Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's dangerous to go alone...

Despite the warning at the very beginning of the first Legend of Zelda game, you spend a lot of time in the Zelda games alone. A couple of the Zelda games (Phantom Hourglass & Spirit Tracks) have a battle mode where you can play in a battle arena against each other, but it's not really the main game. Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures were real multiplayer games, although the original Four Swords was odd in that it couldn't be played single player at all. Four Swords Adventures is odd hardware-wise in that you had to connect four Game Boy Advance units to a GameCube using a cable that had few other uses, but it did also have single player. Hyrule Warriors for the WiiU can easily be played multiplayer, and you play cooperatively in the main game, but it's different from most of the other Zelda games since there's no dungeon element.

The brand new Zelda game, officially called "The Legend of Zelda : Triforce Heroes", has implemented better multiplayer options, so while it's played on the Nintendo 3DS handheld, you can either play locally via Download Play, or play with two friends or strangers on the internet, or just play single player with yourself and two "Doppels". Simpler than a regular Zelda game, it is comprised of eight dungeons only, with no overworld. Each of the dungeons has a variety of challenges and sections for groups of three players. The controls are very similar to "A Link Between Worlds", another recent 3DS Zelda title. The silliest part of the operation is creating a 3-link totem pole to gain altitude or special moves.

We've just scratched the surface of this game since it just came out Thursday, so we may have more to say about this later, but it's still a Zelda game and Nintendo really cares about their franchises and delivering a satisfying experience.

In other gaming, I have been playing Angry Birds 2 on my phone. It's not particularly different from the original Angry Birds - you fling birds of varying properties at destructible structures with pigs in them. I suppose if I had had a smartphone when the original Angry Birds was out, I would be less likely to want to play Angry Birds 2, but the graphics are nice, and the Arena Battle is fun. Sadly, I have only one other person on my Facebook Friends list (Thanks, Taryn) that is playing this game so I have no idea how well I'm doing. Rovio changed parts of the formula, because the boards are now semi-randomly generated. A given board has a fixed number of pigs and a fixed set of background platforms, but the destructible parts change every time. My biggest compliant with the original game was that I had wished that you could use the birds that you were given in a different order, which has been fixed in this game by a card system that allows you to pick one of three birds at any given time, which is actually more important now due to the variable nature of the boards.  Nearly all of the professional reviewers have complained that the game has been ruined by microtransations, but since I play for only a few minutes at a time in between other things in my day and I'm not spending any money on the game, I don't really find that complaint relevant. It's not Gauntlet or Quake or some RPG game that you might play for hours at a stretch - it's a fun little bird-flinging game you play while you're waiting for your lunch to arrive. The down side of that is that they're not making much money from me but I have watched an ad or two.

If this game ever comes out as a paid release, perhaps on 3DS, they're going to have to change how you accumulate powerups if you're not going to pay for them. If the free-to-play model isn't making them money, though, they're going to have to add enough new content to the game to convince people that already played it for free that they need to pay for it.

Maybe Rovio needs a partner software company to help with making their games work with a bigger audience. After all, it is dangerous to go alone...

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