Saturday, October 31, 2020

Age of Calamity: Rampaging Guardians

The second scenario in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity at the "Breach of Demise" puts a corrupted Guardian in pursuit of Link, Zelda and Impa, like in a good Halloween movie. And it doesn't even stop at obstacles like fortified walls, where it just rips right through them.

Well, the AI isn't perfect, far from it, where it can spend half an hour fighting the same Hylian Captain for some reason. It's kind of ridiculous how you can simply block its beams with anyone without fearing harm. And it's also weird how the Guardian is suddenly gone at the beginning of the mission, where your team starts at a closed gate, which probably wouldn't have stopped the thing, if his other actions are any indication...

But in the least the Guardian gets portrayed like major threat in the mission. However, it gets a little bit overplayed how dangerous a Guardian really can be by tanking the thing crazily before the scripting allows you to defeat it normally. And this will probably change later in the game.

Well, in Breath of the Wild the Guardians also only really felt threatening early on, where they basically become pushovers later on. And that's really part of the game, the progress of becoming stronger, which will probably be true for Age of Calamity as well. It's still nice to have the Guardians introduced in such a fashion.

And this might remind you of something... The very first time Nintendo ever showed us a Guardian:

Remember this? At E3 2014 Link got chased relentlessly by a Guardian that came out of nowhere. It even destroyed a bridge, before Link could cross it. In the final game they weren't as relentless and they certainly couldn't destroy bridges or other major structures in the environment. So, it's nice to see that this finally came to fruit, even if the graphics aren't still as beautiful as the tech demo from over six years ago...

Age of Calamity: Poopy Koroks

Link in front of a Korok

Yihaha! They are back. You can find Koroks during the scenarios of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and collect their Korok Seeds, just like in Breath of the Wild. Finding them is a little bit more simplified here, where you don't have to solve any puzzles, but instead it's enough to destroy a balloon or to interact with the environment by pressing Y.

As someone who had a good time looking for all 900 Koroks in Breath of the Wild, I was really looking forward to doing the same in Age of Calamity. And in theory this is a much better collectible than the Gold Skulltulas used to be. You don't have any weird requirements to make them appear and they don't appear at the other end of the battlefield for a limited time. It's just something you find at the sidelines, where the battles often provide these moments where you are free to explore without any hurry, even if a Guardian is supposedly chasing you.

But... I really didn't enjoy searching for them so far. Apparently, there are 13 Korok Seeds hidden within the demo and I was having a hard time finding them all, where I'm still missing one in the first mission, because the battlefields are not only very large (much larger than in the first game), they seem really messy on certain ends, where sometimes I couldn't even tell where to go. There is so much clutter everywhere, it's hard to make out when there is something of relevance around. So, the Koroks don't stick out as much as they've used to do in Breath of the Wild. Also, since the frame rate isn't the best, paying close attention to the environment can be quite stressing.

On top of that, there doesn't seem to be any way to track what Koroks you've found already. They don't get marked on the map and it doesn't even tell you how many Koroks you've found in each scenario. This is even worse than in Breath of the Wild, where looking for all 900 Koroks wasn't exactly easy at the end because of the lack of any segmentation. But with absolutely no indicators in Age of Calamity, it would become a completionist nightmare to do it all without guides, because you would have to replay all the missions over and over again with no clue where to look.

Yes, yes, you're probably not supposed to find all of them, maybe just half of them like in Breath of the Wild, but I personally like these type of collectible quests and I also like to complete them. I just hope that there will be some indicators here, maybe once you've met Hestu. Maybe it shows you the total of Koroks then. Maybe there will also be the Korok Mask, which works the same as in Breath of the Wild. Anything would be helpful, so you don't have to rely on online guides for this...

Age of Calamity: Demo Impressions

Central Hyrule Tower

After spending three evenings with the demo already, it's time to give a verdict, which feels a little bit like a preview for the game. There is actually a surprising amount of stuff to do in the demo and it will let you familiarize with the game very well.

Now, let's address the most important issue here right away: you can make Link battle in his underwear, but not Impa or Zelda? That's totally sexist, Nintendo! Bad game, 1/10.

But if you ignore this, the typical frame rate issues, which seems to be a general thing with everything Zelda now, as well questionable time travel story approach, it feels like a very good action game with a great sense of adventure, where you want to play more of it right away.


The demo is very well done. It lets you play the entire first chapter with two scenarios, but stops right when you're about to go to the four Champions, where you will have a free choice. You can still play some side missions / challenges at this point to get a feel for that and it even carries over your saved game to the full version of the game, where you can continue to play right away. That's very clever.

I personally really like the idea of the Central Hyrule Tower as your base from where you ascent or teleport to all the different missions. Together with the beautiful main theme of the game it all feels so much more adventurous and epic than Hyrule Warriors did.

The game essentially combines Legend Mode, Free Mode, Adventure Mode, and Bazaar from Hyrule Warriors all into one. You can play some side quests and challenges in between the main scenarios to enhance your characters, which is a nice change of pace. And you can replay the scenarios with any characters once your done with them, which can lead to some funny situations, where you're running into battle with Zelda and then unlock Link in the first mission.

Well, I've played the demo both in single-player and two-player mode, as well as in German and in English to get a feel for it all. Two-player mode is really sluggish. It's fun to play together, but having your field of view effectively halved is kind of annoying and the drops in the frame rate are really bad, especially if you attack one enemy together. It's a slow motion fest. But the first Hyrule Warriors had similar problems, so it's not all that surprising. And at least there is the option to play together at all, even if it's not ideal...

The single-player runs more smoothly for the most part and looks fine, but it's still noticeable that the frame rate isn't the best. It seems to be around 30FPS with occasional drops to 20. And if you're used to having at least 60FPS, it can be quite the headache.

At least the sound is mostly great, though the voice acting in German for Impa is super annoying. The way she says "Hallo" (Hello) whenever you switch to her feels over-the-top and was unnerving me after a while. Her English voice actress on the other hand is very subtle, almost like the opposite. The English cast is sometimes a little bit hard to understand, though. And overall it's simply strange to hear all the characters, except Link of course, talk during the battle. But it's not necessarily bad and only adds to the presentation, where it's even nice that they've extended the voice acting cast for this game.

The options are quite extensive and allow you to invert camera controls (you really need to mention this by now, it's not a given with Nintendo games any longer). You can't change between different button layouts like in Hyrule Warriors, however, probably because using Y to attack and B to spring matches Breath of the Wild already, so there was no need for separate "Zelda" controls. It might need some adjusting if you're used to those.



Going into the "Battle of Hyrule Field" did feel like a culture shock at first, after the freedom that Breath of the Wild has provided. Of course I didn't expect to be able to climb walls and using walls to surround the battlefield is certainly fine. But at certain points you're basically running against an invisible wall...

Yes, Breath of the Wild did this as well at the borders of its map in the desert and ocean, but here it feels so much more artificial. And when Link can't even get past two feet high rocks anymore it just looks ridiculous. You can't even jump down from one of these wooden enemy camps, where instead you have its platforms surrounded by invisible walls again that you even can wall jump from... Really weird.

Problem is that there is a mess, where you often can't tell which elements on the map can be interacted with and which ones simply act as a barrier. There is a lot of needless clutter on the battlefields, which even makes finding the hidden Koroks more difficult than it's probably supposed to be (more about the Koroks in a separate post). I never had such issues with Breath of the Wild and while Age of Calamity borrows a lot from its source material, it all feels closer to Hyrule Warriors in the overall quality, much closer than I originally expected.

It's still great to see places like Mabe Village or the Lon Lon Ranch before their destruction. All the towns and villages around Hyrule Field really make you wonder how Breath of the Wild would have been with less ruins and more population.

It will also be interesting to compare the maps with the original, but "Breach of Demise" almost feels like a completely different area. I can recognize parts of it, but the whole rock formations seem much larger than in the original. I could be wrong here and the overall map matches the one from Breath of the Wild. And it's nice to finally see the "Royal Ancient Lab" in full glory, even though this only happens during the cutscenes.

Oh, and you can find Blupees. Though, I wasn't able to catch one yet.

Zelda fighting some Echsalfos at the Breach of Demise


Characters and Combat

As for the playable cast, I think are well done and quite enjoyable for the most part. Zelda is probably the one that I've enjoyed the least so far, but that's mainly because you can't cut grass with your main attacks. It makes sense, but it doesn't feel good and you're missing out on materials with her. She looks gorgeous, though, and I like that they are able to do something different with her here, where she can feel useful.

Impa is a lot of fun, once you've figured her out with the seals. She's by far the most powerful character of the three with her ability to create multiple clones. She's literally an army of one and can quickly cause a ton of damage.

Link is the most basic one, but still fun to play. He's the "cut all the grass and all the trees" character for me, where I just can't stop destroying the environment as him. Using the bow and shield surfing is also a lot of fun, where it's a shame that the two ladies don't seem to have a move that lets you go faster. But it's fun to experiment with what the characters can do in any given situation, especially now since everyone can also go and fight in the air with their gliders.

You can also get a Lizalfos Boomerang for Link, which plays like any of the one-handed weapons, but with a twist. Instead of the normal Spin Attack you do throw it around, which is pretty cool. It's nice that weapons of the same weapon type can still have some smaller differences, which will probably be true for the Master Sword as well.

It's also incredible that every character gets to use the four Sheikah Slate Runes differently. Those are very easy to access and quite creative, where this is a huge upgrade from the item system in Hyrule Warriors. It already starts with how quickly you are able to use them: hold the respective shoulder button and then press A, B, X or Y. It doesn't get any quicker than that and it feels great.

The Runes are accessed with the R button, while three different elemental rods and food are used in the same way with the L button. The L items need to be replenished and work the same for everyone, however.

Last but not least, you need to mention the stronger monsters, where in case of the demo it's mostly Moblins, some Wizzrobes and a single Guardian. The latter gets even treated like a boss and has a whole scenario about avoiding and destroying just it...

One of my complaints about the first Hyrule Warriors was that certain foes like the Darknuts or Moblins felt like a joke when compared to their counterparts from the Zelda series. This was especially the case with the Darknuts, who are the mightiest enemies in Twilight Princess, but a complete pushover in Hyrule Warriors.

Well, they didn't make the same mistake twice, where they even went a little overboard here. The stronger foes now actually feel more much stronger than they've used to be in Breath of the Wild. You can easily take out a Guardian early on, if you know how. And red Moblins aren't usually that much of a threat, while Wizzrobes can be easily one-shotted. In Age of Calamity all of these enemies feel a lot more dangerous now, but this only going to make things more interesting.


As said in the beginning, this is a demo done right. Even though it limits you to a couple of missions, it's hard to put it down and it really makes you want to continue in the full game right away. There are some deficits on the technical side, however, where it's still a Warriors game underneath, with all its glory and issues.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Ghost of Calamity Future


Let's get this also right out of the way, before we talk about the demo of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity... Time travel?! Well, of course it is! You can't make a Hyrule Warriors game without it, because being canon isn't fun. It's Koei Tecmo's primary tool for creative freedom and to do whatever they want with this crazy game.

Naturally, this does explain all the inconsistencies we've experienced so far. Why haven't we seen the little Guardian buddy in any of Link's memories in Breath of the Wild? How can the Central Hyrule Tower already be there? Why is the Sheikah Slate on steroids and everybody can use its Runes in the most over-the-top way possible? Well, time travel, that's why!

The little Guardian buddy came from a box in Zelda's study and was saved by a portal that appeared right after Zelda has awakened her powers and everything went haywire at Hyrule Castle. And it allows the Sheikah Slate to do what it does in Age of Calamity. We don't know yet where the little Guardian came from in the first place and he might even create some sort of bootstrap paradox, where it basically exists in a time loop and only The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is dealing with the "origin world" without the Eggbot.

In addition, the modified tapestry about the fight against Calamity Ganon, which now depicts the one from 100 years ago and features the small Guardian, also shows each of the Divine Beasts with two riders instead of just one. I haven't looked at the full roster yet, but this might lead to the inclusion of Sidon, Riju, Teba and Yunobo for even more time travel shenanigans... But it was somewhat disappointing that the Champion descendants never really took control of the Divine Beasts, where Age of Calamity can make up for it.

This could even lead to a happy ending scenario, where this is both exciting and disappointing at the same time. On the one hand it seemed like a bold move of Nintendo to let us explore the inevitable demise of the Champions. To let us play an episode of the vast Zelda universe that will end tragically on a bittersweet note. But on the other hand this creates a level of uncertainty, where we don't know what's going to happen and our heroes could still potentially win this, which doesn't make everything feel dire and pointless. It creates hope.

It also creates a different timeline, where it's like they haven't learned anything from Ocarina of Time at all. But in this case the game will most likely be excluded from "canon" whatever it does. It was interesting to maybe have a spin-off title as part of the official timeline for the first time, but then again it's a Hyrule Warriors game...

Apropos, when I first saw the portal, I was immediately reminded of Lana and Cia. Well, it is implied that the portal was somehow created by Zelda's powers, but I wouldn't be utterly surprised if the two Guardians of Time had something to do with it as well. This could even lead to a potential third Hyrule Warriors game in the future, where everything from the first two games gets thrown together.

Age of Calamity: Full Roster Leaked?

Corrupted Guardian taking aim

Well, it turns out that releasing a demo for a game early can give people information they are not supposed to have yet, in the form of data remains that can be mined. Like let's say the icons of what might be all playable characters in the base game... Who would have thought? It's not like anything like this ever has happened in the past and certainly not with demos from Nintendo...
But I don't fault them. Usually demos like this are never freely available to the public, at least not before the launch of the game, and this is why. But it's a good thing that we can already give the game a first try and potential leaks were the prize to pay.

Anyway, I was quickly confronted with this on GameFAQs, where some idiots are treating this as topic title information, but luckily I do not know the full roster as of writing this. I only know how many characters there are and which prominent characters didn't make the cut.

But this puts me in a bad spot here. After playing the demo I was eager to speculate more, but there is no point in speculating about something that people might already know. I'm still going by what Nintendo is presenting us officially, because I don't want this blog to turn into a spoiler fest.

So, if you don't want to be spoiled and want to be surprised, you're safe here. Please also don't put any spoilers in the comments or I'll have to disable comments for now.

Also, keep in mind that just because certain characters have icons in some form, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will be playable. They could only be interactions on the battlefield. So, take this leak with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Age of Calamity: Playable Divine Beasts

Well, since they seemed to be done with the "Untold Chronicles From 100 Years Past" trailers, I expected some different news for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity this week. I was hoping for a dedicated Direct for the game, but we're getting a playable demo instead, which is pretty awesome. More on that once I've played it...

But Age of Calamity also got featured in Nintendo's last "Partner Showcase" for the year, which introduced us to four more playable characters at once:

  • Divine Beast Vah Ruta
  • Divine Beast Vah Rudania
  • Divine Beast Vah Medoh
  • Divine Beast Vah Naboris

Yes, that's what we were hoping for! Not a playable King Rhoam, no Robbie or Purah, certainly not Hestu or Master Kohga... The Divine Beasts!

Well, this idea had crossed my mind before and I certainly wasn't the only one, since the Divine Beasts were featured quite prominently on the game's cover art, roaming the battlefields. It was a huge possibility, but it gave me awful flashbacks to the "Ganon's Fury" mode from Hyrule Warriors, which I'd rather forget about, so I didn't really give this any second thoughts. And if I receive ridiculous amounts of damage from tiny Bokoblins hitting my feet with wooden swords in this, I will be so mad.

Not going to lie, it looks pretty awesome on first glance, but so did Ganon's Fury. And I hope the implementation will be not as clunky as I'm afraid it will be. If you look more closely, the action sequences of the Divine Beasts are not really on par with the quality of the rest of it. Playing as something this large makes everything else look really weird and not in a good way. It's like you're stomping little rubbish pixel armies.

I assume that the Divine Beasts will only be played in special sequences, where these are most likely classified as weapons for the respective Champions. If they were to count as characters and have actual levels, it would be ridiculous...

But whatever, it does make sense to have them as part of the gameplay and I'm going to have to try this for myself before I judge. Hopefully they will have improved things from Ganon's Fury, because that wasn't much fun.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Cadence of Hyrule: First Impressions

Link and Zelda playing together in Hyrule Field

Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda isn't exactly new, but I've avoided the game until now, where the physical version of the game came out. The timing was quite perfect, however, because I was in need of another good couch coop game, after we had fully completed Overcooked! 2 the other day with all its DLCs and updates and absolutely all stars, also on Nintendo Switch.

Actually, I've already played the game briefly last year with a friend, but it was late on the clock and we were a little drunk, so it didn't go too well. I remember us missing the beat and dying... a lot. And while it did go a lot better this time, there were still these evil difficulty spikes all over the place. We died early on because I accidentally went into the Lost Woods and we got stuck there. And we also died early on just because we went into a cave, where the game thought it was a good idea to fill it with Lynels, Hinox and other tough monsters...

And this is where the rogue-like elements of this game hit you. The first time where we lost all of our stuff felt really bad. You'll lose all consumable items, like Rupees, Bombs or any tools that break. And all enemies that you've defeated will return as well, where the first death felt like starting from scratch. 

At that point my reaction to the game was basically, "this is garbage". I'm not a fan of Rougelikes. I'm also not a big fan of making modern games in discount retro pixel looks and if it weren't for the Zelda skin, I would not be interested in something like Crypt of the Necrodancer at all. I suppose this is how many Zelda fans must have felt about Hyrule Warriors, but Hyrule Warriors in the least has a certain amount of production value...

But we kept going for a bit and you quickly start to realize that it's not all rouge-like. The overworld stays the same and you get to keep your Heart Containers, main weapons and items, like the Boomerang, the Hookshot and so on. So, it's kind of like going back in time in Majora's Mask, just without the consent. But there was some progress to be made, like in any traditional Zelda game, and that's where the motivation and fun kicked in. Playing in rhythm with the beat of the game also went surprisingly well for me, where the music is really great.

I also enjoy how the overworld plays a lot like classic NES The Legend of Zelda. The map is divided into "screens", though some of them can be connected to form larger scrolling areas, usually around dungeons or for villages. And most screens have a secret in form of a cave or an item to find, where the map keeps track of all the things that you haven't cleared yet, like bosses or chests. And you can access all of the overworld before going into any of the dungeons.

Apropos, we then went into our first dungeon, which was the "Kakariko Crypt" mini-dungeon, which you need to complete if you want to play as Link and Zelda at the same time. And this suddenly was just pure rogue-like again. We died at the boss multiple times and each time you had to do the whole dungeon over again, which got randomly generated from scratch to make things even worse (or maybe a little better). Well, that's not fun. And we're talking about a very small dungeon here, where I'm not too hot about trying the major dungeons of this game yet. Hopefully they all will be equally small...

But exploring the overworld and finding items that you get to keep was fun enough that we will probably keep going, maybe even complete the game at least once. It doesn't seem like you can play any of the DLC offerings in coop, though, but I could be wrong. The only thing I found so far are the Season Pass bonus costumes for Link and Zelda, so at least that's in the cartridge version of the game.

Overall I like the idea of having a Zelda game that's procedurally generated, because it adds a lot of replay value. I also like having another topdown coop Zelda experience, especially one where you can play as Link and Zelda. That's some really good stuff in combination, but with its execution Cadence of Hyrule doesn't really seem like the game that I would love to play, where I still hope that Nintendo might try something of their own in these departments...

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Got Cadence of Hyrule

If there's one good thing about holding out on buying a Nintendo Switch until now, then it's certainly this: the physical version of Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda. (Seriously, what's with that freaking long title?)

Actually, I completely forgot that this was coming out this week and was only remembered by Nintendo on Twitter. I suppose, that's one of the cases where their social media marketing did the trick. But the last time that I didn't really care about a new Zelda-related title was when Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland came to Europe. I still ended up liking that game, however, so let's see how this goes...

It has all the DLC on it, which is quite neat and something that Nintendo usually doesn't like to do for their games, unless they are porting them over to the next console. And that's usually fair, because if you go and offer Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Ultimate Edition on Nintendo Switch for half the price of what the game and its DLC did cost you originally, then it's going to piss off the early adopters. But in this case it's about the same of what you would pay for the game and Season Pass digitally (though I did get it for cheaper, actually).

But I prefer having games with box and cartridge for my collection. The only exception to this might be games that you keep playing on a daily basis, e.g. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Animal Crossing: New Horizons, where it can be annoying to swap the cartridges again and again. But at the same time I still like having such big titles as a physical version.

And Nintendo Switch games feel very "collectible" to begin with. The boxes are so small that you always feel like you could have a couple more. This is my eleventh Nintendo Switch game and I don't even have my own Switch yet...! And cartridges are great to have as well. Discs are quite sensitive and can be damaged easily, so I don't actually like collecting discs that much, where I don't even have a DVD or Blue-ray collection, just games. But with Nintendo Switch games everything seems perfect.

However, when it comes to the overall design, Cadence of Hyrule is probably the ugliest piece in my collection. I'm not a big fan of the artwork of this game and the cover art with the purple background already feels kind of bland. But at least there is something there, which is more than you can say about the inside:


When I first opened the box, I was actually irritated, because it looked like something is missing... Luckily, it wasn't the game, but Cadence of Hyrule doesn't have anything printed on the inside of the cover and this looks very... empty. Every other Nintendo Switch game I saw has something printed on the inside – some artwork, some map, ingame instructions, something... But apparently something that's not sold for full price isn't really worth the extra ink for Nintendo?

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Age of Calamity: Artworks for King Rhoam and co.

Artwork of King Rhoam with a Royal Claymore in front of him

This week Koei Tecmo has released a bunch of new character artworks and screenshots for some of the characters that got introduced in the "Untold Chronicles From 100 Years Past" trailers. You can find them all on their Twitter.

These characters are presented in the same style as the confirmed playable characters and some of them are even shown holding or using what might be their main weapon. The most notable one is clearly King Rhoam, who looks like a boss with that Royal Claymore. He even holds it with one hand in one of the cutscenes:

King Rhoam standing in front of a destroyed Guardian with a Royal Claymore in his right hand

Master Kohga also has his huge spiked ball and Hestu gets his Priceless Maracas, though he wouldn't be the same without them. But it still creates the hope that some of these characters will be playable after all. Robbie and Purah on the other hand aren't shown with any real weaponry or items around them, unless you count Robbie's backpack and Purah's glasses...


These new images were first sighted in the Japanese "Nintendo Dream" magazine, where all these characters are listed under "Other Characters" and not "Playable Characters", though they do note that it's simply unclear whether these characters will be playable or not. So, it's all out in the open and I really don't like that Nintendo is making a big secret about this. But judging from the artwork, I'd say that in the least King Rhoam, Master Kohga and Hestu could be playable.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Age of Calamity: Kohga Theory

Master Kohga doing a pose

We've been introduced to the Yiga in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity last week and there was one big question up in the air: is this the same Master Kohga that we saw in Breath of the Wild? And if so, how did he not age?

Of course, "Master Kohga" itself is just a title, so it's entirely possible that there a different Master Kohga existed 100 years earlier. But... he really does seem like the exact same guy. Same appearance, same quirky behavior and also the same combat techniques. A new artwork shows him using the same huge spiked ball as in Breath of the Wild (more on that later).

If this really was a different Master Kohga, why wouldn't they make him at least somewhat different? Well, yes, Zelda characters keep re-incarnating all the time, like you get different Tingles all over the ages. But this would be much closer than usual and it really seems to be the exact same character. So, how did he not age in Breath of the Wild and why doesn't he remember Link?

Well, my explanation for this is incredibly simple: the Yiga have their own Shrine of Resurrection. They are Sheikah after all and seem to have access to the same kind of technology. Now, it's likely that Master Kohga will get defeated and badly injured during the battles in Age of Calamity. In that case the Yiga would take him to their own Shrine of Resurrection and put him there into stasis, where then they wait for their master to return...

Master Kohga could have woken up some time before Link in Breath of the Wild and probably would have also lost some of his memories, which is why the two can't remember each other, even though they have battled before. As I said, it's a simple explanation.

Well, we'll be able to find out in a month...

Monday, October 19, 2020

Age of Calamity: Untold Chronicles 3

Hestu dancing in front of Urbosa and Zelda

If this is Nintendo's way of building up hype for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, then they are doing it wrong. Very, very wrong. Today we got the third Untold Chronicles From 100 Years Past, where again we can take a look at a character, where you'd wish he was playable: Hestu.

They are actually addressing the issue where Hestu could only be seen by Link in Breath of the Wild, but apparently he is not the only one who can see the big Korok. In the new trailer it looks like both Zelda and Urbosa can see him as well. And since there are Koroks as a collectible again, probably every playable character should be able to see them...

Speaking of playable characters, this third part of "Untold Chronicles From 100 Years Past" is quite different, because it also shows us more gameplay clips of Link, Zelda, Impa, Mipha and Revali... We can see Link fighting with a Boomerang, but there is the question whether these will behave like swords or a different weapon type. It might just be a silly sword skin.

At the end there is also a cutscene, where some of the playable fighters are using their gliders, which looks hilarious with Daruk and should confirm that every playable character has a way of flying over the battlefield.

But these trailers will probably leave a sour taste in the mouth of anyone who expects more than just the seven confirmed fighters. Why show us King Rhoam, Robbie, Purah, Master Kohga and Hestu in a way where they are seemingly just cutscene characters? Why suddenly show us gameplay of the confirmed characters again to stress the fact that they will be playable? Why not show us another playable fighter each week?

The game will be released in a month. Is seven fighters all that we can expect? Will the rest of these introduced characters be DLC fighters? It would be quite disappointing if that was the case... And this is currently killing the hype for this game, at least for me personally. Don't show me what I can't have...

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: The Final Four?

Fighters Pass Volume 2 with four open slots

Now that I finally got a single prediction for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate right, I'm going to pretend like I know it all and make a list of what I feel like are the likeliest candidates for the four remaining spots of the second Fighters Pass, the "Final Four". Of course there still could be more fighters beyond or next to this, where I'm personally still expecting a couple of Echo Fighters, maybe even a small "Echo Fighters Pass", but for now we should assume that that's it.

Also, now that I've gotten two of my "most wanteds", I try to be as unbiased as I can be, where most of the characters that I view as likely are from games that I haven't even played yet and that aren't of major interest to me. While games like Metroid Prime 4 and the sequel to Breath of the Wild felt like a possibility at the beginning, now these games seem too far away to be represented in the same fashion as Byleth. Even if they come out in late 2021, the 2nd Fighters Pass will already conclude by then.

That being said, let's get right to it. These are the chosen ones. Or not, we'll see...

  • Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden)
  • Agnés Oblige (Bravely Default)
  • Hunter (Monster Hunter Rise)
  • Rex & Pyra / Mythra (Xenoblade Chronicles 2)

All of these will be released throughout 2021, where it's possible that we get the first announcement at the Video Game Awards again, similar to Joker in 2018. Last year they didn't do this, but Byleth probably wasn't the most spectacular announcement and this really depends on whether we'll be looking at another guest characters or not.

But when it comes to third parties, Ryu Hayabusa is arguably one of the biggest omissions with ties to Nintendo. Now that Simon Belmont is on the roster, Hayabusa is one of the few missing NES Legends, probably the most important one. And not only would he represent Ninja Gaiden, but also the Dead or Alive series, where it would be lovely to get Spirits for Kasumi or Helena...

In any case it's weird how we haven't really gotten anything from Koei Tecmo yet, despite their very healthy and friendly relationship with Nintendo. I mean, they are currently developing Nintendo's big Christmas hit, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, but they only have a single Assist Trophy in Smash? That needs to change!

Also, Vergeben, the German leaker who predicted a huge part of the base roster and also heard rumors about both Dragon Quest and Minecraft in Smash before the DLC even was announced, only has one other clue at the moment and that's Hayabusa. So, if I had to put money on any of these characters, I would put it on Ryu Hayabusa.

Anyway, speaking of third parties, it's of note how five of the third party Mii costumes that used to be DLC for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U haven't returned in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate yet:

  • Chocobo
  • Geno
  • Llyod
  • Hunter
  • Rathalos

Well, by now this list gets smaller and smaller with every DLC release, where we got Heihachi's costume back with Min Min and now also Gil. And it's likely that we will get the rest of them back as well, where I don't really expect any of them to be upgraded to playable fighters. Well, except maybe one of them...

While the Mii costume waves don't necessarily need to have anything to do with the concurrent Challenger Pack, it's still possible that they saved some of these to go hand in hand with a fitting DLC fighter, similar to how they gave us Heihachi with another fighting game character. And it's kind of weird how Square Enix still has their Mii costumes out in the open, mainly because they had focused on Dragon Quest Mii outfits that came together with Hero. But it's possible that the Chocobo and Geno outfits were saved for a second Square Enix fighter in the DLC...

And when it comes to Square Enix, I don't see Geno or Sora as the likeliest candidates, also not another Final Fantasy fighter, but someone very close to Nintendo: Agnés Oblige, the protagonist of Bravely Default. The Bravely series has been exclusive to Nintendo systems and we're actually supposed to get Bravely Default II on Nintendo Switch still this year. So, the timing for Agnés as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. couldn't be any better.

Then there's Monster Hunter. It's already represented in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate via Rathalos, who is a Spirit, a boss and an Assist Trophy, as well as two music tracks... But that's very little considering how successful this franchise has been and how Capcom kept putting exclusive Monster Hunter games on Nintendo's systems, like the upcoming Monster Hunter Rise.

This could even tie in with the new game, where the protagonist from Rise could use the "Wirebugs" for his recovery and so on. Obviously, they would also bring back the Mii costumes for the Hunter and Rathalos armors with this.

People keep quoting that the producer of Monster Hunter was originally against putting the "Hunter" into Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which happened later anyway, and that this might also the reason why they put only Rathalos in Smash over a playable fighter. The series is mainly about the monsters.

And this is understandable, but naturally a Challenger Pack would also come with a stage, where there are other changes of showcasing different monsters from the series on that stage. And the combat of Monster Hunter can only be represented via fighter. You really want the whole package of this and all of that good music, where the Monster Hunter franchise seems to be in the exact same spot as ARMS used to be before the 2nd Fighters Pass in terms of representation...

Speaking of ARMS, there certainly is going to be at least another 1st party addition to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and I wouldn't be surprised if it's the last Challenger Pack. This would be similar to the first season of DLC, if you also count Piranha Plant as the first DLC fighter. Here four third party additions were sandwitched between two 1st party newcomers and history could repeat itself with the 2nd Fighters Pass.

And with that in mind, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with Rex & Pyra feels like the best fit to end things on a different note again. Sakurai even has expressed his regret that they couldn't consider Rex as a fighter for the base game, because like with ARMS the timing was simply bad. And they've added his Mii costume as a bonus for the first Fighters Pass as some sort of consolation.

People claim that his has effectively has disconfirmed Rex as a possible fighter, like all DLC Mii costumes seemingly do, but it's a different story here. First of all, the costume is just a bonus and not sold separately. And even if someone took it as an incentive to buy the first Fighters Pass, then they probably wouldn't complain about getting the real deal later on. Plus, if we're going with the last Challenger Pack, it will have been three years since the Rex costume got available... Three years!

And the Rex Mii costume is just for Rex himself, while the fighter certainly would end up being a duo of Driver and Blade, so Rex and Pyra fighting together. Mythra could even become an alt or it's possible that there is a mechanic that allows you to switch between Blades, which could even include the infamous KOS-MOS (though, she probably should become a fighter of her own at some point).

The Runner-Ups

Honorable mentions go to Dante from Devil May Cry and Crash Bandicoot as two of the most requested 3rd party newcomers out there. But there's nothing that I can say about them that makes them seem more or less likely at this point. If Capcom is getting yet another fighter in Smash, Monster Hunter still feels like the more important choice... But you never know.

My "most wanted" 3rd party newcomer would probably be the Doom Slayer, but he had been effectively disconfirmed by Marty Stratton from id Software in an interview with Metro earlier this year, so I'm not holding my breath. As for first person shooters, the Master Chief is also one of the most iconic figures here, but it feels somewhat less likely after already getting two reps from Microsoft with Banjo and Steve. But then again, the Master Chief is the biggest original Microsoft character...

Otherwise there is also the Tales Of franchise on the table with various protagonists to choose from. Llyod Irving will most likely return as a Mii costume, as already said, but this might happen together with a Tales Of Challenger Pack.

Also, we can't dismiss the possibility of getting another Pokémon from Sword & Shield. In general they could do more 1st party additions this time, where I like to think that Dixie Kong or anyone from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is still on the table, because that game needs more love in Smash...

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Minecraft Impressions

Steve using Flint and Steel on K. Rool at Gerudo Valley

Time to troll. The "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Minecraft" Challenger Pack has been released yesterday and certainly offers by far the most creative and unique addition to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate yet. It's absolutely hilarious and I had a good laugh trying Steve for the first time. The moves, the taunts, the victory animations, it's all so out there and the perfect troll fighter.

However, I can't claim that this is my favorite DLC for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate so far, because that title still goes to ARMS. Actually, my first impressions of both fighters were quite similar: you have to play them very defensively and with that they aren't really something for me personally. Well, this turned out to be completely wrong with Min Min, where she basically is my second main by now and not just a "secondary"...

Steve on the other hand is exactly what I expected him to be: super defensive. He essentially has a "mind your own business" playstyle, where your goal is to mine, craft and build things, just like in Minecraft, and your opponent is just a nuisance that's getting in the way. His weakness are seemingly rushdowns, but it's easier said than done for his opponents thanks to his defensiveness. You don't want to be under Steve when he has that iron and you don't want to be above him in any case. His anti-air game is insane. And so is his ability to ledge-trap.

He can wall off opponents from getting back to the stage, place TNT traps at the ledge or simply spam raining fire... Well, as a downside, his own recovery isn't that great either. You can't place blocks while you're falling and if you can't place blocks, your only option to get back up is the Elytra, which is very tricky to control. I'm not a fan of the gliding mechanic, really, and it's easy to mess it up. But at the same time the things that you can do to mess up any other fighter's recovery are insane.

What a character! I didn't think he's for me at first, because he's very hard to handle and I'm personally a little overwhelmed by all the mining and crafting you have to do, since this makes you quite vulnerable and I prefer to play offensively. Well, I wanted this character for the ability to build things and that turned out even more amazing than I had imagined. But it wouldn't be "Minecraft" without mining and crafting as well, so I'm not complaining... And I'm slowly getting the hang of him, where there is some potential for a new secondary / counter pick here.

And the mining is such a crazy feature, especially how every stage can be different for Steve. It's fun to do and the attention to detail with this fighter is absolutely above the charts, where you even get sand blocks on Tortimer Island, ice blocks on Summit or wool blocks on Yoshi's Story.

Some stage materials seem quite off, though, for example the Great Plateau tower is apparently made out of stone and Spring Stadium made out of dirt, even though both should probably be iron... I suppose they based this feature on what sounds are played from the materials, but it probably could have needed some more adjusting here and there.


Steve and Alex on the Minecraft World stage

Speaking of stages, the "Minecraft World" turned out much better than I thought it would. At first I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn't entirely random, but the attention to detail is again superb. There is so much to discover in the backgrounds, it's absolutely beautiful. It's really like playing in a Minecraft world with its day and night cycle, mobs running around and some generated structures.

Destroying the upper layers of the stage block by block can be fun, but the blocks can also get heavily in the way. However, the hazardless versions of the stage have all destructible blocks removed from the get-go, so that's good and each variant still feels different enough thanks to the platforms and visuals.

It's basically like getting six Minecraft stages in one and that's some amazing effort, where it's also nice how can select all six variants individually via shortcuts. I wish that some of the morphing stages, like Paper Mario, had this feature as well, so that you could go directly to a certain part of the stage or even choose it for the hazard-free variant.

The Classic Mode route for Steve was great as well. Lots of nice references to the game, like going into a Woodland Mansion, the Nether and of course the End. Using giant Kirbies as Ghasts or Pits as Vexes was quite clever, I give them that.
The only real downside of this DLC pack is the lack of any C418 music. And don't tell me that it's too "calm", Sakurai, there are other calm music pieces in the game and you can always remix them. In the very least the victory theme should have been the main Minecraft theme and not that weird Achievement jingle. I suppose that there probably have been issues with getting the rights here and that's a shame...

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Age of Calamity: Untold Chronicles 2

Master Kohga on a table with a Yiga commander giving him a massage and a robed figure next to them

It's been a week and Nintendo has just released Untold Chronicles From 100 Years Past - Part 2, featuring three more characters from Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which hopefully will become playable at some point.

In this case we get a first look at some villains. We're introduced to Master Kohga, who seems to be the same as in Breath of the Wild. Well, since the Yiga Clan is made out of Sheikah, it's possible that he was able to grow very old or even stay young somehow. But it also might be that this Master Kohga simply got replaced by someone with a similar statue at some point in history, but this really looks and feels like the exact same guy.

Anyway, he gets full voice acting now, as well as a special commander for his troops, who looks like a Yiga Blademaster with the difference that he is dual wielding and has two pigtails on his head. I bet he also likes eating two bananas at once. But he could be like this game's version of Volga, just less serious.

In addition, there is a dark sorceress type of character who's aiding the Yiga and has a Gerudo symbol on the back of her robe, so she could be a Gerudo witch serving Ganon, similar to Twinrova. Of course it doesn't necessarily have to be a Gerudo, where this simply could be someone with allegiance to the old Gerudo Ganondorf from legends, similar to how Onox and Veran used to wear the Gerudo Symbol in allegiance to Twinrova. But since the Gerudo tribe in Breath of the Wild is overall opposed to Ganon, the simplest explanation would be a Gerudo who is still loyal to Ganon somehow.

This character also has the typical villain jewelry on their forehead, but in this case it's an eye that looks very similar to the Glowing Eyeballs that grow in Calamity Ganon's malice, further linking this new villain to Ganon. And her weapon seems to be a corrupted Ancient Core.

People also seem to be quite obsessed with the fortune teller who told King Rhoam about the prophecy, where it would be a cool twist if that fortune teller was this evil figure. But whoever it might be, we can briefly see that person in the Yiga Hideout, but also at the entrance to the Lost Woods at the end of the trailer, where the Yiga are probably trying to get to the Master Sword or chase after Zelda.

This is all very intriguing and I can only repeat myself when I say that all of these characters better be playable. King Rhoam, Robbie, Purah, Master Kohga, that Yiga commander and the sorceress... Well, I wouldn't be surprised if the villains only become playable via DLC, but in the least it's good to see that Koei Tecmo is working on some original characters again. I really liked what they did with Cia, Volga and Wizzro in the first Hyrule Warriors, so this could be equally good.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Zelda Calendars 2021

Covers of the 2021 Zelda calendars from Abrams and Pyramid

New year, new calendars. Like the previous two years, I got both the Abrams calendar (on the left) and the Pyramid calendar (on the right). This could change in the upcoming years, however, because the difference in quality between the two keeps increasing.

I've always preferred the Pyramid calendar from a design standpoint, but because they just started doing this two years ago, their motives were a little bit too "vanilla" for my taste. I've seen all those artworks in the Abrams calendars before...

Backs of the 2021 Zelda calendars showing all months

But now, funnily enough, it's the other way around. If you look at the 2020 calendars, four motives from the 2020 Pyramid calendar are now re-appearing in the 2021 Abrams calendar...! Talk about lazy... It's like they just were looking at what the competition is doing and said to themselves, "we can do that, too! Let's just copy that!"

Well, Abrams has expanded their previous focus on the 3D Zelda games to "3D Zelda games + A Link Between Worlds", so there is still not much love for the 2D Zelda games here. I didn't even bother with their new Metroid calendar for 2021, because it's twelve times a Samus render from the Metroid Prime Trilogy games. I'm not even joking, you get one month of Quadraxis and the rest is Prime Samus.

It's like the guys at Abrams have the mindset of "we have to go with the popular 3D games or else no one will buy this". Pyramid on the other hand will offer you artwork from The Legend of Zelda, The Minish Cap, Four Swords Adventures, A Link Between Worlds and the new Link's Awakening remake.

With the latter they are also more up-to-date. Abrams seemingly likes to produce and sell their calendars very early, but because of this they are usually two or even three years behind with what's new in the series. Pyramid doesn't seem to be as bad in that regard, where they got the newest Zelda game covered. Plus, they had a good pick with the Champions for December, where this also works nicely to represent Age of Calamity.

Also, the new design for the months in the Pyramid calendar is absolutely amazing. Check this out:

It's a dungeon map! This is probably inspired by the Chamber Dungeon feature from Link's Awakening and I absolutely love this. This looks so cool and you get a different dungeon every month! That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you design a nice Zelda calendar.

I won't even bother showing you the inside of the Abrams calendar, because it's the same uninspired, effortless single-color design as always. And you can see an example on the back above. So, if you only have space or money for a single Zelda calendar, definitely go with the one from Pyramid.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Age of Calamity: Outfits?

outfit menu

There is one part about yesterday's stream that we haven't talked about yet and that's the possibility to change your fighter's "attire". In the showcase they went trough a small collection for Link, which consisted entirely out of familiar armor pieces from Breath of the Wild, like the Snowquill Trousers, Soldier's Armor or the Zora Helm.

That is another thing that Koei Tecmo has taken directly from the source material and it's certainly a lot more versatile than the different costumes in Hyrule Warriors, because you can change your clothes for the legs, torso and head individually. You can even remove everything, if you want to play as Link in his underwear...

And that raises a certain question... Can you undress the ladies? Will you be able to change the attire of other fighters as well and how will this look like? Obviously, they can't just use the same armor pieces from Breath of the Wild for everyone else.

Well, in case of Zelda we have already seen her in three different outfits – her Champion attire, the white Goddess dress and the ceremonial outfit. And there is at least one more outfit that needs to be there, her cute winter clothes from The Champions' Ballad:

Zelda in her winter outfit talking to Revali

Whether all of these will actually be an option for the playable Zelda or not remains to be seen. For some missions it might even make canonical sense for her to wear a certain piece, e.g. the white dress during the final missions. But it certainly would be nice to be able to choose this before side quest missions and so on.

As for Impa, she could have the Sheikah stealth set as an alternative. But with both ladies you probably shouldn't expect the option to fully remove their clothes and play in underwear. Well, it's with all certainty something that Koei Tecmo would do (The Legend of Zelda: Xtreme Beach Volleyball, when?), but it's also probably something that Nintendo wouldn't approve, even though it's totally sexist that it's okay for Link to fight in his underwear, but not for Zelda. But we'll see about that.

As for the four Champions, in the least they do get the Champion cloth / scarf as an option. In the beginning of the game they naturally don't have those yet as part of their outfits and you will probably be able to turn it on and off in the same way as Link's armor. Urbosa certainly will also have the option to wear the Thunder Helmet or not...

They could also do some more creative stuff, e.g. Nabooru's outfit for Urbosa. Speaking of, similar to how Link got the amiibo armor pieces that made him look like a previous incarnation, e.g. the Link from Ocarina of Time, there could be similar sets for both Zelda and Impa.

So, there are many possibilities here and it will be interesting to see more of this feature in the near future.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Age of Calamity @ Treehouse Live October 2020

Urbosa fighting Yiga in the Gerudo Desert

Today Nintendo streamed Treehouse Live for October 2020 with some new gameplay for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, showcasing Urbosa, Zelda, Link with a two-handed weapon and some more of Impa. We also were able to take a look at the Gerudo Desert stage and the main map for the game, where both confirmed a couple of suspicions about the game.

The Gerudo Desert stage is huge and the Gerudo Town is only a tiny part of the entire stage. That's actually quite impressive and much larger than the battlefields from the first Hyrule Warriors. There is also a much bigger attention to detail, where everything looks like it was taken directly out of Breath of the Wild, even with added details on top with all the villages and places that aren't ruined yet.

The main goal of the story chapter is to defeat Master Kohga, so whoever took that title 100 years ago is confirmed for this game. It's not a big surprise and the question remains whether he will become playable in the end or not, because so far it looks like you will only be able to play as the good guys this time.

In Gerudo Town there was also a nice discovery in form of a Korok, so this collectible feature has been confirmed in the way we expected it to work. I wouldn't even be surprised, if there were 900 in total again.

The most interesting part about the stream, however, was the main map. Unlike Hyrule Warriors, there won't be separate Legend, Basar and Adventure Modes, instead everything has been combined to one giant map, where you access the story chapters, but also play side-quests or visit merchants or use materials:

ingame map screen similar to Breath of the Wild

And this is sooooo smart, I love it! Things that were super trivial in the first Hyrule Warriors, like unlocking a new move for a weapon type, all now have these little stories to them and are all part of one large world. It just makes everything feel more relevant and connected and not like you're grinding through countless discount missions.

The "Challenge Battles" from the Adventure Mode, where you have to defeat 1000 enemies or so, are also integrated into this, so you'll have a nice mix of following the story and playing side missions. In the example here Link was training his two-handed sword style against Hylian soldiers and Daruk at Lon Lon Ranch. Yes, at the Lon Lon Ranch, which we finally were able to see before it was destroyed and which looks remarkably similar to the one from Ocarina of Time.

There also don't seem to be any ranks, like "S", "A" and "B", but I could be mistaken. I would like to see those gone, however, because the arbitrary requirements like "don't take more than ten hearts of damage" were always annoying. In this there are even "Sacrifice Strong Attacks" that consume a part of your life energy, where it would be really silly to have these strictly limited due to some artificial achievement. The ranks also made having many hearts and healing items completely useless, which hopefully will be different for this game...

Well, materials you collect can be used to trade for stuff (like new combos) or to cook recipes, which give you helpful effects for one battle. The materials and recipes seem to be taken out of Breath of the Wild, much like the weapons, where you seemingly can have a limited pool for each character. There is no distinction between weapon types, it's just that different weapons will lead to different play styles, which is actually the same as in Breath of the Wild with its three main weapon types. The number of weapons you can have for a single character might be increased with the Korok Seeds again, I suppose.

As for the new movesets that they've shown today, they did confirm that Zelda is using the Sheikah Slate as her main weapon in addition to using the Runes like everybody else. And it looks crazy... The Special attack where she uses the Sheikah Slate Camera was really funny!

Urbosa is pretty impressive as well, where you have a lightning gauge that you need to charge. But all the flashy lightning attacks really help to set her apart from Link's one-handed sword gameplay.

But I have to say, all of this looks extremely well done. As much as I loved the first Hyrule Warriors, this Warriors game puts it to shame. It's on a whole other level!

What might not be on a whole other level is the number of playable fighters, however. They've shown us seven so far and it's questionable how many more there will be. This might even be it... But I still hope that we will get Hestu, King Rhoam, Robbie and Purah.


PS: I fully understand that in these times events like this are done remotely, with people streaming from their home. That's cool and I'm in full support of this, but in the least you should get your employees proper microphones. The one woman was very hard to understand and it felt super unprofessional.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Age of Calamity: Untold Chronicles

After all the news about Minecraft finally coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, let's not forget that Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is on the horizon as well. Today Nintendo has released a short trailer, called Untold Chronicles From 100 Years Past, which shows us the King again, as well as a first look at Robbie and Purah in their prime:

In the "Champions' Ballad" DLC Purah appeared behind the camera of one of the cutscenes, but you couldn't actually see her, so it's nice to finally have her "younger" self revealed, where she has the quirky personality that you would expect from her. And the young Robbie seems really cool, too.

All three of these characters were on my list of potential fighters, so I find this trailer to be a little worrying. Why not reveal the other Sheikah as playable fighters right away, like they did with Impa? Unless of course they aren't actually playable and this trailer focuses on showing us cutscene characters...

That would be a bummer, but if they aren't playable in the base game, they are certainly DLC material.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Nintendo Switch Minecraft Edition?

Remember the "Creeper Edition" of the Nintendo 2DS XL that came out in 2018? Yeah, that one:

New Nintendo 2DS XL looking like a Creeper with Minecraft written on the back

Well, here's an idea... You put Steve in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and then you sell a Minecraft Nintendo Switch bundle for the Christmas season! How about that? I call that easy money.

They could make the dock look like a bunch of Minecraft blocks, which would be awesome. And attach Joy-cons that look like Creepers or other Mobs from the game. Certainly beats making a Fortnite Edition... And you know what? I'd buy it!

Let's face it, they are not going to make that "Sheikah Slate Edition" for the release of Age of Calamity that I so desperately want. They probably think that every Zelda fan on Earth has already purchased a Nintendo Switch because of Breath of the Wild. Not that this has stopped them from making unnecessary Zelda Editions for the Nintendo 3DS, but there is obviously a certain reluctance here...

And I'm not happy with the thought of purchasing a normal Nintendo Switch now, only to sell it again later when finally a Special Edition arrives that I want to have... It's a possibility, but not one I'd like to take. So, instead I would be willing to buy another collectible edition, as long as it's to my liking. I probably would have purchased the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition two years ago, if that didn't look like the cheapest effort of all time.

Plus, back then I was still hopeful about a Zelda Edition coming soon, but Nintendo felt like it wasn't worth it for Link's Awakening and even if they did, I probably would be looking at a Nintendo Switch Lite, because that was coming out at the same day...

In any case I'll need a Nintendo Switch soon and I'm not happy with the current situation. Give me something, Nintendo!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Steve & Alex Presentation

Alex & Steve riding in Minecarts
On board the Steve hype train!

Today was the Sakurai Presents for "Steve & Alex" (no love for Zombies or Endermen, it seems), where Sakurai showcased the moveset and "Minecraft World" stage in great detail. And it's pretty awesome...

You can really see the love that went into making this. There is so much effort that went into crafting what's easily the most creative moveset in the entire game, it's like Sakurai's team is trying very hard to outdo themselves with the second Fighters Pass. Both Min Min and Steve are very exceptional fighters.

Well, the use of different tools is actually quite similar to Byleth, where in this case up attacks use the Axe and so on. So, that part was a little underwhelming. But the mining, crafting and block placing mechanics are so overwhelming, it totally makes up for it.

Steve will create his own meta around stage materials, which is absolutely crazy. This will be even a factor for competitive play, where there is quite the limited stage pool, but you will deal with a focus on different materials, like wood (Smashville, Town & City) or iron (Lylat Cruise), as a result, which is something you'll have to consider for counter-picks. This might even lead to a scenario, where you'll have to play the Battlefield version of Battlefield or the Omega-Version of Final Destination just to have the neutral resource distribution of these stage variants, unless they do that already by default. But hey, at least this way these redundant stages would have a use.

The crafting part is quite fun, where this is finally another character who makes use of the backgrounds of the stages. But unlike the Pokémon Trainer, who just stands there and shouts, this will actually be interactive. And it's such a good thing that you can call it to wherever you are with the Shield Special move, which is also a thing that so far was only utilized by a single character (Inkling).

Well, and then there's the blocks. It's funny how Sakurai first says that he has trouble doing his balancing play sessions during home office times and then introduces us to what's most likely one of the most overpowered mechanics in the game...

The block placing in the air is busted. That feels like one of the most broken moves ever and you can't even do that in Minecraft, where blocks only can be placed onto other blocks. But as someone who isn't that good at recovering and edge guarding, this might be a character for me, similar to Min Min.

It's also crazy how this is all one Special Move and Kirby will get all of this, if he absorbs you. He will be able to mine and place blocks in the air, just like you do. Well, the crafting might not be useful or even usable with Kirby, but the blocks certainly are.

And since all of this is one single move, that leaves room for even more crazy stuff. As if the blocks aren't already good enough, Steve also gets a good recovery with the Elytra. And the mine cart feature for the Side Special, as well as the TNT for the Down Special are the craziest things and give you so many ridiculous options.  This is a troll fighter at its finest.

Of course most of this will be balanced by the resource gathering. You need a lot of wood and iron for the mine carts for example, but standing around and mining materials will make you very vulnerable. So, Steve could be an easy victim to rush-downs. He might also be quite bad on certain stages, where you only find little wood and iron.

Minecraft World stage in the Plain biome

The "Minecraft World" stage, however, turned out to be a little bit disappointing. I was expecting a stage similar to "Super Mario Maker", where it's something different every time. But apparently there are six hard-coded variants and it loads one of them at random. But still, you get six stages in one and they all really look pretty, where they have lots of nice elements from the original game.

It's also fun how everyone can actually break the blocks above the ground level. Of course it doesn't let you destroy the entire stage, but something like this needed to be part of a Minecraft stage. I just wish that the elements would be more random.

The Creeper and Pig Mii costumes are super weird, though. They just look so freaky... The Creepers would have been perfect for Assist Trophies and it's a shame they never add any of those via the updates. Of course these Mii costumes are based on player skins, but they feel like they are the rejects from the selection of alt costumes for Steve... Oh, and Travis Touchdown got a hard disconfirm, but the Bomberman Mii costume is really nice. Easily the best of the bunch.

But I can't wait and I can't believe that right after Min Min I get another fighter that I'm super excited about and that might turn into a really good secondary of mine. Thank you, Nintendo, Microsoft, Mojang, Sakurai and Bandai Namco for this! It's absolutely amazing!