Monday, June 27, 2022

Breath of the Wild 2: Hookshot?

E3 month is nearing its end and while there was no actual E3, most major video game publishers still gave a glimpse of what's coming from them in the next twelve months or so... Nintendo is one of the exceptions, however, and we may have to wait a little longer before we can see the sequel to Breath of the Wild in action, since the rumored Nintendo Direct for the end of this month turned out to be a Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase (see Twitter). We might even have to wait until after the release of Splatoon 3 on September 9th.

So, this leaves use with more time to speculate and talk about the new major installment in the Zelda series, before Nintendo finally raises the curtain. Its development had started as DLC for Breath of the Wild, where the ideas got so ambitious that Aonuma decided to make a new game instead, which simply takes place in the world of Breath of the Wild again. And with this approach it's likely that some ideas that never made the cut for Breath of the Wild will make it into the new game.

One of these ideas could literally go hand in hand with Link's new cursed arm and the "gauntlet" surrounding it, which is seemingly going to replace the Sheikah Slate for providing the main items. Those were Bombs, Magnesis, Cryonis, and Stasis. The latter may have been replaced with a time reversal ability, where you can send objects back on the path they came from.

And one of the other arm abilities could actually become the Hookshot, potentially even a Double Hookshot, but the single Hookshot feels more natural with Link having one of his arms corrupted, but not the other. Plus, he can just hold on to most surfaces anyway, where having two Clawshots, like in Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword, wouldn't be required.

The (Double) Hookshot was actually an item that made it into the early stages of development for Breath of the Wild, as Aonuma and Fujibayashi have explained in an interesting interview with IGN back in the day. They were ultimately against this addition, because it completely broke the climbing mechanic, which was an essential part of the game. Moving around like Spider-Man was just too overpowered.

However, the Hookshot had apparently its fans in the staff, who kept pushing the idea. And while it probably was a good decision by Fujibayashi to turn them down, the sequel changes things, because it has to evolve from Breath of the Wild to keep things interesting. Since they are re-using the same game world, they will have to give the player something to make traversing the same world one more time a fresh experience, not just by adding new things to find, but also by giving the players new ways of moving around. They've already did this with the Master Cycle Zero in the DLC, but the sequel will have to go one step further.

And this is where the Hookshot may come back into the game. Yes, it still would break the climbing, but do we really want to climb all those same mountains again? Part of the fun in Breath of the Wild was going up a mountain to see what's on the other side, but the players already know what's on the other side this time, where you might as well speed up the process with something fast and fun.

It would also be a very helpful tool for spelunking and exploring the sky islands, maybe even a necessity, because there is only so much you can do with climbing alone. You can't climb on the lower side of an overhanging rock for example and you certainly won't be able to climb up to some completely disconnected sky island...

On the other hand there is the new ability to morph through ceilings and that might be exactly what they are going for to give the player more mobility, without making the climbing almost obsolete. It aims directly at the surfaces that you can't normally attach to. So, the Hookshot still may be considered too overpowered for the sequel by the development staff, but it could potentially act as a late game reward this time, similar to the Master Cycle Zero. In any case, it would be fun if the we had the chance to experience this item for ourselves this time.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Got Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes – Limited Edition

photo of the front of the Three Hopes and Three Houses Limited Editions

photo of the sides of the two Limited Editions

This has arrived today, the Limited Edition for Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. It actually uses the exact same box as the Limited Edition for Fire Emblem: Three Houses from three years ago, which is quite nice and looks pretty good when you put them right next to each other.

game box, figurine box, and card box with a figurine of Edelgard displayed and the female Shez card

Anyway, the contents are somewhat different, however, where I personally feel that the one for Three Houses offered the higher quality and value. What both have in common is the Nintendo Switch game card box without a rating logo, which is always very nice to have when you live in Germany, where the huge USK warnings will ruin any good cover art.

Even better are steelbooks, where I love to collect the ones for Nintendo Switch games for some reason, but this edition doesn't have one, sadly. Instead it comes with a big pile of character cards for seemingly all important characters in the game. Those are pretty, but I don't really have any use for them.

Then there is a set of acrylic figures of Edelgard, Dimitri, Claude, as well as the female and male version of Shez, the new protagonist, which you can put together yourself. If they had NFC chips on them, they could have worked as discount amiibo... But again, this is just some gimmicky stuff and I could have done without it.

photo of the unfolded cloth map

The best piece is probably the cloth map, which you can hang on your wall and even wash. It's about A1 format, so it has a really good size. I have a couple of such maps for Zelda, which came with the different Prima guides, but those are not even half this size. So, yeah, very good item.

photo of the artbook with the three house emblems on the cover

Last but not least, there is the artbook. It's a softcover this time, not a hardcover, which is a shame, but on the bright side it comes with more pages. Such artbooks are together with the cleaner game card boxes and the steelbooks usually the main reason why I buy Limited Editions, outside from Zelda or Metroid where I buy most of what Nintendo throws at us anyway. If you enjoy a game, then it will be a pleasure to study the different arts afterwards, no matter how the book looks.

Anyway, don't expect me to blog about playing Three Hopes anytime soon or ever, because I haven't even played Three Houses yet and will also lend my copy of Three Hopes to someone else in the meantime (only the cartridge, the limited stuff stays with me of course). I might finally get into Three Houses instead, but I've also purchased Hollow Knight yesterday on Steam, so let's see where this goes. Plus, I'm still in the first year of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and quite invested into that game... So much to play, so little time.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Hyrule Blog: Rewind Reviews

The Legend of Zelda Reviews with lots of screenshots showing different games from 2013 to 2016

This blog is 14 years old now as of this month and together with 36 years of The Legend of Zelda that's 50 years of Zelda goodness. Well, it doesn't really work like that, but nevertheless I have been preparing something for Hyrule Blog. Actually, the timing is more or less a coincidence, where I have been working on this particular project in the background for quite a while, over one year in fact...

Last year was the 35th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda and even if Nintendo wasn't in the mood for big celebrations, the fans found their own ways of honoring the series. With the 25th and 30th Anniversaries I did this by replaying the majority of Zelda games, where for my 30th Anniversary Replay List I've gone through all Zelda games that are playable on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U – which were all of them except for Four Swords Adventures. This undertaking ended right before Breath of the Wild was released and I came to a closure with the series at the time, where from now on I will be mostly sticking to the new releases on the Nintendo Switch, like Skyward Sword HD last year.

Instead, I've decided to revisit my past as a Zelda fan in a very different way: by translating my old German reviews (and previews) to English. As you may or may not know, I was writing for ZeldaEurope (now found under between 2011 and 2016 – mostly news and guides, but also some reviews.

For the most part this endeavor didn't clash too hard with this blog, because my work on ZeldaEurope was about sharing information, mostly the news, while this blog is more focused on my personal experiences, opinions, and predictions. A review is an informal opinion piece, however, where it fits both a news site and a blog rather well. Originally, it was even my goal to translate some of these reviews right away, but this felt like too much mindless busywork at the time, so I couldn't do it.

Now that several years have passed, however, it was actually interesting to revisit these texts and translate them. It's also a nice preservation of my work from that era, where the ZeldaEurope main page is already a relic and the original reviews can't be found there any longer (only in the forums)... Having it all together here on this site simply felt right for a nice collection and also filled some gaps in those years.

A few additions or adjustments were made to these articles whenever I felt like it was for the better or that something critical was missing. But it wasn't my goal to rewrite history here, so these opinion pieces still reflect what I thought of the games all those years ago and not necessarily how I feel now, though I'm still content with most of it.

Everything was also translated by myself. I know that I could have used DeepL or something similar to speed things up tremendously, where it even delivers some very good results, but I really wanted it to be my own words, for better or worse. After all, this was all about dwelling in the past.

The (p)reviews got posted on their original dates to this blog to preserve the history and to avoid putting them out of context. You can find them all under previews and reviews, but this post will also feature a complete list of what has been retroactively added to this site, for your convenience. Feel free to check any of it out in case you're interested. It's a lot to go through and it's old stuff, so I don't really expect anyone to read all of it, but I think that having such a large collection of reviews is certainly of good value for this blog.

In addition, I've also been updating the year reviews and year previews from that era, because the ones I wrote for ZeldaEurope were much nicer and more extensive. But that's not really as important as all the following...

Main Games:

Ironically, the Skyward Sword preview was first written for this blog, then got translated to German for ZeldaEurope, and now translated back again, because I removed the original and couldn't find it anywhere... Back then I wrote it here out of habit, without considering that I've only signed the NDA for ZeldaEurope and not this blog, so this is how this back and forth came to be. But now, almost 10 years later, it shouldn't really matter and it's good to have it back where it belongs.

Still, the preview for Skyward Sword might not actually be that interesting, but the one for A Link Between Worlds is, because it effectively describes my first journey through that game's Hyrule. Sadly, I haven't written a game journal for A Link Between Worlds, because I had an early review copy, but thanks to this preview I feel like the entire A Link Between Worlds section is a lot more wholesome now. I also went over some other posts from that time, adding images and such, while I was at it.

In case of Tri Force Heroes I have also added a collection of all Drablands Diaries easter eggs. Previously, I had only posted these on Miiverse, where I was too lazy to post it all a second time on this blog. It seemed redundant, but since the Miiverse is gone by now, it feels like a good thing to have it all here preserved. Coincidentally, there is a big overlap between the Miiverse era and my time at ZeldaEurope, where I made good use of my screenshots posted on Miiverse for some of the reviews and other posts.

Both A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes also have a small follow-up review for a bigger feature in the game, which seems to be a trend among top-down Zelda games, where the remake of Link's Awakening also got a separate Chamber Dungeon review on this blog.

Remakes & Remasters:

Ocarina of Time 3D was actually one of the first Zelda titles to get a review on this blog, so it's nice to finally have the follow-up present as well with Majora's Mask 3D, even though it had to receive a good amount of criticism. And the reviews of The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD might have some relevance in the future, should these two remasters ever get ported over to the Nintendo Switch. Then it will be very nice to have my reviews for them at the ready as a reference.

Similar to Tri Force Heroes, I've also added a guide from my Miiverse journeys in The Wind Waker HD, where this one is for the hidden Tingle Statues.


Virtual Console:

These aren't really reviews of the actual games, instead they are all about the different Virtual Consoles experiences on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Those are some short reads and I mainly did it for the free downloads at the time, not going to lie. Some of it may also be redundant from what I've already written on my blog at the time, so feel free to ignore these reviews.

Hyrule Warriors:

Translating all the reviews for Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U was a big chunk of the work this year, where the game got both a review and preview back in 2014 and also a review for every single DLC pack, which was absurd. Today I would probably review the Hero of Hyrule Pack as a whole, especially since Nintendo now prefers to only offer the entire DLC as a purchase option, like they did with the Expansion Pass for Age of Calamity. But it's still interesting to read how the game has slowly developed into what it is today with the Definitive Edition, where important features like a restart option for Adventure Mode battles got added piece by piece.

Other Reviews:

One of the very first reviews was actually not for a game, but for an event: the Symphony of the Goddesses in Berlin. Though, this was more of a report, not a real review. I posted about the event on this blog as well, specifically about the merchandise, and promised to add a short English summary later, but I have never delivered... until now. Sorry! Well, to make up for it I've translated the whole thing.

The rest are all titles that were released in 2014, Zelda's "Year of Crossovers", where this was the big focus next to Hyrule Warriors, which came out in the same year. And these reviews are definitely mixed, where I wasn't very fond of the new Super Smash Bros. titles at the time. The most positive one is for Mario Kart 8's DLC, which certainly beats the lackluster Booster Course Pass. And NES Remix is one of those curiosities that I've been completely ignoring on my blog, where now it's nice to have at least something present.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Nintendo Switch Breath of the Wild Icons

There's finally a new usage for the My Nintendo Platinum Points: icons for your Nintendo Switch. Those aren't like the normal profile icons, because you can put them together yourself from sets of "characters", backgrounds, and frames. You can purchase those for ten or five Platinum Points respectively in the Nintendo Switch Online application on your Nintendo Switch under "Missions and Rewards", as long as you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership. There are even easy-to-achieve missions to earn more Platinum Points outside of the normal My Nintendo program, which get changed on either a weekly or monthly basis.

The same applies to the available icons. Each month there is a set for Animal Crossings: New Horizons, where you can purchase icons of the villagers who have their birthday in these months. Sadly, by now I get the feeling that this is really it for the game, where the "last major update" also truly was the last update and we won't be seeing a return of the Zelda or Splatoon characters... But let's see. For now the development team is busy with Splatoon 3 anyway.

Next to New Horizons, there is one featured game each month, where each week the icons keep changing, on Tuesdays. So, it's worthwhile to check the Nintendo Switch Online once per week if you want to collect them all. This has been going for a couple of months now, since the beginning of March, where there were icons for Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and now finally something for the Zelda fans with Breath of the Wild. There also has been a set for Kirby and the Forgotten Land when the game came out, so new releases may get a special treatment outside of the usual schedule.

Some of the current Zelda icons feel a little bit redundant to what's already there by default, but at least you can make things look more unique thanks to the different backgrounds and frames. And there is more stuff to come during the remainder of the month.

They are probably going through the most popular games first, but they could have saved Breath of the Wild specifically for June, because they are planning to showcase the sequel. Maybe...? But I'm not sure about that anymore either, since Nintendo has so many big games coming up soon and there is no E3 taking place, so they may just wait a little longer, like September or so. I'm not holding my breath for anything Zelda right now, except for more of those icons.