Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – DLC?

Link flying around on a patched together vehicle

Several gaming media sites have picked up on a remark from the official website for Tears of the Kingdom, where it states at the bottom of the page:

**Full version of game required to use DLC. Sold separately.

This currently gets treated like a semi-confirmation that the game will have DLC. However, if you look at what the double asterisk is pointing at, it's just a statement that buying the digital version of the game will score you My Nintendo Gold Points, which can be used to buy other games and DLC. It only says DLC in general, not that this game will get DLC. There is simply a misunderstanding here and nothing is confirmed yet.

But this still raises the question whether Tears of the Kingdom could or even should potentially get DLC or not. After all, the whole development of the game began with more DLC ideas for Breath of the Wild, which became so substantial that Aonuma decided to make a new game out of it. And after five years of development you would think that they put every possible idea that they could have had for Breath of the Wild into this game already...

On the other hand Nintendo certainly will want to milk this cow and judging from Fire Emblem Engage they are no stranger anymore to selling already finished contents as DLC. So, they could just cut out certain features from Tears of the Kingdom and sell them separately to make more money out of this behemoth of a game.

I personally hope that this won't be the case, of course, especially since I thought that the Expansion Pass for Breath of the Wild was absolutely mediocre and they should not repeat DLC in the same format. If they were to sell another Master Mode as DLC, to drop armor pieces randomly all over the world, or to withhold quality of life features again, I would just hate it. The Expansion Pass for Breath of the Wild was DLC done wrong, at least for the most part.

If they are going to sell DLC again, it needs to be something more substantial. Let's say that the map of Breath of the Wild was only expanded vertically, then finally breaking out of its horizontal borders would make for an excellent expansion. For example, they could let you put together a boat, which lets you explore an ocean realm in the same style as The Wind Waker. Needless to say that this also should be something that the Zelda team has only started working on.

And here lies another problem: they have spent over ten years working on Breath of the Wild and its sequel now. It's very likely that they want to move on to something new entirely. They even need to if they don't want the next Nintendo console to go without a major Zelda games for many years, like the Wii U did.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Warning, Artbook Leaked!

Disclaimer: this blog won't share any details about the leak!

Ooph, this is bad... Someone shared the entire artbook, which comes with the Collector's Edition of the game. What is Nintendo doing lately? Don't they have their production teams under control? This isn't like the Tears of the Kingdom Edition of the Switch, where it's nice to know about it, this is serious spoiler territory. And the game is still three months away...

I've caught glimpses of the leak and got spoiled about one particular thing, which luckily wasn't a big thing, but it still belongs in the "I wish I had discovered this while playing" category. So, I decided not look to at the whole leak. Some of those who have seen it all also stated dire warnings about spoilers, where it's probably best to listen to them. Others say that it's not so bad and doesn't give away anything about the story, but there is definitely stuff in there that we haven't see yet in terms of environments, equipment, enemies, and such.

In any case, this completely ruins any fun to be had about speculating. There is now a gigantic rift between those who have seen the artbook and those who decided to stay spoiler-free, where there is no real point in discussing things for the latter anymore, because they don't have the full picture and risk potentially hearing more than what they want to know.

Unless there is more official media, I guess I will try to avoid anything about Tears of the Kingdom from now on, until I have the game. This sucks, but it can't be helped. It's out there, damage is done, all you can do now is try to dodge any falling debris.

Tears of the Kingdom – The Beginning?

Link and Zelda on a bridge in an underground area

One of the biggest mysteries about Tears of the Kingdom is still how the game will begin. We have a rough idea, but we can't really be sure about any of it, because we haven't seen any actual gameplay. It's in stark contrast to Breath of the Wild, where Nintendo has showcased the entire beginning of the game in great detail prior to its release...

Our understanding so far was that the story begins with Link and Zelda spelunking, as seen in the original teaser. There they discover the mummified Ganondorf, who is sealed by some magic hand with a giant, green vortex above it. Things go downhill from there: Ganondorf awakens, Link's arm and the Master Sword get corrupted by the Malice, and Zelda falls into a dark abyss. Link gets a/the bracelet from the magic hand, however, which grants him new powers for his next adventure of saving Hyrule.

The question is now how these scenes will unfold in the game. One possibility would be that you start playing as Link (and maybe even Zelda) in this scenario, where you go to some underground exploration together. Zelda would have the new Sheikah Slate from the artworks, while Link would use the Master Sword and maybe other basic weaponry. This game's tutorial could be some underground dungeon with coop elements, which lets you run into Ganondorf at the end.

However, the problem with this idea is that you won't get your new abilities until you reach Ganondorf. There is no point in having an underground tutorial area if it doesn't introduce you to the game's basics the same way the Great Plateau did.

And the Great Plateau is simply fantastic. It teaches you everything you need to know without ever holding your hand too much. In fact, other than some short prompts, which are showing you the controls, and some hints from the old man, it's all learning by doing. It's essentially a small Zelda game for itself, where your goal is to obtain the four Spirit Orbs for the Paraglider. But how you approach things is completely up to yourself...

You also obtain all the game's main abilities there and learn how to utilize them effectively. It was a really strong beginning, so strong that it's often stated to be the best video game tutorial ever made, where Tears of the Kingdom will have big shoes to fill.

One way to do this is with a new area that teaches the new mechanics of the game in a similar, but slightly more epic fashion. And what if we've already seen this area multiple times by now? One of the new screenshots, where Link has nothing on him except for some pants, a pair of sandals, the bracelet, and the destroyed Master Sword, might give it away:

Link diving towards a group of sky islands with golden trees

Here we can see Link sky diving down towards the group of golden sky islands, with the huge shrine and the flying dragon. And I really liked a thought from Zeltik's video about the spiral stones that this could be this game's tutorial area. After the second teaser trailer from E3 2021, I first assumed that Link with his long hair and the ancient garb is a state that you will transition into. But what if it's the other way around? What if you start the game like that and you will slowly turn back into Champion Link?

In the new trailer we can see how the Champion's Tunic gets destroyed by the Malice as well, so Link will have to get a new one after the Ganondorf incident. Maybe the force behind the magic hand, which is speculated to be Hylia, brings Link into the skies to recover, where he is safe, and provides him with the ancient garbs. And you begin the game with waking up there, unaware of what has happened.

This is story-wise very similar to Breath of the Wild, of course, but it's likely that he didn't sleep for 100 years this time and the setting will be very fresh. It will also work great as a confined tutorial area, as long as he hasn't all the necessary tools yet. There is no need for some mysterious fog, which lets you disappear, because you will die for sure should you decide to jump down to Hyrule without a Paraglider this time.

Reaching all of the sky islands in this cluster would also act as a very effective tutorial. You will learn how to sky dive properly to land on islands below you. The bracelet's abilities, like the time reversal of objects or morphing through ceilings, then could act as keys to reach areas that are above you. And I wouldn't be surprised if the goal of this tutorial area were to reach the top of the temple structure... This would overall make for an excellent starting area, one that is worthy to be a successor to the Great Plateau.

Now, the story of what has happened before, down in the underground with Zelda and Ganondorf, can be told in memories again, just more condensed. Maybe there will be simply one big memory that unfolds once you reach the top of that tower... You will learn what has happened and what your mission will be, just like at the end of Great Plateau. From there you will descend into Hyrule to explore its undergrounds and to let more sky islands appear. It may even be that the tutorial area has the only existing sky islands at the beginning.

a view on various sky islands

In the new footage we can spot that the Lomei Labyrinths are still on the ground at one point, but will float later on (see the huge flying cube above), which suggests that you might make them go up for some reason. Maybe this is also a mechanic that will be taught during the tutorial, where the green vortexes could be related to this and might let you create new sky islands by activating them. Maybe it all starts with one of those vortexes, where the big one above the sealed Ganondorf is what creates the initial large set of sky islands.

We will see, but one thing is for sure: a game's beginning is very important and Breath of the Wild has taught us how impactful a strong beginning can be. Let's hope that Tears of the Kingdom will start its adventure on an equally high note, which will leave a lasting impression.

(PS: I started writing this before the artbook leak and decided to post it chronologically before it, just to have a clean cut there, since this may be the last post speculating about Tears of the Kingdom, unless I decide to study the leak after all.)

Friday, February 17, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom's Coverage – Cause for Concern or Confidence?

Link standing on the edge of a sky island, looking at different islands in the distance

In less than three months we will be playing Tears of the Kingdom and we still haven't seen a single second of live gameplay. We haven't even gotten a screenshot with the game's HUD visible. It's all just been snippets from the trailer montages so far, where the one from the last Nintendo Direct probably created more questions than it answered. We don't really know much about the story, other than that Ganondorf is back, where we are left to speculate by Nintendo.

This certainly has raised some concern among the Zelda community, where for now this just looks like a glorified expansion for Breath of the Wild and Nintendo hasn't given us anything substantial. But is it really because they don't have anything substantial to show or because they don't want to?

Let's be fair, all Nintendo needs to give in order to market this game are the following three lines of information:

  • This is the sequel to Breath of the Wild.
  • It is called "Tears of the Kingdom".
  • It will launch on May 12th, 2023.

That's all it needs. Breath of the Wild was so massively successful that its sequel will sell plenty on reputation alone. The players will give it the benefit of the doubt and the big fans are going to buy and play it anyway. But Breath of the Wild is still selling as we speak, where it recently has broken the 30 million mark, numbers that past Zelda titles couldn't even dream of. It's an evergreen and if the sequel is any good, it will also do extraordinarily well. It may not sell as much as Breath of the Wild has, given the nature of a sequel coming out at the end of a console's life span, but it will also likely leave the rest of the series behind.

Nintendo can use this to their advantage to limit their marketing for this game to a need-to-know basis, so that the players will discover most of it themselves when they finally play the game, where all the puzzle pieces from the trailers are then coming together. Instead of Nintendo explaining it to us in a Nintendo Direct, we will experience it first hand for ourselves. And the rest will be achieved by word of mouth. "Did you see that?"

It is one thing when Nintendo just simply shows us something in advance, it is another to discover it for yourself. Imagine the impact of finding your first big dungeon, something that you may not even expect this game to have at this point.

Link standing behind Zelda in one of the memories from Breath of the Wild

A great sense of discovery is what made Breath of the Wild so special and if you think about it, Nintendo has mostly stuck to the Great Plateau when showcasing the game prior to its launch and left everything else for the players to discover. We didn't really know anything about the Champions or what the Divine Beasts were, before we played the game, for example, we only got glimpses of them in the final trailer. We hadn't even seen Zelda's face before that trailer!

Speaking of, I'm sure Nintendo will release one last trailer for Tears of the Kingdom to generate hype, something that will be as epic as that infamous Nintendo Switch Presentation Trailer, which certainly took part in the console's early success. This may even be where they show us some of the things that the fans desperately want to see, like larger dungeons or weapon crafting.

But hype is a double edged sword and you have to use it responsibly to not create false expectations. I still remember how the last trailer for Breath of the Wild created all these possibilities in my head, where I assumed that the Champions or their descendants could become playable, like the partners in The Wind Waker, which didn't happen until three years later with Age of Calamity. And I already have to be careful with this again...

It could be that Tears of the Kingdom has fantastic dungeons this time. It could be that you will be able to play as Zelda in some form. It could be that the patented "morph through ceiling" ability is an absolute game changer, which will alter your perception of every three dimensional space... But as long as Nintendo hasn't shown us any of these things in action, we shouldn't expect them to happen.

Still, one might hope that Nintendo is going into this game with the utmost confidence that they have something truly special once more, which will have been worth the wait and all the secrecy.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Tower Defense?

Link riding in a selfmade car

Sweep over Hyrule! Leave no survivors!

Ganondorf made his mission very clear in the latest trailer and meanwhile Link is building cars out of the mechanical dragon heads. Today I had a thought of how this could come together: maybe you will have some sort of Tower Defense missions within the game, where you have to prevent Ganondorf's servants from attacking a village or something.

If these dragon heads that we saw in the trailers can work autonomously, then this could be something for consideration. You could put them at the entrance to a village for example and they will automatically fry some Bokoblins if they try to enter. Maybe you will be even building your own golems, which will attack enemies on their own. Of course this is not the most original idea, where for example Minecraft has done something similar with its raids, but like with Breath of the Wild it's the combination of different ideas and mechanic that will count in the end.

This could even go hand in hand with the house building feature, which was originally planned for Breath of the Wild, but didn't make the cut. Let's say you can build your own Tarrey Towns now all over Hyrule, then there must be something to keep them safe from enemies.

It will be an ongoing battle of Link trying to repopulate Hyrule and Ganondorf trying to destroy everything. Of course I'm just daydreaming here and there are currently no indications that we're going to build villages and defend them. But it's in the realm of possibilities and after five years of development I'm sure there will be lots of crazy stuff in the game.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – New Dragon(s) and Light Element?

Link sky diving over the large sacred temple in the sky, with a dragon flying in the distance

With the trailer from last year we could already catch a glimpse at a dragon flying around the huge temple structure in the sky, but now we actually have a full shot of it (see above). It doesn't seem to be any of the three dragons that we know from Breath of the Wild: Farosh, Naydra, and Dinraal. Instead it appears to be quite pale with golden crystals around it.

Since the three dragons from the previous game were based on the three Goddesses by names, it's likely that this one represents Hylia in some form. So, it could be called "Hydra", errrh... I'm just kidding, but it's likely something like that, where its name is to start with "Hy".

It probably also unleashes some glowing light attacks, where it makes sense that light could also be a new weapon element for the game. There were fire, ice, and electric weapons in Breath of the Wild, where each of these elements had specific purposes and each of them got used by one of the dragons for defense. (There is also the wind element, but this was essentially used by all dragons and only few weapons, so it's a in a more unique position.)

With light weapons you probably would get a new tool against the Malice, which makes a lot of sense. Technically, this was even already a thing with the Bow of Light in Breath of the Wild, but this was limited to the end of the game. It would be nice to get actual Light Arrows back as ammunition, for example.

And in the delay announcement from March 2022 we also could see a glowing light, where Link draws the corroded Master Sword. It's likely that the Master Sword will be infused with light at the end of the game, so it doesn't get trashed by Malice yet again. That it was destroyed by that is all but confirmed:

screen from the newest trailer with Mummydorf unleashing Malice

We can see in this shot how the Master Sword is covered by the Malice, which is likely what corrupted Link's arm and corroded the Master Sword. And a goal of the game could be to not only repair the Master Sword, but also to make it completely immune against the stronger Malice from Ganondorf with the power of light. And the place to do this could be the huge temple guarded by Hypah the dragon representing Hylia.

It's also possible that there will be a fifth Dragon, an evil one representing Demise, who is part of the underworld and sprays Malice all around it. Or maybe Ganondorf is already doing enough of that, but it would be interesting to battle one of these dragons for real.

Tears of the Kingdom – The Pin Symbols?

close up of the pins from the Collector's Edition, you can only fully see the leftmost one with a cryptic eye symbol

Let's get back to the Collector's Edition of Tears of the Kingdom for a moment, where the most curious item in there is probably the one I find the least useful / appealing: the pin box. The symbols on those pins really caught my attention, where they can also be found on the back of the Joy-Cons from the leaked Nintendo Switch OLED:

back of the Joy-Cons with golden square symbols, looking identical to the pins

Other than the fact that this does further confirm the leak, it highlights their importance. Those probably aren't just random Zonai runes, they must have some significance to the overall game. What these symbols so far all have in common is that there is an eye in them. They have different shapes and orientations, but it's there. Well, we don't really see it for the second pin in the video, because it's obstructed by the box, but it's likely that the upper part has another eye as well.

It's possible that the two symbols on the Joy-Cons are the other two pins that we haven't seen. But this would be quite the coincidence and it's also possible that there are lot more of these symbols in the game and they've picked just a handful of them for their merchandise.

Still, the fact that there are exactly four pins makes me believe that these might be this game's main runes, the replacements for Bombs, Magnesis, Stasis, and Cryonis. But what speaks against this theory is that they are too cryptic. With the Sheikah Slate you got very clear symbols of what does what. Bombs were bombs, Magnesis got represented by a magnet, and so on. With these symbols here I possibly couldn't tell what ability they could represent, even though we know at least two of the new rune abilities.

It also would raise the question why they put only two of these symbols on the back of the Joy-Cons and not all four of them. That would be like putting Stasis and Cryonis on some pedestal, but not the rest. (Well, the only rune that truly belongs on a pedestal is the Master Cycle Zero anyway.)

It's also possible that they are related to this game's main dungeons, where there could be four of them, or at least four with a common purpose. You start with four of these magic vials on your belt and maybe you collect four more from dungeons, where each dungeon is represented by one of these runes. Again, this theory has the same problem, where two of the symbols received more attention than the others...

If I have missed anything else that has these symbols, let me know, because I'm quite curious about them.

Tears of the Kingdom – Hinox Chase

a Hinox chasing Link through a cave tunnel

If you have the feeling that the Hinox chase scene from the recent trailer looks weirdly familiar, then you might be onto something. It does recreate a similar scene from the GDC 2005 trailer for Twilight Princess (which still didn't have a title at the time), where a Gohma is chasing you through an underground tunnel. Of course this could be just a coincidence, but the camera perspective and the whole setting make it seem like a nod to what was shown to us 18 years ago:

Link running from a long-legged Gohma through a cave tunnel

A lot of things from the GDC trailer didn't make it into the final game, but this is one of the more memorable scenes. And Nintendo never forgets their ideas. Even if they don't make it into the next game, they might bring it back in a future installment... And with a Zelda game that has a huge underground system it was the perfect opportunity to do so.

To be fair, Spirit Tracks also had something very similar going on with the Rocktites, which are chasing your through the train tunnels, where this was a giant one-eyed monster as well. So, it wouldn't be the first time that this idea reappears, but this is certainly more closer now to the Gohma scene.

Metroid Prime Remastered: Done Since July 2021?

Tallon Overworld

There had been various rumors that Nintendo is basically just sitting on remastered versions of the Metroid Prime Trilogy games, waiting for the right time to release them, and there may be some truth to all of it. If you look at the USK page, the German age rating agency, you can see that Metroid Prime Remastered was already rated on July 27th, 2021. 2021!

This is ridiculous. They have been waiting 18 months to release this. Part of the reason may be that they didn't want any conflicts with Metroid Dread, which got rated about one month earlier, where releasing both of these games at the same time might have taken the attention away from each other. But they still could have put this out last year, when there wasn't much to do for Action Adventure fans on the Nintendo Switch, besides Tunic...

Maybe they have been waiting to make a Trilogy release after all, but then something made them change their minds. But it probably won't take too long for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Remastered to appear on the market, since this game might be already finished as well.

Via ntower

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Underworld Glimpse

Lizalfos and Bokoblins mining inside a huge cave full of large fungi and tentacle trees and malice and stuff

Yes, we are still talking about the new trailer, where it finally gave another look at the underground world of Tears of the Kingdom. And it already looks a lot spookier than the caves that Zelda and Link explored in the original trailer, where this is giving me Don't Starve vibes.

There is Malice everywhere, there are huge fungi trees, other weird trees, some ruins, but also a giant tentacle root containing a glowing, organic mass. And there is some overgrown structure right next to it, which looks a bit like a mast from the distance.

Then there is this group of glowing lights, which seems very reminiscent of the spirits in Twilight Princess, but it could also be a ghost enemy, maybe even a new form of the Poe. It might also be a part of puzzle, where ultimately there will be something to replace the Korok Seeds in the sequel. We just don't know what that will be. Maybe more Korok Seeds... or maybe something ghostly.

Anyway, this shot does reassure that the "underground expansion" likely won't just be a simple set of caves. We might be dealing with a huge underworld under the actual Hyrule here, where it's all connected, which is a thought that I had since the first teaser in 2019. But so far we have seen little to back this up.

This does look super ugly, though. Maybe it's because of the fungi, where there are these spore particles all over the place, but what we've seen originally looked much prettier, with Luminous Stones everywhere. Of course it's likely that the underworld will have different biomes and of course there is the corruption going on with the Malice, so not everything will look the same while spelunking. That would be boring anyway.

Tears of the Kingdom – Do It Yourself!

Please, lend him your power!

Magnesis, Bombs, Stasis, Cryonis – these were your four main items in Breath of the Wild, which came as runes on your Sheikah Slate, together with a camera, the amiibo app, and the Master Cycle Zero. In the sequel this will be replaced by a golden gauntlet with magic powers, which Link apparently gets from the mysterious hand being, which has been sealing away Ganondorf for ages. And overall it seems to work exactly like the Sheikah Slate, with different abilities that you can select and then use via the L button.

The abilities / runes are slightly different, however. Instead of Stasis we have now something that can reverse the time for moving objects or objects that have moved. The ability to morph through ceilings could potentially be a rune as well, but we don't know that yet... And there is no signs of bombs or anything similar so far.

Link uses a new tractor beam ability with a green glow to retrieve a wheel from the bog on the Great Plateau

But in the latest trailer we are introduced to a second ability, which on first glance works like Magnesis, meaning that you can move objects around with it. We are even introduced to it at one of the spots where you first utilize Magnesis in Breath of the Wild: the bog on the Great Plateau.

The difference is that this seemingly works on any object now, not just metallic ones, which will be a big upgrade. Potentially you may even upgrade it, so it lets you move enemies around, like with the wizard in Trine (which is a good comparison to this ability). But there is more to it: the green energy can also be used to put things together, which lets you create entire automata. The wheel you can pick out of the bog then can be used to build a vehicle for example:

big car on Hyrule Field

This is crazy and you probably already heard the Banjo & Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts comparisons before, so let's skip right past them and talk about the potential of all this. First of all, the dragon heads on the vehicle all but confirm that all this stuff is truly related to the Zonai, which is a theory that we've been dealing with before and became already more prominent after the trailer in September (see here). The golem enemies in the sky also have this green energy holding their parts together, where this is clearly all related.

Though, in this case it looks more like glue. For this car Link has been collecting a variety of parts and: two of the big wheels, two smaller wheels, two headlights, a handlebar, and presumably the energy core. But it's all held together by wooden planks and the green magic glue. The flying contraptions look very much to be improvised in the same fashion:

hot air balloon

platform with four propellers

It seems like Nintendo was inspired by the methods used by players to get high up into the air in Breath of the Wild, like an overabundance of Octo Balloons, or building a flying machine with two minecarts and Magnesis. It's exactly this type of creativity that went into these creations, only that this is something that you're now meant to do and not some sort of glitch or oversight.

I love the thought that Nintendo was truly studying what people have been doing with their game for fun or to gain speed, and then decided, "let's make this a feature!" And it would have been really annoying to use lots and lots of Octo Balloons to cheese your way onto one of the sky islands...

Anyway, while the usage for the flying machines are very much clear, the car is a different story. It almost looks like it's meant to transport larger objects from A to B and the huge vessel of green energy could even be the cargo, not the energy source, since you don't seem to need it for the flying machine. But before you get PTSD from Spirit Tracks, let's look at one of the concepts that they ditched for Breath of the Wild: the Tarrey Town house building.

This could all go hand in hand. You could use the vehicle to transport the Tarrey Town house containers to wherever you want to create a new settlement. Maybe you will even use your new assembly skills to put the houses together the way you want them, but there needs to be a way to fixate things, because otherwise you would just be able to move houses with people living inside.

Ganon wants to eradicate all of Hyrule? Well, you're going to fight it with cheap housing! Or maybe you won't, so let's not get ahead ourselves here. In any case, the car probably is meant to be more than just an inconvenient replacement for the Master Cycle Zero. It really looks like it's meant for some heavy transport.

Link using some sort of hammer cannon shooting a glowing orb at a Talus

And vehicles may not be the only thing that Link is putting together in good, old DIY fashion. There is the possibility that you will be collecting all the Zonai stuff to upgrade your weapons as well, or to craft new ones entirely. If you look at the bottom of the cannon in the screenshot above, you can see a similar symbol as on the wheels and propellers from the improvised vehicles. It's also the same symbol as on the Eyegore sky golem:

green golem creature

enlarged symbol

It looks a bit like a brush and maybe this is an indicator of things that can be used for assembly. So far I've assumed that this golem is meant to be an enemy, but maybe this is something that you can create yourself as an ally. But we've already seen in the new trailer that you will be facing another golem monster in a battle. Alternatively, it's something that you fight for parts and the piece in the middle can be used for some other device.

If this system also included materials, then this would be a good way of continuing and combining the durability and material systems from Breath of the Wild, which is a common suggestion. I'm personally not a fan of weapon repairing, especially if you have to do it elsewhere, but crafting new stuff out of the collected materials could be a fun idea and complement what we already had in the previous game quite nicely.

It may even be the gameplay reason why the monsters from Breath of the Wild have grown all those weird headpieces now. These might theoretically be materials for crafting new weapons, which also explains why you couldn't do it before in Breath of the Wild.

Tears of the Kingdom – Sheikah Tech and Slate?

Link surrounded by Guardian tentacles

So far we hadn't seen any kind of Sheikah technology in the sequel to Breath of the Wild. Link and Zelda seemingly were not carrying the Sheikah Slate while spelunking into the depths of Hyrule, and Link receives his new magic gauntlet gadget to replace it. Meanwhile, in the shots of the overworld we couldn't see any Divine Beasts, Sheikah Shrines, Towers, Guardians, or the pillars that stored the Guardians... it was all gone.

This created quite a mystery, since everything was still in place when we left off at the end of Breath of the Wild, save for a malfunctioning Vah Ruta. We could only speculate, where a simple explanation is that it all wasn't needed any longer with the threat of Calamity Ganon gone. So, it all simply dissolved, having fulfilled their original purpose, much like the Sheikah monks do.

However, the Sheikah, Zelda, and everyone else should be well aware that the threat of Calamity Ganon could return in the future, so maybe they decided to discard of all the technology, considering how it can be taken over by Ganon's Malice and be turned against Hyrule... Alternatively, some unknown event could have led to the disappearance of the Sheikah constructions.

We don't know what happened, but the new trailer now has turned things on the head by revealing that Sheikah technology might be still a thing in the sequel after all. We can see Link standing on a platform made out of Sheikah technology and surrounded by Guardian tentacles:

circle of Guardian tentacles

One of the tentacles hands him some kind of spool with a green glow at the end, indicating that it has something to do with the new magic system. The rest of the room seems to be inside a Sheikah house and it all looks hastily cobbled together, where it's likely that this was all done by Robbie. According to Zeltik's analysis the letters on the platform spell "transport", where this could be an elevator that leads underground. Maybe Robbie is also using Sheikah technology to dig into the earth.

We also see new towers in the trailer, which can have either a red or blue glow, where these might be new Sheikah Towers, but we can't say for sure. It may be something else entirely and they certainly don't look the same, but like the "elevator" made out of Guardian parts it may be something improvised by the Sheikah, basically as a replacement for the old towers that have disappeared.

What's Sheikah technology for sure is what Zelda holds in her hand in her official artwork:

artwork of Zelda with a torch in her right hand and a Sheikah Slate in her left

That's a Sheikah Slate, but not the Sheikah Slate from Breath of the Wild. This one looks a lot more like a Nintendo Switch, which is certainly a nod to how the original Sheikah Slate was going to represent the Wii U GamePad. But what happened to the it? Does Link still have it in the beginning of the game? Or was it also lost, together with the Divine Beasts, Shrines, and so on? In any case, either Zelda has found a second Sheikah Slate, or someone made her one, most likely Purah.

It's of note how the back of device looks more sophisticated, almost like the Sheikah symbol is a device of its own attached to the slate. This could be a new function, where in the concept arts for Sheikah Slate you can find the idea of a mechanical dragonfly, which was going to work like the Beetle in Skyward Sword.

Ultimately, they decided against including it, just like the Hookshot, but the changed environments with the sky and underground, which will certainly be much more difficult to traverse, it could have made the development team reconsider these items...

But why introduce a new Sheikah Slate, with potentially new abilities, if we're not going to use it? Well, it could indicate that Zelda is playable in the game after all and the Sheikah Slate will be her main tool, much like in Age of Calamity, while Link gets the new magic hand. For the early game, where they are spelunking, I could easily see how there is a coop mechanic, similar to Spirit Tracks, which lets you swap between Link, who uses weapons, and Zelda, who uses the Sheikah Slate.

But let's not get our hopes up just yet, because it could also be just a mere design choice and the slate gets destroyed by Malice within the game's prologue, much like the Master Sword, while Zelda just disappears into the darkness for the rest of the game.

In any case, it's interesting that we will be dealing with Sheikah technology to some capacity in the sequel. In the very least we will get an explanation as to what happened to most of it.

Tears of the Kingdom – Towers, Shrines, and Vortexes?

We knew since the first teaser trailer in 2019 that the sequel to Breath of the Wild is going to re-use the same Hyrule and that the Sheikah technology structures will have disappeared. The old towers are gone, there are no visible shrines, and the Divine Beasts have disappeared, which is all still true for the latest trailer. And this makes sense, of course, because you wouldn't want to do the same things again in the sequel.

There are a couple of new structures in the sequel, however, where most of them could already be spotted briefly in the previous trailer (so many trailers!), but they are featured much more prominently now. The towers have these beams of light around them, which adds a high amount of visibility to them in the dark. They have red glowing spots on them, but these can also turn blue, which feels very similar to the Sheikah Towers from the previous game.

Link riding on Epona towards Hyrule Castle. You can spot a blue tower in the distance.

But they look different, they are in different locations, and they may have an entirely different purpose. It would still be boring to simply do the same thing in different locations, where these might be access points to the sky. The same could also be true for the vortexes of green magic that we keep seeing all over Hyrule. There is one in Hateno for example:

Hateno in the dark, all sparkly

They look like the vortex from the hand that kept Mummydorf down in the original trailer and this is all certainly related. But what are their purpose? They might work like the red tornadoes in The Minish Cap, which shoot you up. Another idea is that they will bring you down into the underworld, but you could just have a cave entrance for that...

They could potentially also just be teleportation points. With the Sheikah Shrines and Towers gone, you need some sort of replacement for this level of convenience. We are talking about over 150 warp points here, which will be missing in the sequel.

Then there are these huge glowing "paintings" on the ground, where we can even see Link riding over one in the newest trailer. We have no clue what these are for, but it certainly looks impressive in the dark. It's likely some sort of puzzle, where you have to make out constellations from above. It would be kind of the inverse of stargazing, so to speak.

Link using a rotation device on one of the sky islands

Overall it feels like the sky islands will essentially become what the Sheikah Shrines were in Breath of the Wild. So, they will be about testing Link and they will serve as mini-dungeons, some of them maybe even as actual dungeons, because there are some really huge islands to be seen.

The main difference is that this is entirely seamless, so you don't go into a shrine, have a loading screen, and then be in some completely disconnected underground facility. They want the entire game to feel like Hyrule Castle in Breath of the Wild, where one moment you are on Hyrule Field and the next you enter a dungeon. And this would make the game even more impressive.

Tears of the Kingdom – Epona!

Link riding on Epona over Hyrule Field

One thing that immediately caught my attention in the new trailer is that Link is riding on Epona... "Why is that so special?" you might ask. Well, in Breath of the Wild Epona wasn't really a thing, at least not officially. You could only get her via amiibo. The game would recognize her as the "horse of legend", but there is no real story to her. It's just an extra to please the fans, much like the Fierce Deity armor set.

Of course this could still be the case, but then it would be weird that Nintendo chose to use her in the official trailer. This clearly shows that you're going to ride on Epona and it would be a bit of false advertising if you needed amiibo for that. So, maybe this time she will be part of the actual game.

After all, Tears of the Kingdom is bringing back entities like Ganondorf or the ReDeads, where both also have originated in Ocarina of Time. And it's possible that Epona will this time be a more integral part of the game, just like in some of the classic Zelda titles. I don't think we even have seen any wild horses yet, where it could be that they simply got scared off by all the new monsters and the threat of the Blood Moon. The stables still do exist, however... But maybe horses are harder to come by this time around, but you will be able to get Epona as your trusty steed.

Well, they also need to make sure that Epona, and horses in general, will still have value. In Breath of the Wild they became fully obsolete with the Master Cycle Zero and this game will introduce entirely new vehicles, while you also could just dive down from the skies to most places... So, there needs to be a good reason why you'd want to ride around on a horse, but it still might be more practical than assembling your own car somewhere.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – New Old Enemies

Red Bokoblins with horns spawning from Malice

A clear focus of the recent trailer for Tears of the Kingdom was introducing us to some new enemy designs, as well as new enemies altogether. Ganondorf spreads his minions all over Hyrule, which may take you back to the NES era for several reasons. (He has the same voice actor as the King of Hyrule, by the way, which had me a bit confused the first time I saw the the trailer.)

We already knew that the monsters from Breath of the Wild are going to be modified to some capacity, where most of it seems to be different types of horns and headpieces. There may even be a very specific reason why this game is doing this and not just re-use the old enemies, but we'll get to this in a later post. It looks a bit silly at times, though, and like a lazy effort not to just rehash the same enemies again.

What's not lazy is adding new enemies and we get to see a couple of those. The first one is this new flying creature, which was briefly seen in the previous trailer, but now we get a better look at it:

flying create looking like some yellow lizard in the dark during a thunder storm above a Bokoblin camp

Link fighting the new flying enemy with a bow and spherical homing arrow

We can also see it carrying a Bokoblin later in the trailer, which is very reminiscent of the Kargarok carrying Moblins in The Wind Waker. And this may as well be a Kargarok, but I personally believe that this is supposed to be a Vire from the original The Legend of Zelda and the GameBoy games, because it looks much more demonic. It could also be a completely new monster.

Speaking of the original The Legend of Zelda, any fan of that game will have immediately recognize the new boss enemy that is standing on the Bridge of Hylia:

The three-headed dragon with fiery heads is certainly meant to be a Gleeok, where this will be its first appearance in a 3D Zelda title, much like the Lynels before in Breath of the Wild. They were certainly well received and it will be interesting to see more of the classic enemies and bosses re-imagined, like Aquamentus, Lanmola, or Digdogger. And we may see some of the enemies again, who already transitioned into 3D before, just with new designs, like Gohma, the Dodongos, Manhandla, Darknuts, or Like Likes.

One enemy that will seemingly return are the scary ReDeads from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. You can briefly see one standing up during one of the Blood Moon sequences:


The ReDead has often been seen as an obvious omission in Breath of the Wild, simply because Hyrule is in ruins, which throws you back to the destroyed Hyrule Castle Town in Ocarina of Time. Poes are also a good candidate here.

The enemy variety of Breath of the Wild has often been criticized, where similar to Skyward Sword it banks on different variants of the same few monsters over and over again. There were simply Bokoblins, Lizalfos, Moblins, Keese, and Chuchus everywhere and Tears of the Kingdom has a lot of room for improvement, which hopefully will be fulfilled.

a big blue Bokoblin surrounded by four blue Bokoblins

We will still see a lot of Bokoblins, that's for sure, but there is also the new "Boss Bokoblins", which can command a group of Bokoblins, maybe even spawn new ones. This feels more similar to what Age of Calamity has partially done, where it introduced bigger and badder versions of the enemies in Breath of the Wild, like the Giant Chuchus.

boxy golem in the sky

We also get to see a new golem-like enemy in the sky, made out of boxes. It is reminiscent of Eox, the boss of Mutoh's Temple in Phantom Hourglass, but still quite different. It seems more on the lines of Gohdan, where this is an apparatus of the gods to test Link's strength and resolve, because it is using the same green magic energy as Link. The same was also true for the "Eyegores" that we saw in the second teaser trailer and overall these feel like the freshest additions so far.

It's likely that the sky will feature a completely different set of enemies, where the style contrasts the rest of the game, similar to the Sheikah Shrines in Breath of the Wild. And these golems will most likely be to this game what the Guardians were to Breath of the Wild, only that they are not corrupted by Ganon's Malice.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – amiibo Announced

amiibo x Tears of the Kingdom

Other than the Collector's Edition, Tears of the Kingdom will get an amiibo of Link at launch, where there must be some sort of clause at Nintendo stating that all major versions of Link have to be turned into one. Well, this figure based upon the following artwork:

Link reaching his hand out with green magic energy around it

There also exists a big statue of it, which was seen a Nintendo Live 2022 (take a look here). But I personally would have preferred if they went with this artwork instead:

manly ancient Link with longer hair, reaching for the Master Sword on his back

The one we will be getting still looks too similar to the ones from Breath of the Wild, with the blue Champion tunic, where they should have gone for something more unique if it truly has to be the fourteenth amiibo of Link. And I'm not exaggerating here, there have been thirteen different amiibo of Link so far.

What to do with all these many amiibo? Well, this tweet from Nintendo of Europe gives a good insight, so check it out. Generally, it sounds like amiibo will be used exactly the same way as in Breath of the Wild, so you can scan them to obtain weapons and materials. The German version also mentions that there will be pieces of equipment, so it probably will give unique armor again as well.

But there is something new, because you can now customize your Paraglider with fabrics. And different amiibo will unlock different fabrics for the glider. For example, the new one gives you something that looks like the Champion's Tunic:

blue Champion cloth glider

The Rider Link amiibo from Breath of the Wild gives you a fabric based on the Hylian Hood:

Hylian Hood Paraglider

The Zelda & Loftwing amiibo from Skyward Sword HD will make your Paraglider look like the Sailcloth from the game, which is quite clever:

Sailcloth Paraglider

And finally, Young Link from Majora's Mask makes it look like Majora's Mask. Let's hope that the Majora's Mask armor item will return as well, for a nice combo:

Majora's Mask Paraglider with glowing eyes in the dark

I wonder if there will be more or if  this is all of them, but I suppose that Nintendo was just giving examples and there also might be a Windfish Paraglider and the like. It also makes you wonder whether the customization of the Paraglider is truly limited to amiibo or not. Maybe you can also colorize it at the Kochi Dye Shop in Hateno Village this time?

Tears of the Kingdom – Collector's Edition Announced

Before we're getting into the new trailer, let's first talk about the additional announcements around Tears of the Kingdom. As you can expect with this sort of release, the game will receive a limited Collector's Edition – take a look here. It will come with the following five items:

  • Gamecard (with clean cover)
  • Steelbook
  • Hardcover artbook
  • ICONART Steel Poster
  • Pin set with four pins

It's exactly the type of Limited Edition that I personally like to have, where we were getting similar ones in the recent years, for games like Metroid Dread, Fire Emblem Engage, and so on. So, I certainly won't make an exception here, even though the price point is higher this time with around 130€ (apparently), where Nintendo seemingly wants to make the most out of Tears of the Kingdom after its five years of development. The game itself will be at 70€, which is also higher than the normal price for a Nintendo Switch game, but it's the same price as for Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

I personally don't mind the price, but I will agree with anyone who says that these items are probably not worth the extra 60€. Even though the artbook looks like it's in premium quality, it could turn out to be redundant, should they decide to release a follow-up to the Creating a Champion book in the furutee. And they could have skipped those pins, if you ask me, but I have never found a real use for them... Maybe there are people who really love those?

Now, all I have to do is to get one of these Collector's Editions, which is easier said than done these days. I hope that they will make an overabundance of them, because with Fire Emblem Engage earlier this year I was just insanely lucky to look at the My Nintendo Store at the right time...

Strangely enough, the Tears of the Kingdom Edition of the Nintendo Switch OLED has yet to appear. If this turns out to be a fake after all, then hats off to the guy or gal who made it, because it had me 100% convinced that this is real. Of course Nintendo could still announce it at a later point, where maybe they didn't want to overwhelm the customers with too many nice / expensive things at once. Like the Splatoon 3 Edition, it probably won't come with the game anyway.

the pin box next to the leaked Joy-Con

Update: The tear symbol on the pin box is exactly the same one as on the Joy-Cons and to my knowledge we didn't see this symbol before the leak. Also, the symbols on the back of the Joy-Cons seem very similar to those pins. This makes it very much authentic and Nintendo simply might announce it later.

Booster Course Pass: Birdo is Back!

lots of Birdos in different colors

Yesterday's Nintendo Direct gave us a first look at the fourth wave of the Booster Course Pass for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, where it will come with a new course based on Yoshi's Island. But that's not all, we will also be getting Birdo as a new playable character, where there are even the different colors available from Mario Kart Tour. And according to a press release from Nintendo the future waves will also come with additional classic characters.

This is fantastic, where the Booster Course Pass is getting better and better with each wave. The visuals have improved, the selection of tracks became more interesting, the different driving modes are finally utilized, and now we're also getting characters back? It feels like Nintendo was going into this thing with the minimal effort to see how it goes, but now that it became a success they are going the extra mile here. It's technically not just a "Booster COURSE Pass" any longer, but who cares? Mario Kart Tour is a goldmine for additional content and they should use all the good stuff there.

Birdo has been one of these weird omissions in Mario Kart 8 (Deluxe), together with Diddy Kong. So, it's great to have her back, though I personally haven't used Birdo all that much, but there is more from where she was coming from...

We haven't seen the altered character select screen yet, at least not that I know, but I'm guessing that they will add either another row or column to it, which makes for six or seven additional characters. This isn't covered with only one character per wave, where this brings me back to an idea that I have shared on this blog multiple times before: a second Booster Course Pass a Donkey Kong Pack!

the Kong gang in Mario Kart Tour on Rambi Riders

GCN DK Mountain already exists in Mario Kart Tour, and with it they could bring back Diddy Kong, Funky Kong, and Dixie Kong in the same breath. Technically, Dixie Kong has only been in Mario Kart Tour so far, but so have been the majority of courses in the Booster Course Pass. They could even add some more kart parts, like the Rambi Rider in this case.

We've also already seen the new Piranha Plant Cove in Mario Kart Tour, which could go hand in hand with bringing back Petey Piranha. And Pauline is in Mario Kart Tour, who would be a fantastic addition, but here it would have made sense to add her alongside New York Minute in wave 2...

Other characters in Mario Kart Tour include Nabbit, Kamek, King Bomb-Omb, Charging Chuck, the Hammer Bros., and Monty Mole. My favorite out of these would probably be Nabbit, while Kamek would really deserve it after being scrapped twice, but there is enough content here to really make a second Booster Course Pass and add one character per wave. None of these are terribly exciting, however, where I personally would settle for Pauline, Petey Piranha, and the three other Kongs at the end.

Also, Mario Kart Tour has now a Battle Mode with a couple of Battle Courses, like GCN Cookie Land and DS Twilight House. Maybe the final two waves will add some of those to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as well?