Archive for November, 2014

As soon as my mate Jack found out The Pretty Reckless were doing a tour of the UK he didn’t hesitate but to get two tickets for me and him. Considering that I missed them at this year’s Download festival and Jack said they were really good I thought I’d check them out. So I got their Going to Hell album in preparation and got used to most of those songs, but how was their show?

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So you’ve seen my 10 favourite Sonic stages, but what about those stages that I hate? Well this list showcases the levels that I try to avoid outside mandatory playthroughs. Same rules as before apply, one entry per game, and you might see a lot of good games here, because a bad level plaguing a good game always sticks out more. Besides if the game’s already bad then you usually don’t need the levels to tell you that. So without further ado lets race (or rather slump) through these infernal Sonic Stages.

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Greetings mortals, I am DracoJames102 and I am here to give you a review.

Zelda A Link Between Worlds Title Card light

Last year, I reviewed ‘The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past’ in celebration for the release of what was considered a sequel, ‘The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds’ for the Nintendo 3DS. For the record, my handheld Zelda experience is pretty non-existent. I think I played Minish Cap on my friend’s Game Boy Advance, but that’s it. Considering the enjoyment I had with ‘Link to the Past’, I was really exited for this one. The game only came out last year and does it manage to expand upon what made ‘Link to the Past’ great and be a great game on it’s own? Well that’s what we’re here to find out so let’s get started.

A-Link-Between-Worlds-US-Box-Art

Story

Now even though this game is considered a sequel to ‘Link to the Past’, we are dealing with a different generation of Link, Zelda and Hyrule. Link was having a nightmare fighting a creature in the shadows when a kid named Gulley, who is the blacksmith’s son, wakes up Link to remind him that he is late for work. Link is ordered by the blacksmith to deliver a minty-fresh sword to the captain of Hyrule’s guard who left for the sanctuary. Upon reaching the sanctuary, Link sees a mysterious wizard by the name of Yuga transforming the daughter of the sanctuary’s sage into a painting. Yuga manages to knock Link unconscious and leaves to further his plans. Link wakes up in his house to find that he has been brought there by this rabbit creature named Ravio who tells Link that he must inform Princess Zelda about what happened and asks Link if he can stay at his house which Link begrudgingly agrees to. Link informs Zelda about what happened and Zelda suspects that Yuga is capturing the descendants of the seven sages who sealed the Triforce away to bring Ganon back to life. Zelda informs Link that he must gather the three pendants to acquire the Master Sword and stop Yuga once and for all.

link story

Overall I find the story more entertaining than ‘Link to the Past’s story. It may be pretty much the same, but the writing manages to make it more memorable and I like more of the characters because of it. In fact, I like how each character you meet along the way has their own identity with my personal favourite characters being Irene, the witch who gives you a lift around Hyrule, and the thief girl when you are traveling through the thieves’ guild. There is a little more to the story and I’ll explain more as we go along, but I’ll try not to spoil it too much for you.

Gameplay

This game has the same gameplay style as ‘Link to the Past’. You move Link around with the control stick and the D-Pad is used to move the camera so you can see what’s up ahead. The A button is used to pick up objects and interact with the NPCs, the B button lets you attack with your sword and the X and Y buttons let you use the items that you assign to them. The R button lets you block with your shield and the L button charges your pegasus boots when you get them. The start button pauses the game and the select button lets you see your items. The HUD contains your hearts meter, your rupee count and a purple bar that measures how energy you have to use items and abilities and will slowly refill if you are not using it. The touch screen contains your map of Hyrule and your item inventory where you can assign your items to the X and Y buttons.

link screen

Hyrule itself is structured almost exactly like it was in ‘Link to the Past’, so players of the SNES classic should be able to know where to go and where most of the secrets are. There are some new landmarks such as the mill in the lake and you can’t access the desert area straight away until you get to the later half of the game so it does manage to separate itself from ‘Link to the Past’s Hyrule a little bit. Your map of Hyrule is just as useful as it was in ‘Link to the Past’ and you can even mark some secrets you found with little pins so if you don’t have the means to get the secret at the moment, you can mark where it is so you can backtrack to get it later.

link secret

After one encounter with Yuga, Link acquires a special ability from the bracelet that Ravio gave him that allows him to merge into walls as a painting. This painting ability is used to proceed further into dungeons and find all sorts of secrets around Hyrule. It consumes energy though so watch your energy meter otherwise you’ll be kicked out of the wall.

link painting

Instead of finding the usual weapons in dungeons such as the bow, bombs and the fire and ice rods, you rent them from Ravio’s shop which he opened in your house. They only cost a small rental fee and you keep them until you die. These items are needed in order to access and proceed through the dungeons. Each of the weapons use up some of the energy bar so once again be careful. Later on you can buy these items so you can keep them permanently, but they cost a lot of rupees.

link shop

Along your travels, you will meet a witch named Irene who will give you a bell so you can ring it and she can give you a lift to a weather vane that you activated anywhere in Hyrule, so backtracking should never be too much of an issue. These weather vanes are also the only way you can save the game and there aren’t as many as you’d think so as soon as you see one touch it and save the game unless you like to put the 3DS in sleep mode so you can proceed another time.

link irene

After you collect the Master Sword, you chase Yuga into the world that he came from. This world is pretty much a dark version of Hyrule named Lorule (get it?). Here Yuga manages to use the seven sages’ power along with Zelda to resurrect  Ganon and fuse with him giving Yuga complete control over Ganon’s body. However Lorule’s princess, Hilda, manages to save in the nick of time from Yuga Ganon and tells you that you need to acquire the Triforce of Courage to match Yuga Ganon’s Triforce of Power by rescuing the seven sages that have been scattered all over Lorule. It is here where the game becomes very open-ended as you can now tackle any of the seven dungeons in any order that you choose with exception to the desert palace where you have to beat the thieves’ guild dungeon to get the sand rod in order to proceed to that dungeon. Unlike the dungeons in Hyrule, Lorule’s dungeons are where you really begin to upgrade yourself. Do you go to the water dungeon to get the blue mail to increase your defences? Do you tackle the ice dungeon to get an increase to your energy meter? Do you tackle the thieves’ guild and the dark dungeon to get two pieces of Master Ore to upgrade the Master Sword’s power? There is so much to consider and this design choice offers a ton of replay value.

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With Lorule discovered, Hyrule has had small dimensional fissures open up in various parts. Exploring Lorule to get to the dungeons and discovering even more hidden secrets is all about finding the correct dimensional fissures with the painting ability. These secrets can range from heart pieces to a ton of rupees. In fact if you know where to look, you can obtain four digits of rupees in no time flat. Another secret you can find around Hyrule and Lorule are baby maiamai which only appear after encountering Mother Maiamai in a cave near Hyrule Lake. There are 100 babies to find and they can be found on walls, in trees and under boulders. Collecting 10 of them will allow you to upgrade your weapons that you bought from Ravio and collecting all 100 gives you a stronger spin attack for your sword.

link maiamai

Hyrule and Lorule also contain mini-games that grant you tons of rupees depending on how well you do. These games can range from a Cuco Ranch where you have to dodge all of the Cucos under a time limit to a Rupee Rush in both worlds where you have to get as many rupees as you can. Honestly the rupee rush mini-game sucks. you have an invisible time limit and you have to talk to the person running the mini-game in order to finish otherwise you lose all of the rupees you collect. You need to collect a certain amount of rupees in order to get a heart piece, but the timing to get it can be strict as heck. But even the rupee rush doesn’t come close to the worse mini-game, Lorule’s baseball game. You use the control stick to change the position of holding the baseball bat so you can hit the ball in a different direction. The control for this mini-game sucks because you have no idea how to hold the bat so you can hit the ball to certain items on the field to earn as many rupees as you can so you can earn a heart piece. At the very least, they should have included an aiming reticle so I can see where I would be hitting the ball.

link baseball

The 3DS streetpass feature allows you to play against other peoples’ Links who take the form of Shadow Link from Zelda 2. You can know where to find them by looking at the bounty signs in Kakariko Village. The objective of the game is to reduce the Shadow Link’s heart meter to zero and doing so will earn you a number of rupees depending on how strong the Shadow Link is. You don’t lose anything if you lose against them and you don’t lose any potions you consume during the battle.

link shadow

Graphics

This games’ aesthetics are pretty great. The colouring is beautiful without being an eyesore, the cartoony character models are structured pretty nicely and it resembles ‘A Link to the Past’ very well.

Music

The soundtrack is fantastic. Not only does this game bring back orchestral remixes of some familiar tunes from past Zelda games, but it comes with some pretty great original pieces. The musical pieces that play when you are exploring Lorule’s dungeon do a great job of giving each dungeon their own identity. This has to be my favourite soundtrack in the series so far.

Control

The control stick makes Link’s control feel a lot smoother than it did in ‘Link to the Past’, mostly due to the 60 frames per second. Link is also very responsive to button inputs so you should never be damaged unfairly.

Final thoughts

Overall, ‘A Link Between Worlds’ is not a good game…it is a great game. Not only does this game manage to maintain it’s own identity to seperate itself from ‘Link to the Past’, but it can be a great starting point for people who want to get into the Zelda franchise. There are some aspects that could have been handled better and the non-linear half of the game can make this game pretty easy. The only challenge you will get is by limiting yourself in terms of items and upgrades or by doing a play-through of Hero Mode which you unlock after beating the game. Yeah it’s not perfect, but this is a game worth adding to your 3DS collection.

Final rating: 9/10