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.