelda seeks out characters like Riju or Teba, she probably wants them to become the new Champions to take control of the Divine Beasts against a new threat. Because that worked out so well last time...

But what happens to the old threat? Calamity Ganon's dark goo should be gone and the Guardians should be back to normal, after you've beaten the main game. Other things like Sheikah Towers and Shrines, hidden Koroks and even the side quests should still be available for playing in such an epilogue scenario, but the Guardians, the token enemy of the game, would be gone. But there are even solutions for that. They could be implemented in their friendly state and only attack you, if you attack them, so you can still destroy them and get their materials. This would even fit the original teaser of the game, where a Guardian fought Link despite having no signs of corruption. Or they could simply be taken over by a new threat... Or Calamity Ganon already comes back in the DLC. It's possible.

There's also the question about the original image of the DLC:

It shows Kass with view on Vah Ruta, which doesn't happen in the main game. Vah Ruta is still on firing position here, which places this before your battle with Calamity Ganon, since the Divine Beasts won't need to do this anymore and Vah Ruta should be dysfunctional anyway, if the DLC directly follows the current epilogue scene. Of course this could be something that was a prototype or it will be a different part of the DLC, which is already playable before the epilogue. This could even be, where we discover new memories of the four Champions.

About the Divine Beasts... It would be nice, if you could always re-enter them in the epilogue story, so you could still get any missing treasure chests in them and maybe even experience new parts of the story there.

It will be interesting to see, what Nintendo makes of such an epilogue scenario and how they will utilize all the potential here.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Looking at Nintendo's Mobile Games

Lately I've been checking out Nintendo's mobile games or "smart-device apps", how Nintendo likes to call them. I was curious, how they play, because it might give me a better impression of what to expect from a potential Smartphone Zelda game. Normally I wouldn't buy any Fire Emblem or Animal Crossing titles, but since they are free-to-play, there was no real harm in checking them out. I did buy Super Mario Run, though, when the game was at a discount in early October. And I ignored Miitomo so far, because it struck me more like another silly Mii app and not as an actual game. I've had enough of those on the Nintendo 3DS...

Super Mario Run is probably my favorite of the three and it has become my main source of entertainment, whenever I'm on the go. It copied the simplicity of other platform games on smart devices, where you tap the screen to jump, while the character is moving on its own. It works rather well and I would compare it to the gameplay of the minecart levels in the various Donkey Kong Country games, just much slower. But it has the challenge of collecting all the KONG letters in the form of five colored Star Coins that need to be collected in one run. Each of the 24 levels has variations for pink, purple and "black" Star Coins, where it can take a long time to master and complete everything.

In addition there are multiple characters, including Luigi, Toad, different colored Yoshis, Peach and Daisy. Unlike in the New Super Mario Bros. games they actually have different attributes, for example Toad runs faster, while Luigi jumps higher, so there's some strategy to choosing the right character for the job. There's also the Toad-Rally mode, where you compete against other players to win Toads for your Mushroom Kingdom, which you can customize with around 150 different pieces to unlock. And there's the new Remix-10 mode, where you play 10 mini levels in a row, as well as a Star World with nine additional levels, where you have to fulfill certain achievements to unlock them... So, there's lots and lots to do in this game, which probably will keep me busy until Zelda arrives on Smartphones.

There aren't any microtransaction or pay-to-win mechanics, the only typical mobile game disease seems to be a login bonus, where you can get certain rare kingdom pieces as part of campaigns. For example they distributed statues based on Super Mario Odyssey in the last two weeks. There's also a "My Nintendo" bonus for playing the Toad Rally on a daily basis, but you don't miss any ingame rewards, if you don't follow this, so it's not really important. So, you pay once, get lots of content and aren't harassed into playing.

Fire Emblem Heroes on the other hand feels much more like your typical mobile game. In fact it's Nintendo's shot at the "Gacha" genre, where I'm currently also playing One Piece: Treasure Cruise. And it's not even funny, how similar both games feel in their setup. Both games use rainbow colored orbs as an ingame currency, which you have to trade to summon characters from the respective universes. There are lots and lots of different possible characters to get and the summoning is for the most part random, though Fire Emblem Heroes seems to offer the option to chose specific characters out of a selection from time to time. The characters are represented via artworks and as cute pixel graphics during the gameplay. Both games even utilize a red-blue-green weakness triangle system, where red characters are stronger against green characters and weak against blue characters, etc.

The actual gameplay is where both games differ. In One Piece: Treasure Cruise you tap characters to attack, where the attacks are based on timing. It's not very spectacular and feels rather dull. Fire Emblem Heroes on the other hand offers a square based strategy mode, where you try to pin the right characters against each other based on the weakness triangle. For me it's more interesting and fun to play, while I think that Fire Emblem Heroes also has the much better presentation and menu system. Nintendo did a really good job here and the music is very catchy.

But... since I've never played any Fire Emblem games, I don't really care about its characters and I don't feel that invested. It's more exciting in Treasure Cruise, where I'm a fan of One Piece and many of its characters. So, I'm much more inclined to collect the daily login bonuses in the very least and check out the regular summoning events. Fire Emblem Heroes has exactly the same stuff and it feels like Nintendo was copying much from the "Gacha" genre here

(Update, January 2018: Nintendo did such a good job with Fire Emblem Heroes that I actually uninstalled One Piece: Treasure Cruise, because I got sick of its lousy mechanics. The game also become my favorite, after Super Mario Run got somewhat boring. It's really the simple strategy gameplay of Fire Emblem Heroes that has me engaged here, while I also like some of the character designs. For example Tharja reminds me a little bit of Cia.)

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was just released this week and it's not really my type of game. It feels like playing the worst side quests of Breath of the Wild over and over again: "Bring me 20 apples!", "Bring me ten bugs!", "Catch me five fish!"... At least it seems like Animal Crossing can stay true itself here and deal with lots and lots of limited time events and items, while the gameplay seems to be almost identical to the console outlets from what I can tell. It's just the setting of camping sites that's dumped down in comparison and everything in the game wants you to invest in "Leaf Tickets" now, so the game has been poisoned by microtransactions.

What's interesting here are the controls, which showcase how Zelda could play on a Smartphone with the Phantom Hourglass control system. Touch to move, tap to interact. Easy and intuitive.

Apropos controls, what all three Nintendo games have in common is the vertical layout and it's certainly more comfortable than playing in landscape mode, because you can hold the phone and play with one hand. So, they might do the same for Zelda, where the lower screen border could even be used to switch items. However, seeing Nintendo's tendency of copying other successful mobile games, I wouldn't be surprised if Zelda will be played in landscape mode like most of the Zelda clones on the mobile market. There's even a Stranger Things game that plays a lot like Zelda (and is entirely free), which uses landscape mode, and there's also the well known Wind Waker clone, Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas:

It looks quite nice, but I do hope that Nintendo won't copy its controls, because they are quite terrible. You don't move where you touch, but instead you have to swipe in a weird way to move your character around. And you actually have to use a "button" one the screen to swing the sword, instead of simply tapping the enemies. It feels inconvenient and I do hope that Nintendo will utilize the same controls as in Phantom Hourglass for the Zelda mobile game instead of doing any weird experiments.

But overall I'm quite excited for such a title, because this is where classic topdown Zelda might live on and even win some longevity, if Super Mario Run is any indication. Zelda also doesn't feel like a match for microtransactions, so you will simply pay for content and that's it. I would expect such a game to be released next year, so we will see soon enough.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Breath of the Wild EX Log, Entry 6

Tourok - Korok Hunter

I've been in the middle of replaying Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, but with the latest update(s) of Breath of the Wild I've been hooked again, specifically with hunting for the last remaining adorable, little Koroks, which is the only thing that I have left to do in Normal Mode, before the 2nd DLC arrives. And my goal now is to find as many as possible, if not all of them, until the Champions' Ballad finally gets released.

I could use the Interactive Map on Zelda Dungeon to quickly reach this goal, but I still want to find as many of them on my own using a combination of the Korok Mask and the Hero's Path Mode, two very useful features from the first DLC. With the Hero's Path Mode I'm focusing on areas, where I haven't walked for the last 200 hours, but naturally there's no guarantee that I haven't missed anything on my previous paths, so basically I have to comb everything all over again. But it will help, as soon as I'm done with re-wandering the entire world, because then I can focus on the gaps.

Of course there are levels of self-imposed video game challenges that will end in a masochistic waste of time, so with the final dozen Koroks I will certainly succumb to the temptation of using a solution map like the above to be done with it.

A Path of Ice and Sand

I should be through with the hardest parts, though, because I'm finally done with completely exploring the Hebra Region, which took quite a while and a huge amount of motivation. I still did learn some new things on the way, like the fact that large snowballs might get created anywhere in the area and they do leave Amber behind, where sometimes you might just find random drops of Amber on your way. The other thing was essentially a new type of Korok puzzle...

After leaving Hebra, I arrived at a total of 793 Korok Seeds, so I found exactly 25 Koroks there, which was a good haul. It was probably the area with the most Koroks left, but it felt really good to finally leave this place... Those lush, green colors!

It's much more fun looking for Koroks in other places that are not some depressing frozen wasteland. But now take an educated guess, where I ended up next...

Another quirk to my current Korok is hunter is a "no teleporting" rule that I established after leaving Hebra. In Hebra I used the Travel Gate on top of the peak to built momentum, but now I'm trying to thoroughly comb the areas following the natural lines on the map. If you teleport, you might miss something on the path that you've skipped. Well, and it also looks nicer in Hero's Path Mode.

But this approach brought me over the Rayne Highlands to Satori Mountain, from where I went off to the Gerudo Highlands - the other gigantic snow area in the game. It's not as bad as Hebra, because it's made of wide plateaus that apparently don't even have any Koroks on them. There had been lots of treasure chests there, which I had found already, but the Korok Mask didn't show me anything new.

And often it's checking the map, which reveals new Koroks to me. Of course there are many spots, where you can't make out anything on the map at all, but you can still check for interesting spots like trees on a hill and I was quite surprised that there were still a couple of Korok stone formations left for me to find on the map. And there are probably more, so all I have to do is study the map for them.

After the Gerudo Highlands, the Gerudo Canyon areas were next and in general every environment with lots of verticality will take about three times as long to explore, because there can always be something on the different levels of the walls...

And the stop after that was yet another snowy mountain, the Daval Peak... But luckily I've already explored both Mount Hylia and Mount Lanayru with the Korok Mask, so I should be done with the frozen parts for now and I can look forward to the lush jungles to the east.

Current Progress:
  • Koroks: 815/900
  • Map Rate: 92.96%

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rumor: SoulCalibur VI on Switch Starring Link?

Following these rumors on Reddit, SoulCalibur VI will be announced soon and for the first time since SoulCalibur II will also be present on a Nintendo system, where Link will finally be a guest character again.

This is what the source had to say:

The game should be revealed by the end of the year and make its 21st anniversary at least. One trustworthy source told me it would be revealed at PSX. If the Switch version is not announced in a matter of fact way alongside it like multiplatform games do when revealed at a specific console's event, then it should be announced during the Nintendo Direct in January that I keep hearing about. The source who told me about the Switch version is different from the one who told me of the game's existence, I might add. They also told me that Link would return as a guest character on that version.

I'm not really interested in discussing, whether these rumors are trustworthy or not, since most of them are so superficial that they might as well be true. We will see soon enough. In general the 3rd party support for Nintendo Switch seems to be really good at the moment and whenever SoulCalibur VI is coming, a Nintendo Switch version seems very likely. And I like the thought a lot!

SoulCalibur II was one of my favorite games on the Nintendo GameCube and Link being a guest character played a big role in that. But overall I like the franchise, where I enjoyed its Beat'em Up qualities. SoulCalibur II also had this amazing Weapon Master Mode, but from what I've understood, this wasn't present in later titles. I haven't had the chance to play any of the successors, but if there's another Nintendo version in the future, I won't hesitate to purchase it.

For Link it would be nice, if his primary design is based on Breath of the Wild, but with an alternate Tunic of the Wild costume present. His arsenal should also take all the games into consideration, which came after SoulCalibur II, where they have lots of different options. But primarily I would like to see some of the technological weapons from Breath of the Wild.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Breath of the Wild EX Log, Entry 5

Picking up from where we left last time, I kept exploring the Hebra Mountain region for a little bit and found five more Koroks for a repdigit: 777 in total. That's not the most spectacular progress, but going through Hebra can take its time. I'm barely halfway done with the place...

It's actually quite the beautiful area, if the clerk of the weather is on our side, which is very rarely the case. 95% of the time it's dark and moody in this area and you can't see far. But if it's finally clear weather, going for the snowboarding ride can be very enjoyable. Who needs games like Steep, if Zelda comes included with that? Also, at least you can climb all the time here despite the weather conditions. Nothing annoys more in this game than the constant rain...

With the Koroks I'm experiencing this phenomenon of spotting a hidden Korok long before the Korok Masks senses them. It's easy with stone circles that you might even spot on the map, but also tall trees or other special spots. Checking the map helps quite a lot with estimating, where a Korok could hide. The Mask still helps, for example there was a Korok under a rock in a narrow corner that I probably would have missed without it, but I certainly wish that the radius of the mask would be larger and might even have "levels" to it. The closer you get, the more it shakes. Something more similar to the Sheikah Sensor.

Well, at least it stops me from examining places in detail, where nothing is to be found...

There's one other thing that I wanted to talk about and that's the drops of the new Champion amiibo. You can find a complete list of all amiibo drops here and I'm a little disappointed with what the new ones have to offer aside from the Divine Helms. For starters, the actual Champion weapons, which the amiibo figurines hold, can't be gotten from them. I understand that they have these weird one-at-a-time ingame restrictions, but the weapons aren't really that good later in the game and certainly not worth the diamonds. Getting them from the amiibo therefore would have been nice and would have added to the completion of receiving the all tribes' weapons with the corresponding amiibo.

But even with the Champion weapons it wouldn't have been complete. In particular I'm missing the Kite Shield, which I would classify as a Rito item. However, as far as I know, you can only get three of them in the entire game. I still have the one left at Selmie's Spot, but as soon as that is gone, it's extinguished like half of the Lynel weapons...

Revali's amiibo could have been a solution for this little problem, but Nintendo didn't care for that either. Devil's in the details.

Current Progress:
  • Koroks: 777/900
  • Map Rate: 89.92%

PS: I renamed this subseries of my Adventure Log to "EX Log". The "Master Log" will start together with my first Master Mode run, which probably won't happen before the 2nd DLC gets released.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Breath of the Wild EX Log, Entry 4

Back to it! It's been quite a while since the last post, four months to be exact, mostly because I was busy playing Metroid instead. So, I haven't played much Breath of the Wild in the last months, only a few hours, where looking for the remaining Koroks was still the main objective... A pretty boring task, to be honest. I don't want to start Master Mode, before I'm 100% done with Normal Mode, but collecting all Korok Seeds certainly takes its time, so somewhere along the way I lost motivation and focused on the Metroid series instead.

What brought me back all of sudden was the new free update with the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 promotion content, as well as the new Divine Helms for the Champion amiibo. I got all of that already, so it wasn't much to do, but it was still something. I hope that Nintendo will keeps such small updates going in the future, especially if they keep improving the ways of integrating the new content.

I like the way, how this time they provided the "randomly placed chests" for the DLC armor. How they handled this in the Master Trials DLC was mediocre at best, but here you get these new red falling stars with red chests, where looking for them was quite fun. It also didn't feel like they just retroactively added something to the game, which wasn't there before, it felt more like a new event. So, this was handled very nicely.

Luckily, I didn't have to look for other falling stars, because I already met the required materials to upgrade all four Divine Helms, which I just got from the amiibo via scam saving. I got most of them on my first or second try, so it didn't take too long. To upgrade them all to four stars you need four Star Fragments and eight Giant Ancient Cores, but luckily I got more than plenty of both already.

Originally, I hoped that they would be a nice replacement for the Ancient Helm, which looks too goofy, but they all aren't really that better. I probably like the Vah Ruta Divine Helm best, but it's still weird, especially because Link keeps this terrible mullet with all of them... Yikes.

If they just could give the Diamond Circlet the "Ancient Proficiency" set bonus and I would be happy... I also dislike, how they ended up after the first DLC armor in the sorted Armor Inventory. Why not put them next to the Ancient Armor, where they belong? They did so with Sheik's Mask and the Fierce Deity set, which are amiibo items as well. And those are the kind of small details that Nintendo keeps getting wrong with the armor.

The new Salvage gear isn't that great either and certainly not for everyone's taste. The clipping errors with shields are especially bad:

Anyway, to fill my Armor Inventory for now, I bought duplicates of both the Hylian Hood and the Hylian Tunic. One advantage is that for now I can't get any additional armor pieces from amiibo that I would just sell anyway. Saves me a little inconvenience, even though they sell for 125 Rupees. The other advantage is that it rearranges the Armor Inventory so that the Climbing set is located on one page with everything right next to each other. Since this is the set I use the most often, I want switching to it to be as quick as possible.

Well, I used crimson dye one the duplicate hood and I already had dyed the original tunic in a navy color. What's interesting here is that these combinations actually match. So, the crimson Hylian Hood looks good with the original color Hylian Tunic:

And the navy dyed Hylian Tunic fits the original color Hylian Hood better. That's just a small observation, overall I haven't put much effort into dyeing yet, otherwise I only dyed Gerudo set into red and the Tunic of the Wild set into crimson as an homage to the classic red tunic (where the crimson Hylian Hood also looks very nice in combination).

About the Koroks, I found about twenty more since my last post. There were a couple remarkable ones that surprised me and even got me puzzled for a while. One was at Cora Lake, where you have to complete some block patterns, but I couldn't find the required magnetic block. It's somewhere under the water cleverly hidden in a blind spot, so you have to look very carefully to find it. Some people even believe this Korok to be a bug...

Following the way north I also discovered two new types of Korok puzzles, which I haven't seen before.

Since I had to travel to Hebra Peak for the Xenoblade chronicles 2 side quest, I used the opportunity to place my Travel Gate on top of the peak as a scatter point from where I dive into the snowy mountains to look for Koroks. My instinct told me that I was missing many Koroks there and they didn't betray me... I quickly found four of them and I will continue my journey through this region.

Current Progress:
  • Koroks: 772/900
  • Map Rate: 89.41%

Got the Champion amiibo

I received this package today. I got the four-pack, which was a lot more convenient than tracking down four individual amiibo. Overall this was a very amiib-heavy year for me, where I probably put more money into them than into actual video games. I got twenty in total, which includes the four 30th Anniversary amiibo from the The Legend of Zelda series that got released at the end of last year, three additional Link amiibo from June, nine Breath of the Wild amiibo (including the Champions), two Metroid amiibo and the two Bayonettas from the Super Smash Bros. series.

I actually only got 10 amiibo before this year, so I expanded my collection by 200%... And that should hopefully be enough for a while. Earlier this year I bought a large plastic box to store all my Zelda amiibo and save them from dust, but that thing is now crowded...

Anyway, here are some photos of my newest additions:

Best of the bunch is certainly Daruk. He has this nice weight to him and he feels very robust. Many amiibo appear rather fragile, which includes Mipha for example, but Daruk is rock hard. But like the other Champions he has a pole coming out of his butt, where Urbosa is easily the funniest exemplary. Well, she certainly has more balls than most men, but with her it's kind of extreme. With the Smash Zelda they even removed the "dildo" pole under her dress with later versions, but in this case Urbosa has her legs spread and the pole goes right through her crotch, which is kind of weird, but certainly doesn't let you peak... And she looks, like she's enjoying it, oh well. So, I'm not entirely sure what Nintendo was thinking here other than "stability".

Anyway, the poles aside the detail work is quite nice. Before this point I didn't even notice that each Champion has their Divine Beast symbol on their blue scarfs and skirts. They also put quite some details into the weapons, where it's a shame that apparently you can't get the Champion weapons from the amiibo.

I will try the amiibo and all their loot in the game later this evening.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Breath of the Wild: Update 1.3.3 Released

Finally there's a new update for Breath of the Wild of version 1.3.3, following the 1.3.1 update from August. They skipped a version number and we can only speculate why that is. Maybe version 1.3.2 was going to support the new amiibo and was made a while ago, while version 1.3.3 then added the new Xenoblade Chronicles 2 gear. We will probably never know.

Anyway, here are the official patch notes:

  • The amiibo of the four Champions (Revali, Daruk, Urbosa, and Mipha) are now supported.
  • The side quest to receive Xenoblade Chronicles 2 collaboration gear is now available.
  • An issue preventing the × mark for Game Overs from being recorded in Hero’s Path mode from Ver.1.3.0 onward has been fixed.
  • Various fixes to improve gameplay.

As soon as you load the game, the new Side Quest named "[Xenoblade Chronicles 2]" will appear in your Adventure Log. Compared to previous EX chest quests, this one offers a new feature with red shooting stars falling from the sky. They look and sound similar to the shooting stars that will earn you the Star Fragments, but the red ones are triggered directly as soon as you look at the right area and the actual drop is much more noticeable, where you can always clearly see and hear the impact. And instead of a Star Fragment, the impact points will house one of three red chests, which are new in design:

You can even see a little Star Fragment decoration on these chests! Once you found all three of them, this is how the fully assembled Salvage Gear looks like:

  • Salvager Headwear
  • Salvager Vest
  • Salvager Trousers

Like the Tingle set it does have a set bonus from the start ("Swim Dash Stamina Up" in this case), but the pieces can't be upgraded at all.

However, concerning DLC armor there is actually an improvement in the new update. As you might have noticed in the description, it doesn't include the typical "if you sell it, you can't get it back" warning anymore. Instead it's just a "rare find". The same change applies to the Nintendo Switch Shirt and all armor items from the Master Trials DLC pack and there's a good reason for that.

You can now purchase all DLC armor from Granté's Collection:

This only includes the ones, which you've found already. But you can now get duplicates and what's more important, you can finally get them back, if you accidentally sold them! This actually crosses off one point from the long list of issues, which is very good news. It shows that Nintendo is still willing to improve the game. It's a small step in the right direction, but there are a few more steps to take!

The Armor inventory is still limited to five pages, which can hold up to 100 pieces of armor, and as of version 1.3.3 there are 98 individual armor pieces in the game. So, if you get one of everything including all the new armor, there are only two open slots left. Hopefully Nintendo will expand this by one page or else you will have to sell the goods in order to make space for all the upcoming DLC armor (if there are more than two pieces coming, which is highly likely).

According to GameFAQs, the falling chest at Mount Drena was also fixed. It now sits on top of the mountain. The glitched chests in Hateno Village, at Rassla Lake, Aris Beach and the Old Man's Hut weren't fixed, however.

Update: amiibo functionality

Other than the Divine Helms, scanning the Champion amiibo will reward you with the weapons of the respective tribe, but seemingly not the Champion weapons themselves. In addition Daruk drops minerals, Mipha drops fish, Urbosa drops meat and Revali drops fruits.

While the Divine Helms do support the "Ancient Proficiency" set bonus as a replacement for the Ancient Helm, they don't have the "Guardian Resist Up" buff, but only the buffs already advertised by Nintendo:

  • Vah Rudania Divine Helm: Flame Guard (Lv1)
  • Vah Ruta Divine Helm: Swim Speed Up (Lv1)
  • Vah Naboris Divine Helm: Electricity Resistance (Lv1)
  • Vah Medoh Divine Helm: Cold Resistance (Lv1)

To upgrade a Divine Helm it takes the same materials as for the Ancient Helm, so that's:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Grezzo Working on a Legend 2

Grezzo, the developers behind Ocarina of Time 3D, Four Swords Anniversary Edition, Majora's Mask 3D, Tri Force Heroes and Ever Oasis have new job postings on their website with a certain phrase on top:

"Would you like to make a legend with us? 2"

If this feels familiar, then that's because back in June 2014 they had a similar job advertisement, where the year after they released both Majora's Mask 3D and Tri Force Heroes. The job advertisement could have been for either one, based on the description it probably was Tri Force Heroes, but this is a direct reference to the job ad from before, where the "2" hints at the fact that they're doing this again. So, it seems like they are back to work on Zelda, which is nice to hear.

What's interesting here is that they are looking for developers with experience in Unreal Engine, so this is certainly not about another Nintendo 3DS game and they might be developing for the Nintendo Switch now. As a longtime Unreal fan this has me excited quite a bit and also sparks my curiosity, because this could lead to a few things.

Overall the Unreal Engine is quite versatile and can be used to make sidescrollers or games from the topdown perspective for a 2,5D look, as much as any traditional 3D game in different visual styles. So, the speculations are all over the place. I've seen fans asking for HD remakes of both Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask on the Switch (see this article from Morgan Lewis for example), where the Ocarina of Time in Unreal Engine 4 project by CryZENx certainly left many impressions of how nice this could look...

But I personally would say that it's way too early to remake the Nintendo 64 Zelda games again, because the Nintendo 3DS iterations are still good enough. The only 3D Zelda game that hasn't seen an update yet is Skyward Sword and I'm convinced to see Skyward Sword HD at some point in the future on the Nintendo Switch, because the Joycons enable this game all too well. But this would be a project of a similar size to the Wind Waker HD, where you have very little effort, because the original visuals of Skyward Sword are perfect for HD upscaling. There's no need for Grezzo or any other studio to translate the game into Unreal Engine 4.

My best bet would be that they are working either on an entirely new topdown Zelda game or a remake of Zelda II - The Adventure of Link for the Nintendo Switch. In a recent interview with Jeuxvideo.com (source) Aonuma was even asked about such a remake, where this might not be a coincidence. I've even considered such a remake in the past after interviews with Miyamoto about the original (see here), where this could lead to a new approach for a sidescrolling Zelda. This even fits the "2" in the job ad quite well, because Zelda II - The Adventure of Link was called "Zeruda no Densetsu 2: Rinku no Bōken" in Japan.

Others claim that this might be a reference to "Seiken Densetsu", also known as the Mana series, because Koichi Ishii, the head of Grezzo, used to work on the Mana series for Square Enix and they are developing a remake of Secret of Mana, but it's doubtful that Grezzo is actually involved there.

Breath of the Wild: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Costume

Today Nintendo aired their Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Direct and as quite a surprise they announced new armor for Breath of the Wild based on the character Rex from the game:

This will be distributed on November 9th as a free update that contains a new side quest, which will lead to the outfit. Supposedly, the same update will also support the four new Champion amiibo, which will be released on November 10th.

I don't expect too much here - the new side quest will probably be on the same line as the armor pieces gotten from "Misko's Journal" in the Master Trials DLC, so some randomly dropped chests somewhere with armor pieces that can't even be upgraded...

But this is nonetheless a nice promotion and a nod to the fact that Monolith Soft, the developers of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, helped out with creating the world of Breath of the Wild. This outfit also fits the game surprisingly well thanks to the new tech theme in Hyrule.

However, this also opens the door to similar promotions, where the costumes might not look as integrated as this one. With non-Nintendo games on Nintendo systems we get these kind of costumes all the time, for example there is Link's gear in Skyrim now, but it never really has been the other way around for Zelda. Breath of the Wild is certainly a popular game and seemingly predesignated for such promotions, but hopefully Nintendo won't overdo it in the future, where we could end up with Link crossdressing as Bayonetta instead of the other way around.

On a side note, if you now collect all the armor in the game, including this new Rex costume and the four Divine Helms, the Armor inventory should be filled except for three slots. Two, if the Rex costume comes with an additional helmet or head gear. It's hard to tell from the pictures, whether the helmet on the back is a separate piece or a part of the body, but in any case there's not much space for additional armor left. There will also be more armor in the Champions' Ballad DLC, where we've already seen one piece, so hopefully Nintendo will expand the Armor inventory by one page in one of the upcoming updates or otherwise it won't be possible to collect everything anymore.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Breath of the Wild: Divine Helms Abilities

The Champion amiibo will be out next week and Nintendo posted the following on Facebook about the abilities of the new helmets that you can unlock with them:

With the Champion amiibo coming out on November 10th, learn more about what each helm does in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild!

When any of the Divine Helms are equipped with Ancient Cuirass and Ancient Greaves (All armor items need to be upgraded level 2 ★★ or above), you’ll also trigger a set bonus, Ancient Proficiency, which increases the attack power of Ancient or Guardian series weapons. All of them will increase guard from ancient energy attacks, while defense level and required materials for level-up are the same as those of Ancient Helm. Enemies' remaining HP/full HP will also be visible like the Champion's Tunic.

Additionally, there are specific effects for each item:

  • Vah Rudania Divine Helm: Flame Guard (Lv1)
  • Vah Ruta Divine Helm: Swim Speed Up (Lv1)
  • Vah Naboris Divine Helm: Electricity Resistance (Lv1)
  • Vah Medoh Divine Helm: Cold Resistance (Lv1)

And here are their artworks again:

Well, this sounds really good! It's almost funny, how they explicitly mention the set bonus, after I've complained several times that the previous alternate headgear like all the jewelry didn't provide this. This was especially disappointing with the Ancient Set, where the Ancient Cuirass and Ancient Greaves look pretty badass, but the Ancient Helm looks extremely dorky. The Diamond Circlet was a more expansive alternative, but didn't provide the useful "Ancient Proficiency" set bonus. So, I'm glad that there finally are nice alternatives available. And not only that, they also give the HP numbers of enemies similar to the Champions' Tunic.

What's intriguing is that they all offer a 2nd ability boost based on the four armor sets of the different tribes. So far no piece of armor in the game did this and now they basically also function as alternative head pieces for all the tribe armor.

If Nintendo is really good, they also provide a set bonus in those cases, e.g. using the Vah Ruta Helm together with the Zora Armor and the Zora Greaves enables the "Swim Dash Stamina Up" bonus or using the Vah Rudania Helm with the Flamebreaker Armor and the Flamebreaker Greaves makes you "Fireproof". And if Nintendo is really, really good, they also add the set bonus to head pieces that should have them, like all the jewelry or Sheik's Mask.

It felt like the first DLC handled the armor in a very sloppy way and hopefully Nintendo is willing to improve all of that.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ocarina of Time 3D Nintendo 2DS Bundle Announced

Wrong bundle, Nintendo! This is not a Nintendo Switch, nor Breath of the Wild! And it doesn't even it look good! You're doing it wrong!

Jokes aside, with a 80$ price tag this is really a good deal for anyone, who wants to dive into classic Zelda. Breath of the Wild certainly spawned some new interest in the series, where both Ocarina of Time 3D and A Link Between Worlds would be my recommendations to anyone, who wants to get into Zelda. My only problem would be the missing 3D, because the 3D effects in both games are excellent and a good reason to own an actual Nintendo 3DS, instead of a Nintendo 2DS model.

And the green color isn't that appealing... But it doesn't get any cheaper than that. Considering that the game alone costs 20$, you get a 60$ Nintendo 2DS system here.

Breath of the Wild: Explorer's Edition Announced

This is not going to make me buy a Switch, Nintendo!

This is a special Black Friday item in North America, where you get the game together with a 100 page guide and a map on November 23rd. This might coincide with the date of the 2nd DLC pack, the Champions' Ball, however, this new edition doesn't even contain the DLC, so there's no guarantee.

So, nothing exciting here. I'm still waiting for a special Breath of the Wild console bundle and I know many others, who do. If Nintendo wants to boost their Zelda Christmas sales, then that's the way to do it and not just some Beginner's Edition.

Anyway, in the past you got stuff like a map and a small guide even as part of a normal game package. A Link to the Past did this for example, where you had a map of Hyrule with hints on the back. And manuals usually offered colorful tips for the game - as a kid I kept studying my manuals. Today you're lucky, if you even find a physical copy of the game in your box and not just some download code. Or you need to buy some "Explorer's Edition". I guess, this edition might have value, especially since the guide book certainly exceeds the classic manual, so it certainly will find some buyers, but most of those, who don't have the game yet, don't have a Nintendo Switch.