Friday, April 28, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Cookbook Confirmed

While I try to avoid what the previews are currently showing, I'm still looking at what Nintendo has to say and this screen was just shared by ZeldaOffcialJP. We're going to get a cookbook this time, where you can look up any dishes, probably of what you've already cooked so far.

The completionist in me was somewhat happy that Breath of the Wild didn't have this, but it can be fun to actually find all possible recipes by trying all sorts of combinations. Fire Emblem Heroes has something like this as well in its Aether Resort mode, though there the number of ingredients isn't as large and for the recipes you have only combinations of up to four, not five. And you still have an insane amount of recipes in that game.

Of course not having a cookbook was a common complaint about Breath of the Wild, because it can be convenient to look things up again. But there was also no real point in being all too experimental with the cooking – just throw in single Hearty Radishes and be done. The only reason why you might want to do something more unusual is getting long-lasting status effects for the Trial of the Sword. Ideally, they will also nerf the hearty and enduring ingredients this time, because they were just over-powered, like the food system as a whole. If that were the case, then finding good recipes would already be a lot more interesting for the player.

The styling of the recipe cards looks similar to the posters with recipes that you could find in the stables in Breath of the Wild, which is a nice touch. And the lower part of the interface looks actually like that new Nintendo Switch OLED that was released today, which is also neat. Well, it's the other way around, of course, where the Switch was based on the ingame visual designs, but we haven't seen these gold on white patterns yet, at least not in any official material. The previews probably have shown off all this stuff already, where I'm a bit in the dark, but that's where I want to be in the moment. (Though, it's quite difficult thanks to certain Youtubers who are blatantly reckless with their video thumbnails and titles...)

Got the Nintendo Switch OLED Tears of the Kingdom Edition

photo of the package, front

The leaks were real! Finally, after six years, Nintendo decided to release the long overdue Zelda Edition of the Nintendo Switch, which should have been a thing since Breath of the Wild... Naturally, they are banking on fans here, who are willing to upgrade, but I have a feeling that – like the Splatoon 3 Edition – this will be available for quite some time. In the very least, they don't seem to be sold out yet.

Plus, they might announce a new model of the Nintendo Switch later this year, where they are trying to push some last Nintendo Switch OLED systems onto the Zelda fanbase, before no one wants them anymore. So, this could leave a sour taste in everyone's mouth, but as a Zelda fan you just want the shiny Zelda system.

photo of the package, backside

Anyway, I will only be posting photos of the box for now, because I'm not planning on using this right away. At first I need a good screen protector, where I had the best experience with the official one from Nintendo, but they only get sold in bundles with carrying cases and not separately. This is extremely stupid, of course, because a screen protector is something that may go wrong and that may need replacement, but Nintendo will be releasing a new case for Tears of the Kingdom, which looks pretty good, so I pre-ordered that one as well.

Now, things get even stupider, because for some reason they decided to not release the case + screen protector together with the Switch today, but when the game launches, in two weeks. And then I just want to play the game and not bother with setting up a new system, so it might take a while before my new Switch sees some action. But it will and then I might share some more pictures.

In an ideal world such systems would come with a screen protector pre-installed, because for me this is always the worst part about buying new mobile hardware. But that's not how money works and I can probably be happy that this thing still came with an AC adapter, I guess...

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Avoiding the Preview Phase

Link getting surrounded by Moblins

Rumors have it that Nintendo had invited the big shots of the European gaming media to their headquarters in Frankfurt, for a certain event that took place about a certain game that may or may not release in May this year. So, this will very likely mean that we're going to see previews for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom soon, today at 3PM CEST to be exact. (A German gaming show that I like to watch, the Game Talk, was postponed this week to this date for this very reason.)

Well, this was inevitable. And to be fair, Nintendo has kept the game very close to their chest, where it will already release in two weeks and two days. This won't give professional reviewers much time, even if they receive their review copies as early as tomorrow... But on a Nintendo press event they will be playing an early part of the game, most likely the tutorial phase, in a controlled environment, where they will probably be allowed to show like ten minutes of footage or so.

This is the end of the line for me. With Breath of the Wild they kept showing us every single detail of the Great Plateau, which was fine, because it was a completely new Zelda experience and everyone wanted to know how it plays. But I'm personally very excited that we don't know exactly how the beginning of Tears of the Kingdom will look like. We have a rough understanding based on what Nintendo has said and what they have shown so far, but we haven't really seen it ourselves yet, which could change in a couple of hours via potential previews.

Now, we're so close to the release of the game that I don't want some guy or gal on Youtube to experience it for me (no offense). At this point I just want to insert the game into my Nintendo Switch and see for myself. The last trailer has shown us A LOT, most likely too much, where it was fun to put together the puzzle pieces. But now I want to find out how these pieces truly fit together by playing, where I'm inclined to avoid the media until May 12th.

Well, let's see how it goes, but I probably won't talk about the game from now on until I get my copy. Since I'm in the middle of another Breath of the Wild playthrough (you can read it here), I certainly won't get bored in the meantime.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Korok Puzzles Returning?

So far we don't really know what you're going to collect in Tears of the Kingdom or how you're going to upgrade your inventory this time, but the latest commercial suggests that Korok Seeds might have a comeback. Take a look at this shot:

Link on a selfmade flying machine over a small lake with the Great Plateau in the background

I've instantly recognized this area, because this is where I've been landing after finishing the Great Plateau ever since the DLC became a thing. It's Lake Kolomo, where you can find Majora's Mask in a chest at the Kolomo Garrison Ruins to the left...

But some things have changed here. Most noticeably, the small island upfront has a stone circle on it, as it gets used by Koroks for one of their little puzzles. In Breath of the Wild there is a Luminous Stone Talus on this island, so that's definitely new.

Well, I've greatly enjoyed looking for the Koroks, so much that I've collected all 900 twice already and I'm currently working on the third time. But I can't say that I'm excited for them to return, mainly because I don't want this game to do the same things as Breath of the Wild just in different locations. It already looks like we're having the Sheikah Towers back, only in a different form, and getting 900 (or more) new Korok puzzles would feel very uninspired.

Plus, it will make things super confusing for whenever I'm going to replay either of these two games. It's already bad with the Pieces of Heart in A Link to the Past, Ancient Stone Tablets, and A Link Between Worlds, where they were all in different spots on roughly the same overworld map. But those were just small games, where this is on a whole other level.

Part of me hopes that this is something similar to the Korok Puzzles, but not actually Koroks. Maybe we will get Poes or something, just to make things more distinct, you know. We could see those spirit flame thingies in the underground for example, which also looks like it could be some environmental puzzle, but nothing related to Koroks:

underground cave shot from the second trailer

In any case, whether you're collecting Korok Seeds, Poe Souls, or the many tears of the Zelda fans who hated the Koroks in Breath of the Wild, there is two things that I really need them to do differently this time:

  • An item that helps you find Korok Seeds, like the Korok Mask, should be part of the base game and not added as paid DLC.
  • The map completion rates should be visible for each area, so you have a better understanding where you might be missing something in the end.

If they do this, I probably won't complain much. And no, I don't expect there to be a meaningful reward for collecting all of them. The golden poop as an ingame "achievement" was fine. You should collect them all, because you're having fun doing so, not because you feel inclined to.

Tears of the Kingdom – Flame Gleeok and Heart Containers

Yesterday Nintendo of America has released a commercial for Tears of the Kingdom, which shows how normal people will potentially be playing the game, either by being dumb, very outspoken, or backseating each other. An earlier version of this commercial already got "leaked" some days ago, but I've been waiting for the official one.

It includes some new footage of the game, where there are two interesting points that I want to talk about. Well, originally, there only was one and that's what you can see above: they have confirmed the name of the dragon that we saw in the previous two trailers. As every Zelda fan out there has already expected, this is indeed a Gleeok, but specifically a "Flame Gleeok".

It's an overworld boss on the Bridge of Hylia, which indicates that there will be more of them and different types, just like the Talus and Hinox in Breath of the Wild. Given the impressive size I would argue that there probably won't be as many, but that would be a good thing, because having the same boss copy pasted 40 times over with a few modifications isn't exactly exciting.

Anyway, there might be default Gleeoks without any elemental powers and there is probably going to be an ice variant, maybe also a lightning or a Malice variant, we will see. And they potentially might come with a different number of heads. But I'd love if there were more unique, so one of each type, instead of having a three-headed Flame Gleeok on Bridge Hylia and then another one around Death Mountain.

Instead I'd like to see a higher variety with the overworld bosses in general. Going with the Death Mountain example, there could be a Dodongo boss waiting there for you, and the thought of having more threatening monsters wandering Hyrule is actually quite spooky. The Talus and Hinox were mainly stationary, so they don't attack you unless you go near them...

Only the Molduga gave you a certain thrill in Breath of the Wild, where an entire area became a dead zone. You knew that this was their turf and if you step into their radius, you're up for a fight. I'd like to see more of that and the Flame Gleeok already looks like it owns the Bridge of Hylia in its entirety.

Plus, it probably won't be a simple fight. In the original (and Oracle of Seasons) you had to cut off all its heads, which then continued to attack you on their own. But this thing here looks massive and it's actually flying, where this won't be an easy task.

Unlike most scenes in the commercial, this doesn't take place in the early game. Instead the player already has 17 Heart Containers in total... which are still in one row, indicating that you will be able to get more of them in Tears of the Kingdom. But this makes you wonder how you will acquire them... While we have seen these green spiral stones everywhere, there is no indication that these will be anything more than just warp points so far.

And I could imagine that we won't be getting Spirit Orbs in Tears of the Kingdom, which were Pieces of Hearts essentially. Instead, we could be getting Heart Containers and Stamina Vessels directly. And how would you obtain them? Well, this brings us back to the Flame Gleeok that we can see above... Why would you even fight such a terrifying monster? So you can pass the bridge?

What was actually the incentive to fight the overworld bosses in Breath of the Wild? Well, the Talus gave lots of ores, but you can find those elsewhere. Some Hinox had to be defeated to enter shrines, but only a few of them. You also need their materials here and there, but the only real reason to truly fight them all was obtaining all medals from Kilton, but that's something only completionists are doing, the type of crazy players who collect all 900 Korok Seeds (like me).

So, the answer is: for the most time there was no real incentive. But what if they dropped Heart Containers or Stamina Vessels? Well, now we're having a good reason to go for them as early as possible! Your first Heart Container may even come from one of these big box Constructs:

huge golem made out of boxes

This could be your final test in the tutorial. Well, not exactly this one, because in the above shot Link already wears his new Champion's Tunic, which means that this probably takes place after the tutorial. But there probably will be multiple of these box golems on the sky islands, waiting to be defeated, so you can claim their price.

It's an interesting concept, because it makes you confront tougher enemies, instead of avoiding them. I'm noticing in my current playthrough of Breath of the Wild how I put most overworld bosses aside, to deal with them later. Especially since each of them adds to your score, which scales enemies in the game and I don't want that to happen too quickly. As a result, I'm very picky about what fights I'm going to take in the early game.

But if these bosses gave you something meaningful, like more health and stamina, you are really going to evaluate if this a fight that you want to take now, instead of later. The more I think about it, the more I like this concept. The whole purpose of caves and sky islands that act as seamless mini-dungeons could be to hide one of these bosses away. We haven't seen an equivalent to the Sheikah Shrines yet and maybe that's because there isn't one and you progress in a more "traditional" fashion of getting Heart Containers and Stamina Vessels from bosses.

Of course you could also get something akin to the Spirit Orbs from defeating the bosses, where you would need four of them for a container. Given that there were already 84 overworld bosses in Breath of the Wild, this probably isn't a stretch. And this way you would still have the choice of what to upgrade first, your health or your stamina. But this would also mean that they you're going to have to hunt for four bosses in the tutorial alone, which might be a bit much.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – The Eighth Heroine and the Forgotten Sword?

Zelda with the broken Master Sword in her hands

"The Eighth Heroine" and "The Forgotten Sword" are two side quests in Breath of the Wild, which have created a lot of discussions among Zelda fans and theorists in the past six years. They are linked to the statues of the Seven Heroines, statues made by the Gerudo, standing at the foot of Spectacle Rock. They all hold a sword in their hands and they all are attributed to certain virtue or power:

  • Skill
  • Motion
  • Knowledge
  • Gentleness
  • Endurance
  • Flight
  • Spirit

It made sense that they were to represent a group of Seven Sages from the past, where "flight" probably relates to a Rito sage,  "spirit" to a Gerudo sage, and "endurance" to a Goron sage, though each of the statues is depicted as a female. If anything, it was a nice nod to something that has happened in the rich of history of Hyrule, as many things found on the map of Breath of the Wild.

But there is also a secret Eighth Heroine and her lost sword, found at in the Gerudo Highlands, which added a bigger mystery to these statues. We have never heard of there being an eighth Sage and naturally this let theories run wild. I'm personally not the biggest Zelda theorist, where I don't tend to give these things too much thought, because they usually go nowhere. Like, all those theories about the Triforce symbols on the blocks leading to the flipped Stone Tower Temple are super fascinating, but it's not like Nintendo ever bothered to return to Termina and explain any of it, while I'm mostly interested in what Nintendo will do with their next game(s).

And with Breath of the Wild it seemed to me that Nintendo left all these little mysteries on purpose, so that people would keep speculating about the game in the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to its timeline placement. Here I still think that this was never meant to be solved, where all past Zelda games simply exist as distant legends in the world of Breath of the Wild, known as the "Era of Myth", where you never can be sure what of the events have happened and it doesn't really matter for the story of this game.

However... it does look like some of the mysteries were actually left in the game to be picked up by the sequel. Or the sequel is now retroactively giving answers to some of the mysteries, we don't know, where the most prominent example are of course the Zonai. In any case, this has the fans truly hyped, because they are not used to getting answers like this.

And maybe the Tears of the Kingdom will also explain the mystery of the Eighth Heroine... There is a fantastic video by Monster Maze that dives into this topic. It's a bit lengthy, but I suggest to watch it in any case, because it puts Zelda's role in the distant past in a new light. To sum it up: our Zelda from Breath of the Wild is potentially the Eighth Heroine! She ended up in the era of the Seven Sages that are portrayed by the Seven Heroines, in a time where she doesn't belong. And her role in the battle against Ganondorf, as an eighth Sage, was kept a secret.

the Zelda from the past

She is there next to another Zelda from that era, where they both are in possession of the "Tear of Time", as I like to call it. So, from that point onward, this "tear of the kingdom" exists twice and it likely does so for a very long time, up until the point where Zelda presumably finds one in the present and uses it to save herself, as she falls into the dark abyss.

But Zelda's tear might not be the only thing that exists twice in this timeline, which is where the "Forgotten Sword" comes in. This could be the broken Master Sword that Zelda is holding in her hands, which apparently also traveled back in time with her. It looks like she is leaving both the Master Sword and her tear at this temple at the Great Plateau, where I keep speculating that this is the actual Temple of Time, the entrance to the Sacred Realm.

In the present Link finds this temple up in the sky, but with it he will also find the gifts left by Zelda in the distant past: the forgotten Master Sword and her "Tear of Time". This essentially means that there were two Master Swords for thousands of years, one resting at the Lost Woods and one resting at the Temple of Time in the sky. Of course these two swords are one and the same, where the Master Sword from Breath of the Wild went back in time, after it got destroyed by Ganondorf's Malice.

screenshot of the Master Sword in Breath of the Wild

So, at the beginning of Tears of the Kingdom there will be only be one Master Sword again, the one that is completely corroded, but this one also existed during all of the events pictured in Breath of the Wild... long forgotten and completely out of reach.

Breath of the Wild Switch Log, Entry 3

climbing a high pillar with Hyrule Castle in the background

After I set my goal of destroying Ganon without freeing any of the Divine Beast, it was time to claim the Master Sword and beat this game. I was only two Spirit Orbs short of the 13 necessary Heart Containers, so I cleared two more Shrines at the east side of Hyrule Field.

I chose those, because the Riverside Stable is where I originally got an Ancient Arrow from Beedle and I thought it would be good to grab it before going into the castle. But it turned out that this isn't about the location, instead this gets triggered when you have cleared one of the Divine Beasts, which I haven't done yet, so no free Ancient Arrow for me. Not that I made use of them...

Overall this approach of "get the Master Sword, fight Ganon" felt pretty good. It even makes sense from Link's perspective. The Divine Beasts let him down 100 years ago, so why would he bother with them? All he needs is his trusted weapon and a good amount of resolve to defeat the evil in Hyrule.

getting the Master Sword with a Nintendo Switch Shirt and the Korok Mask equipped

After obtaining the Master Sword, I gave it a test run at the Lomei Labyrinth Island. The Diamond Circlet that you can obtain there is pretty good, but I mainly wanted the Travel Medallion, so I could install it above the Sanctum for some easy access to Hyrule Castle, as I always do. This makes exploring this place a lot more convenient than just the Saas Ko'sah Shrine at the docks, though is exactly where I had entered Hyrule Castle. I also did my first Major Test of Strength there to get some Guardian++ weapons. From there I fought my way into the library and to the Dining Hall, grabbing even more good weapons along the way.

Funnily enough, I was constantly mixing things up with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. This hasn't really happened anywhere else in the game yet, because the places look significantly different in the spin-off, but Hyrule Castle seems to be the exception. I was looking for Koroks in the library, where there weren't any, or I was actually expecting three Guardians down at the docks where the Shrine is located... Silly me.

In the Dining Hall, the one Black Bokoblin with a Stone Smasher gave me quite the beating, where I suppose this is reminiscent of Hyrule Warriors as well, because the Moblins there could be equally brutal. But at least you can cook up any more food that you may need right there. I then simply went outside and ventured alongside the cliffs to a Decayed Guardian up in the north. And from there I just climbed the rocks and arrived at the Sanctum.

climbing up Hyrule Castle

This was much easier than expected... So far I've always made use of Revali's Gale or the Zora Armor for some shortcuts, but I didn't have either. And I really thought that I would struggle a lot to get to the top, but apparently the north side of the castle is poorly defended from top to bottom.

standing on a stone arch with the Blood Moon rising over Death Mountain

After I got the Koroks at the top of Hyrule Castle and left my Travel Gate right there, it was finally time for the boss rush... fighting all variants of Ganon in a row!

Well, I've technically beaten the game. I guess, now I can go for the Divine Beasts and finally obtain my beloved Master Cycle Zero...!


  • Divine Beasts: 0/4
  • Main Quests: 6/20
  • Shrine Quests: 15/42
  • Side Quests: 28/90
  • Memories: 9/23
  • Towers: 10/15
  • Shrines: 46/136
  • Koroks: 245/900
  • Talus: 6/40
  • Hinox: 1/40
  • Molduga: 0/4
  • Map Completion: 31.21%

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Historic Battle on the Great Plateau?

Super Blood Moon Demisedorf

In a recent video by Looygi Bros., they have made some very interesting observations about some of the cutscenes from the final trailer for Tears of the Kingdom, where they've successfully pinpointed a variety of locations. Well, already in earlier video, they've analyzed Ganondorf's location during the scene where he causes the giant Blood Moon eruption and goes into his Demise mode. It's actually a platform on the Great Plateau, right above the Shrine of Resurrection.

This seemed very poetic at first, because so far I thought that this is something that happens after Link and Zelda found him and his seal broke, so basically after his resurrection. But this doesn't seem to be the case, because in the background you can see that Hebra Peak doesn't have its iconic hole in it and Hyrule Castle is missing as well. So, this is a scene from the past, probably before Ganondorf got sealed, and certainly before the first battle against Calamity Ganon 10,000 years ago, because that's when Hebra Peak got pierced.

Hylia preparing to fire

Now, they also confirmed the position of the Zelda-lookalike / Hylia character. She is on top of the Great Plateau as well, on a platform at the southern end of Mount Hylia. Well, that's certainly a fitting location, name-wise. From there she is firing her gigantic Kamehemaha made out of light at a group of Moldugas, which is approaching the Great Plateau from what later becomes the Taobab Grasslands. It's the place with the giant trees, where you can find the large Ganon horse in Breath of the Wild.

a group of Moldugas wiped out in a giant beam of light

We could already see in the February trailer how there is a different platform on the southern edge of the Great Plateau and that the snow is all gone, with more trees around. At first, it looked like the game simply takes place in a warmer season, but this wouldn't have explained the new trees. It makes more sense that this was also from a flashback to the distant past. And that scene clearly connects it with Ganondorf's Malice explosion. This might even be the moment where he first unleashes monsters onto Hyrule and creates the Blood Moon to eternally revive them.

So, I think with these scenes we're being told what happened long before the Great Calamity and how Ganondorf got sealed, where he fought the Sages of that era. Everyone thought at first that Ganondorf somehow quickly got "rehydrated" from his mummified state, but we might not even have seen Ganondorf yet in the present, only in flashbacks from the distant past.

There possibly was no hero around at the time or Ganondorf killed him, so we're essentially having a second Imprisoning War at our hands, only that this probably isn't about sealing Ganondorf inside the Sacred Realm, but preventing him from entering it in the first place.

Zelda on a platform at the Great Plateau with the Master Sword in her hands

And our Zelda from the present seems to be caught up in the middle of all this. Remember that the platform, where she stands with the broken Master Sword and her tear, is also located at the Great Plateau, right where the Temple of Time sits. I still believe that the same temple structure on the golden sky islands is meant to be the actual Temple of Time with the entrance to the Sacred Realm, where we will learn how it ended up in the skies.

Maybe Zelda can communicate with us throughout time at this temple and will tell us the story of this war in the distant past, right after the tutorial. So, she would take King Rhoam's role in the early part of the game, only that you probably won't see her living like a hobo. And that she's not dead. But it would certainly be fitting and explain a lot of what we have seen so far.

I don't really expect that we will be able to visit this era ourselves, but I wouldn't mind to be wrong. It's just that after Breath of the Wild and its final trailer I want to be careful with such assumptions, because it made people believe that they may be able to go back in time 100 years ago and prevent the Calamity in the first place. It took an entire spin-off game for that to happen, but I'm sure we'll also get Hyrule Warriors: Age of the Zonai in 2026... (Which would be terrific, can't wait to play as Hylia.)

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Breath of the Wild Switch Log, Entry 2

Hyrule Kingdom, Link landed right in front of the Kolomo Garrison Ruins

In this third playthrough of Breath of the Wild I'm having trouble with finding my bearing, where there has been a lot of back and forth since my start. Once I've jumped off the Great Plateau, I landed right on Majora's Mask, immediately opened a guide map, and started following the Korok Seeds and treasure chests around it...

This is what I had done with my Master Mode run five years ago and it was very efficient. But I quickly realized that this is not the way to do things this time. If I'm just following checkmarks on a map, then I might as well be playing some mediocre open world title. And with this playthrough I wanted to re-explore this Hyrule, where it's more fun to try to remember all the secrets and then see how many Koroks I will have missed at the end.

Also, if I just follow a guide map, I will ultimately avoid any blank spots. But those empty spaces can still be interesting, because these are all potential canvases for Tears of the Kingdom. It's actually fun to run around and think about how they could mix things up in the sequel. There is a lot of open space with really nothing to find, not even a treasure chest or a Korok Seed. It's easy to understand why Nintendo wanted to re-use the same overworld, because there is still so much that they could have done with it...

Still, I didn't want to run around blindly, so my first goals were the Sheikah Sensor+ for treasure chests and the Korok Mask, just to make sure that I don't miss anything while running around. So, I first headed to Kakariko, then to Hateno for the Sheikah Slate upgrades, back to Kakariko to do all the side quests there, and from there into the Lost Woods. There I did the different trials for the shrines and also enhanced my inventory space quite a bit from all the Korok Seeds I've already collected on my way, despite not using a guide map.

Korok on the hills around Kakariko

I still love collecting the Korok Seeds and looking out for the little puzzles in the environment. It makes me wonder what they will do in Tears of the Kingdom in terms of collectibles... We don't really know yet, but I doubt that the Korok Seeds will return and if they do, those little target shooting games will become significantly easier thanks to the arrows fused with Keese Eyeballs. I sometimes wish I could already do that...

holding up a torch with a blue form at Hateno

Now, I had obtained the Sheikah Sensor+ and the Korok Mask, but there is still one tool missing that would make exploring so much more fun and convenient: the Master Cycle Zero. In my Master Mode playthrough I didn't really make much use of it, because by the time I got it, I've already swept over all of Hyrule. And that was a shame, really, because I love the bike. But since I'm not efficiently clearing area by area this time, I should be using it more in the end and decided to focus on doing all the Divine Beasts next.

This is also a good goal for what I want to achieve before Tears of the Kingdom gets released. I won't be able to clear the game 100%, but in the least I should be able to conquer all the Divine Beasts and beat the game. I can still look for the rest of the Sheikah Shrines and Koroks later on, where it might even be interesting to do so right after Tears of the Kingdom. I even believe that the Master Cycle Zero will be the one thing that will make return to this game, despite all the cool new things that you will be able to do in the sequel.

Yunobo and Link facing Vah Rudania

Since Death Mountain is right next to the Lost Woods, I decided to just go there and bring that Divine Beast down. It's easy enough if you know what you're doing and it felt like a different choice to me for some reason. By the time I entered Vah Rudania, however, I studied the Hero's Path on my map and realized something: I've seen this before! Well, it wasn't the exact same path, but it's about the same route that I took during my Master Mode run. I was just doing the same things in the same order, only less efficiently and without the added difficulty.

Believe it or not, this really bummed me out. Originally, my plan was to start with a different Divine Beast in each of my playthroughs, but for some reason I've assumed that I've never done Vah Rudania first. But I did. And even if my memory has played me some tricks on me, there is no excuse for this, because I've written it all down, right here on this site.

For a moment this completely took the wind out of my sails, but restarting the game was not an option. I had already achieved too much for that and I'm on a tight schedule. I then started heading for Vah Medoh instead, but since this was also my second Divine Beast in my previous run, I still was just following the same course. I've never been so lost while having a goal and clear directions... It just felt awkward and I wasn't happy with the situation.

Link with Majora's Mask facing a lone tree on a hill

Luckily, I haven't done anything inside Vah Rudania yet and I didn't even approach the Flight Range, so I could still think about what I want to do differently... And then it hit me: something that I've never done before is beating Calamity Ganon without taking down any of the Divine Beasts! All the Blights that you haven't taken down yet will appear inside the Sanctum as an extra challenge, where this is essentially the game's only boss rush. I've never experienced this myself and I'd rather do this in Normal Mode than in Master Mode. So, this seems like the best way of changing direction, to truly do something different.

But I'm not as skilled at this game as those speed runners who storm Hyrule Castle with only three hearts and a Pot Lid. I will have to prepare myself accordingly, where in the very least I want to have the Master Sword and also the Travel Medallion, so I can just warp out there and get some supplies, if needed. It's also good to have a warp point at the top of Hyrule Castle in any case.

So, I went to Akkala first to get Robbie's lab running and to unlock a third Great Fairy. I climbed a couple more towers, cleared all the side quests related to horses, explored more, cleared shrines, and so on.  Of course, this was now contrary to my previous goal to get the Master Cycle Zero as quickly as possible. I've focused entirely on exploring and getting stronger, all while postponing the main quests. But sacrifices had to me made...

standing at Grinnden Plains with a beautiful sunset

Also, I've started using amiibo to get some (better) stuff, especially since I kept running out of normal arrows at first. (I do have a big stockpile of Shock Arrows, though, Sidon will be happy.) I haven't used any amiibo until now, because they felt too much like a cheat in the early game and its survival gameplay. But after some point it doesn't really matter that much and I also want all the special armor pieces, where it's best to start early. In Master Mode I never felt bad about using amiibo, because there you want everything that you can get.

Well, by now I've also purchased a ton of arrows from the horseback archery minigame guy, but this leads me to my constant shortage of Rupees. I haven't even purchased the house yet in Hateno village, because there is always so much to spend Rupees on, like the Great Fairies or pieces of armor. I'm not complaining here, I think this is a good thing. Never I've been so happy to find Rupees in a treasure chest in a Zelda game!

It certainly beats getting more weapons on a full inventory. As much as I actually like the weapon system in Breath of the Wild, this is just annoying and I hope that they will somehow optimize this in Tears of the Kingdom. It would already help if I could quickly drops things out of the quick select, so I don't have to open the inventory to do it.

riding the Ganon horse

Anyway, I've beaten my first Lynels and I'm missing only one Heart Container for the Master Sword, so I should be good to give the "early" Hyrule Castle a try this weekend.

current Hero's Path


  • Towers: 10/15
  • Shrines: 42/136
  • Koroks: 224/900
  • Talus: 6/40
  • Hinox: 1/40

Tears of the Kingdom – Catastrophes & Dungeons

giant tornado above the Hebra Mountains

Nintendo of Japan has released a couple of TV commercials, which are based on the epic final trailer for Tears of the Kingdom, but also show a couple of new scenes. In the first spot, for example, you get a better view on Gerudo Desert, which is plagued by sandstorms and giant sinkholes in the sand.

This is certainly an important theme with Tears of the Kingdom. In Breath of the Wild the four Divine Beasts have caused trouble in their respective regions, some more so than others, and you had to free them to stop these disasters. Now, the "Upheaval", which presumably is Ganondorf's doing, has caused these disasters all around Hyrule:

  • Zora's Domain is sunken in black goo, which is flowing down from the skies.
  • Death Mountain is sprawling Malice, where there are these weird looking "organic" rocks everywhere, which could be infected with Malice.
  • There is a giant Tornado above the Hebra Mountains.
  • The Gerudo Desert has sandstorms and sinkholes everywhere.

Mirroring the events of Breath of the Wild, you will most likely partner up with someone from these regions again to fight these catastrophes. There are Riju, Sidon, Tulin, and an unknown Goron, but most likely Yunobo. There seems to be a boss hidden within these catastrophes and they could be what's causing them. We saw the huge ice boss inside the tornado. And we saw this thing in the Zora-themed sky dungeon:

giant black and purple goo shark

It could just be a bigger enemy, but it's possible that they've shown us the boss there, which is also the source of the black goo raining down on Zora's Domain. And this would be thematically very similar to the first half of Ocarina of Time, where Ganondorf had caused disasters for the different tribes in Hyrule in his quest to obtain the Spiritual Stones, and you had to defeat bosses inside dungeons, like Gohma and King Dodongo, to bring back peace to these areas.

Now, Sidon's and Tulin's dungeons are found in the sky, while Death Mountain and the desert will lead you into the underground. So, there would be two major sky dungeons and two major underground dungeons if all of this were to add up.

We know, however, that there are more than four tears. And I was getting quite excited about this, because with seven tears in total it could mean that we get to see the "Seven Sages" and with each sage a dungeon. But the symbols on the tears are also featured as pins within the Collector's Edition of the game, where there are only four pins. This could mean that four of the tears are more special than the others, which most likely would be the four tears that you get via the main dungeons.

You will already receive the first tear, the one from Zelda with the Recall ability, at the beginning of the game. And Ganondorf is in possession of one of the tears as well, though we don't know which one. He could have stolen it from the Gorons, for example. But if it's a tears of its own and it's not to be obtained until the end of the game, then this will only leave one more tear... (Update: the events with Ganondorf all seem to take place in the past, where he likely doesn't the tear anymore.)

Of course the tribes of the Champions are not the only ones who got affected by the Upheaval. Kakariko was hit by ruins fallen from the sky. And the Great Deku Tree seems to have disappeared. But these don't look like ongoing catastrophes, where you have to stop them before it gets worse (not that it ever gets worse).

I could even imagine that the tears with the kanji for "look" or "see" on it will be received from the Sheikah, also early in the game. It might be something on the lines of the Eye of Truth or Mask of Truth, revealing things that otherwise would be hidden to you. Or it could simply be a replacement for Stasis+, something that lets you highlight enemies and interactable objects in the environment.

However, this would be a bit of a letdown if the Sheikah got downplayed this way, even though they were quite important to the backstory of Breath of the Wild. But the Sheikah of the present only really were good for side quests and nothing more. Which is also true for the Koroks. And these tribes have been part of the Sages in the past...

So, let's see, but I'm not getting my hopes up for more than four main dungeons with this, where it would be the same as in Breath of the Wild, only with more visual variety and more interactions with your companions. With that in mind, you can also probably ignore my post about additional base weapon types, because those might not become a thing.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – The Upheaval?

Hyrule Castle heaved into the sky, floating above Malice

The "Upheaval" is what Nintendo calls the cataclysmic event that happened to Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (see here, for example). And this is something that has been teased since the very first teaser trailer in 2019, with the rising Hyrule Castle at the end. But of course at the time we had no clue about the true extent of this.

Now, who or what has caused the Upheaval? And what for? Well, I'll make an educated guess by saying "Ganondorf" and "to get the Triforce".

In Breath of the Wild the Triforce seems like something lost in time. While Zelda uses its powers to fight the Calamity, they are not really aware what the Triforce actually is. Nor do they know about the three Goddesses and the story of the creation of Hyrule, since there is only ever talk of the Goddess, Hylia.

Hylia was the one who originally hid the Triforce, in some other realm that could only be accessed via the Sky Keep, which was hidden from the world below via the cloud barrier. This was to keep it away from Demise, an internal evil, the king of demons. But during the events of Skyward Sword Demise was ultimately defeated and the Triforce moved back to the ground. Wars were then fought over the relic of the Goddesses, so later the Temple of Time was created to seal the entrance to the Sacred Realm, which then was opened in the events of Ocarina of Time.

Now, I believe that this process got reverted at some point of time, out of pure necessity. Ganondorf, who is Demise's hatred reborn, kept reincarnating over the ages, always seeking to get his hands on the Triforce to conquer the world. So, a new Temple of Time was build to seal the entrance to the Sacred Realm once more. And Hylia, or a princess with the power of Hylia, has sent this Temple of Time into the skies, hiding it behind a new cloud barrier. We have probably seen the reincarnated Goddess in the recent trailer:

a beautiful Zelda with brown skin and long blonde hair

And we have seen this new Temple of Time, time and time again, in every footage about Tears of the Kingdom since the 2021 teaser trailer. It's the large structure on the golden sky islands:

Link running towards this temple in the title trailer

screenshot of Link soaring over the golden sky islands

Please read my post about the whereabouts of Zelda as to why this might be a different Temple of Time. The short story is: it seemingly used to be in the exact spot where the Temple of Time in Breath of the Wild resides at an earlier point in time. That one was built later, based on the first Temple of Time, but it doesn't house the entrance to the Sacred Realm. Instead, this entrance has been hidden above Hyrule, while the "new" Temple of Time might just be a decoy.

If you're on the surface in Skyward Sword, you can't really see Skyloft from there, nor the cloud barrier. It's therefore possible that these golden sky islands have already been there during the events of Breath of the Wild and long before, simply hidden from view. This has been a popular theory for a while now, which has some factual support with the three dragons, who are visibly breaching through a cloud barrier in the game. And all this time they might have been going to these golden sky islands, where we can even see a new dragon flying around.

Now, this doorway to the Sacred Realm must have been hidden in the skies for a long time. For about as long as Ganondorf has been sealed away in the deep underground of Hyrule, which must have been more than 10,000 years, because this is when the first Great Calamity happened. And he has awoken to a Hyrule, which has even forgotten that the Triforce ever existed. But he hasn't forgotten about it and he's back to claim it once more, where he's going into Hypermode.

large eruption of Malice unfolding in the sky

We can see this huge blast of Malice in the sky during the trailer, unleashed by Ganondorf. And while this could just be to spread the new monsters all over Hyrule, it might also be an attack to destroy the cloud barrier. To reveal the hidden sky islands above. The power of this damages the sky islands, so that parts of them crash onto the lands below. (Update: the Blood Moon scene seems to have taken place in the distant past, so it probably has nothing to do with breaking the cloud barrier.)

At the same time he somehow unearths entire parts of Hyrule with Malice, lifting them towards the sky, including Hyrule Castle itself, so he can get closer to the Sacred Realm. Well, his motives for lifting things into the sky are actually not as clear, but it makes sense that he wants to conquer the Sacred Realm and causes the Upheaval to bring himself closer to his goals.

We also know that some structures in Hyrule will be lifted into the skies during the course of the game, like the Lomei Labyrinths. So, whatever causes parts of the land to ascend into the heavens might actually be where the Zonai come into play. Perhaps this wasn't Hylia's doing, but it was actually the magic of the Zonai which created the sky islands. This makes a lot of sense, considering that they've installed the Constructs to defend and maintain them.

Well, we don't have a full picture at this point in time, where we can only speculate. But this is exactly what Nintendo wants us to do right now, to talk about the game, and it's certainly working!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – More Fighting Styles / Weapon Types?

artwork of dual-wielding Riju

While Breath of the Wild has a lot of different weapons, there are ultimately only four different weapon types in the game:

  • Sword & Shield
  • Two-Handed Sword
  • Spear
  • Bow

This gets reflected by the four Champions, where each of them utilizes exclusively one of these weapon types. A lot got squeezed into this systems, where rods are simply one-handed weapons, hammers two-handed weapons and so on. There are even boomerangs of different sizes.

But for the most part you use the weapons in the same category the same way. So, two-handed weapons for example won't let you shield, will only attack slowly, and will be whirled around you while charging, whether it's a giant sword, a hammer, or an axe. And this can get boring after a while, where there certainly should be some more variety. This is something where games like Elden Ring have the upper hand over Breath of the Wild and hopefully Nintendo has worked on this over the past five years.

Sadly, so far we haven't seen Link use anything new in Tears of the Kingdom. Well, there are some new possibilities thanks to Fuse. You can create an insanely long spear for example, but it still works like your normal spear weapon. The biggest change we have seen so far was a two-handed sword merged with a shield, so you can use it defensively. That's new, but the sword itself will otherwise work the same way, probably.

What we really need are some new fighting styles, new base weapon types. And if there are truly the Seven Sages, one for each "tear of the kingdom", as opposed to only four Champions, then there is the chance that some of the unknown Sages might feature something different from the others. In fact, we can already see Riju fighting with two Gerudo scimitars at once, like the Gerudo Thieves in the Nintendo 64 Zelda games. We don't know if Link will be able to do the same, but since this is not a Hyrule Warriors game, there is a good chance that Link will copy anything the new Sages will do, just like he did with the Champions in Breath of the Wild.

This wouldn't necessarily create new weapons, however. You would technically just fight with two one-handed weapons at once, where maybe you can combine them freely. So, you could fight with a sword in one hand and a boomerang in the other... Or a soup ladle, if that's your thing. But maybe there are some limitations to that or there are new weapons altogether which are specifically meant to be dual-wielded.

Things get even more complicated in combination with the Fuse ability. You have two swords in your hand, but you can only fuse one item at a time. So, what weapon does it go to? Perhaps Riju's new fighting style won't be something that you can copy and she still represents one-handed weapons, just in a different way from Urbosa...

With a Sheikah Sage they could follow Impa from Age of Calamity and offer some sort of throwing weapon. Those would be used up like arrows, but all weapons break, so it wouldn't be that different. It probably wouldn't work well with Fuse either, however, where this would have to be treated in the same way as arrows with the materials menu.

Another idea comes from the Creating a Champion artbook, where the Gerudo Champion originally was supposed to use a grappling hook, like some flail. This really could end up a in a separate weapon type, which is used differently and might provide some additional mobility. I'd also love to see whips, where they could become a thing of their own or maybe share a category with the grappling hook weapons.

In any case, there needs to be more on a basic level, which will let the possibilities of Fuse also grow. Like, you could fuse a sword to a whip for something quite nasty... But the truth is that they probably would have shown us at least one new weapon type if there truly were any, so I'm not getting my hopes up here.

Booster Course Pass: Leaks and Speculation #4

Athens Dash starting line

We interrupt our current Tears of the Kingdom speculation program to talk a bit more about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and its Booster Course Pass. While there haven't been any news about this since the last time, there has been quite some interesting development around Mario Kart Tour, which is ultimately the source of all the new contents in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

First of all, a new city tour has made its debut and it's Athens Dash. This has the potential to become one of my favorites of the cities, simply because it's not really a city, but you're racing through some ancient Greek temples. And they could do the same with Cairo in the future, though this would arguably end up being to similar to the many desert courses that we already have...

In addition, there has been some speculation about the data-mined "mobdk" course, which might not have anything to do with Donkey Kong at all. It seems to be featured in a Daisy-centric tour, where there is a good chance that "DK" actually stands for "desert kingdom", as an Sarasaland. As someone whose first video game was Super Mario Land on the GameBoy, I'm very excited about the prospect, especially after how sensational Yoshi's Island turned out to be. The music alone will probably make this one of my favorite courses...

Plus, there have been some other additions to Tour, like Wii Dry Dry Ruins, where I simply wanted to update my predictions a bit:

I would say that I can't wait to find out, but I will be so busy with Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom in the upcoming weeks and months that they can take their sweet time with this...

Monday, April 17, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Of Champions and Sages

Zelda-like character

dragon dude dirty

The Japanese eShop card for Tears of the Kingdom comes with a new screenshot, which shows the two mysterious characters from the trailer standing right next to each other (see NintendoEverything).

This adds further evidence for my theory that we're going to experience the era where Ganondorf has last been sealed in the form of flashbacks / memories. And these characters are part of the Seven Sages from that era, responsible for the seal. The blonde woman could simply be the Zelda from that time or it could be some other reincarnation of Hylia.

Whenever the story of previous Sages took place, it will be before the battle against Calamity Ganon from 10,000 years ago, where the first Champions came to be. Calamity Ganon seems to be just a Phantom Ganon, born from the Malice flowing out of the sealed Ganondorf. So, what Hyrule has been fighting for thousands of years now was only a manifestation, but not the source of the evil. The source was sealed by the Zonai magic hand that we saw in the 2019 teaser trailer long before that.

I don't think that we will experience this era directly, so it will be like in Breath of the Wild, where most of the story was told via the memories and focused on the Great Calamity from 100 years ago, as well as the Champions trying to stop it. And the Champions from 100 years ago really were the stars of Breath of the Wild, where they got their own amiibo, got more story via DLC, and also took control of the Divine Beasts at the end in the form of spirits.

artworks of the four Champions

This was at the expense of their descendants, where Sidon, Riju, Yunobo, and Teba helped you board the Divine Beasts, but this was the end of their part. They didn't take on the mantle of new Champions in Breath of the Wild and their full potential only came to fruit in the spin-off, Age of Calamity.

In Tears of the Kingdom this may be the other way around. We will probably get to see all the previous Sages via memories, but they won't be the stars of the story. Those will be the new Sages, because these are the characters that Link will relate to, where at least Riju and Sidon finally get to shine. They won't ever be the new Champions, where the Divine Beasts are gone anyway, but they will become something much more important to the lore of Zelda.

Tears of the Kingdom – Ganondorf's Tear(s)?

As you can see above, a new artwork of Ganondorf from the game has surfaced. I don't know where exactly, everyone's just posting it without giving a source, so I will do just the same... It matters not much, but what matters is the difference to the previous artwork.

There Ganondorf had a red tear on his crown, now it's grey green one. And this could mean a number of things, of course, where we can only speculate. In the trailer we saw a surge of energy coming from the tear on his forehead:

Maybe he used this tear up, so to say, in order to create the big Blood Moon and probably also the "Upheaval". But do already have an idea what these tears are for in the game, where they seemingly will give you additional abilities. For example, Zelda's tear is what gives you "Recall", and Link puts it into his new bracelet to use the ability. Presumably each tear will give him a different skill in the end.

But what if Ganondorf can use the tears in the same way? He puts them into his crown to harvest their power and do evil stuff with it. We can also see other characters wearing the tears as jewelry, like an earring for Riju.

The tears could be a bit like the Emblem Rings in Fire Emblem Engage, where different characters can use them for evil or good. And if that's the case, you will probably have to fight Ganondorf throughout the game in order to get any missing tears back.

Well, I'm just running wild with theories here, but it should be very clear that the titular "Tears of the Kingdom" will be a central aspect of the conflict and also more functional than your typical rewards for clearing a dungeon / freeing a sage.