Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Got Creating a Champion (Again)

photo of the artbook cover

This may seem excessive, but I got myself another copy of Creating a Champion, the huge artbook for Breath of the Wild. I already own the Hero's Edition of the book, but lately I found myself browsing through it quite often, because there were things inside that may have a relevance for the sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, like information about the Zonai, dropped concepts, and so on. It's very interesting.

But since it's a collector's item, I tend to be extremely careful with it, so I decided that I should get the normal edition in addition, just so that I can browse it more casually. So, it was mainly out of convenience, but there was another reason:

the spines of all four big Zelda books by Dark Horse on top of each other

Its design lines up perfectly with the Goddess Collection – Hyrule Historia, Arts & Artifacts, and Hyrule Encyclopedia. The publisher, Dark Horse, was really smart here to have released such a nice special edition of the book, while at the same time they've made the normal edition look really good next to their other releases, so they might double-dip on fans like me. Well, it works.

They do have the exact same format and size, however. Originally I thought that the Hero's Edition is slightly larger, but that's not the case. I wouldn't have minded a smaller size for the normal version, because with its 424 pages it's quite heavy and the second largest book in the series, only four pages (two sheets) thinner than Arts & Artifacts.

Well, I wouldn't be surprised if Tears of the Kingdom were to spawn a fifth book in the same style, but I suppose I don't really need another fancy special edition in that case...

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Tears of the Kingdom – Loftwings and Ritos?

Link diving through the clouds in the ancient garbs

Tears of the Kingdom won't be the first Zelda game that dives into the idea of a sky world. There was the Palace of Winds in the Four Swords saga, which became Vaati's Palace. The Minish Cap also featured the Cloud Tops as an area as a home to the "Wind Tribe". Twillight Princess then came up with the City in the Sky, the home to the odd Oocca tribe. And finally there was Skyloft in Skyward Sword.

However, with the exception of Skyward Sword, all of these were just single locations set in the sky. And in Skyward Sword you had your trusty Loftwing to fly from one island in the sky to the other.

What will differentiate Tears of the Kingdom from what came before is the fact that it won't be as simple this time. There will be many islands in the sky with vastly different altitudes and there will be a number of ways of traveling to them. You may be able to fly from one island to the next using your Paraglider or sky diving skills, but of course this won't let you go up higher, unless there are some updrafts along the way. You can use fallen debris as some sort of elevator thanks to your new time reversal mechanic.

Also, you seemingly have some kind of ability that lets you morph through certain ceilings and there might be portals or something alike that will take you to the islands. Maybe they will even bring back the Hookshot, which would be a useful tool to travel between closer islands.

Link on the mechanical glider from the new trailer

But with all of this in mind, it seems unlikely that the game will feature something like the Loftwing from Skyward Sword, simply because it would make it completely trivial to get to the different islands, with the exception of maybe what's inside the huge thunderstorm cloud. There are special mechanical gliders that you will be able to use to fly around, but we don't know how much control you will have over them. It's likely that it won't be that much...

If there is something similar to the Loftwing in the game, then it will likely be some endgame reward, where you have already explored most of the sky world anyway. Kind of like how the Master Cycle Zero is given to you after you've finished all the story stuff in Breath of the Wild.

However, there is still the question of the Rito... Link doesn't really need a Loftwing as long as he has his bird friends.

In Breath of the Wild Teba was the one who brought you up to Vah Medoh. So, what will stop him or any Rito for that matter to do the same favor for you in Tears of the Kingdom?

Well, this speaks for the idea that the sky islands are truly the Sacred Realm and hidden behind some cloud barrier that maybe only Link (and the dragons) can cross. The Rito may not even be able to see the islands, let alone pass through the barrier...

Otherwise the developers would need to find some other excuse, where for example Rito Village could be stuck under strong storm clouds. But the Rito are traveling all over Hyrule, where you could still find some at Gerudo Village or in Tarrey Town for example. So, there wouldn't be an easy way of keeping any Rito from helping you, unless the sky islands are really inside a different realm that they can't reach.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Tears of the Kingdom – Ganon's Castle?

Hyrule Castle floating above malice as seen on the official artwork

In the new trailer and artwork we can see Hyrule Castle once more floating above a hole of sprawling Malice. This was already shown at the end of last year's trailer from a different angle:

screenshot of Hyrule Castle floating against the sun

Back then this could have been just another intermediate shot, so it wasn't sure sure how high up Hyrule Castle would go eventually. But the new material suggests that may be the end of it, where the Malice / Ganondorf has some power to keep it afloat, but not on the same level as the other sky islands.

Now, what's stopping Link from simply flying over to the top of the castle from one of the many sky islands high up? Well, maybe there isn't anything... Maybe Tears of the Kingdom follows a similar design concept as Breath of the Wild, where the game gives you the option to go straight into the final dungeon and face the final boss if you dare. As long as you got to the sky islands, this may be possible.

Of course this possibility suggests that Hyrule Castle will be once again the final dungeon in the game. And Age of Calamity has already done the "cover it with even more Malice" twist, where they need to come up with some new ideas. Or an old idea that is presented in a new light:

A floating castle detached from a deadly abyss is something that we have already seen in Ocarina of Time with Ganon's Castle. It's an unforgettable moment and perfectly showed the amount of destruction that Ganondorf is capable of. This really made him feel like a massive threat to Hyrule.

And with this in mind, it would be interesting if Hyrule Castle were to be slowly transformed into Ganon's Castle over the course of the game. It's visible from many places in Hyrule and it's very much visible from the sky islands, so you will always have a good view on Ganondorf's progress. And this could create a sense of urgency, something that is usually lacking in a Zelda game, unless there is a timer running somewhere on the screen.

In Breath of the Wild it didn't really matter when you faced Calamity Ganon. You could run straight to the beast right from the Great Plateau or you could collect all 900 Korok Seeds before you take on the fight. The final boss battle will become significantly easier, though, if you clear the Divine Beasts first, because this removes the Blights from Hyrule Castle and reduces the energy of Calamity Ganon. So, the stronger you get, the easier the game make things for you... Which doesn't really feel right.

With Tears of the Kingdom they could create some sort of compromise. You can try your luck early in the game where Ganondorf is still weak. Or you can power up, repair the Master Sword, get all the things to make you feel ready, but meanwhile Ganondorf has fortified himself in his new edgy castle.

Of course the level scaling in Breath of the Wild, like with the continuously upgrading Lynels, wasn't very enjoyable and is something that should be best avoided in the sequel, because it takes away from your progress. You became strong and confident enough to finally face those Blue-Maned Lynels you saw at the Oseira Plains, but they have become White-Maned Lynels now and kick your butt. That's just demotivating, at least for first time players who are still learning the game.

Now, if the final dungeon were to work similarly, it also wouldn't be great. You might end up banging your head against a wall that keeps getting thicker. At the same time it would be an incentive to keep trying, to really go there as early as possible, before things get too bad. And once you feel more comfortable later in the game, you can go try the harder version(s). But there needs to be a very good balance here that doesn't make it seem like you're totally missing out either way.

However, there is the Master Sword, which is usually needed to defeat Ganon(dorf). In Breath of the Wild the system worked, because you were essentially not facing the real deal with Calamity Ganon, but some monstrosity, which was probably born from Ganon's Malice. So, you could destroy it with a tree branch if you wanted to, but the real Ganondorf would just probably get distracted and that's all. However, this might be where the replacement blade comes in that we can see in the game's logo. You can go try it with the "patched" Master Sword or you can aim at restoring it to its former glory.

Needless to say that these are just ideas based on the hypothesis that Hyrule Castle will be the final dungeon again, which might not even be the case...

Friday, September 16, 2022

Tears of the Kingdom – Hylia and the Zonai?

stone carving from the last trailer showing a divine being on a floating platform

Today Zeltik has released a very good theory video about the divine being portrayed in the Zonai stone carvings that we saw. To sum things up: the designs of Zelda and this being are very similar on various ends, where this may imply that this being is in fact the Goddess Hylia. I've also noticed these similarities before, but didn't put as much thought into them, but I concur with this theory. It makes a lot of sense, especially when this divine being is linked to the sky islands somehow. After all it was Hylia who has created Skyloft.

It would be interesting if this game really were to go full circle and go back to where it all began with Skyward Sword. This would also be very fitting with the whole sky theme. The story could revolve around ending this endless cycle of reincarnations that started back then, where Zelda finally needs to face her origin and the curse of Demise needs to be lifted somehow.

At the end of Breath of the Wild I was disappointed that we didn't get to fight Demise again to truly end things once and for all. But I suppose this may have been something that they were saving for the next game. We also never truly saw Hylia in either game. We got to see Demise in Skyward Sword, but Hylia was always only shown in drawings or as statues.

The seven "tears of the kingdom" shown around Hylia could also be the golden glowing object that we saw from the snippets shown in February:

Link next to a golden orb with the Master Sword

Maybe this really is your main quest collectible and you have to find a number of them to heal your arm and/or repair the corroded Master Sword. Those could even be called "Hylia's Tears". Normally, you would associate the color gold with Hylia, though this was swapped with Nayru in Skyward Sword because of the desert theme... But since Nayru is linked to wisdom, wisdom is linked to Zelda, and Zelda is linked to Hylia, this is quite interchangeable and may vary between the games.

However, this may also mean that the arm holding down Ganondorf's corpse might have actually been Hylia's. The teal color of the arm itself was similar to other spirits shown in Breath of the Wild, like King Rhoam, the Champions, or even the Lord of the Mountain, indicating that this is some form of ghost. But the spiral above goes more into a green color, where this looks like the same energy that we have seen for various actions, like morphing through a ceiling. The consensus here seems to be that this is simply magic and that this magic is related to the Zonai somehow.

But this raises the question what the Zonai have to do with Hylia...? Link's new outfit in Tears of the Kingdom is clearly inspired by the garbs worn by the ancient hero on the mural from Breath of the Wild. And if those garbs are related to the Zonai, then this could indicate that the ancient hero was part of this tribe or had something to do with it before facing the Great Calamity. Or the outfit could simply be related to Hylia and her first hero...

But the Zonai's whole disappearance may be similar to how Hylia sent off the Hylians into the sky, where the sky islands were hidden behind a cloud barrier that's not visible from the ground, exactly like Skyloft in Skyward Sword. I still like to think of these sky islands as the Sacred Realm, but Skyloft essentially was the entrance to the Sacred Realm, where you were able to obtain the Triforce from the Sky Keep and where this could be connected as well. Hylia put the Sacred Realm back to where it originally belonged.

And either Hylia placed the Zonai in charge of protecting the Triforce and the Sacred Realm... or she banished them altogether, because they were in fact more like the Dark Interlopers known from Twilight Princess, which would explain their design similarities mentioned in my previous post about this whole topic. After all the Zonai tribe was described as "barbarian", so it's likely that there was something evil about it.

Of course over time the Zonai could have turned good, similar to the Twili (at least most of them). So, even after being banished into the Sacred Realm (or its doorstep), they made it their task to protect it after realizing the error of their ways or something.

Again, this is just lots of theorizing based on speculations for the fun of it. Take it all with a grain of salt or two. And I'm very excited to find out what this all we be about next May, because this last trailer has been very intriguing.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Nintendo Direct September 2022 Roundup

DS Peach Gardens with a Mario bush and a Chain Chomp

After the trailer for Tears of the Kingdom it's easy to forget that there came an entire Nintendo Direct attached to it. And there wasn't really much of interest, at least not to this blog.

They gave us a first look at wave 3 of the Booster Course Pass for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which will include DS Peach Gardens and Merry Mountain from Mario Kart Tour. This lines up with the data-mined leak that we got after the previous waves, so we already have a pretty good picture of what the other six courses are going to be. What's good to see is that Merry Mountain has some anti-gravity sections, so it feels once more like they are listening to feedback.

Otherwise there have been a lot of farming simulations for some reason and the new Fire Emblem: Engage, which was also leaked a while ago with an image of the main character with the dual-colored hair (which seems to be a popular thing in Japan right now judging by One Piece Film Red), so this wasn't a huge surprise out of nowhere. It has some Fire Emblem Heroes vibes to it, though.

Curiously, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes doesn't seem to get any DLC. Since I haven't played the game (or Three Houses) yet, I have no idea of how complete it already is, but with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity they also didn't want to make any DLC at first and only returned to the project after fan requests.

It's quite weird, because this type of game really lends itself to DLC, but at the same time I also wouldn't want something like the first Hyrule Warriors again, which just kept getting too big. It's also admirable that they are aiming at something that's mostly complete at launch. Now, I suppose that Koei Tecmo has again simply moved on to the next project, which most likely will be a "Xenoblade Warriors" for 2024.

And what remains to be discussed are also things that haven't been shown in the Nintendo Direct. Those rumors around The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD coming to Switch later this year were seemingly wrong after all, because Nintendo would have announced those by now. The same goes for the supposed Metroid Prime remaster. To my understanding these rumors mainly came from the same guy, Jeff Grubb from Giant Bomb, who will probably keep repeating them until they come true eventually... As long as it creates headlines, it's just business as usual.

Well, I also keep saying that The Wind Waker + Twilight Princess HD will happen one day, but after the dismissal by Tantalus a couple of months ago it already seemed very unlikely for this year. I suppose that Nintendo really had planned for Tears of the Kingdom to be released in 2022, which is why we won't get our yearly Zelda release this time. They don't want to release anything Zelda too close to the new game to avoid the distraction and for a mid 2022 release it was probably too late when the decision was made. Even ports of already remastered titles will take some development time.

Tears of the Kingdom – The Road Ahead?

We have a new trailer, we have a title, and we have a release date: May 12th. But what happens until that date? What can we expect in the next eight months, before we can finally play the new Zelda ourselves? (And I'm not talking about The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD or any other additional Zelda release here, they would have announced those by now if they were still to come to Nintendo Switch in 2022.)

The next station really should be some actual live gameplay. They can't just keep showing trailers forever, where this game already got as many trailers as Breath of the Wild had, not counting the original tech teaser from E3 2014. We will probably get at least one more, but this should be closer to the release, like the infamous Nintendo Switch Presentation Trailer from January 2017.

Speaking of, before that trailer we didn't really know much about the story of Breath of the Wild and even after the trailer most of it was still unclear. It was the first time that they've shown us the Champions, some of their descendants, the Divine Beasts in action, and so on, but they didn't really explain any of it. Like, we didn't know how the scenes from the past were integrated into the game or any of that. You had to play the game to find out and this was great. There is no need to tell everything upfront and part of the magic is to find things out yourself.

This may be repeated with Tears of the Kingdom, where most the current question marks may remain until May 12th. Still, getting some more context or seeing the beginning of the game in advance would be nice to not be completely confused for eight months straight.

The first actual gameplay of Breath of the Wild was shown at the Game Awards 2014 with Aonuma and Miyamoto talking about apples, where the Game Awards 2022 may be a good timing to also show Tears of the Kingdom in action for the first time. I could see them introducing us to the "morph through ceilings" ability in some underground environment during the early game. The last two trailers have been all about the sky, so we need some reminder that the game world also has been expanded in the other direction. And spelunking should be a good way of showcasing the new ability.

Of course this doesn't have to happen at the Game Awards, another episode of Nintendo Treehouse: Live would do the trick as well. And this could happen at any time as proven, where at the end of last month we did get one for Splatoon 3 and Harvestella. But these are usually a bit more casual, where a first introduction to the gameplay of Tears of the Kingdom should probably come from higher up, where a Nintendo Direct might even be a better fit.

Nintendo Directs of the recent years were scheduled in February, June, and September. The one in June is for E3, which was skipped this year, but we might get one in 2023. Of course this will be after the game's release, but maybe they will announce DLC there if there isn't an Expansion Pass available from day one again.

However, between now and the release of Tears of the Kingdom there will most likely be only one more Nintendo Direct, the one in February. It's the perfect place to show one more trailer and maybe announce any form of Special Editions or amiibo and the like. The game could also get its own dedicated Direct, similar to Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Splatoon 3, but this would be a first for Zelda and doesn't seem necessary, because they don't really have to show and explain that much in advance. And certain things, like DLC, can also be announced at any time, really.

So, here is a summary with the potential timeline for Tears of the Kingdom in the next months:

  • December 9th: showcase during the Game Awards 2022
  • February Nintendo Direct: final trailer and further announcements
  • May 12th: launch
  • June: Expansion Pass announcement during E3

Well, it's nothing spectacular, but it's good to have a bit of a hypothetical roadmap ahead, before we all go crazy. Keep in mind that there are eight months left, where I personally want to play through Breath of the Wild once more before the release, this time on the Nintendo Switch. This alone will keep me entertained for a couple of months.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Tears of the Kingdom – The Zonai, Twili and the Sacred Realm?

The part of yesterday's trailer for Tears of the Kingdom that has probably caused the most speculation was actually the logo. This was originally part of my trailer analysis, but I decided to move this into its own post, because there were more thoughts to be had here.

You can see two dragons in the logo eating each other up, where their design is clearly based on the Zonai statues found in Breath of the Wild. This soft-confirms that all the magical / technological stuff that we have seen so far, like the glowing hand, the vials, the Eyegore enemy, or the mechanical glider could really be have been made by the Zonai in the past.

As explained in Creating a Champion (pages 342 and 413), the Zonai were a warrior tribe, who have wielded strong magic, worshiped a water dragon, and vanished thousands of year ago, where this is one of Hyrule's greatest mysteries. Many of the monuments and old temples found in the world of Breath of the Wild are tied to the Zonai, including the large Lomei Labyrinths, where you can find the barbarian outfit once worn by the tribe.

There have been lots of Zelda fans out there speculating about the Zonai's role in the sequel ever since the 2019 trailer (e.g. Zeltik), even calling Link's new hand the "Zonai Hand". I was personally never too convinced, since the Zonai were more of this background mystery in Breath of the Wild and Nintendo loves to leave certain things to the imagination. The name is even an anagram of "nazo", the Japanese word for "mystery", so it's a bit on the nose. And I expected them to simply add to this mystery, where you get to explore more of their ruins and such, instead of making the Zonai a central plot point. However, there could be a lot more this tribe, where "Zonai" may not even be their actual name.

Back in 2019 I saw the hand and vortex as "Gerudo magic", mainly because it used Gerudo runes and banished Ganondorf. And it still may be related, where the Zonai could be connected to the Gerudo somehow. They both share the use of the color green (at least in Breath of the Wild). They both are warrior tribes. The relation of Zelda and the divine being on the stone carvings looks really friendly, reminiscent of Urbosa and Zelda. And the seven orbs might truly reference the Seven Heroines somehow. At the end of the trailer you can also see two orbs in one, facing each other, which could have something to do with the Eighth Heroine... Maybe it's supposed to be Zelda or the divine being.

But that's already speculation about speculation, so it feels a bit out there. Also, in Breath of the Wild the Gerudo were portrayed in balance with the Rito, Goron, and Zora tribes due to the Divine Beasts, the Champions, and all that. But focusing more on the Gerudo would make them feel more important than the others here. Of course the sequel doesn't have to keep this balance and with the re-appearance of Ganondorf there will naturally be some more focus on the Gerudo, but it still might leave a slightly sour taste.

On a side note, there also have been the Zuna in Four Swords Adventures, who lived next to the Gerudo and were a different desert tribe, one with green skin. They had built the Pyramid housing Ganon's Trident. But the name stems from the Japanese word for sand, "suna", and it's very unlikely that we will ever see this tribe again.

Learning more about the Zonai will be very interesting in any case, with or without the Gerudo being related. It might also make revisiting the old ruins in Breath of the Wild worthwhile, because some of the details there may be important in hindsight. A big part of this were the statues, where according to the Creating a Champion artbook they symbolized the history of the Triforce from an ancient perspective (page 342). The dragons represent courage, the owls wisdom, and the boars power.

The Triforce itself hasn't really seen any mention in Breath of the Wild, only depictions, but if the sky islands really are the Golden Land – the Sacred Realm –, then the connection to the Zonai will be interesting. Maybe they tried to enter the Sacred Realm and then vanished together with it, which sounds similar to some other tribe we know...

Speaking of, there is also the corroded Master Sword in the game's logo and it looks like it gets repaired by the Zonai magic. It's either that or this acts as a replacement blade in the meantime, where this may be a temporary thing and shatters after a while.

But this blade substitute is visually very reminiscent of elements in the Twilight Realm, the magic used by the Twili, who seem to have a similar backstory to the Zonai, since they are also strong magic wielders who have disappeared. The connection would even strengthen if Tears of the Kingdom really was about the Sacred Realm and the Zonai have something to do with it, as already mentioned.

And that these two tribes might be connected somehow is yet another fan theory that has been going for a while. It already came up with the Monument Shards in Breath of the Wild, which had a big resemblance to the Mirror of Twilight:

Of course Breath of the Wild is full of references to older Zelda games with the whole purpose of making the fans speculate again after Hyrule Historia, but this led people to believe that the Zonai might have something to do with the Twili and that the Twili may return in the next game.

I personally always saw the Twili as something that was only important to the story of one game, similar to the Minish or the Lokomo, but we're dealing with the tears of the fandom here, who have been eternally sad about Midna's good-bye. And to be fair, the theme of tears could also insinuate a connection to the Twili thanks to Midna's tear, which has shattered the Mirror of Twilight, or the Tears of Light and so on. Hands were also a popular motive for the Twili with Zant's Hands and Midna's hair, which gets repeated with the hand from the first trailer.

In addition, the Fused Shadow looks quite similar style-wise to the carvings from the new trailer, which is based on the Zonai architecture from Breath of the Wild. The typical spiral form, like with those "tears", can even be found at the very tip of Midna's helmet:

the fused shadow in front of the logo and the carvings

It's clearly related in style when you put it right next to each other. Of course the similarities could simply be there, because things get repeated in Zelda from time to time, especially visual designs and symbols, where for now it's best to expect that the Zonai may be similar to the Twili, but still something new entirely... Kind of like how the Fused Shadow looked similar to Majora's Mask, but the game never implied any connection otherwise.

Similarly, the Zonai seem to make heavy use of an eye symbol, where it's found on the top of Link's vial belt, the door he opens, his new shield, and the Eyegore golems. This feels very much like something by the Sheikah, but unlike the Sheikah Eye this one doesn't have a tear attached to it, which implies that they have different views, like the Yiga. Having a third faction of the Sheikah would feel a bit much at this point, though, especially since they already have seen so much focus in Breath of the Wild.

That's one thing that Breath of the Wild did remarkably well, however: making the most out of the different tribes from previous Zelda games. They could have invented a completely new tribe for the whole technology aspect, like they did with the Lokomo in Spirit Tracks, but instead they made it a new trait of the Sheikah, which gave the mysterious tribe from Ocarina of Time many more layers.

In the same vein they could bring back the Twili in a very different way, where they might have been just one of many incarnations of this tribe of "Dark Interlopers", who tried to control the Sacred Realm. Naturally, this game probably won't feature the Twilight Realm, Midna, or anything like that, because these things were all tied to the wolf transformation mechanic and with that not really important to the overall story of Hyrule. But it's possible that the Twili and the Zonai are simply different manifestations of the same ancient tribe of sorcerers, making them not entirely the same, but very much related.

The only problem with this theory is that this depicts the Zonai as something evil, while they appear to be an ally in the records. The ancient hero from the old mural in Breath of the Wild clearly was wearing the garbs that Link also acquires in Tears of the Kingdom. The being on the stone carvings, given that it is part of the Zonai tribe, clearly is cooperating with Zelda. And of course the mysterious hand has sealed Ganondorf deep underground.

It all feels more like Zonai became the protectors of the Sacred Realm, where they are defending it from intruders, instead of claiming it for themselves. They even might have hidden it deep in the earths of Hyrule, though there has to be some explanation why it's not longer a separate dimension. But with the Triforce in place anything is possible...

There is also the portrayal of an Ouroboros cycle with the two dragons, where maybe the intention of the Zonai was to end the never-ending cycle of destruction caused by the battle for the Triforce. No matter what, you get a new incarnation of Demise's hatred, usually in the form of Ganon, as well as a new incarnation of Hylia and the hero, and it all starts over again and again. And maybe their plan was to bring this to an end by simply removing the one thing from the equation that matters most: the Triforce.

But we have seen what happens when you destroy the Triforce in A Link Between Worlds. You don't want Hyrule to turn into Lorule, so this was not an option. Instead, they could have wished for the Triforce to be hidden and forgotten, which could explain the situation in Breath of the Wild, why the Triforce never really gets mentioned. It's still there somehow and manifests in Zelda when she awakens her sealing powers, but the knowledge around the three Goddesses and their most precious relic seems to have vanished from the earth, like the Zonai.

... ... ...

But this is a lot of speculation here all based on the imagery that Nintendo has shown us. With Breath of the Wild they have proven that they know what buttons to push to make the fans speculate and create a ton of Youtube videos, forum posts, and articles like this one. It's smart marketing and it works, where in the end the similarities could be just that and we're dealing with something entirely new here. Keep that in mind before you hype yourself up for a story that may never be.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Tears of the Kingdom – Trailer Analysis

opened doors to the sky realm

The doors have opened, at least for a bit, and we got a new glimpse at what awaits us with Tears of the Kingdom, the upcoming Zelda game. It's a short trailer, but gives many things away if you look for them. Of course we still don't really know what's going on in the game, but the puzzle pieces are slowly coming together.

It all starts with a stone carving, reminiscent of the mural in Breath of the Wild, but quite different at the same time. This might be something that Link and Zelda discover while they are spelunking through Hyrule's underground, as seen in the E3 2019 trailer, where it might even be Zelda who is looking at these carvings with her torch.

This game obviously doesn't want to revisit the old mural or have anything to do with Sheikah technology. No Guardians, no Sheikah Shrines, no Sheikah Towers, no Divine Beasts. It's all gone, probably turned to sparkly dust, like the Sheikah Monks do, after the threat of the Calamity went away, because it has all fulfilled its purpose. Or maybe it was forcefully taken from the world, but we will get to that point...

The stone carvings show us a battle between monsters and men, only picturing Moblins and Bokoblins as monsters on a wave of malice, but they do already have their horns, which they didn't before. And they are clearly portrayed as the greater threat, where you can see fallen soldiers and the malice has spread over most of the image.

stone carving of some divine being with seven orbs

Then there is this divine being, which looks a bit like Armaldo (this will be the first and last Pokémon reference on this blog, I swear), on a platform in the sky. It's either a race that we haven't seen before or it's wearing some sort of mask. It's holding out its hands to reveal seven swirly orbs, which may be the titular "tears of the kingdom". Seven is of course also a prominent number in the Zelda series with the Seven Sages, though with Breath of the Wild we got the four Champions instead. However, there were also the Seven Heroines, where there might be a connection.

In any case, it feels like your typical main quest collectible at first, like the Medallions in Ocarina of Time. Find the seven tears to get something done in the story. Since you've been collecting tears in Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword – in the Twilight and Silent Realms respectively –, this doesn't really feel like a new idea, but there is probably more to it...

You can then see a Hylian princess or maiden, very likely the Zelda from that age, levitating in the air, as if she's under some kind of spell. It feels familiar to the ritual performed by Ghirahim in Skyward Sword and there is some malice shown below her. Her design is in some ways similar to the divine being that we saw before, like the eyes or the breastplate.

In another panel she joins hands with someone under a glowing circle. Your first instinct might be to assume that this is the hero, but if you look closely, then the hand is actually much larger than hers and looks to be one of the hands of the divine being shown before, where it wears the same bracelet. This is also confirmed at the end of the trailer, where this part of the stone carving is used as a backdrop for the game's logo. There you can also spot two of the "tears" in the circle above them, which could mean that there is more than just the seven we saw before, basically like the Eighth Heroine. But these tears are facing each other, much like Zelda and the being.

With all that in mind, it's likely that this being is related to the helping hand from the first trailer, which has banished Ganondorf and then gave Link his new powers.

Breath of the Wild Link running towards the edge of a sky island

The important detail of the new sky island footage (and also the game's cover art) is that this shows Champion Link. He already has the different shield from the E3 2021 trailer, where this might be something new that he has found up in the sky. But otherwise he's wearing the Champion's Tunic, Hylian Hood, and Hylian Trousers, so his "default" getup from Breath of the Wild. It's pretty much exactly like he already had it in the first trailer.

I haven't really paid attention to this before, but he wears the Hylian Hood down and not above his head, more like a scarf. Maybe this is a new clothing option? Or maybe the Hylian Hood simply looks like this when put on in this game?

But this makes it clear that we're not dealing with a different Link or some time travel shenanigans in the sky world. Your look will simply transform over time into that of the ancient hero, where you will find corresponding weapons and garbs. The longer hair might even be the result of a different head piece or it grows after some time in the game.

However, there is another accessory, which is new here, other than the shield. And those are some vials that have the same coloring as the Eyegore statues we've seen in the previous trailer. They store this green magic energy that has been present in all the trailers so far, which obviously is important and related to the corrupted hand, which seems to replace your Sheikah Slate. The vials are even carried in the same spot as where Link used to have the tablet device, emphasizing their importance to this game.

Maybe it has something to do with the corruption, where it's like medicine to stop the spread. Or maybe you need these vials to make use of the green energy, like a magic meter. We will have to wait and see, but it seems like something that you need to keep collecting or refilling, where Links has slots for eight vials on his belt and four of them seem empty.

(Update: I like the idea from Hyrule Gamer that these vials may be used to store the "tears of the kingdom". If there are seven, or potentially even eight, this would add up with how many slots Link has on the belt.)

We then get a glimpse at some of the mechanics from last year's patents. The sky diving is more sophisticated this time, where you can see Link dive head down first, like he did in Skyward Sword. But we already know that there is more to that, like aiming upwards with the bow while falling down. It's a shame that the trailer doesn't show anything of that, because this would have been interesting.

But it does show more about the time reversal ability and its potential. In this case you have some falling rocks at Lake Floria and Link climbs onto one that got time-reversed, so he can use it as an elevator to go up into the sky from where it came from. This is really smart, but it raises questions about the usability.

In order for this to work it means that you should be able to time-reverse objects that already came to a halt. So, this rock could have been dropped from above a while ago and just lies there in the water. By "scanning" the environment with your ability by holding the L button, like you could with Stasis in Breath of the Wild, it then should show you everything that can be reversed and its path.

During this bit you can also see a large, bird-like creature, which may be a Kargarok or a Furnix (the fire birds from Skyward Sword). But with a sky world naturally there will be some flying enemies around. And then there is seemingly now a cave entrance at the rock wall behind the time reversed object, which wasn't there before.

There is also this gigantic thunder tornado cloud, reminiscent of the Thunderhead, only smaller, where it looks like a major obstacle on your way up. Maybe this is even why you need to use the time-reversed rock to get up, because the storm is blocking your ceiling morph ability. Or maybe it's because the sky islands here are simply too far up... We could already see more fallen debris in the previous trailer, where those are probably additional "elevators".

Link climbing up a tree root on a sky island with another sky island below

It then elaborates another way of getting up a sky island: good, old climbing. Of course you would need to get high enough to reach this tree root in the first place. But it makes it seem like you can't climb the stones of the sky islands, where this may be similar to the material of the Sheikah Shrines.

This is the only time where Link is shown in the ancient garbs from the last trailer, as if it were not to make any difference, but also as a reminder that this is still a thing. He carries an axe in addition, one that looks like it was made by a caveman.

It's all mysterious here, because you can't really see the ground. This may be because of the weather and the time of day, but maybe this is because these islands are inside the "Thunderhead" seen above. The particles whirling around make it seem like it and make it feel a little bit like on Dragon Roost Island in The Wind Waker, where the ash particles showed you the direction of the wind. (Update: it could also be just snow, where earlier in the trailer we can see some winter-themed sky islands. For this to be inside the Thunderhead the weather probably isn't bad enough.)

sky diving with Death Mountain in the background

lots of sky islands

The last scene with Link sky diving gives you a good impression of the real extent of these sky islands, which are all over Hyrule. They have all shapes and sizes, with the biggest one seemingly right above the center of Hyrule, but it's hard to say due to the sunlight. Many of the islands have these "stalactites" below them, where it looks like they were ripped from the ground below.

Speaking of the ground, this time we finally get a lot to look at. This is above Hyrule Ridge and near the area where Vah Medoh used to patrol, so I guess you could get a very good comparison from up there, but I will leave this to the fine people on Youtube.

What's obvious on first glance is the malice coming out from under Hyrule Castle and Death Mountain. The latter used to be inactive in the first trailer from 2019, where we could see how Hyrule Castle starts to crumble. But the malice in the underground seems to spread widely and forcefully, which will certainly be a major obstacle to the whole underground exploration.

However, there is also a new hole you can spot on the ground, which doesn't have any malice coming out of it. It's right where the Ridgeland Tower used to be, which makes it seem like the Sheikah Technology was blown up or forcefully removed. But this doesn't have to be related, where these holes could have been left by the sky islands when they shot up, similar to Hyrule Castle. However, then you probably would see a lot more of these holes...

You also can't really see the Deku Tree. This was already the case in the previous trailers, where this might have been an issue with rendering things in the distance, but by now we can safely assume that this is yet another intentional change to the world. Maybe it sunk into the ground, revealing yet another entrance into the underworld.

What you can see is what appears to be a new tower structure on Lindor's Brow, the mountain to the north of the Ridgeland Tower hole. It's hard to make out and it even looks like there is yet another hole in front of it, but we know that the Zonai were responsible for all these weird pillars around Hyrule and maybe whatever caused the sky islands to appear also added some more structures like those. Another new tower-like object can be seen at the end, on the border to the Tabantha Frontier. It looks a bit like a pump.

Link on a giant mechanical glider

Link then lands on what looks like an old Romulan Bird of Prey, but the design of this glider is again quite reminiscent of the Eyegore that we saw last year. It uses the same coloring of green, white, and orange, where this is probably all part of some other ancient technology and related to the vials that Links is carrying.

Then on the ground you have these huge glowing pictures. The glider seems to move towards one on the Illumeni Plateau (what a fitting spot for an illuminated drawing), but in the same scene there is another one right above the Ridgeland Tower hole, where the Royal Ancient Lab used to be. These are clearly related to the stone carving from the beginning of the trailer, where the one on the Illumeni Plateau (as seen above) shows Zelda.

You can also spot a small vortex of green energy below, similar to the one that held Ganondorf down in the 2019 trailer. Maybe this is another way of getting up into the sky, like the small tornadoes in The Minish Cap. Maybe the "morph through ceiling" parts are limited to this, so it's just like a portal after all, but that would be very, very disappointing after all the potential that came with the patents. Alternatively, they could also be another way of going down into the underground. It's a vortex after all. Since the new ability can only make you go up, you will occasionally need something that let's you go back.

logo of two green glowing dragons eating each other's tails

It all wraps up with the title logo of the game, where we see two dragons eating each other up like an Ouroboros. You can interpret a lot of things into the meaning of this, but the design of the dragons is clearly reminiscent of the Zonai statues in Breath of the Wild, where this should confirm that the Zonai will actually play a more important role to this story. The divine being from the carvings may even be a Zonai and all the technology we have seen so far may be the Zonai magic, which has been a popular fan theory for a while.

But let's get more into this topic in a separate post...

Tears of the Kingdom – Title Revealed

Well, here we go! We finally can stop calling the next Zelda game "the sequel to Breath of the Wild", because we now have the title:

Tears of the Kingdom

I love how it has the same format as "Breath of the Wild", so it's "x of the y". This is the one thing I got right when speculating about the title earlier this year, but I couldn't have guessed the other parts. It sounds very poetic, though, and feels very meaningful when put together.

Both breath and tears are something from a lifeform (mammals), making the environment sound alive in different ways, positive and negative. The wild is breathing. The kingdom is shedding tears. Both "wild" and "kingdom" also contrast each other in referencing what's (probably) the same world, Hyrule. The wild references the decay of Hyrule, while the kingdom references its times of glory. So, these titles create a nice synergy, where I like this a lot.

We also have a boxart and a relase date: May 12th, so you know where to put all your vacation days next year. That's in eight months!

The new trailer probably raised more questions than it answered, however, and I'm not sure why they didn't reveal the title during E3 2021 already... They said it would give away too much back then, but this really just was an excuse and I don't see how this makes a difference from the last trailer. It probably even would have been a good fit to show it there with the droplet going up. But maybe it's referencing the seven orbs that you see in the new mural...

And I have to be honest that I felt quite bad towards the end of the Nintendo Direct, because I was hyping this up so much. Not just on this blog, but everywhere I'm busy talking about Zelda online. I was confident that this was going to be the big reveal and I really let people know.

Well... we did get a new trailer, the game's title, and a release date, so I wasn't off entirely, but I was expecting more: some actual gameplay, an introduction to the story, something like that. But this is better than nothing.

Let's take a deeper look into the new trailer in one or more separate posts, coming up today or tomorrow!

Monday, September 12, 2022

Nintendo Direct September 2022 Predictions

Nintendo Direct Logo

There it is already! Tomorrow 4PM CEST. Less than 24 hours to go. There have been rumors that this Nintendo Direct might have been postponed out of respect for Queen Elizabeth II, who has died last week, but they will simply skip the livestream for Nintendo UK and the rest of world can watch it normally. See here and here.

They state that it will be "mostly focused on Nintendo Switch games launching this winter", probably to not get our hopes up for anything about the sequel to Breath of the Wild, which is said to be released in Spring 2023. But they are using the word "mostly" and they usually go beyond the time frame that they were specifying beforehand anyway...

So, I'm still confident that this will be it for the sequel to Breath of the Wild, where starting tomorrow we may finally can stop calling it the "sequel to Breath of the Wild" (or "BotW2"). New trailer, full title, actual release date, first gameplay footage, introduction into the story. We're getting the full package. They will have to lift the curtain on the game if it really still planned to be released next Spring – they can't just hide it forever and the marketing campaigns need to roll sooner than later.

There is of course the possibility that "Breath of the Wild 2" got delayed even further. In that case I'm throwing in the usual prediction of The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD for late 2022 in a double pack (or triple pack with Link's Crossbow Training). I don't really expect to see both these ports and a focus on the next game, because one may detract attention from the other, but I certainly wouldn't mind to be wrong here and to get a very Zelda-heavy Direct. It would also be fantastic if we were to have all 3D Zelda games on the Nintendo Switch united before the release of the next one...

Otherwise, I still have some hopes that the team of Splatoon 3 has been working on a small Splatoon crossover for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, where this would mean that we're also getting the Zelda stuff later on. Or maybe we will get all the missing Nintendo crossover contents at once. But I'm truly being hopeful here and not realistic, because that's the one thing I still desperately want for the game. I would be very happy.

Then there have been rumors about a remake or remaster of Metroid Prime coming to Nintendo Switch. I personally don't like the idea of not going for the entire Metroid Prime Trilogy, but of course this is Nintendo what we're talking about, so they might just bring back all three games individually for full price, because they can. It's just that I probably wouldn't be too excited about just Metroid Prime itself, unless it has received some interesting changes.

And just for the record, I don't expect to see Metroid Prime 4 any time soon, but it's another case where I wouldn't mind to be wrong. It just feels like something that gets into spotlight after the sequel to Breath of the Wild is out in the wild.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Got the Minecraft amiibo

photo of the package against a white background

Even more small merchandise this week. Say hello to Steve and Alex. I love how the Smash logo on the packaging looks a bit like the flag of Finland, while Minecraft is actually from Sweden... Would have been an opportunity here, but close enough.

The amiibo themselves are probably the cheapest feeling amiibo I've had yet. It's really just some painted plastic blocks attached to each other and that's it. The source material is to blame here, of course, but I wish they would have done something more interesting with it, e.g. use small wooden blocks instead of plastic or something. I don't know...

As you can see, I've also got the Min Min amiibo earlier this year and it's really awesome, easily one of my favorites thanks to her impressive arms and many details. She does have a small stand under her, but unlike most it doesn't look too cheap, because it's trying to create a small effect.

For me Min Min and the Minecraft characters were the most exciting additions to the roster of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate during the Fighters Passes, not only because they came from games I like, but also because they've added some very unique mechanics to the game. I even ended up maining Min Min, because she was so fun and offered a style that worked out great for me.

Sadly, they also were the cause for lots of controversy. People didn't like their addition in general and the movesets can be troublesome, which resulted in many discussions around banning these characters... Good thing I'm not invested in the competitive community of Smash by any means.

Anyway, as for the upcoming amiibo, I only plan to get Pyra and Mythra, where I hope they will either do one amiibo with both characters or a double pack similar to Steve and Alex. That will be it for my Super Smash Bros. collection, where I only ever got the characters I've liked for whatever reasons, mainly the ones for Zelda and Metroid.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

2nd Haul of My Nintendo Store Rewards

photo of Age of Calamity notepad and Metroid Dread pins

This came with the post today. Well, the Nintendo Switch Card Case was from the last time, I only put it on the photo as a size reference. So, what I got was the Metroid Dread pin set, as well as the notepad based on Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. These are two of my favorite Nintendo Switch games, where I simply wanted the extra (free) merchandise for them.

The items aren't that nice, however, where I liked my last haul much more. The pins are very tiny, where they are truly meant to be put on clothing as a detail, but I would never do that, because this puts holes in the fabric and having the metal end under your clothes is annoying. I guess I would have preferred some larger magnets or something, but it is what it is and there isn't much official merchandise around Metroid Dread available anyway...

The notebook is fine. The cover has a nice relief to it and each page has this special print on them:

inside of the notepad

It's still just a simple A5 notepad, though, with a cardboard backside. But since it looks so nice, I probably will never write on it. It's the curse of such merchandise – I want to have it around, but I don't want to use it, because it's too "precious".

You seemingly can order more now, however, in case you really want to use up that fine pad. You can only get one item per order, but you can make multiple orders with the same item as long as you have enough Platinum Points left. I also can get a second of the Nintendo Switch Card Case 8 again if I ever need one, which is really good. Given that it will be back in stock someday...

And the whole ordering process is now much better than it used to be one year ago thanks to the updated My Nintendo Store. You can now purchase the My Nintendo Rewards directly with your Platinum Points, so you don't need a code any longer, where you were only able to redeem a single code per order. I had to pay for shipping thrice last year, which was ridiculous. Now I was able to do a single order with the two items, where I only had to pay 2,99€ for shipping once and they have delivered it all in one package. As it should be.

You can now also use PayPal, which makes things more convenient and should give a lot more Nintendo fans in Germany (and other countries where credit cards aren't that common) the opportunity to buy something. Though, I've heard that pre-orders still require a credit card, but I personally don't mind that any longer.

So, while the items aren't as great as last time, the whole "shopping experience" was a lot simpler and more satisfying. It's just too bad that a lot of the more interesting items, like the Super Nintendo controllers, are constantly sold out. And my favorite of the My Nintendo Rewards, the Card Case 8, is also currently not available, as already mentioned.

Still, together with the Nintendo Switch user icons, where I try to collect most of them, I was rarely so low on Platinum Points as I am now. It's good to finally have multiple useful uses for them.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

The Dodolint Chronicles

two yellow houses in a row and my female avatar in yellow fairy dress and some black bunny ears, looking like bee

What is my most played game on the Nintendo Switch? What do you think? Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity? Well, not even close, where it's actually Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as the above screenshot indicates. I've started playing this game over a year ago and have been playing it on a daily basis ever since, which accumulated to hundreds of hours by now. It has even surpassed the amount of time I've spent with Hyrule Warriors or Breath of the Wild on the Wii U, so this is one of my most played games ever.

And a lot has happened during this time, where I want to share some of my progress with you. I've completed Critterpedia, provided everything to the museum except for one piece (the Robust Statue), participated in all events, got photos of all my villagers so far, shaped my island the way I want it to be and raised it to five stars.

The game gives you a lot of goals to go for, but it in the end it's all about what you want to achieve, similar to games like Minecraft. But it's a lot more contained thanks to the real time mechanics, which makes it the better choice for me right now. One of my ongoing projects is to breed all possible flower variants from scratch, while I'm always busy with collecting and crafting all recipes, as well as cataloging all the things, ordering all insect and fish models, and completing all Nook Miles achievements.

But for me those activities are all just excuses to keep playing the game, which I enjoy a lot, where my island became a virtual second home to me and part of my daily routine. I wouldn't want to miss it, which is saying a lot from someone who couldn't have been bothered with the Animal Crossing series before. But the possibility of changing the landscape really sealed the deal, where it made this game so much more interesting to me personally. And with that in mind let's take a look at...

Dodolint Island

Don't expect anything too fancy, since I'm not someone who puts form over function. For me a lot of my island design went into making everything easily accessible and supporting my overall goals in the game. I also don't like to build things that have no real purpose, where I don't want to create scenery that looks great on Instagram, but is otherwise just in the way.

That being said, I do want to feel at home, so it's not radically optimized and I put in quite some effort to make everything cozy for myself. So, I was trying to find a good balance between gameplay and design. Frame rate is another deciding factor, where it can go down quite heavily with lots of flowers, wheat, and such. And I want to avoid that.

Without further ado, let's take a look at the map of my island, Dodolint, in its current state:

map screen

You can compare this to the map visible at the end of my post from one year ago to see how much has changed since the beginning. There is still a bit of my original island in there, but most of it has been terraformed. I've also uploaded my first Dream Island today, in case you want to check everything out yourself. Simply search for "Dodolint", it should be the only island with this name out there.

The island is split into two halves, where the west side is almost entirely on a plateau with my farm on it. My house is directly in front of plots for the nine different types of produce in this game, where you have a silo and a "stable" right next to the house as some decoration. This part is loosely inspired by the original Harvest Moon for the Super Nintendo and GameBoy Color, which I loved quite a bit back in the day and where Animal Crossing: New Horizons became my replacement for this type of game, especially after it has introduced more crops with the big 2.0 update. It's much more relaxed, of course, but this makes it all the better.

Harvesting all the crops fills about half an inventory for nearly 60.000 Bells. It's not that much, but more than enough in the long run if you keep selling regularly. Plus, I keep going for the money trees, which I plant next to the silo for some 30.000 pocket money at the start of each day. And by now I don't really need more money anyway, where I have over 42 million on the bank.

To the south of the crops you can find my flower breeding area with everything sorted into eight/nine colors in a tic-tac-toe pattern. I'm still missing a few flowers and the final boss will be the blue rose, but I'm patient.

To the north of my house is the "Fruit Forest" with enough trees of every foreign fruits for three stacks each. There are also some ponds there and an upper-level river area. The latter was one of the main reasons why I wanted my farm to be elevated over the rest of the island, because certain type of fish only appear there and not in the bottom-level river. As I said, a lot of my island was designed around gameplay goals.

I've caught ALL of the fish! You'd think I'd have a pun for this occassion... (it's a Napoleon Fish)

Fishing as whole is a topic of its own, where the rare pier fish are simply ridiculous. I probably would have never found out about them if I didn't look things up in the wiki. Catching all the bugs and insects was more enjoyable, but there are also some crazy rare beetles in July and August, which felt like another final boss in this game. Though, there is this weird phenomenon where you won't find a certain rare creature for days, but then suddenly you will get two or three of them in a row... Which does help with getting all the models, where you need three in total.

Other than the many fruit trees, where I use the domestic apple trees for decoration in some places, there are exactly 22 hardwood and cedar trees on my island, so each time you shake one of these trees something will drop from them. The cedars are all placed in the campground mountain area to the north. And the hardwoods trees are all around the village on the east half of my island.

Speaking of, the village itself is split into two halves as well. There is a beach promenade in the south with four housings in a row. The service center and the shops are located above of them, where you have this little shopping mile at the center of my island. And the museum got its own temple-themed peninsula.

The northern half of the town is my version of Kakariko Village, based on A Link to the Past and partly A Link Between Worlds. It's not an accurate reconstruction and it's not supposed to be, so it doesn't have all the houses and some of the houses are in different locations. But I've tried to capture the look and feel of the original.

me in a Link cosplay playing an Ocarina at the merchant place in Kakariko

When I started playing New Horizons, I didn't want to recreate any video game environments at first, but I had the Zelda villagers from New Leaf in mind when I've designed this part of the island. So, I knew that I wanted this to be a Zelda-themed village – I even started calling it "Kakariko" before anything was built there. But I really liked using the hedges, where this was a very good fit for the classic Kakariko, so one thing led to another, and eventually I ended up with my own version of the town from A Link to the Past. That's a lot of Super Nintendo love on my island.

Sadly, the Zelda villagers, who were supposed to live here, haven't seen a return in New Horizons yet and probably never will. Which leads us to the next big topic...

Villager History

By now I've had a total of 17 villagers on my island, so there was a bit of coming and going. But since I try to collect lots of photos from everyone, I've kept most of them over a longer period of time. Four of my villagers are even still there from the very beginning. Here is a list with all replacements:

  • Billy
  • Fuchsia → Cranston
  • Anabelle
  • Pekoe → Ankha
  • Deli → Julia
  • Tex → Gayle → Henry
  • Vic
  • Eloise → Pashmina
  • Drago → Mitzi
  • Tipper

Billy and Fuchsia were my starter villagers. Deli, Tex, Vic, and Eloise were villagers who I've gotten randomly from new housings. And the rest were villagers that I have found on Nook Miles islands, where I simply liked their designs or whatever. The only exception to this is Henry, who came to my island via the campsite. During that time I didn't have a smug villager on my island and I also liked the idea of getting a frog, so I let him move in. There was some fun to be had here, where at one point I got him to ask for an actual frog as a pet and I also gave him a frog outfit... I just couldn't help it with his smug smile.

Later I came up with the requirement that I should always have all eight personality types present on my islands, because things can get quite repetitive if I don't. So, I would only let villagers go if their personality existed a second time on my island and if I already got multiple photos from them. Version 2.0 made the latter a lot easier, where they kept spamming you with their photos for a while. Nintendo fixed this later on, where you now have to wait at least ten days before they can give you their photo again. But that's still better than before, where it took 64 gifts to reset.

Billy and me on a bench in the middle of Kakariko

Billy is the villager who has stayed on my island the longest so far, where I have this hate / love relationship with the guy. He always refused to give me his photo, where I only got a couple, while every other long-staying villager gave me at least ten so far. But he's also one of the biggest joke characters with his jock personality, mainly because his hobby isn't fitness, but "play". He talks about doing sports, but he never does. You can usually spot him sitting somewhere, eating a donut. Meanwhile, you could see all my other villagers doing sports, except for him. He is all talk and no action, but I find this funny.

Out of all my original villagers, Vic is probably the one who grew the most on me. I just like the cranky personality in general and he's a viking bull, so what's not to like here? He also scored first place in a ranking where all the villagers were measured by their fighting ability. And that made him feel extra special to have, not going to lie. Saying good-bye to him will be by far the hardest...

But Vic lives at the "Cucco Den" in Kakariko, where in the end I want this to be Knox's house, the chicken knight. Sterling, the eagle knight, should then be his buddy and neighbor, who will then replace Billy as the jock, who happens to live right above Vic right now.

Tipper's house in the middle of the winter with some milk canisters next to it

Everyone will be replaced eventually with the exception of Tipper, a cow who I had found on a Nook Miles Island early on. Her house and look was simply perfect for the milk bar in Kakariko, so I will probably keep her forever. Plus, she would have been the perfect neighbor for Epona.

Originally, I had Ankha in mind in her stead as my final snooty villager. I wanted her to live in the ancient themed peninsula at the southeast corner of my island, but this is where my museum then ended up, so I decided to remove her from my future island plans. But I've still found her via a Nook Miles Island back in June, so she is currently an inhabitant of Dodolint as well, but only temporarily. A guest of honor, so to speak.


Future Crossings

If Nintendo ever decides to bring back the four Zelda villagers (Wolf Link, Medli, Epona, and Ganon), I will use amiibo and amiibo cards to set up the final arrangement, which includes Knox, Sterling, Lucky, Coco, and Phoebe for the rest of the inhabitants.

Wolf Link, Medli, and Epona will live in Kakariko together with Sterling, Knox, and Tipper. Ganon is an outcast who will live next to his loyal, but unreliable Gibdo henchman, Lucky. Finally, Phoebe will cover the big sister personality, while Coco simply looks cool. I like the cranky and normal personalities the most, where I won't mind having two of them present in the end. Mitzi is actually one of my favorites right now, but I also want to get Lily at some point as a "girlfriend" for Henry. (She visited my island via the campsite one day and Henry was singing right in front of her tent, it was hilarious. But I couldn't invite her in at the time, because I just got Mitzi.)

Henry singing at the central plaza with Pashmina and Ankha sitting next to him on the ground, wearing sunglasses

Speaking of personalities, each one has a sub-type for different dialogues in the later friendship levels. I'm also trying to get some variety here, just to experience it all eventually. But I truly wish that the next game will mix things up a bit more and make the hobbies a bigger part of the personality. For example, instead of "jocks" there should be "competitive" villagers, where their hobby decides what they like to be competitive about. A competitive villager who likes to play may be obsessed with video games, while a competitive villager with the fitness hobby will be your traditional jock personality.

And something like the Zelda and Splatoon characters should have sets of completely original dialogues that you won't get from anyone else. Right now you really only have eight different characters with dozens of skins and one alternate set of dialogues, which can get boring after a while, because it's all just the same.

I would also like the next game to be less of a time waster. Yes, it's supposed to be laid-back, but this doesn't mean that the game should be unnecessarily slow and inconvenient whenever possible. The game loads your entire island just for the title screen, only to load it again right after, effectively doubling the loading times in the beginning. Proper bulk crafting and purchasing options would be nice to have. And the breaking tools can go to hell, where I'm saying this as someone who doesn't mind the breaking weapons in Breath of the Wild.

Anyway, that's it for now... I will keep playing and eventually I will share my progress a second time. However, if Nintendo never brings back the Zelda contents in New Horizons, because version 2.0 really was the last update (and not just the last "major update"), then there won't be much relevancy to this blog, I'm afraid... It's also quite disappointing, where the 2.0 update brought a lot of stuff back from previous installments, just not the things I wanted the most.

But I still have a little bit of hope left. Right now Nogami's development team is busy with Splatoon 3 anyway and maybe they will return to Animal Crossing: New Horizons afterwards to make some smaller updates, where they could start by re-introducing the Splatoon villagers as a promotion. The Zelda villagers could then follow with the sequel to Breath of the Wild (or The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD re-releases, where those would be a better fit).