Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 – Year of the Zonai

2023 graphic

If you were to sum up the year 2023 for most Zelda fans in four words, then these words would be "Tears of the Kingdom". After five years in the making, the sequel to Breath of the Wild finally arrived this year, on May 12th to be exact. And as the next big 3D Zelda game it really has left an impact, where it was the sole focus for the series in 2023.

We already knew about the release date when we went into the year, and to keep us invested until then Nintendo released two trailers, as well as a gameplay presentation by Mr. Aonuma himself, which gave us a first peek at the mind-blowing abilities.

However, already in February the artbook for the game got leaked in its entirety, revealing many details about what it's going to offer three months in advance, where fans had to be careful if they didn't want to see potential spoilers. Things got even worse when the entire game found its way onto the internet at the beginning of May...

The release of the game was a big one, checking off almost all possible boxes. It all started on April 28th already, two weeks before the launch of Tears of the Kingdom: Nintendo finally put a Zelda edition of the Nintendo Switch on the market, after six years of waiting. Better late than never. The Nintendo Switch OLED Model in the "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Edition" is a looker and probably got many fans to replace their old Nintendo Switch systems, unless they have been waiting for this long... But Nintendo really wanted you to double-dip with this one.

If you wanted some merchandise around the game, then Nintendo had you covered as well. It got a Collector's Edition, containing the aforementioned artbook, a steelbook, a steel poster, and some pins. There were a variety of (pre-order) bonus items, most notably a coin and a medal. There was a new amiibo of Link from the game. If you wanted to put your new Nintendo Switch into a matching carrying case, you could do that as well. And finally, the game even got a Pro Controller of its own. There was everything...

Well, almost everything. The one thing Nintendo didn't want to do with Tears of the Kingdom was making DLC for it, so there was no Expansion Pass, nor free updates, or anything alike. And that's okay, it's admirable to get a full package these days, where a game is completely done and polished on its launch, but it became a lot more silent around Tears of the Kingdom in the second half of the year. There were two additional amiibo in early November, based on Zelda and Ganondorf from the game, but that was it. (We never even got a Tears of the Kingdom theme for Tetris 99, which is a shame.)

The game itself impressed with its mechanics, first and foremost all the possibilities that come with Ultrahand and Fuse, but also its completely seamless world and the huge amount of things to do, where you might be still playing it to date. Being based on Breath of the Wild and its game world, it doesn't achieve the same level of novelty and sense of wonder, however.

In any case, it was a successful title, which has sold over 19.5 million copies according to the last report in November. By now, after all the sales for Christmas, it certainly has crossed over the 20 million mark, making it clear that the new direction for the Zelda series is on a whole other level and is here to stay, whether you like it or not.

In November we also saw the announcement of an upcoming Zelda live action movie, directed by Wes Ball. There wasn't really anything to go by here and it will probably take years before we see some first footage, but it was good to know nevertheless. It was just a small distraction in a year that was all about the newest game in the Zelda series.

If you were looking for more distractions by Nintendo, then the year 2023 offered a variety of things to get you covered. There were some small Zelda cameos in both the remake of Super Mario RPG and the new Super Mario Bros. Wonder, with Link still sleeping and Manbo's Mambo respectively. And speaking of Mario, if you're still taking the Master Cycle (Zero) to the race courses of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, then there were 24 more courses and eight new characters to choose from, thanks to the 2nd half of the Booster Course Pass. Plus, The Super Mario Bros. Movie also was very entertaining and should make you less worried about the upcoming Zelda film.

Fans of Nintendo's Action Adventures in general also might have been interested in Metroid Prime Remastered or Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, both of which came out in the first quarter of the year and were therefore excellent choices for passing the time until Tears of the Kingdom.

Outside of the Nintendo bubble, Super Dungeon Maker did a good job at showing us how a 2D Zelda Dungeon Maker could have looked like... And Baldur's Gate 3 made it together with Tears of the Kingdom one of the strongest years in gaming to date, where both games put the player's freedom and creative problem solving first, in means that will be remembered for years to come.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Update Suggestions

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom 2.0.0

It's been stated multiple times by Nintendo that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom won't get any DLC, the game is fully done and the Zelda team has with all certainty moved on to the next project for Nintendo's next system. Therefore, we shouldn't expect to see any major updates for the title, let alone any content additions.

Still, it's Christmas and we can always make a wish. And at some point the game will eventually see an update, even it's in the form of a remaster in ten years from now on. After playing the game for hundreds of hours throughout the whole year, here's everything that I would like to see improved. For the most part this will just be about setting things right, your usual quality of life updates, where I will only be discussing content additions whenever there is an obvious gap. And let's start right away with the biggest omission...

Master Mode

If Tears of the Kingdom were to receive a major update still, then this is probably what everyone would expect it to come out of it. Master Mode is the one big feature from Breath of the Wild that didn't make it over into the sequel, where this seems like a no-brainer.

It's not entirely trivial, however, and they can't just blindly copy what they had done in The Master Trials this time, where you can read all about a potential Master Mode here. The short version is that they need to make sure that enough of the basic red enemies remain, because they come with unique materials. You wouldn't want those to become the rarest, you want the golden enemies to be rare instead.

In any case, a Master Mode would provide a huge incentive to play through the entire game a second time, where this time you may also make much better usage of the different abilities and possibilities that come with Fuse, Ultrahand, and especially the Zonai Devices. This game has a long learning curve and a higher difficulty mode would put what you've learned to test in ways the normal game simply never asks of.


With 135 armor items in the game, there are many good reasons to swap your outfit constantly, which can only be done inside the inventory. Here, new prompts should be added to certain pieces of armor to allow for more convenience:

  • "Equip set": Whenever an item is part of a set, it will give you the option to equip the entire set at once. If certain pieces exist multiple times, it will go for the matching color. If there's none, it simply picks the first.
  • "Put down" / "Put up": Once Cece showed you how to change the Hylian Hood, you should be able to alter it yourself in the menu at any given time.

In addition, you can mark your current outfit as a favorite via the X button and then quickly equip it again by pressing the left stick. Now, certain armor sets should be improved in different ways:

  • The Tingle, Phantom, Evil Spirit, and Dark sets can now be enhanced to ★★★★.
  • The Tingle set can now be dyed, so you can pose as his siblings and more.
  • All the tunics and hats from past Zelda games, e.g. the Cap of the Wind and the Tunic of the Wind, can also be dyed now.
  • Pieces of the Frostbite and Ember set now will have a maximum defense value of 20, matching those of the Charged set.

Since there is still place this time, it wouldn't hurt to add some additional armor pieces as well. One idea would be to bring back the Great Plateau items from Breath of the Wild: the Old Shirt, the Nintendo Switch Shirt, the Warm Doublet, and the Well-Worn Trousers.

icons of the four armor items from the Great Plateau

Together with the Well-Worn Hair Band this lets you perfectly recreate the Breath of the Wild starter look. This could be something to get from the Bargainer Statue below the Great Plateau, after you've finished the "Call to the Depths" Side Adventure. So, these items would stay close to home.

(Note: I've also considered bringing back the Gerudo Vai set, but this would require a lot of dialogue changes around Gerudo Town and therefore may not be worth the trouble for Nintendo.)

Another idea would be an armor set that increases your walk speed with each piece, the set bonus being "Dash Stamina Up", which decreases your stamina consumption while running. That's essentially the equivalent to the Climber's set just for when you're on the ground. It's weird that this didn't make it into either game, because this seems like a very straightforward idea based on what's already there. So, let's implement it! This could become a "Postman set", based on Twilight Princess, or something like a "Pegasus set", as a reference to the Pegasus Boots, or even something new.

Materials / Inventory

Whenever you're sorting through your materials or weaponry, it should stay on the currently selected item, instead of jumping to the first. If you're using the quick select menus via the D-Pad, you can now quickly jump to the beginning and end by pressing L and R respectively. New sorting options for "amount" and "value" are added whenever you are selling something.

Hearty Blueshell Snails and Hearty Durians return from Breath of the Wild. The latter will be a much rarer find than it used to be, however, and they will also be needed for some of the new armor enhancement (see above).

The drop rate of certain materials gained from enemies should be increased, mainly the tails of the three different elemental Lizalfos, but also Gleeok Guts from all three "normal" Gleeoks.

Zonai Devices

The update should add three more Zonai Devices that come in capsules, bringing the total to 30. These are all things that can already be found in the game, inside certain Shrines of Light, but in order to use them outside of the shrines you currently have to fuse them to a shield or weapon and then break them apart at Tarrey Town, which isn't all too convenient. Here's what should be added:

  • Board
  • Float
  • Propeller

The first two are objects made out of rubber, which are really good for making swimming vehicles, because they don't drift underwater, unlike some wood constructions. There is the "Float", which is a giant rubber ball, and the "Board", which is a rubber plate. You can find both of them in the Jonsau Shrine ("Deep Force"), but the Floats are also used in the Rasiwak Shrine ("Flotational Brilliance"). That's really it, making them quite rare for something so useful in the game...

driving a boat made out of a rubber board with a steering stick near the front and a single fan on the backside

It would be nice to have them more accessible, where they should be added to some Device Dispensers (or maybe have a new one somewhere at the ocean) and also to the Crystal Refineries once you've completed your Energy Well. If you have fused a Float to your shield, it should also bounce you up when you're doing a shield jump into water, but this will use up the attachment. So, it will act like a Spring Shield, just on water.

The Propeller is basically a big fan, but unlike the other two additions this won't be the exact thing, because the propellers found in shrines need electricity to work. A Zonai Capsule variant should run on its own, making it much easier to build vehicles with it. So, this would be a half-new addition.

Otherwise, the Portable Pots should now last five cooking before they dissolve, instead of just a single one. As it is right now, it feels so restricted that you may not even bother with them, so this really needs a buff.


The Autobuild history should get expanded to allow for 15 favorites now. Or make it more, but we can all agree that seven entries are not enough...

Two more Yiga Schematics will be added to the game (for a total of 36) – the "Gloomdredger" and the "HOVERDOOM MK. 3". They can be purchased from the respective engineers at the Yiga Clan Hideout.


If you hold down on the D-Pad (the whistling button), it will now open a quick menu for summoning and dismissing your Sage's Vows, so you don't have to go into the inventory to do that. It pretty much works and looks like the other three quick menus, but you can quickly summon and dismiss via the X button.

In addition, you now will be able to teleport your horse to you. For this the Horse Beacon gets added to the game, an expansion for the Purah Pad, which works similar to the Ancient Saddle from Breath of the Wild. (They could also bring this back, but the Ancient Bridle and Saddle didn't work on all horses and basically made all the other bridles and saddles obsolete, which is why this is now a separate item.)

You can obtain the Horse Beacon from Robbie after having all the different types of horses in your Hyrule Compendium. It will also work more closely to the Sage's Vows, meaning that you can summon and dismiss your horse. If you haven't taken out any horse, it will summon the last one you've used. And if you dismiss your horse, it will be put back into the stable.

Dream Home

Other than the missing Master Mode, there is only one area in Tears of the Kingdom that is truly lacking something and that is the house building. There is so much potential here, where you could achieve a lot with very little, that it almost hurts. In fact, the other box houses made by Hudson Construction already show how it could be done...

First of all, the room limit should be doubled from 15 to 30. And to make good use of this extension, there will be a variety of new rooms to pick from:

  • Window Room (2x1)
  • Small Window Room (1x1)
  • Balcony (2x1)
  • Roof (2x1)
  • Small Roof (1x1)
  • Large Roof (2x2)
  • Cedar Tree Patch (1x1)
  • Leaf Tree Patch (2x2)
  • Tree Nursery (2x1)
  • Monster Showcase (2x2)

The windows can be opened and closed via an interaction inside the room. The Tree Nursery lets you plant any fruits that come from the sky (Fire Fruits, Ice Fruits, Shock Fruits, Splash Fruits, Dazzlefruits) to grow their little trees and harvest more of them after a while. The Monster Showcase is a smaller version of the one found in Tarrey Town. Here you can order and place additional monster sculptures.

Also, the wooden exteriors of the rooms now come in four different colors: green (the default), red, blue, and yellow. You can switch the color when picking a room.


The map should keep track of any giant monsters that you've defeated, which are required for obtaining the Monster Medals. In addition, the locations where you've put up signs together with Addison should also be marked on your map. The Hero's Path should now let you select any point on it to start playback from there.

Scanning any Zelda-line amiibo now will directly give you its corresponding Paraglider fabric, given than you don't already have it. Afterwards it will return to its default behavior. This way you can get the exclusive items right away and then can chose to ignore the amiibo feature, if you want, because everything else can be obtained elsewhere in Tears of the Kingdom.

When standing outside of Shrines of Light that lead to a Rauru's Blessing it will show you an entrance that matches the blessing chambers.

Finally, the Master Sword durability glitch should be fixed, where it doesn't last as long as it should after using Fuse for the first time.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – What Will Return?

Link on a self-made hover raft during the tutorial

In an interview with GameInformer, which took place around the Game Awards last week, producer Eiji Aonuma and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi talked about various aspects of Tears of the Kingdom. One of the key takeaways here was that they consider the Ultrahand ability to be the big gimmick of the game:

Fujibayashi: When we're creating a title, say, Tears of the Kingdom, as you mentioned, the crux of the experience in playing Tears of the Kingdom is Ultrahand and the freedom to create. As you mentioned, that is what Tears of the Kingdom is. So every time we're making a Zelda title, we want to create something new. If, for example, there was any continuation of Tears of the Kingdom and we were to bring in, say, Ultrahand, then I think to us, it would feel like, "Well, we're just bringing in Tears of the Kingdom as is." What we want to do from a game creator's perspective is create something new. From that perspective, I don't think we'll be seeing Ultrahand in every Zelda game or anything in the future.

Aonuma: When you're talking about Ultrahand, that is a really core idea for Tears of the Kingdom and I think it represents our approach of kind of putting everything we could into this game.

This stings a little and actually takes me back to Majora's Mask, which was also a direct sequel and brought something absolutely groundbreaking on the table with the transformation masks. The ability to turn into a Goron or a Zora at will was simply so good that I couldn't imagine Zelda without it, going forward. But it never returned, at least not in the same capacity. We had the wolf transformation in Twilight Princess, which was so bad that the game had to force you into it, and there were the costumes in Tri Force Heroes, but they weren't on the same level. If you want to play as a Goron or a Zora these days, you have to buy Hyrule Warriors.

illustration of Link climbing in Breath of the Wild

And when you think about it, then Breath of the Wild doesn't really have a defining gimmick, the one big thing that sets this game apart from the entire rest of the series. The game has completely revolutionized Zelda from top to bottom, but what stood out was really the ability to freely climb everywhere, in combination with the Paraglider. But Tears of the Kingdom has adopted both of this and pretty much everything from its predecessor.

The Ultrahand ability really is just a natural evolution of Magnesis and going forward it's going to be dearly missed. Even if there will be another ability to move around objects, it will automatically feel inferior without the ability to attach them to each other. At the same time it's understandable that Nintendo doesn't want to bring back such a convoluted system, where you even need something like Autobuild on top to make it more convenient. Whatever they will do with the next 3D Zelda game, it has to be something where the players don't feel like they are missing something without the Ultrahand.

And it's probably not desirable to simply fall back into the gimmick pattern. Make Breath of the Wild with the power to build stuff. Make Breath of the Wild with the power to dig into the earth. We already had this after Ocarina of Time and they need to focus more on evolving the franchise, instead of creating ideas for a single game.

But this raises the question, what in Tears of the Kingdom could and should potentially make it into the next game? Is there something in the game as essential as the free climbing in Breath of the Wild? Or is it all just gimmicks that are never meant to return, like the Ultrahand?

sky diving towards the surface

The first thing that comes to mind is the sky diving. It's not a new thing, because it first was introduced in Skyward Sword and now has been refined for this game. But this mechanic became so good that its full potential never really gets explored in Tears of the Kingdom for some reason. For example, you can turn around in the air while aiming with your bow, which you may not even know, because at no point in the game this is even necessary. Nintendo has released entire patents for this, but in the game it's really just a thing you can do without any major reason to do it, because the aerial combat is very minimal.

The entire setting of the sky islands is quite frankly underutilized, again, and for the most part just feels like something that was thrown into the game to make you build flying vehicles. Maybe one day we will get a Zelda game that truly focuses on such a setting and brings you aerial mobility to the next level. Third time will be the charm.

Another gameplay mechanic is the summoning, which is a new sort of partner system. This is also nothing that never was done before in Zelda, where for example you had some sages at your side in The Wind Waker as well. The difference is that you can't control them yourself this time, but they will fight autonomously. We also had this with Wolf Link in Breath of the Wild already, but here it lets you summon multiple allies at once. However, it's a bit of a mess, because it gets too crowded very quickly and the sage interactions can get in the way.

They meant well with this idea, but it's probably not something that will return in this form. Instead, this could turn into something that will be explored in other ways, like being able to actually play as other characters, maybe even going back to the transformations from Majora's Mask somehow.

This leaves us with the main items, the Zonai abilities. Well, we've already talked about the Ultrahand, which has the Zonai Devices and the Autobuild as its extensions, where it looks to be a one-time deal and brings a level of complexity with it, which might never be repeated in a Zelda title. At least not for a while.

Fuse is on a similar page, where we most likely won't see the ability in its entirety again, which lets you freely combine all your weaponry with each other and also with objects from the environment. That was just needlessly crazy, but being able to use materials to augment your arrows and/or weapons is really something that needs to stay with the series, in whatever for that may be. In the very least, the ability to craft different types of arrows from your materials should return somehow.

Well, they should limit the total amount of materials for future Zelda games and get rid of all the redundancy, while they should also make them much easier to organize and browse through, but Tears of the Kingdom comes with the best utilization of materials in the series so far. And it would be a shame to lose this, because It makes so much sense on so many levels, where it really feels like a natural evolution for Zelda.

Now, both Ascend an Recall feel a bit underutilized in comparison to what the Ultrahand and Fuse are offering. In case of Ascend this isn't much of a surprise, because it was really just a debug feature that made it into the game (source). The world of Breath of the Wild wasn't created with this ability in mind, where it becomes more useful in that world's extensions, mainly the caves and the sky islands. But it never reaches its full potential, where it would be nice to see this ability return in a future Zelda game that comes with a world more cleverly designed around it. Ascend could become the next Hookshot.

It's quite obvious with the dungeons, which either try to prevent the usage of Ascend entirely or make it pointless in any case, because you're tied to a sage descendant, who can't follow you through ceilings. Imagine dungeons where entire rooms are sealed off from all sides and the only way in is from below...

And Recall is such a smart ability that you could probably create an entire Zelda game with it as the main gimmick. That's not going to happen, now that this item already was a thing, but you never know. After all, the shrinking in The Minish Cap originally came from an item in Four Swords. But it would need to evolve. In Tears of the Kingdom it primarily acts as another great companion for the Ultrahand, where you can move things around and then reverse their movements with Recall. It's also very useful for retrieving things, like gliders that have crash-landed. But otherwise it mainly turns fallen objects into elevators.

Of course this isn't entirely fair towards Recall and there is lots of creative utilization for this ability in the game, but it's clear how Tears of the Kingdom was first and foremost developed around the Ultrahand ability and Recall had to take the backseat here. At the same time it might not be so bad that they didn't turn Recall into a main gimmick, because this could have gotten really tiresome...

Well, the idea of a playable Zelda is something that gets discussed time and time again. If it ever happens, giving her the Recall ability would look like a natural fit, since this was her new power in this game.


Tears of the Kingdom has experimented a lot with its gameplay mechanics, maybe more than any other Zelda game before it, where it will be painful to lose some of the innovations with the next game. And while the Ultrahand may not return, there is really some good stuff here that definitely should return in future titles of the series, first and foremost the excellent usage of materials and the improved sky diving mechanics. But there is also a lot of potential left with Ascend and Recall, where it would be interesting to see them evolve even further.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Gloomy Christmas!

a Gloom Spawn figurine against a white background

As an early Christmas gift this year, I got an awesome Gloom Spawn figurine. As far as I know, it's something you can only find on Etsy, so it's not official merchandise, but it really should be. The material is very solid and glow-through, where it looks like the real deal with some lighting behind it. There is also some great attention to detail with this one, where for example you can spot the rings on some of the fingers.

Tears of the Kingdom Link amiibo holding his hand towards the many Gloom hands

It's about twice as large as your usual amiibo figurines, but this fits perfectly to place it right next to some, as you can see above. I really like this thing, it's also a fantastic gift for a Zelda fan to end this year of Tears of the Kingdom.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – New Artwork Wallpapers

Oh, I was hoping for this... After the Game Awards, Nintendo has published this new artwork for Tears of the Kingdom, which just looks absolutely amazing, perfectly capturing the spirit of the game. And Nintendo of Europe has now made it available as wallpapers in different sizes and formats on My Nintendo. It's entirely free, so just go and grab it.

Now, this will decorate my desktop for quite some time. I wouldn't even mind if they were to use this artwork for the cover of a potential remaster in the future. I thought it was a bit lazy when they didn't introduce some new artwork for Skyward Sword HD, but in this case it's simply too good.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

My Nintendo Switch Year 2023

Most played this year. Tears of the Kingdom: 374 hours, Breath of the Wild: 171 hours, Animal Crossing: 135 hours

Nintendo lets you view your year in review for the Nintendo Switch now. I've never shared this before, but thought that I should make the extent of my addiction public to create awareness. In all seriousness, there is no big surprise here, since I've been quite busy playing Zelda this year, as you can see. I'm also still regularly playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, mostly just a daily check for anything new, but this accumulates.

Monthly playtime

May is looking crazy, I wonder what happened there? Well, the combo of rushing both through Breath of the Wild again and starting Tears of the Kingdom was overly excessive. I won't ever do that again, but this was a special circumstance with a new Zelda coming out that gets unannounced connectivity to the previous title, which I had only completed on the previous system... Luckily, I had already started one month earlier with fixing that mistake, which is why I had so much activity there as well.

You can also observe how my motivation hit a low in late summer, though I've also been on vacation for about three weeks during this time, where I haven't played much. But I really was burnt out from playing the same Zelda world so much and I can still feel that. October then saw a big boost in play time again, but this was really a mix of things, including Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. But it's also where I have made the last larger steps in Tears of the Kingdom, finally wrapping up the story in November.

Anyway, here is the list of every game that I've played for more than ten hours on the Nintendo Switch in 2023, with links to the corresponding articles on this blog, in case you want to read more about the experience:

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (374 hours)
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (171 hours)
  3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (135 hours)
  4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (61 hours)
  5. Fire Emblem Engage (56 hours)
  6. Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon (47 hours)
  7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (44 hours)
  8. Super Mario Bros. Wonder (25 hours)
  9. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (16 hours)
  10. Metroid Prime Remastered (16 hours)
  11. Death's Door (12 hours)

I've started the year with replaying both Link's Awakening and Death's Door on the Nintendo Switch, two of my favorite Action Adventures that are just short and sweet. Then came Fire Emblem Engage, which I still I have to finish, but this is true for absolutely every Fire Emblem game in my collection. And I had made some good progress, before I got interrupted by Metroid Prime Remastered and Bayonetta Origins in March and early April, which were both very wholesome and a good excuse. The latter is even my sleeper hit of the year.

The Booster Course Pass is really what made me play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe so much throughout the entire year and I hope that this might continue in 2024, but probably not. If there's no more new content, it won't be able to compete with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in the multiplayer department for me, which I keep playing because I like the gameplay and I truly want to get better at the game, so it was mostly just practice and no novelty.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom Adventure Log, Entry 28

riding across Hyrule Field with the golden Epona

This won't be an actual update, but more of an appendix to the last one. With the Sea-Breeze Shield in my possession, I had everything I wanted for my weapons gallery, which meant that it was finally time to share my current "dream home" with you. If you don't care about this topic, then feel free to skip this post, because I haven't made any actual progress since yesterday.

And to be honest, I've completely rebuild the whole house last weekend. Before it was mostly flat, with all five stand rooms on the lower level, where it was quite the challenge to keep the entire house within the boundaries. So, I've decided to make it more vertical with a three-story home:

standing in front of my house with the Royal Guard uniform and Epona in the stable

It's ugly and probably looks like most other player-made houses out there, but that's what you get with the limitations. The top is open, revealing the two most important rooms when it comes to functionality – the bedroom and kitchen:

There are two ways of quickly accessing it. If you come from the Rasitakiwak Shrine above and you can just fly up there with Tulin's Gust:

standing with Tulin on the hill above the house

I take it back that I find Tulin's ability only mid-useful, by now it has probably become my most-used Sage's Vow, next to Mine-ru. Anyway, you may notice the weirdly placed upside-down outdoor staircase on the other side – this is other way up to the top of the house, using Ascend:

ascending through the wooden stairs

Works like a charm. Now, the rest of the rooms are mostly just stands. There are weapon stand rooms on each floor, but there is also one bow stand room and one shield stand room, where I mainly use the use as a gallery for rare items.

the Scimitar of the Seven, Boulder Break and Lightscale Trident from left to right
Sword of the Hero, Sea-Breeze Boomerang, White Sword, Sea-Breeze Shield, Hylian Shield, Daybreaker from left to right
Biggoron's Sword, Fierce Deity's Sword, Dusk Claymore from left to right
Dusk Bow, Great Eagle Bow, Demon King's Bow from left to right

At the top you can find the three Champion weapons. The middle floor has all the one-handed amiibo weapons and special shields. And the bottom floor showcases the two-handed amiibo blades, as well as the special bows. I'd love to also showcase all of the Demon King's weaponry, not just the bow, but you can only have three weapon stand rooms at the most. It's still three times as much as in Breath of the Wild, where this wouldn't have been possible at all.

middle floor, staircase side

I know that the two stairway rooms are a bit unnecessary, because you can always use Ascend or simply climb, but I wanted this to feel like an actual house as much as possible. I might experiment with a more open design in the future, however, because I'm not entirely happy yet. I would mainly like to make use of the gallery as well and maybe get a flower bed somewhere in there, but I've already hit the 15 room limit with my current setup.

In general, the Hudson Construction Dream Home is probably the one area in Tears of the Kingdom where I see the most potential for improvements. The room limit should be higher, at least 20, but ideally up to 30. There should be rooms with actual windows, which you can open and close from the inside via an interaction, as well as some patches with plants and trees. And you should be able to color the outside walls somehow, maybe by throwing certain materials at them, e.g. use tomatoes to paint your house red. The other Hudson houses look just so much more lively and colorful in comparison...

It would already make a huge difference if Nintendo were to implement a number of small changes like this, but sadly they are done with the game and therefore this won't be happening (maybe in a remaster in ten years or so). It's arguably not the most important thing, however, where this isn't Animal Crossing and I didn't really bother with this until now. But it feels very much like this feature was a half-hearted effort and that's a shame, because it is the biggest thing the game let's you do with the Ultrahand ability.


  • Side Adventures: 59/60
  • Side Quests: 122/139
  • Korok Seeds: 650/1000
  • Old Maps: 29/31
  • Recipes: 103/228
  • Map Completion: 86.39%

Remaining Medals:

  • Taluses: 76/87
  • Hinox: 63/69

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom Adventure Log, Entry 27

on a sky island with the Korok Mask

Since last time I was mainly busy searching through the skies and the Depths, where I was successful with hunting down all Flux Constructs and Froxes, but not with finding all of the Old Maps yet...

Searching the Skies (Once More)

My first goal was to find the Hero's Shield, or "Sea-Breeze Shield" how it's now called, which was the only amiibo item I hadn't obtained yet. As a reminder, I had decided to only use the amiibo for getting the fabrics and discover all the armor pieces and weapons on my own, where most of them are hidden in the Depths.

The Old Maps help you to locate them, so I thought that it would be a good idea to look for the ones I'm missing first, because one of them should lead me to the Sea-Breeze Shield. Hit two birds with one stone. So, I've basically just went back to most of the sky islands, now with the Sensor+ set to treasure chests to see what I've missed.

at the Zonaite Forge Island

I also put the Korok Mask on, but this was mostly pointless, because I realized that whenever there is a Korok on one of the smaller sky archipelagos, then its spot is marked with a tree. It's different for the bigger islands, however, and you never know, where I wanted to be thorough.

And my thoroughness went so far that I've actually went all over the rocks of the sky diving trials. There's nothing there, but I found it very interesting that these islands were fully designed with the Ascend ability in mind:

sky rock structures

It almost makes it seem like Nintendo had originally planned to make this part of the mini-game, where you have to climb up the sky islands first. It's even what I thought that these islands were there for, when I first saw them and learned about the Ascend ability. But there is no reason to ever do this, where it feels like something is missing here. Not sure if this would have been much fun, though, but it was fun to take a closer look.

on a glider above Eventide Island, gliding towards circles in the water with a distance of 339.5 meters

There is a new mini-game that I've found at Eventide, however, which probably doesn't appear until after you've completed the pirate quest there, which is why I didn't notice it the first time. The host is once more Mimo, who ran the Paraglider Course at the same spot in Breath of the Wild, but they've made him team up with Branli, the guy studying "Bird-Men" in Breath of the Wild, another mini-game character. That's a cool idea and they both are now obsessed with the Zonai Wings, where they want you to land one in a circle in the middle of the ocean.

It's fairly simple, but a bit off, where I've managed to hit the exact middle, but it still gave me some distance. Not sure what part of the wing they are looking at... But it's an easy 80 Rupees nevertheless.

Mindless Maps

Anyway, my search for the Old Maps didn't really yield many fruits. I've found a couple, but none of them led me to a new location. And this is a big problem with this collectible. There are 31 in total, which is the same amount as the number of Treasure Maps in Phantom Hourglass, fun fact. But unlike those, or the Treasure Charts in The Wind Waker, you can already find the treasures before obtaining the corresponding Old Maps.

It makes sense, of course, with a world of this size you don't necessarily want to stand in front of treasure chests that cannot be opened yet, like the Goddess Chests in Skyward Sword. That would be frustrating. But in my case it made obtaining the Old Maps completely pointless and unrewarding, because for the most part I already had found the corresponding treasure.

looking over the plethora of sky islands

The idea probably was that you explore the skies first, find the Old Maps, and then venture into the Depths to collect all these treasures. But the sky islands are so disconnected from the rest of the world that you really have to go out of your way to get to them. Meanwhile, for the Depths you only have to jump down a hole and then go, where it's easy to get caught into the exploration loop down there.

Finding all the Old Maps is not as straight-forward – I'm still missing two of them and grew a bit desperate. I even went back to the sky dungeons, where it's amazing to see the Stormwind Ark without the storm around it:

the Wind Temple right below the shining sun, lots of small ships flying around it

There were some missed treasure chests on the outskirts of the flying ships, but only with some Zonai devices in them... It's not what I was looking for, but to be fair, it would have surprised me to find something so far in the off.

looking at the horizon again, with a flying ship against the dawn and Mineru peeking from the side

Similarly, there are these tiny sky islands in the middle of nowhere, mostly above Hyrule Field, also with treasure chests on them. I've mentioned them before and they come with something like Large Zonai Charge or even only a Large Zonaite, where it seems like the game wants to troll you. But I suppose it would have been the even bigger troll if some unique reward was hidden on those..

Well, in any case, I was at a loss and I'm currently assuming that the last two Old Maps might be on fallen sky islands on the surface, where it won't be as easy to locate them. And in the end I found the Sea-Breeze Shield all on my own by noticing a grove on the map that I had yet to visit.

Sea-Breeze Shield - A shield said to have been the favorite of a hero who traveled the open seas. It was apparently a family heirloom, passed down through many generations.

So yeah, the Old Maps are useless... You can probably find all their treasures on your own just by studying the map of the Depths and looking for the typical places that come with treasure chests, like the mines or the groves.

Dowsing the Depths

Studying the map of the Depths is then what I did for the most part afterwards. I've decided to look for the last missing Flux Constructs and Froxes to score two more medals, where there weren't any Flux Constructs left in the sky, meaning that the rest must have been down in the Depths. And Froxes only appear in the Depths.

In theory, it should have been easy enough to spot the rest of them by looking at the terrain. Flux Constructs have a circle around them, because they are always on these round platforms. And Froxes are all found in a wide and mostly flat area, where you immediately know when you get close to one. Flux Constructs are also easy to spot from a distance thanks to their red search beams, which really stick out in the dark.

hover-biking through the Depths with a Flux Construct in the distance

Flux Construct III

So much for the theory, but in practice it took me multiple hours to find them all. The rings around the Flux Constructs on the map can be subtle and there are some cases where the flat Frox terrain may not be as obvious. For example, this is where I found the last one:

screenshot of the map north to the Gerudo area

This is an area at a cliff wall, so I've missed that a couple of times. And I only saw it in the end, because I had changed my thought process, where I started looking at which chasms had Froxes nearby, so maybe one of the chasms may lead me to the last Frox. And it did...

It was a long road until then and I've flown over most of the Depths to get there. At one point the fans and the steering stick on my hover bike even dissolved... I didn't know that they could do that! It makes sense, all Zonai devices dissolve eventually. Rockets do so very quickly, while gliders, balloons, and emitters disappear after a short while. I suppose, it's the same for everything, only that this took about half an hour.

I've also learned that you can use the new Dazzle Fruits (and probably any light projectile) to instantly kill stal enemies. That's another thing that I want in Breath of the Wild. They are the most annoying thing and this is so useful, where I really wish that I had found this out sooner... I should experiment more with all the different materials (and Zonai devices), instead of just sticking to the Breath of the Wild basics.

While flying through the Depths in desperation I also did pay more attention to some other things, mainly all the pristine weapons on those rock piles. I've learned that they won't be replaced until you take them from the shadow figures, where removing them with the Ultrahand is enough, as long as the shadow goes away. I first thought that whatever weapon you get is predetermined by the location, where I honestly would have preferred that, but it turned out that they can become better, but not until you have taken them once.

And you also need to shatter their corrupted counterparts for the intact weapons to appear. I couldn't find any pristine Forest Dweller Swords, for example, but that's only because the Breath of the Wild player in me was too hesitant to ever use them, because there was a limited amount in the previous game. But that's not the case any longer, you can always find at least one on top of the Great Deku Tree.

flying above a Zonaite mine with ice enemies

Then there are these small enemy mines without any treasure chests, which I've always ignored so far. It turned out that this was a mistake as well, because they often come with the elemental Lizalfos and I had a good chance of obtaining a tail from them, much better than on the surface. This might have been a coincidence and I was simply really lucky, but it would make sense if the chance of rare drops is higher in the Depths, since all the monsters are gloomed and therefore more dangerous... More risk, more reward.


More Medals

Anyway, I got two more medals for my boasting rights now, where I really like the design of the one for Flux Constructs:

Flux Construct Monster Medal

Frox Monster Medal

Now, there are two more left, Taluses and Hinox. Those can be found both in the Depths and on the surface, but also in caves, which makes them the most difficult to locate them all. They also come in the highest numbers, where the Taluses are the worst with 87 in total. Plus, they can be easy to miss when they are still in the ground, especially now that Stasis+ isn't a thing any longer.

Luckily, they are always active in the Depths, where the same goes for the Stalnox, because otherwise finding them all would be a nightmare. I'm even quite confident that I got all of the bosses in the Depths by now. Maybe there are one or two missing, I can't be entirely sure, but my focus will be on exploring the surface world of Hyrule from now on... When I'm looking for all the Koroks, I should come across all overworld bosses eventually.


  • Side Adventures: 59/60
  • Side Quests: 122/139
  • Korok Seeds: 650/1000
  • Old Maps: 29/31
  • Recipes: 103/228
  • Map Completion: 86.39%

Remaining Medals:

  • Taluses: 76/87
  • Hinox: 63/69
  • Flux Constructs: 35/35
  • Froxes: 40/40

Saturday, December 9, 2023

My Games of the Year 2018 - 2023

With the Game Awards out of the way and looking at back at a year that brought us the next huge Zelda experience, I thought that it was the perfect time to update my games of the year list from six years ago, back when Breath of the Wild blew everyone's mind and scored all the awards. What games have really made my years since then? See for yourself:

  • 2018: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • 2019: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
  • 2020: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
  • 2021: Metroid Dread
  • 2022: Death's Door
  • 2023: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

If you have followed this blog or just browse through the posts during the respective years, then there shouldn't be many surprises here. There's probably only one title that I need to explain, but let's briefly go through this list...

After Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U failed to captivate me in 2014, losing big time against Hyrule Warriors, my love for Nintendo's crossover fighting game was instantly reignited with the "Everyone is here!" trailer at E3 2018. And Super Smash Bros. Ultimate then kept me on my toes for the next three years with its character additions, where I still play the game (ir)regularly today.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was my first Zelda game and my first big love in video games, where it will always have a special place in my heart. And the remake from 2019 did so many things right that I consider it to be among the best what the Zelda series has to offer, right next to Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. It's also something that I can play again and again.

Curiously, while both my favorite games of 2018 and 2019 were Nintendo Switch titles, I didn't have my own Nintendo Switch in these years yet, because I was still waiting for that inevitable Zelda edition at the time, which didn't arrive until this year. The game that finally made me buy a Nintendo Switch despite this was Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity in late 2020, which came as a big surprise and combined some of my previous games of the year into one epic package, where the addicting action of Hyrule Warriors makes fantastic use of the world of Breath of the World.

2021 then marks the first Metroid title on my list. Since I hadn't discovered the series before 2008, the only real contenders so far have been Metroid: Other M and Metroid: Samus Returns, where the former wasn't exactly the best choice, even though I liked the game quite a bit, and the latter had no chance against Breath of the Wild in the same year. Metroid Dread on the other hand didn't have much competition and also became my favorite title in the series to play, where it's just a blast.

Well, it's not entirely true that Metroid Dread didn't have any competition, because there was also Death's Door. But I did play this at the very end of the year, where it really bleeds into 2022 for me and I've decided to make it that year's entry, because I didn't actually play any new games otherwise. I was mainly busy with Hollow Knight, which technically was my big game of the year 2022 when it comes to pure play time, but it's in a weird spot as a 2017/2018 title. While there is some leeway with this list, this is stretching things.

And Death's Door really was the game that has brought me into the realm of smaller indie titles to begin with, which then led me to explore Hollow Knight. I've also already played through the game three times in total by now, where for me it has a similar level of replayability to Link's Awakening, which is a high praise. I have a feeling that Death's Door really will stay with me and therefore deserves the spot on the list.

Another contender for 2022 was Quake Champions, which I have been playing a lot for the last three years and which went out of "early access" last year. But the content updates during 2022 weren't that great and I don't think I want any service game in this list, because all the other entries are something that I could still enjoy today to some degree. It's more something for the category of "best ongoing game".

Anyway, this brings us to this year, 2023, which was dominated by Tears of the Kingdom and should be smallest surprise here. At least there wasn't a new Metroid game under its shadow or anything similar, where luckily Hollow Knight: Silksong still escapes us and therefore could become a contender for one of the next years, maybe already in 2024.

It's also of note how the Zelda series is now clearly in a six-years-cycle with its 3D installments. My graph makes this quite visible with three main titles in one column. Skyward Sword came out in 2011, Breath of the Wild in 2017, and now Tears of the Kingdom in 2023. At this rate we shouldn't expect the next big Zelda before 2029...

Friday, December 8, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom @ The Game Awards 2023

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Baldur's Gate 3 won Game of the Year at the Game Awards 2023, leaving The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom in the dust. At least the new Zelda title won in the Best Action/Adventure category, but it's quite clear that it hasn't left the same impact as its predecessor in 2017, even though Nintendo tried hard to surpass Breath of the Wild on every level.

Well, Tears of the Kingdom is still my personal game of the year, if that counts for anything, where I've spent most of my free time in 2023 either playing or talking about this game. But even I can't deny that it doesn't have the same level of excitement that Breath of the Wild brought originally, mainly because it's set in the same world. It's also a bit too much of a good thing, making this the first Zelda game to have me lose motivation a couple of times.

The above artwork, which Nintendo has published for this occasion (on Twitter), is absolutely fire, however, and they could have used this as the boxart. It's so vibrant, perfectly captures this feel of an ancient civilization, and actually just makes me want to go back straight to the game, which I will do this weekend.

The artwork also tells me that Nintendo probably has expected more than just a single award. Either they have kept this under lock until now or maybe this was even made specifically to acknowledge the awards. Whatever may be the case, it shows that Nintendo took this quite seriously. It may not be on the same level as releasing a whole DLC pack during the event, which is what they did back in 2017 with The Champions' Ballad, but it's still quite the hype artwork.

Of course, getting a free update (with Master Mode) would have been even more awesome and could bring back many of the players who are already done with the game. But we already knew that this wasn't going to happen, because Nintendo kept saying so...

And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Nintendo should keep catering to this event. The Game Awards are a farce, where the awards themselves and their winners are sidelined for mobile game commercials and Hollywood actors. The less Nintendo invests into this, the better, where this year they didn't have any announcements for the show. And that's fine.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Hyrule Blog: Tears of the Kingdom Logo


Writing about Tears of the Kingdom the whole year while sporting a logo based on Breath of the Wild felt a bit wrong, so it was finally time to update it, which has also increased its size. I may improve it later on, but this blog has finally arrived in the next era of The Legend of Zelda.

In addition, I've updated the icon for Tears of the Kingdom, so it matches the one for Breath of the Wild. And I fixed the icon for A Link Between Worlds, while I was at it, because Link's hat from the Mario Kart icon was stuck on Hilda's staff and I hadn't notice until yesterday. (You can view all icons on the games page if you're on mobile.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

A Link Between World's 10th Anniversary


Another anniversary to behold: A Link Between Worlds is now ten years old! I haven't talked about this game in quite some time, so this a good excuse to change that. In the shadow of the overly successful Breath of the Wild, it's easy to forget how this Zelda title acts as a bridge between classic and modern Zelda.

It uses the world of A Link to the Past as its foundation, but tells its own story in this world, very similar to Tears of the Kingdom. And after the Zelda series had become increasingly more linear with games like The Minish Cap, Twilight Princess, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword, it dared to move in the opposite direction, letting the players go for the dungeons in many different orders. For this it also experimented with the idea of giving the player most main items at the beginning of the game, which became a staple for the series afterwards.

The wall merge ability was ingenious, on a similar level to Ascend in Tears of the Kingdom, where it's something that will be easily missed when going forward with the series. It made playing a top-down Zelda game a lot more three-dimensional and let you think around the corner, quite literally.

Going forward, I'd love to see this game remastered on Nintendo Switch, more so than Ocarina of Time. It could probably re-use assets from the Link's Awakening remake, which borrowed from A Link Between Worlds to begin with. The StreetPass stuff with the Shadow Links could be even transformed into an online feature, making this part of the game more accessible today.

And I also hope that a future Zelda game will eventually explore Lorule once more. It's a shame that we probably won't see characters like Ravio, Princess Hilda, and Yuga ever again, outside of Hyrule Warriors, because they felt more meaningful than your usual one-game characters. But to be fair, it was not the most serious addition to the lore, where there is a lot of goofiness involved, especially with the naming. Though, it's not as bad as its multiplayer sequel, Tri Force Heroes.

Overall, A Link Between Worlds is an enjoyable and fast-paced Zelda game, which did a great job at easing the fans into the open world experience that was to follow. And I'm personally quite excited to see what the future will bring for this game and the land of Lorule.