Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Link Between Worlds Impressions (Part 2)

EDIT: I forgot to mention Hyrule Warriors. Yay... new spinoff. Dynasty Warriors/Zelda mashup. It looks alright. I'll probably get it, but I'm not as excited about it as most people.



Finals are over.

That was rough.

It's Christmas break, though, so I'm really relieved. I've been so lazy over the past few days, and as you can imagine that entails Zelda. Lots of Zelda. Specifically Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time Master Quest. This post is about A Link Between Worlds, though, and since my last post, I've completed Hero Mode. Gosh, I really love this game.

Really quickly, I need to talk about some Majora's Mask-related stuff, though. So bear with me.

First, my Majora's Mask Soundtrack arrived! Finally, my premium Club Nintendo status has paid off.

I've also been reading an awesome Majora's Mask fanfiction called Insomnia (you should check it out.) So, since my Majora's Mask soundtrack arrived just after I started reading this, I had an idea. I still can't decide if it's brilliant or very stupid.

Pretty much, while I'm reading, I play the song on repeat for the area the story is taking place in. Whenever it enters a new area, I switch to the corresponding song. I know, it seems is incrediby cheesy, but there's a song for literally everything in the game, and it's really immersive.

That, and a live-action short film for Majora's Mask entitled "Skull Kid: A Zelda Legend" recently came out. It's about 8 minutes, and it's a really, really awesome video that takes the perspective of Skull Kid. You should also check that out.

Anyway, now that that's over with, back to A Link Between Worlds.

Let's see, I already covered graphics, length, music...  Now I've got dungeons, characters, story, and bosses.

I'll start with the dungeons. These dungeons are AMAZING. The puzzles in them are so innovative, creative, and unique to any other Zelda game. They're truly masterpieces. One of my favorite puzzles was in the Swamp Palace, where you had to constantly redirect water flows to create multiple small streams and fill various chasms with water.

Here's a small screenshot of part of that puzzle.

Another notable thing is the entirety of Turtle Rock, which is pretty much just one big, epic puzzle/maze. There are two floors, and they're both huge pools of lava with tons of grating and balance-beam like structures, and you have to navigate its many smaller rooms on its perimeter. The dungeon itself is actually quite small, but it'll have you wandering around for quite some time.

The Tower of Hera also had a very vertical aspect to it, and it really required you to use your new ability of turning into a drawing on the wall. This whole game makes you think outside the box a lot.
And Thieves' Hideout is a fairly simple dungeon, but the way it's designed is, with a lack of any other words, awesome. You start out at the top of the hideout, which doubles as a jail of sorts, and work your way down. As you descend, you notice that there are a bunch of puzzles that can't be solved because you need two switches to be pushed, etc. When you reach the bottom, you find a Thief Girl who says, "Ohh, thank you very much! You saved my life. Please take me outside." Sound familiar? Nah, don't worry, she's not Blind. But the game really wants you to think that.

Lastly, the Ice Ruins. This is actually my favorite dungeon in the game, which is strange, because I hate ice dungeons. In A Link to the Past, I hated the Ice Palace. This is the exact opposite. This dungeon is so amazing. It takes place on Lorule's Death Mountain, which is frozen over, and throughout most of the dungeon's entirety, you can see that it's just hovering over a seemingly endless pit with the glow of lava at the bottom. Oh, and did I mention 3/4 of this dungeon is you walking on thin, slippery platforms above this chasm? Kind of unsettling, if you ask me, especially if you have the 3D effect on. 

What really amazes me is that the entire dungeon is rendered at once. There are SO many floors to this place, (6, if I remember correctly) and they're all rendered at the same time. With absolutely no drop in frame rate! It's so stunning to be on the 4th floor and be able to see the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st's intricate puzzles all below you, along with the pool of lava way far down. The atmosphere is just sooooo... cool... (no pun intended).

Alright, naturally, I'll follow the dungeons with the bosses. The majority of bosses in this game are rehashed from A Link to the Past. However, they're all fought in entirely new ways, which totally makes up for that.

Except one. One of these is almost an exact copy from A Link to the Past. He looks the same, he's fought the same, and the only difference is that he has one new attack. I believe he's called Arrghus? 


Aside from that, there are plenty of original bosses to go around. My favorites would be Gemesaur King, a spinoff of Helmasaur King; Zaganaga, an original boss; and Grinexx, a spinoff of Trinexx. And, of course, the final battle itself is awesome.

Next up, characters.

I don't really have much to say about characters in this game, but I'll talk about a few of the more memorable ones.

First, Ravio. I had mixed feelings about him, until I finished the game. If you've beaten it, you'll know what I'm talking about. This guy is AWESOME.

And then Hilda, who is also an awesome character. She's Zelda's Lorulian counterpart, if you didn't know, and I really like her personality. Dark and lonely, but with a hint of friendliness. That is, until *spoiler alert* she tries to kill you! *end spoilers* But she did it for her kingdom, guys, for her kingdom. So that makes it okay. Sort of.

Irene's kinda... sorta... memorable. I guess. I really like her personality. She's kind of sassy, but she also truly wants to help you, so she gives off mixed emotions. She's interesting, to say the least.

Yuga's a cool villain, too. Sort of a mix between Zant and Ghirahim, I'd say. I thought Yuga was a girl, until I found out he was aguY. 

Haha, that was funny, right?


No? That joke's been done thousands of times and it got old a month ago?


Well, yeah, I guess that's all I have to say about characters.

Last up is the story. Now, A Link to the Past's story wasn't really much of a story at all. You start the game looking for Zelda, see your uncle die, find Zelda, take her somewhere safe. You must find the three pendants. Plot twist! Agahnim captures the sages including Zelda, and draws you into the Dark World. You have to free the sages and kill Agahnim/Ganon. Go.

Now, I've got to say, A Link Between Worlds' story isn't much better. The beginning is a bit more interesting, and you meet Zelda when she's safe, and you can read all about the events of A Link to the Past. Then, Yuga starts to capture sages, you've got to get the same pendants, grab the same Master Sword, plot twist: Yuga got Zelda, travel to Lorule, and free the seven sages. But this portion of the game is completely nonlinear, so you really can't give it a hard time story-wise. It's hard for a nonlinear game to have much of a story. 

Until the end.

The end of the game is by far my favorite ending in a Zelda game. Out of all of them. Ever.

I'm talking higher than Link's Awakening's, Twilight Princess's, and Skyward Sword's awesome endings.

You get through the last awesome dungeon, Lorule Castle. Did I mention it has amazing music?

You confront where you think Yuga is... but what's this?

Okay, I'm going to stop for a second. This part of the story was kind of predictable for me, but it wasn't for some people, so please, stop here if you don't want this to be spoiled. Just pick up on the other side, or something. I'll have another warning.

Hilda was actually using Link to get the Triforce of Courage, so she could have all 3 pieces. She explains to Link how Lorule's Triforce was destroyed, which caused Lorule to crumble. She needs Hyrule's Triforce for the sake of her kingdom.

In other words, she turns on you. She's with Yuga/Ganon, and she summons him to kill you, so she can get all 3 pieces.

But then, he turns on her. It's like a... double-double-team... or a double-team inception...

Anyway, once you beat him, Hilda won't give up, and she tries to take your Triforce again...

Now, please, please, please stop reading here if you haven't beaten the game. This was the biggest shock for me in probably any of the Zelda games, and it's a truly magical experience if you find this out on your own. *HUGE SPOILERS*

Ravio intervenes. And he is actually Link's Lorulian counterpart. This whole time.

When I saw this, I just freaked out. I couldn't believe it. This was such an awesome experience. It's absolutely amazing.

Then Hilda realizes she was wrong, and she sends Link and Zelda back to Hyrule, and then they wish for Lorule's Triforce to come back, and Hilda and Ravio are happy. This in its entirety is an amazing ending, but...

That huge shock just stunned me. There was absolutely no way to see it coming. It just did.

Tell me what you think of this ending in the comments! Hopefully I didn't spoil it for you.

*End spoilers*

And that sums up my thoughts on A Link Between Worlds. Overall, it ranks within my top 5 Zelda games, if not my top 3. My current favorites are Majora's Mask, Skyward Sword, and Ocarina of Time, though this might just beat out Ocarina of Time. We'll see. Regardless, it's a must-have for any 3DS owner, and even for any non-3DS owner. It's really worth it. 

Do you have the game? Did you enjoy it? Tell me in the comments, if anyone's reading this. I hope so. This took, like, almost 2 hours. XD

My Four Swords Adventures copy has finally shipped, and it should be here within the next few days. I'm going to go play it at my friend's house sometime over the break.

And Christmas is just a few days away! I asked for Wind Waker HD (finally), Super Mario 3D World, a new bike, and the ALBW official guidebook. I collect these, but I'm too poor to get the huge box set with all of them, so I get them individually. They're really fun to read, for some reason...

So Merry Christmas everyone! I'm going to try to get a post in on Christmas day so I can share my thoughts and first impressions of Wind Waker HD and whatnot, but we'll see.

If you're still reading all the way down here, I'd like to thank you for reading this massive wall of text I wrote. It means a lot. :)

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Link Between Worlds Impressions

Edit: This is an extremely long post, so... yeah. Plan on being here for a while. XD



This game is awesome. Seriously, if you have a 3DS/2DS, and you don't have it, get it. NOW. Or soon, at the very least. Maybe for Christmas? Yeah, sure.

So, as I said in my last post, I got the game on Friday when it came out, and I played it pretty much that entire day. The next day I went over to my friend's house and he got the honor of watching me in envy as I played the game for 6 hours straight. I did let him start his own file, but I wanted the game back before he got very far... whoops...

And then there was Sunday, and I played it pretty much all day then, too. On Monday I beat it. And it was awesome.

Quickly, before I delve into analyzing the game, I need to talk about a few things. First, Miiverse arrived on 3DS today (or was it yesterday?) and I've been having fun in the ALBW community. Right now I'm playing through Hero Mode, and I've already 100%'ed my first file. Secondly, I ordered the limited edition A Link Between Worlds posters off of Club Nintendo, and they arrived a few days ago. I don't really have much room on the walls in my room to put up all three, so I'll probably just hang one up at a time and see which I like best. They're really awesome, and I wish Nintendo had made more of them to give more people a chance at this cool reward. Annnnnyway... back to the topic.

Now, my single complaint with this game is that it's a bit too short. I finished the game within about 18 hours, and 100%'ed it within 20 hours. On a side note, this is actually the first Zelda game that I've 100%'ed on my first playthrough. Anyway, while 20 hours is relatively long compared to other handheld Zeldas, it's pretty short when compared to console games. Which totally isn't fair at all, because this is a handheld game. But still.

In case you need something to compare to, I 100%'ed A Link to the Past in 14.5 hours. So it's longer than that.

Other than that one complaint, the game is absolutely phenomenal.

So, if you're a 3DS owner, you're probably familiar with that annoying feeling you get in your eyes after you've been playing with the 3D on for a while. In A Link Between Worlds? Gone. I never once felt the urge to turn off the 3D effect. This probably has something to do with the game running at 60FPS. I played it probably about 95% of the time with the 3D on, and the only time I turned it off was when I was moving around, since you need to be looking at the 3DS perfectly straight-on, unless you want the screen to go all wacky. And yes, I'm pretty sure that was a run-on sentence.

What I'm trying to say here is that you just can't get the same experience out of the game on a 2DS. If you have the option, play with the 3D on, at least for part of the time. It really helps out in dungeons, too, because most of the dungeons are semi-vertical, and you can see multiple levels at once. Especially Tower of Hera.

The graphical style isn't my favorite, but it does grow on you after playing with it for a while. Everything in the game runs so smoothly. All of the animations are smooth, and the controls are extremely accurate. The first thing I thought when I gained control of Link was how precise and smooth the controls are. Again, this likely all amounts to the game running at 60 FPS.

Next up is the music. Ohhhhh, the music. It's absolutely stunning. I've found the game is best played with headphones, because the 3DS speakers really don't do some of these songs justice. A large portion of the songs were in A Link to the Past, but they are totally remixed this time around. Oh, and did I mention they're fully orchestrated. In a completely different way than Skyward Sword (no offense, Skyward Sword, but while I love you to death, your music wasn't very memorable. Aside from Ballad of the Goddess and Fi's Lament).

If you've seen the trailers, or better yet, if you've played the game, you've probably heard this song:

Lorule Castle Theme


Especially when it starts to pick up at 1:03. But the entire thing's amazing.

Well, Nintendo's done it again. They've turned an already amazing piece of music into something debatably even better. If you haven't caught my drift yet, I'm saying the Lorule Castle Theme is the Hyrule Castle Theme (here) in reverse.

How do they even think of this? I honestly didn't know it was possible to come up with a song that sounds THAT good both forwards and backwards.

Here are a few more of my favorite songs, excluding Hyrule Castle/Lorule Castle themes:

Yuga's Battle (Eastern Temple)

Yuga's Acquisition Tour

Hilda's Theme

Death Mountain (Lorule)
This was my favorite song in ALttP, too.

There's so many songs to choose from... and they're all so good! Lastly, we have two versions of the same song. The Dark World Theme, remastered as...

Lorule Field!

And also, Lorule Field (Version 2)

What's awesome about these two songs is that not only are they great remixes of an amazing song, but that they really contrast each other. The first version plays throughout the majority of the game, but after picking up the *spoiler alert* Triforce of Courage *end spoilers*, it switches to the second song. While the first song was catchy and laid back, the second song is where it really starts to feel epic and heroic. It seems to say, "we've had our fun, but now this is serious" in preparation for the final fight. There I go, overanalyzing songs again... XD

I really can't decide which version I like better. I think I'm leaning toward the second one right now, but that could easily change again.

Now that we're through with the music, assuming you're still with me, I really don't have much else to talk about but the dungeons, bosses, story, characters, and the awesomeful amazingtastic epicly huge ending. Okay, I still have a lot to talk about.

I've been thinking about it, and I think I'll continue this in a second post. I've been working on this for almost two hours now, and you're probably getting bored of reading...

I'll continue this post hopefully soon... -ish. This is honestly the first night free I've had since Thanksgiving break ended, and I've got finals coming up next week...

Eh, I'll fit it in sometime. See you then! Bye.