Tuesday, May 29, 2018

New Nintendo 2DS XL Hylian Shield Edition Announced


Well, that's certainly something different from all those golden editions that we got for Zelda themed handhelds so far. This is looking good and I would even consider getting this for my collection, if it were available in my area, unlike the Hyrule Edition New 3DS XL, which simply was too similar to my beloved Majora's Mask 3D Edition and therefore not as interesting.

But for now this seems to be a GameStop exclusive in the US. It even comes with A Link Between Worlds pre-installed, which is a nice deal. But this makes it look unlikely that we will get another Zelda game on the Nintendo 3DS this year, because otherwise they probably would have waited with releasing a Special Edition for this game. (But this is Nintendo we're talking about, so they still might release another 3DS Zelda game and another New Nintendo 2DS XL Edition for that one...)

With the current success of Breath of the Wild, it's clear that Nintendo wants to push things. And getting people to buy a Nintendo 3DS system of any kind for its very good Zelda library is a smart move, because there is much more interest in the franchise now and some of its best games can be found on the system.

That being said, this is already the fifth Special Edition of a system in the Nintendo 3DS family and that's not even counting the ugly Nintendo 2DS Bundle with Ocarina of Time 3D from last year. Things went out of hand here. Do we really need a Zelda Special Edition (New) Nintendo 3DS / 2DS (XL) every year?

What we would need is such a bundle for the Nintendo Switch... I'm still waiting for one!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Mini Game Online Leaderboards


Back when I was really into Rupee Rush from A Link Between Worlds, probably my favorite mini-game in the entire Zelda series, I made the suggestion that the game should have had online leaderboards for mini-game high scores.

Now, Super Mario Odyssey has exactly that for most of its mini-games, like the Jump-Rope Challenge, the Beach Volleyball or all those Koopa Freerunnings. They don't feel as enticing, however, the first one got even glitched twice by now... But it's something that still might be interesting for future Zelda games.

Nintendo will certainly push their new Nintendo Switch Online service from now on, where probably the majority of their games have to support online functionality in some way. For Zelda there are multiplayer-centric episodes every now and then, as well as additional battle modes, which could do the job. But for a Zelda game without any online play, mini-game leaderboards seem like a safe bet.

It's also something that adds value to the game, while it's not really required for playing and completing it. Nintendo's online services will be shut down eventually, like it already was the case for Nintendo DS and Wii, and then the games don't work online anymore, which is a problem. It kills the timelessness and might even prevent you from completing them. In case of Tri Force Heroes you can at least still complete it in local multiplayer, but something like the Friend Vouchers in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption can't be done anymore. So, I'd rather have mini-game online leaderboars than some forced online feature like the Friend Vouchers.

But it would need good mini-games for this. Something that's fun and where you keep going, continually improving your high scores. Honestly, I only ever had this experience with Rupee Rush in the Zelda series. Breath of the Wild has terrible mini-games for the most part, where I was glad that only two of them had exclusive rewards attached to them. I certainly didn't miss online leaderboards there. But this doesn't mean that the next Zelda game wouldn't profit from such a feature.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Starting Silence Mode


From today on this blog will run in "private mode", where the outside world won't have any access... at least for now. This is a reaction to the current GDPR mess and might take a while to be solved.

Today Google updated the Blogspot cookie banners, which is the first real sign that they are still interested in keeping things. If Google puts more efforts into this and the GDPR jurisdictions turn out to be okay for small websites like this one, this blog might have a chance of coming back. So, I will keep this going in silence for now.

It feels really weird, to be honest. While this was always a personal blog about my favorite video game franchise(s), which I mainly use to process my thoughts about Zelda and the like, I've always written it with an audience in mind. With no audience there, it takes the wind out of the sails. It still will help to process my thoughts, however, and I do like to read my contents from the past. But the hope that this might be read by someone other than myself in the future is still there.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Closing Hyrule Blog

In a three days time the moon will crash on the world this blog will shut its doors. It will be set to "private", where only I will be able to read any of it.

This is to "comply" with the European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which will be enforced starting May 25th. Chances are that you've heard about in the last weeks, because most online platforms are updating their privacy policies because of it. It affects almost everything that potentially has some sort of data from Europeans, which goes as far that certain sites and firms will effectively shut off Europe from their servers just to avoid it. Which won't work, because proxies are a thing. But the reaction is fully understandable, because the fines are astronomical and existence-threatening.

At its core the GDPR means well and is probably long overdue, but the execution is so flawed that conspiracy theorists may view it as an open attack on the free web and on free speech in the Internet, disguised under the name of data protection. The main issue of the GDPR is that its regulations seemingly aim at the big firms like Google or Facebook, but they are so vague that they apply to everyone and everything on the web, making any site a target for warning fees.

The big firms with their armies of lawyers and IT experts can prepare for this accordingly. But small companies and private persons will struggle with the current legal maze. Blogs, wikis, boards, homepages, online school projects... everyone needs to comply and mistakes are costly.

And as an individual it's quite the effort to deal with all this and chances are that you are still making some mistakes, even if you go as far and hire a lawyer. So, starting May 25th it becomes quite a personal risk to run a website of any kind.

...

And this is where I stand. For me this always has been a harmless hobby. This site never generated a single cent and I just did it for the fun of it. Blogspot was the platform of my choice, because it was completely free and I didn't have to take care of anything here. I could just start a blog, modify the layout and start posting. It was simple, carefree and fun.

But as a blog owner you're now becoming a "data controller" and are forced to do all kinds of things, including setting up a lengthy Privacy Policy, which only lawyers are ever going to read, and even making "data processing contracts" with Google, where Google has yet to offer them directly to their bloggers in some form of automated process.

Probably the biggest issue, however, is that the GDPR forces you to make your address and phone number public for everyone to see at any time... There's some gigantic irony here that I would need to disclose my full personal data in the name of data protection. Who's protecting my data here? Certainly not the law. And I don't want any part of this.

So, the only sane thing to do is to not take any risks and close this blog for now. With some luck it won't be forever. The problems of the GDPR currently show and protest is there, where things might get loosened for small websites like this one... Maybe over time it will get a lot clearer and easier to make a Blogspot blog compliant. But for now I will need to stay quiet and observe the situation. When the smoke clears and I can just keep doing what I love without any personal risk, Hyrule Blog will return. Otherwise this will really be the end of it.

...

The last days I've been publishing quite a few posts - stuff that I still wanted to write, as long as someone can read it. And this shows how much this hobby actually means to me - I love writing this blog and there won't be a real replacement for it, because what I'm doing here would be an overshoot for community boards and even other Zelda news blogs, since it's simply too personal. So, this isn't an easy decision and it currently feels like a big part of me is dying...

I might keep writing this blog in private, so in case that it can return, there won't be a massive gap without any posts. But despite the fact that I've been writing this blog mostly for myself to process my thoughts about my favorite video game franchise(s), with no one there to read any of it, it probably won't be the same anymore and I might lose the motivation to go on.

All of this is especially sad considering that next month would have been the 10th Anniversary of Hyrule Blog and the next E3 with interesting new topics. And the Future of Zelda currently looks brighter than ever, where I'm really excited for what comes next in the franchise...

In the meantime you can follow me on Twitter, where I probably will become more active as a result, but naturally I won't be writing any lengthy posts there. (This is of course part of the GDPR irony, where I'm driven to a large social network, instead of writing my own blog...) But if a Smartphone Zelda is happening next, as I'm currently hoping, Twitter might be a good platform to share my thoughts about the game and my current progress on the go.

Thanks to everyone, who has been reading and supporting this blog over the years! Hopefully you will be reading it again soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Revisited


It's been a while, since I've revisited Metroid Prime on the Wii U, and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes actually followed right after, in November 2017. I've completed the "Veteran Mode" at the time, but since I've set the goal to finish all Metroid Prime Trilogy games in both the Veteran and Hypermode difficulties, I wasn't done yet.

But I couldn't muster up enough motivation to play through the game again right away and then Breath of the Wild happened, where I returned to the game for its DLC. It wasn't before now, half a year later, that I'm finally done revisiting the planet Aether.

So, this took me quite a while, which in all honesty doesn't speak for the game. Of all my replays and revisits in the last years, this one probably covered the longest time span due to the circumstances. The actual game time wasn't that long, though it took me a couple of hours longer than for Metroid Prime. So, mainly this was because I lacked the motivation.

It doesn't mean that I don't like the game, for the most part I even like it more than Metroid Prime, because it fixed so many issues that I had with the previous game. The first person platforming was toned down heavily, the visors are more fun to use and the ammo-based beam system really has some strategy to it, instead of simply matching the right color.

(Though you still do this with doors, where I would have preferred it, if these doors went normal after the first time, similar to the red doors that you have to open once with Missiles. Ideally, when you've explore everything, all doors should be normal for the sake of convenience and ammo savings. But that's nitpicking...)

Overall I still prefer it, when beam stacks like in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and I don't have to worry much about ammo consumption. I would even argue that Other M did things best, where you can regenerate Missiles on your own and Hard Mode doesn't have any pick-ups at all, but the game still works fine. Metroid for me is the most fun, if I reach a point, where I run through the world blasting. Super Metroid has that, Other M has that and Samus Returns has that as well, which for me immensely adds to the replay value of these games.

But Metroid Prime 2: Echoes never really reaches this point. In fact you always feel kind of weak and enemies usually take much time and resources to be defeated. In Torvus Bog I keep running by the Grenchlers, because they are so annoying to deal with, even at the end. At least in Metroid Prime, where you had a similar enemy with the (Baby) Sheegoths, you could later one-shot them with the Plasma Beam, which is hugely satisfying. That's the kind of ingame development that I'm seeking from Metroid.

Echoes doesn't offer this, however. The Power Beam is the only thing that doesn't waste ammo and it feels too weak for the job from the start. Ammo stations would have been more important than ever, but they are scarce, so you often have to take the time to shoot stuff in the environment with your Dark and Light Beams to produce the opposite ammo.

And the Annihilator Beam at the end then feels like a massive disappointment, where it completely betrays all expectations created by its name and it's just not worth the high ammo waste. The only thing it annihilates are the Ing, when you use it on a light beacon or crystal, which draws them into suicide. But that only works on them and otherwise you're better off still swapping between Dark and Light Beam, which you both get early.

That's a good point, actually, because what the game lacks in endgame power, it makes up for a great beginning. I love Agon Wastes. For me it's the best and most satisfying part of the game. The atmosphere is great and it got the whole dark world feeling right, mostly because it's still the part, where Dark Aether hurts you badly and really feels claustrophobic. You also get many useful power-ups in this part, including Space Jumps, the Dark Beam, the Light Beam and the cool-looking Dark Armor. You have a nice face-off with Dark Samus and engaging the Space Pirates is a lot of fun here, while I always hated the Space Pirate parts in Metroid Prime.

I love the beginning of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Federation Force really should have followed this and Corruption for its design, instead of going into the ridiculous chibi optic. Then it might have sold some copies after all. Echoes even has the giant turrets that you can use to blast things in the environment and Space Pirates coming out of giant dropships. It just doesn't look as cute, which certainly helps, and if Federation Force was any cool, it would have stuck to the Trilogy aesthetics.

Anyway, it goes downhill from there. Torvus Bog has some really nice music, probably the best in the game, but that's as much as I'm willing to praise the area. Traversing it is not much fun and often even needlessly convoluted (especially in the Submerged Temple), you get the worst power-ups in the game and the enemies can be super annoying, mainly the aquatic Alpha Bloggs and the aforementioned Grenchlers. This goes so far that I prefer exploring Dark Torvus, because Dark Aether here actually feels much less threatening and even like a place, where I can rest and relax from the annoying swamps. And that's probably not how it should be...

The game also has some confusing back-tracking here, where I was stuck for quite a while, when I replayed the game last November in Veteran Mode. Overall the game is much more structured than it predecessors, which I've previously analyzed in my Worlds of Metroid article. Agon Wastes establishes the division into the three temple areas, where in one area you need to find entrances to Dark Aether, collect all three Dark Temple keys and fight the giant boss at the end of the temple in Dark Aether. It's as close to Zelda as Metroid probably will ever get. Thing is that you completely stayed within Agon Wastes and its dark counterpart for the whole time. And the areas in Dark Aether aren't connected at all, so you're really focusing on the one area at a time.

Now I thought that the same would apply to the Torvus Bog, but after acquiring the Boost Ball you actually have to leave the area and get the Seeker Missiles in the Temple Grounds. This isn't unusual for a Metroid game, but I simply didn't expect that during this moment and was stuck for a while, because I had the hint system deactivated and the game doesn't really leave any ingame hints for this. You have to remember that one half-pipe in the Temple Grounds and consider this as the way to proceed... Metroid Prime had also some parts, where it's not entirely clear how to move forward, but Metroid Prime 2: Echoes used back-tracking in a very obscure way.

The same happens during the Sanctuary Fortress, again after defeating a Morph Ball ability mini boss - the Spider Guardian. Now you have to remember that on bottom of the Submerged Temple there were still some magnetic rails that take you to a portal, which then leads to the Power Bomb Guardian. By studying the map there, it looks like the whole part is closed off by yellow doors, which need Power Bombs, and because I didn't remember it all too well, I was stuck again, wandering around the Sanctuary Fortress without any real clues what to do next...

And while I know that the Sanctuary Fortress has many fans, I'm not one of them. It's similar to Torvus Bog, where the music is certainly great, but it's not as much fun to play. Again it feels like the Ing Hive, the Dark Aether counterpart, is actually nicer and less threatening than the light world, where you're attacked by Ing Smashers one too many times. Those guys usually close all doors and take a lot of ammo to be defeated, which stops being fun after a while...

Other enemies in the area like the Quads or the Rezbits are also not to be underestimated and need exactly the right strategy, so that they are not completely annoying. The Quads want two Super Missiles to the head and then be destroyed with your Boost Ball or else they will annoy the hell out of you. The Rezbits want to be frozen with dark energy and then smashed with a missile or else they will annoy the hell out of you.

But the enemies that really take out the momentum of the game are the bosses. The temple bosses are all impressive, but they overstay their welcome far too long with their multiple phases. The Armobis fight was quite difficult in Hypermode, where it just keeps going and at the end you have three worms jumping around from all directions, which can cost you a lot of health. Luckily, there is usually a save station not too far away from the main bosses, which can't be said about all the Guardians.

The Spider Guardian is especially frustrating in that sense, because if you have to repeat the fight, you have keep going through the whole temple and Energy Controller part again, before you can do the fight again. Here I really prefer the system of Other M and Samus Returns, where you can start over from the beginning of a boss fight, in case you die there. The motivation to try again is a lot higher, if you don't have to go through the same set of rooms again and again and again, taking you out of the action and needlessly wasting a lot of time.

With the Spider Guardian this is even worse, because the whole fight takes a while with its puzzle nature and the real difficult part comes at the end. Whoever had the idea that making you jump right between two upward slopes in Morph Ball mode hopefully isn't working for Retro or Nintendo any longer. Problem is that the Morph Ball doesn't offer the necessary precision. You need to accelerate to go up the slopes and then stop right on top, but the ball usually keeps some momentum and then rolls down again. It's very tricky and frustrating. It's like playing Rollgoal from Twilight Princess in a boss fight situation. A good game never creates challenges based on its flawed controls, it should always hide the flaws as much as possible, which Echoes absolutely doesn't do during this part.

Curiously, I didn't have as many problems during my Hypermode run, I did it on first try there. And I mean trying the fight once without dying, since the last part still took me many attempts to get right. But once you figured it out, you can keep trying without taking (much) damage.

I can't say the same about the Boost Ball Guardian, however. It's kind of the opposite, where I barely managed him on my first try during my Veteran run and then took about two dozens of attempts in Hypermode. This fight just doesn't feel balanced at all and he used to be even more difficult in the GameCube version, imagine that! But my main problem was that I treated it like a Morph Ball fight, while you're better off jumping and shooting things, until the stalker soup appears that want to be attacked with Bombs... Anyway, at least you don't have to repeat half of Torvus Bog, in case you fail.

The Spider Guardian is also an example for another phenomenon in the game: Morph Ball platforming. What the game luckily lacks in first person platforming, it makes up for with its Morph Ball sequences, where some items might take a while to get. There's lots of jumping involved, where the Wii version's Spring Ball comes in handy, but the momentum of the Morph Ball doesn't only make the Spider Guardian tricky, but also some of the platforming sequences.

Anyway, after you're done with all bosses sans the final one, the fun will finally return. I really enjoy these scavenger hunts at the end of games, where you return to most parts of the world, which seemed to be a common thing among GameCube titles. The Wind Waker did with the Triforce Shards, Metroid Prime did it with the Chozo Artifacts and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes did it with the Sky Temple Keys. It's a great incentive to re-explore everything at the end with all your powers, though sadly in Echoes you don't grow too powerful, as already mentioned.

The back-tracking can also be quite some fun, because there are many items to discover, where Agon Wastes seems again like the most satisfying part. Lots to find there. By the way, I completely forgot about the teleportation between Energy Controllers with the Light Suit... It's not that useful, however, you might be using it once or twice for shortcuts during the final back-tracking part and that's it. But it's essentially the series' first attempt at Teleportation Stations.

It's also curious, how even the darkest parts of Dark Aether, where you find Dark Tallon Metroids, Phazon and Ingstorms, don't scare me as much as the Phazon Mines or the Impact Crater in Metroid Prime. It never has this uneasy feeling and I actually enjoy exploring the depths of darkness. But it's mostly because the enemies are not as annoying. For example the (Dark) Tallon Metroid are dealt with easily, unlike those nasty Fission Metroids.

There are also some parallels to Breath of the Wild in the game, mainly between the corruptions caused by the Ing and Calamity Ganon. In both cases you have some tentacle eye monsters, which seems to be a common theme in Nintendo games, because Phantom Hourglass did the same thing with Bellum. And you have guardian robots being corrupted by some dark goo, shooting lasers at you...

That's mostly it for the game and I probably won't be touching this ever again, until there's some HD remaster. But I'm looking forward to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, where its Hypermode ability seems to be the right thing for me. Get blastin'!

Mounts and the Master Cycle+


For a sequel to Breath of the Wild I would assume that Nintendo will focus a lot more on the game's mounts. Horses were already an important part of Breath of the Wild and traversing the game's massive world, but the execution was flawed mainly because they lacked the accessibility. You couldn't simply call your horse from almost anywhere at anytime anymore like you could do with Epona in past Zelda games. Nintendo tried to fix this by introducing the Ancient Saddle and the Master Cycle Zero in the Champions' Ballad DLC Pack, but for many players this probably came to late.

The Master Cycle Zero is also accessed only very late in the game, after completing all of its main quests. It helped me quite a lot while searching for all 900 Koroks in Normal Mode, but when I got the bike in Master Mode I was done with pretty much everything else and therefore barely used it at all... For a sequel it would be nice, if Link had the Master Cycle Zero right from the beginning and then received some updates and alternatives for it over the course of the game. But let's discuss this by looking at the different terrains that you'd want to traverse with mounts.


On Land


Here horses are the primary method of transportation with the Master Cycle Zero as an alternative. Horses can be faster, run autonomously and don't need fuel, so they still have some advantages over the bike. But they can also die and need the Ancient Saddle for the same level of availability. So, especially if you would get the Master Cycle Zero Rune early in a sequel, you'd want horses still seem like an attractive alternative or else you won't be using them at all. A good start would be letting them teleport to you without a special saddle, while other saddles and bridles might offer useful abilities.


On Water


This part feels kind of underdeveloped in Breath of the Wild and didn't offer any real mounts yet. You can either swim, which is terribly slow even with the full Zora Armor set, or you can use rafts, which felt slightly inconvenient and more like a physics demo. Let's say a sequel takes place somewhere in the ocean, like on an large island with some smaller islands around it, it would be nice to have actual sail boats similar to the one in the Wind Waker.

Alternatively, there could also be special animals that could be used for wakeboarding with your shield, similar to the Sand Seals in the desert. In fact it could work very similar with the Zora renting these animals to you.

The most convenient thing on water would be having a Boat Rune, however, which works like the Master Cycle Zero and lets you spawn a small motorboat on water. It could work like the motorboat in Skyward Sword, where the Bomb Rune even could be utilized for a cannon and the Magnesis Rune for a salvage tool. It wouldn't be as fast as using the other mounts, however.


Volcanoes


Who wants to travel Death Mountain in Breath of the Wild has to do so on foot. This makes sense, because horses would burn and the Master Cycle Zero probably would explode. The terrain also isn't exactly the simplest. Still, it would have been thinkable to protect horses either with a fireproof potion or with special fireproof horse gear. This would even give them some relevance over the Master Cycle Zero.

Otherwise there could be special mounts around the volcano that live in the hot terrain. Something like a gecko or a special breed of Dodongos (like Dimitri in the Oracle games) could be used to run around volcanoes and even climb steep cliffs. To think of it, there used to be gecko-like Dodongos in Twilight Princess, who even were able to work on ceilings with their sucker toes. Now they only would need to be tamed by Gorons like horses to climb mountains.


In the Desert


For some reason, you can't neither bring horses nor the Master Cycle Zero into the desert in Breath of the Wild, despite the fact that they would technically work. Instead you will need to rent or catch Sand Seals. Catching them has the disadvantage that they will run away, as soon as you let go of them. Rented Sand Seals stay with you, but can't be called from anywhere. So, as a result you often find yourself traversing the desert on foot. Slowly...

One thing they could do is treat Sand Seals more like horses with actual stables, customization and higher availability. The same could go for similar water mounts and even the Gecko-Dodongos around volcanoes, if such creatures were to happen. But it would also make things more convoluted, while they kept it really simple with the Sand Seals in Breath of the Wild. Since they are only useful in the desert, they are just not as important as horses.

One alternative could be making the Master Cycle Zero work in the desert by transforming it into a trike, as soon as it touches sandy grounds. It wouldn't go as fast, but it would work fine on sand. This is where upgrades to the Master Cycle Zero Rune come in, the "Master Cycle+". You could upgrade the Master Cycle for different terrains, which could also apply to water.

Instead of having a separate "Boat Rune", the Master Cycle+ simply could transform into a boat, when you summon it on water or even drive it into the blue. This would keep things simple and convenient, where the Master Cycle would act like a fun transformer for Link's transportation needs.



In the Sky


Sky is the limit for a Zelda game, where in Breath of the Wild you could only glide through the air with the Paraglider, but not fly up. A sequel might change that and even bring back the Loftwings from Skyward Sword. In that game you could only use yours to fly through the sky to drop you off above the lands, but you couldn't really use it on the actual overworld. A sequel to Breath of the Wild might provide more freedom, where you can fly from A to B on a bird creature.

Alternatively there could be special Pegasus-like horses that let you fly. But that would feel really cheesy, where those things are best kept to Fire Emblem. The Zelda series already established the Loftwings and now only has to bring them back in some form.

They could also go as far and apply the Master Cycle+ thing to the air as well. Drive your bike off a cliff and it will turn into a small airplane. Sounds ridiculous? Well, so did having a motor cycle in Zelda and that still worked out great. Of course the main disadvantage of the Master Cycle Zero still applies here, so if it runs out of fuel, you would have to land again for refueling. Loftwings don't need fuel.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hyrule Warriors 2: Roster Predictions


Yesterday was the release of Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch, bringing together the best of both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS versions of the game. It's certainly a must-have, but I won't be getting and playing it anytime soon, because I don't have a Switch yet. But once I do, it should keep me busy, until there's a sequel.

And there certainly will be a sequel. Hyrule Warriors is one of Koei Tecmo's most successful Musou games, if not the most successful, where development on a sequel probably has started already. I wouldn't expect to learn about the game before 2020, but I would expect a sequel on the Nintendo Switch. Some might be skeptical, whether such a sequel would have any potential for new characters left, but I'm here to take away your doubts by presenting a list of 29 more characters that could be featured in the game - the same number as currently present in the Definitive Edition. Plus, there will also be a couple of new weapons for existing characters.

The game will certainly focus on Breath of the Wild after the game's massive success and build a lot around it. They might even go into the open world direction of Dynasty Warriors 9, where they could take the Hyrule of Breath of the Wild and use the Gate of Souls to fuse in the battlefields from past games like the Bridge of Eldin from Twilight Princess or Death Mountain from Ocarina of Time. Imagine a gigantic Hyrule that's made out of different pieces from many different Zelda games, where you could go from Clocktown to the Forsaken Fortress...

There's a lot of potential in the worlds alone, but also when it comes to character additions and overhauls Breath of the Wild will probably be at the center of it as well. Lana and Cia for example could infuse technology into their magic, where their Summoning Gates already looked quite technological. Link and Zelda could be more similar to their Breath of the Wild counterparts, if those aren't even used as the main Link and Zelda this time around.

But let's start with the character and weapon additions for Breath of the Wild and then take a look at various past Zelda games. I won't go much into detail for movesets, so this article will be more about listing ideas. I haven't included any characters from Capcom / Flagship Zelda titles, like Din, Nayru or Vaati, where it's still uncertain whether Koei Tecmo will ever dive into those games. But even without those there is plenty of material left to be used.

Spoiler warning ahead for some details about characters, which aren't know upfront!


Breath of the Wild


  • Sheikah Slate (Link or Zelda)
  • Old Man - Paraglider
  • Mipha - Zora Spear / Trident
  • Daruk - Goron Smasher
  • Revali - Rito Bow
  • Urbosa - Gerudo Scimitar
  • Hestu - Maracas
  • Maz Koshia - Ancient Blade

Let's start simple here, where the Sheikah Slate with its different Runes could provide another moveset for either Link or Zelda, potentially even both. The Old Man then could be used to feature the Paraglider item and to take a similar role to the King of Red Lions from the previous game.

The biggest addition, however, will certainly be the four Champions, where we finally would be able to play as them. They most likely will be introduced in the sequel all at once and their artworks always looked like they were made for Hyrule Warriors to begin with, with every character holding their signature weapon:


While Urbosa would be the first female Gerudo character in the game, this would add a second Goron, a second Zora and second Rito to the roster. But with their weapons and Champions abilities there is enough moveset potential to let them stand out, so Mipha certainly wouldn't just become a Ruto clone and so on. And naturally there shouldn't be any limits to how many characters of a certain race or tribe are included, especially not if we already got three/four different Links in the game, who all have distinct movesets.

Some of the Champion "descendants" might also be fan favorites, who could make it into the game, where mainly Sidon and Riju come to mind. With Teba and Yunobo it seems like they are simply inferior versions of Revali and Daruk, not offering anything new on the table. And even Sidon doesn't really showcase anything that could turn him into a fighter, where he wouldn't even have a weapon. Riju is probably the only one, who stands out more, where she could utilize Sand Seals and the Thunder Helm. But then again, Urbosa could probably incorporate these things as well, which is why she didn't make the list.

While the Champions perfectly represent four of the different tribes in Breath of the Wild, there are still two races missing, where Hestu would be the perfect candidate for the Koroks. With the Maracas as his weapon type, he would dance and dance and dance, until all foes are gone.

If the last name on the list doesn't ring a bell, it's probably a DLC spoiler for you, so read the following at your own risk...



Ocarina of Time


  • DampĂ© - Shovel
  • Saria - Deku Stick (shared with Lana)
  • Nabooru - Battle Axe
  • Twinrova - Magic Broomsticks

The real star here is with all certainty Dampé. He's a recurring character, who originated in Ocarina of Time and also appeared in Majora's Mask, Four Swords Adventures, The Minish Cap and recently A Link Between Worlds. He would also feature a classic tool from the series, which has appeared in many 2D Zelda games, as his weapon type for what's to become a hilarious moveset. This addition is an absolute must.

The same can't really be said about the others. It's possible that Koei Tecmo might want to complete the Six Sages by adding Saria, Rauru and Nabooru, but the potential here isn't the greatest. At least Saria got her moveset already finished with the Spear (= badly translated Deku Stick) weapon from Lana. That's all Kokiri goodness in there and they only would need Saria's character model for it. This doesn't mean that Lana would lose this weapon, since it could potentially be shared between the two characters, but more about that later.

Rauru seems like the most ambiguous addition, which is why he's actually not featured on the list and only serves as an honorable mention to complete the Six Sages. He could turn into an owl and use light magic, but that's probably it. It's unclear what his weapon type could be. It could be the "Medallion", but the Light Medallion doesn't really allow tiers or anything.

Nabooru isn't also in the best spot anymore, now that Urbosa does the whole female Gerudo warrior best, including the classic scimitar weapon, but she still made the list. We never really saw Nabooru fighting outside of her Iron Knuckle form, but this form could be used to differentiate her, where she could wield the Silver Gauntlets to swing that gigantic Iron Axe herself and potentially even turn into an Iron Knuckle for her Special or Focus Spirit.

Nabooru would even be featured alongside her arch nemesis - Twinrova. She would be a larger character, similar to the Great Fairy, where you play as her in her fused form. She still could split into Koume and Kotake for her Special Move or finishers, however.


Majora's Mask


  • Happy Mask Salesman - Bag of Masks
  • Deku Link or Deku Princess - Deku Pipes
  • Goron Link or Darmani - Bongos
  • Zora Link or Mikau - Guitar

Majora's Mask still has many main characters left to offer, where the Happy Mask Salesman takes the front rank. For his combos he could utilize different masks for different abilities, e.g. using the Blast Mask to create explosions. He could even put on the Bunny Hood, while he's running, where this could turn into a fun character.

Hyrule Warriors already features Young Link and with him Fierce Deity Link, but there are still three transformed versions of Link left, which could make it into the game and which would use their musical instruments as the weapon type.


Alternatively they could go for the original characters these Links were based on or in case of Deku Link for the Deku Princess, who could do the spinning and piping probably as good as Link. We don't have a Deku character yet in the game, so either one would be nice to have. Honorable mention goes to the Deku Butler, who could use his umbrella for some flying maneuvers, but who ultimately wasn't as interesting.

Again, there might be some concerns about having even more Zora and Goron characters, but both Mikau and Darmani would be different enough from Ruto, Mipha, Darunia and Daruk thanks to their musical instruments and them using their bodies to fight. Darmani would primarily use his fists and Mikau would perform martial arts, much like in Majora's Mask.


The Wind Waker & Four Swords Adventures


  • Beedle - Bug Net
  • Makar - Violin
  • Grappling Hook (Toon Link)
  • Four Sword (Toon Link)

Beedle is another recurring character in the series, who sold you stuff in many Zelda games - six to be exact. Here it's likely that he will get a special Hyrule Warriors incarnation, instead of being based on a specific game, but he originated in the Wind Waker, which is why he's part of this list. His weapon type would be the Bug Net, which he sells in Skyward Sword, where in his moveset he could try to catch some rare beetles, accidentally hitting enemies on his way. His Masked Beedle form could be used for Focus Spirit, while the bike from Skyward Sword or the big beetle bag from Breath of the Wild could be used for specials and finishers. Fun, fun.

The Wind Waker itself was already heavily featured in Hyrule Warriors: Legends with four different characters and two new stages. So, there isn't really much left here other than Makar, who would be another potential Korok and certainly a lot closer to the typical Korok than Hestu. But he has about the same importance as Medli, who's already in the game, and the violin along with his ability to fly and plant trees could make him interesting enough.

Other than that we have some new tools for Toon Link with the Grappling Hook and the Four Sword, which is probably the one big thing that we can expect from the Capcom Zelda games, since it was also at the center of Nintendo's own game, Four Swords Adventures. But a moveset, where Toon Link fights alongside three of his copies could certainly be interesting.


Twilight Princess


  • Hero's Spirit - Rusty Sword
  • Yeto - Fish
  • Fishing Rod (Link)
  • Poe Lantern (Wizzro)

With Twilight Princess we have a similar scenario to the Wind Waker. Koei Tecmo already butchered the game, featuring Imp Midna, Twili Midna, Zant and Agitha, the Spinner, the Ball & Chain, the Dominion Rod, as well as costumes for Link, Zelda and Ganondorf. Skull Kid still could get a Twilight Princess skin, supposedly, but otherwise there isn't much left here.

An interesting addition would be the Lantern, specifically the Poe Lantern, where Wizzro would be the perfect candidate to wield it for a second moveset. This would turn him more into a playable Poe, where he also could summon various types of Poes into the battle.

Otherwise we have a very special form of Link left in the game with the Hero's Spirit, who is basically a friendly Stalfos character and who would utilize the various Hidden Skills for his moveset. He could also even turn into a golden wolf as part of the whole thing.

As for the real Link himself, this is the game where he fishes more than ever and where the Fishing Rod could be turned into another joke weapon, which works similar to a whip, but would look more ridiculous.

The fishes themselves then go to Yeto as another fun character, who would bash his enemies with a dead fish, where various larger fish from the series could be utilized, like the Reekfish and the Hylian Loach. In addition he could nudge you to death, burn you with hot soup and surf around on frozen leaves.


Phantom Hourglass & Spirit Tracks


  • Linebeck - Telescope
  • Oshus - Cane
  • Byrne / Staven - Clawshot
  • Cole - Hats

While the Nintendo DS Zelda games got their own DLC Pack for Hyrule Warriors: Legends, it skipped all of their main characters in favor of Link and Zelda. Linebeck is certainly the guy that everyone expected at the time and he should certainly join the roster in a sequel. He could wield and swing a telescope (where Link even used one as a weapon while wearing the Linebeck outfit in Tri Force Heroes), but he's still a coward, so an important part of his moveset would be summoning his boat and driving over enemies, similar to Toon Link's Sand Wand.

Oshus is another important character in Phantom Hourglass, who would use his cane as his weapon type, which could even feature abilities of canes from the 2D Zelda games like the Cane of Somaria, the Cane of Byrna or the Cane of Pacci. In addition he could control the three spirits, Ciela, Neef and Neri, and even turn into the Ocean King for his specials or finishers.


Spirit Tracks on the other hand has two bad guys to offer, where Cole could fly around, use his crazy guns to shoot things, summon the "Gannon Train" and potentially even transform into Malladus himself for the Special Attack. He could also spawn ghost rats and control enemies like puppets.

Byrne is a cool guy, who certainly would give Volga some competition in being the most badass fighter. His signature claw, which functions like a Clawshot, would also make for a good weapon type. And he would be a representative of the Lokomo, though not the most typical one. But better him than Anjean.


Skyward Sword


  • Demise - Dark Master Sword
  • Groose - Bombs / Loftwing
  • Batreaux - Scythe(s)
  • Ancient Robot (Fi)
  • Whip (Linkle)

Unlike The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword was a bigger Zelda game that left fans craving for more characters in Hyrule Warriors, where Groose took most of the spotlight. His absence was really felt on the Sealed Grounds scenario, where his Groosenator came into action, but Groose himself was missing. It's not entirely clear, how his moveset could look like, but he would shoot Bomb Flowers in some form (possibly even with some kind of self-made Mortar) and he probably would also call his Loftwing into action.

While some of Demise's characteristics made it into the Hyrule Warriors incarnation of Ganondorf, Demise himself still could become a character on his own. But it's kind of weird, how he is the main bad guy of a Zelda game, but doesn't seem like the likeliest candidate here thanks to Ganondorf. But in a new story, where Ganondorf might not be the main antagonist, Ghirahim's old master could return into action.

Batreaux on the other hand is a pure side character of similar "importance" to Agitha. But much like Agitha there is a lot of charm and uniqueness to this character, where he looks like a scary demon, but really is your friendly neighbor. The scythes on the wall of his house could serves as weapons, which is a weapon type that we haven't seen yet, but his moveset naturally should also star the Remlits and Gratitude Crystals in some form.


Basically another character addition would be the Ancient Robot. But this would serve as another weapon type for Fi, where similar to the Great Fairy you're actually playing as the robot and Fi is dancing around you, giving commands. The tiers of the Ancient Robot could be Scrapper (as the default robot), Skipper (the robot captain) and maybe even a miniature version of Gohdan, who is quite similar to the Lanayru Mining Robots in design.

With the Ancient Robots in place, you might also want to include the Kikwi and the Mogma, but they don't really have any outstanding and memorable characters, where you immediately would say that they should make it onto the roster for sure. It's still a possibility, however...

Anyway, there's also the Whip left, which would be a good weapon for Linkle, as whips are often used by female characters. The Whip was also featured in Spirit Tracks as a weapon for Toon Link, but both Link and Toon Link could potentially receive their own whip-like weapons with the Fishing Rod and the Grappling Hook, so this one could go to Linkle as her third weapon.


A Link Between Worlds & Tri Force Heroes


  • Tornado Rod (Ravio)
  • Hilda - Triforce Scepter
  • Irene - Bell / Flying Broomstick
  • Lady Maud - Umbrella

Hilda is the last of the Lorule trio and she really should have been part of the A Link Between Worlds DLC, where Ravio and Yuga got added to the roster. She could have been the 30th character, but sadly it wasn't meant to be at the time. In the sequel she needs to be added for sure, no question about that.

Otherwise A Link Between Worlds has his own version of the Sages, but here only Irene really stands out with the flying Broomstick and the Bell as her items. She's also special, because she's basically Nintendo's own version of one of the recurring characters from the Capcom Zelda games - Maple, the witch apprentice, who collides with you often in the Oracle and who also got added to the GameBoy Advance version of A Link to the Past. Irene could even use a flying saucer and vacuum cleaner in some form to reference that character.

As for weaponry, Ravio still has some tools left in his shed, where "only" the Ice Rod, Bombs, Boomerang and Bow accompanied his Hammer moveset. Out of the items that weren't used, the Tornado Rod feels like the most interesting candidate, but of course he could combine this with other tools again, like the Fire Rod or the Hookshot.

Last and probably least, we have still Tri Force Heroes left. That game should primarily be featured in the form of many new costumes for Toon Link based on all the excellent and hilarious outfits from the game. But we also have the antagonist, the "Lady", who would use her umbrella to fight enemies much like in the game. Her boss fights are also full of moveset potential, which could be utilized for all sorts of crazy things. So, Lady Maud really seems like a safe bet.

Princess Styla would also be a lovely addition, but she doesn't really seem as likely. Still, Koei Tecmo could make her work, if they wanted to, where her dress could even become the weapon type...


Weapon Sharing


This has been mentioned during this article a couple of times. While most weapons in Hyrule Warriors were designed for a specific character - some characters are even the weapon themselves, like Fi - other weapons seem like they could be shared between multiple characters. Nothing in the system speaks against this and this would even be an advantage, if you had multiple characters to chose from to build the same weapon. Unlocking skills with one character would also count for the other.

This should be introduced to get Saria into the game without taking away the Deku Stick weapon from Lana. Both could simply share it. In addition, Lana and Cia could share the Summoning Gate. It even feels more like a weapon that Cia would use, summoning monsters and all that. Also, the Dominion Rod could be used by Twili Midna, possibly even by Hilda.


Summary


Hyrule Warriors 2 seems like a no-brainer, even at this point. Koei Tecmo could effectively double the roster in the sequel, while introducing many of the main characters and some interesting side characters that are still left in the different Zelda games made by Nintendo. There is still so much material to draw on, it would be a waste not to start developing a sequel right away.

The Champions in Super Smash Bros. Switch?

Following my previous post about newcomers in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. game for Nintendo Switch, specifically Ridley, I want to talk about another group of potential characters for Nintendo's all-star fighting game: the Champions from Breath of the Wild!


Revali, Urbosa, Mipha and Daruk. So far there haven't been any rumors about them being playable and I would most likely deem such rumors as "fake", but you see them quite often in fan-made rosters, where usually only one of these characters gets picked, because four additions to the Zelda team or any franchise would simply be too much.

However, for me the Champions are a four-pack. It's either all of them or no one. For the same reason I wouldn't expect one of the Champions being added to Hyrule Warriors right now as a 30th character. It's much more likely that they all will be added at once in an upcoming sequel.

As for Super Smash Bros. I would expect them as trophies in the least, maybe even four additional Assist Trophies that can be used as items in the game. As new fighters I don't think they would have a fair chance, considering that so far they are one-shots in the series. Other one-shots like Midna or Ghirahim also only made it in as Assist Trophies and you shouldn't expect them to be upgraded to playable characters now, where they aren't as relevant anymore.


Who else could be a Zelda newcomer?


Overall I don't really expect any newcomers for Zelda, to be honest. Focus should be on reworking the existing characters, where Link will certainly see some new stuff based on Breath of the Wild and where especially Ganondorf could use an overhaul. Though, it's also possible that Ganondorf simply gets capped, considering that he was just a glorified Captain Falcon clone and hasn't appeared in the series since Twilight Princess in 2006. But I would prefer, if no characters get cut this time, clones or not. Clones can always become more differentiated.

With character additions to Smash it should always be main characters, where the Zelda series doesn't really have much more to offer other than Link, Zelda and Ganondorf. Some would expect Impa as an addition, but she's usually a secondary character with very different faces from a young Sheikah woman with fighting potential to a stout lady to a very old lady...

Toon Zelda was originally also planned for Super Smash Bros. Brawl (source) and if Princess Zelda gets a Breath of the Wild overhaul, they might give Toon Zelda the classic Zelda gameplay, where the Phantom move would even make more sense, while Toon Link could play like the classic Link. It would also be nice, if Toon Link wasn't so alone on the roster, but on the other hand we haven't seen Toon Zelda since Spirit Tracks...

But if they are adding more toon characters, then Toon Ganondorf could be used to finally offer a variant of Ganondorf, who isn't a Captain Falcon clone.

They could also bring back Young Link, however, together with the Great Bay stage based on Majora's Mask 3D. Young Link was already featured in Melee and they could turn him into Fierce Deity Link as his Final Smash, which would be pretty badass. He also could be another classic Link alternative, so there's that. They brought back Roy, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a return of Young Link at some point.


As for stages, other than bringing back classic ones like Termina Great Bay, I would expect a Great Plateau stage in Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch. Maybe they could also do a Lorule stage based on A Link Between Worlds, but if Great Plateau is done well and we get some good classic stages, I will be happy. I would find it more important to have a better stage editor this time.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ridley in Super Smash Bros. Switch?

Lots and lots of rumors are surrounding the new Super Smash Bros. game for Nintendo Switch. One solid leak happened last week and was a slip up of developer Tiago Sonobo (source), who confirmed that the new game is again co-developed by Bandai Namco and that he was working on the rendering engine, where the game was built on. This pretty much confirms that this will be indeed a from the ground up new Smash and not just a port of Smash 4.

After the reveal of the new Super Smash Bros. I made an argument about how this ideally would be an enhanced port of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, where all the contents get ported to a new game. But it's still possible and very likely that many assets will be re-used, much like how many assets of Super Smash Bros. Brawl got reused in Smash 4.

In a recent column for the Famitsu magazine (source), Masahiro Sakurai even stated that he has a relatively healthy working schedule this time around, unlike in the past, where working on Smash really drained him. Either they have been reducing the roster significantly or they are simply re-using many of the characters from Smash 4, so that Sakurai doesn't have to work overtime again to design the full roster.

It's hopefully the latter, where I personally hope that the majority of the Smash 4 roster will return and we don't get cuts just so that they can be sold as DLC later on... The fact that they are not revealing one character after the other, like they did with Brawl and Smash 4 in the past, kind of support this thought. But of course they could always start with that after E3.

Anyway, a "big" topic in most rumors seems to be this guy (behind the pretty lady):


Ridley. Samus' arch nemesis in the Metroid series. If there's one other character from the franchise that has the necessary significance to be featured in Smash, then it's certainly Ridley. He appeared as a boss in the majority of Metroid games - the only ones that didn't feature him were Metroid II - Return of Samus, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Hunters and Federation Force.

The only problem always was that he was "too big". And this still holds. While he was quite small in the original Metroid, this was retconned in Zero Mission. And as a boss in both Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U he was gigantic as well. But to work as a playable character, they would need to shrink him down quite a lot, which wouldn't be very truthful to the character. It's still possible, however.

One rumor I've seen during the last weeks was that he is in fact playable, but not as part of the main roster. Instead there would be a new asymmetrical boss mode, where one player controls a giant boss, while the other players fight him or her. I really like the idea and this would be one legitimate way of making Ridley playable, while staying true to his size. And this would allow for other large boss enemies to enter the stage as playable entities as well.

Today's big Smash rumor also lists Ridley as a playable character, next to Simon Belmont from Castlevania, while the Ice Climbers and everyone from Smash 4 will return. It's not exactly trustworthy, but I like the thought. However, if Konami allows Nintendo to use Simon Belmont, who certainly would be a classic face and great addition to Smash, they should bring back Solid Snake along with him. And Wolf should return as well, while they're at it.

Well, we will know more in one month. E3 2018 certainly will be interesting.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Nintendo Switch Online Detailed

Today Nintendo revealed their plans for the Nintendo Switch online service. When I heard about NES games playable in online multiplayer, I was excited at first. Imagine playing The Legend of Zelda online with others in the style of Four Swords. Multiple Links running over the screen and shooting sword beams. This would have been amazing and an absolute must-have for myself.

Sadly, that's not what this is. Instead it's some sort of Twitch on console for singleplayer games, where your friends can watch you play and even take over. It's not a bad idea and I can even see this winning some popularity, but it's nothing that would get me excited.

The price seems okay: 20€ for a one year, I can live with that. Of course nothing beats the pricing of "for free" that Nintendo's online services used to have. But everything is getting more and more expensive these days...

Cloud backup for save games is also nice to have. But nothing beats backing up save games on a SD card like you could do on the Wii. Why isn't this possible anymore? This already annoyed me on the Wii U, but on the Switch it now feels like they don't allow this on purpose, so that you would subscribe to their online service. Nintendo's Smartphone games also use cloud storage, but they don't charge you for that...

And with games like Hyrule Warriors or Breath of the Wild, where you can easily invest hundreds of hours, you want some way to secure your savegames. For the people who really just want that, this will be a rip-off.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Grezzo Working on Luigi's Mansion 3DS


According to this entry in the Australian Classifications, the remake/demake of Luigi's Mansion is going to be developed by Grezzo. It seems like they are back in their element, following their work on Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D.

This makes sense on multiple levels. Nintendo is currently insisting that they will keep supporting the Nintendo 3DS next to the Nintendo Switch, where Grezzo is one of their studios that so far has almost exclusively developed for the handheld. Ocarina of Time 3D, StreetPass Garden, The Legend of Legacy, Majora's Mask 3D, Tri Force Heroes, The Alliance Alive, Ever Oasis and now Luigi's Mansion - all on Nintendo 3DS.

Out of these titles, which were the most successful ones? Right, the Zelda remakes! Their own games didn't perform so well, sales-wise, which is probably why Nintendo has sent them right back on the remake-bank.

They can't keep sticking to the Nintendo 3DS, forever, though. And last November the studio posted a job offering for what appeared to be a new Zelda title developed for Nintendo Switch (or at least something capable of running Unreal Engine, which can't be said about the Nintendo 3DS). So, Grezzo will move on eventually and maybe Luigi's Mansion will even be their last project on Nintendo 3DS.

While they have developed multiple games concurrently in the last years, this makes it appear less likely that the Nintendo 3DS will see another Zelda episode. Though, it could be developed by Nintendo themselves, of course.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Smartphone Zelda Content Concepts

A Zelda game developed for Android and iOS mobile devices, following games like Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, isn't unlikely and already had been rumored last year. In a recent post I've explained, why I would like to have such a game, but in the meantime I've been putting more thoughts into how the contents of such a game could look like and how it all would be structured.

For this I didn't look far, but instead I've been taking many pages from the multiplayer Zelda outings, mainly Four Swords and Tri Force Heroes. Those count as some of the least popular Zelda games, but let's face it, a Zelda game on smartphones probably won't become a fan favorite either. But it could become something that works well on the platform and would focus entirely on singleplayer this time, which certainly would be preferred by some fans.

Let's go through the basics again. The game would utilize the top down perspective and Toon Link as its protagonist, similar to Tri Force Heroes or the Nintendo DS Zelda games. The touch controls would be based on the latter, so you point in the direction where Link should be going, you tap things in the environment to interact with them, you tap enemies to attack them and there would be button in one corner of the screen to activate your current item. Simple.


Areas and Dungeons


With smartphone games people often want to play in short bursts, instead of going through extensive play sessions that they get from PC or console games. There are exceptions, of course, but Nintendo's smart device titles so far have backed this up. Playing short levels in Super Mario Run and quick rounds of strategy in Fire Emblem Heroes support this play style.

So, with a Zelda game on smartphones it's likely that it will adopt the level-based structure of the multiplayer installments: Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures and Tri Force Heroes. Instead of having a big connected overworld, the game world would be divided into individual areas that give access to shorter levels. Let's take a look at Four Swords and Tri Force Heroes here:



Four Swords featured the Sea of Trees, Talus Cave (ice cave dungeons), Death Mountain and Vaati's Palace. The Anniversary Edition also had the Realm of Memories and the Hero's Trial on top of that.


Tri Force Heroes had the Woodlands, the Riverside, the Volcano, the Ice Caverns, the Fortress, the Dunes, the Ruins and the Sky Realm. Additionally, there has been the Den of Trials as a free DLC level. From the selection of areas this is looking really good here.

The difference between both games is that Four Swords had randomly generated stages in each area (except for the additions in the Anniversary Edition), while Tri Force Heroes had four static levels per area.

It's remarkable how Four Swords featured procedurally generated content at its time, which is quite popular with "Roguelike" games these days. Technically, the game didn't fully generate everything at random, but put together its stages based on different templates. But there are so many that I kept discovering new floors and rooms, even though I've played through the game various times. It really adds to the replayability, which is something you want to have with a smartphone title.

In the case of Tri Force Heroes you had three additional "Challenges" per level, which gave you a reason to replay them, but once you've beaten all 32 levels in all four variants you were done with the game and there was no reason to keep playing other than the fun of it or to support other players with their remaining Challenges. But you'd really want to avoid such a stop here, where procedurally generated levels are the key.

Of course even with level generation you will learn and discover all patterns eventually, but it still would offer a lot more to discover than static levels. It would also allow for a continuous increase in difficulty, where the more often you beat a certain level, the harder it will become.

Now, I would add the typical "themes" as areas to the game: forest, volcano, water, ice, desert and so on. But each area would have an overworld stage and a dungeon stage. So, if you select the forest, you can play either some Lost Woods type of level or a Forest Temple dungeon. You can chose every area from the start, but you need to beat the overworld section first, before you can go into the dungeon. And the dungeons always end with a boss. So, there are two sides to each area, which makes sense for a Zelda game.

Beating a boss for the first time will reward you with an additional Heart Container. Beating a stage will score you something different. Four Swords used different keys for Vaati's Palace for this, but it could be something like Force Gems or Spirit Orbs. Let's say you keep collecting "orbs" from the levels, because this seems like a typical mobile game currency. You could keep getting more orbs from repeating the same stages, however, each playthrough will become more difficult and challenging. Tougher puzzles, stronger enemies, harder to find secrets and so on. You might be able to select lower difficulties again, but then you wouldn't get any new orbs.

Finally, those orbs are required to enter the final dungeon. This could be something that has levels to it, like a giant tower. You need a certain number of orbs to open the first floor, but once you've beaten it, you can strive for higher floors, where the difficulty increases and where you might get different endings and greater rewards. You can compare this to the three Epics in Four Swords, where you can replay the game two times for a greater challenge, just that this would be longer lasting and more challenging. It could even go on forever.

Additionally, the game could have a special trial area, where you would have something like the Den of Trials (a survival dungeon like the Cave of Ordeals from Twilight Princess or the Trial of the Sword from Breath of the Wild), with bosses thrown into the mix. And maybe also special super challenging stages like the Hero's Trial in the Four Swords Anniversary Edition.


Items


Unlike in a normal Zelda game you wouldn't keep the items with you, but they would be part of the stages, like in the Zelda multiplayer games. So, for the sake of simplicity you can always only carry one item with you at a time, which can be swapped on item pedestals.

There could be many different items throughout the game for lots of variety. Anything that was established in top down Zelda games and that works with touch controls could be considered. Here's a list of ideas:

  • Lantern
  • Shovel
  • Slingshot
  • Bow
  • Bombs
  • Boomerang
  • Hammer
  • Grappling Hook
  • Whip
  • Gust Jar
  • Fire Rod
  • Ice Rod
  • Lightning Rod
  • Tornado Rod
  • Sand Rod
  • Water Rod
  • Cane of Somaria
  • Magnetic Gloves
  • Roc's Feather
  • Pegasus Boots
  • ...

These are all items that were featured in past Zelda games, but of course there could and should be new ones as well. There are many possibilities here, though Nintendo often likes to keep the selection of core items small, like around eight different ones. This has been the case for the multiplayer installments and Nintendo DS games, but it's still possible that Nintendo could make Ravio really jealous with such a game.

There shouldn't be any usage limitations like ammo or even a magic / stamina / energy meter. Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures didn't have any limits to the items and it worked fine. The Nintendo 3DS games introduced the energy meter for items to prevent spamming and to add a little challenge, but with touch controls you couldn't go all crazy anyway. As long as nothing gets as overpowered as the Hammer in Phantom Hourglass, things will be fine.

And not having a meter will add to the simplicity. You don't want too many things to clutter the screen. Ideally, there only would be the item and your hearts visible at all times.


Outfits


With a game like this you want a collectible that's useful and that stays with you outside of the stages. Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures didn't have something like this, but Tri Force Heroes then introduced the outfits, which were arguably the best thing about the game.

And this is quite popular with Nintendo games right now. Breath of the Wild offers over a hundred different armor pieces and Super Mario Odyssey has many fun costumes, where they currently keep adding new ones in updates, which is exciting. But Tri Force Heroes did it before and put Toon Link in many cool and crazy outfits, which all had different abilities.

There's also lots of potential for fan service by putting Link into costumes based on different tribes and characters from the Zelda universe, like this neat Darunia outfit, which lets you walk through fire and swim through lava:


There were also outfits based on Fierce Deity Link, Linebeck, the Kokiri, the classic River Zora, the Hammer Bros. from Super Mario, Tingle, Princess Zelda and more.

It was a great feature, where they could just copy the whole thing and even bring a majority of the outfits back. I doubt that anybody would mind. Some outfits were based on multiplayer features or the Energy Gauge, which probably wouldn't return, other outfits might be altered and there certainly would be many new outfits that Tri Force Heroes didn't have, for example to enhance any of the new items. It would be like with the masks in Majora's Mask, which originated in Ocarina of Time, but were expanded even further for the sequel.

Like in Tri Force Heroes you would craft the outfits from Rupees and treasures found in the stages. The main difference here would be that the treasures aren't a reward for beating a stage, they are found everywhere inside the stages by killing enemies, cutting bushes, lifting rocks, opening treasure chests and so on. This would really reward the players, who take their time to explore everything within a level, instead of simply rushing to the finish like.


Shadow Link Battles


While this entire concept has taken a lot from the multiplayer-centric Zelda games, it was so far focused on singleplayer and for good reasons. When playing a game on your mobile phone the connection isn't always the best. And with Nintendo's smart device titles it's already annoying enough that they require a good connections (think LTE) for most of the time or they won't work... The situation wouldn't become any better with an unstable multiplayer on top of that.

It will be interesting to see what Nintendo has planned for Mario Kart Tour, but so far the multiplayer modes were based on "ghosts". Super Mario Run puts you against other players' attempts at the "Toad Rally". And in Fire Emblem Heroes you can create a team for the Arena, which will be controlled by the AI, if another player chooses to challenge you.

But the Zelda series has done something similar before with the StreetPass Shadow Link Battles in A Link Between Worlds. There you could create your own Shadow Links and face the Shadow Links of other players in an arena, which was the fiercest enemy in the game. Tri Force Heroes brought this special AI back, but sadly only for the Den of Trials.


Here it could work similar to A Link Between Worlds. Your Shadow Link will have the same number as hearts as you, which gets used to rank you with other players in the beginning. Additionally you can equip your Shadow Link with an item and an outfit.

Before you enter the arena, you can chose the same: one item and one outfit. The arenas will be based on the different areas and dungeons from the game and have various hazards, but won't have any items in them. This added too much of a luck factor to Tri Force Heroes, where players may or may not spawn right next to their desired items. So, it's best to let them choose what they want upfront.

It's also thinkable that you might face multiple Shadow Links in one match, instead of just one. There could even be different modes, like one where you need to collect Force Gems in a given time.


Content Updates


Nintendo likes to update their smart device titles with new content, features and events on a regular basis. This keeps the games in the news and brings players back to them. And it adds a significant reason to keep playing the games.

Here this would be simple. Major updates would add new areas to the world, which could come with new items that are useful in there. For example there could be a swamp area that features the Water Rod. And of course there would be new outfits to upgrade the new items or to help within the new environments, like a Deku outfit that prevents you from sinking in bogs.

New outfits could also always be part of smaller updates, which are released more often. These could even be there to promote other Zelda or Nintendo games at the time.

Additionally, there could be special "Challenges" for specific areas, which are only available for a limited time and which will reward you with rare materials or many Rupees or "orbs".


Payment Options


With games on smart devices there is always the question, how they eventually become profitable for the developers. Nintendo has tried different approaches here, where Zelda could be somewhere between things.

The game could only give you access to one or two areas in the beginning. You can still enter the final dungeon, if you grind enough "orbs" (or whatever) from those areas, but you can also unlock additional areas by purchasing them. Ideally, there would also be a way to buy the full game, where you get access to all current and future areas at once.

Additionally, there could be micro-transactions to purchase "orbs", Rupees or materials. I'm not a fan of those, but I also don't mind them, as long as they are fully optional.


Conclusion


All of this doesn't really re-invent the wheel here. Make it singleplayer, take the controls of the Nintendo DS Zelda games, take the procedurally generated levels of Four Swords, take the outfits from Tri Force Heroes and the Shadow Link Battles from A Link Between Worlds and all of this would make an entertaining mix for Zelda fans, who want to game from time to time on their smartphones. Of course Nintendo would potentially come up with something new instead, but past Zelda games have already proven that the series might work just fine on smart devices with what it already offered.