Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Super Mario Bros. Wonder (Review)

Super Mario Bros. Wonder Logo

If you're in the mood for a short and sweet game after putting hundreds of hours into Tears of the Kingdom, then Nintendo has you covered with Super Mario Bros. Wonder, the next iteration of 2D Mario. The last one was New Super Mario Bros. U, one of the launch titles for the Wii U, which also found its way onto the Nintendo Switch four and a half years ago, in the same year as the remake of Link's Awakening. So, it's been a while and it already wasn't the most exciting release back then...

While you can see that the New Super Mario Bros. games were used as a foundation, Nintendo really tried to freshen things up a bit with Super Mario Bros. Wonder and improve the game on various fronts. For once, it looks much prettier, where the expressive characters and all the new effects add a lot of charm. But first and foremost they have smoothed many of the edges, mostly by taking notes from Super Mario 3D World.

For example, you're not thrown out of a level onto the world map any longer when you die, you can just instantly retry, saving you a lot of time. You don't have to actually beat the game in order to save whenever you want, you can do this from the start without the need of temporary quick saves. You can also store an additional power-up in your pocket, which can be released by holding the A button.

If you collect one of the big Flower Coins, where there's three in each level, similar to the Star Coins in previous games, you will keep it even on death, which works like the green stars in Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury on the Nintendo Switch. But the game also now keeps track of every level where you have touched the top of the flag pole for completion, adding a little extra challenge there.

Luigi and Toad riding on rockets

In multiplayer the player characters don't collide any longer and the game also doesn't freeze for the other players when someone grabs a power-up, which makes things a lot less frustrating and potentially more fun to play, unless you really enjoyed screwing your teammates over. It also removes some options, like using the others as a stepping stone. You can only play together in person on the same Nintendo Switch, however, where the new online mode lets you see other players and help them out, but you're not really playing together... This seems like a weird restriction, given how the local multiplayer already limited the interactions between players.

Nintendo has also removed scores and the arbitrary time limits from the levels (with some exceptions). The latter is certainly a good decision for any platformer that comes with secrets and hidden collectibles, because sometimes you just want to explore and then the timer cuts you off for no good reason... And you may not care about the scores at all, where the removal doesn't really matter, but it might have been an incentive for some to replay the levels, where there really isn't any reason to do so in Super Mario Bros. Wonder once you got all the checkmarks.

Toadette in a coin collecting level

At this point you might even question the existence of other common Super Mario elements in this game, like for example the golden coins. They still give you a 1-Up for every 100 that you collect, but that's really all they do and that's not really much.

Problem is that Super Mario Bros. Wonder has a second currency with the purple Flowers Coins, which really pop visually next to their golden counterparts. They can be used to buy various other collectibles in the game, but also lives, where here you need only five Flower Coins for one. You can even buy lives in bundles for a volume discount and it's so easy to get enough that they game probably could have gotten rid of lives altogether, just like the unnecessary restriction of a time limit.

Sunbaked Desert World Map entrance

The world map is also more similar to Super Mario 3D World, where the levels are shown as little dioramas and you can even walk around freely in certain areas to play levels in any order and even explore the map for little secrets, like hidden Captain Toads. Other parts follow the traditional pathways between the levels and it really depends on the world, where some are completely open, others only use paths, but most of them have a good mix.

If you've grown sick of seeing the same couple of worlds in the same order, then Super Mario Bros. Wonder also mixes things up quite a bit. The traditional desert world, for example, now comes much later, is entirely made out of cake, and features a huge oriental castle with some surprises. The beach world, called "Petal Isles", now acts as a hub and even leads to the final levels of the game. There are also new ideas for worlds, like a mine, but overall they didn't go as crazy as they did in the Super Mario Land games, for example. But it's a huge way coming from the stale New Super Mario Bros. games.

They did go quite crazy with the levels themselves, however, where you never know what to expect from them. It's on par with the excellent Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, where each level becomes a unique step in the journey, introducing new ideas and gameplay mechanics on every turn. When Piranha Plants start singing and walking already in the second level, you know that you're up for quite a ride. Super Mario Bros. Wonder even has a variety of enemies that you will only see in one or two levels, always keeping things fresh.

silhouette level

And then it gets turned all on its head with the Wonder Flowers, where you never know what you can expect on what's essentially Mario's version of a LSD trip. You may ride on a giant Dragon Yoshi, get transformed into a spiked ball (with Manbo's Mambo to beat), or chased by a horde of enemies. The level may turn into a silhouette (also like in the new Donkey Kong Country games) with stretchy bodies, remove the gravity, or shift the perspective to a top-down view. It's a surprise box and while you can see what might be coming in some cases, it never gets old and often puts a smile on your face.

But what effort and creativity went into designing the levels and even the new enemies, there wasn't enough left of it for the bosses. You've probably heard this complaint a hundred times already when reading this, but it needs to be said. As stale as the Koopalings may have gotten with New Super Mario Bros. U, it still beats fighting Bowser Jr. three times over... The rest of the worlds simply don't end on a boss, where giving them something unique already would have done wonders in this department. The final boss is pretty entertaining, though.

The power-ups also feel a bit lackluster. The star is the new Elephant Fruit with its powerful trunk and funny character designs. The Bubble Flower is also very useful against enemies, where it's slower than the Fire Flower, but easier to hit with, and the bubbles can even be used as a platform. The Drill Mushroom turns the Spin Drill from Super Mario Galaxy 2 into a proper power-up, which lets you dig into the ground or ceilings and then move below the surface. It doesn't work on vertical walls, however, so you can't go full Spider Ball with this thing.

And that's it. No Ice Flower, Penguin Suit, or anything alike. All the other transformations are caused by the Wonder Flower as a temporary change, where you will find some of the crazier stuff. And some other abilities from past power-ups got relegated to the badges, where for example the gliding effect of the Super Acorn is now found within the Parachute Cap.

the badge menu with all badges unlocked

With the badges you can pick a perk before every level, which can even be changed on death. You will earn these in special Badge Challenges or be able to buy them in shops for Flower Coins. These perks may give you additional mobility in some form, modify the levels, alter what power-ups you get, earn you more coins, and so on. It's similar to the Magic Rings from Oracle of Ages & Seasons and it can be fun to experiment.

But the problem with these systems in general is often that there are certain perks that outshine all others and Super Mario Bros. Wonder is no exception to this. In this case the "Boosting Spin Jump", which gives you some additional altitude while spinning in the air, is simply too good most of the time. It works like a light version of the Propeller Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros. Wii and it's effectively a double jump, which helps with a lot of the trickier Flower Coins. There are some levels where other badges are better, e.g. the Dolphin Kick is a must for all underwater sections, but for most part you want that spin boost.

The "Expert Badges" are even meant to make the game harder, where you will either run or jump continuously or be turned invisible to the enemies and yourself. There is no real point of using them outside the delegated challenges, which were designed around them, however. It would have added a good amount of challenge and replayability if the game kept track what levels you've beaten with these particular badges...

Peach and Mario on a Yoshi dragon

You may also argue that the abilities and perks of the badges should have went into the different playable characters. In games like Super Mario 3D World the high jump used to be Luigi's thing, while Peach was able to float, and Toad was faster. These are all badges now and you could even come up with new character ideas for some of the other badges. For example, the Grappling Vine could have been used by some friendly Piranha Plant.

But the way it is here also has its advantages, because you can simply play whatever character you like best with whatever ability you like best. It also puts all players on the same page, which makes it easier to stay together.

all twelve playable characters in a row

Five of the twelve playable characters still behave differently, though. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Blue Toad, Yellow Toad, and Toadette are the default characters and all act the same. So, there is no Super Crown or other shenanigans this time and these are your choices when you want to play the game normally, where there is plenty of options even when playing with the full four players.

Nabbit is the oddball and works similar to New Super Luigi U, where he can avoid enemies and obstacles, making him the easy mode character, but he also can't use any power-ups. Some of the Flower Coins require the usage of certain power-ups, so you probably won't be able to truly complete the game this way.

The four Yoshis in different colors work similar to Nabbit, but they can actually be pushed back by anything that would normally damage you, making them a bit harder to play than Nabbit. They make up for it with the signature flatter jump and other players can ride on them, including other Yoshis, which gives you a way of interacting after all. Playing as Yoshi can even be seen as a solid choice in certain levels that don't provide any necessary power-ups and are more on the frustrating side of things.

"You collected all of the standees, earning you a medal! That makes 6!" - Toadette at the Special World shop

Like any modern Mario game, Super Mario Bros. Wonder comes with a Special World filled with extra hard levels, which aren't required to beat the game, but to earn all medals and complete it. The difference is that this special world gets accessed from all the other worlds to unlock its levels one by one, so you can play these challenges from time to time, instead of being overwhelmed by them at the end of the game.

There's nothing in there that will make accustomed players of Super Mario Maker or Kaizo Marios sweat, but some of it can be a bit frustrating. The very last bit of the game, for example, wants you to jump over a series of enemies... with the Invisibility equipped. There is a lot of trial and error there, which wouldn't be so terrible if it didn't require you to replay the three sections before it every time. It's punishment by mindless repetition that makes for bad challenges like this.

Another level requires you perfect timing of wall jumps at the end, where the game seems awfully strict with the inputs there. You have to press against the wall when you jump or else it won't work.

Elephant Toad is up for a show!

But for the most part Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a joy ride, just don't expect it to last all too long. It may take around 20 hours or even less to complete it all, where you will get more content and play time out of each of the two Wii U ports, New Super Mario Bros. Deluxe and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, for the same amount of money. Super Mario Bros. Wonder will offer a sweeter time, though, while it comes with some of the best qualities of the Wii U Mario games combined into one... Except for the boss fights.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Manbo's Mambo in Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Blue Toad as a Wubba

Today I've been playing the fifth world of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, the Fungi Mines, where you can turn into a "Wubba", a slime-like creature that can stick to walls and ceilings, via the Wonder Flowers. And the music that plays during this part (and some other wonder transformations) felt strangely familiar...

I first thought that it might be a reference to some melody in Super Mario Land 2, since the goo in these levels behaves quite similar to the sap found in the second level of the Tree Zone. That wasn't it, but I wasn't too far off when thinking about Game Boy classics...

Manbo in his cave

It's actually a part of Manbo's Mambo. It doesn't have the "Manbo Manbo" bit and it's extended, but the main melody is the same. You can listen to it here for comparisons. I'm not imagining this, right?

There are many things from the Super Mario games present in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, so it was about time that a Super Mario game referenced what's one of my absolute favorite Zelda games for a change. Of course it might also be that Manbo's Mambo was originally something from Super Mario as well, but not that I'm aware of... In any case, this tune really has me going!

Friday, October 27, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom Adventure Log, Entry 24

on a sky island, wearing the Vah Medoh Helmet

Last time I had completed the Wind Temple, where I now have all the sages' vows in my possession. The next step in the main story would be returning to Lookout Landing, where I suppose that the gloom will hit the fan once you go there. But before that I decided to tie up some loose ends.

For the most part I was busy exploring the remainder of the skies, in the search of the last Shrines of Light. And then I spent a good amount of time hunting down various bosses on all levels, so I will come home to Lookout Landing with something to my name and some fancy armor to boast.

While I haven't played all too much in the last weeks, mainly because I was busy with some other games, like the very enjoyable Super Mario Bros. Wonder, but also playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with friends, I have arrived at a point in Tears of the Kingdom that normally gets me hooked: completion. Getting all the things. I just love that in a Zelda game and this one is no exception, even though it comes with one of the absolute worst offenders in this category – grinding for materials...


Cold Mirrors

My journey continued in the western skies, where I've went from the Tabantha Sky Archipelago to the North Gerudo Sky Archipelago. They have in common that it's quite cold up there, which makes it seem more consistent with Breath of the Wild, where you needed cold protection when going for Vah Medoh. However, it was generally cold in that game once you got high enough, except maybe above the scorching heat of Death Mountain, so the climate is definitely warmer in Tears of the Kingdom, for the sake of convenience.

Lightcast Island – Tabantha Frontier Sky

Anyway, other than the cold, these islands have in common that they have you play with light, which is a good showcase of how much the lighting engine has improved over Breath of the Wild and that the light element is on par with fire, water, lighting, and wind in this game. This makes it even more sad that there is apparently no Temple of Light... But at least you're dealing with literal Shrines of Light here.

reflecting a beam of light in a dark sphere with multiple mirrors

So, these Shrine Quests will have to do, alongside the Lightning Temple, but overall it feels like a missed opportunity and they could have done a lot more with light in the Depths. You will receive a Star Fragment Rod from one of Rauru's Blessings here, teaching you that light weaponry is a thing as well, in case you haven't figured that out already. While it has already occurred to me to use Star Fragments for potential light arrows, I never bothered to try it out, since you need so many of them to upgrade all of the armor pieces... In fact, I brought that rod right to Tarrey Town to have it broken apart, because I badly needed that Star Fragment.

The material systems of Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are clashing quite heavily. The materials in Breath of the Wild were mostly there for cooking, selling, and enhancing your armor, which is still the case in Tears of the Kingdom, but there is now also Fuse and all the good things you can do with that. But since so, so many materials are needed to enhance every piece of armor, I'm always hesitant to fuse anything rare, so I only ever use it on overabundant materials, like the Silver Bokoblin Horns. All those Lynel Horns I have? Yeah, I'm not touching them, because the Great Fairies are extremely demanding.

And that's an issue. You should be motivated to try all sorts of things with your materials, instead of hording them in case you suddenly need dozens for those ★★★★ enhancements. But the way it is, it cannot be helped.

Deep Snow Hiking

Dropping down from the skies above, the last larger unexplored area awaited me: the Gerudo Highlands. I had traveled around it once before to look for shrines, since I knew their locations from the Lightroots below, but I hadn't been at the top and center of these mountains, mainly because I didn't have the Snowquill set at the time, which makes things a lot more convenient and safe in the extreme cold climates.

chillin' with Mineru and masked Tulin in the Gerudo Highlands

Though, for the most part I'm not even using the full set, because I've went with the Snow Boots most of the time and the Vah Medoh Helm on top, which gives you an additional boost to Tulin, making it more useful over the Snowquill Headdress if you don't have the set bonus anyway.

With armor in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom you can never have it all, where you may have to give up the perks from set bonuses for perks from individual items, like in this case the Snow Boots. It's a compromise, but often I'll switch back to the full set to get the "Unfreezable" bonus when fighting enemies, because getting frozen is annoying as hell. And the result is that I spend way more time in the menu than I would like...

While I appreciate the level of customization that this armor system brings, I also sometimes miss the simplicity of the outfits in Tri Force Heroes, where you have only complete sets, but they have to do their job for a whole level and therefore come with more than one perk. For example, the Cozy Parka lets you walk more easily on ice AND prevents you from being frozen. It's something to think about for the next Zelda game...


2nd Quest Territory

While exploring the Gerudo Highlands, but also parts of the Hebra Mountains, I couldn't shake this feeling that I'm essentially just playing a glorified 2nd Quest for Breath of the Wild, and not a new game. It's especially bad with the Gerudo Highlands, because not much has changed there to make it distinct from the same area in Breath of the Wild. They've sprinkled some sky island debris all over the mountains, giving the plain snow and ice a Stracciatella flavor. And the locations of the shrines, Koroks and enemies are only partially different, while there just isn't much going on.

You can say the same thing about various other areas in the game, of course, but what makes it worse here is probably the lack of any caves. As similar as they all might be, they change up the environment quite a bit and offer something new to explore. There's the cave below the Skyview Tower, but I've been there already after going to the Yiga Clan Hideout, same with the cave behind the statue of the Eighth Heroine. And otherwise I only found this one:

They put a hole into the middle of the lightning markings, where I thought that this was quite clever. And inside you'll have to use Riju's ability to obtain... a Large Zonaite... Yayyyy! I expected a piece of armor or something else of importance, where Tears of the Kingdom certainly does a better job with handling treasure chests than Breath of the Wild did, but there is still a lot of trash that's just not worthwhile.

Ironically, in most other Zelda games I loath to find chests with Rupees, but in Tears of the Kingdom those are among the much better finds, since all the armor enhancements not only eat away your rare materials, but lots of cash as well.

Frost Gleeok on the Gerudo Highlands

Well, there is one more highlight up in these mountains and that's one of my two missing Gleeoks, which used to be my main target from when I left off last time. Before I return to Lookout Landing, I wanted to have fought all Gleeoks and I already knew where to find them, where I've spotted the one here when I first went to the area.

That Gleeok was also protecting the sword of the Eighth Heroine, which is something that you again need to photograph for a side quest, in this case decorating the abandoned Gerudo Canyon Stable:

pictures on a stable wall

As mentioned before, it's not so easy to take a good picture of the Spectacle Rock smiley face due to the blue tint when high up. This tint went away when I've rode on Naydra the other day, where this probably was a visual glitch, but it may be possible to get a nicer shot somehow. It's not high on my priority list, since this stable isn't a place that you will visit regularly... Putting up pictures in your house is more interesting and there you can go with whatever you may like.

Nearby you can also find Malena, from the "Medicanal Molduga" side quest in Breath of the Wild. This time you will actually meet her husband and he is sick yet again, where now you have to find Gleeok Guts. Lucky for them, I hunt Gleeoks in my spare time and I wasn't aware of how many of these things I will need just yet...

Mountaintop Manliness

Coming from the Gerudo Highlands, I also hadn't been to Mount Granajh yet, where this was a very similar environment in Breath of the Wild. But to my surprise the snow was entirely gone for a nice change. And now you find some old guy up there, who invites you to a test of endurance, where you have to survive the cold of the night and the heat of the day without any clothes. It's similar to the Test of Will with the Goron Blood Brothers in Breath of the Wild.

"I admit, he's pretty good..."

You can just cheat by using weaponry (and potentially elixirs) that will keep you cool or warm and you don't have to feel bad about it either, because the guy cheats himself by being closer to the fire. But you can put the fire out with a Splash Fruit, or something else with a water effect, for some funny reactions.

"This guy's impressive..."

And during the day you can even build yourself a nice sun screen to keep yourself in the shade. It's super silly that your competitor doesn't really notice this either, but overall this was an entertaining side quest. The only problem with it that it took quite a while to complete it, because you have to make it through the whole night and the whole day... But maybe you can even skip that with a fire, I didn't give this a try.

Citadel Cavern

One more Gleeok was still waiting to be defeated and it was a thunder variant at Akkala Citadel, which I tried to fight much earlier in the game, where I didn't have proper lightning protection at the time and just ran away in terror. By now it's a piece of cake and I can report to Lookout Landing for my second medal (and other things).

skull cave entrance at the citadel

There is also a cave entrance going into the citadel, but sadly it's just one of those standard Horriblin camps. This would have been a huge opportunity to strengthen the bond with Age of Calamity, where they could have tried to replicate some of the interior of the citadel from that game in Tears of the Kingdom. I would have absolutely loved this.

Skyward Search

Finding excuses not to continue the main story, part 18: After defeating all of the Gleeoks, I really wanted to find the rest of the Shrines of Light. There weren't many left, only five of them to be exact, and with one exception they were all hidden in the skies somewhere.

The exception was the Jojon Shrine below Crenel Peak. I went into the cave there months ago, without Yunobo, and I wasn't very thorough with clearing the rubble at the time. But now I found this shrine right away by comparing the map of the Depths with the surface, since I had found all 120 Lightroots and they are all located below shrines on the surface.

shrine forming up on a sky island, a rock with a green-blue whirl above it, but no entrance yet

So, the last four had to be in the skies somewhere and there were a couple archipelagos that I hadn't visited yet, where it was easy enough to spot on the map where I had to go next. I also completed the side adventure with the tablets from the star islands, while I was at it.

Wortsworth: "We collected all 13 of them!"

at Wortworth's desk, looking at an arrangement of stuff that looks like a laptop

Wortsworth rewards you with the Zonai Survey Team Fabric for your efforts and that's really it, other than having some additional neat story bits of what has happened in the past. I originally believed that this quest leads you to the floating ring ruin, but I suppose that this will be part of the remaining main quest line, where then you discover the not-so-secret existence of the Sage of Spirit, which then leads you to Mineru in the thunderhead...

But I also managed to find all Sage's Wills, eventually, where the last one to get his bond strengthened was Sidon. His vow was ironically the first that I had obtained, but he had proven to be the least useful sage for me, which is something that I had discussed in the previous entry. But with that I'm happy that Sidon was my first sage, because this made him more special at the time than he actually is.

flying through the central Hyrule skies with the hoverbike

In addition, I've been checking out the random small islands around the center of Hyrule, where they come with treasure chests, but often it's just a Large Zonai Charge. It's more valuable than a Large Zonaite, for sure, but it's still a lame reward. What's not lame is finding armor and in the least I finally got one more Old Map that didn't lead me to a place that I've already looted.

I suppose, the intention was for the player to explore the more peaceful skies first and then go into the Depths, but the Depths are not as disconnected as the sky islands. In the Depths you can easily get into an exploration flow, where one thing leads to the next. But some of the sky islands are so distant from everything else that you actively have to set them as your next destination to ever end up there.

Spot marked on an Old Map

The Old Map brought me to the Cap of Time, which was the last of the amiibo armor items that I hadn't found yet. I also got the "Dusk Claymore" from the Thyphlo Ruins quest, where you need the elemental powers of the four "main sages" to uncover some treasures. It's the best possible reward there, but it makes it even weirder why the "Sword of the Six Sages" was renamed like this. They could have shortened it to "Sword of the Sages", to avoid confusion for those who aren't familiar with Twilight Princess, but there are also six sages in Tears of the Kingdom, so it would have still fitted, even when you only need the powers of four to get the sword.

Now, the only amiibo exclusive item that I haven't found yet is the Hero's Shield. It may be in the Depths somewhere, since I don't have all of the Old Maps yet, but maybe it's also just sitting somewhere in the environment, like the Dusk Bow... But you may also find the Dusk Bow somewhere in a chest officially, so that you can purchase it from the Bargainer Statues later on. Maybe the remaining Old Maps will help me figure this out.

Cucco Collector

Speaking of classic things from past Zelda game, there is actually a Cucco gathering side quest in the game, at the Riverside Stable. This had completely eluded me, which was surprising, since this used to be a very important point during my early adventures. Maybe it only triggers after you have rescued the food-poisoned chefs, which was the last thing I did there and I hadn't been there since then.

holding a Cucco on top of the Riverside Stable in dark weather

Well, I have to admit that I wasn't always exploring all too thoroughly, because there is so much to do in this game that I usually feel like I should move on. But this has caused me to miss a couple of things, especially early in the game, where I will have to re-explore most of the surface world later on, mainly for the Koroks.

It was a delight to find this side quest, however. It's definitely easier than the same quest in Kakariko in Breath of the Wild, but with the more limited space I found it to be quite fun and each Cucco was in a unique spot. Nothing has yet to beat the Cucco collecting in Ocarina of Time, however. That's still the best.


Horse Enhancer

Revisiting the Riverside Stable brought back memories of these weird creatures that I used to use ages ago for transportation, before the time of having lots of Zonai Devices and Zonaite. They are called "horses" and they still might be pretty good for exploring the surface, or so I've heard.

Well, the apparent lack of the Ancient Saddle and Bridle makes them a lot less useful, to be honest. Maybe these items are still in the game somewhere, but I have yet to find them and without the ability to teleport your horse to you it's just not as convenient as simply firing up your Autobuild.

Link and the Golden Horse at Malanya's Spring

Still, I'd like to bring at least one horse to the full five stars on all stats, where the Golden Horse makes the most sense for this. The two large horses and Epona can't be upgraded, but you can do so with the other special horses. And the golden horse reminds me of the golden ship and train from Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. It has to become the best, where I was even disappointed that it's not already fantastic out of the box.

But enhancing your horses dives into a topic that I've fully ignored so far: making meals and completing your recipe book. There are 228 recipes in total and that's "only" for the very basic types of meals, like the Mushroom Skewer. For each recipe you can also have countless variants based on different ingredients and even all the different status effects, e.g. a Tough Mushroom Skewer would still be parked within the same recipe. I don't have any intentions to ever fully complete the latter, but getting all the basic recipes would be nice.

It would also help a lot with enhancing horses, because Malanya demands certain meals that I have yet to encounter. Some of it can be done intuitively, others not so much... For example, I need "Vegetable Curry" for the maximum strength. Curry is normally made out of Hylian Rice and Goron Spice, so I just use that and add some vegetables, like tomatoes and pumpkins, right? Correct! This works splendidly and as you would expect.

Next, I need "Vegetable Omelets" for the maximum speed. Omelet is made of eggs, so I'll just use those and add the same vegetables again, right? Wrong! That's a recipe for "Steamed Tomatoes", you dummy! Good job on wasting those perfectly fine eggs...

Well, you can look it all up on the internet, but I want to see how far I can get with this on my own, by helping random NPCs on the road, who usually reward you with meals, or studying recipes found in stables, diaries, and so on. It's also an incentive to keep looking for Addison, but this often let's you only obtain the simple stuff. I gave up for now, but I will return to this topic in the future.

The Elusive Final Shrine

After going to all the unvisited sky islands, I've ended up on 151 Shrines of Light in total... One more was missing and first I double-checked that I had all surface shrines, just to be sure. But I also only counted 31 Shrines of Light in the sky, so the last one had to be there, for a total of 32, since there are 120 Shrines of Light on the surface and we're dealing with multiples of four.

at Wellspring Island with Shadow Sidon

I had a very good guess where the last shrine could be, but before that I went back to Wellspring Island just to rule out that it's not there... After all, you can also find two Shrines of Light when going up to the Wind Temple. But I've only missed a couple of treasure chests back then and not much else, where it feels like an eternity since I've been there.

Then I've deduced that the last Shrine of Light had to be at the Thunderhead Isles. The entire area is covered on the map by the huge storm cloud, so you can't see what islands are there, and so far I had only found the easy shrine at the Dragonhead Island. It was noteworthy how the Thunderhead Isles are labeled separately on the map, but I had yet to find anything of significance there, other than a Flux Construct. The last shrine just had to be somewhere on these obscure islands, there was no other explanation.

flying down at the Thunderhead, so that part of the islands are visible

At least I was now much better equipped for the task: the full Froggy Suit lets you climb anywhere within the storm and the Lightning Helm keeps you safe from potential lightning strikes. But the most important addition is Riju's lightning ability. "Why is that?" you might ask...

Originally, I had used the Ultrahand or Ascend to highlight the environment, where this is similar to "Stasis scanning" in Breath of the Wild, but a bit more vibrant:

using Ultrahand inside the storm cloud, revealing the ground below Link

It's not the most convenient way and only comes with a limited range. But whenever you activate Riju's "thunder dome", it looks like this:

You can see a huge part of the environment around you, where the radius may even span to neighboring sky islands. It also lasts a while and is a lot more convenient to use than running around with the Ultrahand. Who would have thought that the thunder ability would help you this much inside the Thunderhead? I was positively surprised and the hunt was on.

But while I managed to find some Koroks and treasure chests, there was seemingly no shrine and I was going in circles in this crazy madness. I grew so desperate that for the first and last time I've activated the Shrine Sensor on my Purah Pad. I've never used it before, because I wanted to find all shrines on my own, which wasn't that difficult anyway thanks to the Lightroots. But just to confirm that I'm in the right place I've made an exception here. And I was in the right place, I could hear beeping sound of discovery... Then I turned it off again and kept looking. It still took me a while to find it, but at least I knew that I wasn't wasting my time with searching in the wrong place.

Riju's ability highlighting rails going below a sky island inside the Thunderhead

And finding this shrine was highly satisfying... I doubt that I would have ever discovered it without Riju's ability, but the rails going right below one of the sky islands were really suspicious. Hiding a shrine not only within the Thunderhead, where you can't see sh*t, but also within a sky island inside this storm was absolutely devilish. Credit where credit is due.

standing in front of the final shrine, which is barely visible

So, there it was, the Joku-usin Shrine, the most well hidden shrine in the game, at least to me. I fully expected this to be a Blessing from Rauru, but it was one last Proving Grounds, called "Short Circuit". And I couldn't think of a better finale for my shrine search, really. This was a nice challenge from start to finish.

This is the final Light of Blessing.

And that's it. There are 152 Shrines of Light in total in Tears of the Kingdom, 120 on the surface and 32 in the skies. And I've finally found and complete them all for yet another milestone. This leaves me with three Heart Containers short of the 30, but there is potentially one more from whatever comes out of Hyrule Castle at the end, so that you're two short, like in Breath of the Wild with all its DLC. Maybe.

Also like in Breath of the Wild, it would have been nice if you could complete both stamina wheels and both rows of hearts. It would also make sense if the yellow extra hearts from hearty recipes were allowed to create a third tow, instead of being limited in the same way as the normal hearts, since you can get an additional stamina wheel via the enduring recipes still... But whatever, there is not much point in complaining about such details now. They have improved many things over Breath of the Wild, but obviously not everything.

Pulse of the Ancients

After completing the original 120 Sheikah Shrines in Breath of the Wild, you will obtain the Hero of the Wild set, and naturally you'd expect something similar in Tears of the Kingdom, where here you are called back to the Temple of Time to receive your final reward, back to where your journey began...

staning at the entrance to the Temple of Time

At this rate I probably don't have to be overly sensitive about spoilers, because I'm probably the last Zelda fan out there to find this, but I will still put this one in a box for now... Going forward, you will need to know that we're talking about an armor set here, however.

I may showcase this set in future screenshots, where I'm not sure how to handle this yet, but I'm still in the middle of fully enhancing it and it needs a lot of guts. It starts with Hinox Guts and then you will need Frox Guts, which brought me...

Back to the Depths

Since I was in need of both Hinox and Frox Guts, it made sense to further explore the Depths, looking for bosses that I have yet to defeat, hitting multiple birds with one stone. Returning down there felt a bit weird, because I hadn't been in the Depths since I activated the last Lightroot in early September. There are now also the Colgeras around, where I already met my first one when I went to retrieve the Cap of Time.

a Colgera flying through the dark

Having these huge monsters flying through the Depths is impressive. If I hadn't already defeated two of them, encountering one in the Depths like this would have been extremely spooky. It's the most straight-forward of the main bosses, however, and fighting is generally quite fun. The other bosses can get annoying in certain ways, like the hordes of Gibdos during Queen Gibdo battles, but the Colgeras are quite fair and they had make to up for it in size, so you're still respecting them somehow.

Otherwise, I've been mostly studying my Hero's Path, which is 80% used up by now, looking for areas that I have yet to fly over with my hoverbike. With Froxes you immediately know that there is going to be one ahead once you're on a flat terrain. It's always the same and they need a lot of space.

One of them had me soft-locked, though. That's the only time so far where I have encountered a major glitch, which speaks to how polished this game is, but here's what happened. I was trying to climb up a tree, but the Frox jumped on me and the tree had such an angle that the game put me into the slope sliding animation. So, I was tumbling down the "slope", but the Frox kept doing his jump attack, which pushed me up again and kept me inside the sliding animation. I couldn't get out, I was stuck. I rarely ever took damage as well, where this could have gone on forever and I had to load my latest save... I never post videos on this blog, but this is worth it:

You can also find the clip on Twitter.

The Flux Constructs are easy enough to spot on the map, because there is usually this big circle around them. It's even more obvious with the main bosses, since they all have their dedicated arenas, but you don't need to defeat those for the medals. I'm doing it anyway to have them marked as "defeated" as well and to get the chests full of Huge Crystallized Charges, which I also don't really need at this point.

It would also have been great if all bosses were automatically marked and checkmarked on the map, but that's a point of criticism that I've already brought up a couple of times and I don't want to repeat myself too much, even if it can't be helped at times.

Anyway, during my latest Depth explorations I also found two more Yiga bases and their Yiga Schematics, as well as the last Schema Stone, which I was missing at the Abandoned Hateno Mine for some reason. I looked up the totals for both on the internet, because there doesn't seem to be anything in the game that may indicate that you have found all schematics. Same with the Old Maps, where I'm still missing six, but I do have all the schematics by now, so that's another milestone right there.

The total number of Koroks was also spoiled for me, but it is exactly what I had expected already, so it's fine and at least I know where I'm at. I've updated my progress section at the bottom accordingly and going forward I will remove anything in the list that I could already cross off to keep it short.

The Grind Starts

You can also find plenty of Hinox on the surface world as well, so I've been looking all around various places in Hyrule, mostly gunning for the holes on my Hero's Path. In some cases I also marked them already on my map in the early game, where I didn't feel like I was up for a fight yet, but now there is nothing stopping me and I embrace the Blood Moon.

staring at the Blood Moon above Mount Lanayru, with a Queen Gibdo Shield and a Savage Lynel Bow on my back

Fierce Deity Link and his gang of vows after the Blood Moon, all with glowing eyes

The monsters should be scared of Link by now and the Blood Moon only brings them perpetual torment. And I will need to perpetually torment some of them, because the Great Fairies want it so.

After acquiring enough Hinox and Frox Guts for the "final" armor set, I needed Molduga Guts, where I already had enough, even though I didn't really fight them multiple times. But for the four stars you need nine Gleeok Guts and it's the same for the Royal Guard set, so this makes eighteen in total. Nineteen, even, because of the "Gleeok Guts" side quest, which I came across earlier. And after defeating all 14 Gleeoks in the entire game I had gotten five... Ouch.

So, I went back to the Coliseum Ruins and fought the Thunder Gleeok, which is residing there, twice in a row, thanks to a well-timed Blood Moon. Guess how many Gleeok Guts I got out of this? Well, you've guessed right! Zero, nada, niente, null... I got absolutely nothing. Like with the Lizalfos tails, this is going to be an absolute pain, isn't it? I hate rare drops... And at this rate I will have have to defeat more than 60 Gleeoks to get enough of their guts for all the armor.

Armor Assortment

Even though I got what's supposed to be the last armor set in the game, the final reward so to say, it doesn't mean that I have found all the armor pieces yet, so it was time for an inventory check. I know already that there 135 armor pieces in the game and at this point I had 125. Where and what could those ten other pieces be?

looking at the dawn from the northeast cliffside of the Gerudo Highlands, Mineru standing above some flowers

One of them are the Climbing Boots, which I haven't found yet for some reason. The climbing set used to be among my favorites in Breath of the Wild, but I've never really made much of it in this game, mainly because you can avoid climbing high walls thanks to the different Zonai Devices. A rocket to the shield is your new Revali's Gale.

Anyway, it's probably in one of the few caves that I have yet to find, or maybe it's in one that I have visited in the early game, where I simply missed it, like the shrine below Crenel Peak. I should be able to find it with the treasure chest sensor eventually, since the more important chests seem to have a larger radius. I will just have to travel the lands...

going over Hyrule Field with an autobuilt Zonai car

As for the other nine, at first I was ecstatic that I could be missing a whole three sets. And just going by the different status effects from meals, there was plenty of potential here, like something to increase your speed. The most obvious one is the equivalent to the Ember and Frostbite sets, which are based on Dinraal and Naydra respectively, for the Hot and Cold Weather Attack buffs. There just has to be one based on Farosh and Stormy Weather Attack...

I even expected to find this one at the Gerudo Highlands already. This used to be one of Farosh's routes in Breath of the Wild and the other two sets were found at the major mountains near a temple as well. So, it somewhat made sense, but this was a bust.

Another possibility was the Gerudo Desert, because of the Lightning Temple, which is a far stretch, but I was also in need of Gibdo Wings (which apparently you can now only get in the Depths at the Gerudo Underground Cemetery), so I went looking there as well. This brought me to another undiscovered cave and also the other six missing armor items...

It turned out that I never bothered with buying any of the jewelry in Gerudo Town, because they were so expensive and they aren't that useful... Big facepalm moment right there, but at least that's another mystery solved. In hindsight, getting the Sapphire Circlet also would have been useful back then, since I got the Snowquill set so late in the game and the lack of cold protection armor was a bit annoying at times.

Well, this now leaves only the Climbing Boots and that Farosh set. For the latter I now went to the Zonai Ruins in the jungles of Faron, right below where I found the last shrine. It simply makes the most sense for it to be there and there are even these suspicious dragon statues with new horns on them, which look like Farosh's. Also, my treasure chest sensor is still going crazy in the area, so I will investigate this next...

To be continued!


  • Sage's Wills: 20/20
  • Main Quests: 18/23
  • Side Adventures: 59/60
  • Shrine Quests: 31/31
  • Side Quests: 119/139
  • Memories: 17/18
  • Shrines: 152/152
  • Caves: 140/147
  • Korok Seeds: 563/1000
  • Schema Stones: 12/12
  • Yiga Schematics: 34/34
  • Old Maps: 25/31
  • Recipes: 100/228
  • Map Completion: 82.54%

Remaining Medals:

  • Taluses: 73/87
  • Hinox: 55/69
  • Flux Constructs: 33/35
  • Froxes: 35/40
  • Gleeoks: 14/14

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom – Vanished Sheikah Technology Explained

the Great Plateau Tower in Breath of the Wild

One of the biggest mysteries in Tears of the Kingdom is what has happened to the Sheikah Shrines, Sheikah Towers, and Divine Beasts from Breath of the Wild, or the Guardian-storing pillars around Hyrule Castle. Where did they all go? In an interview with Telegraph, director Hidemaro Fujibayashi gives a simple explanation:

They disappeared after the Calamity was defeated (sealed). All of the people of Hyrule also witnessed this, but there is no one who knows the mechanism or reason why they disappeared, and it is considered a mystery. It is believed that since the Calamity disappeared, they also disappeared as their role had been fulfilled.

It is, anyway, commonplace for mysterious events and strange phenomena to occur in Hyrule. Thus, people have simply assumed the reason behind the disappearance to likely be related to ancient Sheikah technology and it seems there is no one who has tried to explore the matter further. The main civilizations in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are completely different, so we thought about the game based on concepts that match each of these civilizations.

This is the exact explanation that I came up prior to the game's release (see here for example), where I've speculated that the Sheikah technology may have dissolved in the same vein as the Sheikah monks, because it has fulfilled its purpose after the elimination of Calamity Ganon.

In the extended ending of Breath of the Wild Zelda mentions that Vah Ruta has stopped working, where this could have been the beginning, though you would expect it all to dissolve magically at the same time. Ideally, this would have already been shown at the end of Breath of the Wild, so this question wouldn't have come up in the first place.

In any case, I'm totally okay with this explanation, but I'm not okay with this not being stated in Tears of the Kingdom at all. They should have given this explanation in somewhere in the game, where there are more than enough Sheikah scientists who could have mentioned this at some point. It's just poor story telling to leave such "details" to interviews and future data books.

They also could have tied Calamity Ganon and its Malice to Ganondorf and his Gloom, making the latter the source of the former, where instead they are treating it all as independent entities. This seems like a missed opportunity, but it also allows for the above explanation, because technically Calamity Ganon wouldn't be truly gone otherwise. And maybe they wanted to make Tears of the Kingdom stand on its own feet, but then they shouldn't have made it a sequel taking place in the exact same Hyrule to begin with...

Via ntower

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom Adventure Log, Entry 23

at the snowy Rito Village with the tower in the background

It was time for the last temple, which finally brought me to the Rito. This may strike you as odd, since the game directs you there early on, as your first major target after your first visit to Hyrule Castle. But Zelda games like Twilight Princess, Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword had created my inner aversion against being told what to do and where to go. So, the first objective(s) in Tears of the Kingdom literally became the last thing that I wanted to do.

And to be fair, the game really let's you do whatever you want. I think this is a great compromise, where there is general guidance for the players who would be lost without it, but the freedom to completely ignore this guidance and just have your own adventure. The only drawback is that the story telling may not work for all cases, as we're going to find out in this post...

Right Things, Wrong Reasons

Back to Rito Village, you will quickly find Teba and his family. In a similar vein to the Gorons and Zora, there is a generational shift here, where Kaneli has retired and Teba became the new elder of Rito Village. And unlike King Dorephan, Kaneli has actually moved on, leaving the snowy village to the young.

Teba seems to be somewhat overwhelmed by all this and has clearly failed as a parent, together with his wife, Saki, because Tulin is growing up to become the next Revali and has an ego problem. He has also seen Zelda and this leads me to the even bigger problem: you're still there to investigate Zelda's disappearance and even state this as the reason why you came to Rito Village.

Teba: "If there's anything I can answer for you, ask." Option: "Anyone seen Zelda?"

This makes no sense at this point in the game any longer, because I've already completed the Tears of the Dragon quest and I know what happened to Zelda and where she is. She's flying right above us as we speak! This even goes all the way back to Purah, who has sent you on this mission. While you can report your discovery to Impa, you don't bring Purah up to speed...

The story telling breaks with all this non-linearity, but an easy solution would have been to make the four regional phenomena about the regional phenomena and nothing else. Not everything needed to be about Zelda's disappearance, even when the main main quest is "Find Zelda!". In the end it's perfectly reasonable that Link primarily came to Rito Village (and all the other regions) to help them. It seems somewhat selfish to make it all about Zelda's whereabouts, especially when all the tribes of Hyrule are busy with their own problems, like the Rito covered in snow.

Even Snowier Hebra Mountains

Having Rito Village in this state isn't a new idea, of course, because this was already done by Age of Calamity. But there you couldn't enter Rito Village itself or freely explore the areas around it, so it's still a fresh experience somehow. Having a snowstorm at the Hebra Mountains is anything but fresh, however, here the opposite would have been interesting for a change.

You're off to follow the overconfident Tulin, which brings you onto the Hebra Mountain Climbing Path. In my latest Breath of the Wild playthrough I took this path to first venture into the Hebra Mountains, so I really liked how this path was given more importance, where you will find several Rito on the way, but also the Rospro Pass Skyview Tower.

Again, there isn't much to do there to activate it. Just burn some thorns and you're ready to go up. This was my last Skyview Tower, where I finally have the entire map unlocked and also could get the third Travel Medallion from Robbie, who I hadn't visited in months...

Robbie: "You are perfect!"

I probably would visit him more often if I hadn't decided to take every picture in Hyrule Compendium myself. It's a lot more fun to just buy them, at least it was in Breath of the Wild, but there is so much usage for Rupees in Tears of the Kingdom already that I don't necessarily regret this path.


Military Medals

In the sky archipelago above the last tower I could also find the Flux Construct with a bounty on its head (or its box) in Lookout Landing. This is yet another milestone, because – as I had hoped – this now let's you hunt for medals, like the ones you got from Kilton in Breath of the Wild, only that it makes a lot more sense here, because it's in the interest of the monster-control crew that these beasts are slain. I already got the Molduga Medal, since it's still the same four as before, lurking in different locations.

Molduga Monster Medal - An award presented by the monster-control crew in appreciation for defeating every Molduga in Hyrule. It's very fancy and is shaped like the monster it represents.

As for the rest, they only tell you how many are left and not how many you've already defeated, so I had to look the total up on the internet, which seem completely random. In Breath of the Wild it was 40, 40 and 4, while in Tears of the Kingdom they probably just placed the overworld bosses wherever they felt without going for a certain number. But that's not a complaint, just an observation. It could also be that they've kept all the bosses from Breath of the Wild and simply moved them to different positions, like the Hinox Brothers in Faron, and then added more of them with the Depths and alike.

Anyway, I'm gunning for the Gleeok Medal next, because I'm only missing a couple and I already know where they are. With the other bosses I will really have to go searching, where many of them are probably just somewhere in the Depths. I'm even shocked that I haven't found half of the Froxes yet... and here I thought I was almost done down there.


Tulin Tour

Back in Hebra, some Aerocuda is teaching a Tulin a lesson about the importance of teamwork and that he might not be the reincarnation of Revali after all. So, some winged monster out of Ganondorf's minion hell has done a better job at parenting than Teba and Saki together. This is where Tulin joins you and you're introduced to his gust ability.

Tulin surrounded by the vows of the other four sages

I was really worried for a long time that I had been missing out here, but this doesn't seem to be the case. It not even qualifies as a discount Revali's Gale, because it creates a horizontal stream, which you can use to propel you while gliding. But you won't be able to go up with it. It has its usages, where it mainly makes you glide faster to your destinations, even though it's only a short boost. And you probably want Tulin before going into the desert, so you can blow away sand more easily. So, it's nice to have, but not on the same level as Yunobo or Mineru. In terms of usefulness I would probably rank them in the following order for myself:

  1. Mineru
  2. Yunobo
  3. Tulin
  4. Riju
  5. Sidon

But that's only for how I utilize those abilities, where maybe I'm missing something and everyone considers Sidon to be the hot stuff. I usually turn Sidon's and Riju's vows off, so they aren't constantly in the way, and only bring them into the game for bigger battles. I even wish that there was some shortcut to activate and deactivate the vows, so that I don't have to do it via the menu all the time... I guess this could have been solved via the L button ability menu somehow.

Biron Snowshelf Frost Gleeok

Like Yunobo, Tulin is a real follower and I wanted to test my limits here, how far I can go with him. He directly had prove his worth to me in a little Frost Gleeok battle nearby, but he past his test with flying colors. I'm actually surprised how casually they've placed the Gleeoks here, considering that you're supposed to go to this region first. If you truly go here in the early game, you are faced with obstacles that you will likely not overcome. To me Hebra even feels like the perfect choice for doing it last if you fully want to explore each area before moving on, which is how I prefer to play the game.

Next, we immediately found the Vah Medoh Divine Helmet in a neat cave, which was hard to miss due to the gigantic ice mass blocking the entrance. So, this completes my collection of these helmets, but I will get back to this a bit later in this post.

You can walk with Tulin around the northwest border in the Hebra region, but you're not free to explore the entire map area with him, his boundaries are completely independent from that. He won't go with you to Rito Village, where I was hoping to visit his parents with him, but he will go with you to the Pikida Stonegrove and the Skyview Tower there.

So, overall it's on par with Yunobo, and clearly better than Riju and Sidon, where the journey to the legendary Stormwind Ark is similar to reaching the Water Temple, except that Tulin doesn't ran off every chance he gets. With that in mind I'm actually happy that I've played the Zora quest line first, because it's only up from there.

standing on some flying Rito sky ruins near the storm cloud, facing a flying ship

And traversing the flying ships and ruins around the storm cloud feels like playing Only Up! in Zelda, only that's probably more fun. I've done the whole thing the "intended" way, without any Zonai devices, but in the end it turned out that I could have simply flown the hover bike right into the blizzard after all, because it's open at the very top.

sky diving towards the Stormwind Ark with Tulin

This probably lets you reach the Wind Temple early, which should also be possible for the Fire Temple and the Water Temple. Only the Lightning Temple really needs Riju for it to even appear, though I might be wrong here. These are just my guesses and it will be interesting to experiment should I ever decide to replay this game... Which probably won't be anytime soon, given that there is no Master Mode.

The Wind Temple

Nintendo is really stretching it with the term "temple" here, but I don't mind, because the Stormwind Ark offers an impressive set piece for a Zelda dungeon. It's similar to the Sandship from Skyward Sword, where you can explore below deck and in this case even all around the hull.

Wind Temple – The Legendary Stormwind Ark

It also comes equipped with massive cannons, which you can destroy via Recall. And there are still some of the smaller ships around it, which you can use to navigate around the giant ark, all inside the massive storm cloud. It's fantastic.

The soundtrack completes the overall atmosphere, where the second phase is the ominous music that plays in the beginning of the Ganondorf trailer from February. As with the other three main dungeons, you also get this wild mix in the later phases, combining Vah Medoh's and Revali's themes with the Zonai chants from the prologue and some new tunes. It works for the moment, but I personally feel that the temple themes aren't as memorable because of this.

Link and Tulin flying above the Wind Temple

And as interesting this dungeon may be when it comes to the theme, it can't hide the fact that it's overall very simple. Again, you have to activate five switches with the help of your sage companion, and that's really it. Since this is intended to be your first temple, I can forgive the simplicity, but it's a general problem with the dungeons in Tears of the Kingdom.

The temples fully outshine the Divine Beasts from Breath of the Wild when it comes to theming and boss variety, but mechanically the Divine Beasts were a lot more interesting and challenging. The ability to alter the entire dungeon, akin to flipping the Stone Tower Temple, at any time was ingenious. In Tears of the Kingdom this got replaced with the companion system, which is something I wanted out of Breath of the Wild, but with how they implemented it this makes the dungeons feel also very repetitive, just in a different way.

Link and Tulin meeting the former Sage of Wind

It's especially bad with how these temples end, because they all end in the exact same way, and it certainly has lost its charm the fourth time. It shows you the Imprisoning War four times over, always with a slight shift from the perspective of the respective sage, but still always the same. And they all conclude the same with the "revelation" that Zelda was the Sage of Time, which I already know and knew for a while, which brings us back to the problem from earlier, where the whole quest is still about finding Zelda for some reason.

Of course, you can play these temples in any order and it makes sense for them to play out like this for the first time. I just wish that things were more dynamic based on your progression in the game, where this would also add some replay value.

Anyway, I already fought Colgera before, so this boss fight didn't offer anything new either. But this is on me and at the time I was wondering how Tulin's ability would come into play... Turns out not much, or at least I couldn't figure out anything substantial, like with the others. For example, Yunobo's ability is essential to breaking Marbled Gohma's legs and rocks, where I can't imagine fighting the boss without him (though, it has to be possible). In this case Tulin's gust ability primarily helps with dodging Colgera's attacks, but it's not required.

I guess, it's similar with Riju, where you don't necessarily need her power to harm the Queen Gibdo. But I think it's required to destroy the Gibdo hives, where the battle should become a lot more chaotic without her. And in Sidon's case dealing with all the mud without him is a massive pain in the backside, but it's doable. One day I will try to beat the final boss without freeing any of the sages, but until then I can go into the Depths to experiment.

Hottest Village in Hyrule

With Colgera and the storm cloud gone, you are faced with what's probably the most unintentionally funny scene in the entire game. Rito Village returns back to normal, but it does so very quickly. All the snow covering the village melts within seconds, as if the village became a giant boiling pot all of sudden.

Rito Village free from snow after the Wind Temple

And everything around the village in the Tabantha Frontier stays covered in snow, where it becomes this hole of spring in a land of winter. It's weird and they probably should have kept more of the snow to create a better transition. If you want the village to look exactly like in Breath of the Wild, you can always go back to Breath of the Wild, and I liked the change of theme here actually.

Speaking of Breath of the Wild, it's interesting how the rock above the village is still referred to as "Vah Medoh's perch". Vah what-now? What's a Divine Beast? Has this anything to do with that weird helmet, which I found together with Tulin? Who doesn't even remember the fact...

Tulin: "I don't know how you already found the treasure, but way to go, Link!"
You don't know? You were right there with me...!

wearing the Vah Medoh Divine Helm at Rito Village

These helmets let you increase the bond with your vows, where you can make one of them stronger by wearing them, it seems. The vow in question then even wears the corresponding sage helmet. So, that's a neat little extra, giving them some value without the Ancient Armor, where they had a set bonus. I still think that they should have been redesigned based on the sages from the Zonai era, because they appear somewhat "detached" in this game, and you could have combined them with the Zonaite set instead to still have a set bonus and to have something to match them.

As for the vows, I have exactly 16 Sage's Wills and upgraded them all, except for Sidon, who ironically is the sage I have freed first. Speaks for his usefulness...

Now, there is still one big mystery to solve for me in Rito Village: where in the world is Kass? His wife, Amali, also seems to be gone, where they have left their children in their nest at Rito Village, but they are nowhere to be found there. That's even worse parenting than Teba and Saki, because they at least are present.

Maybe I haven't found them yet or maybe Nintendo didn't want to bring the character of Kass back, because he's someone who really has shaped the atmosphere in Breath of the Wild with his accordion tunes. He's part of the identity of the previous game, where he may have vanished without explanation, together with the Divine Beasts and Sheikah Shrines. But he (and his wife) would be the exception among the cast of characters, where everyone else, who was still alive at the end of Breath of the Wild, has returned for the sequel, from what I can tell.

The Eternity of Hebra Mountains

I've always had this love-hate relationship with the Hebra region, where part of me was hoping that clearing the Wind Temple would make the area somehow nicer. Well, it does, because there is now a chance that the sun might be shining, but like in Breath of the Wild this is a rare occurrence and the game is quick to let it snow again whenever you're taking out your camera for something.

flying with Tulin's Vow above the Hebra area, the sun shining from behind the ark

shot of sky islands above Biron Snowshelf, with northern lights

The shield surfing mini-game with Selmie remains pretty much the same, but she has two students now and you first have to help her out of a cave, which you can use as a neat shortcut for the advanced course. Like in Breath of the Wild, I'm mainly struggling with the beginner's course, however, where I'm barely able to make it...

My goal was to collect all pieces of the Frostbite armor set, otherwise exploring the Hebra Mountains mainly increased my total of Bubbul Gems and Korok Seeds.

glowing crystal cave full of mushrooms

I really liked this mystery mushroom cave as a special discovery, but there's an actual side quest tied to finding this place, as I would find out later. This made it feel a bit less special, but at the same time I can understand that they didn't want to leave it like this. On the other hand, Ocarina of Time had some very unique grottos, which you may never find and also don't need to find in order to complete everything.

The new Korok puzzles where you have to create a roof for one or multiple statues are also quite neat. It made me feel super smart when I solved one for the first time, where these are somewhat obscure, but also intuitive at the same time. There are plenty of them around Hebra and I don't think I have noticed them before... But it's one more thing to keep an eye out for now, where by now I have exactly 500 Korok Seeds.

I don't know the total yet and I want to find out myself, but I'm guessing that it's more than 900 this time, maybe 1000. Like with the shrines, there are probably more due to the sky islands. And I could imagine that it's still 900 puzzles, but 100 of them are these transport missions, where you get two seeds at once. I will see and I'm determined to collect all Korok Seeds also in this game, once I'm done with everything else. But I'm getting there...

hover biking to the King Gleeok above Rito Village

My next goal is to take down the two remaining Gleeoks, one at the Gerudo Highlands and one at Akkala Citadel, and then return to Lookout Landing for my medal... and the story finale.


  • Sage's Vows: 5/5
  • Sage's Wills: 16/20
  • Main Quests: 18/23
  • Side Adventures: 56/60
  • Shrine Quests: 28/31
  • Side Quests: 111/139
  • Memories: 17/18
  • Towers: 15/15
  • Shrines: 145
  • Caves: 137/147
  • Korok Seeds: 500
  • Schema Stones: 11
  • Yiga Schematics: 32
  • Old Maps: 18
  • Map Completion: 78.65%


  • Taluses: 58/87
  • Hinox: 43/69
  • Molduga: 4/4
  • Flux Constructs: 26/35
  • Froxes: 17/40
  • Gleeoks: 12/14