Sunday, July 30, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom Adventure Log, Entry 17

standing under a root on a sky island with the North Lomei Labyrinth in the background, as well as one of the diving ceremonies

After a Mario Kart-shaped break, I'm back to the new Zelda game, where I'm a bit in a bad mood, to be honest. The game has been out for two and a half months now and during the last weeks the internet has apparently crossed the magic line where it's okay to spoil everything in the game for everyone.

Someone might shove the final boss right into your face and if you complain about it, then others will jump in to victim-blame you, because there was more than enough time to 100% the game by now and it's really your own fault if you didn't... I'm not making this up, this is what happened to me and I'm still very mad about this. I wanted to take my sweet time and this completely backfired, because seeing the final boss – just like that without any warning – really took away a good surprise there.

And now everything else just feels like this big wall that I need to overcome, just to be in the loop again and to not be in a position where the internet can ruin any more surprises. But it's not like I'm going to magically have more free time, especially if I'm getting distracted by other games already. Normally, I would love to have such an extensive Zelda game, but it's simply way too much for me at the moment.

near the exit to a cave in the desert

Well, my current goal is to be mostly finished until the next Nintendo Direct in September – not 100%, but at least all shrines and stuff, so I'm prepared for any post-game DLC. This may be tough, because there will be at least two weeks where I won't be able to play and write (much). But I've made some progress, where one week ago I went into the Gerudo Desert and completed most things in and around the area, including the dungeon that awaits you there. So, I'm slowly, but surely getting there...


Originally, my plan was to go for the temples counter clockwise, so after the Fire Temple I wanted to head into the Hebra Mountains and go help the Rito. But after my lengthy coliseum tour through the Depths, I've ended up in the southwest corner of the map and there is one of those Ascension towers right there... So, I couldn't resist and enter the Gerudo Desert.

entered the Gerudo Desert

You'll end up near the leviathan bones, which are now found underground, and it's a double heat area, where luckily I had eight minutes of Heat Resistance food, as well as the Island Lobster Shirt in my inventory, so I wasn't entirely unprepared for this journey.

Eight minutes isn't that much, however, when most of the desert is covered in sandstorms, which turn your map into nothing but noise. This was already a thing in Breath of the Wild, but it has gotten a lot more extensive in Tears of the Kingdom and you can't just make it go away by finding a shrine hidden within the storm. Instead, it's the calamity of this region, the so called "Sand Shroud".

flying with the hover bike above the sandstorm

At first, I tried to find my way through on Mineru, but I quickly lost directions and then had to resort to the hoverbike, so I could just fly over the storm and aim directly at Gerudo Town. But it's fine, Nintendo has actually acknowledged the possibility of this bike in a tweet (Xcuse me), so I don't have to feel like I'm using an exploit any longer. It's totally still an exploit, though, because it completely removes any challenge from exploring the sky and the Depths, but one where I'm happy to make use of it.

Gibdo Town

Having arrived in Gerudo Town, I immediately noticed that something was off, because no one was screeching their head out the second I've crossed the town's borders without drags... Oh, and the whole town was in a state of total desolation, which may or may not explain why a voe can now enter it undetected.

at the center of the abandoned Gerudo Town in the middle of a sandstorm

And even worse than voes, the town is now crawling with Gibdos, where the whole atmosphere reminded me of Louran in Terranigma. Just a town in a desert storm, overrun by the undead...

two Gibdo approaching, with a Fire Lizalfos blade readied

The new Gibdo technically aren't zombies, however, because they are some sort of insectoid species in Tears of the Kingdom, as indicated by their winged versions and the big boss of this area. I can't say that I'm a big fan of this redesign, since the ReDeads and Gibdos were some of the scariest and most memorable enemies in the classic 3D Zelda games. Here they are just slow and weak to fire, but nothing to be scared about.

I guess, the idea was to make you panic with their immunity to regular weapons, but every diehard Zelda fan will quickly try fire on Gibdos. It only took me seconds to figure out how to beat them when I first met them in the Depths, where they were arguably a bit scarier due to the Gloom.

Vais' Hideout

It didn't take long to find where the Gerudo are hiding, where there are multiple ways into their shelter. I used Ascend from the water canals below, where I was actually following the messages in a bottle, expecting some side quest, but to my surprise I ended up right in the middle of the Gerudo tribe... without any disguise, oops.

Gerudp underground shelter with carpets on the ceiling, potted palm trees, and small water canals

Bularia immediately recognizes you and gives you a free pass, where this is like the Gerudo's Membership Card from Ocarina of Time, just without the physical token. And now you're finally allowed to freely walk among the Gerudo...

Man, this is something that I always wanted in Breath of the Wild, where disguising yourself as a vai was fun in the beginning, but it gets a bit annoying later on. And considering all you've done for the Gerudo it felt a bit ungrateful, where Tears of the Kingdom now proves that it wasn't much of an issue after all. But desperate times call for desperate measures...

There are a couple of fun things to do in the shelter as a voe, such as firing a cannon indoors or getting thrown in jail, where this may sound like the one leads to the other, but these activities are related in a different way. There are are tablets hidden all over the shelter, so called "stelae", which tell you about the Seven Heroines and the Eighth Heroine. I was getting excited for a moment how this could truly refer to Zelda and the sages in the distant past, but this wouldn't have added up anyway, because there were only six sages and Zelda was one of them.

Rotana: "Must be nice, having the same name as Princess Zelda's favored swordsman."

Instead this leads to a miniature version of the Seven Heroines statues, where you now have to search for the orbs all around Gerudo Town (and some other place). In the end you will learn that the Eighth Heroine was in fact a male, who fought alongside the Seven Heroines in battle. But since they couldn't allow him into Gerudo Town, they had to send him away afterwards and he was left unrewarded. Well, I know how that guy must have felt...

targeting a Gerudo tablet with the camera

For one of the stelae you need to get inside the jail. I've tried taking a picture from the outside, but it won't be recognized then... And just like with the shelter itself, there are multiple ways into the prison: you can go in there yourself via Ascend, you can disguise as a Yiga, or you can break the rules, such as entering the "Voe and You" class for children, because they are not allowed to interact with voes yet.

One of the children includes Dalia, the little girl from Breath of the Wild, who wanted to plant wildberries in the "Mystery Polluter" side quest. She has grown quite a bit, making her look almost like a teenager now and giving her access to the class, which is not for the youngest children. Finally, they thought about making some of the kids in a town grow for a couple of years! It's only "some", however, because Makure, for example, who looked like she was in the same age as Dalia in Breath of Wild, is still a small child and not allowed to class...

Meeting Riju

At least Riju has also grown quite a bit since Breath of the Wild, but with the Gerudo it's all relative, since they can become quite tall. So, she clearly isn't an adult yet, even when she is getting closer to Link's height by now, who is quite small in the eyes of the Gerudo.

Riju training the Northern Ruins, with Patracia nearby

Riju - Chief of the Gerudo

She has gained some control over the power of lightning, but she is no Urbosa yet, where you have to direct her ability via arrows. You fire an arrow and this will attract a lightning strike. After a small recharge you can do this again, but her attack area needs to spread first.

This adds some balance for the lightning ability, where Urbosa's Fury was just very overpowered and needed the longer cooldown. Here you can use Riju's lightnings more often, but you can't take out an entire group of enemies with it, only when they are all close to each other.

incoming Gibdo

It's a very good tool against the Gibdos, however, where the lightnings will also set them on fire. And you will put Riju's abilities to a test right at the Kara Kara Bazaar, which is getting invaded by the insectoid zombies  – only once you arrive there, of course.

There's finally a shrine there for easy access, another thing I've always wanted in Breath of the Wild...

Return of the Mirror Shield

While there aren't many new shields to be found in Tears of the Kingdom, you can be very crafty with making all sorts of weird shields via Fuse. And I've already noticed much earlier in the game that you can now make a "Mirror Shield" by fusing any shield with a Zonai mirror device.

Mirror Shield in the inventory

It was not of much use to me up until now, however, where the shrines around the Gerudo Desert introduce beams of light as puzzles, just like in the good old days of the Spirit Temple in Ocarina of Time. The Mirror Shield really was something special in the first three 3D Zelda games, where I've missed this tool ever since Twilight Princess. But now it's finally back...!

Well... it's as clunky as it looks, because you can't directly change the direction of where the shield is facing, unlike in Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and The Wind Waker. You can move around with it, but you can't reflect the light in a certain angle, so you are better off just holding and placing the mirror with the Ultrahand in the end, which is a bit of a shame, but not as disappointing as the skateboard shield.


Temple of Flight

Before continuing my adventures in the desert, I decided to upgrade the Desert Voe garments for the set bonus. You can obtain two of its pieces in the Gerudo Secret Club, where now you are able to enter it from below via Ascend in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. The missing headpiece is sold at the Kara Kara Bazaar, where you probably will get this first if you enter the desert from that direction.

For the Zonaite armor stuff I also needed some Captain Construct I horns, so I've went back to the Great Sky Island to see if I can find any. Well, I could find only one, but I also found a mysterious green light coming from the top of the Temple of Time.

ceiling of the Temple of Time with a green light coming from it

In the beginning of the game I thought that this place will have some special meaning later on. After all, I was going into this game with the theory that this Temple of Time and the sky islands act as the gate to the Sacred Realm. But at this point it doesn't seem like the story of Tears of the Kingdom will go into that kind of territory and it's all about the Zonai Secret Stones, instead of the Triforce.

So, I wasn't too disappointed to only find some flight trial, where you have to light a number of torches without ever touching the ground all around the Great Sky Island. It's essentially just a mini-game and I suppose this unlocks once you have assembled the full wingsuit, but I'm not entirely sure, because I haven't been to the tutorial area in quite some time.

This scores you a Zonai fabric for the paraglider, which looks pretty good, so I've been using this ever since. After I had my fill of the lovely Egg Fabric, I've been trying to use a fabric that is a nice match for my current adventures, where I've been using the Goron Champion and Goron Fabric during my time around Death Mountain, for example. The Gerudo Champion Fabric wasn't to my liking, however, but the Zonai Fabric does have some desert vibes to it, so I just went with that...

The Zonai Fabric also has a Triforce pattern on it, almost like it's mocking me for believing that this could be a thing at where I've obtained it.

Town Defense

After successfully defending the Kara Kara Bazaar (and upgrading my fancy desert armor), it was time to do the same for Gerudo Town, where you're even given time to organize the defenses. You can install barricades and a cannon, but each only at one entrance. And you can move different types of troops around.

There are plenty of tower defense games or games with similar mechanics, where I personally was reminded of Unreal II - The Awakening. There you also could install barricades and turrets, as well as command troops to patrol certain areas, before some incoming waves of enemies. And I always had a blast with this, where I was getting quite excited here.

The directions are a bit messed up, where they talk about "west", "north", and "east" gates, but the town isn't aligned with the cardinal directions. You have a northwest gate, a northeast gate, and so on on... Well, whatever, I put the barricades and the cannon both to the northwest / west gate, so I could focus on defending the others myself. And it was a good plan.

running towards two Gibdos coming from the east gate

But in the end it was super easy and I've spent way too much time thinking about the defenses. I actually even wonder if you can possibly fail this mission... In the least, it does give me hope that you really will have to defend Lookout Landing in the same style after completing all four temples, where this could become a lot more interesting. Especially with all the Zonai device stuff some tower defense gameplay really lends itself to the game.

The Lightning Temple

Your next task is to connect three towers with a light beam, where you have to align some mirrors. The end result will look very familiar to anyone who has played The Wind Waker, but this doesn't let the pyramid raise... yet.

three beams in the Sand Shroud creating a triangle

At the center you will find an electrical terminal, which can powered with Riju's ability, which then lets the pyramid rise... Again, this should feel familiar to Zelda fans, where in this case it's reminiscent of the Lanayru Mining Facility in Skyward Sword. But this journey here was a lot more enjoyable, to be fair.

The final trailer already give us a glimpse at the scene, where the pyramid rises, where my worries that the trailer might be showing too much were completely justified. In fact, now that I think about it, there are still many scenes in that trailer that I have yet to experience in the game. They went that far.

When I first saw that trailer, I believed that this could be the Pyramid of Power, where this isn't the case. Though, you could probably still call it that with the electricity theme going, it's just about a different type of power, but it's actually the "Lightning Temple".

Lightning Temple – The Mural's Myth, Risen from the Sands

This is where Riju joins you, where like Sidon she only stays with you for the dungeon, really. I've tried going back to Gerudo Town with her, but she will leave your side once you go too far out of range of the temple. It's interesting how the more popular Champion / sage descendants are so much more limited in their quality time with you, while Yunobo follows you all around Death Mountain. Not saying that Yunobo unpopular, just not as popular as Sidon and Riju were. With Tulin you will probably also spend more time, I bet, but I'll see about that "soon".

Now, you're immediately greeted by the boss, the Queen Gibdo. I've heard this boss's name already back in May, as a slight spoiler, but only the name where I had trouble imagining how a queen of Gibdos could look like, but this was before I knew that the Gibdos are more like insects now. And the design of this really reminds me of some similar entity from another game, but I can't fully put my finger on it what it could be. I thought about the Primagen from Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, or something from the Metroid Prime Trilogy. And there are plenty of bugs with masks in Hollow Knight. But I suppose it's simply such a generic insect design that it looks familiar by default...

For a moment I was worried that this would end up like this game's Spirit Temple, where you get a boss and that's it, no real dungeon. And the most difficult part about the boss was also taking a good picture, where this was mostly due to the Sand Shroud. You don't really get nice clear shots, but it's better to try it in front of the temple than later inside.

Link with a torch descending into the pyramid

The inside really is how you would imagine it, descending into the dark full of traps and treasures. It fully pays off that the dungeons are now all an integrated part of the world around them, where the whole architecture became so much more excellent.

You can also use Ascend to skip right to later parts of the dungeon or to the top of the pyramid. This won't do you much good without Riju, however, who won't magically teleport to you, unless you're close and the path is accessible to her by foot. And there are entire sections of the dungeon where Link has to do things on his own, while Riju will just chill in the main chamber.

light beams atop the main chamber

After the initial, linear section to said main chamber, your goal is to power four batteries for an elevator, where you have to overcome several obstacles and puzzles. And a big part of that are beam reflecting puzzles, where this is truly putting the "Light" in "Lightning Temple". I'm happy that light has returned as an interactive element in this game, which was missing in Breath of the Wild (unless you count the Light Arrows), but it got the short end of the stick here, at least so far.

One day... in the far future, there will be a Zelda game where a "Temple of Light" will finally become a playable dungeon. It's the pipe dream of everyone who has grown up with Ocarina of Time. But the light puzzles fit very well here thematically, much more than the lightning stuff, and of course this is another throwback to the Spirit Temple from Ocarina of Time, as well as the Earth Temple from The Wind Waker.

And it's basically the "earth" dungeon in this game as well, meaning it acts as some sort of giant cave. So far every of the main dungeons has been in a different part of the game's world. The Water Temple was in the sky, the Fire Temple was in the Depths, and the Lightning Temple was mostly underground. If there's a pattern here, then the Wind Temple should be aboveground, but not high up in the skies, to get a dungeon on the overworld. That's just a thought at this point, however, where it's more likely that it's another sky dungeon.

at the side of the temple during the daylight

And the Lightning Temple also comes with an extensive outside, but there you can only find a couple of treasure chests. I've explored this after activating all but one batteries, where the music is the most fire. That Vah Naboris remix was absolutely fantastic and I wanted to dwell in it as long as possible, where it's nice that the game keeps the music going on the outside as well.

Overall, I found the dungeon to be quite entertaining. I was more impressed by the Fire Temple, but the architecture and the different mechanics made the Lightning Temple shine. It's just that the new formula of "reach a number of points in the dungeon to get to the boss" is leaving a sour taste in my mouth. They've simply replaced the classic formula with another, where it might even be more difficult to infuse enough variety into the dungeon layouts. But at least they were trying with both the Fire and Lightning Temples.

Vai Meets Voe

After the Lightning Temple got conquered and the Sand Shroud left the Gerudo Desert, things go mostly back to how they were in Breath of the Wild, at least in Gerudo Town. The main difference is that you're still allowed to walk around freely as a male this time.

at the sand seal statue at Gerudo Town, with the Lightning Temple in the background

But they are getting sloppy anyway. Bozai, the guy who gave you the Snow and Sand Boots in Breath of the Wild, now has sneaked over the walls. And it would have been fun if you had this type of freedom in Breath of the Wild, where instead you got spotted the millisecond you cross over the town's border without any disguise. He sits atop the Gerudo Secret Club, which is where the special boots are now sold.

One of the Gerudo who works there also has a husband, who turns out to be the one prisoner in jail, but Link doesn't bother with telling her about this. And this isn't the only interaction that doesn't really lead to much. You can attend the "Voe and You" class for adults as a practice voe and help the students there with getting comfortable talking to you.

Nali: "Hey, I can talk to him like this!" (Link is wearing Majora's Mask)

The last one finally gives you a usage for the Ring Garland sold by Koko in Kakariko. At least it's the only usage I found for it so far... And at first I thought that you had to attach it to a vehicle and fly it all the way over to Gerudo Town, but fusing it to your equipment does the trick as well. Otherwise I would have wasted a lot of time for nothing, because these classes are really just for fun and there is no side quest with a reward attached to them.

Noble Pursuit - A popular fruit juice in Gerudo Town. Its tropical flavor will cheer your right up.

You can also now make the Noble Pursuit drink yourself, which is another requirement for the class. I've even went back to Breath of the Wild to see if this was already possible in that game and I've simply missed it, but the recipe will just give you some Simmered Fruit. It's also lacking the alcohol that was heavily implied to be part of it.

in front of Mattison's balloon

Both the Secret Club and the "Voe and You" class can be done before clearing the Lightning Temple, but there is something – or rather someone – missing until then: Mattison. I've kept an eye out for her, but I couldn't find her, where I first thought that you need to look for her somewhere along the way. Maybe she has crashed, maybe she is seeking shelter from the Sand Shroud...

But no, she simply appears once the Gibdo storm is over, like nothing has happened. It's been two months since I did the quests in Tarrey Town! And even ingame multiple weeks must have passed since then... Was she simply staying in the air all this time? Did she have this much food with her?

approaching Mattison next to her balloon with cardboard Hudson fused to my shield
Your daddy was worried!

I suppose, the developers didn't really expect you to do this side adventure long before the Lightning Temple. But it already was reckless to put a child into a hot-air balloon and hope for the best, even without the Sand Shroud and an army of Gibdos as an obstacle.

No Thunder Helm?

You can help the people of Gerudo Town all you want, Riju doesn't really seem to care about that as much this time and instead guides you towards the Vah Naboris Divine Helmet. If you want a certain other reward, you may be out of luck here...

brought Riju a sand seal plush

Hey, Riju, what's up? I brought you something. And now that I've saved Gerudo Town... again, may I borrow that precious Thunder Helm of yours once more? Pretty please? There are some three-headed dragons around that– Wait, what do you mean, "you don't have it"?

Makes you wonder what happened with it. Did the Yiga steal it again? Has Link simply never returned it after his adventures in Breath of the Wild? I guess that it's the latter and the player can be happy that Riju doesn't make a fuzz about it. Or that Bularia didn't throw you into jail on first sight.

If the Thunder Helm truly doesn't return in Tears of the Kingdom, this will make the full rubber set a lot more valuable, at least. In Breath of the Wild it was kind of obsolete, because it was just more convenient to put on the helm whenever needed. But it may take me a while before I'm ready to fight those Thunder Gleeoks.

The Kneeling Ganondorf

There is another memory to be found on the area, right at the cliffs to the Gerudo Highlands. I don't have any good cold protection yet, only the Archaic Warm Greaves from the tutorial. I also could purchase a Ruby Circlet in Gerudo Town in addition, but I'll just wait until I have the Snowquill set from the Ritos, which you are supposed to get early in the game anyway. And for discovering the Dragon's Tear it was enough for now.

Impa wondering, "Where is that geoglyph?", while it's right in front of her in the background.
How is your eyesight doing, Impa?

The memory was a nice throwback to Ocarina of Time, where Ganondorf had an audience with the king of Hyrule. Would have been funny if he took a suspicious look to the right, outside of the windows, but of course this is not the same Ganondorf.

He mentions that Rauru and Mineru are the last living Zonai, only adding more to the mystery around this tribe, instead of shedding light on it. There may as well could have been a time where the Zonai used to be more barbaric, where it would be interesting to learn more about them and about the history before this Hyrule got founded.

Desert of Mystery

With the Sand Shroud gone the Gerudo Desert becomes a lot more "explorable" and it's also one of the more interesting places to re-explore. The changes may not be as drastic as around Death Mountain, but it does feel very different overall.

driving through the desert on a slide with a fan, the Lightning Temple in the background

Not only is there lots of sky debris, but there are lot more enemy fortifications, making the whole desert appear a lot busier than the blank dunes of sands that we had in Breath of the Wild. And then there is a big rift going right through the middle of the area, where I've accidentally run into this on a propelled slide when the Sand Shroud was still up. It actually feels a bit closer to how the Gerudo Desert was in Twilight Princess, it's just missing the Peahats and the boars.

ready for a fight with the phantoms of Sidon, Yunobo, and Riju all in one spot next to a shrine

The Molduga are also still around, just in different locations, unless you count the one at the East Barrens. But that's where the King Molduga in used to be as part of DLC pack 2, The Champions' Ballad.

My first reaction after encountering one of the sand giants was "wait, I don't have Bombs anymore". But Riju's ability is really good to shoot them out of the air and by now I've reached the maximum of 999 arrows in my inventory, even though I use them quite often. So, I simply now shoot arrows at the sand to lure the Molduga and then attack with a lightning strike when jumps out of the sand.

with Phantom Riju on a rock in the desert at the night, the Lightning Temple with a shrine vortex in front of it in the background

The biggest change in the desert probably comes from all the quick and drift sands, however, which can make navigating the desert a bit more interesting. You can through some of it with Mineru, but not always. Well, it's not challenging enough to justify a blessing shrine, just because it's surrounded by running sands, since you can just fly over the obstacles. But whatever...

In addition, the quicksand holes lead into underground caves. The caves (and the desert rift) are the places where you can still find Gibdos after the Sand Shroud has disappeared. And some of them are quite excellent, where they are like mini-dungeons under sands, where this area has made the best use of caves so far. There is a lot more to explore thanks to them and they feel thematically very distinct from the usual caves you find elsewhere.

Yiga Canyon

Another area that has changed quite drastically is the Gerudo Canyon, because there is now a river running through the place and leaving the Gerudo Canyon Stable almost abandoned. While there is an improvised road to the stable, it became Yiga territory, leaving the stable cut off. But with the new wooden bridges and the new waterfalls the whole area actually became a bit more similar to the Gerudo Canyon from Ocarina of Time.

in the Yiga disguise at the waterfall tunnel at Gerudo Canyon

Behind the giant waterfall you can find the Yiga Blademaster test, but instead of demonstrating your sword skills, you have to place bananas at four of those little frog altars all over the canyon, where this is a good excuse to explore the whole area. On your way you will even find some lost people again, just like in Breath of the Wild. Come to think of it, this may always have been a slight reference to Ocarina of Time, where you have to rescue the four carpenters.

Link standing next to a Yiga Blademaster

Once you're done with the banana test, you can claim the title of a Blademaster, where you are rewarded with two treasure chests and – more importantly – a shrine. I expected something cooler, like a Yiga Blademaster hood, but it will have to do.

According to the Yiga Blademaster Master, they found this shrine in the Depths, which is a bit curious, because there are no shrines to be found here, only the Lightroots below the shrines. But he is also not the smartest tool in the Yiga shed, because you can take off your Yiga disguise at any time without any consequences here. He will remark how you will look familiar, but in the end he is simply happy about having new recruits...

burning tumbleweeds above garbage

Speaking of the mentally challenged, there is a woman sweeping the garbage area above the Oseira Plains. Her only concern are the many tumbleweeds there, however, which are a new thing in the game, but not as useful as they were in Skyward Sword. At least I haven't found any good use for them yet, but they are certainly good fire spreaders.

a fallen ruin at the entrance to the Gerudo Canyon, which a Gerudo guard blocking the way through

Sky ruins have fallen down at the Gerudo Canyon Pass, which is something that I've learned a long time ago at the Outskirt Stable, but I haven't bothered with checking this out until now. Going near the ruins gets you called off, just like in Kakariko, which immediately annoyed me again. But luckily this is only for a short and pointless test, because the Gandalf Gerudo standing at the entrance won't let you pass until you have proven to be knowledgeable about survival skills...

I just came from the canyon...! I went through the whole area, both day and night, and I'm still alive. I was also at the Gerudo Desert and freed it from the Sand Shroud. So, yeah, please make sure that I'm able to survive there... now.

standing at the Nephra Hill, above the Gerudo Canyon Pass, with the Great Plateau in the background

To be fair, it was probably not intended by the developers that you go into the desert via the Depths and many players will probably go through the canyon first. But there are so many ways into the desert, circumventing the Digdogg Suspension Bridge, that it would been nice if the game somehow recognized this here. But it's not a big deal, I just don't like it when NPCs can call you off like that.

Anyway, I already had found all the people that needed rescue during my travels, so all that was left to do in the canyon was driving the new road from start to finish. It's fun, but you have to be careful not to drive over any bananas... I've been experimenting with some minimalist vehicles using only a steering stick, one or two wheels, and a stabilizer, but so far I haven't come up with anything that gives me the satisfying wild ride of the Master Cycle Zero.

driving with two big wheels, a steering stick, and a stabilizer

While the hover cycle is far superior, it makes you go so fast (and potentially so high) that it's easy to miss Koroks and alike. You also want a nice ground vehicle for exploration, but nothing seems to match the handling of the Master Cycle Zero, let alone its convenience.

Trick Shrines 

There is also the South Lomei Labyrinth waiting for you at the east end of the desert and I've been hesitant with playing this one. There are a lot of treasure chests with good weaponry to be found in these mazes, so ideally you will go there when you are low on weapons.

a dragon circle at the top of the sky labyrinth, looking like a Stargate

It played out the exact same way as the Lomei Labyrinth Island, where I'm guessing the North Lomei Labyrinth won't be any different. But here you are greeted by the "ruler of boars", where the last one will probably be the ruler of owls, all named after the three different types of Zonai statues that could already be found in Breath of the Wild.

inside a blessing shrine, where the stair case has collapsed

The "Unlit Blessing" of the Siyamotsus Shrine at the top labyrinth was certainly something else, though. This was a really cool idea, but the name sadly gave both the surprise and the solution to this shrine away right on entering it. It was already a problem in Breath of the Wild that the names of the trials often give away the solution, e.g. "Path of Hidden Winds". While I don't feel like it happens that often in Tears of the Kingdom, it still happens.

inside a shrine next to a switch and with three shafts in the distance and a candle below one of them

Torch lighting puzzles are also rare and I was quite confused about the "Drifting Flame" trial in the Karahatag Shrine, because I didn't understand that you were dealing with inverted torches. I tried to light the one at the entrance with the torch there, but it didn't work (because I wasn't high enough). What worked was using Ascend through the torch, which lets you jump right over the fence at the beginning, effectively skipping this puzzle. But this didn't help with understanding what I had to next... Well, I found it out eventually.

Up in the sky archipelago above the Gerudo Canyon you can also take a picture of the Spectacle Rock looking like a smiley face, which is something you need for the abandoned Gerudo Canyon Stable, where the last remaining employee wants to decorate the place before leaving it. It's quite hard to take a nice picture of the ground from so high up, however, and I need one more picture from the Gerudo Highlands to finish this side quest.

Rocks of Spectacle

Speaking of the Spectacle Rock, while going all around Gerudo Canyon and the east of the Gerudo Desert, there is a certain creature always throning above you in the distance, like it owns the whole place.

looking at the Spectacle Rock from a distance with a three-headed dragon sitting on top

A Flame Gleeok! The other "eye" is now occupied by a Rare Stone Talus, where you have to get there for the Yiga Blademaster test. In Breath of the Wild you had a Sheikah Tower there on the northernmost eye and Vah Naboris on the other, but all this technology got replaced by bosses. And it was time to show them who is boss...

Scourge of Spectacle Rock - Flame Gleeok, on the ground with tongues out

I've defeated a King Gleeok before, where ironically those were far more approachable so far than the "normal" types. As for a Flame Gleeok, I first thought that the Flamebreaker Armor would do the trick, but that's not the case, you want the normal heat protection. But that's what I got from the Gerudo now, so the fight was on. You only need the basic level, so you can use the rest of the armor for other goodies, like improved attack.

Sadly, the Ember set doesn't give you heat protection as a set bonus. This would have been perfect to fight Flame Gleeoks then, but instead it's just some improved charge in the heat... While it's something different, using the full set requires you to either eat some heat protection food or to always carry an icy weapon during the fight, where you may not want to do either. So, it's probably best to mix the Ember set with the Gerudo Voe set or something like that.

The tricky part came at the end, where the Flame Gleeok also goes high up. I hoped that only King Gleeoks would do this, because without the icicles there doesn't seem to be an easy way to follow them. Maybe Tulin's ability gives you something like Revali's Gale, but I don't have that yet and these dragons go really high up. So, in the end I just used Autobuild for a hover cycle, while hiding below the sky rock in the middle of the "arena", to somehow finish the fight.

An actual King Gleeok can also be found at the west border of the desert, again on a sky island very high up, where it looks like one might be in each corner of the map, except for the northeast, where the Lomei Labyrinth Island resides. But the island above the desert gives you a nice view of the world far beyond the border of the map, where you can see that the desert and the Gerudo Highlands are still going for a bit until hitting the ocean.

This was probably the same in Breath of the Wild, but it wasn't as easy to get a glimpse of this. And it makes you wonder why they cut the map off like this in the southwest, instead of just letting it end organically. I would have loved to explore the desert all the way to the shores...

Instead I will go up north. Now that I'm a Yiga Blademaster, I should pay the Yiga Clan Hideout a visit and say hello to my fellow colleagues. What could go wrong? Well, let's find out in the next entry...



  • Sage's Vows: 4
  • Sage's Wills: 13
  • Memories: 14/18
  • Towers: 12/15
  • Shrines: 119
  • Lightroots: 90
  • Caves: 96/147
  • Korok Seeds: 350
  • Schema Stones: 9
  • Yiga Schematics: 14
  • Old Maps: 15

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Oracle of Ages & Seasons @ Nintendo Switch Online

on a Minecart ride through the Gnarled Root Dungeon

As a small surprise today, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons became part of the Nintendo Switch Online Game Boy library. So, anyone with the basic subscription can play these Zelda classics now on their Nintendo Switch.

This may bode ill for a potential remake, but only for a moment. And we just got Tears of the Kingdom anyway, so there won't be any other Zelda releases in the near future, probably not before 2024, which gives a remake enough time to be of interest.

For those who have already played the original games, the Nintendo Switch Online version won't make much of a difference and they might want a remake for the novelties it brings alone. And those who are giving them a try for the first time now might find the password system to be too archaic to truly get into the whole mechanic of linking both games.

Something tells me that my ring guides will get a lot of visits soon... and I'm happy to answer the same questions for the hundredth time, where this will always remain a convoluted topic.

A remake would certainly help with that and make the whole experience a lot more accessible. So, the Nintendo Switch Online release can be seen as an appetizer for the real deal. Not everyone will bite afterwards, since getting into the emulated Game Boy Color classics will certainly be good enough for some and a remake will be sold at full price, as usually, but the Nintendo Switch Online release won't make it obsolete or undesirable by any means.

the GBA Shop in Horon Village

Also, like on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, you are unable to enter the Game Boy Advance exclusive shops. You can still get the rings in there via password manipulation, though, which is also covered by my guides. But this is another thing where a remake will certainly shine, because some features simply are not accessible on the emulated versions and a remake can come up with new things to replace them.

Unlike on the Nintendo 3DS, however, you can still talk to the Blue Snake and you can also select the Game Link option when creating a new file, but both will give you an error. It might be that you can get Ring Fortunes via online play somehow, but I doubt it and I won't have the time to investigate stuff like this myself, sadly.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Got the Pyra & Mythra amiibo

photo of the packaging
As another interlude, before I continue with Tears of the Kingdom, I wanted to show my latest and for now last addition to my Super Smash Bros. amiibo collection, also as a follow-up to the Minecraft amiibo from last year. The Aegis, Pyra & Mythra, are now available as amiibo in a double pack since Friday.

It feels forever ago that they were released in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which was in March 2021. They are number 92 and should be the last amiibo in the Smash series for now. And before you say "Sora", he probably won't be getting one, because Disney...

photo of the two amiibo from the front

photo of the two amiibo from the back

Anyway, even if this is the end, they've certainly saved a highlight for the finale. They are a looker and quite detailed, where they are among my favorites under the new additions. My absolute favorite from the Smash line is still Min Min, however.