Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 – The Year of Wait

2022 with the mural of the mysterious figure and the seven tears, a screenshot of Link on the glider object and Kalimari Desert from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

As Zelda fans we have been very much spoiled for the last ten years, where you can't help feel a bit disappointed when looking back at the year 2022. This marks the first year since 2012 where the Zelda series hasn't gotten any dedicated release. And even in that year you could count The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, which was part of Nintendo Land.

But after announcing the next big Zelda in early 2013, Nintendo had seemingly made it their mission to have something on the table for Zelda every year. This could be a new top-down title, a remake, a remaster, an enhanced port, a spin-off, DLC, something. The four years before and after Breath of the Wild always had something to offer:

  • 2013: The Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds
  • 2014: Hyrule Warriors
  • 2015: Majora's Mask 3D and Tri Force Heroes
  • 2016: Twilight Princess HD and Hyrule Warriors Legends
  • 2017: Breath of the Wild
  • 2018: Hyrule Warriors - Definitive Edition
  • 2019: Cadence of Hyrule and Link's Awakening
  • 2020: Hyrule Warriors - Age of Calamity
  • 2021: Skyward Sword HD and The Legend of Zelda Game & Watch

This list isn't even including all the DLC Expansion Passes for the various games. But in 2022 this all came to a halt. It really might be that Nintendo had originally planned to release Tears of the Kingdom this year and weren't able to find some "placeholder" in due time.

Ports of The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD are what comes first to mind here, where they would have been a good filler, but even these are not done out of the blue, especially after Skyward Sword HD set the bar quite high last year. You want those fluid 60FPS.

So, in the end we got nothing. Well, we did get a new trailer for Tears of the Kingdom during the September Nintendo Direct, which is how we even know the game's title by now and that it's going to be released on May 12th next year. It was also the main source of discussion and speculation this year, next to a small glimpse at the game from the February Nintendo Direct, which is where they had announced the delay.

Other than that there were some Nintendo Switch Online goodies, mostly user icons, and the release of Majora's Mask for the Nintendo 64 library, given that you're subscribed to the Expansion Pack. But these things are hardly worth the mention.

It's rare that Metroid has more going on than Zelda, where in 2022 the latest installment in the series, Metroid Dread, got two updates with the Dread Mode and Boss Rush, which were a good excuse to revisit the game once more.

Some Zelda fans may also be interested in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, because they love to enter the race with Link and the Master Cycle (Zero). And here Nintendo has revived the game with the Booster Course Pass, where they have been porting over courses from their mobile game, Mario Kart Tour. Half of this has already been released, where the other 24 tracks will appear throughout 2023.

But that's really it and therefore 2022 was a good year to check out some other games in the Action Adventure genre, where there are a variety of "Zelda-likes" and "Metroidvanias" out there to keep you entertained when Nintendo doesn't deliver. This blog took a look at Death's Door and Hollow Knight, but if you're looking for something released in 2022, there also has been Tunic and of course the big shot, Elden Ring.

Replaying Link's Awakening in Hero Mode

receiving the Full Moon Cello in Hero Mode

Link's Awakening is one of the shortest Zelda games, given that you know your way around Koholint, which makes it a good choice if you're looking for some nostalgia with little commitment. As I've said many times on this blog before, the original version on the GameBoy was my first Zelda game, which I've gotten for Christmas 1997, 25 years ago. And it became a bit of a tradition to replay this game once per year, ideally during Christmas.

This time I already started on my birthday, however, right at the beginning of June. This was after Mysplaced had made the news, a game that copied the artstyle of the Link's Awakening remake, which made me want to play it once more. And since I haven't cleared it in Hero Mode on my own Nintendo Switch yet (I did so before on someone else's system), there were multiple incentives to replay Link's Awakening on the Nintendo Switch.

I didn't get all too far at the time, where I've only played for a couple of hours in one evening. It was enough to have beaten the Bottle Grotto and the Color Dungeon, which is by far the hardest part in Hero Mode. But once you've obtained the Secret Medicine, a filled Fairy Bottle, and finally the Blue Mail, there is little to worry about, unless you're doing lots of mistakes.

So, I basically had the hard work already done half a year ago, but I ran into a bit of a roadblock with the Chamber Dungeon at the time. As much as I have loved this feature in the past, doing it all for the fourth time gets a bit stale. As a result I went with the most simplistic and efficient solutions this time...

Placing the Basics challenge solved with only five chambers

You still want to play the Challenges as early as possible, especially in Hero Mode, because it gives you some valuable goodies, like a Piece of Heart or a Fairy Bottle. And if you don't start with the Chamber Dungeon until later in the game, it will get a bit much all at once. It's better to do the new Challenges once they become available to have some more variety in activities.

However, this also may cause certain habits or patterns. For example, I prefer to use the new tiles I got from the most recent dungeon. And because of this the solutions tend to become somewhat similar to my previous playthroughs, where I've done the same thing.

Things get more interesting with the twelve golden challenges in the post game, which is where you have everything available, including the +Monsters effect from the Trendy Game. But I'm saving this for later right now and I also plan on building more difficult versions of all eight main dungeons (I already have one of the Color Dungeon stored to an amiibo).

As for Hero Mode, I'm still thinking that its implementation here wasn't a good idea. I would have preferred something that made use of the +Monsters effect during the entire game, while you are still able to find Fairies and maybe apples normally. Every damage taken accumulates, because you won't find anything to heal inside dungeons, so you might end up in a situation where you feel inclined to leave the dungeon, heal somewhere, and return. It's not more difficult, it's just less convenient.

I've also struggled a bit in the beginning, because the controls are so different from all the other games that I have been playing this years, which includes Death's Door, Hollow Knight, and Metroid Dread. They all have in common that you attack with Y (on a Nintendo controller) and jump or roll with B. In Link's Awakening it's the other way around, where the sword is set to B and I usually keep the Roc's Feather equipped to Y.

It's not really a complaint, because they simply stuck to traditional Zelda button controls, which haven't really changed up until Breath of the Wild. The controls also make sense the way they are with the two item buttons. But it's a factor where I have been making some mistakes at first...

There was also a surprise situation in the Key Cavern for me, in the room with the three Green Bombites. I wanted to take them out with bombs, as I always do, because it's safer than attacking them with your sword. But one of the Zols then jumped against my bomb and kicked it towards me... I didn't know that they could do that in the remake! It's such a crazy detail and a fun enemy interaction.

Link starting from the warp point at the Seashell Mansion

The Secret Seashells will always be one of my favorite collectibles, simply because they can be found anywhere. I've said this before, but it's well done how they game let's you obtain the Koholint Sword after getting the Flippers, which also used to be the case in the original GameBoy version, only that this time you need twice as many shells. There are 41 Secret Seashells accessible at this point, so you need to find all but one available.

I always turn the Seashell Sensor off right away and go by memory alone, but this time I completely forgot the seashell hidden at the beach where Marin waits for you. I guess, it's just not as obvious as the other ones below the ground. The one from Christine also usually eludes me, but otherwise the seashell additions in the remake are all very memorable and that's fun.

But I'm disappointed that it doesn't refill your hearts when obtaining the Koholint Sword. That's a bit of an oversight, because you want to feel the power of sword beams right after exiting the Seashell Mansion with your shiny new sword...

As for Pieces of Heart, this time I've forgotten about the one in the cave that leads back up to the Raft Shop. Since you can just restart the mini-game at the end of a ride, using this "shortcut" wasn't necessary and therefore I didn't pass by this piece at all. And I didn't notice this until I've reached Turtle Rock, where only one Piece of Heart should be left.

fighting the Turtle Rock

Anyway, this was fun, I greatly enjoy the visuals and the overall quality of the remake, save for the issues with the frame rate on the overworld. But nonetheless I really hope that we will be getting remakes of Oracle of Ages & Seasons in the same style after Tears of the Kingdom.

PS: ← ↑ → → ↑ ← ← ↑

Friday, December 30, 2022

Nintendo Switch: Tears of the Kingdom Edition?

 leaked photos of the Nintendo Switch OLED model Tears of the Kingdom Edition

There has been a leak from China, which supposedly shows us the upcoming "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Edition" of the Nintendo Switch OLED model, as seen on Resetera. This looks very much legit. If this is a fake, it's well done and should be shared anyway for the effort alone.

And I'm sure that this will happen with Tears of the Kingdom, whether this is a fake or not. If you've followed this blog in the recent years, you know it has been kind of a running gag to predict a Zelda-themed Nintendo Switch, only for it not to happen. Well, this should have been a thing right from the start with Breath of the Wild in 2017, but Nintendo wasn't interested and they weren't interested in doing this with spin-offs, remakes, or remasters that followed in the years after, where now it has been SIX years... And by now this just feels like a double-dip move. Almost all Zelda fans out there should have a Nintendo Switch, where Nintendo now wants them to buy a new one.

Well, I know a single Zelda fan out there who has been holding off on buying a Nintendo Switch to wait for the obligatory Zelda edition. This person will certainly be happy with the news, but those are six years of Nintendo Switch action missed out. This is a very long time. I personally regret that I've waited with buying one until Age of Calamity in 2020, because I've accumulated a sizeable backlog of Nintendo Switch games by then, where I may never find the time to play it all.

And in hindsight I probably should have gotten the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Edition, because this ended up as my most played game on Switch. At least the Nintendo Switch OLED model will be an upgrade of some sort, though I don't use the Switch in handheld mode so often that it would matter. But the new Nintendo Switch dock looks quite good in general.

As for the "Tears of the Kingdom Edition"... it looks alright. The dock is great and the Joy-Cons fit the overall aesthetic of the game really well, where I like the symbols on the back and front. I'm not really fan of mixing gold with green, which happens too much with 3rd party merchandise for Zelda, but at least that's only an issue with the left Joy-Con. The right Joy-Con with gold and white design looks gorgeous. And it's much prettier than the Skyward Sword HD Joy-Cons, that's for sure.

I will definitely be getting this if it's real. And with the thing leaked, Nintendo probably won't wait long with an announcement now. Maybe this will be one of the first news in 2023.

However, this also means that we won't be seeing a new Nintendo console / an upgrade of the Nintendo Switch with Tears of the Kingdom. They wouldn't make a special edition of the Nintendo Switch OLED model in that case, but of the new console. Or none at all, like it was the case with Breath of the Wild, which came out between two systems.

Via @pixelpar and ntower

Saturday, December 24, 2022

25 Years as a Zelda Fan

25 years stylized with Zelda fonts and the palm trees from the modern Link's Awakening logo

This is the first Christmas in a couple of years that I'm spending with my family, where this brings back memories of Christmas from my childhood. And the most magical Christmas will always be 1997 for me personally, where I've gotten The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the GameBoy. I still remember how I marveled at the instruction booklet after unwrapping my gift, where it was full of colored artwork and made the game feel like a compelling mystery.

Anyway, I've written a bit about my past as a Zelda fan on my 20th Anniversary, where I'm not going to repeat this. Instead, I want to reflect on the past five years, which are right between the two newest Zelda games, Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, a period of "filler".

We got a number of side releases during these years, like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and Skyward Sword HD, but the one that means the most to me is certainly the remake of Link's Awakening – the game that made me a Zelda fan for life. It makes me quite happy to have this new version to go to, where I'm hoping for the Oracle games to get remade in the same charming style at some point.

For me these remakes and remasters also became the main incentive to revisit past Zelda games. Before Breath of the Wild came out, during the 30th Anniversary of the franchise, I've replayed all the Zelda games available on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. And with that I came to a closure with the series, where from now on I will focus mainly on "new" Zelda releases, even if these are just enhanced ports.

There simply needs to be something new to experience, which then wakes my interest. I guess, it's part of the reason why the Zelda randomizers have gotten very popular over the last years, where I'm willing to try some of those out myself at some point, starting with Link's Awakening of course. It might be the kind of different experience that I'm looking for...

But there is so much else to play and not enough time left to play it all. And after getting into games like Hollow Knight and Death's Door, I also feel a bit disillusioned about my favorite game series, because these indie titles show how you can make a challenging, but fair difficulty in an Action Adventure, while also offering good world design and a fantastic soundtrack. These are beautiful games with compelling combat and I want to replay Death's Door at the moment for its fun fights alone, while Hollow Knight has been one of my most-played games in 2022.

Breath of the Wild dared to be more challenging again, at least in the early game, where there is hope that Tears of the Kingdom will build upon that and offer a more masterful experience. It will need a good number of things to set itself apart from its predecessor, since they are re-using the same world again, which still makes it seem like an enhanced version of Breath of the Wild. But right now I really need Tears of the Kingdom to rekindle that Zelda flame inside me, which has been shining a bit dim lately.

Well, I'm sure it will manage to do so, once Nintendo starts to show more of the game, because nothing beats the excitement of getting a new Zelda for me personally. The childhood Christmas days, where I was stranded on Koholint for the first time in my life, may never come back, but there always will be new magical worlds to dive into, which are just as good and sometimes even better. So long!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Hollow Christmas!

Got this as an early Christmas present last weekend and thought I should share it. It's a Hollow Knight figurine of the knight sitting on a bench, where this is a handmade item from Etsy. Looks quite nice and will always be a reminder to take a rest.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Majora's Mask 3D: Song of Time Screen Icons?

Ikhana Kingdom has faced me with an interesting question, where I had to do some digging to find an answer. When you play the Song of Time in Majora's Mask 3D, it shows you on the touchscreen what you are going to lose, most of it anyway, as a warning. It's essentially a mix of your item selection screen and the right column on the gear screen. When you travel back in time any type of ammo will be set to 0 and you will also lose the content of your bottles, as well as all the trading quest items, like the Moon's Tear or the Room Key, where those go into the right column.

However, there is another row of items at the bottom, showing your Rupees, whether the Pictograph Box has photo or not, and four more slots for... something. And this led to the question: What are these four slots for?

Ikhana already had found out what the third and fourth slots are via a reddit thread, leaving the first two a mystery for the both of us. For me it has been many years since I've played the Nintendo 3DS remake, so I couldn't remember if I ever saw any of these. But I do remember that I was wondering about this myself while playing the game, where it now it was the time to finally satisfy that curiosity... Anyway, I couldn't find anything on the internet, so I had to boot up my good old Majora's Mask themed 3DS and find out myself.

Do you know what goes in there? Do you have any guesses? Well, click to find the answer:

I don't think I ever saw any of these before, because I usually don't use the Song of Time when I have any of this in place. But it's good to finally know, where this has been a fun little mystery!

Friday, December 9, 2022

Tears of the Game Awards

Cereza looking at a copy of Tears of the Kingdom

Not sure why I keep getting my hopes up to see something about the next Zelda at the Game Awards year after year... Well, it is mainly because Breath of the Wild had quite the presence at this event: we saw the first ever gameplay at the Game Awards 2014, we got a new trailer at the Game Awards 2016, and The Champions' Ballad was released right after the Game Awards 2017, where Breath of the Wild won game of the years.

Hopefully the last bit will repeat next year, but so far Tears of the Kingdom has been absent from Geoff Keighley's big show, other than being the most anticipated game for 2023. And when you have to sit through Christopher Judge slowly thanking everyone and their mother for existing (which was adorable), you kind of hope that it will lead to something. At least the event was somewhat shorter this time and there have been some huge announcements, just not from Nintendo.

Nintendo has been more concerned about promoting the Super Mario Bros. Movie, which is fine and certainly fitting for an event that focuses a lot on the cinematic side of gaming. It looks like fun and I'm going to see it, but... it's not what I'm excited about at the moment.

The other announcements from my favorite video game company also have been laughable. The Bayonetta Origins game looks very cute, but this was surely something for a Nintendo Direct, even when Bayonetta 3 won best action game.

And announcing a day one Expansion Pass for any game will always leave a bad taste in one's mouth, where Fire Emblem Engage is no exception. Bringing back units from previous Fire Emblem games also isn't exactly exciting, when this has been done before... Maybe not as glamorously, but it's something where they could just keep milking the cow once more. Yes, by that I mean that they will bring back Camilla.

Anyway, they are keeping things tight with Tears of the Kingdom. The game will come out in five months and we have seen little about it. On the hand it's not really necessary, because this is not Breath of the Wild – it's the sequel to Breath of the Wild. People already know what kind of gameplay they can expect here and it's better when Nintendo keeps the game close to their chest, instead of spoiling half of it months in advance. It will be more fun to find things out for ourselves.

On the other hand it makes you wonder if there is even much to show. I would love for them to dive into some of the new gameplay mechanics and also into the underground world, if there really is one. Maybe in the next Nintendo Direct, then, which should be around February...

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Booster Course Pass: Wave 3 Impressions

Merry Mountain start with the full moon in the background and lots of Christmas themed houses

This week is early Christmas for gamers, with lots of presents directly from the internet to keep you entertained. There's the Game Awards later tonight, where we will hopefully see more of Tears of the Kingdom and maybe some other exciting announcements. Also, quite a number of games are getting a content update this week, which includes Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the third wave of the Booster Course Pass.

And arguably this is the best wave so far. The visuals have improved quite a bit, where some of the new additions have been getting closer to the base game quality, even matching them in one case. The courses finally also make better use of the different driving modes, where more than half of them have anti-gravity and there is a first course in the DLC with under water gameplay.

It genuinely feels like Nintendo has been listening to feedback, which is great. It's just a shame that they can't go back and overhaul some of the courses from the first two waves, other than making the cars at Coconut Mall spin. Anyway, here are the new additions...

Rock Cup:

  • Tour London Loop
  • GBA Boo Lake
  • 3DS Alpine Pass / Rock Rock Mountain
  • Wii Maple Treeway


Moon Cup:

  • Tour Berlin Byways
  • DS Peach Gardens
  • Merry Mountain
  • 3DS Rainbow Road


First of all, you may notice that some tracks got reshuffled from the previous datamines. Originally, DS Waluigi Stadium was going to be part of the Moon Cup, Peach Gardens was part of the Rock Cup, and Maple Treeway was not supposed to be released until a later point, in the Acorn Cup. The latter is a bit disappointing, because it would have been a better fit thematically.

The courses in a cup don't necessarily have to match the corresponding trophy item, of course, but there are some clear references here and there, like having Rock Rock Mountain in the Rock Cup or ending the Moon Cup with the 3DS Rainbow Road. These are good calls and likewise you would put Maple Treeway into the Acorn Cup. Not sure why Nintendo has changed these, but if there is one course to move from the Rock Cup into the Moon Cup, it should have been Boo Lake and not Peach Gardens, since this track is bathed in moonlight. So, I'm not a big fan of the decisions here, but naturally this doesn't affect the quality of the actual courses.

Brandenburger Tor in Berlin Byways

And the quality is overall really great in wave 3. The city tours, London Loop and Berlin Byways, are probably my least favorite this time, where the magic of the ever-changing course layouts has worn off a bit. In fact, in these two cases it can get quite confusing, because there is just very little consistency and a lot going on. Especially in Berlin I'm constantly thinking, "where do I need to go? Where do I need to go?! Where do I need to go...?!"

Both of the courses have some nice touches, however, like the little drawbridge for the London Bridge, which keeps going up. And the Berlin Wall has Whomps crashing down, which is very clever. The music is also pretty great, where overall they still feel like good additions, it's just a bit too much clutter.

start of Boo Like with Luigi's Mansion in the background

GBA Boo Lake is another fantastic re-imagining of a Super Circuit course. I would even go as far and say that it's my favorite one so far, though Snow Land is quite close. It just perfectly captures those spooky Luigi's Mansion visuals and is a lot of fun to race in 200cc, similar to SNES Rainbow Road. There is also an underwater section in this track, the first and only in the DLC so far. While the underwater gameplay isn't terribly exciting, it's a bit crazy how there hasn't been any new underwater course since the base game Mario Kart 8 in 2014.

This makes you wish for 3DS Wario's Galleon / Wario Shipyard, but that's not going to happen, at least not in this Booster Course Pack, because we have already gotten all courses from Mario Kart 7 that are going to be in the DLC, at least from what we know. And with that in mind 3DS Alpine Pass (also known as Rock Rock Mountain) isn't exactly the greatest choice. The track is okay, but I was never particularly fond of it on the Nintendo 3DS and this didn't change with the new version.

It's probably the most disappointing course addition in wave 3, where it's also the least impressive visually. We're talking about wave 1 quality here with completely flat textures and trees made out of clay. You even have a cave with bats flying at you, exactly like in Choco Mountain, where it's clear that they are re-using as many assets as possible for these new tracks. At least they have spiced things up a notch at the last section, where now it makes use of anti-gravity while going up the mountain, which was a good change.

flying towards the giant maple tree

Now, off to Wii Maple Treeway, where this has always been one of my absolute favorite courses ever since Mario Kart Wii. However, I feel like this is my least favorite version so far and I can't exactly put my finger on it why that is, but there is just something off. I guess, it just looks too dark. While the textures in other courses are often very bright and simple, here they took the grittiest wooden surfaces they could possibly find. It also has been scaled up a bit, where the Wigglers seemingly pose no threat any longer. Just drive by them, there is enough space.

But visually this is a huge upgrade over Mario Kart Tour. When compared to the previous course, it's a day and night difference. Alpine Pass looks like it was directly ported out of Mario Kart Tour, while this one here got a lot of work done on it, almost like it was made by a different team. And this has to be praised at this point.

giant Peach topiary

Another surprise comes with DS Peach Gardens. This has always been one of the more relaxed courses and that's fine, but to change things up a gear you now go in reverse during the last lap. That's ingenious. Well, Mario Kart Tour has reversed variants of all its courses, where it's about time that they made some of use of this for something other than the city tours. Of course you need a part of the track that lets you go in a circle, so this will be difficult to implement with most of the classic courses, but they certainly have found the perfect candidate here.

After the lackluster Sky-High Sundae my expectations for Merry Mountain were quite low, but I have been positively surprised here. This course may still be simple, but it flows. It's just very enjoyable to drive around here and it has to be one of may favorite courses for 200cc. It's also the only one of the new courses where I managed to beat the staff ghost on first try. And the last section reminds me of GCN DK Mountain, the part where you're going downhill after the cannon.

This wave also re-introduces half-pipes to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, where both Merry Mountain and Maple Treeway make use of it. Anti-gravity is active here and this could be interesting for some future additions, like GCN Waluigi Stadium, which was originally supposed to be part of this wave, as already mentioned. But this makes me wonder if something about the half-pipes still needed some further adjustments...

3DS Rainbow Road with Pink Gold Peach

Finally, we have the 3DS Rainbow Road and this one is a looker. The texture they have been using for the road itself is absolutely stunning. And the whole course is very beautiful from start to finish. Unlike the Rainbow Road from Mario Kart 8, this one also works wonderfully in 200cc. It's easily my favorite Rainbow Road in this game next to the SNES one, where there are four Rainbow Roads now in total.

The Spiny Cup will end on another Wii course, where the total could go up to five. But I'm thinking that they will go with Wii Bowser's Castle there, because there haven't been any of the previous Bowser Castles in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe yet... Imagine that. And after the 3DS Rainbow Road this will be hard to top, it's an amazing finale for the first half of the Booster Course Pass.

Version 2.2.0

Other than the new course additions, the recent update for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also came with a small variety of improvements. The biggest addition is by far the custom item selection, which you can use in the VS and Battle Modes, as well as online friend lobbies and tournaments. If you play Super Smash Bros., then this should be familiar to you, where it's actually quite weird that it took this long to make it into Mario Kart as well.

But better later than never, because this can be a lot of fun and lets you do all sort of crazy things. It doesn't work too well with just a hand full of items, because it seemingly still applies the usual item rules. So, if you have bananas and a bunch of powerful items, you will mostly just get bananas in the front rows. There needs to be a frantic custom item selection of sorts. But it's good for deactivating some annoying items, like the Blooper, or just playing with a single item. Like only Spiny Shells. Or only Bullet Bills. Or only Lightnings...

custom item selection screen with only Lightning active

Speaking of Lightning, this item got finally nerfed, where now it won't disable your glider any longer. No more target shocks for you...! This actually makes playing against CPU quite a bit nicer, because they loved to snipe you whenever you were above an abyss.

The invincibility time after getting hit now also varies depending on your kart combination, which may or may not change the current meta. Well, I don't play online with randoms, so I don't really care and will stick to my beloved Master Cycle Zero, no matter what, but this still could be interesting and may end the reign of the Waluigi Wiggler.

And in general it's nice to see that they are working on the game outside of the new courses. Remember the 1.6.0 update, where they've added Link from Breath of the Wild with the awesome Master Cycle Zero? I wouldn't mind getting more like that, where they could use drivers and karts from Mario Kart Tour. Go for it, Nintendo!

This was really enjoyable overall and made Mario Kart 8 Deluxe my favorite "ongoing game" of 2022. Too bad that it wasn't nominated in this category of the Game Awards.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Zelda Calendar(s) 2023

2023 Zelda calendar with the cover motif of Breath of the Wild from European version

It's December already and with that it's time to look for some new calendars to hang on your walls. However, you will quickly notice that there is no general Zelda calendar available this time, which feels fitting after 2022, the first year without any release for the Zelda series in a decade. Instead there are two "different" calendars for Breath of the Wild only – one by Abrams and one by Danilo.

Also for the first time in a decade, I haven't gotten the calendar from Abrams, because it felt heavily redundant. They already had made a Breath of the Wild calendar in 2019 and two more followed by different companies, where there is only so much that you can do with a single game. So, I decided to check out the 2023 calendar by Danilo instead to at least have something "new":

photo of the Dalino calendar's back with all motives

Pyramid hasn't released another Zelda calendar for 2023, where their Breath of the Wild calendar for 2022 has essentially served as a blueprint for the competition this year. In fact, a majority of the motives has already been present in the 2022 calendar, where about half of the Danilo calendar is made of repeats and the one by Abrams has only two artworks that weren't present in Pyramid's calendar from last year. It just seems lazy and uninspired, like so often. Both calendars even feature the same "Link fighting against a snow storm" artwork in December...

This seems like missed opportunity for Pyramid, where they could have scored big time with a general Zelda calendar, which offers something different. Their 2021 calendar with the Chamber Dungeon design is still my favorite. I don't know... maybe these licensed merchandise corporations didn't think that there would be any interest in such a thing, because Zelda is all about Breath of the Wild now. At least they could try to use something from Age of Calamity as well, but this would probably require them to get licenses from Koei Tecmo in addition, which creates more cost and therefore generates less profit, all while Age of Calamity isn't that popular. So, I think I understand the business decisions here, but I really don't like them.

And we won't be seeing anything from Tears of the Kingdom before 2025, because the calendars for 2024 will be developed before the game comes out. Maybe one of these calendar companies is smart enough to already grab the existing cover art for Tears of the Kingdom and uses it for a general Zelda 2024 calendar. This would be preferable, because they have seemingly reached the limit of what can be done with Breath of the Wild.

Anyway, between the two Breath of the Wild calendars there wasn't much of a choice for me personally. As already said, the one by Danilo has less repetition and comes with a new design. There was also another selling point, because they've advertised it with having a poster inside. However, this is a bit misleading...

photo of January with a Master Sword artwork and the poster

The poster is essentially just the center of the calendar, where they have made a double page. You can open the staples and remove it, but it has the typical holes at the top and bottom, so it's not a poster like you would expect it. The poster displayed on the back of the calendar doesn't even show these holes, where it's a bit of false advertising... It's still a good idea and I guess I can just leave it hanging like that, should there be nothing available for 2024. But as a poster it's not very nice.

The calendar design itself also isn't that great, it's a bit too dark for my taste. But they were going with a Sheikah Slate look and it's certainly more inspired than what Abrams has been doing for a couple of years now, so it's still the better choice overall.

Again, there was no Metroid calendar available, which seems like another missed opportunity after the release of Metroid Dread. Since I have one open calendar space right now, I would have gotten anything they throw at me...