Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Challenger Pack #7 Reveal Tomorrow

Announcing a new fighter

As Nintendo has announced on Twitter, the next DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be revealed in exactly 22 hours. However, this will not be the typical presentation from Masahiro Sakurai, instead the man himself will only give us a few words after the three minute long reveal video.

This most likely means that we're not getting the next Challenger Pack in the next two weeks, but later this year. So, there might be a small delay happening, which could be the result of cooperating with a 3rd party in today's world of home office. Sakurai's message might even be about the current difficulties, where he asks us to understand and be a little more patient.

And with 3rd party additions the possibilities are nearly endless: Steve, Rayman, Crash Bandicoot, Doom Slayer, Master Chief, Ryu Hayabusa, Monster Hunter, Tracer, Travis Touchdown, Dante... It's kind of overwhelming.

I personally have a feeling that we might be getting another Square Enix character at some point in the second Fighters Pass, mainly because they still haven't released the Chocobo and Geno Mii outfits yet, which is somewhat suspicious. And here my best guess would be Agn├ęs Oblige from Bravely Default, where the "Bravely" games are exclusive to Nintendo systems. But I wouldn't place any bets on this, especially not for tomorrow. It really could be anybody.

It's also notable how there's the Minecraft Live 2020 stream this Saturday, which could be why Nintendo is doing a short announcement prematurely. Let's say it's really Steve, then Nintendo might want to use the virtual "Minecon" as a platform for additional advertisement. Get as many Minecraft fans on board with the news as possible...

Well, we'll see who it is soon enough. And for Zelda fans it probably won't be as interesting as the next playable fighter reveal for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which might overshadow Smash for the next months, like Hyrule Warriors did four years ago.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Age of Calamity: Korok Seeds?

GameXplain has posted a translation of yesterday's stream, which gives us some more insights in how certain attacks work (I've update the previous post somewhat). But the lady, who is experiencing the game for the first time as well, points out something interesting before they run into the Guardian. You can spot a Korok Flower at the side of the road:

Link running by a Korok Flower

Of course it was super obvious that they would be going with Korok Seeds, instead of the Gold Skulltulas, in this version of Hyrule Warriors as a collectible. But some people assumed that they would simply be a reskin of sorts. You defeat 1000 enemies and somewhere on the map a Korok appears, where you have a short amount of time to find it in a certain area.

I personally never liked this mechanic and it wouldn't really fit the idea of Korok Seeds at all, which are all about little secrets in the environment. And the Korok Flower might already confirm that this really does work differently here and you do get little Korok secrets like in Breath of the Wild.

Of course they probably wouldn't go with any more "complicated" puzzles, like the block structures, but some of it could work really well in a Warriors game, like the Korok Flowers. Just follow them over the battlefield. Or maybe there are some suspicious rocks that you need to lift or even some targets to destroy. They could also come up with new Korok puzzles that fit the gameplay.

But with this change I'd also expect that you can find multiple Korok Seeds per battle and not just one. Together with an Adventure Mode there could be even 900 Korok Seeds in this game... and I'm totally up for it!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Age of Calamity @ Game Live Japan 2020

Impa fighting with her clones

Today we got even more gameplay footage of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, as part of "Game Live Japan 2020", which you can find at NintendoEverything. This footage takes place at the Breach of Demise and at Death Mountain, where more gameplay of Link and Impa is shown, but also a first look at Daruk and Link using the Spear as a different weapon type.

First of all, it seems like every playable character has access to the four Sheikah Slate Runes somehow. Depending on which character you use, the Runes will even act differently. For example Daruk can use large Bombs that split into many smaller Bombs, while Impa does some fireworks with them. You can also use any magnetic objects in the environment via Magnesis, which is pretty cool and explains why the battlefields seem to be littered with those metallic boxes. With Impa, you can even attract multiple metallic objects, including enemy weapons, and form some crazy, large weapon with it (kind of similar to Kid from One Piece).

And from what I could gather, it seems like Zelda is doing all this. So, there is still only one Sheikah Slate and Zelda uses it to provide everyone with the Runes remotely, while she also uses the Sheikah Slate as her main weapon and moveset. But I'm guessing this will be explained early on. She looks a little bit silly, though, almost like she's playing with her smartphone during battle. Maybe she's doing some selfies with some Bokoblins behind her and posts them on Instagram. #MondayMorning

We don't see any gameplay of Zelda, however, where it raises the question of how much it will actually differ from just simply using the Sheikah Slate Runes, but I suppose that her new moveset might feel somewhat similar to her Dominion Rod from Hyrule Warriors.

We do see more of Impa, however, where her moveset revolves around attaching seals to enemies, so she can produce clones. The Sheikah letters below her health bar translate to "F", "S" and "T", which probably means first, second and third. If you have all three seals in place, it even changes her Special Attack, where she creates pile of those "virtual powder kegs", instead of just tossing one.

Daruk smashing around

But they also show us our first gameplay of Daruk, who naturally feels somewhat similar to playing as Darunia, but has his own twists here. He can create these magma rocks at wish, which feels like his C0 attack, but apparently every fighter in this game has certain "character actions", which can be combined with combos. Link uses his bow for this and Daruk the magma rocks.

It also does seem like every character gets a special way of moving around faster, where Link gets his shield surfing and Daruk can roll around like any Goron. But he can also combine it with Daruk's Protection for some flashy action. Link can also use the Paraglider to fly around like in Breath of the Wild, which is awesome, but it's unclear how this will translate to the other characters. At least Impa has a sailcloth of her own.

The gameplay also confirms that the fighters can have different weapon types, like in the original Hyrule Warriors. In this case we see Link using a spear, where I suppose that he will also get a two-handed weapon type as well.

They also show the three elemental rods for the first time, where you can summon an area attack via a cylindrical reticle. These rods are part of another set of items, where the last item is food, probably to heal yourself. The item usage is also much quicker than in Hyrule Warriors, where here you press a button (like L) and then the A, B, X or Y button for the respective item. So, no browsing through a list of items with the D-Pad... And it looks very funny how Daruk uses these rods, almost like holding up a tooth pick.

There is also a first glimpse at a Guardian battle, which really gets classified as some sort of boss, but sadly the cut the footage off there. But it seems they are as sturdy as you would expect them to be. Link even reflects its beam, which does very little damage here, while it would subtract a third of their health in Breath of the Wild.

Before that battle you can also briefly see a Korok flower, which probably confirms them as a collectible in this game. I'd personally prefer it, if they would work similarly to Breath of the Wild and not like the Gold Skulltulas in Hyrule Warriors, because the "defeat 1000 enemies and rush to a certain location" requirement was rather annoying. It would be more fun to have little secrets all over the battlefield.

Apropos battlefields, while there are certainly some differences and you can't explore everything freely, it all looks like it has been taken out of Breath of the Wild directly. And that's a huge step up from the battlefields in Hyrule Warriors, which felt more like very loose translations. Places like Zora's Domain or Skyloft looked very awkward in comparison to their originals, where it's nice that Age of Calamity does things more faithfully. It really shows that they've been working together with the Zelda team.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Age of Calamity @ Tokyo Game Show 2020

Urbosa meeting Zelda, Link and Impa

 

Today was Koei Tecmo's long live stream at the Tokyo Game Show 2020, where they've showed us nearly 14 minutes of gameplay footage from the first level of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and the new  "Champions Unite!" trailer. Good stuff and I've taken some notes, so let's go over them.

First of all, the game looks great and feels very, very close to Breath of the Wild, almost as if you're playing a mod for that game. It's still a Warriors title underneath so and you can also see some enemies pop in here and there... But they've overall done a great job, where the game feels much more impressive than the original Hyrule Warriors.

Mainly, there is a greater attention to detail in the environments. For example the "keeps" can vary in size now, are filled with all sorts of things and feel a lot more like a natural part of the battlefield than some artificial choke points. And it's actually super interesting to experience Hyrule Field like it was 100 years ago with all its villages in tact. One of the keeps, which was basically a small village, even reminded me a lot of Hyrule Castle Town from Ocarina of Time with the well at the center and you can also spot the Lon Lon Ranch area during the footage in the background, where it will be nice to explore this in full glory later on.

Another issue that I had with the original Hyrule Warriors and that was seemingly addressed here are stronger enemies. Those were for the most part absolutely pathetic in the first game. For example the mighty Dark Nuts and King Bulblin from Twilight Princess became a total joke in Hyrule Warriors and I did not like that... Here it seems like a Red Moblin is even sturdier than they were in Breath of the Wild. And that's good. I don't expect that Lynels will take you five minutes to beat them, but they should give you a hell of a fight nonetheless. And if the Red Moblins were any indications, they probably will.

The upscaled Bokoblins in the keeps felt a little bit silly, however, because that's nothing that appears in Breath of the Wild and they simply could have used Moblins in their place. But for now it seems like they will simply stick to all kinds of enemies from Breath of the Wild, so the size variety could be a good thing.

Anyway, I love how destructible the environments have become. Well, you could cut grass and blow up rocks in Hyrule Warriors, but that was about it. Here it seems like you have about the interaction that you get in Breath of the Wild and even some more stuff on top, e.g. blowing up the giant skull caves or the enemy towers, which wasn't possible in Breath of the Wild.

And for this you can use Bombs from your Sheikah Slate, which basically provides you with the item feature from Hyrule Warriors. Instead of Bombs, Bow, Boomerang and Hookshot, you get Bombs, Cryonis, Magnesis and Stasis. What's interesting here is that not only Link can use this, but also Zelda (who has the Sheikah Slate as her main weapon) and the other Champions as well. You can see how Daruk uses Stasis in the trailer...

There is only one Sheikah Slate in Breath of the Wild, but I've always wondered how the four Champions piloted their Divine Beats, where it kind of makes sense that there actually were multiple Sheikah Slates and each Champion got one of their own. But I'm curious how this will be explained. And even if every Champion gets their own Sheikah Slate, what about the other playable characters? Speaking of, we got our first look at the seventh confirmed character...

Impa fighting Bokoblins on Hyrule Fied

Impa! So beautiful! So amazing! She really looks like her granddaughter and she utilizes a wild mix of Sheikah ninja art, mainly by employing a group of clones, which is kind of similar to how Maz Koshia fights you in Breath of the Wild, just without the technological weaponry. But I love how she has a Sheikah Paraglider and fights with kunai. It's a very flashy moveset and that's the kind of stuff you want from Hyrule Warriors. I also love how extremely different this Impa looks and plays when compared to her counterpart from the previous game.

In the footage it also didn't seem like Impa can use the Sheikah Slate items, at least they never used any of these moves with her, so it simply might be that certain characters come with a Sheikah Slate and others don't. (Update: everyone gets to use the Sheikah Slate Runes remotely.)

But as an alternative there seem to be additional items. In the footage Impa obtains a Fire Rod after defeating a Fire Wizzrobe, but they didn't show this item in action. It certainly would be nice to go all crazy with those fireballs again.

There also will be a second bonus weapon for Link: the Training Sword, which you will receive, if you have a savegame of Breath of the Wild on your Nintendo Switch.

Training Sword weapon for Link

Like the Lucky Ladle, it's nothing too special and apparently you will be able to get both items at a later point as DLC.

Oh, and the Mini Guardian, who follows Link around, is absolutely adorable. It seems to be more of a feature, however, and not another playable character. So, the theory that this might become this game's "Proxi" could be right, though it doesn't seem to talk, it only beeps.

The only major complaint I had with this demo was the music. The Breath of the Wild battle music on a  loop might work for a little while, but it gets repetitive fast... Hopefully, the other stages will offer some better variety here, since Hyrule Warriors used to have excellent music that makes even the most mundane tasks a blast.

Well, overall this was amazing stuff and I can't wait to play the game later this year. They also showed off the "Treasure Box" items, which is the Japan exclusive Limited Edition of the game. A Paraglider cloth, a Mini Guardian key chain and a frame with the game's main art. It doesn't seem like we will be getting any of this, but it also doesn't seem like we're missing out here. In fact I never was too fond of the Limited Editions for Hyrule Warriors, because it came with very cheap stuff... But let's see.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Age of Calamity: Lana & Cia?

Right now there is no real reason to believe that any of the 29 playable characters from Hyrule Warriors will return in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Of course we don't know for sure, because we've only seen very little of the game so far, but it does seem like the focus sits entirely on Breath of the Wild, where characters like Link, Zelda and Impa are getting new designs and movesets based on the latest and most successful episode of the Zelda franchise.

This would be quite unusual for a Warriors title, however, where Koei Tecmo likes to bring most of the previous cast back with every new iteration. Having many playable characters is kind of part of the deal. On the other hand, putting characters like Toon Link, Marin or Midna into Age of Calamity might feel very out of place... Hyrule Warriors became a mashup of all sorts of art-styles, where 30 years of Zelda history were coming together in one big all-stars title. And we already have all of this on the Nintendo Switch with the Definitive Edition of the game, so Koei Tecmo could focus solely on Breath of the Wild with this new Warriors game to create a more cohesive and serious experience.

But if characters from the first game swere to return somehow, it would make sense to re-design them in the art-style of Breath of the Wild to make them blend in better. The biggest candidates for this are arguably these two ladies:

ingame story art showing Lana and Cia observing all time

Lana and Cia, the two observers of time, keepers of the balance of the Triforce. It makes sense that they still would exist during the era of Age of Calamity or at least have somehow access to it with their magic. And they both could get full re-designs based on Breath of the Wild with new movesets and everything. Their magic always felt quite "technological", like for example the Summoning Gates, where this could blend in quite well with the whole Sheikah technology theme.

I would not expect them to appear as part of the main story, though they could possibly be used to create alternate realities, where the Champions didn't fall or where characters from 100 years are summoned by them and so on. They could act as the catalyst for the big, new Adventure Mode.

This could also create a bridge to a possible "Hyrule Warriors 2" in the future, on Nintendo's next console, where everything of Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity would be coming together...

Age of Calamity: Adventure Mode?

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will certainly get a full blown story mode, which tells us the events from 100 years before the main events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Recruit the Champions, fight Ganon's armies and despair.

However, there most likely will also be a mode for additional missions, which will keep you busy for a while longer, if you're enjoying the gameplay. Hyrule Warriors had its "Adventure Mode" for this and Fire Emblem Warriors the "History Mode".

But how could such a mode look this time around? They've been going with the whole "8-Bit" theme for the Adventure Mode of Hyrule Warriors, which was really cool at first, but felt overdone later on with all the expansions, especially when they've started to remake another 8-Bit Zelda game in the NES style with the DLC for Hyrule Warriors: Legends...

Well, with Age of Calamity they could simply opt with the main map of Breath of the Wild:
 
part of the Breath of the Wild map as seen on ZeldaDungeon
 

They could use the Sheikah Shrines, Sheikah Towers, Divine Beasts and Hyrule Castle as points for missions, which would be 157 in total (including the DLC), which is even more than the original Adventure Mode had in Hyrule Warriors, where there was a grid for 128 missions.
 
The main difference would be that there is more freedom on how to do these missions, where like in Breath of the Wild you could do things in any order you want, as long as you're strong enough. But there probably should be some sense of progression, however, where they could let you do the towers first. So, each Sheikah Tower would unlock an area on the map, where you then can do the Sheikah Shrines in that area. And so on. This way you would avoid that the players keeps picking missions, where he or she is still heavily under-leveled, which was quite a problem in the original Hyrule Warriors.

Of course they could also do the whole 8-Bit thing again, where it would be interesting to finally let us take a deeper look at the 8-Bit prototype that the Breath of the Wild development team was making:
 
 
2D Zelda Prototype with the NES style in 3D graphics


But this might feel very disconnect from the rest of the experience in Age of Calamity... Well, maybe we will get a first glimpse at this game's Adventure Mode on Saturday, where Koe Tecmo will be showing off the game at the Tokyo Game Show.

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Ganon All the Time

Tom Holland in a forest wearing a white shirt with a grim look and Ezelo photoshopped onto his head

So, I've watched The Devil All the Time last evening, which is an excellent movie on Netflix starring Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland, and woke up to the news that Netflix might be have another role for Tom Holland in mind: Link from The Legend of Zelda. (Source)

There have been rumors about Zelda on Netflix for a while now and they arguably have done a great job with both The Witcher and Castlevania. Well, sometimes I feel like such rumors are thrown out there into the wild to see how the potential audience would react. And I'm not sure I like the idea...

Of course when they first had announced that Henry Cavill would be playing Geralt of Rivia, I wasn't convinced either and he ended up being the perfect choice. But the problem isn't so much the casting choice, but the format of a live action movie or series in general.

It worked well for The Witcher, but with Zelda you're dealing with a lot more fantastical characters thanks to the different tribes, like the Gorons, the Zora, the Rito or the Korogs. So, you would be dealing with a silent protagonist, who's "interacting" with lots of CGI beings. And I'm not convinced that this would work all too well...

Until recently I even thought that an animated movie for Breath of the Wild would be the way to go, but it seems like the backstory of that game will be heavily explored in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which will certainly be the more entertaining medium for me personally. But I still think that an anime would be the right way to go for putting Zelda on the big screen or making another Zelda series.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Nintendo Officially Hates Me

As a Zelda fan there is only thing that I really want right now. Something that I've wanted for at least two years now: a Special Edition Nintendo Switch (bundle). They've kept doing it with the Nintendo 3DS on every single instance and this taught me that I should patiently wait for the inevitable Zelda Edition. Because if I buy a normal Nintendo Switch now, I will definitely regret this later on. (Especially if all the rumors about an improved Switch coming next year are true.)

Now, I've been very patient and despite Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the excellent Link's Awakening remake, I've resisted the urge to buy a Nintendo Switch. Thankfully, I was able to borrow one from someone to occasionally play these titles or otherwise it would have been really hard to wait. But this won't be an option for the upcoming Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, because with such a big game I'll need a savegame of my own from the start.

So, I've been hoping that maybe, just maybe they'll do a bundle for this game. A nice Sheikah Slate design would be perfect and should have been a thing with Breath of the Wild from the start, where they could now make up for it...

And today I got Nintendo of Europe's reply in the form of a press release e-mail with the following "beauty":

Nintendo Switch Fortnite Special Edition bundle

Well, great... Just what I wanted... Not.

Of course this doesn't exclude a potential Age of Calamity bundle. But the timing feels like a slap in the face.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Age of Calamity: Battlefields?

Link standing in front of a horde of Bokoblins in Hyrule Field

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes place in the Hyrule of Breath of the Wild during the war against Calamity Ganon, where many of the game's locations will be transformed into typical battlefields for a Warriors game.

We already know for a fact that this game won't be open world (like Dynasty Warriors 9) and we're getting isolated stages here, because the Japanese eShop provides us with some screenshots with the UI (see NintendoEverything), where you can see the map:

Zelda fighting Zora's Domain

So, there are restricted paths to take and like in the original Hyrule Warriors you probably won't be able to swim or climb. There also probably won't be any major use of verticality in the environments, because you can't display two overlaying areas on the map. In a way this will let you experience the world of Breath of the Wild in a more traditional fashion, similar to how the worlds were build in games like Twilight Princess.

On first glance it also seems like the areas are more faithful to the originals, unlike the stages in the first Hyrule Warriors, where everything was only loosely based on the locations from the original Zelda games and they took many liberties. Skyloft was one of the most notable examples there. But everything in Age of Calamity looks like it was taken directly out of Breath of the Wild.

And from the trailer and all the screenshots for this game we can already compile a list of battlefields that will definitely be playable:

  • Hyrule Field
  • Zora's Domain
  • Gerudo Town / Desert
  • Akkala Citadel
  • Breach of Demise

Hyrule Field seems to be the starting area, similar to the battlefield of the same name in Hyrule Warriors. And it seems the campaign will bring you to Zora's Domain soon after, where you recruit Mipha as the first Champion. In the above screenshot you can play either as Link, Zelda or Mipha, where this might be a level early in the game.

In any case there are plenty of more places in Breath of the Wild that could serve as potential battlefields:
  • Hyrule Castle / Hyrule Castle Town
  • Great Plateau
  • Fort Hateno
  • Faron Woods / Lake Hylia
  • Lanayru Wetlands
  • Eldin Canyon
  • Death Mountain
  • Hebra Mountains
  • Tabantha Frontier
  • Great Hyrule Forest

Some of these locations are basically a must for the story alone. (Warning: Breath of the Wild spoilers incoming!)


Otherwise... wherever there are ruins of battle in Breath of the Wild, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity might go there to explore them and show us how the places looked like before they got destroyed. We can even see what is one of the many villages in one of the screenshots:

Zelda throwing a ton of bombs at  some Bokoblins in front of a village

Here it looks like Zelda is actually the one responsible for that village's destruction with those many bombs...

But it seems like Koei Tecmo has studied the ruins in Breath of the Wild and used them to create new landmarks. It actually might be really interesting to replay Breath of the Wild after Age of Calamity, simply to see how the areas were used as battlefields.
 
Last but not least, the Divine Beasts will probably be used in some fashion as well. We can already see them freely roaming through Hyrule in the artwork and trailer, which is pretty awesome and where they could even become playable similar to Ganon in Hyrule Warriors. But they most likely will act as smaller battlefields themselves, once they get possessed by Calamity Ganon.

Age of Calamity: Joke Weapons?

If you pre-order the game digitally via the Nintendo Switch eShop, you will get a little pre-order bonus in the form of the "Lucky Ladle" with a Pot Lid as a weapon for Link:


That's probably a tier / variant of Link's normal sword and shield set and this feels kind of similar to the 8-Bit weapons that we got in Hyrule Warriors, where this probably won't be the only one. And here are some ideas for more of such joke weapons:

  • Zelda using the Tingle Tuner instead of the Sheikah Slate
  • Mipha fighting with a Wooden Mop
  • Daruk crushing things with a Spring-Loaded Hammer

Would be hilarious to see all of this.

In any case, I hope that you will be able to get the Lucky Ladle otherwise, because I'm not going to pre-order the game digitally...

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Age of Calamity: The Signs Were There


Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity pretty much came out of nowhere today as a fantastic surprise reveal and I don't think many people have expected this. Even I didn't really expect anything for the rest of this year and I usually tend to be quite optimistic (maybe a little too optimistic sometimes) when it comes to future Zelda games and contents, looking at all the possibilities.

And I did have a new Hyrule Warriors game on my radar for quite some time now. Actually, I've even said the following thing at the beginning of this year:

If the sequel to Breath of the Wild will keep us waiting, we might also hear something from a sequel to Hyrule Warriors instead to keep us entertained in the meantime. Focusing on Breath of the Wild and letting us play as the four Champions would certainly attract attention...

And I'm kind of embarrassed that I didn't follow this sentiment any further, because I had the right idea there and it would have been interesting to explore it. Well, later this year I felt like it might be too early for a new Hyrule Warriors, but in reality we've been getting a new Hyrule Warriors every second year now:

  • 2014: Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)
  • 2016: Hyrule Warriors – Legends (Nintendo 3DS)
  • 2018: Hyrule Warriors – Definitive Edition (Nintendo Switch)
  • 2020: Hyrule Warriors – Age of Calamity (Nintendo Switch)

Of course, the Definitive Edition didn't really have anything new (except for two costumes), but here's where the real new game was probably already in development, making this biyearly release possible. (At this point you might be asking whether this rhythm will continue, but if we're getting anything in 2022, it probably will be an expansion to Age of Calamity based on the sequel to Breath of the Wild. But let's not go there yet, because this is way too early...)

Otherwise, it was kind of suspicious that Nintendo was going to re-print the amiibo of the four Champions later this year. This has been in the news and it's not an unusual thing, but the timing was suspicious, because it's not like we are getting the sequel to Breath of the Wild this year. But with a new Hyrule Warriors, which has the Champions as its focus, this makes so much sense. You'd probably want those amiibo more than ever.
 
Also, we knew that the voice actors of Zelda and Revali from Breath of the Wild have been working on something, where it seemed a little bit early for the Breath of the Wild sequel. But a new Warriors game with focus on their characters certainly explains it. It all makes sense now.

Overall, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity makes so much sense that it almost hurts. Breath of the Wild is a game in a post-war Hyrule, where we've only seen glimpses of that war. The battle against Calamity Ganon is the perfect setting for a new Warriors game and it doesn't really need much else. No complicated time travel story, where everything comes together. Just this war.

Of course it's kind of a shame that the characters from the first Hyrule Warriors probably won't return here and that we probably won't be getting any classic characters that didn't become playable in that game (like Linebeck, Cole, Demise, Hilda and so on) any time soon, but the focus on Breath of the Wild is a good thing and allows for an amazing experience.

When Hyrule Warriors first was announced and they've introduced us to Link, Impa, Zelda, Cia and Volga, I totally expected this game to focus on its own Hyrule and setting, which looked really cool and cohesive. But then we got Midna and the focus shifted to representing all those different characters from all those different Zelda games, including the "Toon Zelda" games, where the cohesiveness vanished in favor of making this a celebration of the Zelda series.

This wasn't bad and Hyrule Warriors turned out great, but Age of Calamity now has the chance to regain that cohesiveness by focusing on this one war and one setting. Of course it could still be that they're throwing in some things and characters from other Zelda games (Wolf Link would be possible, since he also appears in Breath of the Wild), where it's still too early to tell. But the focus on Breath of the Wild looks very promising and there is no need to do anything that the first game already did, because that's already on the Nintendo Switch.

Age of Calamity: Potential Fighters

artwork of Link, Zelda and the Champions surrounded by foes

Well, finally there is something to talk about in 2020 for us Zelda fans! And there is no better topic than discussing potential playable characters in an action game. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity was announced today and already showed us footage of the following six characters in action:

  • Link
  • Zelda
  • Mipha
  • Daruk
  • Revali
  • Urbosa

None of them should be particularly surprising and the Champions were expected additions to any new Hyrule Warriors game. But this one is a little bit more special, because it focuses on Breath of the Wild and the battle against Calamity Ganon from 100 years ago alone. So, this means we probably won't be seeing Tingle, Midna or Cia in this game.

Also, both Link and Zelda got a complete makeover and will certainly play differently from their counterparts in Hyrule Warriors, where Zelda is now fighting with the Sheikah Slate for example. So, this will be an all-new roster.

The original Hyrule Warriors on Wii U launched with 13 characters (which was before Cia, Volga and Wizzro became playable) and we might be looking at a similar number. And believe it or not, but there are more than enough candidates here...

One might be already visible on the main artwork for the game, which you can see above. There is a small, white Guardian, who is fighting alongside Link, Zelda and the four Champions there. Koei Tecmo was quite talented when it came to making original characters and character designs for Hyrule Warriors and they might continue this trend with Age of Calamity. And it certainly makes sense to have some sort of unique Guardian as a fighter, since the Guardians and the Sheikah technology are very important to the story.

The egg Guardian might also be Link's new companion, basically as a replacement for Proxi, because they'll need someone or something who speaks for Link. It could also explain how he uses technological bombs without the Sheikah Slate. The little Guardian could even be one of Link's weapon types, where it's possible that characters might have different weapons again. On the other hand, it would be the first Guardian to communicate and it could also be someone else's weapon, like Impa's.

At least for Link and Zelda it would make sense for their personal development, where Zelda probably should have a "Hylia" moveset of sorts and Link will get the Master Sword again. There could also be horses and Link might even get the Master Cycle Zero for the fun of it.

Otherwise it doesn't really take many original characters to fill the roster, because Breath of the Wild has a lot to offer on its own. First, let's make a list of characters, who potentially could have supported Link, Zelda and the Champions during the war somehow:

  • King Rhoam
  • King Dorephan
  • Young Impa
  • Purah
  • Robbie
  • Hestu

It would be nice to see the two sturdy kings fight, where there were even legends of how King Dorephan took out a Guardian all by himself. Well, here he could take out hundreds. But of course the focus will certainly be on Mipha as a playable Zora.

The young Impa can already be seen in the trailer from what it seems, where she kneels next to Link in an audience with the king (the little egg Guardian is in front of her in the same scene). We can only see her from behind, but the hair looks a lot like Paya's, Impa's granddaughter from 100 years later, and she wears the same hat as her older self. And it will certainly be interesting to see her younger design here, because if there's one thing that Koei Tecmo is good at, then it's pretty characters.

There should also be Purah in some form, where she is another candidate for a playable character, together with a younger Robbie. Though, the latter might be the least likely out of the many Sheikahs, but he should definitely appear, so that we can see his younger self. In a similar fashion, we might also get to see the court poet, who was the teacher of Kass, where this could turn into another original character. Whether all of these Sheikah will become playable or not, is a different question, however.

The other tribes are all nicely covered by the Champions, except for the Korogs, where Hestu with his Maracas would be the perfect candidate to represent those. But he's more of a fun character, who probably shouldn't be involved in the great war against Calamity Ganon in any serious way.

So, there probably will be a story mode, where you unlock Zelda, the Champions and the Sheikah as playable characters, while side characters like Hestu could become unlockable in some additional mode. And of course this wouldn't be a Warriors game without some DLC, where both of this could be used to even go for characters from 100 years later:

  • Riju
  • Sidon
  • Yunobo
  • Bludo
  • Teba
  • Kaneli
  • Kass
  • Kilton
  • Beedle
  • Bolson
  • Pikango
  • Monk Maz Koshia
  • Master Kohga

With the exception of Sidon (as a young child), Maz Koshia, Master Kohga and maybe Beedle, none of these should appear during the war against Calamity Ganon. But adult Sidon and the rest of these could potentially become playable as some extra characters outside of the main story.
 
However, with Sidon, Riju, Yunobo and Teba you would have characters that are basically weaker versions of the four original Champions. They do have some of their abilities, but not all of it. Like Yunobo effectively only has Daruk's Protection and nothing else. Teba is the one who gets the closest, but he's so similar to Revali that it doesn't make him very interesting. So, this leaves us primarily with some of the other characters...

If you don't know who Maz Koshia is, he's the Sheikah Monk responsible for the "Final Trial". With over 100 monks in Breath of the Wild, it kind of makes sense to have the most special of them playable in Age of Calamity somehow.

And again, there are some fun characters here, like the two merchants, Kilton and Beedle. The latter is recurring character in the Zelda series and probably should have been already playable in Hyrule Warriors before, but they can now make up for it and add him using his crazy backpack.

Master Kohga is the first example of an evil character, who could become playable in this setting. In Hyrule Warriors you could play as the villains, including Ganondorf, Ghirahim, Zant and Cia, where there could be a similar turn in Age of Calamity. However, this will mostly lead to these four guys:

  • Waterblight Ganon
  • Fireblight Ganon
  • Windblight Ganon
  • Thunderblight Ganon

Every other enemy, including the Yiga Blademaster and Lynels, seem to be unplayable units... Considering how the game will have to take a dark turn at the end, you might not be able to play as any bad guys at all, because it would be too macabre. The Blights are also quite large and having all four of them would feel kind of lame, because that's just roster padding.

But it's not impossible and Koei Tecmo could even come up with some new villains, e.g. the Yiga master during this age. "Master Kohga" is just a title after all and there easily could have been one at the time. Maybe someone who feels a little bit more threatening...

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Announced

Age of Calamity logo in black, red and white

Already game of the year! This looks absolutely amazing and completely came out of nowhere, but this only adds to the excitement. With the 35th Anniversary of Zelda next year, I didn't really have anything on the radar for this year, but it's certainly nice that we're still getting such a big title for Zelda fans in 2020.

It almost looked like 2020 is going to be a blank year for Zelda, except for the Cadence of Hyrule DLC stuff. But Hyrule Warriors to the rescue! The timing couldn't have been any more perfect and this will be a great game to pass the time until the sequel to Breath of the Wild gets released.

As you may know, I'm a huge fan of both Hyrule Warriors and Breath of the Wild, where I've put about 800 hours of play time into each of these titles. So, getting the love child of these two games is a huge deal. It also makes so much sense...

When discussing a potential Hyrule Warriors 2 in the past, it was always clear that the focus will be on Breath of the Wild, mainly with making the Champions playable and adding locations from that game. Even before Breath of the Wild was released, the Champions felt like playable characters from a new Hyrule Warriors game.

The big twist here is that the new Hyrule Warriors game will exclusively focus on Breath of the Wild and its characters, but this also makes so much sense in many ways. First of all, we already have Hyrule Warriors in its Definitive Edition on the Nintendo Switch with 29 fighters and tons of content, where this doesn't become obsolete with a sequel right now. Instead we will have one Hyrule Warriors game for classic Zelda and one for Breath of the Wild.

And with that they don't have to come up with some crazy story of how everything came together this time. They will instead focus on actual events in the Zelda timeline, which previously have been only explored via flashbacks and where fans have been begging to learn more about them. Age of Calamity might even become "canon" in the timeline and act as a companion piece to Breath of the Wild.

So, this is a really good idea and there is so much stuff that they can do with Breath of the Wild alone, where we'll be looking at potential fighters in a separate post right after this one! But the world of Breath of the Wild is so huge, there's more than enough battlefields for one entire Warriors here alone.

Imagine a battle at the Akkala Citadel or the decisive battle at Fort Hateno. We might be able to finally experience all of these events in great detail and even take action there. We might be able to see Hyrule Castle Town before it was destroyed. There is so much potential here, it almost feels like Breath of the Wild was made with a new Hyrule Warriors game in the mind.

Urbosa fighting some Yiga in Gerudo Town

Plus, it really looks beautiful, where Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is using the same graphics as Breath of the Wild. While the character design was superb, the first Hyrule Warriors didn't always look that nice otherwise, especially with the environments. But Age of Calamity looks like a lot more on par with the quality of the main game.

Now, all this needs is a nice Christmas bundle with a slick Breath of the Wild themed Nintendo Switch, which is what should have happened three years ago already. Or otherwise I'm going to be one unhappy Zelda fan, when I really have to buy a regular Switch after all this time to play this... Please, Nintendo, use this opportunity and give us a shiny bundle!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct

This Nintendo Direct happened today and confirmed various rumors that we've heard over the course of the year: a Super Mario 3D World port, a new Mario Kart and a Mario 3D Collection. Here's the overview of the biggest announcements:

  • Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. – a handheld version of the original Super Mario Bros. (and The Lost Levels) for true retro fans.
  • Super Mario 35 – it's like Tetris 99, but you're playing Super Mario Bros. against 34 other players and defeated enemies will be sent over to your competitors. Only playable until end of March.
  • Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury – the long expected Wii U port comes with another game attached to it, but we don't know much about it yet. Oh, and there will be Cat Mario and Cat Peach amiibo.
  • Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit – an augmented reality game, where you can turn your living room into a Mario Kart track. Comes with kart toys that have cameras.
  • Super Mario All-Stars – now available in the Super Nintendo collection of the Nintendo Switch Online service.
  • Super Mario 3D All-Stars – a new collection, which is only available for a limited time. It includes Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. However, these are not remasters, just plain ports with higher resolutions.

The latter seems quite underwhelming. When we first heard rumors about this, I had actual HD remasters in mind, but this would have been too good to be true. But this way it's something I'd definitely skip, because I can play Galaxy and Super Mario 64 just fine on my Wii U, while I never liked Super Mario Sunshine to begin with.

So, this somewhat reminds me of the The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition for the GameCube, which was also released under the premise of having as many Zelda games playable on the system as possible (which meant all of them at the time). But it's kind of weird that they didn't include Super Mario Galaxy 2 as well to have all major 3D Mario games on the Switch...

Super Mario 3D World was fun (except for 100% completion because of the final world) and I'm curious about the "Bowser's Fury" expansion. It sounds like "Ganon's Fury" and "Cucco's Fury" from Hyrule Warriors, so maybe it's a mode where you can play as (Cat) Bowser.

My favorite out of these items is probably the Game & Watch thingy and I would certainly buy a similar offer for Zelda, especially if that were to include the original Zelda Game & Watch game as well.

Mario Kart Live also looks like quite some fun, but it's probably not very practical and in the end you'll just go back to playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Overall I'm not very happy with the current direction of Mario Kart.

But anyways... this is a lot. A LOT! I personally didn't expect that Nintendo would do as much for a 35th Anniversary, because it's a rather odd number, but some of it is probably a result of 2020 in general and this gives me hope that 2021 will be a big celebration of 35 years of Zelda.

There are a lot of things that they could do here, other than releasing the sequel to Breath of the Wild in that year:

  • Skyward Sword HD
  • The Wind Waker HD + Twilight Princess HD + Link's Crossbow Training HD
  • Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda
  • Link's Awakening Chamber Dungeon DLC based on the first Zelda game
  • Remakes of the Oracle games
  • Hyrule Warriors 2
  • New amiibo
  • Something akin to the Four Swords Anniversary Edition
 
We can only hope. Of course they tend to do something different with Zelda's anniversaries compared to Mario's, so I wouldn't necessarily expect a 3D Zelda collection or the Game & Watch thing. I also wouldn't expect all of these things to happen in the same year, so some of this is definitely material for 2022 or later. And if we're really lucky, we will be getting something this year already. So, these are just possibilities and we'll have to see what of it will run under the Anniversary banner.

And there's also Metroid's 35th Anniversary, where they could offer the Metroid Prime Trilogy HD, along with a collection of 2D Metroid games and the next 2D Metroid. But it would be the first time that Nintendo is celebrating Metroid's anniversary in any form, so it's best to not expect anything here...