Hyrule Warriors (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Link__He_go_to_town__He_go_to_save__The_Princess_Zelda_I hope my B, and to a slightly lesser extent, Y buttons are OK. In my twelve hours running through the main Legend Mode campaign, I’ve pressed them rather a lot. I don’t think they’re worn out, but not since I played one of those “shooting watch” games have I hit a button so many times. Mash mash mash mash mash.

BBY. BBBY. BBBBY. Other variations, peppered with ZR (bombs, usually) and the odd X to pull off a special attack or (rarely) A to dodge. And block? Blocking is for girls. In fact, I didn’t even realise there was a block until I’d nearly finished the game. Once more, “There’s a block button?” returns. Apparently, pressing R triggers your magic and makes you do fancier attacks for a bit. I used it once, I think.

That_s_no_moonSounds repetitive, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. Well, it is, obviously, but it never feels like you’re doing the same thing over and over. You keep being pulled away to rescue or defend elsewhere on the map, or you have to swap secondary weapon to deal with a different foe, or you might need to run away for a bit and find some hearts. Or escort a bombchu. Or take down a massive boss who requires more skill than random button bashing achieves. And sure, you revisit the same locations several times, but the situation is different. Sometimes you’re a different character (and they all perform differently), or you have new tasks, so it never feels like a rehash.

WhatImportantly, it is a lot of fun. Swording/hammering/harping (really) your way through massive swathes of foes, knocking out 10, 20, 50 – even 100 – in one combo will never, ever get old or tiring.

Add to that the collection addiction where you collect weapons and materials that baddies drop to better your defences and attacks, adding new combo moves and perks, and even replaying missions isn’t a chore.

YES_I did spend a little while on the NES Zelda-inspired Adventure mode, both between missions on the main mode and after completing the game, and it too is pretty fantastic. And huge. You’re given smaller missions where you have to defeat only certain enemies, take down a certain number in a time limit, and assorted other challenges, but there are loads of them. How well you do determines which areas of the map you open up too, so you need to perform well rather than just win if you want to open up everything.

Now I’ll work my way through that, while I wait for the DLC, all four pieces of which I’ve already pre-ordered…

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

Um (1)For many years I’ve lamented how the the 3D Zelda games (that is to say, those that aren’t top down rather than those you play with glasses) are, well, pants. Over my time as a gamer, I’ve never got into the Samurai/Dynasty Warriors series. I’ve played a few, and even bought the 3DS one, but stopped there.

So why did I have a moment of weakness and buy a download code for Hyrule Warriors, a combination of all that is bad about Zelda games and a game series I couldn’t be more meh about? I don’t know. But I’m glad I did because it’s bloody awesome.

Fans of games known as “Musou” (at least, known as that to nerds who propagate the idea the series is niche and, well, non-Japanophile gamers wouldn’t like it) will see this is little more than a Zelda skinned example of the genre. Battlefields filled with forts, allies, and more enemies than a feeble little Nintendo console should really be able to cope with – let alone with no slowdown, and generals to defeat.

To_smack_or_not_to_smack_a_CuccoOnly with Zelda clothes on, these battlefields are areas like Hyrule Field and Death Mountain. The allies are Impa and Sheik. The enemies are ripped straight from Zelda games, and the generals, instead of being historical samurai warriors, are bosses Link has previously defeated in “normal” Zelda titles. Massive bosses, in some cases. And cuccos. Yay!

Gameplay is just like in Warriors, where you take ground by capturing forts and regions, lose ground by not paying attention to what’s going on elsewhere in the map, and your allies run round doing the same with not the best AI in their heads. Ultimately, you can’t rely on them to do anything, so sometimes you need to abandon your current objective to save their hide – again – before returning to the task at hand.

A Zelda twist is that you can pick up secondary weapons from treasure chests (complete with obligatory DA DA DA DAAAAH). These are instantly recognisable: Bombs, Boomerang, Bow, Hookshot, and so on. You can probably guess the rest. You can also play as any of your allies instead of just Link, and you recruit more warriors as you progress in the game. Additionally, there’s a crafting part to the game where you can upgrade and enhance your weapons, and choose new perks and abilities, for the price of some materials that enemies drop and a bag of rupees.

Somehow, it manages to feel just like Zelda without actually playing anything like any Zelda game before it. Which is A Good Thing, as far as I’m concerned.

Of course, I’m only about 4 or 5 hours in at the moment, so there’s still time for everything to head south, but what would appear to be a repetitive button masher is actually an addictive and surprisingly varied action title. More of this sort of thing with your game serieses, please Nintendo.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

tumblr_n0ags1xhol1svmpf2o1_400I’m done.

Well, OK. So I haven’t done Hero Mode yet, but for this playthrough, I’m done. I’ve done everything. Every dungeon finished, every weapon obtained and upgraded, every maiamai rescued, every treasure found, and every item counter (rupees, monster parts, hearts, etc.) maxxed out. Everything. All done.

And in just 23 hours too. I didn’t want it end so soon!

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS): COMPLETED!

Zelda-EndBoss1Yeah Hilda. You tell me a gooood story. I’m all ears. And not just because I’m an elf thing. Aha.

That’s it then – final dungeon done, final final dungeon done, end boss beaten. What a fantastic game. It’s just so perfect in almost every single way, and somehow manages to improve on the Zelda formula by getting rid of most of the linearity, by upping the pacing, and by making it somehow feel both very different and exactly the same as every other Zelda title. Yes, I know that sounds impossible.

The only thing that’s even slightly negative about the game that I can say is how easy it is. It’s very, very easy. It’s by far the easiest Zelda game and probably one of the easiest “big” games I’ve ever played. There’s simply very little challenge at all at any point. In fact, look:

ZeldaStatsThey’re my End Of Game stats. See how many times I was defeated? None. Not only that, but at no point was I ever even nearly close to dying. Not even in the “seems too difficult to do that early on” Ice Ruins dungeon. Of the seven main dungeons (which you can do in any order), I did the Ice Ruins second. I expected that the game would somehow ramp up the difficulty somehow (harder or more enemies, perhaps) as you progressed through the game, but it doesn’t. So, after completing the Ice Ruins I found that I’d done the hardest bit of the game (which even then wasn’t especially tricky) right near the start and it was plain sailing from then on. Even the end boss, which I faced before I’d even finished “tooling up” with all the best gear, was a complete walkover.

However, this is not a problem. It took away none of the fun and I still loved every minute. I’m even returning to it to get the remaining items and 100% it. It’s the best Zelda game since Oracle of Ages/Seasons. FACT.

 

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

And then there was one. One! Just one Sage left!

And not only that, but I’ve upgraded my sword using a couple of Master Ores, and I managed to find the Blue Mail (which was in the Swamp Palace, even though some people on MiiVerse told me it was in the Ice Ruins – pfff, idiots).

On top of that I’m also most of the way through the final remaining dungeon (bar, I presume, Lorule Castle), which happens to be the Dark Palace. It’s a bit confusing, and very dark, but the enemies are a complete walkover. It would seem that despite the name and perceived level of evilness the dark suggests, this is intended to be a dungeon done much earlier in the game. Not that it matters!

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

I_love_beesMore not-actually-aimless wandering led to the accidental discovery of Turtle Rock, and the completion of it. The actual dungeon was very small, but involved several “layers” on each of the two floors and was actually quite complicated.

It was pretty easy though, brain-twisty puzzles aside, and the boss was easily seen off.

After that, I set about looking for entrances to other dungeons, finding my way to the Dark Palace (which had a rubbish stealth section before it – mercifully, it was easy and very short) and whatever the one in Lorule’s Lost Words equivalent is called. Triggering the weather vanes outside will make getting to each of these easier later on. While in those woods, I found a guy who wanted to sell me “a treasure” for 888 rupees. Since I have a billion rupees, I said yes – and he gave me a golden bee which I passed on to Bee Guy for a Bee Badge. Apparently, bees won’t pester me any more. Not that they ever did, mind.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

zeldaicepalaceThis is slow going. Not that slow going is a problem, and it’s actually mostly my “fault” as I keep getting sidetracked looking for treasure and stuff – only to be disappointed that I don’t have the Titan’s Mitt to pick up big rocks. Well, sorted that by getting the mitt from the Desert Palace. Now (I think!) I can reach everywhere, as I’ve all the weapons too.

But I’m ahead of myself. Before the Desert Palace (which, like in Link to the Past, was “split” into several sections inside and outside the dungeon – and in this game split across both Hyrule and Lorule) I completed the Ice Palace. It wasn’t hard, but was substantially harder than I was anticipating at this still-relatively-early stage in the game. Enemies were taking 4 or 5 hearts off with a single hit, so I had to be careful. Thankfully, there’s a supply of fairies in a central thoroughfare so I could frequently heal up without much trekking. Then I remembered – you can do dungeons in any order, so it stands to reason I might hit a hard one early, which is what I suspect I did. In addition to the enemies, the puzzles were a bit brain bendy too, so yeah.

After that, the Desert Palace was a complete walkover.  Even though I forgot I had the sand rod several times so temporarily struggled with the scarab things and buried chests. Old age, eh?

Things I’ve Played Recently

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

lbw2Glorious.

Oh, you want more? Erm, really glorious? It’s the best Zelda game since Minish Cap. Mainly because it’s the only Zelda games since Minish Cap, sure, but still.

Yes, yes, I know there was Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass and those Wii ones and stuff, but they’re not proper Zelda games. Don’t argue.

Nintendo have taken the essence of a proper Zelda game, reused the game world from A Link To The Past, and streamlined a new alternative story. By streamlined, I mean you’re essentially handed all Link’s weapons and very quickly obtain most of his abilities and just left to do the job of winning and exploring. Which might sound awful, but it really works. It’s a lot of fun as a result.

I’ve just finished the first dungeon (which didn’t even feel like a dungeon, and it’s only the first in that it’s the first I attempted – you can do them in any order) in Lorule, so there’s a fair way to go yet.

Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

tumblr_myu6u3HPvt1svmpf2o1_1280With the game complete (as in, Bowser beaten) it’s mop-up time. I’ve been back to earlier levels and nabbed more stars, stamps and, er, sflags, and played through the post-game unlocked Star World, and some of the post-Star-World Mushroom World. I’m still yet to find any actually really difficult levels though.

Sure, some of the stars have been hard, and there have been a few moderately difficult levels, but there’s been NOTHING as hard as the hard stuff in New Super Mario Bros U yet. Still, there’s more to come so it might happen eventually…

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

Hippo_new_year__Or_would_be_if_the_stupid_hippo_had_turned_up.Still playing. Still not missed a day. Still finding things to do. Still getting the same damn statue from Crazy Redd EVERY SINGLE TIME. Seriously – I’ve had the guy with the disc one six times running.

It was New Year in the game too, and there were fireworks and a big countdown clock and stuff. Which was nice.

Stuff wot I are bin playing recently

Another round-up post, I’m afraid!

Batman: Arkham City (PC)

Despite the hassle it is to set up (all those cables and adapters and begging Windows to let audio go out the HDMI port please), and the fact it’s a PC game, I’m still enjoying it. It feels like driving a car when you know one of the wheels is going to fall off at some point. You enjoy the ride, but are on edge that at some point you could well end up in a ditch on your roof.

I’m also finding that, even though the world is clearly much more open than in Arkham Asylum, and obviously massively bigger, the game feels much more linear and is apparently just a set of fetch quests. There’s no real Metroidvania-ness like in the original either. That said, it is still utterly compelling to play, and I’m really enjoying it. I just feel that if it was on the 360 I’d be enjoying it even more!

In terms of progress, I’ve just completed the terrible, terrible trials bit given to me by Ra’s al Ghul (the only bad bit of the game so far, really).

The Sims 3 (3DS)

Look. It was £8 in Sainsburys. We shall say no more.

Except that it’s still fun setting fire to your house, calling the fireman, waiting for him to enter the house, then getting rid of all the doors.

Super Pokémon Rumble (3DS)

Still shallow. Still fun. Getting a little bit hard now, too. Especially since I was defeated by a boss, and thought – no way can I beat him. Only to find that you’re not supposed to yet and it’s all part of the story.

Motorstorm RC (PS3)

Pretty much the only thing I play on my PS3. It’s awesome. Not done all the tracks yet, but every now and then I sit down and clear a few. It’s getting pretty difficult now though, with a good half an hour on one of the tracks spent not even clearing bronze, let alone anything better!

Zen Pinball (3DS)

I haven’t played this in a while, but have got back into it this week. I’ve purposefully avoided the Shamen table (which was my favourite) to try and improve my scores elsewhere, and have focussed mainly on Excalibur. I think I may have passed a point where I know how to actually play the table now, so I expect great things. Or not.

The Legend of Zelda (3DS)

DAH DAH DAH DAAAAAAH!!

I have no idea why I picked this up last night, but I did. And got as far as the first piece of triforce. It’s lovely.

Rhythm Thief (Demo) (3DS)

I think I may actually use up the number-of-plays limit on this demo. It’s utterly fantastic. It’s like a mix of Space Channel 5, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! and Rhythm Heaven, with a sort of Moonwalker/Smooth Criminal vibe. Really, really want the full game. And it’s by Sega?! Hell has frozen over.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition (3DS): COMPLETED!

DAH DAH DAH DAAAAAAH!

I’ve been playing this here and there since it came out. It’s OK, but not really a Zelda game. I mean, it has Link in it, and it has some Zelda-y puzzles, but it isn’t really Zelda. That said, I enjoyed it. Even more so once I realised I wasn’t stuck on a level because you can actually throw the other Link over the lava. Tch.

Anyway. Killed the end boss, got the credits and the minigame to collect many rupees, aaand done!

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (3DS)

The lovely people at Nintendo gave everyone with a DSi/XL/3DS a free copy of this updated version of the GBA Four Swords game, to tie in with the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary. How lovely!

The main difference between this and the GBA one is that they’ve added a single player mode. Well, it’s sort of single player two player co-op, with you controlling two Links at the same time. It’s pretty good too, although I’ve only played for an hour or so.

It’s not really a “proper” Zelda, because although it has Link, and the graphics and sounds are Zelda-y, there’s no proper exploration or dungeons or an overworld – just several timed self-enclosed stages where you smack things, solve a few puzzles, and can only swap weapons and “powers” by physically swapping your current one with another sat on a pillar.

Free though! And Zelda! In 2D! Rejoice!

Stuff wot I are bin playing

I’ve not posted in a while, aside from to mention Yakuza 3 and Old World Blues, but I have still been playing games. Here’s a round-up of what’s been going down over the last few weeks:

Professor Layton and the Lost Future (DS)

I actually completed this at the start of the year, but as I did with the previous two games once the story was done I left the remaining puzzles until near the release of the following game. So, with that due in November, I went back to Lost Future. I’ve already mopped up all the story puzzles, the sticker book, the parrot delivery puzzles, and the toy car, and have done most of the bonus extra puzzles too.

As usual, the puzzles I struggle with are the slide-a-block-through-other-blocks ones, one of which (having checked online afterwards to see how poorly I did) can be completed in just 9 moves. Took me almost 3500. Yes.

Urban Champion 3D (3DS)

It’s a weak title, sure. It’s certainly not a “NES classic”, but somehow, it’s addictive. I’ve made it up to (I think) Area Champion, but then died. You don’t seem to lose your rank when you die though – you just have to start from the first round again.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (3DS)

The only 2D Zelda game I’ve not completed. In fact, I’ve barely played it. But I put some time in and once you forget it’s a Zelda game and look at it as a Metroidvania game with an overworld and semi-random, realtime battles, it makes a lot more sense. It’s brutally hard though!

Metroid (3DS)

Another one of the NES games us 3DS “ambassadors” got for free. It’s hard. Like, really hard. And there’s no map. I sort of like it, but the difficulty is really putting me off.

Balloon Fight / Mario & Yoshi / NES Open / Wrecking Crew (3DS)

Other NES games that I’ve played for an hour or so each, but not really invested too much time in yet. Wrecking Crew is ace, and NES Open is still a pretty competent golf game.

Let’s Golf 3D (3DS)

Enjoying this. The 3D is pointless (as in, it barely has any effect at all), but it doesn’t really matter. I’m about 35% through Career Mode now, and am starting to get used to the courses. The arctic and aztec ones are particularly difficult! I like the different game modes too, like Closest To The Pin and such.

10 Second Run (3DS)

It’s actually DSiWare, but I don’t have a DSi so it falls under 3DS. So there. Loved it at first, with its super-quick runny-jumpiness, but sadly – just like other games of its ilk (N+, Super Meat Boy) – it became far too hard to be enjoyable. I’ve completed about 38 of the 50 levels, and although I know there are 5 or 6 more I could probably manage with perseverance, some just seem completely beyond me. Boo!

Bomberman Live! (360)

I was online this evening at the same time as some ugvm/BETEO people who were playing this, and I thought I’d join in hoping my useless “broadband” connection could take the pace. It held up for the first few rounds, but by the end of the first tournament the lag was causing me to blow myself up far too frequently, and by the end of the second tournament I was been told over the headset that I’d died before I actually noticed on-screen. Rubbish.

And I’d have beaten all-comers if it wasn’t for Sky! *shakes fist*

Kirby’s Fun Pak (Wii)

The SNES game on the Wii, to be more accurate. Mainly played because my daughter sometimes tells me to play Kirby games, and so this appeases her, but it is good anyway. Only one game mode left to complete, I think, though.

Is that everything I’ve played recently? Probably. Except for stuff I’ve played briefly. Like, but not limited to: Outrun Online Arcade (360), Sonic the Hedgehog (360), Super Mario All-Stars (Wii), Muscle March (Wii), and various iPad “room escape” games. And the usual Words With Friends, Hanging With Friends and Carcassonne matches too, of course.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (3DS): COMPLETED!

You know, I found that I did, in fact, have a copy of the DX version for the Game Boy Colour after all.  As well as the non-DX version. And I’d totally forgotten. Tch, eh?

Today, I completed it. Since I last posted, I did some of the Turtle Rock dungeon before moving off to go and find the boomerang and collect some seashells for the level 2 sword. With both of them obtained, I was pretty much indestructible, easily seeing off the boss of that dungeon, then wiping the floor with the end boss in the Wind Fish’s Egg. Probably the easiest Zelda end bosses ever, due to the sword and improved armour I was packing though, no doubt.

And it was all ace. Yeah, the item swapping was a bit annoying (especially since the 3DS’s Start and Select buttons aren’t the best), but it’s still classic Zelda, and I don’t even feel it’s aged.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (3DS)

You know, I’m pretty sure I’m buying every single Virtual Console game out for the 3DS. I got Zelda the other week, and as well as that I’ve also got Kirby, Donkey Kong, Mario Land, Qix, Double Dragon and Fortified Zone. I’m only missing Tennis and Alleyway and I just know I’m going to end up with them too if there’s a slow week…

But back to Zelda. Somehow, back in 2005, when I was running through pretty much every 2D Zelda game I could get my hands on, I didn’t play this. Or at least, I didn’t record it on my gaming diary that I’d played it. I have played it, and completed it, before though – at least twice – on the non-DX version. Most recently was not long before I did all the other Zeldas, so I assume it just missed my first diary entries. Ah well.

Aside from a bit of Qix, Link’s Awakening is the only game I’ve played since completing Double Dragon a couple of weeks ago. I’m almost 14 hours in now, having just entered the 8th, and penultimate, dungeon at Turtle Rock. The game is, like all 2D Zelda games, utterly ace. The Metroid-style gaining items to make new areas reachable, the characters, the classic Zelda music and sound effects, and the overworld/dungeon structure all make it a joy to play. It really is one of the best games ever made – and probably the second (or third, if you count Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons separately) best Zelda game of all time. It really is outstanding. Even more so now I’m playing it in colour, as the non-DX version is black and white.

DX also adds an extra, but short and simple, dungeon. I’ve completed it, doing so after about dungeon 4, and was given better clothing to halve the damage I take as a reward. It’s made the rest of the game a bit easy, but the real difficulty in Zelda games was always the puzzles rather than the enemies.

Not much left of the game to go now, which is a bit of a shame. Hope they put Ages and Seasons up soon!

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

I played a little bit of this last week, but have managed a few more hours on it over the last few days.

And I’m enjoying it less and less. A couple of days ago, I had to catch a fish. Which was fine, except it then took almost an hour figuring out that I wasn’t supposed to pick the fish up, but turn into the wolf and sniff it. Obviously. Then yesterday there was an awful snowboarding section. Yes, snowboarding. In Zelda.

Today? Crate puzzles. Yes – Irritating and Unnecessary Gaming Cliché #2. Joy.