Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 – A Dreamy Zelda Year

The Zelda series was basically on a hiatus in 2018 with the only release being the Definitive Edition of Hyrule Warriors, a spin-off game. But this pause quickly came to an end in early 2019, where already in February Nintendo announced the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch with a first trailer.

At E3 2019 the remake then was showcased in great detail with everything around the first dungeon, while we also got a first glimpse at Dampé and the new dungeon building feature, the "Chamber Dungeon". Three months we held the game in our hands and were able to enjoy what's probably one of the most beautiful remakes ever.

The remake of Link's Awakening also saw the release of a new amiibo for Link, as well as Limited Edition with an artbook and in case of Europe also with a GameBoy steelbook.

Sadly, the Chamber Dungeon wasn't able to live up to everyone's expectations, but maybe the latest update of Super Mario Maker 2, which lets you play as Link, gave fans something more of a Zelda building experience.

Other than that we also got Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the Necrodancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda at E3 in June, some sort of crossover spin-off game, where the rhythm-based gameplay of Crypt of the Necrodancer gets a nice Zelda reskin, where you can play as Link, Zelda and others. The game then got a major update in December, which lets you play its villain, Octavo, as well as a dungeon mode.

Cadence of Hyrule also marks the first time, where Nintendo was willing to hand over the IP to an indie studio, which opens the gates for other interesting collaborations.

Overall 2019 really has been a return to form for traditional topdown Zelda games, where thanks to the hybrid approach of the Nintendo Switch we got new 2D Zelda experiences on a home console for the first time since Four Swords Adventures.

At the same time we also got a first glimpse at what's in store for the next, big 3D Zelda game, the sequel to Breath of the Wild. At E3 2019 Nintendo released a first teaser trailer, which shows us Link and Zelda descending into dark underground caves to find a mummified Ganondorf sealed by a mysterious hand, as well as a rising Hyrule Castle. It's really dark and probably creates more questions than it answers, where this game will certainly be a big focus in the upcoming years. For some Zelda fans it already was in 2019.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

33 / 22 / 11

Sometimes there is a certain poetry to how time progresses. I was born the same year as the Zelda series, in 1986, 33 years ago. 11 years later, on Christmas Eve 1997, exactly 22 years ago, I got my first Zelda game. It was The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the GameBoy, as the Nintendo Classics edition, this one:

I wished for this game as a Christmas present, after it had really fascinated me in a Club Nintendo article in 1997, and it has made me a Zelda fan for life. You can read all about my journey in my 20th Anniversary article from two years ago, which spans the following 11 years.

In 2008, 11 years ago and 11 years after my first Zelda game, is when I've opened this blog, which has been a part of my life as Zelda fan ever since. And it's only fitting that now, after 11 more years, the remake of my first Zelda game has been released for Nintendo Switch, as if it were to close a circle.

Link in front of the Town Tool Shop

2019 truly has been the year of repdigits for me: 33 years alive, 22 years as a Zelda fan and 11 years of Hyrule Blog. And all of this brings back a lot of good memories. Maybe today, some child will find The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening under the Christmas tree, which will start a cycle of its own.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Cadence of Hyrule: Octavo's Ode Released

Finally! A free content update for a Zelda game... This is what I've been waiting for. There is so much potential with every new Zelda release and Nintendo barely ever scratches the surface here. Oh, wait, it's just for Cadence of Hyrule? Never mind then...

Well, I'm usually a sucker for everything Zelda and that goes for the spin-offs as well. I've enjoyed the BS Zelda games, Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland and Link's Crossbow Training. And I love Hyrule Warriors. But Cadence of Hyrule? I didn't really care so far. I've only played it once (in coop) and it wasn't much fun. The fact that I don't call the Nintendo Switch my own yet didn't help either...

It does look fun, however, and certainly I'll get into this game someday, somehow. And when I do I will also be able to play as the Vaati rip-off villain, Octavo. Apparently, he's even called "Vaalni" in the game's code, so the developers aren't even trying to hide the reference. He gets his own little story mode and feels much more overpowered with his three-way attack, from what it seems. It might even be a good start...

There is also a new dungeon mode, but it's not like Nintendo has shared any real details about this and I can't tell what this is all about. I've only heard it's good. Sorry for the lack of coverage about this particular game, but I'll make up for it later.

Anyway, this December seems to be quite focused on updates. There was the one for Super Mario Maker 2 with the playable Link, Overcooked 2 got a major, free update as well (not really a Nintendo game, but still on Switch) and now Cadence of Hyrule. Plus, Nintendo has announced DLC for the multiplayer mode of Luigi's Mansion 3. Now, fingers crossed that Link's Awakening will get something somehow someday as well...

Friday, December 13, 2019

Silent End of the Year

It's of note how there haven't been any major news from Nintendo lately. The last Nintendo Direct was in September and this seemed to be it for the year 2019. Last night the Game Awards were held in Los Angeles and I suppose that most Nintendo fans had expected some reveal here, even if it was just the final Fighters Pass character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But nothing really happened, unless you count the announcement of Bravely Default II.

It's of note, because there usually were some bigger news around the end of the year for the Nintendo during the last years. And for the most part this even included something for the Zelda fans, take a look:

  • 2013: Nintendo Direct in December announcing Hyrule Warriors
  • 2014: Nintendo Direct in November announcing Majora's Mask 3D + first Breath of the Wild ingame footage at the Game Awards
  • 2015: Nintendo Direct in November announcing Twilight Princess HD
  • 2016: Breath of the Wild "Life in the Ruins" Trailer at the Game Awards
  • 2017: "The Champions' Ballad" DLC dropped at the Game Awards
  • 2018: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct in November + first Fighters Pass reveal at the Game Awards

So it was only natural to expect that history would repeat itself here, where we would get some (Zelda) news in December, maybe even some new footage of Breath of the Wild 2 during the Game Awards. This seemed to be a trend after all. Well, there is Link in Super Mario Maker 2, but this might not be what you would expect.

However, we probably got spoiled over the years here and Nintendo might be keeping the good stuff for Januar / February 2020. It even makes sense to save announcements for any major titles or DLCs in early 2020 for the start of the year, because people are usually less busy after the Christmas period and might pay more attention to gaming news then.

I still have hopes for a potential Skyward Sword HD in the next year, but this really depends on when Breath of the Wild 2 will be finished, where they might save any other remakes and remasters for later. I was also hoping for a major update for Link's Awakening (specifically the Chamber Dungeon), but this might never happen or not until much later.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Link in Super Mario Maker 2

This week Link got added to Super Mario Maker 2 via the Master Sword power-up in the 2.0.0 update and he seems to be quite versatile, with lots things you can do with his shield, arrows, bombs, down thrust and dash attack. There are even some Zelda music pieces and sound effects while playing as Link, mainly from the first The Legend of Zelda game.

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any music or anything from Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, which probably would have been a better fit for the whole thing, even if the game overall is less popular these days.

But overall this feels like a great addition and makes me truly interested in Super Mario Maker 2. I have the first Super Mario Maker on Wii U, but I've rarely ever used it, where both Link and the Super Mario Land Mario (my first Mario game) could get me finally into this tool. The Wii U version also had different Links available via amiibo and updates, but having a unique moveset makes this so much more interesting.

Well, let's also hope that Nintendo might be willing to update the Chamber Dungeon in Link's Awakening somewhat to put some more value behind the current "Zelda Maker". It's been half a year that Super Mario Maker 2 has been released, so they could be taking their time with Link's Awakening as well.

Friday, November 22, 2019

20th Anniversary of Unreal Tournament

Unreal Tournament icon in black

If there's another gaming series that I love as much as Zelda and Metroid, then it's certainly Unreal, where the original Unreal Tournament was my first PC game and is still today one of my absolute favorite first person shooters. By now it has been 20 years that it was released in North America and this was a nice occasion to play the game again and dwell in old memories.

Released in 1999 it's from an era, where 3D gaming was just evolving from sprite-based into polygon-based graphics. It's from an era that also produced timeless classics like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Half-Life, Quake III Arena and of course the first Unreal.

What most 3D games from that time have in common is that the 3D graphics were pretty solid and still can look very nice today with some modifications, but they were still basic and a lot of it was compensated with sound. Sound effects and music are what made these games truly memorable and created a thrilling atmosphere like no other. And the better the graphics became over the last 20 years, the more the importance of sound has faded, which is true for the Zelda and Unreal series alike. Don't get me wrong, I still think that Unreal Tournament III and Breath of the Wild have good music and some nice sound effects, but around 1999 it was on a whole other level. Sounds used to be a lot more intense and atmospheric.

And it hits me every time, when I start up Unreal Tournament again. The powerful weapon sounds, the respawn pulse, water effects, the pickup sounds, the hilarious one liners and especially the soundtrack. It's all so good and it still looks quite nice, too.

screenshot of Unreal Tournament on the map DM-Turbine holding a Shock Rifle in a Team Deathmatch

The weapons are especially iconic and you rarely see new shooters with innovative, yet simple weapons like this. The Shock Rifle shoots a hitscan beam and an energy ball projectile, where hitting the latter with the former creates a powerful explosion. And besting your opponents like that is just super satisfying. The shrapnel shotgun idea of the Flak Cannon is also extremely fun and gets copied to this day.

At the same time the game had amazing maps, where the primary use of simple, BSP-based shapes for the environment really put the focus on level geometry and design, on gameplay and clear visuals. It's something the new Unreal Tournament even embraced, before its levels got prettied up. But Unreal Tournament is known for some of the best and most creative multiplayer levels of all times, where maps like "Deck", "Morbias" and "Facing Worlds" instantly come to mind, which have been present in many of the Unreal games.

It's also amazing how modifiable the game was with hundreds and probably thousands of custom maps available for download, easily installable by just putting one file into your maps folder. There were also gameplay mutators and even full on conversions like Tactical Ops. I didn't really make use of the latter, but I've downloaded countless maps for this game and even made some of my own. But that's something you don't really get from Nintendo or console games in general, not counting something like Super Mario Maker, which was explicitly made for user generated contents. We're talking about real add-ons here, which were made by the community and were often on par with the overall quality of the game, sometimes even exceeding it. And Epic Games embraced this, where they've even added development tools on the disc with the Unreal Editor.

I had been following the series for quite some time, where I've intensively played all games except for the new Unreal Tournament, where my motivation to get a new PC wasn't big enough yet and the game seems to be stuck forever in its pre-alpha state, because Epic Games decided to put all its efforts into Fortnite. But maybe some day both Epic and me will return.

Otherwise I've played most Unreal games after the originals at their release and enjoyed them quite a lot, where I've put hundreds of hours into Unreal Tournament 2003, Unreal II - The Awakening, Unreal Tournament 2004, Unreal Tournament III and Unreal Championship 2 - The Liandri Conflict. The latter even got me to buy an Xbox, my only non-Nintendo gaming console, and combined the First Person Arena Shooter gameplay of UT with the third person melee action of a Zelda game, where you have different characters with individual melee weapons and abilities. I really loved that game.

But with the new Unreal Tournament stagnating there hasn't been much to talk about the series in the past ten years, even since the release of the Titan Pack for Unreal Tournament III, which is why it's rarely ever a topic on this blog, despite my affinity for the series. Given, it's not exactly a great match for a Zelda-focused blog, but still it's one of my absolute favorite games and there are certain design parallels as to why this is.

In any case I just wanted to say: Happy Birthday, Unreal Tournament!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Oracle of Worlds – Remaking Oracle of Ages & Seasons

the logos of both Oracle games with arrows pointing from the logos to a Nintendo Switch

After the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch, it's only natural to assume that GREZZO will continue to work on the other GameBoy Color Zelda games: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. While those were originally made by Capcom, let's assume for the sake of this article that this won't be an issue. And Nintendo does have all the rights for the scenarios and its characters, only the music might become an issue.

In any case, the Oracle games would really profit from such a remake if it were to happen. There are many things that could be improved with these games, where this post will offer a complete concept for a remake in the same style as Link's Awakening.


A Tale of Two Lands

The main idea behind this remake is that there won't be two separate games any longer and there also won't be any passwords, the so called "secrets". That's all history. There will be only one game, where there won't be Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, but only "Holodrum" and "Labrynna". It will be one adventure with two big chapters, spanning the two different lands, as it was originally envisioned.

Similar to Link's Awakening, there will be three save slots and one auto save. You start with a single save file and in the beginning you can choose whether the Triforce should send Link to Holodrum or Labrynna. Depending on your choice the adventure will unfold in that land.

After beating Onox or Veran respectively, the second chapter will begin and you will arrive in the second world. So, if you've started in Holodrum, you will now go to Labrynna and vice versa. In the second land you will always have the opportunity to return to the first world via a portal. You can't bring any items or additional hearts through the portal, however, so you can only use items in the second land if you also acquired them there. The exception are the Magic Rings, which are always transported between the lands via your ring collection at Vasu's shop.

There are also the special side quests that span both worlds, where you can get certain item upgrades, Magic Rings, as well an additional Heart Container. Here you will be able to get these items in the second world as well, so it's worth it to return to the first world and attend these quests. Originally, you needed to tell certain people "secrets" for this, now all you need to do is talking to the right persons to initiate the quests. Since these messages are delivered vocally by you, you can actually bring them with you through the portal, unlike items.

Hero Mode

After beating the real final boss you will now have the possibility to start Hero Mode, a New Game+, where your entire Magic Ring collection will carry over, but you will also take double damage and more enemies will appear. This will effectively replace the "Hero's Secret", while combining it with the typical Hero Mode feature as a balance for keeping all your (strong) Magic Rings.

Again, you will have the choice whether you want to go to Holodrum or Labrynna first. If you do the opposite now, you will be able to experience different scenarios in the second chapter, as well as new world-spanning quests with some exclusive rewards, where in the end you might get a complete ring collection for the first time. If you start another Hero Mode from that file, you will eventually be able to start a new adventure where you have all rings in your possession right from the get-go.

This system has the disadvantage that you won't be able to carry over your rings to your older save files. So, those save files will always stay incomplete, but in a way this was also true on the GameBoy Color with the one missing Heart Container. The big advantage is that this system will be much easier to understand and that it's highly compatible with the save file system from Link's Awakening.

In a way all of this is very similar to the old linked game system, but instead of passwords you have one big, shared save game, in which you can switch between Holodrum and Labrynna at any time. How will this happen? Well, meet the new star of the remake...


Farore, the Oracle of Worlds

On the GameBoy Color the third of the Oracles had a relatively minor role. She was known as the "Oracle of Secrets" and was responsible for managing the passwords, which let you link both Oracle of Ages and Oracle Seasons and get some special items. In the remake her role will be similar, but also more important.

a pixel art of Farore

There will now be a portal inside both Maku Trees, which links both Holodrum and Labrynna, but only after you've already visited both lands. Maybe it's opened by one of the Maku Seeds. Farore, who is now known as the "Oracle of Worlds", is the gatekeeper of this portal and will explain the whole thing to you. Remember that you can't bring any items through this portal, so your current equipment is tied to the land that you're in.

If you now go on world-spanning quests, she will also be the one to reward you afterwards. So, if the Great Fairy in Holodrum asks you to visit Tingle in Labrynna to tell him that he's not actually a fairy, he will reward you with a bigger Seed Satchel for this intelligent insight. If you now return to Holodrum, Farore will give you this Seed Satchel upgrade there as well and a pat on the back.

"Wait a minute! This isn't much different from what Farore did on the GameBoy Color... How is she any more important in the remake now?"

Excellent question! This is where the following comes in...


World Seeds

Whenever the Maku Tree grows after you've completed a dungeon in either Holodrum or Labrynna, you will be able to pick "World Seeds" from its top. This will be a new item in the remake and the big new feature, essentially this game's version of the Chamber Dungeon, where Farore will be its host, like Dampé in Link's Awakening.

artworks of both Maku Seeds

Farore can use these world seeds to create small new worlds inside the Maku Tree, which you can go explore through a portal. Her new item, replacing the Book of Secrets, may even reflect that, where she could have a magical watering can for example, like a gardener of worlds. Or maybe she still has a book and you will have to collect pages for her "Book of Worlds".

These worlds will be randomly generated and always consist of a small overworld area and at least one dungeon. Defeating all dungeon bosses will clear the world, where Farore will reward you with new Magic Rings, Pieces of Heart, additional World Seeds, or a new Heart Container.

Every World Seed will be based on your finished adventures. So, if you've beaten the Spirit's Grave, you will get access to a Halloween-themed graveyard world and a tomb dungeon, where you can fight against Pumpkin Head again. If you've beaten the Moonlit Grotto, you will be able to visit an island world. And beating the Ancient Tomb lets you play a dangerous fortress world full of Darknuts and Lynels... You can also combine multiple seeds to get a larger world that mixes the different themes, like a desert next to a graveyard.

But all of it can look very different for every player, where both the overworld and the dungeons get procedurally generated via certain patterns and templates. You can always abort your adventure and ask Farore to re-plant the World Seeds if you didn't like the outcome. But if you like the current world, you can also save it to an amiibo, so you can play it in other savegames or share it with friends.

So, in many ways this will be like the Chamber Dungeon, just that instead of building something that you need to beat afterwards, you will always go explore something new and unknown. And instead of collecting chambers for a dungeon, you collect different themes for the worlds based on the adventures in Holodrum and Labrynna, where you can even mix the two. You will be able to replay bosses this way, but also face new challenges.

You start with zero equipment and the items that you'll get are based on the selected seeds, e.g. you will get the Magnetic Gloves in a world that has the Unicorn Dungeon theme. In a way it will be like playing your own small Zelda game.

Other than the World Seeds that you get from the Maku Trees, there will also be additional ones that you can get from Farore, shops, mini-games and maybe even your amiibo. These will either add new worlds or enhance existing ones. There might something like the "plus effects" from the Chamber Dungeon to make the worlds more challenging or more forgiving.

All in all, there will be many similarities to the Chamber Dungeon here, just without the baggage of the limited dungeon builder and with focus on an almost "roguelike" experience with procedurally generated levels.


Seed Satchel & Mystical Seeds

The Mystical Seeds are some of Link's most important items in the Oracle games, where the Seed Satchel was basically the Magic Powder on steroids. It was quite inconvenient to switch between the different seeds, however, because similar to the Ocarina in Link's Awakening you had to go back into the inventory, re-assign the Seed Satchel to a button and select the Mystical Seed you need in a small pop-up menu.

In the remake this will be much easier. With the Pegasus Boots gone (which got replaced by the Pegasus Seeds), the Seed Satchel will take its place on the L-button, so you can always quickly use your currently selected seeds, which are shown in the bottom right of the screen with their amount. Using the right analog stick will now activate a small ring menu with all the different Mystical Seeds in them. If you remember their positions, you can easily switch between seeds with a single flick of your R-stick.

artwork of the five different seeds from Hyrule Warriors arranged in a circle

If you have the Seed Shooter or the Slingshot equipped to the X or Y button, then those will also make use of your currently selected seeds. This will make certain fights, where you constantly have to switch between different seeds, much easier.

Well, with such a ring menu it could easily support up to eight different seeds instead of just the five from the original. And since it only takes a couple of seconds to come up with three new Mystical Seeds, these get added to the remake as new items:

  • Razor Seeds
  • Armor Seeds
  • Frost Seeds

The Razor Seeds and Armor Seeds should sound familiar, because those already were a thing in Four Swords on the GameBoy Advance, made by the same development team as the Oracle games. In the remake they will function like the Piece of Power and the Guardian Acorn from Link's Awakening, where you get an attack or defense boost for 30 seconds.

To balance this properly, you will only be able to use one at a time and there will be a cool-down for both of these seeds afterwards. Unlike all the other Mystical Seeds you will also only be able to hold a few of them, 5 in the beginning, 20 in the end.

The Frost Seeds are basically the opposite to the Ember Seeds and let you freeze enemies and extinguish torches. You will only be getting them near the end of the game and they will be very helpful when fighting Frypolar or Twinrova, since you now can damage both their fire and ice forms with the respective seeds. (As for Frypolar, using his own ice pillars against him will still deal massive damage, unlike the seeds.)

With these new types of seeds, there will also be Razor Trees, Armor Trees, and Frost Trees present in both Holodrum and Labrynna for additional warp points. Those will be in areas that need them the most, like North Horon, Mt. Cucco, and the Temple Remains in Holodrum. You will also be able to warp directly to the Maku Trees now.


The Other Items

The inventory itself will have 16 slots, just like in the GameBoy Color games. Sword, Shield, Power Bracelet, Power Glove, and the Seed Satchel are permanently assigned to certain buttons, where they will be replaced with four Fairy Bottles. This leaves the following items on the remaining twelve slots:

  • Rod of Seasons / Harp of Ages
  • Flute
  • Roc's Feather / Roc's Cape
  • Shovel
  • Boomerang / Magical Boomerang
  • Switch Hook / Long Hook
  • Magnetic Gloves / Cane of Somaria
  • (Hyper) Slingshot / Seed Shooter
  • Bombs
  • Bombchus
  • Biggoron's Sword

That's eleven items in total for Labrynna and ten items for Holodrum. But the Biggoron's Sword will take two slots now, both in the menu and on your X and Y buttons. This might even be a good reason to keep the Roc's Feather as a normal item and not have a dedicated button for it as well, because the Biggoron's Sword will come with the tradeoff that you won't be able to jump using it.

Anyway, we're still one item short in Holodrum, since you can't get the Switch Hook there. So, there will be a new optional item instead to make things more even: the Whip. It lets you fight enemies and grab items from a certain distance, like a quick alternative to the normal Boomerang.

The Rod of Seasons will also be now more convenient to use by swinging it in a certain direction for a specific season. Up will summon winter, right will summon summer and so on.

Also, with having a dedicated action button (A) and a dedicated sword button (B), the swimming with the Mermaid Suit can just function normally now, since you can swim and use your sword at the same time.


Magic Rings

In the original games you were able to collect up to 64 Magic Rings and of course the remake will add to this count for a total of 100 Magic Rings to collect.

artwork of Vasu appraising a ring, with the Red and Blue Snake at his side

All of them will have unique effects, where the remake will focus much more strongly on rings with transformation abilities. On the GameBoy Color you could become NES Link, a Moblin, a Like Like, an Octorok or a Subrosian. The remake will add the following:

  • Stalfos
  • Darknut
  • Armos
  • Gibdo
  • Lynel
  • Guard
  • Zora
  • Goron
  • Tokey
  • Tingle
  • Shadow Link

Basically anything interesting that can walk. With some of these transformations you will even be able to use sword and shield, while others might give you unique attacks or abilities. Using the Guard Ring for example lets you freely walk around Ambi's Castle undetected.

The First Gen Ring now will work similar to the Timeless Tunic in Tri Force Heroes, so it turns Link into a voxel being and the music will turn into the 8-Bit soundtrack of the GameBoy Color originals. The GBA Time and Nature Rings will have to be replaced with something as well, since it won't make sense to have any GameBoy Advance-exclusive rewards in the remake.

Other than transformations there will be new abilities as well. Here are a few ideas:

  • Piece of Power Ring: Lengthens the Razor Seed effect
  • Guardian Acorn Ring: Lengthens the Armor Seed effect
  • Spiked Ring: enemies will take damage if they run into you
  • Whip Ring: increases Whip damage
  • ...

The most important change to the Magic Rings, however, is that getting them all won't be left to chance any longer, which means there won't be any randomization behind finding the rings. You will still be able to obtain duplicates, but each and every ring will have its dedicated way of obtaining them, whether it's a certain treasure chest, shop item or mini-game score. You will also now find them more often in the environment, similar to Secret Seashells.

Gasha Trees will now all have one primary reward, which you will get after growing the tree for the first time. This will either be a Piece of Heart or a specific ring. Afterwards the trees will give either Rupees, Magic Potions, Hearts or Fairies. This will be an incentive to find absolutely all Gasha Spots in the world and to plant at least one tree on every spot. The trees will even stay there after you've grown them for the first time, so you will know immediately whether you've already planted a Gasha Seed there or not. This also means that Gasha Seeds will become a strictly limited collectible, where there's one to find for every Gasha Spot.

Also, Maple will now always drop both Maple's Ring and her Piece of Heart until you got them both. Afterwards she will keep changing to new rewards, like other rings, but it will always be a specific ring that you can get next. Like the Trendy Game in Link's Awakening she will add new rewards after every dungeon.


Pieces of Heart

Like with Link's Awakening, the total amount of hearts will be increased to 20. The fourth Heart Container that you get from starting a game with a password will now be gone and instead replaced with a Heart Container you can get from Farore for exploring World Seeds. Otherwise there will be 16 new Pieces of Heart in both Holodrum and Labrynna for you to find.

In the original both game worlds did have their empty spots, where adding Pieces of Heart (as well as new Magic Rings) will make exploring every nook of Labrynna, Holodrum and Subrosia will be worth your time.

As already mentioned before, both Gasha Trees and Maple won't handle their Pieces of Heart at random any longer. There will be specific Gasha Trees that give you Pieces of Heart with their first Gasha Nut, while Maple will always drop her Piece of Heart until you get it.



GREZZO did a great job at updating all the mini-games in Link's Awakening with new mechanics and rewards. However, there were only three mini-games on Koholint and they were already quite good on the GameBoy.

With the Oracle of Seasons and especially Oracle of Ages GREZZO will have to go wild here, since there are about a dozen mini-games in the worlds of the Oracles, including some of the most-hated mini-games of all time, like the atrocious Goron Dance. Making this more fun to play would already be a huge win for everyone.

a screenshot of the Goron Dance

This number also includes some of the one-time mini-games that you face, mainly in some of the quests that bring you back to Holodrum, like the diving mini-game or the Old Man's combat test. Those could even be expanded to proper mini-games, which you can keep playing for additional rewards, like some of the new Magic Rings.


The Animal Buddies

artwork of all three animal buddies with Link

Ricky, Moosh and Dimitri – those are your trusted companions during your travels in Holodrum and Labrynna. Well, on the GameBoy Color one of them was, because you only ever could get one flute per playthrough. This even affected one entire environment, where depending on your flute a part of Holodrum and Labrynna will look completely different (more information here).

The remake won't have any of this. Instead you will be able to get three different songs for the flute, similar to the Ocarina in Link's Awakening, one for each animal buddy. And the Natzu and Nuun areas will now be unified with paths for all three animals.

The latter will even be a necessity for the remake if it keeps the seamless overworld scrolling of Link's Awakening, because then you would get something like the following, where you can take a good look at the Nuun Highlands from Lynna City right at the beginning of the game:

a view of Lynna, the Maku Tree and the Nuun Highlands, all directly next to each other

Normally, this area won't be determined until after the third dungeon, which is where you were able to obtain the flute for the first time. But if you can already look past Bipin's and Blossom's house, this wouldn't work any longer and there needs to be something fixed here from the beginning. (Or they would have to put the Nuun Highlands so high up that you can't see them early on.)

In Labrynna this change will even be very straight-forward. You will meet and help the three animal buddies around the quest to Crescent Island, exactly like in the original, and when you have to gather all three carpenters in the Nuun Highlands, you will notice that you need all the animal buddies for the job, one for each worker. This brings you back to the Fairies' Woods, where you now have to search for them all and where at the end you get the flute with all three songs.

In Holodrum you will be able to meet and help either Ricky or Dimitri on your way to the Spool Swamp, which will earn you one of their songs. You will also get Moosh's song in the Spool Swamp after rescuing him from monsters. The "Natzu Crossing" will now offer three different paths to the Moblin's Keep and the Sunken City, one for each animal buddy, where you can choose which one you prefer.

Once you've arrived at the Sunken City you will be able to recruit Dimitri, if you haven't already, while you can recruit Ricky at any time by bringing him the boxing gloves from Blaino. And at Mt. Cucco you will need to collect the Bananas for Moosh in any case or else he won't help you. This way all the special animal buddy events will still be in the game.

In the end you will be able to summon all three of the animal companions in both Labrynna and Holodrum for your convenience. There might even be certain Magic Rings, Gasha Seeds, and Pieces of Hearts that can only be gotten with a certain animal friend.

You will also be able to summon while exploring Farore's World Seeds, where some of the worlds might require the usage of either Ricky, Moosh or Dimitri.


Bipin's and Blossom's Many Sons

Other than the animal buddies, there was another thing that could end up being very different on your playthrough on the GameBoy Color: the offspring of Bipin and Blossom. Depending on what answers and help you gave the family, he could grow up to become a hero, an arborist, a musician or a slacker.

The remake will add some new outcomes, but there will also be a new mechanic, where you can get the son to leave and start his own life elsewhere in the world. In this case Bipin and Blossom will quickly make a new child, which then you can influence again and again to experience all different outcomes in a single save file. There might even be some exclusive rings that you can only get if their son turns out a certain way.


Dungeon Scrolling

The dungeons in the Oracle games have larger "chambers" than in Link's Awakening, where as a result it would constantly scroll on the GameBoy Color, because the chambers wouldn't fit on a single screen. This won't be the case in the remake, where it only scrolls, if there are multiple connected rooms, exactly like in the remake of Link's Awakening.

five chambers from the Gnarled Root dungeon in Oracle of Seasons, where two of the rooms form one big one


If GREZZO ever were to remake Oracle of Ages & Seasons in the same style as Link's Awakening, there would be lots of things that they could add and improve. No passwords, new Hero Mode, easier to use items, more Magic Rings and Pieces of Hearts, updated mini-games and the ability to get all three animal buddies for the first time would all be good reasons for such a remake.

On top they could add a complete new feature, similar to the Chamber Dungeon, where in this example Farore lets you explore many new small worlds, which get procedurally generated. But of course GREZZO could also go for a more sophisticated version of the Chamber Dungeon or something else entirely.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Classic Zelda on Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch logo in black surrounded by various Zelda games either in the form of the logos, screenshots or box arts, with a question mark below

With a Nintendo 3DS and a Wii U in possession you could play almost all Zelda games in existence thanks to various remakes, remasters, ports and the Virtual Console. The only real exception here was Four Swords Adventures, which to this date is only playable on GameCube or a backwards compatible Wii.

Now, on the Nintendo Switch the franchise has found a lot of new interest thanks to the success of Breath of the Wild. But what Zelda games can be played on the Nintendo Switch exactly? Well, not counting any spin-offs, it's only the following:

  • The Legend of Zelda (NES)
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (NES)
  • A Link to the Past (SNES)
  • Link's Awakening (Remake)
  • Breath of the Wild

So, we're looking at the first four Zelda games and the newest ones. But what's with the 14 titles in between? Will they ever have a chance to make it on Nintendo Switch as well? Let's take a look...


Ocarina of Time & Majora's Mask

These games already have been remade for the Nintendo 3DS via Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D and the Nintendo is still selling and supporting the New Nintendo 3DS line, so there is no dire need to remake them yet again already.

Remaking these games in HD would also take quite some efforts, where GREZZO so far has been busy with Link's Awakening and might continue to focus on other topdown Zelda experiences.

But that doesn't mean the N64 classics won't ever be playable on Nintendo Switch... They will most likely follow the NES games and A Link to the Past, as soon as Nintendo 64 games become available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service. They might even put Ocarina of Time - Master Quest on this one.


Oracle of Ages & Seasons

After the success of Link's Awakening on Nintendo Switch it's likely that GREZZO will remake the other GameBoy Color Zelda games as well. There's a lot of potential with these games here, where we will talk about this in detail in the future.

the logos of both Oracle games with arrows pointing from the logos to a Nintendo Switch

And even if such remakes won't be happening, there is still the chance that Nintendo Switch Online will offer GameBoy and GameBoy Color titles at some point in the future.


Four Swords & Four Swords Adventures

The classic multiplayer Zelda games belong to the more questionable cases. Their main appeal is playing them with others, where any ports would need to support the multiplayer modes properly, maybe even online. You can play the NES and SNES titles of the Nintendo Switch Online service together with friends via the internet, however, where this could work great in case of A Link to the Past & Four Swords.

Four Swords Adventures on the other hand came with a more complicated setup, since there was a main screen and every player got their own screen with the GameBoy Advance. This would require some more work, where it would probably be best to focus on a dedicated Zelda multiplayer experience on Nintendo Switch instead. GREZZO did bring back Four Swords once, however, with the Anniversary Edition as DSiWare, so it's not completely out of question that they might remaster Four Swords Adventures at some point.


The Minish Cap

If the Nintendo Switch Online service ever offers GameBoy Advance games, this will be the first among them. So, it's likely to re-appear, though it probably won't get a shiny remake like Link's Awakening did.


The Wind Waker & Twilight Princess

Both games got HD remasters on the Wii U with The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD, where Nintendo might want to port them over like every other interesting Wii U game in existence. They might even provide a bundle, where you get both games on the same cartridge.

Such ports would require a little bit of effort, though, because you won't be able to use the Wii U GamePad for maps and inventories any longer. And the Miiverse features with the Tingle Bottles in The Wind Waker HD and the stamp collection in Twilight Princess HD would need to find suitable replacements, now that the Miiverse is history.

As a bonus, they could also add an HD remaster of Link's Crossbow Training to the package.


Phantom Hourglass & Spirit Tracks

If there are any Zelda games in dire need of remakes, it's probably the Nintendo DS games. They did not age well and there's lots of potential to improve them. Ideally, they would even get rid of the touch controls in favor of analog stick inputs. Whether such remakes will be happening on the Nintendo Switch is a different question, however.

With Dr Kawashima's Brain Training finding its way on Nintendo Switch it's also possible that the Nintendo DS Zelda games might get remastered in a similar fashion, where you play them in handheld mode with the system held sideways.

a Nintendo Switch held vertically with Phantom Hourglass on the screen, the player is using a Stylus

It's even possible that the Nintendo Switch Online service might offer select Nintendo DS games, similar to the Wii U Virtual Console. However, the Nintendo Switch does not have a built-in microphone, so both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks already wouldn't work in emulated form, unless you ask the players to get a headset with a microphone to play them... Or find some workaround to emulate the sound input, like a sound button.

But it's more likely that they would go the Kawashima-route. It's also thinkable that Nintendo might want to put these games on Smartphones instead, though they don't seem to fit the current free-to-play business model there...


Skyward Sword

Emulating Wii games on the Nintendo Switch seems far out there, so the only way for Skyward Sword to find its way on Switch would be via an HD remaster. But this is more likely than you would think and Tantalus (the studio behind Twilight Princess HD) could be working on Skyward Sword HD as we speak.

an HD screenshot of Skyward Sword where Link enters the Skyview Spring

The game's graphics could be easily upscaled and with the Joy-cons it practically begs to be on Switch and offer a very different take on 3D Zelda.


A Link Between Worlds & Tri Force Heroes

As already said with Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D, the Nintendo 3DS is still out there and these games are still being sold, so there is probably no reason for Nintendo to port them over to Nintendo Switch as of now. If you want to play these games, you can easily get them with a discount.

Of course this is going to change in the future, where Nintendo will discontinue the Nintendo 3DS sooner than later. But it would need a proper port / remaster to get something like A Link Between Worlds running on the Nintendo Switch, where the Nintendo DS games should get prioritized, because they need this much more.



There's a lot of potential for the Nintendo Switch to become a new home for many older Zelda titles. There could be a remaster of Skyward Sword in HD, while both the HD remasters on Wii U, The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD, could be ported over to Switch. Nintendo 64, GameBoy (Color) and GameBoy Advance games could be offered as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service. The Oracle games could be remade in the same style as Link's Awakening, while both the Nintendo DS games could be remastered for Switch as well.

Only time will tell what Zelda games will find its way to Nintendo Switch, but one thing is for sure: Link's Awakening certainly wasn't the last Zelda game to return on Nintendo's current system.

Friday, November 8, 2019

My Chamber Dungeon Creations

Despite its limitations, I was having quite some fun with the new Chamber Dungeon feature in the remake of Link's Awakening. In this post I will show off some of my creations and the ideas behind them. Sadly, there is no easy way of sharing these dungeons yet, so a look at the arrangements will have to suffice.

I've shown most of these already in previous posts, so this might feel somewhat redundant, but I thought it would be nice to have it all in one place.

The Journey

the Journey Labyrinth in the menu, all 64 chambers are filled

This was my first big creation in the Chamber Dungeon, where the idea was to build something like a boss rush, but also something that let's you re-experience all of the game's dungeons in a compressed form.

The entire dungeon is divided into seven walled off sections, which are only connected via tunnels and only use chambers from the same dungeon. It starts with a Tail Cave section and ends with a Turtle Rock section, where Hot Head waits in the final Nightmare's Lair. You can skip some of the mini-bosses, but every single boss is present at least once with the exception of the Chief Moblin, who didn't really fit in, sadly.

the completed map of the Journey Labyrinth

There are only seven sections instead of eight, because not every dungeon has enough stairs available. So, I combined Level 3 with the Color Dungeon and the special chambers, as well as Level 4 with Level 5. But the rests works as intended and it's overall fun to play this as one final dungeon.

By the way, I've tried to create a second version of this dungeon, which includes the Chief Moblin and possibly also the Dodongo Snakes from Level 8, but I've utterly failed multiple times. Putting a dungeon together like this is not as easy as it seems, where it feels like a miracle that I was able to pull it off like above. And this will be a constant reminder how the Chamber Dungeon is first and foremost a dungeon puzzler and not a dungeon maker.

Color Dungeon

Color Dungeon arrangement

This is simply a recreation of the Color Dungeon, chamber by chamber, as accurate as it gets. So, if I ever feel like replaying the Color Dungeon for some reason, I can just go with this version. Though, it doesn't have the nice music.

It's the only dungeon in Link's Awakening, where this is possible, mainly because the Color Dungeon pays homage to the classic dungeons from the first Zelda game, which all have been built out of individual square rooms, which is exactly like the Chamber Dungeon functions.

The Rupee

A Chamber Dungeon shaped like a Rupee with a total of 36 chambers. There are only two chambers between the entrance and the bosses, one of them with a chest. The rest of the dungeon doesn't have any chests.

This is a dungeon to quickly farm Rupees with the "+Rupees Effect", where this can get you about 300 Rupees in one minute. It has the entrance, the chamber for the Rupee rain, another chamber for the Nightmare Key and a short Moldorm boss fight, one after the other.

The rest of the dungeon is just filler, so that the +Rupees Effect kicks in with the best possible amount. But most of these optional chambers happen to be bosses and mini-bosses, where every boss is present except for the Dodongo Snakes and Blaino. So, this can also be used as a boss rush dungeon, if you're feeling like it.

Key Labyrinth

Key Labyrinth arrangement with lots of locked rooms in the east half and lots of chests in the west

If you thought that the Key Cavern had you juggling lots of keys, pay this dungeon a visit. It's divided in two halves, where one half of the dungeon is entirely optional and contains all the locked doors in the world. The other half contains enough chests for all these optional locked doors, where this lets you collect up to 22 keys for the fun of it:

a Chamber Dungeon room with the chest that normally has the Roc's Feather, there are 22 keys visible on the HUD

This isn't really something that I'd want to replay, but as a little "science experiment" this was certainly interesting to experience.

The Big Spiral

Big Spiral dungeon arrangement

This is essentially a recreation of Level 8 from the original 2nd Quest in The Legend of Zelda. It follows the same layout, but of course it's not possible to use identical contents or to connect the tunnels in the same way.

Big Spiral dungeon arrangement with tunnel connections

One of the key challenges of the original dungeon was making your way through with only 12 bombs, while facing lots of Dodongo fights. I tried to carry this theme over by using bosses that require bombs, like the Dodongo Snakes, the Master Stalfos and Facade. And there are also some walls that you need to bomb here and there.

Again, it's a shame that you can't select the music for your creations, because the Color Dungeon music would be perfect for this. In the least the "+Monsters Effect" can give you the feeling of playing something from the NES game.

The Letter Z

Letter Z dungeon arrangement

Because I had quite some fun rebuilding the Level 8 Big Spiral dungeon, I tried another with Level 5 from the 2nd Quest, the Letter Z. The final of Dampé's challenges is also shaped like a Z, where it's certainly a lot bigger than the classic version, but I thought it would be nice to have both in some form.

It didn't turn out to be as good or fun as the Big Spiral recreation, however. There is a chest in the beginning behind a locked door and it's important not to forget about it, when you get your first key in the middle of the dungeon. It's very straight-forward, where it's tempting to move on, but instead you have to go / warp all the way back to get the missing chest or else you will be ending up before the Nightmare's Lair without the proper key.

It's actually one of the few times, where I had to worry about keys in the Chamber Dungeon...

Final Thoughts

Unless I have some other "good" ideas, this should be it for my Chamber Dungeon journey. I've had a lot of fun with this feature so far, but its limitations will probably prevent me from going any further in the future.

It first and foremost needs proper tunnel controls, where I was annoyed how the tunnels constantly changed, whenever I made a small change to the dungeon. Let me connect the stairs the way I want and let met select the tunnel.

Also, I want to change the music so badly, mainly because the Color Dungeon track would be a lot more fitting in many scenarios. The Chamber Dungeon works like classic NES dungeons and naturally you'd want the classic NES dungeon music in this, even though the Chamber Dungeon music is quite alright.

And finally, without the ability to truly share any of this online, where people can properly download and play my creations, it's only half as fun...

Monday, November 4, 2019

Link's Awakening – Chamber Dungeon Review

Link standing inside Dampe's Shack, wearing the Red Mail

When it comes to updating, remastering or remaking Zelda games there is usually the question of additional contents, mainly in the form of new dungeons. The Palace of the Four Sword, the Hero's Trial, the Cave of Shadows – they are all examples of added content to an existing Zelda game, for better or worse. And the first Zelda game to ever receive a new dungeon was Link's Awakening DX on the GameBoy Color with its Color Dungeon.

However, these additions might not always be on par with the rest of the game, where the Color Dungeon is already a good example. Link's Awakening has some of the best 2D dungeons in the series, where the addition in the DX version couldn't really live up to the rest, because it felt rather simplistic in comparison.

And so far GREZZO hasn't been known for great level design, where they were mostly making linear levels for the Four Swords Anniversary Edition and Tri Force Heroes. So, it was probably a good decision to go with a "do it yourself" solution here and let the players make their own new dungeons instead...

The Chamber Dungeon is the big, new addition in the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch, where according to Eiji Aonuma it was even a key motivator behind the project.

screenshot of Dampé's Shack in the Tal Tal Heights

You can find it where the Camera Shop used to be in Link's Awakening DX, to the north of the Tabahl Wasteland and the graveyard. That's a rather fitting spot, because the whole feature is hosted by Dampé, the weird gravedigger, who first appeared in Ocarina of Time and by now has starred in a total of six Zelda games.

You can first play the Chamber Dungeon after beating the second dungeon (even though it would have been possible after the first) and after every dungeon you beat you'll be getting new chambers and challenges. So, like the new Trendy Game this is something, where you might want to return to regularly.

Arranging Dungeons

Dampé lets you build dungeons based on pre-defined chambers in the form of stone tablets that you can collect and place on a grid. This is very reminiscent of the dungeons in the first NES Zelda game, where everything was based on square rooms with centered doorways. Luckily, the dungeons in Link's Awakening were still partly designed like that – the Color Dungeon, which pays homage to the dungeons from the first Zelda game, even in its entirety. So, a lot of it did get transformed into chambers, which automatically unlock after each dungeon.

Each Chamber Dungeon starts with an entrance and ends with a Nightmare's Lair, where both were taken from the nine dungeons in the game. The other chambers all have pre-defined exits, locks, chests and stairways, where the latter connect automatically based on a nearest neighbor principle. For every locked door there needs to be a chest and the last chest that you open will give you the Nightmare Key, which is required to finish the dungeon. That's it. This is how the whole system works, which overall doesn't allow for much customization.

An arrangement in the Chamber Dungeon trying to recreate the Tail Cave

For a dungeon to become playable you need to make sure that everything fits together. So, every door on every chamber needs to lead to another chamber. There need to be enough chests for all the locked doors. There needs to be an even number of stair cases. And of course there need to be the entrance and the Nightmare's Lair, the start and finish point of the dungeon.

The builder menu does a good job at telling you whatever might be missing, so putting together a functional dungeon is a very simple task. The chambers are sorted by the number of exits they provide and the dungeons they are from, where you can quickly navigate the different tabs with the shoulder buttons. Sadly, there are no touch controls available for handheld mode, but arranging a dungeon works good enough with button inputs.


However, this isn't just for your own amusement, but instead this is all about solving Dampé's challenges, where you have to place your chambers in a way that fits certain criteria. Often there are fixed chambers in place or sometimes there are tiles where you have to place a locked door, a chest or stairs. Other tiles might be blocked, preventing you from building on them. And for other challenges you have to fill out a certain shape, which is also reminiscent of classic Zelda dungeons, where the maps often were little pixel arts.

a solution to the Nothing but Stairs challenge

Once you're done, you also have to play through the dungeon, where afterwards you get certain rewards from Dampé, including Pieces of Heart, additional chambers and one of the new Fairy Bottles. There are twelve basic challenges in total, which get unlocked over the course of the game. And when you're done with them all you will get twelve advanced challenges, though the latter will only reward you with lots of Rupees.

Some challenges also put restrictions on you when you play them – you either have no sword, only few hearts or a time limit, where you have to carefully consider which chambers you want to use.

But most of it is really trivial, where there are only very few challenges that might actually be "challenging" to overcome. The challenges are rarely ever stopping you from using simple chambers with only easy enemies or no enemies at all. And there are plenty of simple chambers to choose from, which even allows you to trick in many of the challenges one way or the other.

Free Mode

An addition to the challenges you can also freely create your own dungeons on eight open slots. This sounds exciting at first, but you might not get much out of this, except for building your own boss rush or something that helps you farm Rupees. You will already make good use of most of the chambers when you're solving all the challenges, so you might not feel the urge to build even more dungeons afterwards...

A Chamber Dungeon shaped like a Rupee and which can be used for Rupee farming.

And the whole thing only works the way it does, because Link's Awakening has some excellent dungeons in the first place, which are fun to (re)play. So, letting you re-arrange its dungeon rooms in any way you want can certainly be fun and interesting. But the individual rooms lack the big picture of the original dungeons and playing the same puzzles and bosses again and again can get boring quickly...

So, in order for this to be more appealing it needs two things. The first would be online sharing, because right now you can only share your creations by saving them onto an amiibo, which feels like an awkward limitation in the times of the paid Nintendo Switch Online service. If you don't have any friends nearby who also play the game, you probably won't ever get to play the dungeons created by others.

But the way the dungeon building works right now this is even understandable, because all the dungeons out there would end up feeling quite similar. There simply aren't enough customization options to make your dungeons more unique. It should already start with giving them a name or choosing the music track. And ideally you should also be able to set locked doors, to connect stairs any way you want and to select restrictions, like a time limit.

Of course some of this would break the existing challenges, so these additional options and tools should only be available in the free mode. And with more customization in the free mode available, sharing your dungeons online and playing the dungeons of Zelda fans worldwide would automatically become more interesting. But the way it is right now, it's just a lot of missed potential.

The Chambers

There is currently a total of 193 chambers in the game, which includes 22 unlockable chambers, five amiibo-exclusive chambers and six "plus effects". So, that's 160 chambers that are coming straight from the dungeons, where for the most part the only difference are the stone doorways, which are always a visual indicator that you're inside the Chamber Dungeon.

Some of the chambers have been modified to make them work on their own or when entering them from all sides. But rarely anything was really modified heavily, so it's for the most part the rooms that you already know from the existing dungeons.

Dodongo Snake chamber from Turtle Rock with an elevated area
One of the more unique chambers.

In addition there are altered chambers, which all have to be unlocked. But for the most part this just offers new versions of existing chambers with a different number of exits, which is a little bit boring. However, this also includes variants of all boss chambers, which now can be placed anywhere in your dungeon, allowing you to build your own boss rush.

Speaking of, it's kind of a shame that none of the challenges actually force you to go through all bosses. Some of them make use of fixed boss rooms, but if you want a complete boss rush, you'll need to build your own. But at least you can, where almost all bosses and mini-bosses are available in some form.

Still, there are some rooms in the existing dungeons that could have been transformed into a chamber, but weren't. The most notable exceptions are the Dodongo Snakes room from Level 3 and anything from the game's finale. The latter is especially disappointing, since there is even a postgame available, where this could have been unlocked.

Also, it feels like a missed opportunity that there aren't many rooms that are exclusive to the Chamber Dungeon. They could have done all sorts of things here, even chambers with completely new enemies and bosses, but except for the few "special chambers", which are exclusive to amiibo, there isn't much to see here. Another missed opportunity.

Plus Effects

The plus effects are the only real way of modifying a chamber, where you can place the effect on top of it. Only one plus effect can be used per chamber and not every plus effect can be used everywhere. They are all optional and can make your life easier or harder, depending on the effect.

The "+Hearts" and "+Rupees" effects are of the helpful kind and let hearts and Rupees rain from the ceiling, respectively. You can only use them once per dungeon, however. The "+Bombs" effect, which lets exploding bombs drop from the ceiling, on the other hand can be used almost everywhere and it can both screw or help you, where it's quite useful against certain bosses and devilish in rooms with cracked floors.

the northeast room of the Bottle Grotto, but with four Pols Voice

The most interesting effect is probably "+Monsters". It doubles the existing number of normal foes in a chamber, which makes for a far more action-packed experience. This effect is so much fun, it's a shame that you actually can't get it before finishing the entire game. And it should have been the default for this game's Hero Mode.

There is also the "+Wallmaster" effect, where once you've entered a room with this effect, a Wallmaster keeps chasing you around the entire dungeon, except for boss chambers. This is interesting, because it triggers a dungeon-wide effect and also features an enemy, which originally didn't appear in Link's Awakening.

Sadly, that's already it, not counting the amiibo-exclusive "+Shadow Link" effect. There probably would have been a lot more potential for similar ideas, but GREZZO stopped with these few effects.

Chamber Stones

If the many Secret Seashells and Pieces of Heart in the remake still aren't enough for you, there are also 14 Chamber Stones to collect. But unlike the other collectibles you won't find these hidden somewhere in chests or the environment, where instead they are treated like the most valuable rewards for Koholint's different attractions, like the mini-games. Half of the Chamber Stones are simply purchased from the shop for 1280 Rupees each, so there's a lot to do with your cash in the remake.

Link holding a Chamber Stone inside the Town Tool Shop

Two of them unlock new plus effects, the best ones even, which is awesome, but all the others only give you modified chambers. And here's the problem: the Chamber Stones don't really feel all that rewarding, especially if you're not invested in the Chamber Dungeon.

If a player achieves a highscore in a mini-game and then only gets one of these stones, it must feel really underwhelming. That this might turn out to be an already existing mini-boss chamber with a different number of doors doesn't help either, where the Chamber Stones just don't cut it as the "ultimate reward".

Here it probably would have been better to put some of them inside dungeon chests instead, replacing some of the Rupees and maybe even those annoying Secret Medicines. This would have been thematically more fitting as well and make getting some of the dungeon chests more worthwhile.


The Chamber Dungeon also serves as a hook for amiibo and with a total of 24 different amiibo of The Legend of Zelda characters "available" it's only natural that Nintendo might want to make use of them somehow. Compared to Breath of the Wild you won't be scanning them on a daily basis, however... In fact you will only need five of them to unlock everything, including the new Link's Awakening Link amiibo that was released together with the remake.

Link receiving the Armos' Knight Chamber from Dampé

What they do is unlocking so called special chambers in a random order. You can use any five of the different Zelda amiibo for this, but you can't use the same one twice. And that's really it. You unlock them once and then you can put your amiibo back on your shelf. It's the simplest form of amiibo rewards there is and not really inspired, because with one exception there isn't anything that ties to the individual amiibo.

What's also a shame is that this is the only way of obtaining chambers with contents that aren't present in the game's dungeons, like some of other mini-boss encounters. This includes the Moblin Chief, the Armos Knight and the Ball and Chain Trooper.

Ball and Chain Soldier chamber

However, there is so much more that could have been done with these special chambers. For example the Lanmola mini-boss is completely absent from the Chamber Dungeon and the official website speaks of a "Cracked Floor Chamber", which has been replaced with the "Winged Item Chamber"...

The only amiibo that gives you a unique reward is the new Link's Awakening Link amiibo, which unlocks the Shadow Link plus effect. This spawns a Shadow Link inside the chamber (once per dungeon), who then will keep re-appearing until you defeat him for some Rupees. This sounds pretty cool at first, but the fights feel really underwhelming when compared to the Shadow Links in A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes.

The main difference from the Nintendo 3DS games is that the Shadow Link doesn't use any items any longer and you can't use any of your items on him. So, it's just about blocking his sword attacks with your shield and striking when the time is right. And this makes these fights rather dull and not really worth the trouble.

Probably the best thing about amiibo right now is that it lets you store your dungeons onto them. The saving feature of the amiibo gets utilized rarely anyway (only the Wolf Link amiibo did this with the Cave of Shadows in Twilight Princess HD and of course the figure players in Super Smash Bros.), where currently this is your only way of sharing your Chamber Dungeon creations and transporting them to other save files.

This isn't a real replacement for online sharing, but certainly better than nothing. And even with online sharing in place you still might want to make use of them, e.g. to store your Rupee farming dungeon.

It also saves your current time record onto the amiibo, where others now can try to surpass it. But don't worry, there aren't any rewards locked behind beating records, so this is only for your own entertainment and completely optional.


With its fixed chambers, the challenges and its overall simplicity the Chamber Dungeon doesn't really strive at being a dungeon maker, but more of a dungeon puzzler. And this is where this feature fails at being either one, because most of the challenges aren't really that challenging and for the Chamber Dungeon to have any lasting appeal it lacks the necessary level of customization, as well as a way of sharing your creations online...

It is a fun way or re-arranging and re-experiencing the contents from the existing dungeons in Link's Awakening, but it also barely offers anything new and overall feels like a pond of missed opportunities. Let's hope that Nintendo and GREZZO might consider delivering a Chamber Dungeon Update for the game, fixing some of its shortcomings and adding new contents.

The Good:
  • Fun dungeon play for in-between
  • Re-arrange the game's dungeons as you please
  • Keeps expanding after every conquered dungeon
  • Nice way of replaying almost all bosses
  • Simple to use interface
  • You can save dungeons to your amiibo

The Bad:
  • Lack of customization in the Chamber Dungeon's free mode
  • No online sharing for your Chamber Dungeons
  • Challenges are often too easy
  • Uninspired use of amiibo unlockables
  • Chamber Stones don't feel very rewarding
  • Only few chambers with new contents
  • No touch controls supported