I was lucky enough to be given (an original!) one of these, as well a Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong II, this weekend. It’s the best Game & Watch game and although I have a keyring mini replica I haven’t played the G&W classic since it was a Hot Product in the school playground.
And it still stands up really well today. Although it was much, much easier than I recall because I managed to complete it on my first go. Actually completing G&W games is unusual because most are high score chaser games, but Zelda has an endpoint – get all the bits of triforce by killing all the dragons – and that’s what I did. It was Excellent.
As a massive fan of the original Hyrule Warriors (I own four copies and across them have put in over 900 hours of play), I was really excited to start on this and it was a rare situation where I pre-ordered a digital game such was my need to have it immediately. But, I was worried it might not live up to my hype. Did it?
Well, when I realised that the real “meat” of the first game, that is to say, Adventure Mode, didn’t exist in Age of Calamity, I was immediately worried. The story mode in Hyrule Warriors was good, but very short and made up only about 5% of the game time. To not have it here – at all – concerned me. Thankfully, it sort of is.
You see, Adventure Mode contained a number of maps with each square on the map being some sort of challenge. Defeat X enemies in Y minutes. Defend some character. Fight with a handicap. Take over the forts before something happens. Lots of that sort of thing. In Age of Calamity, these types of challenges are actually integrated into the map on Story Mode. They’re optional in terms of story progression, but essential if you want decent weapons, to level up, or to unlock more characters.
My 40 hours on the game so far did take me to the end, but about 25 hours of that was spent on side missions and I can see there are a good 20-odd more hours to go if the “percentage complete” is anything to go by. Still a good deal shorter than the original game, but not the 15 hours I was expecting.
Gameplay is more or less the same as before, but everything is Breath of the Wild themed. In fact, this game acts as a prequel to that game, telling the story of how Hyrule fell 100 years ago, only not quite – which I won’t expand upon for spoiler reasons. The bow, bombs and hookshot from the first game have been replaced with the stasis, magnesis and other powers of the Sheikah Slate, and of course the characters are those from Breath of the Wild rather than, well, Every Other Zelda Game. You also have some missions where you pilot the massive Guardians and wipe out thousands of enemies with them.
So it looks amazing, and plays amazing, but is it better than one of the best games of all time (i.e. its predecessor)? In theory, yes. It’s less repetitive, had a more coherent and fitting plot, more balanced and varied across characters, the weapon and skill levelling up is much improved and far less grindy, and some of those are perhaps reasons why it’s a shorter game – much of Adventure Mode was grind. Enjoyable grind, but grind nonetheless. That said, I don’t think it’s quite as good. It’s close, but you never forget your first even if it’s technically inferior.
It can’t be that long ago when I last played the original (well, DX) version of Link’s Awakening, I thought to myself. After all, I remember most of what I’m supposed to be doing. It turns out it was more than eight years ago. It also turns out I’d not remembered quite as much as I’d thought.
This Switch version is a shot-for-shot remake of Link’s Awakening DX. All the same enemies, all the same weapons, all the same characters, and the exact same map. What has changed only modifies things. Most obviously, there are the new tilt-shift rendered toy-like graphics, with everyone looking like little plastic dolls. It works really well. Then there’s the continually scrolling world, rather than being flip-screen (apart from in dungeons – some rooms still switch) which actually makes the game map appear somewhat smaller than I remember.
Of course sound in massively improved too, but the other big change is the controls. On the Game Boy, you only had two buttons – A and B – to use weapons. You kept having to go into the menu and swap them out. This was pretty tedious, especially if you needed three weapons at once, and out of sheer laziness meant that the shield rarely got used. In the Switch version, some weapons are permanently tied to buttons, which means you can always use your sword, shield and pegasus boots without swapping them in, and you still have two action buttons for other things. I generally found keeping Roc’s feather on Y and then just changing the use of X when needed worked best for me. Having a shield at all times makes the game one hell of a lot easier.
In fact, I found the whole game very, very easy, only dying twice. Of course, some is down to the shield and easier controls, but no doubt much is because I remembered a lot of where I needed to go and what to do. Although I did lose Marin for a while which made me think there was a bug. There wasn’t – I had just lost her.
As much as I really enjoyed the game, and I must stress that it is really good, I can’t help think how good Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons would be using this engine, as they’re even better than Link’s Awakening. I’m hoping they do those before Breath of the Wild 2!
And that, following its pair – Oracle of Ages – from a few weeks back, means that the two best Zelda games have been completed. Again. Like Ages, I originally completed Oracle of Seasons right near the start of this gaming diary’s life. Back then, I finished Seasons first, but this time reversed them.
It didn’t make a lot of difference. The extra heart carried over from the more puzzley Ages helped a little in the more combatty Seasons, but that’s all. I did make the mistake of not playing Seasons for just over a week, meaning I’d forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. I admit, I resorted to reading a guide but only to remind me. I did’t make that mistake again.
Seasons seemed easier than I recall. Backtracking was more of an issue than my memory suggests, mainly because of the lack of useful warp points (aka the seed trees). Warp points exist of course, but they never seemed to be near where I needed to go. I ended up using the same two or three and then walking the long walk instead. Maybe if I’d figured out the routes across Subrosia it wouldn’t have been such a trek.
After beating Onox, the final boss, I went on to fight Twinrova. You can only do this once you’ve completed both Ages and Seasons, but I’d done that. Finally, the half-developed form of Ganon needed to be defeated. I was sure Twinrova was difficult last time around, but it seems my memory was faulty again and it was Onox I struggled with before.
And that’s that. Definitely still the best Zelda game(s). Fact.
Last time I completed Oracle of Ages was almost 12 years ago, not long after I started this gaming diary. You can read my post about that here. Since then, I’ve played a lot more Zelda games, but in my mind the Oracles games have always been the best. Would my memory hold up, in light of Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild?
Ages is not without faults. Changing weapons is perhaps the biggest issue, especially on boss fights. Swimming controls, in particular once you pick up the mermaid gear, could be much better. Warping between the past and present, once you have the right tune, takes just a little too long. Having to remember where everyone and everything on the map is, for later reference, is difficult.
But most of these don’t really matter. The item swapping is a product of its time: The Game Boy Colour only had two buttons, after all. What is still outstanding is the game itself. In particular, some of the puzzles are genius. I wonder about the brains of those who created them, notably the Mermaid’s Cave dungeon. Not only do you need to contend with some of the more fiendish riddles, but you also have to leave the dungeon, change era, and return. I also must have spent four or more hours in the multidimensional nightmare that is Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. Raising and lowering water and a one-way system broke my brain several times.
From what I recall, Oracle of Ages is the more cerebral of the two Oracles games. Difficult puzzles, but generally easy bosses, with Oracle of Seasons being the opposite. It certainly seems to be the case given what I’ve said, and that all of the bosses – even the final one to a lesser degree – were incredibly easy. The only problems I had were figuring out how to damage some of them, which again bears out the puzzle-based nature.
So is it better than Breath of the Wild? I mean, really? It’s certainly a better Zelda game, yes. It doesn’t have the scope, beauty or freedom of the Switch title, but it is a purer, tighter, more focussed Zelda experience. But then, Breath of the Wild isn’t a true Zelda game in my eyes.
After completing the game, I’ve spent another 40 or so hours mopping up various things. I’ve found all the memories, and beaten every one of the 120 shrines. Most of the armour sets in the game are now done, I’ve explored about as much as I want to, and I’ve even beaten a Lynel. With all this, I walked back into the castle, and stomped all over Ganon as I’m stupidly overpowered now. Game completed. Again.
Certainly, I’ve some stuff left to do should I wish to return: Of the 900 Koroks, I have just 150-ish. There are at least ten side-quests remaining, and a few more shrine quests (which I’ve completed, but have to trigger the start of in order for them to register as completed, if you see what I mean). And I think I probably will return, at some point. Perhaps when the DLC is out and I can see what it actually contains. A new area of the map with more shrines and another boss would be good.
For now, though, it’s time to move onto other games. Is Breath of the Wild the best game ever? No[ref]That’s Run Baby Run[/ref]. Is it the best Zelda game ever? No[ref]That’s Oracle of Ages and/or Seasons[/ref]. Is it the best 3D Zelda game ever? Also, no[ref]That’d be HYRULE WARRIORS[/ref]. But is Breath of the Wild a fantastic game? Absolutely.
Two big firsts with this game. The first first, is that it’s my first completed Switch game. The second first, is that it’s my first completed 3D Zelda game. Well, aside from HYRULE WARRIORS, but that isn’t a “traditional” Zelda game.
That being said, neither is Breath of the Wild. It has Zelda lore, Zelda themes, Zelda music… but nothing about the gameplay is actual Zelda. This game is all about traversal, exploration, survival. There are no dungeons. You obtain all the “special weapons” (“runes”, here) within the first couple of hours play, rather than en-route to each boss. There’s no sequence to follow, as, in fact, it’s perfectly possible to legitimately skip virtually the entire story and literally just walk up to the final boss and beat him.
This is not Zelda.
But, for me, that’s a great thing. I’ve always liked the idea of the 3D Zelda games. I enjoyed, for a time, Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, but never enough to ever finish them. I’d get bored or annoyed and just leave them incomplete. Breath of the Wild had me hooked the entire time, and I think it’s because of the major changes to the formula.
A few times, while playing, I thought “this isn’t fun”. In Twilight Princess, my options were stop playing, or force my way through it. Here, I could go and do something else instead and come back later. Much later, in the case of the iguana beast: I disabled it, went off to find some more weapons, then came back thirty hours later to carry on playing. Turns out it was a walkover.
After which I took on the bird beast, who was also a walkover, and emboldened by these two victories I decided to take on Ganon.
Who was also a walkover. Which was slightly disappointing. I was expecting it to be near impossible, and sure, I had some great armour and 16 hearts, but I only took one heart damage. One! And I still can’t parry properly!
Now the important question: Is this the best game ever? No. It’s a great game, certainly, but it still has issues. Is it the best Zelda game ever? Again, no. A Link Between Worlds and Hyrule Warriors are both better – Hyrule Warriors is more fun, ALBW is more focussed. But Breath of the Wild is wonderful, and has given me faith for the 3D Zelda series and Nintendo’s other series’ too – if they can shake up Zelda this much and come out with a winner, just imagine Metroid or Kid Icarus.
Just a quick post about Breath of the Wild. Firstly, it’s how Ubisoft would make Zelda. There are so many bits straight out of an Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry game. The plains, woods, and crafting – not to mention Link’s clothes – are straight out of the worst of all Assassin’s Creeds: III. Sneak up behind baddies for instant kills. You can even perform air assassinations of a sort.
This is not Zelda.
I’m something like 15 hours in. I’ve done the “tutorial”, reached Impa’s village and then the village on the far right of the map. I’ve completed some side quests, upgraded my clothes, and made it up to Zora’s Domain. Here I had a chat with my dead fishgirlfriend, and boarded a giant war elephant, which I think I’m nearly finished on.
Thoughts? It’s hard. Very, very hard. Having to constantly find and swap weapons because they break so easily is frustrating. Having to cook food to make health items is tiresome. The framerate is all over the place at times. It doesn’t really bother me, but is a little worrying for a brand new console. Especially since the same game is on the Wii U. Swapping melee, bow and runic items is fiddly (especially swapping arrows), more so mid-fight.
But… I am enjoying Breath of the Wild more than I expected to. It’s a million times better than Twilight Princess, but it lacks the fun, simplicity and immediacy of HYRULE WARRIORS.
I’ve not done a roundup post for a while, but I have been playing quite a lot of stuff. Regardez:
Battlefield 4 (PS4)
I’m not a fan of shootmans, but I am a fan of bargains, so Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline together for around a fiver was a steal. Then I did an odd thing: I actually played Battlefield 4. Not only that, but I think I’m quite near the end. It’s been quite good actually, although at this point I’m finding it a little bit repetitive – enter area, snipe everyone, move on. Naturally I could mix up my play style and use some different guns but when I tried that it didn’t go well. Tanks and boats and stuff did add some variety at least. Online? No.
HYRULE WARRIORS LEGENDS (3DS)
Which is still amazing. There’s more DLC this week, but in the meantime I’m nowhere near finished. I have beaten the boss on the first Adventure Map (unlocking a second) and unlocked most of the characters. It’s just so much fun – I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.
Unravel Demo (PS4)
I’ve actually bought the full game as a result of being impressed with the demo. That and 1) it was on offer, and 2) my daughter was quite adamant I had to. She’s played the full game but I’ve only done the demo. It feels a lot like Limbo so far, albeit brighter and cuter.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)
Ever since seeing this when it was announced I’ve been interested. I wasn’t entirely sure why, as I had no idea how the game mechanics would even work – some sort of cross between Akiba’s Trip, Idolmaster and Fire Emblem? Maybe? Who knows. It didn’t matter. Turns out, having bought it on release, it’s Persona. And it’s very most excellent, even if I’m only a few hours in so far. I really should get back into Persona 4 Golden, actually. Stupid Vita.
Table Top Racing World Tour (PS4)
This was a free rental on PS+, and it’s not very good. Somehow, though, I’ve been playing it off and on and I’m just over halfway through the game. It makes me pine for Micro Machines and how much better that is than this, which is slow and has boring (and very few) tracks.
Assassin’s Creed Unity (PS4)
I’m still playing it! I completed it not so long ago, but I’m still having fun doing side quests and mopping up all the collectables. Been a few Assassin’s Creed games since I last did that, so it’s obviously pushing the right buttons.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS)
So many boobladies. In eyepopping 3D! But as well as that, Shantae is a fantastic platformer with metroidvania elements. I’d enjoyed the original GBC game on the 3DS Virtual Console so when it was available as part of that frankly ludicrous Nintendo Humble Bundle I was very pleased indeed. I’m quite a way through it too, having been unable to put it down for a whole weekend, and I’ve just one main area left to clear, I think.
Gasp. No that really is the name of the game. It’s an eShop download that is available for free if you pick up enough Platinum points in Nintendo’s new “My Nintendo” service. If you jumped on Miitomo right away you should have enough by now so you’ve no reason not to get it.
From the verbose game title, you should know what to expect. A Picross e game (it’s by Jupiter) only themed around Twilight Princess. There are 45 puzzles (repeated as Mega Picross puzzles, which is cheating a bit I suppose) and a pretty large Micross to solve in this package, which is roughly half the size of most Picross e titles in terms of content. Indeed, it took me just shy of 8 hours to complete everything.
Sure, it’s smaller, but it’s also free. And properly free as well, not like that Pokémon Picross nonsense from a while back – no game ruining IAPs here, thankfully – just lots of lovely Picross puzzles.
I made an incredible discovery. After Cia’s story in Legend Mode (which was just the same as in the Wii U version), there’s an extension to the original main story! I suppose if I’d paid more attention to the game when it was announced I’d have realised this, but since I was going to buy it anyway I didn’t think to.
What is important about this new set of story levels, is not that there are new characters (Tetra and King Boaty McBoatface) as I knew about those, but that there are TWO new maps! Two! I didn’t even realise there was one! On top of that, they come with a new secondary weapon – the hammer – and several new enemies. And Phantom Ganon as the end boss, who you need to fight by batting back the energy balls he throws at you. It’s excellent.
So I finished all that off, and then did some more Adventure Mode.
But you know this isn’t the end of Hyrule Warriors Legends, don’t you? Of course not. All I’ve done is complete Legend Mode, and even that still has Cia’s prologue yet to do – let alone track down all the hearts and skulltulas and stuff in levels I’ve already completed. Then there’s Adventure Mode, which I have given merely the briefest of touches, just to capture a fairy. I’m only 15 hours in, which is already much, much longer than many games but here I know there’s a good 100 more or so – at least – waiting.
As well as the main Legend Mode story, I’ve also played and completed all of Linkle’s missions which sort of intertwine with the main story. Not especially well, it has to be said, but the plot is totally irrelevant elsewhere in the game so it doesn’t matter. The bulk of the game is Adventure Mode anyway and there’s no plot there at all.
I mentioned it before, but it’s worth saying again: Linkle is superb. Her slightly ranged weapons, her speed, her aerial gunplay (crossbowplay?) all make her so much fun to play as. It felt a shame every time I had to play a level as another character after each of her missions, as although most of the other characters are great too, Linkle is best. Better than Link even. Hopefully unlocking her most powerful weapons isn’t too much of a task in Adventure Mode, as I want them as soon as possible!
The best game in all creation is HYRULE WARRIORS for the Wii U. Probably. It came out of nowhere, wasn’t my sort of game in either respect – not a musou fan, and not a 3D Zelda game fan – and I bought it mainly because I had a funny five minutes when I saw it on the eShop. Somehow, it was fantastic, I’ve spent over 130 hours on it, and it just kept giving with the content.
And now there’s a 3DS version, with all the content of the Wii U version (at least, it seems so) and then some more. Squeezed into a 3DS? Impossible. Or perhaps not so impossible when you hear about those poor folk with a normal Not-New 3DS who have stunted framerates and no 3D. Thankfully, mine isn’t one of them and so the game is astounding. A couple of slight control and camera niggles, but nothing terrible, and it’s just as much fun as it ever was. Only more so, because it has MORE! More characters (Linkle is incredible), weapons and modes. A new fairy raising feature. And the 3D shouldn’t be underestimated either – it looks and feels great.
I’m but a toe in so far, with just 3 or 4 hours on the clock, but I can see this running and running, just like the Wii U one.
I think this might be in my top three most played 3DS games now, and I’ve not even touched the Mario themed option. I got stuck on a boss, then powered through a few more levels, then got stuck on the previous boss again when she cropped up later with another monster at her side. Too hard. I’ve been trying lots of dragon combinations and came close once to besting them, but then one of the two baddies almost completely healed both of them and that was it. Maybe some grinding is in order. Or some different dragons again.
Lego The Hobbit (Wii U)
We completed it, but since then we’ve been mopping up stuff. It’s pretty slow going though, and we haven’t even revisited any of the levels yet. Daddy Pig seems to voice half the characters in this, which is slightly absurd. Especially the blacksmith’s wife. With her beard. Hmm.
Ninja Usagimaru: The Gem of Blessings Demo (3DS)
A not very good puzzle game. I got bored before the demo even finished, to be honest.
Fairune Demo (3DS)
There’s a game called Witch & Hero on the 3DS which is the most ridiculous concept ever. You walk into baddies to kill them, but when you do, you take damage – meaning you’re inevitably going to die. It was rubbish.
Fairune seems to be by the same people and has the same mechanic, only instead of protecting a static character on a single screen, it’s a flip-screen RPG of sorts. And somehow, I’ve gotten a bit hooked on it. I’ve finished the demo and now will almost certainly buy the full game. This surprised me.
Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash Demo (3DS)
Everyone loves Chibi-Robo, right? And taking pictures of real things to include in the game and collecting junk just to tidy up because he’s a cute robot that does that? Awesome, right? Then why is this a slightly crap platformer instead of any of that? How disappointing.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri-Force Heroes Demo (3DS)
Well, I tried to play it. But it said no. I was in some sort of lobby and there were a couple of people to talk to and I found if I ran into a wall a ball fell from the sky and I could play keepy-uppies with it for a while but then that was it. I assume I needed some friends online to play with.
Badge Arcade (3DS)
No way am I giving money to this, but so far, I’ve not needed to. I’ve done well enough in the practise crane games to rack up a few free plays, and so far I’ve bagged about 12 badges. Not that I can use the badges because I’ve barely any space left on my home screen. I was hoping it would expand again, as it does when you hit about 80% full, but not this time. Boo.
It’s like 8 RPGs in one! I chose my first life to be a Paladin, applying the logic that any combat required in the other lives may benefit from my skills as a trained killer. Or something. I’m not very far in, only a couple of hours, but I’m already engrossed in the seemingly endless number of sidequests (which, unlike most RPGs, actually affect your progression in the game in a big way), and the game is both charming and interesting. I think I’ve guessed the real identity of Flutter the butterfly already, though, but then perhaps I’m meant to.
A “doom stone” has just smashed into the roof of my house, which can’t be a good thing. Now I have to go off and find another one.
Persona 4 Golden (Vita)
It took a lot of attempts, but I finally managed to defeat the boss at the top of Yukiko’s castle. Having done so, I asked around about it and it seems that having all your characters on around level 15 (the same level Yukiko is when she joins your party afterwards) is recommended.
All mine were on 10 or 11. Yeah, that’ll be why it was hard.
I’m a bit concerned about the inability to grind and the forced time limit on defeating each boss before the fog claims the next victim, but I’ve been assured that you can still grind as much as you want (until you run low on SP) by revisiting completed dungeons and never leaving. So, after rescuing Yukiko I spent some time redoing her castle to level up. Reached a new boss at the end of it, which can wipe out my entire party in a single hit. Methinks I should probably avoid him for a bit…
Super Smash Bros U (Wii U)
I’ve barely touched it so far, but have played through some of the single player modes a bit, and had a few fights online (which, sadly, were so badly lagged they were impossible to play), but I can already see that the huge amount of content and collectables will keep me coming back. Hopefully it’ll be a return to the greatness of the Gamecube game, as the Wii one wasn’t great (although I put that mainly down to the controls).
Scribble Shooter (Vita)
This may be a demo, but it’s hard to tell. It’s a Playstation Home Arcade game, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to purchase the full version so I don’t know if it’s just very, very short or what. It was quite good fun but over very quickly.
Wipeout 2D (Vita)
Another Playstation Home Arcade game. It’s exactly what it suggests – Wipeout in 2D. It plays like Super Sprint, but the handling feels terrible and I didn’t really enjoy it. Motorstorm RC is a billion times better, and the similar F-Zero themed minigame in Nintendoland is what Wipeout 2D wishes it was.
Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)
Of course. This just keeps on giving! I’ve a single square in Adventure Mode left to open now, and it’s proving pretty difficult. I’m having to level up some rarely used characters to build up to another attempt, but I keep getting sidetracked and hunt for better weapons and stuff instead.
I’ve bought my first Amiibo this week, and, which Hyrule Warriors in mind, it had to be Link. He unlocked the Spinner weapon which is awesome to use. Sadly, it’s only a Level 1 weapon so only does 80 damage. It’s kind of made up for with Link himself being on Level 112, but a 420 damage Spinner would be nice!
Apparently I can use the Amiibo once a day to unlock more stuff, so I’ll be giving that a go.
Hello Kitty Happy Happy Family (Demo) (3DS)
Sadly, not a return to form for Kitty. I was hoping for something more like the fantastic (truthfully) Hello Kitty Roller Rescue, or even the GBA Happy Party Pals game, but no – it’s a sub-Cooking Mama set of rubbish minigames. What a shame, although I did expect this was how it was going to be.
Weapon Shop de Omasse (3DS)
All the Level 5 Guild 01/02 games have been on offer recently, so I picked this up cheap along with The Starship Damrey. I haven’t played it a great deal yet, only through the tutorial and as far as the french bloke and the two girls returning from their quests. Seems quite good so far though – a sort of rhythm action game where you make the weapons and level them up by sending them out with adventurers. It’s pretty funny too, especially the almost Twitter-like Grindcast, which updates you on the quests your customers go on.