Friday, March 31, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Breath of the Wild Connectivity?

Link on a horse on the field near Fort Hateno

This is just speculation at this point, but since Tears of the Kingdom will take place in the same game world as Breath of the Wild, some people might be wondering whether some of your achievements from the previous title will carry over or not...

Someone even suggested to me that Hestu's Gift should stay with you. To be fair, he is in the middle of collecting the last Korok Seeds and was probably looking for a better motivation, but his suggestion is missing the whole point of the golden poop in the first place. The only reward from Breath of the Wild that I could see to making it into Tears of the Kingdom is the Hero of the Wild set... But that's still a bit much and Tears of the Kingdom will most likely offer a similar reward to be earned.

Other suggestions usually revolve around Link's house or Tarrey Town, but this raises a variety of problems. So, what would happen if you don't have the house and Tarrey Town quests completed in Breath of the Wild? Will you still be able to do them in Tears of the Kingdom, then? Or are you locked out of any further progression? The latter would be quite problematic, of course, and the easiest solution would be if Tears of the Kingdom simply started off where Tarrey Town could potentially end up in Breath of the Wild, whether the player has done it before or not.

Your house raises additional concerns. If your progress carries over, then players will expect to still find their weapons that they have left on the walls, but these might be weapons that aren't even supposed to show up in the new game, like anything made out of Sheikah technology. This could be a fun little "cheat", sure, but it really would be a one-time deal and not very satisfying in the end. I personally even believe that Link's house will get destroyed in the early game somehow to just be done with it, but this will eventually lead to new house building quests.

In general, I'm against this idea of this sort of connectivity for multiple reasons. First of all, Tears of the Kingdom should really become its own game and stand on its own. People shouldn't feel the need to play Breath of the Wild before this, just because there might be some gimmicks connecting the two games.

I'm also biased here, because I'm one of those few people who haven't played Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch, but on the Wii U. This is where my 100% savegames are parked and it's unlikely that Nintendo will enable any sort of connectivity between the two consoles that at this point and I won't have the time to complete the game on the Nintendo Switch once more before Tears of the Kingdom comes out. That's only six weeks from now on!

Even with the Switch version of Breath of the Wild such a connectivity wouldn't be trivial. You have multiple saved games in two different modes, which are basically just "snapshots". You basically would have to select one of these save files and continue from there, but any additional progress you might make in Breath of the Wild will then be lost..

If there's anything of the sorts, it will most likely be very simple, similar to Age of Calamity. There they have checked if Breath of the Wild has a save file and then rewarded you with the Training Sword. Maybe you can find the Old Shirt and the Well-Worn Trousers on the Great Plateau or something like that... But I doubt that it will be anything substantial.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Min Min Construct

artwork of a Construct with three eyes and a dragon head in the right hand and a bow in the left

Nintendo of Japan has just released this artwork of a Construct on Twitter, where this seems very reminiscent of another Nintendo character, or game even:

artwork of Min Min from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

It is wielding two weapons at the same time, a "Zonai Bow" in the left hand and a dragon head in the right hand, which is spitting fire. We've seen the same type of object attached on one of Link's shields in the 2021 teaser trailer. The Construct itself also seems more advanced from the simple soldiers that we saw yesterday, where this one has three eyes instead of just one. Maybe the dual wield is one of its core features.

Generally, it's also interesting that the Constructs can use Fuse to create weapons of their own. It's not clear whether they can do this live or if they simply come pre-equipped, but naturally it would be interesting if your enemies also would make good use of whatever they can find in the environment. That's even something the Bokoblins, Lizalfos, and Moblins were already capable of...

But it also makes you wonder what other abilities the Constructs might have. Master Kohga was able to use Magnesis, for example, where there could be Constructs with the Ultrahand ability to throw objects at you. Some Constructs might even be able to use Ascend and appear out of nowhere from the ground. This would be scary...

Tears of the Kingdom – House Building Teased

House building was an idea that didn't make the cut for Breath of the Wild, but could be something that will happen with Tears of the Kingdom. After the defeat of Calamity Ganon, Hyrule should be in a phase of rebuilding after all. And there is now further evidence that this may be the case:

We can see what are construction sites for houses near the Dueling Peaks Stable in the gameplay footage. Of course this could be just that: a house that is currently in construction. It makes sense that this is happening and this changes up the environment a bit. And of course the planks are there to be used with your new Ultrahand ability to put things together, like the car from the previous trailer.

But this could go a step further. Maybe Link will be able to put together houses himself? Maybe throughout the game you will even be able to build houses wherever you want...

It would be a nice touch to finally leave your mark on Hyrule. Of course there was a bit of building that could be done in previous Zelda games, like the Oracle houses in The Minish Cap or Tarrey Town in Breath of the Wild. But this was all predetermined. Here the player could leave his own creations in the world of Hyrule. It doesn't need to become Animal Crossing, but naturally this would be a big selling point over Breath of the Wild if you could customize the Hyrule from that game in various ways.

Tears of the Kingdom – Korok Spotted

In the beginning of the gameplay presentation Aonuma is riding towards the Dueling Peaks Stable and you can actually spot a variety of details of what has changed in the world of Breath of the Wild. It's nothing that will blow you out of your socks, but it's still interesting.

And one of these things include a Korok. But before you get worried about collecting 1800 Korok Seeds this time, it's not like the Koroks from Breath of the Wild. It's more like a traveler:

screenshot of said Korok

He has a massive backpack and says that he needs to reach his friend. And it makes sense that the roles of the Koroks will be different in Tears of the Kingdom. If there's a collectible akin to the Korok Seeds, it most likely will be something else.

This looks more like some side quest, where you have to help the Korok with getting from A to B. Since you are able to make vehicles, this could be similar to the transport missions in Spirit Tracks, just without the annoying ratings. Use your Ultrahand to put something together and then place the Korok on it to get him where he wants to be.

Of course this still could be rewarded with Korok Seeds, but I doubt that this will have the same extend as in Breath of the Wild.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Zonai Confirmed

Soldier Construct Horn, Zonai Charge

Every observant Zelda fan will have probably noticed the above detail from the first gameplay footage: the Constructs drop a "Zonai Charge" when defeated, which confirms that are from a Zonai origin, the mysterious magic tribe who has left all the ruins over Hyrule. There has been a ton of speculation about this, also on this blog, even though I usually don't dive into story speculation as much, because I'm personally more interested in gameplay and content... But this has been a huge topic since last year's trailer with the title logo and all that.

And this finally all confirms it. If you had any doubts left, then they should be no more. Tears of the Kingdom will deal with the Zonai, whether you like it or not, and all abilities that we've seen today are very likely of Zonai origin as well. And this will make a lot of fans very happy, because there has been a lot of interest in this big mystery from Breath of the Wild, where I can't wait to see how it all will be connected.

This feels a bit surreal, not going to lie, because Nintendo usually loves to leave such mysteries simply mysteries. But then again, we also got the official timeline at some point, so they do listen to what the fans may want to know... From time to time.

And Breath of the Wild has been very good at expanding the existing lore and world of Hyrule, instead of coming up with completely new things. Well, the Zonai were new, of course, but they weren't the focus, unlike the Minish or the Twili in their respective games for example. But now that the Zonai were established as a thing in the universe of Zelda, it makes it more interesting that Tears of the Kingdom is expanding upon that, instead of simply coming up with another ancient tribe of magic wielders that never have been mentioned in any Zelda game ever before... It's quite smart, really.

Tears of the Kingdom – Pro Controller Announced

Pro Controller where the right handle is white and there are black and golden markings on the front

This looks like the Pro Controller for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Monster Hunter Rise had a love child. Coincidentally, these are the two Pro Controllers that I already own, so I like this one as well and will get it, of course. I love the Pro Controller and have been hoping for a Zelda edition for a while now. The colors of the handles are a bit disappointing, where the left one could have been golden, but it's probably supposed to represent Link's state and it still looks good.

That being said, Nintendo is going all-in with this game... There's everything! We will get:

Plus, there is also an official Nintendo Switch carrying case:

carrying case backside


Sadly, the carrying case releases the same date as the Pro Controller and the game: on May 12th. This should have been available right on April 28th, together with the Nintendo Switch OLED, since this also comes bundled with a screen protector. And Nintendo's own screen protectors are really good, but you can't buy them separately, which is super stupid.

Anyway, you can spend a month's wage on the game alone. Well, I earn a little bit more than that, but this is still getting crazy. Nintendo really wants to milk as much out of this game as possible.

I don't even think that there has been any Nintendo Switch title that got all of these things combined. There were some games with a number of them, but not all of this, e.g. Splatoon 3 last year got very close, but it didn't have a Collector's Edition for the game.

The only thing that Tears of the Kingdom hasn't gotten (yet) is an Expansion Pass. And that can still happen...

Tears of the Kingdom – Nintendo Switch OLED Edition Revealed

Switch as seen in the leak, golden Joy-Cons, white golden dock

There it is! We knew about this since December from a leak, but it's nice to finally have it show up for real. There is even a video of it. It will become available in a month already, on April 28th, two weeks before the release of Breath of the Wild, which gives you enough time to set up your new system in advance.

This also seems to be common practice by Nintendo by now, where they don't bundle the system with the games any longer to keep the price "low". But this is fine, because I usually just ended up with a download code that I don't really need, because I prefer to buy the physical version or the Collector's Edition of the game.

the Joy-Cons with white bars and golden cords

I think this looks very nice, the promotional material makes it appear more golden than what we saw in the leak. So, I'm much more eager to get this now, where I'm going to sell my current grey Switch to replace it with this baby.

Still, the timing couldn't be worse. They have waited six years for this and you can probably count the number of Zelda fans who don't have a Nintendo Switch yet on your hand. They want to double-dip, it's as simple as that.  And even though I don't expect the next Nintendo console before 2025, we will still most likely see another Nintendo Switch revision later this year, where in that case the Nintendo Switch OLED will be old news already...

Tears of the Kingdom – Ability Presentation

Link looking at his corrupted hand

Here it is. The first actual "live" gameplay from Tears of the Kingdom, not some trailer footage, but actual gameplay with sounds, a visible HUD, and all that. And this roughly one and a half months before the release of the game...

Anyway, when they've announced this yesterday I was primarily hoping to see the new abilities in action and I got exactly what I wanted here – a showcase of Link's four new main "items", which replace the Sheikah Slate Runes from Breath of the Wild. Nothing more and nothing less. This was done quite delicately, so there are no real spoilers about the story, any potential dungeons, and so on.

We still don't even know how the game starts, but we certainly got some early game footage, as indicated by the low number of hearts and the very weak equipment. Most of the shown gameplay could even have taken place in what's potentially the game's tutorial area – a group of larger sky islands.

But they've shown us the most important thing: Link's set of tools, which are going to be the foundation of the new gameplay mechanics in Tears of the Kingdom. Like in Breath of the Wild, you will most likely get the four new abilities during the game's tutorial and then will be able to make use of them throughout the entire game as you see fit. The only major difference will be the abilities at hand (pun intended), so let's go through them one by one:


We've seen plenty of this time reversal ability in the trailers already, so we only got a short demonstration here with a falling rock, which can be used as an elevator with this new ability. It's essentially the replacement for Stasis, except that this "simply" rewinds the movement of an object in time. We don't know yet whether you also will be able to use this on other entities, like enemies, but it's a possibility.

Overall this is the only shown ability which falls a bit behind what we had in Breath of the Wild with Stasis. But I'm sure this will lead to some intricate puzzles nonetheless. It also appears to be different from the other introduced abilities, where it's the only one with a golden glow and a written symbol, which looks similar to the pins from the Collector's Edition... (Update: it is in fact the symbol on the right Joy-Con.)


It was funny how Aonuma immediately crushed the dreams of everyone who didn't want the breakable weapons to return, only to make up for it with one of the most interesting mechanics we've seen in a Zelda so far.

The Fuse ability is probably the biggest surprise of today, even though we've seen glimpses of this in the trailers already and there has been some speculation about potential weapon crafting based on those. But this is very sophisticated, because it lets you merge potentially all melee weapons and shields with each other, but also with materials and environmental objects.

Link with a gigantic pitchfork

So, for example, you can take a rock and put it on your shield to make it more sturdy and potentially also make the shield bash more dangerous. Or you can put a stick and a pitchfork together to create a very long weapon. There will be a massive amount of combinations, which really makes you think about what may be possible.

For example, you could potentially put Red Chuchu Jelly on a sword to make it a fire sword. The elemental Sheikah weapons seem to be gone and instead you're now using your materials to get the same effect. So, White Chuchu Jelly is now used to make ice weapons and ice arrows, potentially even ice shields (which is something that I wanted for Breath of the Wild), though like with the Puffshroom the use might be limited to just one in this case.

Note how in bow mode there is no arrow selection via the D-pad any longer, instead you still have access to your shield and also the materials in addition. That's most certainly because there won't be the different arrow types from before, but all the combinations with materials instead. So, Ice Arrows are now made from White Chuchu Jelly, as already mentioned. The homing arrows get made out of Keese Eyeballs. With that in mind, I believe that bombs will return as a classic item, since you don't have the Sheikah Slate Rune(s) any longer and this way they can be used to create Bomb Arrows.

Fuse is pretty much the answer to both the weapon durability system and the extensive material collection from Breath of the Wild. You can instantly "repair" your almost broken weapons by fusing them with something else, while none of your crazy constructs will last forever, so every weapon you find will still have value, even more so than before. If you don't have enough inventory space to carry around that fancy sword you just found, you can just fuse it with your current sword to make them extra deadly combined...

And this gives all of the materials that you are collecting finally a much needed usage. It's not that the materials in Breath of the Wild were completely useless by any means, but a lot of it was just for messing around, like the aforementioned Chuchu Jelly. And some of it was just used for cooking, selling, or upgrading your armor. But all of this stuff just got so much more valuable now. I will probably write a follow-up post on this, simply because of how amazing this ability is. There are so many ideas that come to mind here... It feels like half of the development time for this game probably went into covering all potential combinations.


No, we're not talking about the Nintendo toy from back in the day, though this is a nice reference for sure... The Ultrahand feels a bit similar to Fuse in spirit, where it lets you combine things. But this is more about putting objects together with a magic glue, while at the same time you can move objects around in the same fashion as with Magnesis, only that this works with any object.

It's how you will be able to make the different vehicles by attaching propellers and wheels to planks or whatever else you might find. The mechanical objects can then be activated by hitting any part of the glued together construct, where there is a limit for how long they can go, indicated via a battery. But this battery recharges automatically by turning the system off.

This felt a bit underwhelming after the demonstration of Fuse, but it's certainly a good follow-up to the crazy things that people were pulling off with Magnesis in Breath of the Wild. We don't know yet whether this will work with weapons and materials or not after putting them on the ground. If it does, then the potential will be off the charts, especially when used in combination with Fuse. Like, you want a car that has rotating fire swords attached to its wheels? Then you can have a car that has rotating fire swords attached to its wheels! Hopefully this will be the case and also make it easier to use items like the Octo Balloons.


There have been patents for this ability flying around for a while and I've been excited about this about this ever since, because this is a game changer on the same level as Fuse, even though Aonuma was probably underselling its value in the demonstration. It's so good to finally have the confirmation that this made it into the game as an actual ability, which can be used everywhere applicable, and not just some as some fancy effect for portals.

Link sticking out of the ground in a snow landscape

Ascend will completely change of how you will think about 3D spaces in games. Every ceiling will potentially become a way forward. It will let you return to the surface from underground caves and also move between floors in a dungeon. There are so many hidden secrets that could be established with this, like rooms that are otherwise completely inaccessible. I'm very excited to re-explore Hyrule with this new way of traversal alone.


This may be a translation error, because there is no clear plural in Japanese, but Aonuma said at the end that "there are even more new abilities", despite only showing Ascend afterwards. Plus, the way how Recall gets depicted differently indicates that there might be more abilities like that...

Naturally, there will probably be some additional goodies, like an amiibo rune. Maybe even something to take photos again, though this wouldn't be much fun for the second time and also not fit the new hand magic as well. Well, Link could a frame with his fingers, which would certainly be funny, but there is no device to store pictures on. Zelda has that. And something like Hyrule Compendium would be a nightmare with the fused weapons.

Anyway, I still hope that there might be more in terms of the core abilities. Not necessarily something that you get right at the beginning of the game, but some additional abilities that you will get from dungeons. There could be four main dungeons in total again, just like in Breath of the Wild, where each of them gives you a new rune for even more craziness. These abilities would need to be something that's helpful, but necessarily required.

One of those would without a doubt be the Hookshot, which was scrapped during the development of Breath of the Wild, but had its fans at Nintendo. Since the focus won't be on the climbing any longer, where the new Ascend ability is already proof of this, there is no good reason not to have a Hookshot, which lets you attach to any climbable surface. And this would be a good item that you don't necessarily need from the beginning of the game, but will be awesome to unlock later on.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Gameplay Presentation Tomorrow

Eiji Aonuma at a desk, with the Tears of the Kingdom logo right next to him and a pair of white Joy-Cons in a grip

See the announcement on Twitter, in less than 24 hours we'll see the first actual gameplay of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, presented by producer Eiji Aonuma. It will be roughly ten minutes long.

I was already preparing a post about how they might continue to present the game from now on, but this saves me the trouble. The Super Mario Bros. Movie and the final DLC for Fire Emblem Engage are going public next week, where afterwards Nintendo will certainly want to put everyone's attention on Tears of the Kingdom, but it looks like they will start a bit sooner than that...

There were many expectations about a "Zelda Direct" coming in April, where this would have been a first...  The announced gameplay presentation is more like something that I would I expect from Aonuma, who likes to keep things simple and usually sticks to the big Nintendo Directs to make announcements. I guess, it will be a bit similar to the first gameplay footage for Breath of the Wild, only that this footage here is from the final game and not some early beta. Of course you could also classify this as a "Direct", but it's technically not called one.

In any case, I think this is when they will officially reveal the "Tears of the Kingdom Edition" of the Nintendo Switch OLED, unless this thing got cancelled because of the leak, which would be hilarious. But Nintendo has been waiting for something, where both the Collector's Edition and the amiibo have yet to appear for pre-order in the My Nintendo stores...

Afterwards I think that we will get one final trailer. Whether this will happen tomorrow directly at the end of the presentation or during the next weeks doesn't really matter, but I don't think they will leave things with the trailer from the last Nintendo Direct, because it was a bit underwhelming. You want the epicness of the  "Nintendo Switch Presentation Trailer" from early 2017.

As for the gameplay itself, I'm primarily hoping that Aonuma will show us the new "rune" abilities, like morphing through ceilings, or putting things together. I'm mainly interested in these two, because the time reversal has already been showed quite effectively in the trailers, though I wouldn't mind to see that in action as well. Some dungeon gameplay would also be really nice, but I'm not expecting more than a rough overview of what will be fundamentally different from Breath of the Wild.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Got the My Nintendo Game Boy Posters

digital art for three posters: Super Mario Land 2, Link's Awakening and Metroid II

The European My Nintendo Store is currently offering a set of three posters with motives from them Game Boy era. You get the covers of Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins and Metroid II - Return of Samus, as well as a well known artwork from Link's Awakening. You can get all three of them for 600 Platinum Points, so it's basically for free.

I've ordered them and the quality is really good. They have a nice size of 70cm x 50cm and are printed on coated artpaper. They get rolled up for shipping, but in a wide circle, so they won't roll too much on their own again after unpacking and it's easy to get them straight. Unlike those folded things that they put into Limited Editions and so on, this is something that you really want to put on your wall. And so I did:

That's my childhood right there! Don't worry, the irony that I have purchased picture frames for some free posters doesn't escape me, but it was worth it to me. It looks really awesome and I'm in love with this collection. This is easily my second favorite My Nintendo reward so far, right after the Card Case 8. (Nothing will ever beat the Card Case 8, it's just too convenient.)

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Got Bayonetta Origins

photo of the game case and steelbook

Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon... They couldn't have possibly come up with a longer title, where I probably would have just called this "Cereza". Anyway, I mainly got this with the steelbook for my collection, where the Bayonetta series is one of those cases where I tend to start the games, but never finish them.

But maybe this will be different this time, because it's more of a proper Action Adventure, instead of the usual Hack 'n' Slash cost. It feels a lot like a Zelda game on many ends, especially when a little piano piece gets played while opening a treasure chest. I also really like the double character mechanic, where you control Cereza with the left stick and shoulder buttons, while Chesire is handled with the right stick and shoulder buttons. It sounds complicated at first, but it works, because they've kept both characters very simple. It's actually quite fun, at least from what I've played so far, where I'm still early in the game.

This probably wouldn't work as well for a Zelda game, where you control Link and Zelda at once, even though I love the idea. But since you only can use the shoulder buttons and not the face buttons, you're quite limited in your actions.

The art style is also lovely, but the beginning of the game is too slow with lots of exposition. It takes over an hour to get to the point where you can play as Cheshire... Anyway, here's to another distraction until Tears of the Kingdom arrives.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Link's Awakening: Prototype Map

Tears of the Kingdom will return to the Hyrule from Breath of the Wild, but this won't be the first time that Nintendo has re-used the world from another Zelda game. In fact, they loved the Hyrule from A Link to the Past so much that they've used it in two more games: there was a modified version of it in the Satellaview exclusive spin-off, Ancient Stone Tablets, and it was revisited once more in A Link Between Worlds. But before all this they've actually worked on bringing this Hyrule to the Game Boy.

This game would eventually turn into what we know as Link's Awakening, but you can still see today some of the similarities. Kanalet Castle sits relatively close to the map's center, where it originally was intended to become Hyrule Castle. Mabe Village is found to the west, where Kakariko would have been, and the Mysterious Woods are right above the village, just like the Lost Woods. Martha's Bay is close to where Lake Hylia would have been, and the Ancient Ruins are to the east, like the Eastern Palace, with lots of Armos statues around. You have the mountains to the north with a tower on top, with waterfalls from there leading into the island's rivers and the castle moat. And this list goes on... Of course Koholint became its own thing, but this doesn't change the fact that it was born out of the Hyrule from A Link to the Past.

Now, you may recall the Gigaleak from 2020, where a lot of data from Nintendo got made public, which included documentation, source files, and other things, mainly from their older titles. Apparently, part of these files included the early prototype map of Link's Awakening, from the time where it was still meant to be A Link to the Past on the Game Boy. And thanks to MrCheeze on Twitter we are now able to see how it looks like when put together:


Behold! This is fun to study and puts many things into an interesting perspective. Like, the Seashell Mansion was effectively Link's house at some point. Or the small pond between the Fortune Teller and the graveyard eventually became Manbo's Pond.

The Lost Woods were entirely shut off, except for the entrances to the southwest, and feel a lot more like a maze here. Curiously, one of the screens, the one with the six bushes at the bottom, looks very close to what ended up in the final game. This seems to be an exception, however, together with the entrance to the Eastern Palace, which looks almost exactly like the entrance to the Ancient Ruins.

It's also interesting how the small forest to the west of Hyrule Castle wasn't connected to it in this version. Instead, there was a dungeon entrance there, which looks very similar to the Tail Cave, only with lion statues. The sprite for this statue can even still be found in the final version of the game, it's simply unused (see TCRF). They've ultimately put a dungeon into this forest area with Ancient Stone Tablets, so it's interesting to see that they've considered this as a spot for a new dungeon before.

And another dungeon entrance can be found at the swamp in the south with the floodgate ruins. It looks a lot like the one for the Key Cavern, where this is where the eyes originally came from. It always felt like the dungeon was intended to be swamp-based – with its location, the "Slime Key" and all that –, but what remained are the eyeball enemies.

The Mario statues there are certainly something else, though. Coincidentally, there was a Mario statue in a Japanese manga for A Link to the Past, which came in a guide from 1992. Melora from History of Hyrule (one of my favorite Zelda sites) has been recently scanning this manga, where she has been pointing this out today (see here):

manga panel of Link with a lantern in a dark grassy area with a pedestal next to him, which has a stone head of Mario on it

This is quite awesome, whether this was a coincidence or something deliberate. It could be that the guys working on the manga saw the prototype at some point. Or it could be that the development team was simply inspired by the manga  and decided to put the Mario statues into the new version of A Link to the Past. This statue may even be where all the Super Mario content in Link's Awakening started...

We probably will never know, but it's nice to finally have a more detailed insight into what they have originally been working on! Too bad that the leak didn't include anything from the Oracle games, because it would have been awesome to see such a prototype map for Oracle of Seasons, which had a very similar development history, only that there they were trying to remake the NES The Legend of Zelda. But of course this wasn't done at Nintendo, but at Capcom.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Booster Course Pass: Vol. 2?

Koopa Troopa at Koopa Troopa Beach

Well, I'm a broken record about this, I know... but with the latest wave it became more and more apparent that they might simply continue this til the end. Mario Kart Tour has been going for three and a half years now, since September 2019, where they have produced more than enough content to fill the Booster Course Pass, but there is still so much left. This is mainly thanks to the fact that the majority of additions are from Tour with all the city tours or completely new courses. In fact, 22 of the 48 courses will be from Mario Kart Tour at the end. That's nearly half of the Booster Course Pass!

They won't run out of cities any time soon and if they keep this rate for a second pass, then it will be very easy to fill the rest of it with the remaining fan favorites. And there are a lot of good courses to choose from, where many of them are already in Mario Kart Tour. People expected DS Airship Fortress for a reason, but instead we got DS Mario Circuit. This is disappointing to some, but what if they are simply saving some bangers for the second round? There could be a "Bullet Bill Cup" for example, which comes with Airship Fortress and King Bob-omb as a new character.

King Bob-omb, Bowser Jr. and Dry Bowser on the Airship Fortress

Of course there is also the possibility that they are simply saving some better courses for the next Mario Kart game, but I personally think that the next Mario Kart will be a "Nintendo Kart" anyway, so they should put everything into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe what they can to make it the ultimate Mario Kart. And whatever retro courses there will be, those are going to come come with much better graphics and new gimmicks as a selling point, so it doesn't really matter. Six of the retro courses from Mario Kart 7 also have re-appeared in both Mario Kart Tour and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe now, so there is nothing preventing them from bringing back courses multiple times in a row.

In the long run it might even be very attractive to have absolutely all contents from Mario Kart 7 integrated into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, since the Nintendo 3DS online "infrastructure" isn't going to last forever, much like Mario Kart Tour. The Booster Course Pass should be all about preservation, first and foremost.

In addition, drivers are now also part of the equation. Six new characters is less than half of what they potentially could add without touching all the alt costumes. And no matter who they go for, some fans will be still left disappointed. We can't have all the Kongs, Pauline, Kamek, Nabbit, and so on with just the Booster Course Pass. But we could with a second one and this way also include some of the characters who no one might expect right now, like the Hammer Bro.

The different Bros might also share a character select slot, where the Fire, Ice, and Boomerang Bro work as alt costumes for the Hammer Bro, so they could hit four birds with one stone here. Speaking of alts, potentially they also could a variety of variants for the other characters, like Dr. Mario, Builder Luigi, Wedding Peach, White Tanooki Mario, and so on. They wouldn't require more space on the character select screen and will simply share the same stats with their originals.

Then there's Battle Mode, where Mario Kart Tour just got its own one last year. A second Booster Course Pass could add one or two battle mode courses per wave just to show this mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe some more love as well. Right now there are these three retro stages in Tour:

  • GBA Battle Course 1
  • GCN Cookie Land
  • DS Twilight House

More will likely follow, where something like N64 Block Fort will certainly make many fans happy. And there even could be some completely new battle courses as well.

In any case, there will be more than enough contents to justify a second Booster Course Pass. Of course this doesn't automatically mean that it will happen for sure. After all, this is Nintendo we're talking about, who never bothered with bringing back the Zelda and Splatoon villagers to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, for example. They just love to have something left with their games that could have been done, but never will be done. However, there is just too much stuff to ignore here and as long as they keep working on Mario Kart Tour, there will be potential additions for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

The real question is when the next Mario Kart game will become a thing and how it will look like, because this will have a big influence on the outcome here. If it's going to be "Nintendo Kart" coming late 2025, then there is no reason to hold back right now. But who knows what Nintendo is currently cooking up?

Booster Course Pass: Leaks and Speculations #3

Yoshi, Mario, and DK racing on Riverside Park

Four of six waves from the Booster Course Pass for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe have been released, where the last two are scheduled to release during the remainder of the year. If they follow the same schedule as last year, then Wave 5 will be released in August and Wave 6 in December. But they might come out a bit earlier this time.

It seems like Nintendo went into this whole thing with the absolute minimal effort to see how it will go. The first wave was very lackluster, but with each wave they've clearly increased the amount of work going into the project, where by now we're even getting new characters, which came as a surprise and might not even have been planned from the beginning. But it shouldn't have been surprising that the Booster Course Pass has become a success, since this is DLC for the most popular game on Nintendo Switch...

Meanwhile they also kept creating more content for Mario Kart Tour – like GCN DK Mountain, the Wii Rainbow Road, or Piranha Plant Cove – where the development of these two Mario Kart games go hand in hand by now. Some courses appear in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe first, but it's really a shared effort, which was clear from the beginning.

What we also knew from the beginning are the prefixes of all courses, since they got data mined, where a number of courses have been shuffled around since then, but we still have a good picture of what's to come. This is what we have right now:

In addition, we know of two more city tours in Mario Kart Tour: Vancouver Velocity and Los Angeles Laps. We will likely see the remaining ones very soon, especially since they usually get three different variants each, which are all combined into one for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. If you're from Europe, then Rome and Athens will immediately come to mind, but there are lot of worthy cities left that they could go for, like Cairo, Rio de Janeiro, Prague, or Stockholm, just to name a few from the back of my head.

We might have a slight idea already, because a couple of course IDs and assets have been data mined from Mario Kart Tour a while ago (see here for example):

And this isn't all, because there has been a leak of music samples, which included GBA Sunset Wilds, so that's pretty much set in stone for the last GBA course. As for the rest, you can look at what's already in Mario Kart Tour (see Mario Wiki), but this has proven not to be the most reliable way, since they may release new retro courses for both games at the same time, like DS Mario Circuit this week. Most people expected either Airship Fortress or Luigi's Mansion for the last Nintendo DS course, but here we go. And based on all this, here are my predictions for the final two waves:

More than half of the upcoming courses will be from Mario Kart Tour, so this doesn't leave much room for more actual retro courses, which may or may not be to your liking. And I probably wouldn't have bothered with all this if it weren't for the other component that we have now...

new character select screen with Birdo in the top right and five question marks below her

There are going to be five more characters! Like all of the new courses, they are seemingly porting over the unique drivers from Mario Kart Tour, where there are currently over a dozen of them:

  • Captain Toad
  • Chargin' Chuck
  • Diddy Kong
  • Dixie Kong
  • Funky Kong
  • Hammer, Boomerang, Fire, and Ice Bro
  • Kamek
  • King Bob-omb
  • Meowser
  • Monty Mole
  • Nabbit
  • Pauline
  • Peachette
  • Petey Piranha

And it's likely that Wiggler and the Honey Queen from Mario Kart 7 will return at some point as well. So, there is a good selection and it will be hard to only pick five here, but it's possible that the characters who also have been in previous Mario Kart games, like Birdo, will have priority here. If they don't bring back Diddy, who should have been in this game since May 2014, there will likely be a riot.

Now, I personally believe that the next one is going to be Petey Piranha, for two reasons. First of all, this would place him right next to his old buddy from Double Dash!!, King Boo, on the roster. And wouldn't this be lovely? Then there is the fact that there is a new "nitro" course in Mario Kart Tour already, the aforementioned "Piranha Plant Cove", where this will very likely come to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as well and would be a very good fit, even better so than Birdo and Yoshi's Island. I mean, there are even stone statues of Petey.

One of the two waves is going to have at least three characters and you know quite well what I have in mind for this: Diddy and Funky Kong will finally return and they will bring Dixie Kong alongside with them. If the rumors about a potential new Donkey Kong course are true, then this will be even more likely. I keep sharing the following picture from Mario Kart Tour and it's exactly what I had in mind for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for years now, long before the current DLC: 

the whole Kong family on Rambi Riders

This needs to happen and it would be a great finale for the Booster Course Pass. Maybe they will also add some new karts as well, where they could bring back the Rambi Rider or the Barrel Train in addition. Anything is possible at this point.

This leaves one character, where I personally would go with Pauline, mainly to have finally something from Super Mario Odyssey in here, but also because she is the most attractive choice here, not going to lie. But maybe they will save her for later and they'll simply throw Kamek in there together with Petey Piranha. And yes, I'm still convinced that there will be a "later", more so than ever. See the next post.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Booster Course Pass: Wave 4 Impressions

Birdo (Green) on the Master Cycle Zero at the start of Riverside Park

On Wednesday we got the third DLC Pack for Fire Emblem Engage and one day later the fourth wave of the Booster Course Pass, where this certainly going to be a busy weekend for Nintendo fans. Overall Nintendo shows a steady output at the moment, where even little things like new DLC are good to keep us entertained / distracted until Tears of the Kingdom (though, it prevents me from replaying Breath of the Wild, which is probably what I should be doing right now).

Anyway, eight more courses have been released and the quality is about the same level as the excellent third wave. I personally liked wave 3 better, but that's just how I feel towards the selection of courses, because the visual and gameplay quality is pretty similar. There is one course that stands above everything else made so far, but also some stuff that doesn't look as good.

Anti-gravity is once more mostly absent this time, where only one course briefly makes use of it, but they have been creating some more underwater sections, where this has been a rarity in the DLC. In fact, only GBA Boo Lake from the last time had some underwater gameplay and that's it, even if you include the DLC courses from the Wii U. This wave we have two more courses we you are driving underwater and that's nice to see, even if it never was the most exciting mechanic.

However, this wave also brings completely new enemies to Mario Kart, which hasn't happened so far in the Booster Course Pass, and a new character: Birdo in eight colors. Like always, let's take a look at the list of course first...

Fruit Cup:

  • Tour Amsterdam Drift
  • GBA Riverside Park
  • Wii DK Summit / DK's Snowboard Cross
  • Yoshi's Island


Boomerang Cup:

  • Tour Bangkok Rush
  • DS Mario Circuit
  • GCN Waluigi Stadium
  • Tour Singapore Speedway

There are three city tours in this, instead of the usual two, and one completely new course, which hasn't been in Mario Kart Tour yet, but will most likely appear there in the future. So, if you don't play the mobile game, then half of the content here will be new to you. And two of the tracks have been overhauled quite significantly, so it feels like the freshest wave so far in terms of content.

promotional screenshot with the windmills in the background, Daiys and Luigi at the front

Things start with Amsterdam Drift, where the flight section towards the windmills makes me want 3DS Daisy Hills back more than anything, because this city is a mess for driving. The constantly changing routes were a novelty in the early Booster Course Pass, but by now it's getting frustrating, because these cluttered cities lack the necessary visual clarity. There is so much going on and there are so many hard-to-see turns that you need to memorize these tracks from start to finish. Even though you can spot the directional arrows usually from a distance, it's still sometimes hard to see where exactly you need to go, where in one case you even have to take a near 180° turn. Amsterdam is a nightmare in 200cc, at least at first.

On the bright side, it has a lot of variety and the longest underwater part of any DLC course so far, where you are going through some channels. This also would have been a great idea for Venedig, which may even happen in the future...

There is also a boat channel in Bangkok Rush, where you can use the paddles as ramps, which is a nice idea, but probably the most memorable part about the course. There is like this huge section with a crossing above you, where I keep running into the pillars below, and here it's also hard to get a good overview of where you need to go. Not quite as bad as Amsterdam, but still bad and this part lacks any real scenery. The staircases, which lead up and down, should you opt for the upper route, are also a bit too narrow.

Rosalina driving on the Master Cycle Zero through a pool on a rooftop in Singapore

The highlight of the new city courses is easily Singapore Speedway, which is probably why it was put at the end of the wave. Even though each lap takes you through different parts, it's a lot more straight-forward and it focuses more on the spectacle. The decadence is seemingly strong with this city, which makes you wonder if they will add Dubai next. But it's a lot of fun to drive through swimming pools on top of skyscrapers, where Goombas are having a good time.

Off to a much more basic course, we have another excellent translation of a track from Mario Kart: Super Circuit into 3D with GBA Riverside Park. I personally found all GBA courses in the Booster Course Pass so far very enjoyable and this one is no exception. It looks absolutely beautiful with the new lighting and it has some really nice textures, which makes you wonder why some other courses in the pass look like they are from an entirely different game. It's also a breeze even in 200cc and offers a good time overall.

For this version they've also added Ptooies, the walking Piranha Plants, which are spitting up items and drop them if they get hit or rammed. They are wandering up the waterfall cave like Lemmings, which is quite funny. But this is the first time these enemies have appeared in Mario Kart to make this basic course a bit more interesting.

Equally basic is DS Mario Circuit, which now has reappeared both in Mario Kart Tour and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the first time ever. Like 3DS Toad Circuit from the first wave, this has sparked some controversy, because we already know that this was going to be the last course from Mario Kart DS. So, if you were hoping for Luigi's Mansion or Airship Fortress, which were both already playable in Tour and therefore a likely candidate, you are probably now disappointed, especially since this is now the fourth Mario Circuit in the game...

Nonetheless it's a good conversion. I personally found the original to be quite dull and forgettable, but this new version adds some more verticality and variety, where there is now a forest section after the tunnel guarded by the fire-spitting Piranha Plants. During the last lap there is even a giant Wiggler, who is crossing the road. They've probably made the best out of this course, but this won't change the fact that it's very basic and certainly no Airship Fortress.

start of Waluigi Stadium with Wario, Walugi, Luigi, Peach, and Rosalina

If you want more action, then GCN Waluigi Stadium will probably have you covered. It's the first track from Double Dash!! in the Booster Course Pass and it used to be one of my favorite classic courses in Mario Kart Wii, but they've completely butchered this version in my humble opinion. My main problem is the new mud texture, which looks super ugly and is quite hard on the eyes. It's like the wood in Maple Treeway, except that it's absolutely everywhere here. It also seems like they've made the course more slippery with it, which makes sense, but isn't much fun either.

The second half of the course has the only anti-gravity sections in this pass, which come in form of grate ways above the usual track, which can be accessed via the half-pipes. There doesn't seem to be a big advantage to them, especially since they've made the off-road section near the end much smaller, so you can just boost through there without any effort. In past versions this used to be another viable shortcut...

They've also altered the part with the mechanical Piranha Plants quite a bit, where they've made it almost too trivial. Two of them are now facing each other, but are angled up by 45°, so you can simply drive through them. The numbers of rotating fire bars was also reduced and it now seems completely trivial to just go through the middle of this obstacle course, even though they've added some tires as a nuisance. On the Wii I used to stick to one of the half-pipes to avoid all the things, but it seems harder to do now and may not be worth the trouble outside of Time Trials.

promotional screenshot of a Shuy Guy doing a stunt on the piste with another Shy Guy on the ski lift in the background

This is also true for Wii DK Summit (or DK's Snowboard Cross in the UK), but otherwise this course is as good as I remember it from the Wii. You can even go for the quite risky shortcut in the middle, where you jump over the holes, though I've heard that there is a bug where you may keep falling for a while. It is a nice course overall, which is of course similar to Mount Wario in theme, but this one is much shorter and makes you go up the mountain with each lap for some repeated downhill fun. And the half-pipes add something different to this idea as well. Now all it needs is Funky Kong, but we'll get to that...

The highlight of this wave and probably of the entire Booster Course Pass so far is without a doubt Yoshi's Island. It's a completely new course, where there is no sign of it yet in Mario Kart Tour (but this may change soon). It's based upon the beloved SNES classic, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, and it's a delight!

This is on a similar level to the crossover courses from the Wii U DLC, like Hyrule Circuit or Animal Crossing. There is a unique banner for the goal line. You have new fanfares at the start and finish of the race. You collect "Yoshi Coins" with a special sound effect (where it makes you wish that 3DS DK Jungle had Banana Coins). And there are some new enemies here, like Shy Guys on stilts or "Huffin Puffins", with a lot more entities to spot in the background, like Poochy. They've put a lot of effort into this.

It's also lovely how the course goes through all over Yoshi's Island and its different worlds. You start at the grasslands, then dive under water and go through a castle, emerge into a cave, race up a volcano, take a turn on a cloud island, and finally glide down back to the start. It's like a whole Mario game – or Yoshi game in this case – concentrated to a single course.

There is another special mechanic near the end, where you can try to hit a winged cloud in the air to create a significant shortcut. It's not so easy to hit, but someone else behind you might still be able to do it, where this feels similar to the Master Sword shortcut on Hyrule Circuit.

Graphically the course still looks more like it was made for Mario Kart Tour, with rather cartoony visuals, and the smaller sections may give you the feeling like you've seen it all before from other courses. But with all the attention to detail and the many new things it's still one of the best, if not the best addition from the Booster Course Pass so far.

Birdo flying through the skies of Yoshi's Island

And there is more... starting with wave 4 we're also getting new characters, for which they've added a new column to the character select screen, with five question marks for upcoming additions. So, waves 5 and 6 will likely offer multiple characters each, unless they are doing one wave with four characters at once. Birdo works still rather well as a single character addition, though, since she comes with nine different colors, just like Yoshi and Shy Guy before her. So, this adds more variety, since a lot of people are going to play her now for the novelty alone.

Version 2.3.0 will create some more variety in any case, since it has buffed a number of characters and vehicle parts with increased speed and/or mini-turbo stats. Essentially this has affected everything and everyone not already in the established top tier, like the infamous Waluigi Wiggler combo. Ultimately this will just lead to a different meta, where apparently Link has now joined the top as well (sharing a class with Rosalina). But it's overall a very good approach for balancing this game: just make everything else a little bit better. And this will hopefully add more viable options for those who really care.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Pre-Order Goodies


game, golden medal with box, green notebook

While Nintendo still hasn't put the Collector's Edition or the amiibo for Tears of the Kingdom in the My Nintendo Store, you can get a series of items now in bundle with the game. There is a medal with a stand and a box, as well as a notebook. These items cost extra, 5€ for the notebook and 10€ for the medal...

This is not to be confused with the coin that comes as a free pre-order bonus. If you purchase any set or even just Tears of the Kingdom alone, you will get the coin together with a luggage tag as free bonus items:

coin with the logo on the front and the broken Master Sword on the back, brown ugly tag

I'm not exactly excited about the luggage tag, but the coin looks nice and you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Ideally, you will be able to get all these items with the Collector's Edition in the foreseeable future. I don't necessarily need any of this, but at least the coin would be nice to have.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Metroid Prime Remastered: Hopes for the Sequels

staring at a detailed wall made out of hexagonal basalt

Playing Metroid Prime Remastered makes you immediately want more, where we have no idea how far Metroid Prime 4 is currently into development. It still could take years to come out, but in the meantime fans and new players alike will certainly be happy with getting remasters of Prime 2 and Prime 3 to pass some of that time.

Naturally, there have been many rumors about this, where I don't want to address a particular one. But I do believe that Retro Studios has been working on remastering the entire trilogy, before they were re-assigned to Metroid Prime 4. They have finished the first game nonetheless, but remasters of the other two titles are either on hold or got outsourced, where it's possible that some of the many other studios involved with Metroid Prime Remastered are now working on them.

But we do know for a fact that Metroid Prime Remastered has been finished since July 2021 (see here) and there must be a good reason why they have been waiting over one and a half years to finally release it. Either they wanted it closer to the release of Metroid Prime 4 or they wanted to wait until the other remasters are taking shape. Of course they also didn't want it to collide with Metroid Dread, but there was no need to wait that long.

In any case, remasters of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption should get the same level of detail as Metroid Prime Remastered. This is a very rare occurrence of a Nintendo title where the graphics are really the selling point. The game is simply a feast to the eyes and anything less for its sequels will result only in disappointment. They could just make remasters with upscaled textures, like it was done with Twilight Princess HD, but they really shouldn't.

staring at a sandstone wall with some metallic structures

Personally, I can't wait to see Agon Wastes or the Sanctuary Fortress with such detailed assets. The atmosphere of Metroid Prime 2 was amazing and the game had a "cleaner" look to it overall, where it would be a good match for the art direction of Metroid Prime Remastered. It doesn't really need much more for the second game in the Metroid Prime Trilogy, except that they should also simplify the menus to not use these rotating data bubbles. While it was very unique, it wasn't very convenient to use...

With Corruption I mainly hope that they will get rid of the credit and Friend Voucher system entirely and simply let people unlock the gallery contents in the same way as in Metroid Prime Remastered. Alternatively, they could turn the Friend Vouchers and some of the gold credits into ingame achievements, but I really wouldn't want to do "Flawless Escape" ever again.

On the other hand, without such a system there would be no real reason to hunt down the Red Phaazoids at all... But they could give you a better reason for this than just some virtual checkmark, where one simple idea could be that each of them increases your resistance to Phaaze.

The bumper stickers for your ship also will probably be removed entirely or at least updated to modern games. Would be cool to have a sticker based on Tears of the Kingdom, for example. But considering that they didn't even bother with the Fusion Suit, this feature is likely not to make a re-appearance.

And then there are the motion controls, where they need to be toned a bit to make the game work properly with a Pro Controller or in handheld mode. The novelty of throwing the Grapple Lasso with your Nunchuk or turning some devices with your Wii Remote got old quickly and never was fully reliable anyway. So, they should be looking at Skyward Sword HD here for how to do all this with traditional controls.

Both titles would also certainly profit from free button mappings. That's one of the few complaints that I have with Metroid Prime Remastered, where the many control options are very good, but not perfect. Just let the people fully customize the controls to be comfortable, where this also adds to the accessibility of the game.

Anyway, it will be nice to have the entire Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Nintendo Switch in the long run, but it shouldn't happen at all costs. They should give these games the same care as Metroid Prime, because they deserve it.