The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess

81c9da0f-07e4-45fd-a7b2-e7a98b77c1a1_1-e14cbcb4ecd1f43c9b74f04410c4d2c6Date Completed : October 24, 2016

I had been thinking about re-playing Twilight Princess and then BOOM! HD remake!  What wonderful timing!  I think Nintendo has implanted some sort of eavesdropping device in my brain so they can always provide me with what I want, when I want it.  Either that or they’re really good at marketing.

 

The original Twilight Princess came out in 2006 with the launch of the Wii console.  My girlfriend at the time (soon to be wife) tried to buy me a copy of the game and the gentleman at Toys R Us said “We’re all sold out”.  “WHAT?” I said.  “Software never sells out.  Hardware is hard to come by but pressing discs is easy!  How can you run out?”  In the end it didn’t matter, as Nintendo isn’t the kind of company to leave money on the table.  They printed more discs, I got a copy.  The world carried on.

My first play through of Twilight Princess was right after I was married but before we had kids.  I have fond memories of that time.  Many fond memories of sleeping in past 5:30.  Not wiping jelly off my game controllers.  Having time to play.  Perhaps that’s why I look back on this game so fondly.

Twilight Princess is kind of an odd duck.  It has all of the qualities that you’d expect to be present (more realistic graphics, mature story) in the greatest Zelda game of all time, yet somehow it fails to live up to the standard set by Ocarina of Time.  I suppose this game is the proof that we don’t always want what we ask for.  Not that it’s a bad game.  Even an average Zelda game is generally far better than anything else available.  Just in the grand scheme of ranking Zelda games Twilight Princess isn’t in my top 5.

My two boys love Zelda games ( I have taught them well ) so I wanted to make sure to play the game when they could watch.  This policy made it hard to find time to play.  I ended up moving the Wii U to the family room from the bonus room upstairs because I thought it would be more convenient.  It took a lot longer than my first time through the game but I finally finished up in time for the holidays.

So we have come full circle.  My marriage began with Twilight Princess, and now it has brought us closer together as a family.  Even my two-year-old daughter got to enjoy the game this time around (She especially enjoyed Link riding Epona and helping me tap Amiibo figures ).  I’d say that’s money well spent.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  ~40 hours
  • System: Nintendo Wii U
  • Genre: Action / Adventure

Hyrule Warriors Legends

250px-hyrule_warriors_legends_na_box_coverDate Completed : 8/14/2016

Not much to say about this game that wasn’t already said in my review for Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U.  The game is essentially unchanged, however there are a few new features that make it much more compelling.

There is a new storyline relating to ‘Linkle’, also known as girl link.  Linkle’s story is told with a series of new missions that appear mixed in with the original missions.  Linkle comes across as a little scatter brained but I found that I preferred her to Link in battle.  She has some crowd control attacks that are very satisfying.

Hyrule Warriors Legends contains a number of other changes but the best, in my opinion, is that you can now control the other characters in battle.  Rather then controlling a single individual you can now use the touch screen to tell the other characters what to do or switch over and control them entirely.  This helps immensely as you don’t have to spend the entire mission running back and forth putting out fires whilst the other characters are lollygagging around.

I found the mobile form of  Hyrule Warriors to be much more convenient for play.  I played much further into the game than I did on the Wii U version and I still have the game cartridge in my ‘active games’ box.

I consider this to be superior to the original in all categories with exception of graphics.  If you have both a Wii U and a 3DS I’d recommend the 3DS version, unless you’re goofy like me and you get them both.

Is it fun: Yes

Score: 6/10
Length:  ~20 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action

Triforce Heroes

91zvmp3i6l-_ac_sl1500_Date Completed: December 8th, 2016

Zelda games have never let me down.  Even the bad ones are usually pretty good so there was a pretty good chance that I’d eventually be buying a copy of The Legend of Zelda : TriForce Heroes.  I probably would have pre-ordered the game and had it for launch except for the fact that I saw the story trailer on YouTube.  After seeing that…I suspected that the Nintendo devs had lost their minds and I wasn’t sure I wanted to have anything to do with it.

The story of the game follows a princess who (I kid you not) has been cursed to wear an unattractive unitard.  It is your goal to steal articles of clothing from a witch so that you can dress up in drag and un-curse the princess.  The main game mechanic involves you changing your clothes to gain new powers.  I have no idea why they chose to green-light this mechanic.  I can only imagine in horror any ideas that didn’t make the cut.

Goofy premise aside the game is pretty fun.  It can be played single player but it is meant to be multi-player.  In a somewhat unusual twist it can only be played by exactly one or three players.  This game is download play enabled so you only need a single cartridge to start a multiplayer game.  I started the game on my own but ended up playing most of it with my two sons (who both received 2DS consoles in the last year).

The first several missions were easy and I was able to carry my sons on to victory.  Later missions require some teamwork that my younger son ( who was 5 at the time ) wasn’t ready for.  My older boy would get frustrated and yell at his brother, which led to much crying and shouting.  I sure love family bonding time.

My older son got really into the game and purchased his own copy of the game with his saved up allowance money.  He played the game almost constantly, often while crying with frustration because some part of the game was too hard.  He’d beg me to help him but I always refused instead informing him that he’d never get any better if someone else played the game for him.  Tough love seems to have worked.  He has now surpassed my level of completion with the game, has beaten all of the bonus levels and is only missing one outfit.

Due to the crying, whining and fighting my wife was less than thrilled with me for bringing this game into the household.  We had to confiscate 2DS’s multiple times because the kids were getting frustrated or refusing to sleep.  All in all I think this is a pretty strong endorsement for the game.  It’s a little inconvenient that it requires three consoles to play multiplayer but if you have the equipment it’s worth the price of entry (That’s what she said?)

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 6/10
  • Length:  ~10 hours
  • System: Nintendo 2DS / 3DS
  • Genre: Action / Adventure

 

Zelda Picross

tpprincessDate Completed: April 22nd, 2016

At long last Nintendo finally unveiled their new customer loyalty program and one of the first rewards made available was Twilight Princess Picross.  It costs 1000 platinum points which thanks to Miitomo are easy enough to collect, although it did take me several days of answering inane questions and changing my hat.

My wife is a Picross fan but hasn’t played much since Picross for the original DS.  I told her about the freely available Pokemon Picross but she doesn’t understand Pokemon and couldn’t get into it.  When this game became available I told her it was the Picross experience she’d been waiting for so I badgered her into playing Miitomo so she’d be able to get the 1000 points necessary.

For being free you get quite a bit of game.  There are 45 puzzles each of which can be played in either Picross or Mega Picross mode.  There is also something called Micross which is a giant mural where you in small bite-sized 10×10 squares.  After you finish all of the puzzles your accumulated time shows up on the home screen.  My wife and I have been competing for scores but I think she’s cheating because she’s winning at the moment.

Each puzzle took me 5-15 minutes so according to my calculations I’ve put about 15 hours into it.  Since each puzzle is so short it’s easy to play for a few minutes at a time.  I usually run a puzzle or two before bed.  Not bad for a free game!

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  15 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Puzzle

The Legend of Zelda : Oracle of the Ages

Date Completed : September 5th, 2015

I promised in my The Legend of Zelda : Oracle of Seasons (OoS) review that I’d be playing through the Oracle of Ages soon…and I was wrong.  It took nearly two years for me to finally get through it.  Why you ask?  I made it about 3/4 of the way through the game and came upon a particularly involved side-quest that was required to enter a dungeon.  I took a short break from the game and when I couldn’t remember any of the details about where I was or what I was doing.  I waited for two years in case my memory came back to me but I finally resorted to using a walkthrough off the Internet and finished the game.

The Oracle of Ages and The Oracle of Seasons were meant to be played together, as a way of tricking poor college students into buying two games instead of one.  The joke is on them though! Now I own two copies of EACH!  The main difference between the games is that Oracle of Seasons uses a season changing mechanic and Oracle of Ages uses a time travel mechanic.  When I originally played these games I thought Oracle of Ages was the slightly better game but this time though I think I slightly preferred Seasons.  This is probably due to the fact that I got burned out partway through Ages and took a two year hiatus.

OotA follows Link’s adventures through the land of Labrynna to save Nayru (The Oracle of the Ages) from the evil sorceress Veran.  If you happen to have started the game with the password given after beating The Oracle of the Seasons then periodically characters in Ages will give you a password that you can enter in your game in Seasons for some reward.  There is also a bonus mission at the end of the game that is not otherwise accessible.

Nayru_(Oracle_of_Ages)

Nayru – The Oracle of the Ages

I really liked how the two games were able to interoperate with each other.  Characters that you met in one game would be able to remember you in the second, and passwords could be used to exchange items back and forth.  The password system was the best option we had at the time for enabling this, but with the technology of today this could be implemented much more seamlessly.  I hope Nintendo considers doing something like this again.

Pros

  • Password System
  • Memorable Characters

Cons

  • Only two buttons for items.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  8 hours
System: 3DS (Virtual Console)
Genre: Action / Adventure

The Legend of Zelda : Majora’s Mask 3DS

91MEVIjA-UL._SL1500_Date Completed: March 15th, 2015

When Majora’s Mask originally came out I felt like I was the only person in the world who actually liked the game.  In Majora’s Mask you have 72-hours to beat the game or the Moon crashes into the planet killing everyone.  Fortunately for you, you can use the Ocarina of Time to travel back to the beginning of the 72-hour period and start over. My good friend hated the feeling of being rushed through the game, but he totally missed the point.  Using a 72-hour timeline for the game makes it possible to script the actions of each person in the game beyond what is possible in other games.  Instead of characters who blandly say the same thing every time you talk to them, characters in Majora’s Mask move around town, say different things at different times, and interact with each other.  Most interestingly you can interact with individuals and change how the future unfolds.  Memorizing characters’ schedules can feel overwhelming at first but once you get to know the people in the game it makes the game feel alive.

Majora’s Mask 3D isn’t just a remake of the original game, it’s an upgrade.  The Graphics have been improved and several other changes have been implemented to improve the game from it’s original release.  This is in direct contrast to a Square-Enix ‘HD Remaster’, which generally is exactly like the original, except rendered in a higher resolution.  It had been long enough since I played the original that I didn’t notice most of the changes, but the graphical upgrade is quite noticeable and welcome (The old version had Link looking a bit jaundiced).

Majora’s Mask 3D released the same day as the ‘New’ Nintendo 3DS, which is different than the Nintendo 3DS.  The ‘New’ Nintendo 3DS came in three variants – Red, Black and MAJORA’S MASK GOLD.  I had been interested in owning a limited edition 3DS model for awhile – especially a Zelda themed one.  I had nearly purchased the ‘Link Between Worlds‘ variant of the 3DS XL several times, even though I already owned a 3DS XL, and my wife might have killed me.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop myself this time – this console was an actual hardware upgrade AND Zelda themed.  I began an epic quest to get one.

Immediately after the Nintendo Direct that announced the US launch of the new 3DS, I went straight to Best Buy’s website and pre-ordered one.  I was quick enough and managed to get one and I was secure in my knowledge that I would finally have a limited edition 3DS.  Fast forward a few weeks and my credit card was re-issued because it was part of a breach somewhere (Home Depot, Target, who knows).  I tried to change my pre-order to the new card through Best Buy’s website but the site didn’t have the functionality to change payment information.  I didn’t want to lose my pre-order because of some technical glitch so I called customer service and they were able to switch my payment over to a different card.  No problems.  OR SO I THOUGHT.  About an hour after I made the call I received an email that my order had been cancelled.  I naturally called Best Buy back but they said they couldn’t restore cancelled orders and that I needed to re-order the item.  I explained that was impossible and asked to be transferred to a manager so they hung up on me.  I am now Boycotting Best Buy, and I hope you will join with me.  That store sucks.

Don't Shop Best Buy

Friends don’t let friends shop at Best Buy

 

Launch day rolled along and I still hadn’t managed to find the Gold 3DS available for pre-order anywhere else.  I figured my best shot would be to head to Target at opening time (8:00 AM) and take my chances.  I drove to Target early and I ended up being 7th in a line of about a dozen people.  We all rushed to the electronics desk at opening and they only had two Majora’s Mask consoles, both of which were snatched up by the first two guys in line.  Lamentations.

I wandered aimlessly around Target, cried a little bit and did some shopping for Valentine’s day which was the next day.  It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt as I wandered around Target – emotions of desolation and despair.  It’s also impossible to describe the emotion I felt when I heard my phone chime indicating that I had a text message.

You see, knowing that stock would be limited I asked a colleague if he wouldn’t mind heading over to the OTHER Target store, just in case it had a shorter line.  AND IT DID.  My friend had managed to get the very last one at the OTHER Target, and he was driving to my side of town to arrange a trade.  We’d made a deal that if I was able to get my hands on the Majora’s Mask 3DS I’d sell him my old 3DS XL for a fraction of the eBay value.  I didn’t truly believe in it until he arrived, but when he did he handed me the glorious golden box and my story comes to a very happy ending.

Majora's Mask New 3DS

It’s even more glorious in person!!

 

There was another Limited Edition item that came out at the same time as the 3DS – The game itself had a limited edition version that came with a Skull Kid Statue.  This didn’t cause as much trouble for me to order – Amazon had pre-orders up for months in advance and I ordered early on.  The statue looks great sitting next to my limited edition Gannondorf from Wind Waker.  🙂

Gannon and Skull Kid

These guys look lonely. It might be a good time for an HD remake of The Minish Cap.

I’ve since learned that the gentleman who was standing behind me in line at Target that morning was also able to get his hands on a Majora’s Mask 3DS (I bumped into him at Toys R Us while we were both trying to pre-order Amiibos…another Nintendo related problem) although he had to purchase his as part of one of GameStop’s ‘Premium’ bundles.  Everything has worked out in the end and I look forward to many happy hours of gaming on my new Majora’s Mask 3DS.

Pros

  • Upgraded version of one of the greatest games ever.

Cons

  • No Streetpass, if you care about that kind of thing.

Is it fun: Yes

Score: 9/10
Length:  ~40 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action / Adventure

Super Smash Bros. 3DS / Wii U

SmashBoxAccording to WordPress this is going to be my 100th post! So, congratulations to me.

Super Smash Bros. came out for the N64 when I was in college but it was later in the N64’s life cycle and I had already begun moving away from the N64 as a platform of choice.  I might have never tried the game at all, except some of the gentlemen down the hall were REALLY big fans of the game. I wasn’t especially good friends with the gentlemen down the hall, but they enjoyed gaming and avoiding schoolwork as much as I did so we had a lot of common ground. I played a LOT of Smash with those gentlemen, enough to forge some lifelong friendships and move off campus together the next year (where of course we played even more SMASH).  When the Gamecube came out I bought one and we Smashed even harder. Smash became one of the games that defined my college experience, so it is psychologically impossible for me to not purchase new versions when they are released.

This time around Nintendo released Smash Bros. for two consoles, the Wii U and the 3DS. They are NOT the same game as I originally believed although they do have a lot in common. The roster of characters are identical and many of the levels are the same, but there are unique features to each that make the experience for each game distinctive. The games are NOT cross compatible – you can’t play against a Wii U owner with the 3DS version of the game, although in a somewhat unusual move you CAN use the 3DS as an extra controller for a Wii U.

The game hasn’t changed much since the Gamecube iteration. To get started you only need to learn two buttons – attack and special attack. Pressing in a direction with one of the attack buttons will slightly alter which move is performed. All fighters use the same controls so even if you are using someone new you should be able to get a few hits in. This is in contrast to other fighting games (such as Injustice which I recently reviewed) where all fighters have different controls that must be learned separately. I’ve good results introducing new people to Smash by showing them how to jump, and use the two attack buttons. Both of my boys (Who are 5 and 3 years old) were able to play the game and my 5 year old even managed to beat me once or twice (more on that later).  After learning how to use your attacks, advanced players may learn the other two buttons – block and throw.  These are helpful to know but not entirely necessary for enjoying the game.

Fighting games generally aren’t noted for being fantastic single player experiences and Smash Bros. is no exception.  Fortunately Smash makes up for a somewhat lackluster single player experience by including BUTT LOADS (Figuratively) of different modes that can be enjoyed.  These include (but are not limited to) Classic Mode, All-Star Mode, Street Smash (3DS), Smash Run (3D), Smash Tour (Wii U), Event Smash (Wii U), Special Orders (Wii U) and online battle modes.  Completing each of the modes with each of the 50 playable characters will take a significant time investment.

Fight

You can post screenshots through the Miiverse.

 

So, Smash is great, but what was my experience like?  Well, on the 3DS I played through most of the single player challenges myself and the only achievements I have left are the ones like ‘beat all-star mode with every character’.  I tried a few online matches for fun but never really got into it.  One of my colleagues at work got a copy for Christmas (I bought mine at launch) and we’ve had a few cooperative battles on break, which is a lot more fun than work.  Taking Smash on the road is a lot of fun, but the opportunity to play it doesn’t come up as often as I would like.

The Wii U version of the game is all about the Amiibos for us.  I may have gone a bit overboard with Amiibo fever – I signed up for the Lootcrate Amiibo promotion which netted us most of the launch characters.  My boys both wanted Link’s Amiibo for Christmas ( I couldn’t convinced them to ask for different characters – Link is too awesome ) which combined with the Lootcrate promotions brings our household total to about 13.  I thought the game would be too hard for my boys to play themselves so the Amiibo integration seemed like a good way to get them involved.  It turns out that they are both able to play the game with at least some measure of success and they HATE it when their Amiibo beats them.

My 3-year-old son isn’t entirely sure what he’s doing so he generally stands still while spamming the attack button.  Sometimes he decides he’s controlling a different character than he started with (which doesn’t affect his results any), and sometimes he gets bored and wanders out of the room. My 5-year-old son is a bit more hardcore about it.  He and I have an agreement to not attack each other so I’m often left attacking the Amiibos on my own.  Periodically this strategy results in my older son winning as I take all the damage and he shows up to knock the bad guys off the stage.

You must have JavaScript enabled on your device to view Miiverse posts that have been embedded in a website. View post in Miiverse.

My progress with the Wii U version achievements is a lot slower since the boys insist that we play the 2 minute Smash battles.  I’m OK with that though, it’s a lot more fun than playing alone.  I think Smash will be a popular diversion for the boys and I for a long time.

Pros

  • Lots of playable characters.
  • Single player story mode was enjoyable.

Cons

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  ~40 hours
System: 3DS / Wii U
Genre: Fighting