“Atari VCS” launches

“Atari” has finally shipped a physical product to its Indiegogo backers.

I didn’t back the campaign, because I didn’t have faith in the company calling itself “Atari” these days to deliver value. One of the backers received theirs already and has published an unboxing/review on YouTube.

And there’s a lot of rough edges. The controllers work differently, depending on whether they’re connected via USB cable or by Bluetooth? Hitches in the e-commerce experience, getting double charged for a failed download? You have to pay for Atari Vault Vol 2, a collection of 30+ year old games? Browser accounts aren’t properly connected to the local user? Really? I wish I could say I am surprised.

The launch library is, as expected, sparse and uninspiring, offering nothing new beyond a warmed-over Missile Command remake. I haven’t seen the new Missile Command in detail — it looks OK, I guess — but having participated in numerous game jams, and knowing the original Missile Command, I know enough to say that a Missile Command reboot could be tackled with a game jam’s worth of effort — in other words, 2-3 people, 1 weekend, bam, playable new Missile Command game. Realistically, to be completely generous, a game like that could be developed in a month or so.

“Atari” have spent $3 million and 3 years creating a cool-looking case and joystick for a commodity PC that runs a Free OS and have developed a front-end for it that could be used to deliver new original games, first-party exclusives, if Atari had them. but all they currently offer is Google Chrome browser, Netflix, and a couple bundles of emulated games that have been available for 30+ years, and absolutely don’t need a new console to deliver them.

Legend of Zelda Overworld Randomizer

Another awesome Legend of Zelda romhack, this one by Garret Bright. This one is an overworld randomizer.

It takes the rom file for the original Legend of Zelda (not included), and replaces the original overworld map with a completely new map. The new maps are randomly generated by a seed function, and the seed value always generates the same map, so if you find one that you find especially interesting, you can easily share it with your friends, without copyright violations, by sharing the seed.

Hyrule #25325045

The randomized overworlds seem to be well designed, for a randomized generator, in that they feel like they are following similar design principles that are evident in the original game, meaning that the maps are playable, and feel like they are broken up into zones, much like the original. It doesn’t just take the existing overworld screens and re-arrange them, it creates new tile layouts for novel overworld screens that have never been seen before, and stitches them together to create a coherent overworld consisting of distinct zones.

But, curiously, some design rules that are present in the original game, are not followed in the randomizer. For instance, in the original, most dungeon entrances have a single enemy roaming around outside, but in the randomized maps, this does not seem to be the rule. Also, enemy placement seems to be less concerned about starting Link in a part of the world that is far away from the more powerful monsters. You can expect to start on a screen with the cave to the Wooden Sword, but you may find yourself surrounded by blue Leevers, Peahats, and Moblins sooner than you’d expect to run into them in the original. And the trick where leaving a single enemy on each overworld screen prevents the screen from re-spawning enemies again doesn’t seem to work any more.

I’ve always wanted to see more games made with the original LoZ engine, so this is probably one of the best things ever. Now I can play unique Legend of Zelda games for the rest of my natural lifespan. If only there was something that created new dungeon maps and new items as well. Perhaps we’ll get something like that one day. Until then, I’ll be burning every bush, and blowing up every rock, until I find every secret there is to find in a virtually limitless multiverse of alternative Hyrules.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in world 25325045.

You can download the overworld randomizer at bitbucket.org.

Atari Age 2020 Pre-Order

Atari Age, the fan-operated homebrew operation that holds the most legitimate claim to the legacy of Atari-that-was, has opened up pre-orders for a new batch of games for the Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, and 400/800/XE systems, and even the Atari Jaguar.

Zoo Keeper - Champ Games - Atari 2600
Zoo Keeper (2021, Champ Games) – Atari 2600

I’m most excited about Zoo Keeper, a faithful port of the early 80’s arcade classic to the 2600 developed by Champ Games — who have been killing it with their talented Atari 2600 ports of classic arcade games like Galaga and the upcoming Robotron 2084 — and Ninjish Guy in Low-Res World, a homebrew platformer for the 2600 in the vein of Super Meat Boy. I’ve been looking forward to playing a 2600 homage to one of my top early 80’s arcade classics Zoo Keeper for quite some time.

Ninjish Guy - Atari 2600
Ninjish Guy in Low Res World

Also-worth-a-look releases are Deepstone Catacomb, a zelda-like adventure game, which looks really well done for an Atari 2600 title. Venture Reloaded, another early dungeon crawler, finally does justice to the classic arcade game Venture, should appeal to fans of the original.

Deepstone Catacombs - Atari 2600
Deepstone Catacomb

Fans of the maze genre should find Hugo Hunt and Robot City to their liking. Dare Devil shows off some impressive chiptune chops and parachuting action reminiscent of classic games like Frogger, Freeway, and of course Sky Diver. But it appears to be an update or direct sequel to 1983 release, Parachute. Cannon Head Clash is a really fun-looking 2p artillery duel with destructive terrain and frantic action. If you enjoyed games like Outlaw/Gunslinger, and Combat on the 2600, this is one to check out. It’s even available for SECAM60 television sets, which is amazingly rare for a homebrew. Avalanche should appeal to fans of Activision’s classic paddle game, Kaboom! Tower of Rubble features fantastic audio, and super-slick animation and platform-edge hanging action as you struggle to stay atop a crumbling tower of falling blocks.

All of these new games show that the Atari 2600, released now 43 years ago back in 1977, still has many extra lives nearly half a century later, and nearly three decades after the last Atari 2600 rolled off the assembly line. The dedication of the programmers who pull off these minor miracles to their craft is astounding. The fact is that every produced by the homebrew community these days are among the best ever released on their platform. While the prices might seem steep at $40-50 apiece, the games are produced by hand in small batches, and are every bit as professionally presented as the best games produced by top industry developers during the system’s heyday. If you’re a fan of the system and still have working hardware hooked up in your house, they are absolutely worth their price.

I haven’t even looked at the titles for the other systems yet, because my budget frankly can’t take it. Just about every game I have looked at looks like a game worth playing, with most of them being must-buys.

Legend of Zelda HD Remaster

The original Legend of Zelda has received a HD remaster treatment by the romhack community.

The hack is playable through an emulator called Mesen. Mesen is free, and you’ll need a copy of a specific version of the original of the Legend of Zelda ROM as well as the HD remake files in order to play it.

Applying the HD remake files to the game is not difficult, but requires following a series of instructions that are demonstrated in the video below.

I gave it a try. The graphical updates give it a look on part with the SNES, and have a look reminiscent of Zelda III: A Link to the Past, although the sprites appear to be original artwork, not rips from the SNES ROM. Likewise, the audio sounds much like a SNES update of the original LOZ soundtrack.

The terrain sprites are fantastic, and make old Hyrule look spectacular. The repetitive tiled look of the original is completely made over, and now overworld features like bombable rocks and burnable bushes are a bit less of a pain than they were before — rather than having to try to burn every single bush on the screen, there’ll be one bush (or a small handful) of bushes that will stand out and look suspicious from the rest of the background terrain.)

I’m not as impressed by the character sprites. Moblins, Goriya, and Stalfos all look less charming than they did in the original. Creatures like Octorocks, Tektites, Leevers, and Kees look like they are done better, to me.

One thing I notice right away is that Link’s HD sprite looks visually smaller than the original, but his hitbox doesn’t seem to have changed. This makes him feel somewhat clumsy, and I kept colliding with enemies when it looked like I should have a bit of space between us. While I’m sure this can be gotten used to, to me it’s an unfortunate, huge, and immediate negative. Ultimately, enjoying a videogame comes down to gameplay, not graphics, and gameplay is impacted by an improper hitbox like this. I believe the developers of the HD Remaster could fix this pretty easily by making adjustments to Link’s sprite.

Another thing I noticed is that when climbing up/down stairs, there is no animation showing Link descending and disappearing into the dark hole, as there is in the original.

The HD Remaster enhances the game in a few other notable ways: increased bomb capacity, pressing Select toggles your B-inventory item so you no longer have to pause to the subscreen to select it, text draws faster, and the dialogs are somewhat altered from the original, offering better translations and more useful clues than were present in the original.

I’ve played through the first dungeon. I notice that in the dungeons, the map doesn’t seem to give you any visual indication to differentiate between rooms you have visited vs. rooms that you have not yet reached. This is another gameplay issue that I feel should be rectified by the maintainers of the mod.

Overall, this seems like a fantastic mod, very well done, but not without minor flaws. It is nevertheless enjoyable and should not be missed if you’re a fan of the original game. Nintendo legal often clamps down on fan projects like this, so if you want to play this yourself, it’s best to grab it while you can. Although, the maintainers do appear to have taken pains to separate the mod pack from anything that directly infringes on Nintendo copyright, such as the original ROM that is needed in order to make the mod pack work.

Awakening from cryo-sleep

So I guess GDEX had a virtual event last weekend, or recently, or whatever. You know, because of the COVID pandemic.
I didn’t attend the virtual GDEX this year, and for the last year+ I have been inactive as a game developer, due in large part to the feeling of hopelessness that I have about ever doing anything meaningful or memorable in that field. The tools frustrate me, programming feels like drudgery, the market is brutal and impossible. So why even bother trying.
Mind you this is all in my head, I just have an incredibly negative, defeatist attitude about life, and this poisons me every day that I’m alive, and I wish I could have a brain surgeon cut that part of my brain out of my head.
An odd coincidence that Fri-Sat I made a tiny little snake game for my own satisfaction. I didn’t make it for any reason other than I wanted to make something, and feel what that feels like again.
For some reason though, this morning I recalled a dim memory of a GDEX from several years ago.
I was walking in to the event, feeling like an imposter, a nobody, never worked in the industry, just a wannabe who had a life-long dream of working in game development, ignited from the moment I played my first video game.
I was walking into the building where they had the event that year, this was the first year that they held it at COSI, and some random guy who was also walking into the event starts talking to me, and I tell him who I am, and as I’m telling him about my website and the couple of books on GameMaker that I donated my time to for no compensation other than my name appearing in the book, the guy KNEW WHO I WAS. He was like “Oh you’re that guy! I’ve read some of your tutorials! They were helpful!”
I’m standing there, not quite an important person, and yet there’s this guy who knew of me because of my work, and he had been helped by it.
I don’t need to be, like, a rock star, or anything, but being recognized on the proverbial street by a random person I ran into at an industry convention kindof almost made me feel like a rock star, almost. Like, yep, that’s me, the guy who can’t learn how to program good, so he publishes little tiny increments of progress on a website in order to not lose track of what little he could figure out because it sucks when you spend 12 hours pounding your head against some problem, finally figure it out, and then can’t remember it the next time you need to do it, so I put it on the web so I can find it again when I can’t remember it myself. That’s me. I’m that guy.
And I just kindof shrugged it off, and forgot all about how, no matter what other failures I don’t even bother to try to accomplish in my life, there’s direct evidence that I did a thing that was meaningful in the field of game dev.
OK, maybe I didn’t make Pac Man or Tetris or Mario, and I’m not a “successful indie developer” who has a following and a career and goes around saying important things to people who want to hear them because I’m the one saying them.
But I was able to figure out how to make some pixels wiggle on the screen using trigonometry, and because trig confuses the shit out of me and a lot of people, I decided to write up what I had figured out while it was still in my head since I’d for sure need it again, and to make sure it was really good I published it so that someone who reads it might suggest an improvement, maybe.
And then other people came by and read it, and I still get about 50 or more readers a day, and like 375,000 people have visited the site since I started it, which sounds like a lot of people. And they walk around in real life and you can randomly encounter them, and tell them who you are, and they will sometimes know who you are already, after you start telling them about you.
And then you still don’t have a million dollars, or any dollars really, but you feel different after that, you feel a way that you could never have felt unless you did those things.
And I realize, like waking up out of cryo-sleep, that I can, you know, keep doing things.
 

So, here’s a vlog from a guy with a successful youtube channel where he talks about astronomy, because he loves the cosmos and seems to know a lot about it, and his latest vlog is about how he’s glad that he’s no longer homeless, because vlogging about astronomy is totally a thing you can do if you really love astronomy. This seems like an important reminder for those of us who have a passion for a topic, or a goal of some kind, and can’t seem to believe in ourselves long enough to do a thing significant enough for us to feel like we did a thing of significance.

Tangle: A simple Snake clone

After about a year of not feeling like doing anything related to game development, last night I felt like making something. 

So I stayed up all night and made a simple Snake clone that I call Tangle. 

There’s nothing special about this project, it’s just a bare bones, no frills clone of the classic snake game, but I think for a few hours work it’s decently well done, and it plays well. 

I think it took about 2-4 hours to build, and would have taken about a quarter that if it wasn’t for the fact that I haven’t done anything with GameMaker in a long time, and have never felt comfortable using GMS2’s revamped IDE.  It’s minimalist, so don’t expect a whole lot, is what I’m trying to say.  But enjoy it for what it is.

itch.io

play in browser

Thoughts on the problem of racism in the year 2020

I keep seeing posts from friends with sentiments to the effect of “If you’re a racist, you have no place in my life, so unfriend me” as a response to Trump’s loud and clear message to the Proud Boys in last night’s Presidential debate with Joe Biden.

A couple of things:

* I don’t think that goes far enough. We do not fix racism by distancing ourselves from racists. That only allows them to fester and multiply.

* I am avowedly anti-racist, and probably the most work I do in combating racism is finding it within myself and then removing it wherever and wherever I can.

This is a lifelong process that I could not have done at all on my own.

I recognize I was born in a culture where racism was commonplace, and takes on many forms, some overt and obvious, others insidious yet pervasive. The shit seems normal, because it IS normal. Normal and wrong, but very much normal. Racism is the norm, and we need to change the norm.

One of the earliest things I learned though was that prejudice, stereotyping, and hating people for things that they have no control over, such as the way the look, or where they come from, is wrong, and has caused tremendous suffering throughout our history.

When I speak of racism as being “the norm” I do not mean that most people are actively and affirmatively racist in thought and deed, and admire and agree with or belong to extremist terror organizations like the KKK, Aryan Brotherhood, Proud Boys, etc.

That shit is definitely NOT normal, but it is on the rise, and must be actively fought against.

What IS normal is that families are genetically related. Families support each other and favor each other. This extends naturally to racial identity and so forth. You root for your home team because they’re your home team, and you hate the team from the nearby town, because when they win your games, you don’t get trophies.

Racism begins from that point, and extends into pretty much everything you can think about. And that sort of cultural racism is like the air we breathe. It surrounds us and we don’t even think of ourselves as being immersed in it. We see an empty box as an empty box, not a box that is full of air. And like the air, it is necessary to an extent. We need it to breathe. We need oxygen to burn. We can put fire to good use. We can also burn ourselves and destroy everything we’ve built. We need shelter when the wind is too strong.

That is the way the world is. You can’t hate fire. It’s just chemistry. You can hate what fire does when it is out of control and destructive. You can also find that fire is very useful.

Love and hate are like sides of a coin. Love of self, hate of other. Extend the self to embrace love of all. Or hate everything around you and be consumed in the fire of hate.

Most of us have a fairly short love horizon. The self. Your family. Your child. Your friends. Maybe neighbors, if you have a strong community and good neighbors. The people in your home town. The kids you went to school with. The people who settled a geographic region and have existed there for generations. Not everyone in the world though, not Them. They look different, They turned to Other. They talk funny. They act strange. We cannot share with such people. They are not people. They need to be exterminated.

You can see from the above that the love horizon reaches out to a distance, and between the point of origin rooted at the self and that horizon there is a gradient. For those who’s love is greatest, it pushes all the way past the horizon to include all. For most of us, we fall somewhere short of this. For too many of us, we fall well short.

When we lose the ability to see our neighbor as an Us, and see them as an Other, that is the beginning of our undoing. If we try to turn Racist People into another Other that we can hate, that will be our undoing as well.

We need to recognize that Racists are Us, and that We are Racist. We need to address that fact, head on, and deal with it. We need to fix ourselves. Those of us who have committed to fixing ourselves are obviously not the clear and present danger of a militant radical motivated by racial hate to do violence. Those motherfuckers are indeed where the focus needs to be right now. I don’t know myself how to see Them as Us, and I am so revolted by them that I truly have no desire to. I would rather fight them and kill or be killed. But I know that if we go down that way, many of Us will be killed.

We need to know that just as you can’t live in a world where it is impossible for anything to burn, you can’t live in a world where there is no possibility that the idea that you favor that which is closest and most familiar to you will lead to larger harm outside of a circle that you draw beyond the horizon of your vision. We need to stand taller than that, and see further, so we can draw a circle that includes everyone.

I deprogram myself of racist tendencies on a daily basis. Like a computer defragmenting its hard drive. The way I look at it, it’s like the laundry. The laundry is never done. You get dirty every day, you clean yourself every day. You focus on this, you make your mind right.

I did not make my mind right in a vacuum. I did not make my mind right by being inherently right and just. I did not make my mind right. I am making my mind right. An ongoing process without end. I was put in a particular place and time by fate of birth, and I moved around from there. I picked up things that were readily available around me and built myself. I followed my instinct, and I used my mind. I questioned and I listened. I made judgments and then I questioned those judgments. I worked. I made better judgments.

I am not perfect. My dad was not perfect. My uncles were not perfect at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The founders of the nation were not perfect. We can learn from them. We can follow their example or we can learn from their mistake. And we can do both.

I think of myself as better than a lot of people on this, but still I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. I will always be in the struggle. Even when there are no fires burning, you still need the Fire Department. Those who recognize this see the world as it is.

When there is a fire that is destructive and out of control, you do not reason with it. You fight the fire. You can fight a literal fire in three ways: You take away the fuel. You take away the oxygen. You can take away the heat. We are the fuel. We are surrounded by oxygen. We must deal then with the heat.

My words reminded me of the great wildfires out west. These are the times we live in, now. We must deal with that. When the fire comes and is bigger than anything we can handle, we must run. Sometimes you can get far enough out ahead of it. You may need to do a controlled burn to prevent a wild fire from spreading. I like trees, but sometimes you have to cut down a swath to make a firebreak in order to protect the forest. You get the point. I don’t need to go on torturing an extended metaphor. You can see how it applies here.

I totally get the desire to remove them from your life. I did that with many people. But it doesn’t fix the problem. And as I see it, distancing from Others only serves to increase their Otherness, which is at the root of the problem.

So while it may be necessary in some cases, for mental health, or physical safety, for example, it’s not a solution. Jumping out of a burning building doesn’t put the fire out, but people in the burning building need to get out.

The solution is for people who have the capacity to engage, get close, and then smother the fire, get it under control, and find ways to tame and use fire, turning from a destructive force into a tool that can be used for good.

I know it sounds weird to call racism a tool for good, but that’s not what I mean. I mean turning the love of self from a generator of hate for others and into a love for the expanded self that includes all.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (92)

Three more shrines today.  I looked them up on the internet rather than discovered them in-game through my own effort.

The first is one in Tabantha.  I go there and there’s a mountain with a great stone door in the base, similar to the one in Hebra that I found weeks ago.  Like that one, I have to bowl a snowball into it in order to open the door.  But I have to carry a small snowball up a hill, then roll it down and have it hit the door.  I do this, but the ball just sort of nudges the door, and it doesn’t open.  So I hit it with time-stop, and put energy into it, and it knocks the door down.

I don’t really remember the inside of the shrine.  I think maybe it just says you already passed the challenge by finding it, and gives me a spirit orb.

The second shrine was in the Gerudo highlands, near the area where I had to rescue some Hylian travellers who got kidnapped by monsters in the canyon ahead of the Gerudo stable.  I explored one side of this canyon thoroughly, but the other side, I missed completely.  Here, there are three Gorons who are challenging themselves to endure heat.  I talk to them and they invite me to partake in the challenge.  I put on the flame resistant armor and pass the first challenge, but then they tell me to take it off and prove myself for the second one.  I take an elixir and endure the heat with no problem, and a shrine appears.

Inside the shrine, I have to use motion controls to re-orient a cube to electrify all 6 faces of it, to open a door.  Then I get into another room, where there’s a more difficult puzzle, involving motion controls and a cube that has wind blowers on it that I need to aim to hit four turbines.  Two turbines are on a lower level, but can be raised by activating a switch.  There’s a metal box that I can put on one switch, but the other is harder to figure out.  I eventually use inventory items to weight down the switch, and it triggers, and then I can blow all four turbines.  This opens a third room.

Inside this room, there’s another cube, with six unlit torches on it, and two water fountains.  I have to light the torches using a fire in the ceiling, and get all six sides lit without putting them out with the water.  It’s tricky, and after failing once I decide to just cheat it and use fire arrows to hit the torches without moving the cube with the motion controls.  This makes it easy, and I get a diamond and a spirit orb.

Outside the shrine, I spot another korok seed block puzzle that I hadn’t gotten before.  I have enough seeds to buy another shield inventory slot from Hestu, so I go do that.

The third shrine is found by a shrine quest triggered at Tabantha Bridge Stables.  I transport there, and there’s a man named Geggle, who I’m supposed to talk to during the day.  It’s night, and he’s inside the stables, but talking to him doesn’t trigger the shrine quest.  I go sit by a fire until noon, but then he’s nowhere to be found.  So I talk to random people at the stable, and I find another korok race puzzle under Tabantha bridge. I can’t find Geggle anywhere, so I go back to the fire and sit by it until morning.  At 5am I get up and go back to the stable inn, and Geggle’s sitting where he sits at night, and doesn’t do anything.  I have to wait for four hours before he finally gets up and does something, which is to run out from the stable.  I follow him, and try talking to him several times, but he just asks me if I need something.  I continue to follow him to where he’s running to, and he stops and looks out across the valley. At the far end of it, he is looking at something.  I talk to him, and he says he sees something out there, that looks man made, and asks if I can see it too.  I use the sheikah scope to get a better view, and see a large design painted on the side of the cliff.

I mark it, and then look on the map to see how far it is, and it’s rather far.

I make the journey, climbing and gliding as much as I can, and get to the end of my trek.  There’s s series of scaffolds and catwalks built into the cliff face, with monsters patrolling.  They’re not tough, I take care of them easily, and continue toward the point I marked on the map, until I get to where I’m going.  This involves riding up two updrafts with the glider, and then I’m there, looking at the giant design painted on the wall.  It looks like in the center there’s a shrine pedestal.  The painted design looks like lightning and birds, so taking a guess I shoot at the pedestal with a lightning arrow.  I barely miss with the first one, as it falls slightly short, but correct my aim and connect with it on the second shot, which reveals the shrine.

This one is another no-puzzle blessing shrine, and I get a diamond and a spirit orb.

I have enough orbs to upgrade my stamina wheel, so I go to Kakariko village and do that.

So that’s 6 shrines in 2 days, and I think there’s now only 2 more left in all of Hyrule for me to find.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (91)

I haven’t played in a few weeks.

Just wrapping up the remaining loose ends on the BOTW ToDo list.

The last active sidequest I have running is to show the boy in Hateno village an Ancient Short Sword.  I transport to Akkala Tech Lab and have them make one for me, and then transport to Hateno and show him.  The kid gives me a diamond.  This kid’s flippin rich.

While in Hateno, I visit with Bolson for a minute, and he tells me I should try to popularlize a dance that he shows me how to do.  I never had him tell me this before. Is it the start of a new sidequest?  How do I do these dance moves?  He also has an amulet around his neck, and the dialog tree gives me the option to ask about it, and he talks more about Hudson’s wedding.  I guess he used the amulet to create a stream of falling confetti or something.  I do not understand why in fantasy literature amulets always have powers.  Real amulets don’t do anything. They just hang from your neck, and do nothing.  What gives authors such ideas?

I notice that all the Akkala Tech Lab weapons costs the same, 1000Rs, + some ancient tech parts.  Specifically, it’s the exact same recipe to make a short sword, which does like 30 damage, or a bladesaw, which does 55 damage.  Why would you ever buy a short sword then, other than to show it to the kid in Hateno and get a diamond?  I haven’t bought a bladesaw yet, but I guess it probably must be a two-hander.  I think about picking up an Ancient Bow.  I have enough coin for it, but not enough weapon slots.  Maybe later, then.

I’ve completed 71/77 sidequests according to the pause screen, but I don’t know what the remaining 6 are, or where I’d need to go to find them.  I wonder if there’s a list of BOTW sidequests online that I can look up and see what I have yet to discover.

The controller feels rusty in my hands. I forget that you can’t transport to stables, and momentarily wonder why I can’t.  I figure it out eventually.

I have found 112 of 120 shrines in Hyrule, so there’s still 8 more out there somewhere for me to discover.  

I don’t have time to aimlessly wander around the world hoping to stumble into them, so at this point I am OK with cheating a little bit and looking them up.

The first one I couldn’t find on my own is right off the road after Fort Hateno.  There’s a shrine quest involving the man who lives in the little cabin just inside the ruined wall.  I’ve been to this house a few times, but never at night.  I arrive there during the daytime and read the book that’s sitting out on the desk, and it gives me a clue about some statues that glow at night.  I don’t remember reading this before, but it’s possible I just never noticed the book, or that I read the book but couldn’t figure out what it means, and forgot about it long before I learned enough about the game to figure it out. I notice there’s a bed in the cabin, and when I stand near it, it gives me the option to sleep for free.  I never knew that before!  How did I not know that?

The clue in the book speaks of a statue that has eyes that glow at night, so I use the bed to sleep until night. When I wake up, the inhabitant of the cabin is there!  He is a doctor who is studying the mystery of the glowing statue.  We talk for a bit.  It reminds me a bit of the other shrine quest on the top of the snowy hill near the Gerudo desert, where I discovered the ruins of an old cabin and a diary there that gave a clue about the shrine there.  I feel like in so many of the shrine quests in this game, you meet someone who has been looking for the shrine their entire life, and then you go and discover the solution to the puzzle in usually a short time, like five minutes.  Sometimes I’ve taken longer to figure them out, but that was really only the first couple; once I learned what shrine quests were about, most of the rest of them were simple to figure out.

In this case, though, I do not know where the statues that glow are.  I have to look this up, too.  It turns out, a little ways down the road toward Hateno village, there’s a canyon off to the left, where there are numerous statues. One of them glows at night, and if you shoot it with an arrow, it reveals the shrine. I mostly don’t travel the roads — when I walk on foot, I’m usuually foraging and exploring off-road, and often climbing and gliding, and if I’m not exploring, I usually transport with the teleportation power to save time.  So I have probably only used this road maybe a couple of times, and apparently went right past this canyon and never noticed it was there before.

Although, when I walk into the canyon, I do find a Korok buddy who I had already discovered, so apparently I have been in this place before, at least one time.  I don’t remember it, really.  But there are a bunch of little statues, and one of them sure enough has glowing purple eyes.  I shoot an arrow at it, and the shrine appears.  This one has a complex mechanical platform puzzle, involving a rotating drum with a couple of spikey metal balls, and platforms that line up, and treasure chests that are difficult to reach.  I do not bother with the chests, since I am not in need of any more equipment, and proceed directly to the shrine master’s chamber, to collect my spirit orb.  The trick to getting up to him is to time-stop the rotation of the room briefly, to enable you to cross over the center of the room when the platforms are properly aligned.

I look up another two shrines that I haven’t discovered, and both are in the northwest area of the map, near Rito village and Hebra.  One is well hidden in a overhanging rock cave with a swift river of icy water that damages you quickly if you try to swim in it.  I just tank the damage and get across, and enter.  The shrine offers no challenge, and rewards me just for finding it.

Exiting the shrine, there are two logs laying about on the little island with the shrine entrance.  I push one of them into the water and climb onto it, and ride it out of the cave.  The rushing water runs out of the cave and comes to a waterfall.  When the log goes over the falls, I glide to a landing on a little island in the river at the base of the falls, where at the top of a tree I find a korok seed.  I find another korok seed at the top of another tree nearby somewhere, too.

Nearby, there’s another shrine, at the bottom of the Tanagar canyon.  I drop down and find it, and go in.  This one has puzzles that involve using the time-stop power to move heavy objects to activate switches.  I get a Great Thunderblade from one chest, ignore another chest, and get the spirit orb.

 

Zelda: BOTW Diary (90)

It’s been nearly two weeks since my last play session.  Having beaten the game, the missions nearly 100% completed, there seems to be less draw for me to return to play more.

I had not found the Hylian Shield, and wanted to do that. My last save point is right at the doorstep to Ganon’s sanctum, in the center of Hyrule Castle. I know the Shield is supposed to be somewhere on the castle grounds, and I’ve been through most of it and not turned it up yet. Also, there’s supposed to be a shrine in the castle complex somewhere, and I’ve yet to find that either.

I glide down from Ganon’s doorstep to the northeast quadrant of the castle, as I have a general idea that the shrine is in that general area.  I start exploring, and enter the castle at the dungeon.  I’ve been through here before a time or two, but this time I’m not in a hurry, and I explore thoroughly, and clean it out completely rather than avoid unnecessary combat.

At the far end of the cell block, I find a large, round chamber, and as I draw near to the entrance, I see a huge pile of bones in the middle of the floor, and recognize it immediately as a dormant Stalnox.  As I enter the chamber it springs to unlife, and we fight. 

I am hoping it will be an extra special boss-level Stalnox, but it seems that it is just a garden variety specimen and it’s not any more difficult to fight than the others I’ve faced much earlier in the game.  After vanquishing it, a treasure chest appears and I open it to find the Hylian Shield.

That’s one thing off my checklist.

I proceed to explore as much of the Hyrule Castle complex as I can, following every corridor to its end, and I definitely covered a lot more of it than I had on previous expeditions, but I don’t know that I found everything there is to find.  I did manage to find three more koroks.  Two hiding under rocks, and one at a pinwheel archery challenge — I couldn’t manage to hit the balloon for this one, as it was a great distance away, and I didn’t have the range with my bows, but I tried shooting a sword beam at it, and nailed it on the first attempt with that, after wasting several arrows.

I eventually fought my way down to the lower levels of the castle, and re-entered it at the banquet hall.  I cleared it out again, and followed the hallway down to the library, and cleared it out again.  This time, using magnesis, I note that some of the bookshelves on the lower level are movable.  I had never noticed this before.  I discover the King’s Study, and a hidden room where I find a number of nice arms and shields, and some rupees.  And the third bookshelf leads down a staircase to an underground cavern, filled with water, where there are some lit torches and a large, unlit torch.  

Using my great flame blade, I light the torch, which triggers the emergence of a shrine.  I enter it, and find a combat trial.  It’s a Major Test of Strength, and again I’m hoping for something really extra special.  But this shrine guardian seems almost docile, hardly aggressive at all, and I have an easy time fighting it.  I use electric arrows and the Master Sword, and together they seem to be rather effective.  It doesn’t seem to get off its spinning charge attacks, and when I get its health down it doesn’t start shooting its super laser at me, either.  

The guardian drops an Ancient Axe++ and a Spear++ and a Sword++, but all I have space for in my inventory is the axe and sword.  At the end of the shrine, I’m awarded a flame sword, but I don’t need it.

After emerging from the shrine, I continue exploring the cavern and find some docks down by the water, patrolled by some red lizalfos.  I find a lot of loot in the crates on the docks.  I explore the cavern a bit and find that the cave opens out to the outside, and then I realize that I’m just about back where I started, at the entrance to where the dungeon cell block is.

I make my way off the Hyrule Castle compound, and once back on the overworld map, transport to Kakariko village to visit the goddess statue so I can exchange four spirit orbs for my final Heart Container upgrade. Thus my life meter is maxed out.

Checking my progress, I now have 112 shrines completed, meaning that there must be 8 more shrines yet to be discovered somewhere in the world.  I have no idea where to look.  I’ve been everywhere, or so it would seem.