Sunday, February 21, 2021

35th Anniversary of Zelda

Today 35 years ago was a very special day, where each and every one of us were sitting in their traditional Japanese houses and inserted their copy of THE HYRULE FANTASY ゼルダの伝説 into their Famicom Disk Systems for the very first time. A day we surely will never forget!

Well, to be fair, most Zelda fans (including myself) weren't even alive back then and probably also not living in Japan, but the Zelda series is celebrating 35 years of existence nonetheless. It's kind of an odd anniversary, though. The 25th Anniversary was special, because there you're celebrating a quarter century, which is important enough. And with 30 or 40 years you're entering another decade. 35 years on the other hand is just right in the middle of those anniversaries and probably only an excuse to celebrate.

But celebrate we will, if the 35th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros. is any indication. In the end these anniversaries are just a marketing ploy anyway, but we're usually getting some goodies out of this, which can be quite exciting. We Zelda fans sure do love us some merchandise.

There seem to be many people confused out there why Nintendo hasn't brought up the 35th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda already, despite the fact that they've just announced The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD and special Joy-Cons for this game. But this is actually quite normal...

For the anniversaries of Super Mario Bros., which take place on September 13th, Nintendo usually likes to start and announce things earlier in the year, while for Zelda they wait a couple of months, so that these two anniversaries don't clash and don't take the attention away from each other. In case of the 25th Anniversary of Zelda they started things at E3 2011, where they had the first big orchestrated concert for the series. And with the 30th Anniversary they didn't even bring it up until September 2016 with a couple of new amiibo and the Arts & Artifacts artbook.

When it comes to what Nintendo could do for Zelda's 35th Anniversary in 2021 and early 2022, it's really easy to just copy what was done for Super Mario Bros. in the last months:

  • Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda
  • The Legend of Zelda 35
  • The Legend of Zelda 3D Collection
  • Nintendo Switch Zelda Gold Edition
  • Zelda Items in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • ...

But this would be lame and we already know for a fact that Nintendo likes to do something different for Zelda's anniversaries... That doesn't mean that none of these things will be happening, for example the Zelda items for Animal Crossing: New Horizons seem likely in any case. However, the vast majority of things will be something different and we're probably not getting that Zelda theme park anytime soon. A Zelda movie or TV series on the other hand? This would be really something else (even though we know that they are already making a new Mario movie).

Now, here's a number of ideas what Nintendo could potentially do for the 35th Anniversary:


1) The Wind Waker HD + Twilight Princess HD

Well, yes... this isn't really all too different from the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, which came out last year. However, we would be dealing with true HD ports here, ports that might even see some new features, because the Tingle Bottles and Miiverse Stamps don't have their original use anymore.

If they were to add Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask to such a collection as well, they most likely would just be emulated, however, similar to Super Mario 64 in 3D All-Stars. But those games are probably best put towards a Nintendo 64 collection for the Nintendo Switch Online service, which is long overdue. In any case, Skyward Sword HD already proves that Nintendo would sell HD remasters of the Nintendo 64 Zelda games on their own, for sure, so don't expect them.

The Triforce with the cover arts of The Wind Waker HD, Twilight Princess HD and Link's Crossbow Training as its parts

But to add a little spice to the collection, they could offer an HD remaster of Link's Crossbow Training. This isn't really something that Nintendo would sell on its own, where originally it was part of a bundle with the Wii Zapper. But in an HD collection together with Twilight Princess HD, where Link's Crossbow Training could borrow all HD assets from this title, it would fit really well. And ideally this wouldn't be a time-limited deal.


2) Golden Pro Controller

The above collection could go hand in hand with a nice custom Zelda themed Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, like this one:

a black Pro Controller with golden handles and shoulder buttons, as well as gold decals

Of course they could also do an entire golden Nintendo Switch, similar to red and blue Switch for Super Mario, but this might be a little bit too much at this point, especially since we're already getting the Skyward Sword HD Joy-Cons. A Pro Controller on the other hand? You can never have too many of those.

3) Armor Sets in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Items in Animal Crossing: New Horizons are cool and all, but the Zelda series does have its own platform to do something similar: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The game will be updated via DLC in 2021, but it could also get some free goodies, like additional armor items.

Phantom Armor for Link

Curiously, out of the 107 armor pieces in Breath of the Wild, only 60 of them made it into Age of Calamity. And out of those missing, the majority are cameo items from other major Zelda titles:

  • Hero set
  • Hero of Time set
  • Sheik's Mask
  • Phantom Ganon set
  • Fierce Deity set
  • Majora's Mask
  • Tingle's set
  • Hero of the Wind set
  • Island Lobster Shirt
  • Hero of Twilight set
  • Midna's Helmet
  • Zant's Helmet
  • Hero of the Sky set
  • Phantom set
  • Ravio's Hood

All of these would be perfect for celebrating 35 years of Zelda and they could even add a couple more that weren't part of Breath of the Wild. For example there could be a Goron Link outfit for Daruk. They could give the Mask of Truth to Impa (like in Hyrule Warriors). Or Zelda could get outfits based on past princesses. And so on.


4) Dungeon Maker

In the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, which came out in 2019, Nintendo and GREZZO have first experimented with what basically was a small dungeon maker. The "Chamber Dungeon" was very basic, but it was founded on the simple grid layout that was utilized by all the dungeons in the original The Legend of Zelda. The dungeon rooms have always the same square shape with their entrances placed at the center.

Link fighting a Ball & Chain soldier in the Chamber Dungeon

If nothing else, they could still update Link's Awakening and add a remake of the first Zelda dungeon with Aquamentus as a new boss to the game, as a small way to celebrate the anniversary. However, it will be two years by then and this was more than enough time to expand the idea into its own Zelda title, using the same engine and visuals as Link's Awakening.

This could lead to a sophisticated dungeon maker, where you can fully create your own chambers and so on. And as part of the 35th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, it should also feature various remade dungeons from the first game as an example or part of a single-player experience.

Such a title would also lend itself to multi-player support, where you could design dungeons for more than one player. This would hit multiple birds with one stone, where this could be a dungeon maker, the next multi-player Zelda and a way of celebrating 35 years all in one.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Skyward Sword Picross?

Skyward Sword logo with a Hylian Shield Picross art next to it

History seems to be repeating itself from five years ago, at least when it comes to the Zelda franchise. The situations in early 2016 and early 2021 are remarkably similar, where we're heading right into the next big anniversary for the series. The next big Zelda title is currently in development and we might see it in full action during this summer, where it's likely that the game won't be released before early 2022.

In the meantime there is a new Hyrule Warriors game to tide us over, which will be supported with DLC until the end of the year. And if that's not enough for you, there also will be the next HD remaster of the 3D Zelda game that is getting ten years old now. The release timings are of course somewhat different between now and five years ago, but the overall picture feels very similar.

However, there is one part of this picture that is still missing... 2016 had another Zelda spin-off in its pipeline, which went hand in hand with the new HD remaster: My Nintendo Picross – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It was a free title as a My Nintendo reward and is to this day probably the single best thing that ever came out of this service.

My Nintendo has been changing quite a bit lately, though. You can finally get physical rewards, like in the good old Club Nintendo days, but Nintendo wants you to pay for the shipping and you can only do so via credit cards, which is stupid for countries where the usage of credit cards is rather uncommon. The discounts for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U are gone, while the Gold Points are now primarily used as a cheap discount device in the Nintendo Switch eShop...

You can still get the Twilight Princess Picross for 1000 Platinum Points and I can only recommend you to do so, because it's a fun little puzzle game to pass some time. If you don't have a Nintendo 3DS, then we can only hope that Nintendo finally decides to provide something for the Nintendo Switch on that service. And what better start than My Nintendo Picross – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword to offer some nice hours of filling up Fi, Ghirahim and Groose pixel arts?

It's even weird how they introduced the "My Nintendo Picross" brand just for the Twilight Princess version, but then completely dropped the idea of doing any other small Picross games like it. Well, of course it's not very profitable to make games completely for free, but in the least this would serve as a nice promotion for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD.

Alternatively, they could do a whole "Zelda Picross" game for the 35th Anniversary that spans the entire series. But something like that probably wouldn't be for free, of course. And the focus that Twilight Princess got with its Picross title was actually very nice, where this could also work really well for Skyward Sword as well. Unintentionally suggestive wordings included.

"Master, there is a 99% chance that you need to fill this hole."

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Skyward Sword HD: Special Edition Joy-Cons Announced

 Skyward Sword HD Joy-Cons pack shot

If you were expecting that Nintendo will come up with a Special Edition Nintendo Switch during the reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, I won't blame you. In fact I was thinking the same thing... So, this actually led to a positive surprise that we're just getting a pair of special Joy-Cons instead.

For Zelda fans who already own a Nintendo Switch this is the ideal way to make their Nintendo Switch systems more fancy. But let's not mistake this as Nintendo being considerate. This is Nintendo after all and they know exactly that they would get all those Zelda fans to buy a second Nintendo Switch, where they might still have such a thing planned for the 35th Anniversary, like a golden Special Edition.

But for now this will be it and looks nice, where these Joy-Cons are something else for a change. They are themed after the Master Sword and Hylian Shield, which is pretty clever and arguably also looks quite good.

Blue Joy-Cons with decals based on the Hylian Shield on the left and the Master Sword on the right

same Joy-Cons hold in hands with tabs

However, I personally wouldn't have wanted a full Nintendo Switch with such a design, because it's not that amazing. But it's great as a pair of separate Joy-Cons, which I will probably never really use, because I'm too afraid they'll start to drift. But maybe it's a good idea to buy a second pair, just in case...

I'd prefer getting a Zelda themed Pro Controller as part of the 35th Anniversary celebrations, however, because Pro Controllers are the best. It would be really nice to have one to play games like Breath of the Wild, Link's Awakening and maybe some other HD remasters later this year.

Skyward Sword HD Announced

Skyward Sword HD logo

Arguably the "biggest" news of yesterday's Nintendo Direct in terms of Zelda was the reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD for Nintendo Switch. The title itself shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, who is remotely interested in the franchise, since this has been up in the air ever since the Nintendo Switch became a thing. And after Eiji Anouma himself teased the possibility at a Zelda concert in 2018, it was only a matter of time...

The timing right now is quite similar to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, where the game comes out right before its 10th anniversary and acts as a filler, before the next big Zelda title will be released. It's also possible that Tantalus Media, the Australian studio that did the HD port of Twilight Princess, is working on this again, but we don't have any information on this yet.

Skyloft in HD

Judging by the visuals this is probably not the case, however. In the past I've kept pointing out the fact that Skyward Sword already looks really good when upscaled to HD via emulator. But I didn't truly think that whoever was going to work on this HD "remaster" would take this to their heart so closely, where this really just looks like the Wii game got upscaled and that's all.

When they showed the game during the Nintendo Direct I wasn't even sure that they are going to actually call this "Skyward Sword HD", where this might as well could have been an emulated re-release of the Wii game, similar to Super Mario Galaxy. There don't seem to be any improved textures and the environments looks somewhat muddy as a result.

Link fighting Ghirahim in literal mud

So, this could simply be just another side project of the main Zelda team, similar to The Wind Waker HD. But unlike that game they also didn't bother with adding any new visual effects. It doesn't necessarily need any of this, since the original art style of the game works pretty well in HD. But still you can't help but feel like this is the most lackluster of the 3D Zelda remasters so far...

They can make up for this with new features, however. Three years ago this blog already filed a huge list of possible additions and improvements to Skyward Sword HD, where this still holds up for the most part and you should definitely go read that excellent article.

One point on that list has already been checked off, at least partially: the game will fully support button-only controls, so you can play the game in handheld mode (probably also with a Pro Controller, but they haven't shown this yet). In this case the sword will be controlled with the right analogue stick.

Link swinging the sword vertically with the right control stick displayed

It has been questionable in the past whether this would work well or not, but it seems fine and might be even a very good way of playing the game. I'll definitely try both control schemes to see what's the most comfortable and the most fun.

Well, the game will be released in July 16th, where together with the DLC for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity this already looks like it's going to be a busy year for Zelda fans. But I wouldn't be surprised if we're also getting the other HD remasters ported over from the Wii U as well, this time as an actual 35th Anniversary celebration.

Age of Calamity: Expansion Pass Announced

artwork showing Purah and Robbie alongside Terrako, Link and the Champions

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has been released in November last year and in yesterday's Nintendo Direct it was finally confirmed that the game will see further support for the span of one entire year. For this it's getting an "Expansion Pass", which seems to be very similar to the Expansion Pass that got made for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

There are two waves of DLC – one in June and one in November. Both come with new fighters, but the first one will focus on adding new challenges and challenging enemies, while the second will focus on expanding the story. You cannot purchase these two DLC packs individually, you can only buy the full Expansion Pass for about 20$/€.

This is pretty much exactly like the Expansion Pass for Breath of the Wild worked, which shouldn't really be surprising when you consider that Age of Calamity is entirely based on that Zelda game. They clearly took some inspirations here.

Nintendo has roughly mapped what each part of the DLC will contain, so let's go over this and compare this to our DLC predictions from last month.


Purchase Bonus (May 28th):

  • Newly added weapon for Link
  • Newly added costume for Link

It's a little bit weird that we won't get these right away. It would have been good timing to give us an earlier update for the game to fix some issues and maybe improve the performance somewhat. But it seems like we'll have to wait three more months for anything to happen, which is a shame...

I've seen people expecting the "Master Cycle Zero" here, but this bonus is only a new weapon for Link's existing weapon types, not a new weapon type. So, it's a similar bonus to the Lucky Ladle and Training Sword that we've already gotten. The Spring-Loaded Hammer comes to mind, which can already be found in the game's data...

As for the costume, it really could just be the Old Shirt and Well-Worn Trousers for Link. Or they could go with something more creative here, like the Phantom Armor. The Ancient Armor set could be a possibility, but this would be the same bonus as for the second Fighters Pass from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and it's probably tied into the following DLC pack...

Wave 1 (June 2021):

  • Expanded roster
  • Newly added weapon types
  • New challenges in the Royal Ancient Lab
  • Newly added challenging enemies

Well, they are very unspecific here when it comes to the total number of new fighters, but this seems to be the pack where add Purah and Robbie as playable characters, which are heavily featured in the announcement trailer and the artwork for the Expansion Pass. In this trailer we can also see sketches of the Ancient Short Sword, as well as some new type of flying Guardian. These are most likely things Purah and Robbie have been working on to help out.


The new "weapon types" certainy refer to new movesets for existing characters, similar to how Link and Zelda already have them. So, this is where you place the Master Cycle for Link, which seems to be one of the biggest omissions from Breath of the Wild overall and could lead to some really fun moveset.

Likewise, they could do something with horses for either Link and Zelda, reminiscent of Epona in the first ever DLC for Hyrule Warriors. It's hard to imagine anything for the other characters, really, mostly because their movesets already cover pretty much everything you'd expect from them. The Champions are also all treated as equally important and only one of them getting another moveset therefore wouldn't feel right. And all the later characters were either meant to be a bonus, a surprise or both, where it doesn't feel likely that any of them would get a second weapon type at all...

So, this leaves pretty much Link, Zelda and Impa as the primary candidates of receiving additional weapon types. Maybe Purah and Robbie come up with some fancy technological stuff for Impa, who could use one of those Sheikah Orbs somehow...? We'll see...

The "challenges in the Royal Ancient Lab" make it sound like the Royal Ancient Lab will become its own point on the map with some special play features, similar to the Meditative Training. It could also lead to a series of normal Challenges or both.

But this might be where you're earning some smaller rewards, like new weapons and outfits for Link and maybe also the others. Those are not explicitly mentioned in the DLC description, but it feels like they would use a DLC focused on the Ancient Lab, Robbie and Purah to at least bring back the Ancient Armor set, as well as the Ancient Short Sword, Ancient Bladesaw and Ancient Spear. Like the Spring-Loaded Hammer, these weapons are already all in the game's data.

The new "challenging enemies" will most likely turn out to be the golden enemies from the Master Mode for Breath of the Wild, which was also part of the first DLC pack, The Master Trials. In addition there could be the stronger types of the Wizzrobes and Guardian Scouts as well. How they will get into play is a different question, however, where it might be that there's a fifth difficulty level now that does exactly that...

They also might be tied into the new Royal Ancient Lab challenges, where it's also possible that Purah and Robbie came up with entirely new Guardians for training purposes.

Wave 2 (November 2021):

  • New character vignettes / episodes
  • Newly added stages
  • Expanded roster
  • New battle skills for existing characters

"Character vignettes" might be just a sketchy translation for the English version, where the German one is speaking of "character episodes" instead. And both of this is probably referring to new story scenarios that are focused on specific characters, similar to Cia's and Linkle's Tale in Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors: Legends.

The first character who comes to mind here is of course Astor, where we could learn where he came from in some sort of prologue chapter. This could also go hand in hand with adding Sooga as a playable character as well and maybe even Harbinger Ganon, though the latter isn't as likely for reasons stated in our previous predictions.

One of the biggest fan favorites still missing from Breath of the Wild, who could potentially also come with new story scenarios, is with all certainty Kass, the Rito minstrel. This could be another time traveling story, where he studies the birth of a new age and might even get to meet his younger teacher.

What supports the theory that we're indeed getting new chapters and scenarios here is the fact that they will be adding new stages as part of this wave as well, which is exciting news and actually a novelty for Hyrule Warriors DLC. They could have just re-used the existing stages somehow, so it's nice to see that Koei Tecmo will continue the trend of offering new battlefields on each step of the story. Or at least on most steps, since they could go both ways here and also re-use some older battlefields for the new scenarios.

They have covered most parts of the Hyrule from Breath of the Wild already, but there are still some areas left, like the Gerudo Highlands, most of the Hebra Mountains, the Tabantha Tundra, Eldin Mountains with the Thyphlo Ruins, Mount Lanayru and Lanayru Promenade, Faron Grasslands and more... So, they are not out of possibilities for new battlefields just yet.

The part that certainly raises the most question marks are the "new battle skills for existing characters". This could simply mean that you're able to upgrade your weapons beyond level 30, which unlocks new special weapon seals. But this would be really lame and not something you'd mention in the same vein as new fighters and battlefields. It would also be something that you'd expect from a free update and not paid DLC...

But new battle skills sounds more like something like the Sheikah Slate Runes, which every character can use in battle and where every character brings his own unique twist to this. Or like the ZR character abilities that every character has... Maybe using either L or R will bring up the option to trigger something new with the ZR and ZL buttons respectively. Or they'll use the left analogue stick button somehow. No matter how they will implement this, it will be highly interesting to see what this is all about.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Pyra / Mythra Announced

Pyra and Mythra in Smash

Two for the price of one! Let's start by saying that all those people who doubted that Rex would make it into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, mainly because of his DLC bonus Mii costume, were right in the end. And this is actually the much better outcome, where the ninth Challenger Pack entirely focuses on what makes Xenobabe Chronicles 2 so appealing in the first place: the female "Blade" characters designed by a hentai artist.

You could say that this is a very similar situation to ARMS overall, where this is a first party Nintendo Switch game from 2017, which didn't make the cut for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate initially, but now gets added after all via the second Fighters Pass. And instead of going with the front male character, they've chosen a female character who's arguably equally important to the game. Or two female characters in this case...

Speaking personally, I always enjoy to have a diverse cast, but I'm not a fan of forcing diversity or gender quotas just for the sake of it. It should come off naturally. But with the video game landscape, where the majority of protagonists are male, because we're probably still dealing with the prejudice that the majority of gamers are male and want to identify with a male character, it's a very good thing that they are going a little bit out of their way here to get some more female fighters in Super Smash Bros. with Min Min, Pyra and Mythra. I also often enjoy playing as female characters in fighting games more than with male ones, not only because they look better, but because they are usually more agile and faster.

Well, this is also the first time since Super Smash Bros. Brawl that we're actually getting another two-in-one character with a swapping mechanic, where Pyra and Mythra even count as #79 and #80 on the roster, similar to how Pokémon Trainer takes three numbers with Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard. There had been other characters like this in the past with Zelda and Sheik, as well as Samus and Zero Suit Samus, but those got separated in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U. But if you thought that the time of such transformation characters is over, think again!

As for (Zero Suit) Samus, Sheik and Zelda, they were arguably better off separated and still are, mostly because these characters are vastly different from each other. In case of Sheik and Zelda they also heavily profit from one more move, which is something that fans of Charizard might miss in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. There are people out there who want solo Charizard back for that very reason and you can't blame them.

Pyra and Mythra, however, are both sword fighters and while they have different moves, they still feel quite similar, where this is more about swapping between two modes than swapping between two entirely different fighters. As a result, the transformation feels very natural and it also works incredibly fast, where having these two ladies as separate characters probably wouldn't be of any advantage, quite the opposite. So, overall this feels like an attempt of finally creating a transformation character that's done right.

What's also great about this Challenger Pack that this is more representation of first party Nintendo Switch stuff. When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out, it did very little to represent the current era of Nintendo in the form of fighters and stages. It had Splatoon, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, but this was basically just checking off the most important boxes.

So, having ARMS, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem: Three Houses represented as well is really an improvement, where ideally we will also get a stage for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in the future. But who knows...? Maybe one of the final fighters will be Dixie Kong after all?

PS: They haven't shown any of the alt colors yet and you can't see them on the official page yet either, so there might be some surprises here. I'm hoping that there will be a version where Pyra has the colors of KOS-MOS and Mythra looks like T-elos. This would be awesome.

Nintendo Direct February 2021 Roundup

Mythra on Hyrule Temple

Now this is what I call a satisfying Nintendo Direct... Pyra / Mythra for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was already a good start. I'm not a fan of Xenoblade (yet), but these two ladies have been on my list of likely characters for the DLC, where the only surprise is that they've put Rex aside completely. But I don't mind... Quite the opposite!

Then we finally got the confirmation that Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will get DLC later this year... Much later in fact, with two packs hitting in June and November. This will give me plenty of time to grind with all characters for those "new challenges" and "newly added challenging enemies".

As expected, there weren't any news about the 35th Anniversary just yet. I assume that this is going to happen later this year, maybe around E3 in June, when the first Age of Calamity DLC gets released and we'll probably learn more about the sequel to Breath of the Wild.

Still, we did get some Zelda news this direct with the announcement of Skyward Sword HD, which will be released on July 16th, alongside a special pair of Joy-Cons. I've been expecting this title for so long, it's actually surprising that I didn't have this on my list yesterday, but this was because I was putting this into the category of potential 35th Anniversary stuff. However, Twilight Princess HD also wasn't part of the 30th Anniversary, so this is history repeating itself and makes sense overall.

Speaking of Twilight Princess HD, I still think it's possible that we will be getting some sort of collection as part of the 35th Anniversary later this year, featuring both The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD, but maybe also the Nintendo 64 Zelda games.

But overall it sounded like the sequel to Breath of the Wild won't come out this year, which is why we're getting the obligatory filler title(s). This could truly be history repeating itself from 2016, where we've spent the 30th Anniversary with an HD remaster and new content for Hyrule Warriors throughout the year, before Breath of the Wild got released in early 2017.

I will write dedicated posts about all of these announcements later today... But now I need to catch some sleep, so good night!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Nintendo Direct February 2021 Predictions

Nintendo Direct logo

It's happening...! Tomorrow! Nintendo just announced the next major Nintendo Direct on Twitter. And this feels almost surreal. Nintendo fans, including myself, have been expecting a proper Nintendo Direct for a long time now. It almost felt like they were done with the format for good and instead just will do single game announcements in the future...

But take a look at the expectations here, after Paper Mario: The Origami King had been released. Well, the Mario game is a different one, but the situation is the same: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is now available and thus it's time for some news about what's on Nintendo's horizons.

Of course a part of the Nintendo Direct might focus on upcoming games that we already know about, like Monster Hunter Rise or New Pokémon Snap. But there certainly will be some surprise announcements there as well and with 50 minutes there is plenty of time to announce all sorts of things. Like a new 2D Metroid...

Two years ago they've shown us the remake of Link's Awakening and history could repeat itself here with remakes of the Oracle games... maybe? But it's probably too soon for this and it seems like GREZZO has been working on something else, anyway.

About Zelda overall, I've recently seen a lot of people with high expectations for news about Zelda's 35th Anniversary, which will start this Sunday, February 21st. But I say "start", because Nintendo usually doesn't celebrate such anniversaries on date and instead does something later during the year. There was just recently stuff for Fire Emblem's 30th Anniversary, which officially began in April 2020... The 35th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros. is also still going.

And remember the 30th Anniversary of Zelda in 2016? Yes, me neither... Despite having multiple games released in March 2016, including Twilight Princess HD,  they didn't bring up the 30th Anniversary before September 2016 and then only for some amiibo and an artbook. I think the 35th Anniversary will get more interesting, but that doesn't mean that Nintendo will do something early.

So, I wouldn't hold my breath for any Zelda news just now... Except for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which is in desperate need of some DLC and updates. They might even shadow drop some of it tomorrow... We've been over the possibilities for this, where you can take a look at my DLC suggestions from last month. But part of it would be bringing back all the armor items from Breath of the Wild, which were based on other major Zelda games and which would be perfect as a first anniversary celebration.

Speaking of DLC, Nintendo practically confirmed that we'll be seeing the next Challenger Pack for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in the Nintendo Direct. This is great news and if I had to take a wild guess, I would probably go with Monster Hunter, because this would go perfectly hand in hand with the upcoming release of Monster Hunter Rise.

Well, see you after the Nintendo Direct!

Got Super Mario 3D World on Nintendo Switch

photo of Super Mario 3D World and a steelbook with the Bowser's Fury artwork on one side

This arrived in my post today after some snow induced delay: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury for the Nintendo Switch, together with a nice steel book, which was a pre-order bonus. That's only half of a new game for me (or a third, depending on how large Bowser's Fury is), because I already own and have completed Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U...

So, why am I bringing this up? In the past I've been quite outspoken against all the Wii U ports, expressing my disappointment on how the system slowly, but surely turns into something that was best skipped entirely. See for example my Port Machine article from three years ago. At the time I even assumed that New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D World and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will most likely stay Wii U exclusive... How naive of me!

The number of Wii U titles that are now best played on Nintendo Switch has grown significantly since then and there is rarely anything left... But I also don't mind any longer – in fact I kind of embrace it and even plan to get some of my other Wii U games for Nintendo Switch as well, like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

And this is not just because I finally own a Nintendo Switch now. No, instead I have been slowly moving on ever since the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I still have some unfinished games left on my Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, like Fire Emblem: Awakening or New Super Luigi U, but I can hardly bring myself to play any of it, because it feels archaic by now.

It's especially bad on how they handled things with many Wii U games. New Super Luigi U is actually a great example... I've played and completed New Super Mario Bros. U on Wii U in co-op and we wanted to continue with the Luigi expansion. But to play both games in multiplayer you need to use the Wii U GamePad separately, while both players need a controller of their own. You can't use the GamePad for any of the normal players, where the game kind of assumes that you're always having one more person around, who is happy to do the "Boost Mode" for you.

And since I only own one Wii U Pro Controller, because I didn't like that one too much, I'm stuck with playing on a Wii Remote, while the Wii U GamePad sits on my lap, so we can use it for platforms whenever necessary... It's highly inconvenient and it's not the only game that does that kind of weird stuff with the GamePad.

It's not that I dislike the Wii U GamePad, in fact I liked it quite a lot. I have large hands, so it was comfortable enough, and having a touchscreen for certain inputs, like changing items on the fly, was often quite convenient. But... the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is simply so much more better and comfortable, it's hard to go back to any other controller.

I love the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. I love playing games with it. It rests super comfortably in my hands, the buttons have a good size and placing, where this controller is nearly perfect. I already own three of them and I will gladly buy more (especially Special Editions). And playing co-op games on the Nintendo Switch with Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers is just the best. Which is why I like having my Wii U games on Nintendo Switch by now, especially the ones that support couch co-op play, like Super Mario 3D World.

Another reason is that I simply love how "collectible" Nintendo Switch games are. I love the small cartridges and boxes. It's so much better than the discs that you have for Wii, Wii U and other consoles, which take up more space and also are a lot more delicate, because they are prone to scratches. This kind of makes me want to "port" my Wii U collection over already.

Well, we probably haven't seen the last of the Wii U ports now, where it's quite likely that The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD will make it over to the Nintendo Switch as well for the 35th Anniversary of Zelda later this year. And I will be happy to play these games on my Switch, then....

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Champion Pack Concept

Talking about characters from the Zelda series as new fighters in Super Smash Bros. (Ultimate) is usually a delicate topic. With six fighters in total the series has a good amount of representation already – it's one of the top 4 series after Super Mario, Pokémon or Fire Emblem. It also has the second highest amount of stages and items in the game, after Super Mario.

But... the Zelda series hasn't gotten a new fighter since Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008, over 12 years ago. And that character was Toon Link, who basically just was a replacement of Young Link from the previous title, Super Smash Bros. Melee. It was in that game where the series has been fully extended with Sheik, Zelda, Ganondorf and Young Link – a huge focus that came with the popularity of Ocarina of Time.

Since then they regularly kept adding new fighters from the Super Mario, Pokémon and Fire Emblem universes, but Zelda fans had to make do with new Assist Trophies, stages and items, as well as some nice redesigns of the existing fighters that came with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Now, the Zelda series has seen its new big milestone with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which became the most successful Zelda game yet and has even sold almost as much as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch with 21.45 million units (see Nintendo's IR Information). And that's not even the counting its sales on the Wii U, which were over a million as well.

The game also got its fully dedicated spin-off and prequel with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which has already sold 2.84 million already (source) in less than three months. Needless to say that the popularity of the Zelda franchise is as high as it's ever been and even much higher than back in the days of Ocarina of Time.

So, maybe... just maybe it's time to add another Zelda character as a fighter to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But who should it be? Who at this point would be a good fit? Over the years certain fan favorites like Midna and Skull Kid had been established, but who both are Assist Trophies in the current iteration of Smash and by now are more on the retro side of things. Impa also often gets suggested, but she wouldn't really cause the right impact (pun intended)...

What we should be getting at this point is another Super Smash Bros. Melee scenario, which does not only add one, but four new fighters. To make up for the years and years without a new Zelda fighter in Smash. To give Breath of the Wild the kind of representation it is asking for... Well, the title of this post already gives it away – this is about adding the four Champions: Mipha, Daruk, Urbosa and Revali.


Artwork of the four Champions from Age of Calamity: Mipha, Daruk, Urbosa and Revali from left to right

The Champion Pack

Of course something like wouldn't be happening as part of the current Fighters Pass. And it probably won't be happening in any way or form, where this is just a pipe dream. But let's dream for a moment and imagine a scenario, where Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is getting four more DLC characters based on Breath of the Wild alone.

Arguably, Breath of the Wild is already represented in Ultimate with the Great Plateau Tower stage and Link's newest redesign, but the latter was kind of a low effort and many fans wished that Link could have used some of the Champion abilities as part of his moveset, like Revali's Gale for his Up Special...

Well, again, they could make up for things by making the four Champions playable themselves. And not as a Pokémon Trainer type of character, like Zelda and Sheik used to be, but as four separate fighters, because this usually works better and gives each fighter one more Special move.

With that in mind, we would be looking at a separate DLC, the "Champion Pack", which gets either released alongside the second Fighters Pass or afterwards. We already know that the current character select screen can be extended by seven more fighters, so this would be a perfect fit for a full roster of 90 characters.

These fighters would not only represent Breath of the Wild, but also the different tribes of Hyrule, which have been around since Ocarina of Time and have been a very important part of the series. So, adding a Zora, a Goron, a Rito and a female Gerudo would be the right kind of impact.

Now, since each fighter already comes with a weapon and got quite well defined by the source material when it comes to combat, where they all have their special weapons, so you don't have to be overly creative for the movesets.

The most interesting part are their signature abilities, where Mipha's Grace and Urbosa's Fury are probably Final Smash material. Revali's Gale would work best as an Up Special, as already mentioned, while Daruk's Protection could either lead to a special shield or a shield-like Neutral Special.

The DLC pack would also come with a new stage in the form of the Divine Beasts, where you get teleported from one Divine Beast to the next as another morphing stage. This one could show different parts of the new Hyrule in the backgrounds, like the Gerudo Desert and so on. Similar to the "Minecraft World" stage, there could also be a mechanic where you get to select a specific Divine Beast with the right input.

And this would be the perfect opportunity to add some more music from Breath of the Wild, but mainly also from Age of Calamity, which has an amazing soundtrack that would be a really good fit for Smash. Especially the tracks for the Champions from the second chapter would be a must here.