Zelda: BOTW Diary (86)

I need to fight a Lynel or two in order to get enough Lynel Guts to upgrade the Barbarian Armor set to its maximum potential, and I need Ancient Cores so I can complete the max-level upgrade for the Ancient Helmet, which will max out my Ancient Armor suit.

The Lynels will be easier to finish up quickly, because they’re more reliable in their loot drops, so I start with them.  

First, though, there’s a few korok seeds that I discovered, that I learned about through watching a youtube video where someone happened to collect it.  There’s these fallen tree logs here and there all over Hyrule, and I’ve noticed an immense acorn inside of them.  Not knowing what they were, I figured at first that it was a forage item or perhaps a korok seed, but I couldn’t figure out how to collect it.  I’d walk up and press A to examine/pick up the acorn, but nothing would happen.  In one of my earliest encounters with one of these logs, I remember trying to blow it up with a bomb, and nothing happening.  I also tried swinging a weapon at it, and nothing happened.

In the video I watched, the player shoots an arrow at the acorn, and it reveals a korok.  

I’ve been all over the continent and have probably seen a dozen or more of these logs, in just about every region that has trees.  I can’t remember all the locations, but they’re quite common.  If I’d known, I could have collected a lot of additional korok seeds.

I’m at a stage in the game where I have little need for them any longer, as I’ve maxed out my bow and melee weapon inventory slots, and I don’t really need all the shield slots.  But I still will collect any korok seed that I come across, and I enjoy finding them. As dumb as it is, this is one of the things in the game that I actually enjoy the most.

I don’t know what it is; they’re not too hard to find, and the puzzles are mostly very easy.  I just like spotting them, recognizing that they are a korok puzzle, and solving it. It’s a thing to do, a little reward for fully exploring the world, for visiting a hard to reach spot, and probably about 80% of what I actually do during my BOTW sessions.  The game is literally a near-endless scavenger hunt for forage materials and korok seeds, where you are periodically harassed by weak, minor enemies, and occasionally you find a nice weapon.

Based on the volume of the game that they take up, korok seeds are it, man.  All the shrines, the divine beasts, the memory photos, combat, and defeating Ganon are like a little sliver of the pie chart.

I can remember for certain at least two locations where I had seen these logs: up on Tabantha Snow field, in a grove of trees, and on top of the hill by the ruins of the old Colosseum.   There’s nearby Lynels in both places, so it works out perfectly.

I transport out to Tabantha first, hike out to the log, and collect the seed.  Then I find the Lynel and run up to it and do battle.  I have an alright fight with it, but it only drops one Lynel Guts, and I still need one more.

There’s a second Lynel in Tabantha Snow field, up along the northern edge of Hyrule, patrolling the road leading to the North Lomei Labyrinth. Well, normally there’s a second one, but I can’t seem to find him.  So, I guess the Colosseum it is, then.

I transport to the nearest shrine, the northernmost one on the Great Plateau — in fact, I think the very first shrine I ever visited in the entire game — and glide down from the Plateau to the road leading to the Colosseum.  Walking up along the east side of the Colosseum, I spot a couple of Hylians fighting some Bokoblins, and, because it’s the right thing to do, I run to their aid, slaying the monsters and make sure they’re alright, before I go on to do what I came to do. I’ve saved this couple several times before, and they are grateful once again.

I also happen to spot a circle of rocks that is a telltale sign of a korok puzzle, and see no korok there, meaning I haven’t found this one yet.  So I take a brief detour to take care of that, and then move on.

I head up the road to the ruined Colosseum, and as I reach the bridge, I’m attacked by a Yiga bowman, who I dispatch quickly and efficiently.  Then I cross the bridge.  Rather than go into the Colosseum directly, I veer to the right of the main entrance, to check out the grove of trees and see if there’s anything good that I may have missed on my previous visit here.  I find some forage stuff, and maybe a korok seed under a rock, I forget, and then I climb up the hill, until I’m above the Colosseum, and I find the korok acorn log, shoot it, and get my other korok.

Then I glide down to the Colosseum, and do a mid-air headshot on the Lynel as a surprise attack.  I try to run up to mount him, but accidentally hit him while still on the ground one too many times, and lose my window of opportunity to get a successful mount.  

Somehow, this time, my timing and reflexes are spot on, and I manage to headshot this Lynel repeatedly, and reliably.  He still manages to get in a hit or two on me, but I have one of my best Lynel fights ever, and don’t need to take a heal meal break in the middle of combat this time.  I think that’s a good accomplishment.

Of course, it helps a great deal that I’m wearing a nearly maxed-out Ancient Armor suit, which has some of the highest overall protection rating in the game.  Still, there’s no mistaking that I’ve improved my skill with practice as I’ve fought more of these things, and am starting to get decent at it.

This Lynel drops enough guts and hoofs and horns that I am now all set to finish upgrading the Barbarian suit, and now the only thing remaining for me to do in terms of armor upgrades is collect 4 Ancient Cores so I can max out the Ancient Helm.

I know Guardians are plentiful in central Hyrule near the castle, and I’m directly south of there, so I start hiking out, hunting Guardians.  

Somewhere around Hyrule Garrison Ruins I encounter my first two Guardians of the night, and defeat them handily with the Master Sword.  With the Ancient Armor suit bonus, Guardians don’t do a lot of damage to me if they do manage to hit me, but as long as I see them coming and get in the first strike, I’m pretty good at killing them without taking a hit.

It’s easy:  Get in close, using cover so they can’t see you if you can.  Then pop out and blast them in the eye with your bow, run up and start chopping.  Go from leg to leg, 1-2 hits will cut a leg off and it’ll drop a spring or a screw.  Each leg you cut off disrupts it further, and makes it less mobile and if you’re real lucky you’ll knock it over onto its side and expose the underbelly, where you can hit it in complete safety, unless it manages to right itself.  If it recovers enough to start targeting you again with its super-laser, just back up a couple steps and nail it with another arrow to stun it again, and continue bashing it until it blows.

As long as you can take them on one at a time, this is a pretty safe tactic and works very well.  If there’s more than one in an area, attacking them while they’re at the farthest point from each other is best, and if you can, doing it so that you can situate yourself on the other side of cover so that the second Guardian can’t target you, and ideally so that it won’t even know you’re there until you’re done with the first Guardian is ideal.  If there’s no cover, stun the first one and use its body for cover, standing on the opposite side, keeping it between you and the second Guardian, and destroy it, then turn your attention to stunning, disabling and destroying the second Guardian.

I fight my way north, getting up around the Quarry Ruins, and have taken down 5 or 6 Guardians, and none of them has dropped a single Ancient Core.

In the Quarry Ruins area, my shrine sensor picks up a nearby shrine, and I head in its direction, finding it in a low depression, nestled in the hollow between a couple of hills.  I enter it, and it’s a Minor Test of Strength combat trial. This one is easy.  I equip one of my ancient weapons and test out how it works, and when you pair the Ancient arms with the bonus you get from the Ancient Armor suit, it amplifies their damage.  I think it only takes 7 hits to take out this shrine Guardian.

Still no Ancient Cores, but now I have a 3rd Spirit Orb, which means just one more and I can max out my heart meter.

I haven’t really been up in this part of Central Hyrule much before, and the only other time I was in this area, I had my first encounter with the flying helicopter drone Guardians, learned how dangerous they were, and that they were to be avoided at all costs, and never returned to the area.  Now, though, I’ve dealt with them a few times and know that as long as they don’t see me, I’m completely safe from them.

I explore the area a bit further, find a few more korok seeds, a bunch of forage materials, and an interesting korok puzzle.  There’s a small island near the castle, on the west side of it, called Castle Town Prison, where there are some ruins, and among the ruins are three statues with offering bowls, which I’ve seen a few other times in different regions. Usually you put apples in the bowls, and it summons a korok.  This one, two of the bowls have a rusty shield covering them; the third is empty.  I guess that I need to put a third rusty shield in the bowl for the third statue to get my korok seed, but I don’t have one in my inventory.  Perhaps there’s one lying around here nearby somewhere.  I try dropping one of my shields from my inventory, but it doesn’t work.  So maybe it has to be a rusty one.

Just to be sure, I try moving the two rusty shields, and put apples in all three bowls, and nothing happens.

I mark it on the map with a stamp in order to return to it later.  At the moment, I have over 10 korok seeds, so I can go to Hestu and have him expand my shield inventory slots so I can carry one more shield, so I can pick up a rusty shield if I find one and bring it back here.

I transport to the Korok village to do the shield inventory upgrade, and then transport back to the nearby shrine that I had just cleared earlier, and hike it back to Castle Town Prison.  This time, I find a rusty shield some distance away from the three statues, along with a few other rusty weapons.  But when I go back to the statues, the original two rusty shields are missing.  By picking them up to move them, I think I triggered the item management routine in the game that deletes discarded items that you drop when you leave an area, rather than store the location data for everything you’ve ever dropped in the game.  This will reset eventually, if I travel far enough away from the region and wait a day.  So I’ll have to wait for that, I guess.

On to hunt more Guardians and hopefully pick up a few Ancient Cores.  I’m so close to Hyrule Castle, I decide to investigate the outer castle walls and it’s a good choice, because there are beaucoup Guardians all over the place, both fully functional ones and disabled ones, and a few dead hulks.  There’s also the occasional Lizalfos or other monster, not to mention the odd Keese or Chuchus.  I also have to keep an eye out for the flying Guardians, so I keep out of their field of vision.

There’s a lot of stuff strewn about in the ruins, as well as treasure chests to find, and I spend a good hour or more exploring the outer ruins just south of Hyrule Castle, fighting Guardians at every opportunity, but none of them are dropping any Ancient Cores.  I’ve probably fought a dozen of them, and am getting skunked.  It makes me wonder if Ancient Cores are a special drop that only happens for certain specific Guardians, or if I’m just having a run of terrible luck.

As I make my way through the Castle Town Ruins area, I start seeing patches of Calamity Ganon Goop, with eyeballs that I have to shoot with an arrow in order to clear the path so I can proceed.  I’ve been fighting Guardians and using a lot of regular arrows for this, plus the Lynel fights, which consume a lot of arrows in their own right, and I’ve fired off somewhere around half of the 150 arrows that I had when I started this session.

To my surprise, I find a couple more korok seeds among the ruins of Castle Town.  I wouldn’t have thought that they would occupy this area, so close to Ganon, and so ruined and unnatural, but there are a good five or six that I’ve found here and there.

Before I know it, without really meaning to, I’m at the castle gates, and when I get a little too close, it triggers a cutscene to signify that I’m starting the final part of the game where I am to destroy Ganon.

I didn’t really plan on doing this tonight, but I figure, OK, let’s see what this is like, and rather than teleport out, I proceed further in.

The map changes from the overworld map to a map of the castle itself, similar to the maps that they have for the Divine Beasts.  But this map has nothing that I can manipulate, no switches to activate, just a path to the center where I’ll face Calamity Ganon.

I wonder if I can do it. I’m nearly fully maxed out in power, so it’s really more a question of do I have the skill and can I figure out what I need to do to overcome the obstacles, and how difficult the boss fight is, and if there’s any tricks to it.

So far the boss fights in this game have all been very similar to one another, and all have been only moderately difficult at best.  I had a harder time with fighting Guardians and Lynels than I did with any of the four Divine Beast boss fights, or the Yiga clan boss fight.  And mostly that was because I had a short life meter, next to no armor, weak weapons, and no understanding of how to exploit their attack patterns.  Once I figured out those things, and boosted my power through finding better equipment and powering it up, it’s been much easier to deal with any enemy in the game through direct combat.

The castle is actually a pretty well defensible fortification.  There’s a long, winding path from the main gate that I have to fight my way through, frequently exposed to fire from Guardians and Guardian-like turrets along the way.  In a lot of cases, the only way forward is through a direct frontal assault, and simply tanking through the damage the Guardian lasers dish out as I run up to them with no cover to shield me, and heading on a direct vector straight at them, so unable to dodge their blasts effectively.

Fortunately, the nearly maxed-out Ancient armor protects me very well against the blasts, although their knockdown effect and recovery from them does make it very difficult to proceed in one or two spots.  The worst of it is when I’m in a crossfire zone, taking incoming fire from two directions, and can’t deal with both of them.  There, I have to find cover somewhere, situate myself and figure out the least dangerous way to get close enough to one of the Guardians to take it out of commission with a flurry of up close attacks, and then usually I can just run past the other Guardian, and get out of its field of fire.

There’s a few waterfalls along the path, and these are shortcuts if I want to use the Zora armor suit to swim up the falls.  This helps me to bypass a few Guardians and avoid some tough spots.

Along the way, there are two Gate Houses, both of which contain a fierce looking dark grey Lynel.  These gate tower rooms have less space, which I think gives the Lynel a bit of a disadvantage, since they’re less able to do their running charge attacks on me, which means I have an easier time targeting with arrows to get a headshot stun in on them, setting up the mount attack and finishing it with mid-air bow headshots.

The first Gate Tower Lynel fight goes really well, I keep it off me and stun it repeatedly, en route to a very capable victory, and I hardly take any damage from it. 

 

After the first Gate Tower, the way branches, and I decide to take the left fork.  This actually is a longer route, but by the time I realize that I’m too far down it, and decide to just continue on and see it through.  I’m on a narrower path that wraps around the back of Hyrule Castle, and eventually will come back around to the front, where I’ll end up pretty close to where I would have been had I taken the more direct path to the right. 

But since I’m taking the scenic route through the whole game as it is, I don’t mind.  I’m not exactly trying to 100% this game, but I don’t want to skip stuff that’s optional and miss out on anything cool.

I get around to the rear of the castle, and reach a point where I get pinned down by a crossfire situation.  I duck behind a corner and get cover, and I figure if I want to continue on this path, I can either run around the corner and do a frontal assault on the Guardian turret, or I can maybe try climbing up the wall and see if maybe there’s any kind of shortcut, or if not, it’ll afford me a way to get a bit closer when I take down the turret that’s blocking the way.

But then, I notice an open doorway to the side, at appears to be a way into the castle itself.  Or maybe it’s just a minor outbuilding, but in any case, I should check it out and explore it.  No doubt there will be some good weapons, and even if not, it’s not like they’ll have Guardians inside, so if there’s anything in there to fight, it’ll likely be easier to take down.

I notice as well that the Master Sword has been holding up very strongly throughout this; I’ve fought a ton of enemies with it and it hasn’t run out of power yet.  It’s glowing, and its damage rating is doubled, from 30 to 60.  This is what it was meant for, obviously. 

I dash across the path, exposing myself to Guardian fire briefly, but make it to the entrance and get inside before the Guardians are able to get off second shots, and I manage to dodge their first blasts by sprinting and jumping to change my speed and direction just as they’re about to fight, like I learned to at the Forgotten Temple.  

Entering the building, I walk down some steps and find myself in what looks like a library that has seen better days.  There’s bookshelves, books, tables, and chairs, but everything is in disarray.  I encounter about 6 or 7 lizalfos in this area, but they are no match for me with my full-power Master Sword cutting them down in 3-4 hits, and they barely do more than register that I’m there before they go down.

I’m honestly a little disappointed that their power level isn’t greater, or that their aggression level/AI isn’t tougher.  But at the same time, if I think about it like it’s a real life or death battle, not a game, then I’m glad that I’m at a power level that dominates these enemies and makes defeating them an easy matter.

I feel truly powerful.

On one of the book tables, I find a book that is readable; I read it, and it’s the recipe book for the Hylian royal cooks to make a cake.  I wonder whether this is the cake that the sick girl in Tarrey Town wants, or whether it’s the recipe that the man at the stable wants to try.  

If I wasn’t busy saving the world from the ultimate evil, I’d just transport out of here right now and check on both of those leads.  But I’m so close to the final boss, I think realistically this should not be a priority right this minute.

I take screen caps so I can go back and read the recipe later, and move on.

Out of the library hall, I enter a corridor, where I fight some more lizalfos and a few moblins.  There’s a long hallway with some bombable walls, which I bomb, and they open up into chambers where I find some hidden weapons.  Most of these are rusty, a few are decent stuff, if I needed it, which I don’t, and one or two are new items that I’ve never encountered previously:  a new class above the Royal-level weapons, for Royal Guards.  They look similar to the Royal weapons, but have a dark grey color scheme, and do higher damage, but have less durability.  I pick them up but they do not last very long, only a moster or two.  Honestly, the Master Sword is more than enough here, and if it ran out of energy, I’d be fine with my other 15 weapon slots filled with Royal Claymores, Savage Lynel Swords, and elemental greatswords and spears.

At one point, I enter through a large double door and enter a banquet hall, where there are four moblins. They seem to be extremely dim-witted moblins, for they do not respond to my entrance, and barely put up any fight at all when I start hitting one of them.  The others do nothing, and just seem to wait their turn for me to slaughter them.  I have to give the game designers poor marks for this encounter, this is far less challenge than I should be facing in the final battle, and it’s a letdown to just bash a dumb opponent who doesn’t do anything but stand there being a target.  To be fair, they’re not completely inert, but they’re so sluggish and lethargic.  I can run up to them and they don’t seem to take any action at all until I hit them, which seems to wake them up.  Unfortunately, after the 2-3 hit combo that I dish out with the master sword, they’re a sliver of life bar away from death, and knocked over.  Maybe it starts to make a move like it’s going to try to stick me with their spears, but my follow up attack interrupts and they drop.  It’s pathetic.

Nintendo, I know I’m nearly maxed out in power, but I still want a challenge.  I want it to feel like I needed to spend all this time accumulating all this power.  I should have a somewhat easier time than someone who comes to fight Ganon early, without getting all the power that I’ve accumulated, but if I come in late with a lot of extras that I didn’t need to get, scale up the difficulty a bit so that it’s a decent challenge.  It’s fair; players who rush to the final battle catch Ganon’s minions before they’re able to prepare; someone like me who plays though the whole game and takes his sweet time getting to this point, well they’ve had plenty of warning that Link is back, and they should have had time to make preparations, work out, sharpen their weapons, send for reinforcements, whatever.

I discover an exit in the middle of the banquet hall which leads me back to the outside, and I find myself back at the front of Hyrule Castle, nearby the second Gate Tower.  I enter, expecting to be shut in with another dark Lynel, and am not disappointed.

The second Gate Tower fight goes rather poorly for me, as I can just not connect with the bow for a headshot for some reason.  Both Gate Towers also happen to be covered in Calamity Ganon Goo, with a mouth that issues forth flying skulls that become a problem as they close in and take priority when I try to target my enemy, making it all the more difficult to attack or defend against the Lynel, who is by far the primary threat.  I’d like to just ignore the skulls, but the targeting priority keeps focusing on them for me, and for some reason I have a hard time hitting them as well, so I end up wasting a lot of attack opportunities hitting nothing, while the Lynel continually bashes me and knocks me down.

I have to eat 3-4 fruit meals to recover my health, and start getting frustrated.  I’m also running way low on normal arrows.  Eventually, I just kindof give up on trying to fight properly, and instead decide to just tank my way through the fight, taking the damage and stand toe to toe with the Lynel and deal as much pain as I can between knockdowns, and heal myself with snacks as needed.  It’s not at all a skill based way to win, but it works through sheer brute force.  By the time it drops, I’m down to my last 7 normal arrows.  Fortunately, I happen to have huge stockpiles of fire, ice, electric, and bomb arrows, well in excess of 100 of each variety, and in some cases closer to 200, plus four ancient arrows.  I haven’t really been using the elemental arrows for the last month, plus, other than when they are called for (such as in the Divine Beast entrance missions) and have been mostly stocking up on them.  So I’m pretty well prepared to deliver some heat.

After this fight, it’s not much further to get to the inner keep where Calamity Ganon waits for me.

I reach the threshold of the keep, and take a moment to pause and reflect on where I’m at in the game. Am I sure I want to go in there?  Do I really want to leave the last few things on my to-do list unfinished?  But I’ve come this far, and this is after all what the entire game leads up to.  Surely, I should press on and take on the final boss.  But will I win?

I step forward, and this triggers another cutscene, with a big, dramatic reveal of Calamity Ganon. He’s a spider-like demon with a face that resembles Ganondorf from other Zelda games, but more monstrous and demonic than humanlike.  He has a huge sword in his right arm, and his left arm is a laser cannon not unlike those used by the Guardians.  And, it’s tough to recall the details, but it seems like he has maybe 4 or 6 arms, probably 4 or 6 legs as well, and maybe some kind of abdomen weapon, like a stinger or a tail mounted gun, or something.  He’s all spewing fire and glowing with energy and calamity goo, and most of the time I’m looking in his direction, he’s shrouded by explosions from my bomb arrows and smoke.

I’m not really clear on how to fight this battle, and to the game’s credit, it doesn’t offer me any real obvious clues, or put on-screen instructions telling me what to do.  I have to figure it out.

Before the fight even begins, the four Hyrule Champions let forth a blast from the Divine Beasts, which weaken Calamity Ganon, dropping his health down by half.  Well, that’s awfully nice.  Thanks, guys!

It’s not like it’s a terribly difficult thing to figure out, but fighting Calamity Ganon is basically a lot of the same “shoot in the face with an arrow, then run up and wail on them with the sword” that I’ve had to so with pretty much every other boss-like fight:  the Hinox, the Lynel, the Divine Beast bosses, they all have this familiar pattern. 

I think a little more variety would have been nice, to keep the player guessing and keep them challenged. 

So, basically, I equip my Savage Lynel Bow x5 with Bomb arrows, and launch volleys to the face, and they do decent damage in their own right, and occasionally I’ll get an opportunity to run in and hit him with the Master Sword, if he falls to the floor stunned or something. 

When he gets down to around 1/8th of his lifebar, I notice that my attacks no longer seem to be doing damage, and so I realize after a while that I must need to do something else.  I’m starting to panic a little bit now, because his attacks are pretty hard to dodge, and I keep getting lit on fire.  They’re not hurting me too much, and I have plenty of food, but if I get stuck on figuring out how to damage him beyond this point, none of that is going to help me.  So I need to figure this out. 

I look around to see what I can figure out about his attack routine, to see if he’s opening himself up at a critical point in his windup, when I’m supposed to dash in and hit him. Or maybe I’m supposed to reflect his attack back at him.  Or maybe there’s something in the room that I can use against him.  Or if all else fails, look for the glowing weak point, and try to hit that.  These are common boss fight tropes.

Zelda is giving me advice and encouragement as well, but it’s not quite handholding instructions telling me exactly what to do.  But she’s using her powers to contain Ganon, or weaken him, or whatever, and she can’t do it forever, so she needs me to hurry up and finish him. I’d like to do this as well.

I continue to try to dodge and buy time, hoping to observe some clue that I can use to figure out what I must do to continue dealing damage. I’m getting sick of being set on fire, so I down a meal and a fire resistance elixir, the one time in the entire game I’ve bothered to use an elixir to buff my power up.

I notice that when Ganon unleashes his firey laser blast, a lot of the ground around Link burns for a few seconds, resulting in updrafts.  So I reason that I’m probably supposed to take to the air for this part of the fight and hit him from the air with arrows, maybe from a high angle I’ll see some part of him that is an obvious target.  

I try this, and I do manage to get airborne, but I don’t know that it really helps.  I shoot at him and there’s a lot of explosions from the bombs, so it’s hard to see what actually happens, and what part of him I actually hit.  But it doesn’t seem to be getting him past the quarter mark, and I need to come up with something else.

So the next thing I do, I try running in close, and then unleash an Urbosa’s Fury on him.  This does definitely do damage, and knocks him down to the ground, so I can stab him in the face as much as possible and hopefully get the rest of his life bar to turn black.

One or two Urbosa’s Furies, followed up with as many sword strikes as I can manage, seems to do the trick.

There’s another cutscene, an elaborate death sequence, and then Ganon’s final form is unleashed:  Dark Beast Ganon.

Link is teleported outside of the castle, and Ganon transforms into a gargantuan quadropedal monster, something resembling a cross between a bull and Godzilla.  

There’s a horse here, for some reason, and not one of my own horses, just some random horse. I presume it’s supposed to be Epona, Link’s Official Horse since Link started riding.  Zelda drops a special bow for me to use, called the Bow of Light.  I run forward and grab it, and it’s a pretty damn spiffy bow.  It does more damage and has more range than any bow I’ve ever contemplated.  It must be just the trick.

I run back over to the horse and mount it, and we’re apparently well acquainted already.  Just exactly where this horse came from is never explained.  I kick him into high gear and we mostly just watch from a safe distance as Dark Beast Ganon makes angry faces and spews death beams out of his facial orifaces.  Thankfully they do not appear to be aimed at me or the horse, but are kindof just spewing indiscriminant rage and destruction around the world at large.  

It seem like these attacks are probably capable of destroying entire sectors of the map at a time, so maybe I should treat this situation with some sense of urgency anyway.

OK, so the idea is I gotta run around with the horse, Zelda will do her thing, causing some glowing spots of vulnerability to appear on the Dark Beast Ganon, which I then have to shoot with the bow.

This is actually super easy to do.  Ganon never really comes close to hitting me, and my main challenge seems to be to remember to control the horse, to keep it reasonably close to pointed in the general direction of Dark Beast Ganon, so that I don’t have to contort myself at too strange an angle to nail his glow spots with the bow.

He has glow spots on his left and right sides.  And a glow spot underneath.  And then he has one on the top, and to get at that one I do have to ride up a wind updraft created by the heat from Ganon’s attacks.

Then finally, there’s one final spot, an eyeball that appears on his back, and opens and closes, and is only vulnerable when it is open.  So I wait for it to open, and shoot it once, and then that’s that.

Honestly, it’s one of the easiest boss fights I’ve ever had.  I did it on the first try.  It’s not Kid Icarus easy, but it’s not hard.

Ganon is defeated, and Hyrule is saved.  At least what parts of it were not incinerated by the 20-minute barrage from Dark Beast Ganon.  It seems to be implied that Hyrule is going to be just fine now.

The King of Hyrule’s spirit appears, along with the four Champions, for a final goodbye and thanks.  Zelda asks Link if he really remembers her.

The end.  Fade to black.  Roll credits.

I never liked Donkey Kong

There. I said it.

Donkey Kong is the foundation of a modern business empire, a cultural cornerstone, the genesis story of the Marioverse. Not liking Donkey Kong is something akin to blasphemy. I gave it a shot. I wanted to like it. But I just never liked it.

I feel like I am about to regret one quarter just looking at this screen capture.

I first played Donkey Kong when it was new, in the Arcade, on Atari, and ColecoVision, and I never considered it one of my favorites. It was a smash hit when it came out, sold tens of thousands of arcade cabinets, swallowed hundreds of millions of quarters, sold millions of cartridges on home consoles, and been ported to just about every console of its generation and the next few after. It was groundbreaking, both technically and in terms of game mechanics and narrative.

I recognize all of that, and I still don’t care for the game.

This isn’t merely a statement of opinion or taste; I don’t enjoy playing Donkey Kong, and I don’t find it to be a particularly well-designed game.

Let’s talk about that.

For sake of brevity, I’ll focus on the first screen.

How high can you climb?

Donkey Kong is very difficult and unforgiving. Part of its difficulty stems from the tight window for clearing dangerous obstacles, and the narrow clearance for successful jumps. But much of it comes from design choices that tend to make the game feel unfair.

Jumping

Jumping is the key mechanic around which the whole game is based. Yet, the jumping mechanic is rough. When you jump, you can’t change direction or height, so you’re committed to the path of the jump until you land. This makes jumping risky and hard. When you make a mistake, there’s no second chances. You know you’re going to die, and there’s nothing you can do but watch and wait for it.

You can’t jump very high — just the exact height to clear a barrel or fireball, and the exact distance to clear two barrels if they’re right next to each other… barely. Miss a jump by a little bit and you’re dead.

On the first screen, some of the ramps look like they might be close enough together to allow Jumpman to jump up to the next platform from the one below, but that is not permitted. You can only ascend to the next platform by climbing a ladder.

Not that you’d normally ever want to, but you can’t jump down from the edge of a ramp to the one below, either — the height is not great, but it will still kill you.

If you jump off a platform, you die if you fall just a short distance. Jumpman can’t survive falling any farther than the peak height of his jump.

Ladders

You can’t get off a ladder until you get allll the way up to the top of it, or allll the way to the bottom. Very often, you’ll think you’re there, and try to move left or right, only to find that you’re still locked onto the ladder and unable to move. A better design would have been to treat horizontal joystick input as continuing Jumpman’s previous climbing direction, moving him the rest of the way up/down the ladder until he is clear.

There’s no jumping from a ladder, either. Allowing this would make the game play feel less stiff, and give the player greater control and flexibility.

Some of the ladders are broken, turning the ladder into a deadly dead-end. You can climb up them, but only get part-way. At the top, barrels rolling by below you will still hit you and kill you, even though you’re off the ground. It’d be nice if the game gave you a break and decided there was enough clearance that you could be safe here. And a barrel that decides to roll down from the platform above and take the ladder path will also kill you. You’re stuck on the broken ladder until you backtrack down and get off. If you could jump off the ladder, or jump to clear the gap where the ladder broke, you’d have one more option, open up possibilities, and it would make the game feel a little more fair.

Hammer

The Hammer power-up allows Jumpman to fight back against the barrels and fireballs that are his bane, and earn extra points. But this comes at a cost.

Jumpman can’t climb ladders with the hammer, and cannot jump. This means he is stuck on the platform where he grabbed the hammer, for as long as the hammer persists.

The hammer is a temporary item, which runs on a timer that ends after a few seconds, but without warning. You can be right about to smash a barrel when suddenly the hammer disappears, leaving you defenseless and no time to jump out of the way. And you have no choice but to die. This feels unfair. To fix this problem, the game should give the player a cue to let them know that their hammer time is about to expire — blinking or an audio signal would be helpful. And maybe if the game detects that Jumpman is facing a barrel, and it is within a “close enough” distance just as time is about to expire, give the hammer enough extra frames before despawning it to allow the barrel to be busted.

Since the levels are timed, and running out of time will kill you, getting the hammer can screw you if you grab it while the timer is running low. Your remaining time gives you bonus points, so being forced by the hammer to wait before you can finish the level can actually cost you points, unless you can smash enough barrels/fireballs to make it worthwhile. It would be better if you could cancel the hammer early. Perhaps hitting the jump button while holding the hammer could make Jumpman throw the hammer, giving you a useful way to cancel it early, and a ranged attack that could come in handy and give you one more option.

The hammer may make you seem invincible, but you can still be killed if a barrel gets past the hammer to touch Jumpman. Most players don’t realize this until they learn it the hard way. A barrel coming down a ladder can be hit by the hammer, but if it swings out of the way and the timing is just wrong, the barrel may hit Jumpman in the head before the hammer swings back up. Likewise, the rolling barrels may approach Jumpman from behind, or roll under the hammer while it is above Jumpman’s head. The swinging of the hammer is automatic, not controlled by the player, so whether the hammer hits the barrel or the barrel gets through is somewhat random. Usually Jumpman will hit, but once in a while the barrel will get through. I would fix this design issue by making Jumpman invincible from the front, but still let him take hits from above and the rear.

Barrels/fireballs

Barrel pathing is pernicious; whether a barrel will go down a ladder or continue down the ramp can’t be known for absolutely certain, but it seems that barrels are more likely to go down the ladder if you’re on the ladder, making using ladders especially deadly. It makes you paranoid to avoid starting up a ladder until any approaching barrels have cleared the ladder you need to climb. To some extent, you can manipulate the barrel AI by your position and direction, as the enemies will tend to take the path that is least advantageous to you. So by standing to one side or the other of a ladder, and facing the right direction, you can often influence the barrel to take the short path or the long path.

Barrel spacing is too random and can often kill you unfairly. Donkey Kong will sometimes roll two barrels at you too far apart to jump both together, and too close together to jump the first one and then immediately jump the next one.

Sometimes DK will toss a barrel that will go straight diagonally down the screen, ignoring collisions with the ramps. These move extremely fast and are unpredictable, making them all but impossible to dodge. If you happen to be in their path, at the top of the screen, you have almost no warning and no time to get out of the way.

Collisions with barrels will kill you with any overlap — even if you’re standing on the platform below, with your head poking above the next level, a barrel rolling along that level will collide with you and kill you. An if it passes below and clips your feet even a little, while you’re on a ladder, it’ll kill you as well. Collision boxes could have been made smaller, to make slight collisions forgiving, and allow for exciting “close calls”.

Why did Donkey Kong succeed?

In 1981, videogames were still quite new and very popular, with great interest in any new title that came out. It was a time we now look at as a golden age for the video arcade, after several years of ascendancy through the black and white era that gave way to the mega-popular blockbusters of the start of the 80’s, like Berzerk, Defender, Pac Man, and Moon Patrol. But only Pac Man made more money than Donkey Kong. What made it such an attraction?

Donkey Kong had the benefit of being unlike anything that had come before it, in terms of play style and technology, yet it had instant familiarity all at once, in the way it echoed the familiar King Kong story from classic cinema. It had colorful cartoon-like graphics. Its sound effects and music were charming. The game play was novel, yet intuitive, despite the brutal difficulty level. And for an arcade game, being extremely difficult was actually a good thing, since it resulted in shorter games, more credits per hour, and thus higher revenue. The challenged appealed to many gamers of the time. And there were not yet other games similar enough to compare against it, so the rough edges in the mechanics weren’t very obvious.

As one of the earliest platformer games, it broke ground and innovated, and for the time that was enough. Despite the shortcomings, rough edges, and unforgiving difficulty, it captured the minds of the public and gave them entertainment.

For all that, though, it just wasn’t for me, and I’ve come to accept that. For my quarter, though, Ms. Pac Man or Zookeeper is a far better play.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (85)

I need 3 fragments of Dinraal’s Horn to complete upgrading my Barbarian armor suit, so that’s what’s going to happen today.

I transport out to Death Mountain and kill the Lynel who patrols the area by the Leviathan skeleton.  The fight goes pretty well, I manage to hit him in the face with arrows most of the time, he only hits me a few times, and I only go through 2 or 3 Durian fruit meals to keep my health up.  One of these days, I’m going to get the knack of headshotting these things, and it’s going to be a beautiful day when that happens. But this was one of my better fights all the same.

There’s a tall rock near the space the Lynel patrols that is a perfect vantage point for collecting Dinraal parts when he appears in the morning. I make a fire and sit by it and wait until morning, when Dinraal appears.  Morning starts at 5am, and by about 7am Dinraal is close enough to nail in the face with an arrow.  Using my long-range bow, it’s simple.  Just wait for him to get up close, and let loose, then glide to where the shard lands and pick it up.  I do this a total of four times, because I need 3 pieces of his horn, but I accidentally hit him in the body and knock off a scale on the third attempt, and have to do it over.  

One thing that I notice while I’m doing this is that Dinraal starts out high in the sky to the north of Death Mountain, and then he swoops down low, making is pass at the rock where I wait for him, then just past it, he turns back skyward and flies up, up, up, and I see a vortex in the sky open up, which he flies into, disappearing, and then the vortex dissipates.  Remarkable!

Having collected what I need, I transport to a fairy pond and get my upgrades done.  I’m still short a couple of Lynel guts to complete the Barbarian suit, but I do manage to upgrade two of the pieces once each, plus the Champions Tunic, for which I needed the Naydral’s horn that I had collected previously, I can max it out, and do so.

Looking over what else I can do with myself, I decide that tonight is the night, I’m finally going to return to Eventide Island and attempt the challenge one more time.

This time, I get to the island by flying out to it, gliding from the nearest shrine on the mainland’s east coast, and with my two full wheels of stamina, I make it out there easily.

As I drop from the sky, I attempt to go into my inventory screen before I touch down, and drop some shields, swords, and bows so that I’ll be well equipped, but I guess the inventory screen does not allow you to do this while you are in freefall, although it will allow you to change your equipped armaments and clothing while you are hang gliding, which is not especially realistic.

So I land on Eventide, and it strips me of all my gear, and I do not get to employ the cheat that I had tried to use on my last attempts.  OK then, cool, I’m up for the challenge. Let’s do this.

I know exactly what to do, and by now I have plenty of experience, and it’s not hard.  I landed on the island in the early morning, which is important because you have a much easier time if you are there before the daily thunderstorm strikes the island around 4pm.  So I land, I find a couple of weapons laying about on the beach, and I run over and take down the Bokoblin bikini beach party.  These guys are absolutely no threat to me with my life meter nearly maxed out, so I don’t worry about conserving hearts, and just go at them, cutting them down with the rusty claymore I found on the beach.  It does the job, but is nearly broken by the time I’m done.  I collect all the loot that I can here, and sit down at the fire just as it’s beginning to rain, and manage to get my sit-down in a split second before the rain puts the fire out, allowing me to camp until morning.  Hooray.

When morning comes, I go around the island and find all the hidden nice weapons that I know about, as well as forage for whatever edible stuff there is to grab. 

Once outfitted, I raid the bokoblin tree fort on the other side of the island, again just running up and dealing death like a seasoned pro who has nothing to fear from such low level monsters, and I clean them out with no hassles at all.  I fought a Lynel earlier, I can take out a large number of bokoblins with no clothes on and weak weapons.

I grab the sheikah orb from the bokoblin camp and walk it over to the corner of the island where the pedestal sits offshore on the rocks, drop it in the ocean, float it up with some ice blocks to make a bridge, then walk it into the hole where it belongs and drop it in.  All the while, one of the off-shore octorocks is bombarding me, but it’s at such a great distance that its aim is not very good, and it only tags me once or twice, for minimal damage.  I just ignore it and get the job done, then go sit at the beach fire and wait for morning.

Morning comes, and I cook up all the food items that I’d found, and heal back up to max health.

Next, I turn my attention to the monsters encamped on the highest part of the island’s north edge.  There’s 3 or 4 bokoblins here, plus a moblin, who I remember being pretty tough, and decently armed.  I decide to be a bit cautious with this bunch, so I climb up the side of the island where I’ll be out of sight.

I throw remote bombs and let them roll, and my first one gets close to the western guard tower, I detonate it, and it explodes a barrel, which catches the bokoblin bowman on the top of the tower on fire, killing him, and as well it manages to put the moblin afire, doing a slight bit of damage to it.

I rain more sheikah bombs on the camp, and one rolls over to their campfire, where two bokoblins, red and blue, are sitting by, as though they failed to notice the huge explosion and fire and death of their friend. I blow the bomb and it kills the red one outright, the blue one is knocked silly and loses his equipment.  I throw more bombs until he’s dead. It takes time, but there’s zero risk. I only have to keep my eye on the weather.

The moblin I injured earlier is too far away to hit with bombs, so I switch to bow and arrow, and light him up.  I hit him with 3-4 arrows, scoring one head shot, and figure he’s down enough to where I can just swoop in on the glider and take him out.  I come in and drop on him, doing an arial attack, which knocks him off balance, and then I recover first and pour on a few more hits, breaking my weapon, but killing him.  I pick up his sword, it’s a Knight’s Broadsword, which is one of the better swords in the game.  

There’s one guard tower left with a bokoblin standing on it, peeing its pants as I just run up and straight up murder it with one swift flash of my blade.

I loot the camp, grab their orb, blow the flat stone covering off of the pedestal with stasis and a boko bat, breaking the bat in the process, and put the orb in its socket.  2/3 done.

Now, the Hinox.  I know the trick now is to just grab the orb and run, and not bother trying to fight it. In order to do the run successfully, I need to prepare my path and clear the enemies out of the camp by the third pedestal.  I glide down to the southwest corner and make my way up the slope.  I get to where I can just see the enemies, and they spot me as I’m nocking my arrow.  I fire it into the yellow chuchu, and it goes up, exploding in a cloud of electricity, shocking several of the nearby monsters, detonating another chuchu, which in turn re-shocks the monsters again, and by this time I’ve fired another arrow into the third chuchu, taking it out and doing shock damage to a couple of monsters near it.

The dead chuchus drop yellow chuchu chunks, and apparently these are little bitty shock grenades, and when the bokoblins run over them they get shocked, stunned, drop their weapons, and take even more damage.  

This is going surprisingly well.  The chuchus have taken out most of the monsters or knocked them down far enough to where they will be easy to mop up.  I run in and swing the sword a couple of times, and it is done.  I don’t even need to blow up any of their explosive barrels, or toss in sheikah bombs.  It’s nice not to have to do that, because it leaves their food drops and other loot undamaged, which allows me to pick the campsight clean.

The pedestal on this hill has a couple of boxes sitting on it, so I remove them with magnesis, and now everything is ready for me to grab the final orb from the Hinox’s necklace and make off with it.

My desired plan is to glide in and land quietly on his chest, then use time stop on the Hinox, quickly grab the orb, toss it off of him, and then jump off and land on the ground, hopefully quietly and far enough away that it stays asleep.

Unfortunately, the time stop effect is extremely brief when used on this Hinox, and it wears off before I’ve barely tossed the orb.  It wakes up, and I have to just make a run for it.  I don’t look behind me to see how close it is until I reach the hilltop, but I apparently outran it pretty good, because I never did see it.   I place the orb into the pedestal, and the challenge is completed. 

A shrine pops up on the highest point of the island, and my gear is returned to me as a voice congratulates me on completing the challenge, and invites me to enter the shrine and receive its blessing.

I go up there and receive 300 rupees and a spirit orb.  Hooray.

Upon exiting the shrine, the island is changed.  The monsters are all resurrected, even though there was no blood moon.  And there is now a Rito sitting perched up on this highest point of the island.  I go to talk to him, and he explains his fascination with the wind and philosophy of flight, and invites me to take part in a training course that will enable me to develop skill with flying.  

I agree, and he sets up a course with rings that I need to fly through, catching wind currents in a few places.  I just need to fly through as many as I can, and he’ll grade me on the performance.

Seems easy enough.  I go to do it, and screw it up a few times, because at a mid-point I don’t realize that there’s more, because I’m pretty close to the ground and there’s an updraft that I’m supposed to ride to complete the rest of the course, but I don’t notice it the first two times, so I just land and that’s it.  But it’s not enough rings to pass the course, so I try again, and on the third time I do it well enough to earn a payout of 50 rupees.  But since I’ve spent 80 to run the course several times, I’ve really lost 30. I could probably do even better, but that’s enough for me for now.  

I have to say that although this course is fun, and it’s pretty cool, this is not a skill that you really ever need anywhere else in the game. I’ve been through pretty much the entire game right now, and there are a few places where you need to fly, but all you need to do is have stamina and fly in a straight line to get anywhere.  There’s never any precision flight needed where you have to do anything that is approximated by this obstacle course.  

I think that’s a missed opportunity on the part of the developers, and I don’t know why they didn’t bother to do more with this flight concept.  It’s like a mini-homage to Pilotwings (SNES) or Superman 64 (N64) (except that it doesn’t suck.)  But it does seem a bit underdeveloped, and thus pointless.

One last thing.  I just HAVE to kill that Hinox, since he ruined so many of my earlier attempts to run this island challenge back when I only had 6 or 7 heart containers.  I fly down to land on his chest, and as I charge up my royal claymore attack, again I just clip through him or slide off somehow, as though you’re just not able to stand on a sleeping Hinox’s chest and use a charge shot.  This wakes him up again, and as he’s getting to his feet I nail him 4-5 times in the body/head with the claymore.  Both of his feet are armored, and I don’t have a good angle on him with the bow, owing to the short distance between us, his eye is just at a bad angle for me to hit it to knock him down and stun him so I can hit him more. So, instead I run up the side of the hill just a bit, not to where I start climbing the wall, but high enough so that the sword will hit him above his leg armor.  This works pretty well, and I hit him a few times, but then I have to run away to dodge his attack.  I try hitting him with the bow again, and miss the eye, but hit him 2-3 times, and then go back up the side of the hill and try to hit him again.  He’s just a little too far away from me, so I end up sinking more arrows into his side and back, until he drops.

Take that, you one eyed jerk.

He doesn’t really have any good weapons, but it was still satisfying to do him in.

Talking to the Rito on the island gives me the idea to return to Rito village and buy the cold weather armor.  I don’t need it, but I have enough rupees that I should be able to afford the suit in one trip, and I probably have all the materials needed to upgrade it fully, so what the hell why not.

I transport out there, and right by the shrine at Rito village, I see Kass the bird-man with the five singing girl Rito, playing music and singing together.  It turns out that Kass is these girls father.  I talk to each of them and the middle one, Nebb, tells me that if I find all the shrines in the world, to come back and she will give me a special reward.  This doesn’t add a new sidequest to my Adventure Log, curiously, so I wonder what the reward is.

Kass tells me to come back after dark to hear a special song.  It’s nearly night time as it is, so I run down to the clothing shop and buy the full armor suit.  The Rito who stands outside the shop thanks me and is impressed that I bought the full suit, which I think is a nice touch that the designers put in a special comment for “big spenders” who clean out the shop.

I go back up and talk to Kass, and he tells me more about his teacher who he learned all these songs from.  I notice for the first time that Kass isn’t just a generic bird-man; he seems to have the appearance of a parrot. Specifically, this kind of parrot:

I mean, it figures, Kass is the one who talks to Link the most out of all the Rito, so he’s got to be a parrot, right?

Kass’s teacher was a Rito who was close to Princess Zelda, before the Calamity.  Through song, Kass reveals to me that Princess Zelda loves Link, and it is this love for Link that is the key to unlocking her true powers, which through memory flashbacks I have learned she had failed to control, which lead to the downfall of Hyrule. 

So, the power of love is what is going to destroy evil and save Hyrule.  This is incredibly cheesy stuff, but for some reason it gets to me and I start crying.  Lol.  I am not embarrassed to cry or have emotions, but I’m confused as to how this moment has affected me so.  It is a total surprise.  As much as I’ve been enjoying the game all along, I wouldn’t say that I have felt tremendous emotional investment in it.  Much of the time as I’m playing, I’ve been picking apart the design and criticizing and appreciating its craftsmanship.  But I have not been especially moved by the storyline.  So what is up with me tearing up and getting emotionally overcome to the point where I turn on the waterworks, I have no idea.

But this last minute impulse to return to Rito village and buy the armor has turned into a major revelatory plot twist.  Kass’s teacher fell in love with Princess Zelda, but it was unrequited, because he knew that Zelda was secretly in love with Link, who never knew about it.  Then Link sacrificed his life to protect Zelda, as is his sworn duty as her personal knight.  But Zelda was able to get him to the shrine of resurrection and bring him back a century later.

It’s going to be interesting to find out what Zelda did to prevent herself from aging for a century, or what is going on with that.  And oh, poor Mipha, who crafted Links Zora armor as a pre-engagement gift.

After Kass is finished with the song, I stand there and just look around at the world from atop Rito village’s overlook platform, momentarily stunned.  The world is… changed.  Not in any visible way, but I now look at it differently.  Something in me is changed.

There’s now a sense of urgency to face Ganon and defeat him.

But first I still need to find some Ancient Cores and a few Lynel guts so I can finish my personal goal of maxing out all of Link’s outfits.  Lol.

I guess my next session will be Lynel and Guardian slaying, and if I’m lucky and finally accumulate all the materials I need, then I’ll finally be ready to take on Ganon. 

I back go to the fairy pond and, sure enough, I have all the materials needed to fully upgrade the Rito armor, so I do that.  I notice that I walk very slow in this armor, but it makes me wonder if I fly any better in it, in addition to having the cold resistance boost.  I’ll have to test that out and see.

There’s not much else left in the game for me to do, but if I want to 100% the game (not including all the korok seeds), I will need to:

  • Find the last couple of shrines, complete them, and get my last heart container.  I think there are now 2-3 shrines remaining in the world.
  • Go back to Rito village and find out what Nebb gives me for finding all the shrines in the world.
  • Find a Hylian royal cookbook somewhere in the vicinity of Hyrule Castle, for the fellow at one of the stables who was obsessed with Hylian royal cuisine.
  • Max out the Ancient Helmet and the Barbarian suit.
  • Buy an Ancient Short Sword at Akkala tech lab to show the kid from Hateno village.  (I can’t see finding enough Ancient cores to make this happen before I go to defeat Ganon, unless they start dispensing them like candy when I farm them by Guardian hunting. So unless I find one in a shrine or something, probably not happening.)
  • I think that might be it?

I guess there’s the DLC after that.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (84)

It’s time to get serious about hunting dragon horn.

I picked up a new bow in Zora’s Domain from an enemy lizal somewhere along the way, and it’s not a powerful bow but it has better range than my Royal and Lynel bows, and so has earned its slot in my inventory.  I save it just for shooting at the dragons.

I do a little research online for the best places to wait for Naydra and Dinraal, and so learn of a better spot to stand.  Along the highway between Kakariko village and Mount Lanayru, there’s a waterfall where there’s a shrine hidden in a cave behind it.  I transport there, then using Zora armor, swim up the falls and land on the east bank of the water, and continue to the east until I get to a flat rocky area below the western mountains’ peak, looking out over the Lanayru Gate and the great mountain itself.

If I wait until morning, Naydra flies over this spot each day, affording me a perfect opportunity to hit him straight-on as he flies by.  

I make a campfire and sit by it until morning, and wait for a minute or two for Naydra to swoop low over the valley.  As his wind currents pick up, I jump and let the paraglider catch the air, and glide out to meet him. As soon as I’m close enough, I take aim and shoot him, direct hit to the horn, knocking a piece off.  I resume gliding and observe the trajectory of the falling shard of horn, and glide right over to it, then pick it up.  Having done so, I save my game, travel overland back to my waiting spot, set another campfire, and do it all over again.  

I do this three consecutive days and am successful each time, and so quickly have what I need to upgrade my Hero’s tunic to level 3.

While looking out over my hunting spot, I notice a Silver Lynel patrolling just beyond the Lanayru Gate, which piques my curiosity.  I still need Lynel parts, although I’m not keen on fighting another silver lynel any time soon.  But for there to be a Lynel here, surely there must be something good in the area.  

Way long ago, when I found my first memory photo spot, it was right near by this gate, and I did not go beyond it.  Instead I had turned back to return to Kakariko village, to see what else Impa and Paya might have to tell me about it — which, as it turns out, wasn’t much of anything at all. Nor Pikango, either. 

Had I continued on, I surely would have turned back quickly, but I would have encountered this Lynel as my first, and much sooner than I eventually did.  

I wonder how the game designers intended for a player traveling this road to get past the Lynel so early in the game.  Surely, there would have needed to be stealth involved.  Perhaps climbing around its patrol zone, I expect.  Otherwise, it would be near certain death to advance beyond the gate.  I decide I will take a look around this area, as I really have only flown over it before.  

I find a small lake with a waterfall, and nearby a sleeping Hinox.  I do not disturb it, as I have no further need for Hinox parts, nor do I need to fill my equipment slots at this point.  I do catch a bunch of fish and frogs in the pool.  

Continuing on, staying well outside the patrol area of the Lynel, I find a path that runs through an area labeled on the map as Naydra Snowfield, and following it, I find that it winds up going up the mountain, a much easier journey than I had when I flew out from Hateno village to land on the southern slope of Lanayru and had to climb up it to reach this same path.

I follow it quite a ways, looking for koroks, but do not find more than just one in this area, which I find odd.  There surely must be more than what I’ve found in the area.

Eventually I get up the mountain to reach the Spring of Wisdom.  I pray at the statue, but do not have enough Spirit Orbs to add another Heart Container to my health bar.  

I transport back to the fairy, and upgrade my Hero’s Tunic, and also look at what else I have left to do.  At this point I now need 3 more Dinraal’s Horn, 4 Lynel Guts, and 4 Ancient Cores, and I think I’ll finally have my equipment maxed out.

Dinraal should be my next priority, I think.  I will seek him next time.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (83)

I transport back out to the eastern edge of Gerudo and collect 30 more Swift Violets over the course of an hour or two.  The time passes pretty quickly, and I have what I need sooner than I expect. Along the way, I find three or four more korok seeds, around the north end of the valley at the border of the canyon and the Great Plateau.  It’s an area I really only passed through once, and it’s not surprising that I overlooked these things, but as I’m spending time foraging here, and I’ve gained experience spotting the hidden puzzles and natural features where koroks are often found, I find them easier to spot.  A lone tree or rock, a tall spot, anything really that seems out of the ordinary, if it stands out to you, and you go to check it out, most likely it will reward you, in one way or another.  I also find a hidden cave behind a bomb-able wall, inside which I discover a treasure chest buried under boulders.  One of the boulders is magnetic, and I use it to push the rest of them out of the way.  The chest contains a Great Thunderblade, so I discard the ordinary Thunderblade I just picked up from the last shrine I cleared, still unused.  Such a waste.

Now all I need is rare and ultra-rare stuff:  ancient cores, star fragments, Lynel horn and hoofs, and Dinraal and Naydra horn.

I still have a couple of quests to complete, one around Zora’s Domain, Eventide Island, one memory photo location to find at Hyrule Castle, and two more shrines beside Eventide, somewhere on the map, where I have no idea.

Returning to Zora’s Domain, I decide to spend the rest of my session working on the Ancient Stone Tablets sidequest.  I only have four tablets left to find, but I’m not sure which ones they are, as I haven’t marked any of the ones I found on the map as I went around.  I return where the quest started, and talk to Jiahto, who tells me their locations.  Or at least a clue enough to find them pretty easy.  I take my time going about it, using the walking as an excuse to gather any available forage, check out likely korok seed spots, and so forth.  I fight the Hinox again, and the Lynel, and get the Hinox Guts and Lynel hoof that I need, but I think I still may need more Lynel horn.  While I’m looking for one of the stone tablet locations, I find a ruined stone building that collapsed semi-submerged in a small lake.  I scan it with magnesis-vision, and see a chest in the water.  I bring it up and find the Zora armor helmet, completing my Zora suit.  Yes!  I’d been wondering whether I’d get the helmet as a reward for completing this quest, but I guess I kindof did.

There are a lot of lizals and a few moblins up on this part of the mountains to the north of Zora’s Domain, and they drop lots of arrows, so I bring my normal arrow stash up to over 120, which is great.

I also find a Stone Talus to the east of the dam, along J’Abu’s Ridge, who I fight, resulting in my boulder breaker breaking.  The fight is awkward, due to the placement of this Talus’s vulnerable spot being low and on the talus’s back, rather than on his top, meaning I can’t really climb up on this back to hit it, and when I’m on the ground it’s too high up to reach easily.  I manage to hit it a few times from high elevation, with bombs, and with jump strikes, but take a lot of damage during the fight, and basically get the crap kicked out of me by the Talus.  I eat a meal and recover my hearts, press on, and eventually manage to connect with a blow and take it down.  It drops mostly amber.

While I’m looking for the 2nd to the last of the Stone Tablet locations, it gets dark and I spot a shooting star! I am in the middle of a fight with some lizals, but manage to kill the three of them very quickly, and spot the star fragment’s beacon and get a pretty good mark for it on my sheikah scope.  There’s a shrine near it, so I transport out that way, then climb a bit to reconnoiter and re-establish a heading to the fragment.  I manage to pick it up, and it’s not far from the spot I marked on the map, only a little bit further.  I run up to grab it, and a moblin stalfos pops out of the ground just behind it.  I run up quickly and grab the fragment before anything can happen to it, and then take down the moblin stalfos.

I return back to the Ancient Tablet quest, transporting to Vah Ruto and find the two remaining tablets. Jiahto gives me a diamond as a reward.  Along the way, I’ve managed to find a total of 8 new korok seeds.  When I find 10, I can add a shield slot to my inventory.

I return to the Great Fairy by Kakariko to see what else I can get upgraded.  I take the Barbarian armor leg wraps up to the next level.  Now the Barbarian helmet and pants are both one level short of maxed.  I max out the Zora armor helmet, all with stuff I have in inventory already, so no new material quests for it, yay.  And I upgrade the Diamond Circlet to max, using the star fragment.

Now the only things I need are Dinraal (3) and Naydra horn (2), and 4 Ancient Cores, and I think I’m all done.

I never did buy the cold weather armor from Rito village, but I don’t actually need to; I always did fine with the Warm Doublet, Snow Shoes, and Ruby Circlet in the cold regions, and just didn’t get into very many fights where I needed to rely on armor.  I guess if I had an extra 3-4,000 rupees I’d buy it just for the sake of having it, and then I’d have to max it out as well.  

The only other thing I can think of that I could spend rupees on is sheikah slate album images, and there’s probably a good 20-30k worth of those yet for me to buy, which will probably take a while, but maybe once I finish with my equipment upgrades, I will be able to cash out most of the forage materials and turn it into close to that much money.

I guess once I get done doing all that, I’ll take on Ganon and finish the game.  It’s been several months, and I’ve enjoyed it.

I check my user account profile on the Switch, and see that I’ve logged 280 hours of game play by now.  I’ve definitely taken my time with beating this game, I have not been trying to get through it quickly, and have been trying to find as much as I can, experiment with the game, and see everything that it has to offer.  If I had wanted to complete it quickly, I probably could have, although I probably would have had to focus on learning how to fight more effectively, as I would have needed to take a lot less heart containers and a lot less powerful armor and weapons into the final battle with Ganon.

Then again, I’m not sure if I would have been able to run through the game much faster than I did, unless I resorted to following a walkthrough. The game really did not lead me in any one direction or tell me what I should be doing, and just let me do whatever I felt like doing with no urgency or push to complete anything in particular, which meant that in order to make progress in the game I really had to explore each region that I went through pretty thoroughly, just looking for clues about what I could/should be doing there.

Doing that would have really spoiled the game for me, and I’m glad I didn’t.  Figuring out how to do everything myself was much more rewarding.  The game is not hard-core difficult, in terms of hand-eye coordination, so most of the enjoyment that I get out of the game is from exploring and figuring out puzzles.  The combat system, while honestly pretty good, isn’t the main draw for me — although, I do imagine that if/when I go back and try playing any of the 3-D Zelda titles that came out after Ocarina of Time, I’ll really appreciate how good the BOTW combat engine is compared to previous installations in the franchise.

I did have times where I felt challenged in combat, rather than completely outclassed, but mainly it was due to not knowing how to fight a boss effectively, or not knowing the controls well enough to know what to do/how to do it.  I’m still not terribly great at exploiting the combat engine with special moves and combos, but with everything powered up to near max, I’ve had a rather easy time with most fights, lately.  My weapons and armor are just so powerful compared to the challenge level of the lizals, moblins, and bokoblins I run into.  Yiga Bowmen and Swordsmen are more a nuisance than a challenge, since they always need to be dealt with.  The skeleton versions of these enemies are much less challenging, due to having far less hitpoints.  The “special” monsters like the Stone Talus, Hinox, and Muldoga are easy to defeat once you know their behavior and what works on them.  The piddly enemies like the chuchus, kees, baby stone talus, and wolves are so low-challenge they barely rate mention, and mostly feel like filler, intended to get me to press buttons a bit more.  I don’t mind that they start out easy to fight, beginning players need something after all to learn on.  But I wish that they got more interesting the deeper into the game I got.  But they have a very shallow set of tactics and never vary in how they behave.

Lynels still give me a challenge, but that’s really about it. And with them it’s all a matter of having a good fight.  If I can hit my headshots with the bow, it’s a good fight, and if I can’t, they kick my ass and I spam my way through the encounter by leaning heavily on my healing meals. 

Everything other than Lynels, I can lazily brute-force my way through, if I want to, although I generally at least try to pull off a fancy move and use my shield and target focus.  But I don’t use most of the other moves — the parrying, the quick dodge are things that I just can’t seem to figure out the timing/positioning for, and never get them to happen accidentally.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (82)

There’s two things that I’ve noticed about Breath of the Wild as I’ve played through most of it so far.

One is that my multi-shot bows seem to consume multiple arrows per shot, contrary to what I’ve read.  When I pull one out to use against my toughest foes, I find myself going through half my arrows after the fight is done.  I expect that there must have been a patch that decided to nerf the multi-shot bows by having them consume ammo at 2-5x the usual rate, and I’m sad about it.  I can’t complain that it’s not fair, but everything I’ve been able to find in writing about multi-shot bows says that they “curiously” only take one arrow from inventory per shot, as though they magically multiply in flight.

As a result I’ve been consuming a whole lot of arrows as I’ve been going into combat with Lynels using the Savage Lynel Bows, for the extra damage they deal, and since the Lynels I’m fighting generally drop a multi-shot bow, it’s not like I’m going to run out of the things.  But as they consume arrows at such a rate, it’s a worse option than I’d hoped it would be based on everything I’d read about them.

Two: I think it’s cool that boomerangs are in the game, and I think it’s interesting that they’re basically melee weapons that are a little more interesting to throw at enemies.  In the original LoZ, of course, the boomerang was basically Link’s main secondary weapon through most of the game.  In LoZ it had a multitude of uses, from being able to grab items at a distance to stunning many of Link’s enemies to killing the very weak ones.  It wasn’t the most powerful secondary weapon — the magic wand, bow, and bombs all had more power, but its usefulness at grabbing items at a distance and stunning enemies made it highly advantageous to keep equipped most of the time.  And of course, bombs and the bow had finite ammo, while the boomerang was infinitely reusable.  

In Breath of the Wild, though, there’s basically no additional uses for boomerangs outside of combat, and they’re not even particularly good at returning to the hand when thrown.  They drop to the ground when they hit something (admittedly this is realistic, which probably befits the greater realism in the 3-D Zelda games) and they’re not automatic catches when they do return to you. 

As well, when they’re in flight, you don’t have a melee weapon to fall back on, leaving you a bit vulnerable for close-in enemies.  And you can’t easily throw in any direction, as you could in LoZ.  It was often the case that I’d sword in front of me, while shooting the boomerang in a different direction, to deal with an enemy threatening me from the flank or behind or whatever.  In BOTW, I hardly ever throw a weapon, because mostly I miss with them and disarm myself, and when I don’t I often break the weapon.  It’s supposed to be advantageous to throw badly damaged weapons, as they do double damage when they break on their final hit.  But I basically never bother with this move, as when I’ve tried I’ve almost always missed, and ended up leaving myself defenseless and open to a counter-attack, and end up taking more damage, and losing a weapon.

But wouldn’t it have been fun if there had been a few boomerang-specific challenges, perhaps shrine puzzles that you could solve by a carefully aimed boomerang toss, using the curved path of its flight to pass through multiple rings or hit multiple targets, or perhaps to retrieve items that are out of reach.

It’s not a major disappointment, or anything, just an observance of a missed opportunity to have a callback to the classic game.

Back to the adventure…

I am still working on maxing out all my clothing upgrades, and this time I decide to try to obtain the Swift Violets that I need to upgrade my snow and sand boots.  I know they grow on mountainsides, and with all the climbing I’ve done, you’d think I’d have a bunch, but I always prioritized making it to the top of whatever I was climbing to over collecting the stuff that grows on the way up.

I look up the best places to find Swift Violets, and apparently they are plentiful in the highlands on the east end of Gerudo. I transport out there to a nearby shrine, and set my Sheikah sensor to detect them — one of the few times I’ve actually made use of this capability.  Before too long, my sensor is pinging, and it’s still a bit of a trick to find them, because you never know whether they’re above or below, and when they’re below they’re especially hard to spot due to the limitations of the camera system, you can’t lean way out over the edge in order to look down and get a clear view of the cliff face.

Eventually, though, after much walking about and climbing, I manage to get my inventory up to 15 Violets, which is what I need for my next upgrade.  I might need more, but for now this is good.

I’m nearby the low-lying desert valley/canyon where there are two Lynels on patrol, and I do need a few more Lynel hoofs and horns for Barbarian armor suit upgrades, so I go find the Silver Lynel nearest the south end of the valley, and pick a fight with him. 

He is terrible!  I am still barely a match for this one, the silvers are very powerful.  This one wields a massive club which any time it connects with me, drops my health by about half, even while wearing good armor.  He fires lightning arrows, which I counter by donning my rubber armor suit, to protect me against the shock damage and from dropping my equipment. 

He is fast, and the ground is a bit uneven, which makes targeting him for headshots with the bow tricky.  This is my favored method of fighting Lynels — stun them with an arrow to the head, and then hit them a few times, mount them, hit them a few more times, and as you’re thrown free, hit them a few more times with mid-air arrows, ideally for additional headshots.  My aim and timing are poor this time, and he hits me again and again, knocking me reeling, and I take so much time getting back to my feet that he’s back on me just as soon as I’m getting ready to face his direction so I can try to get off another shot.  About half the time he hits me before I’m ready, or just as I’m about to get a shot lined up.  I end up wasting about 5-6 durian fruit meals, and use up nearly all my arrows, but I do bring him down, finally.  

He drops some horns and hoofs, and I hope it’ll be enough to upgrade something, but I’m probably going to need to fight 1-2 more Lynels at the very least before I can max out the Barbarian suit.  The club he drops is a Savage Lynel Club, and it’s the most powerful weapon I’ve seen yet, with an attack rating of 78, which is 4 better than my Ancient Battle Axe++.  No wonder it hit so hard.

I transport to Kakariko village — my Sheikah slate photo album says that Swift carrots are found there, and I don’t know that they’re found anywhere else.  I know I can buy them from the store, so I just go there.  I don’t really know my way around Kakariko village all that well, despite having been there countless times. I always get turned around, the buildings all look a like, and I get disoriented easily.  So it takes me about a day and a half of wandering just to find where the damn carrots are grown, and then I find the shop that sells them.  I probably checked every building 2-3 times but the right one before I finally found it.  

I buy my carrots, I need 10, I can afford them, good.  While I’m looking for the carrots, I enter a small house, where I talk to a young woman who tells me that they wish they could see fireflies, which opens a sidequest I never discovered in all my previous visits. 

This one’s easy; I have a bunch of fireflies in my inventory, so I talk to the woman again, and she wishes she could see them.  I guess I’m not just supposed to give them to her, as you do in so many other similar quests for people who are asking for stuff.  So I take them out of my inventory and hold them, then release them into the room of her house. 

She’s happy and gives me 50 rupees, and says that she wishes someone named Claree, who I assume lives in the village — I don’t pay that close attention to names half the time — would probably love to see a picture of this, so I take a snapshot with the Sheikah Slate camera, just in case that’s something I need to do. 

Later, I find that Claree is the girl behind the counter at the clothing store in the village, but I can’t seem to talk to her about the fireflies.  I guess this person who I gave the fireflies to is the girl who normally stands outside the store during the day to bring in customers; at night she stays at this small house that’s set far back away from the road, and I’d never been inside it before, at least not at night when she’s there to kick off the firefly quest.  I don’t know if Claree is ever not behind the counter, but I know the girl who manages the counter at the Hateno village inn would give a different dialog tree if you came behind the counter to talk to her; here, I can’t seem to get behind the counter to try this.  So I’m not sure what to do or if there’s just nothing more to this sidequest.

I’m about to go head up to the fairy to upgrade my clothes, when I see one of the guards has a red exclamation mark above his head, meaning I should talk to him.  He says the sheikah orb that Impa and Paya have been guarding has been stolen!

I go into Impa’s house and talk to them, and learn that it must have happened at night, but they didn’t see anything.  It’s a mystery.  I have to find out who may know anything, and try to find the thief.  There’s an old woman who acts suspicious, but it turns out that she only has been stealing swift carrots, which are her favorite food, from the garden at night.  She begs me not to tell anyone, and I’m like, whatever, have all the carrots you want.  I’m not a carrot narc.

I decide to head up the hill to where the pedestal is, figuring that there’s bound to be something going on up there that’s connected to the theft, and sure enough on the way up there I see one of the villagers up by the local Shrine (where months ago I learned some of the advanced combat techniques, then promptly forgot how to do them, never bothered to learn them, because I try to avoid melee combat as much as I can.  And upon re-visiting the shrine, it’s now cleared and empty, and I can’t re-take the challenge any longer to develop the sense of timing needed to pull off the parry and dodge moves that enable me to unleash a flurry of counter-strikes.  I’m not bitter about it or anything.)  Anyway, I talk to the guy, and he says the guard Dorian went back into the woods, but he wasn’t sure what for.

I head there, and Dorian is talking to a Yiga clan swordsman, who has been blackmailing him to work for them. It turns out Dorian used to work for the Yiga clan, but broke ties with them, and has been afraid for his family ever since then.  I have to defeat the swordsman myself — Dorian doesn’t aid in any way — I was half expecting him to, and end up being mortally wounded during the fight, redeeming himself to save me or something.  But after I defeat the swordsman, he confesses and begs me to keep his secret.  He is loyal to the village now, and swears to fight the Yiga at all costs.

He tells me that he cannot unlock the shrine using the orb, but that he believes I can, since I am the legendary hero who it was foretold could do it, and of course I can.  I put the orb into the pedestal, and a shrine appears from the ground in front of us.  There’s no challenge here, just a chest containing a Sword of Duality and a Spirit Orb. 

I now have four orbs, and can add another heart container to my life meter, which will leave me needing just one last heart container to finally fill out my meter to the maximum.  I leave the Sword of Duality behind — it’s a great two-handed sword with an attack rating of 64, but I have so many Royal Claymores that have an attack rating of 62 that I don’t have room for it, and I’m not discarding an unused Royal Claymore just to pick up an extra +2 to attack.  I’ll come back for it someday if I need to, and just leave it for the future, as I have done with so many other shrine chest weapons all over the world map.

I go to the nearby fairy, and upgrade my stuff.  I still have a few more upgrades to go, and need to get more materials in order to finish maxing out my stuff.

I need to go talk to Impa and Paya to wrap up any loose ends pertaining to the shrine quest.  Paya tells me she is glad that the sacred orb has proven helpful to me, and Impa tells me that I should go and face Ganon now, because she is not sure how much longer Zelda can hold out against him.

I want to try to farm some Naydra scales and horns, so I can complete upgrading my outfits.  I run out of Kakariko, past the Great Fairy Fountain, along the road to Lanayru, and veer to the North where the road forks, and follow the mountain ridge as far as I can towards Lanayru.  I have not been along this way before, and I find a few Korok seeds, bringing my total up to 55, which is enough to buy the last melee weapon slot for my inventory.  There’s a korok hidden under a rock at the top of a tree by a pond with a small waterfall and numerous deer grazing and wading in the water, and nearby there, I find an archery test which is one of the most difficult ones I have had to face.  Two balloons, at about maximum range for the Royal bow, arcing past each other periodically, and I have to lead them and aim my shot slightly above point of impact to arc the arrow to its mark.  It takes many arrows to get the timing and range close, but I eventually zero in close enough and manage two lucky shots to claim the prize. It probably costs me about 10 arrows to accomplish this, leaving me with only about 20 left. Which, is actually a lot of arrows if you had to carry them around in real life, but at the rate I go through them, it’s not much.

After I win this seed, I see Kass the birdman off in the distance, playing his accordion, which is just faintly audible in the distance.  I make a point to come back to him later. Right now I am focused on Naydra.

I also happen across a slumbering blue Hinox along the way, and needing some Hinox parts, take the opportunity to claim them. I try the stand in the hand trick, and as happens to me 2/3 of the time, the trick fails, I clip through the Hinox or slide off of him, causing him to wake up.  I just start button mashing and hit him as many times as I can with the Master Sword, and end up getting him down by 2/3 before he is even displaying his health bar, and get him all the way down before he manages even one attack.  he drops Hinox Guts, which is what I needed, and few Royal weapons: bow, halberd, broadsword; and a bunch of food and some other body parts.  I take everything I can carry, leave the rest, and move on.

At a certain point near the west end of Lanayru Bay, just past where I fought the Hinox, I notice two trees growing near each other, looking a bit like goal posts.  Earlier when I was farming Swift Violets, the first location I tried was on the east face of the Dueling Peaks, the northern peak by the Dueling Peaks stable shrine.  I didn’t have any luck following the sensor signal there, and gave up, but before I did, I summited the northern peak and observed two trees in a similar orientation, with some nearby boulders, which, when I rolled one through, revealed a korok seed.  

I look around for another such boulder, but am unable to find one.  Eventually, though, Naydral appears and flies almost directly overhead.  I launch myself off the mountain and try to fly as close to him as I can, and manage to score a hit with the bow and knock a scale loose from him.  I run to pick it up, and then run around the area looking for more korok seeds and foraging whatever else I can find while waiting for Naydra to re-appear again.

He does, and I try to get a shard of his horn, but it’s so hard to accurately gauge the range to him, and my bow doesn’t ever seem to be capable of reaching him.  No matter how close he seems, no matter how much of the screen he takes up with his immense form, I still seem to always be well out of range of the bow I’m using and my arrows fall short.  I fail to connect, and waste a bunch of arrows.  

I had just recently saved, so I restore and try again, but Naydra doesn’t show up this time for many more hours.  I don’t understand the timing of when he appears, or what triggers force him not to spawn.

I was hoping I could pick up another piece of horn, and then I could to go the Korok village to visit Hestu and max out my melee weapon inventory slots.  I wait until Naydra appears again, and get up very close to him but still only manage a scale hit, and don’t claim my piece of horn that I needed, but at least I managed to get a scale.  

Giving up for the moment, I transport to the Korok village, visit Hestu, and exchange my 55 korok seeds for my final melee weapon inventory slot, then visit the korok shop and buy out all their arrows.  For good measure, I transport to Gerudo Town and Hateno village and buy out all their arrows as well.  This only brings me up to around 50 arrows, though.  I’d like to get about 3x that many.  But it’s a start.

I finally remember about Kass.

Kass usually means something hidden nearby, and a puzzle to solve, so I go back and talk to him, and he’s standing next to a Sheikah pedestal.  He sings me a song about a forest creature with a crown of bone, who will reveal a shrine if I mount him.  Seems straightforward enough.  At first I wonder if maybe this song is in reference to the Lord of the Mountain, but I don’t think he has a crown of bone.  It seems much more likely that the song is about the local deer, who seem especially plentiful nearby, and some of whom have antlers, which sounds more like a “crown of bone” to me, although antler isn’t bone.

I try sneaking up on a deer, and just happen to glide in at one who doesn’t have antlers, but land perfectly on it, mounting it and tame it quickly.  It turns out that they are indeed ride-able.  I ride it over to the pedestal, and nothing happens.

I go find a deer with antlers, and do the same thing, and this solves the puzzle.  A shrine rumbles forth out of the ground, and I enter. 

This one has a puzzle.  There’s a switch, which can be triggered by hitting it, which when triggered causes a block to rotate around a circle.  I need to ride the block around the circle, stopping to open a chest, and then activate a switch, which opens the gate to the shrine master’s chamber, then get to the shrine master.

To make it complicated, there’s a pillar in the middle of the room that makes reaching the switch difficult from anywhere but the first two positions.

The solution isn’t that difficult.  There’s a metal box sitting on a platform adjacent to the switch, with a laser beam blasting it.  I use magnesis to move the block, and the laser hits the switch, triggering it.  I need the metal box in order to set it on the switch so it will hold the shrine door open so I can enter it.  I place the metal box on the floor switch, and the shrine opens.  I go back to the hit-activated switch, and I lay a square bomb next to it.  I stand on the rotating platform, and hit the laser block with time-stop, which interrupts the laser beam.  When the time-stop wears off, the beam fires again, triggering the switch, and I rotate to the platform where I can open the chest.  I get a Great Thunderblade.  Next, I fire an arrow at the switch, which is an easy shot from this position, and the moving platform rotates to the next station, where I would need to activate the floor switch to open the shrine gate if I hadn’t already done so with the metal box.  I just need to activate the hit-activated switch one more time to move the platform I’m standing on to the final position.  To accomplish this, I detonate the square bomb, which triggers the switch a final time, rotating the block I’m standing on into position in front of the shrine master’s chamber, and I’m able to walk right in.  Easy.

I claim my Spirit Orb and leave.  I return to Kakariko village and pray at the goddess statue, and receive my 2nd to last heart container.  I visit the Great Fairy and take note of all the stuff I still need to get to finish upgrading my gear:

  • 1 Star Fragment
  • 2 Naydral’s Horn
  • 1 Dinraal’s Horn
  • 4 Lynel Hoof (I have 3 already, need one more)
  • 5 Ancient Core (I have 1, need 4 more)
  • 30 Swift Violets (I have 2, need 28).

The swift violets are easy, just time consuming.  The Lynel Hoof is not hard.  The dragon pieces are proving very difficult for me to harvest.  I guess I need to obtain a good long-range bow.  The powerful Royal and Lynel bows do a lot of damage, but only have a short range, and what I need for this is speed, range, and accuracy.  Damage is not particularly relevant.  The Star Fragment and Ancient Cores are pretty rare.  I can just kill Guardians until they drop enough Ancient Cores, but that may take a lot of encounters.  I don’t know how frequently they drop, but I don’t think it’s as often as one per Guardian.  But I’ve gotten pretty good at fighting them, and the Master Sword doesn’t break, so I can mine the Ancient Cores for basically free, not counting the cost of labor.  The Star Fragment will require a lot of patience and/or luck, but fortunately I only need one, and since I’ve seen at least one drop as Lynel loot, maybe I can get lucky with my next Lynel kill and get one that way.

If I can find another 10 korok seeds along the way, I can expand my shield inventory further.  I’m not that worried about it, but if I can do it, I will.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (81)

I need one more Hinox Guts for my armor upgrade materials, so I go out to the one by the jungle, and kill him, but he doesn’t drop any guts.  I pick up a few Hearty Durian fruits, so I can cook them up later for healing meals, as I’m down to only about 5 or so left after fighting the Lynels last time.

I still need to find a Hinox, and I know there’s one nearby Zora’s Domain who shouldn’t be hard to kill.  I also have a sidequest or two left from Zora’s Domain, so I decide to go out that way.  I transport to the shrine there, and the one quest I have remaining is the Ceremonial Song.  A little girl is singing a song by Mipha’s statue, about a waterfall and a “scale of light”. She mentions a Zora named Trello, who I find, and who tells me that he’s lost a ceremonial copy of Mipha’s trident in the waters beneath the bridge below.

I drop down and find the trident, and pull it out of the water using magnesis and cryonis.  I take it back to Trello and show it to him, and he says to keep it, and mentions the song that the girl by the statue sings, and says there might be something more to the lyrics.

The lyrics confuse me, mentioning a “scale of light”, and the falls that I’m supposed to present it at are a nearby waterfall called Veiled Falls on the map.  I hike out there, it’s only a very short distance out of the Zora city center. In the pool below the falls, there’s a sheikah pedestal, like I’ve seen many times before, which is key to opening a shrine.

I have a few Farosh scales in my inventory, so I try dropping one on the pedestal, and nothing happens. I guess it must be one of the other dragon scales, then.  Since Naydra seems to home around Mount Lanayru, and is the nearest one, I guess I’m supposed to get one of its scales.

I transport to Mount Lanayru and wait around for Naydra to appear, hoping I can get near enough to shoot it and get a scale.  I read that a good place to stand is on the south side of Lanayru Bay, along the north slope of the mountain.  I go there, and it’s not long before Naydra shows up.  I manage to hit him once with an arrow, and he sheds a scale, which falls all the way to the north side of the bay, landing in the shallows.

So I have to climb the mountain and gain altitude enough to glide across the water to land nearby.  I manage to do this, and retrieve the scale, and then transport back to Zora’s Domain, walk to the falls, and drop it and… nothing happens.

Puzzled, I wonder about what else I might need to do.  I try equipping the trident, since that obviously has something to do with the puzzle.  Still nothing happens.  I try using the trident to strike the scale, and it flies off the pedestal and slides into the waterfall.  I swim over and retrieve it.

Now I’m stuck.  I don’t have any Dinraal’s Scales, so I can’t test with it unless I manage to get one.  That’s going to take time, and I still don’t even know if it’ll work, and it seems unlikely, given that Dinraal is a firey dragon and the song mentions a “scale of light” and not a “scale of fire”.  And it seems to me that fire would not be a good match for a water culture.  Plus Dinraal is from way far away from here.  So all the clues point away from that being a solution.

I think about what else in the game has scales.  There’s fish.  I have plenty of fish in my ingredients inventory, but not any individual fish scales.  There’s also Lizals, and I have a lot of Lizal parts, but none of them are scales either.  There’s tails, which I guess have scales on them.  But that also seems like a potential solution to a puzzle that is a bit too far removed to be a good enough fit to be a likely solution.

Unclear on how to proceed, I decide to look up the solution on the web, rather than spend all night trying to figure it out.  The solution is simple; I just need to do a mid-air attack with the zora spear into the pedestal.  I can’t trigger it by jump-attacking, I have to get higher than that, so shooting up the falls with the zora armor, and then glide down, and toward the bottom of the glide, do the attack, and I drive the trident straight down into the pedestal, which unlocks the shrine.

I go inside, and there’s no challenge, just a chest with 100 rupees and a spirit orb.

I now have 3 spirit orbs in inventory, so there must be just 5 shrines left.  My next shrine will give me the spirit orb to complete my penultimate heart container.

I walk on down to the Hinox who sleeps near Zora’s Domain, wake him up, murder him, and go to the fairy near Kakariko village to get my final upgrade for my Fireproof armor suit.  

Now it’s time to finish up the Barbarian armor suit, which requires more Lynel parts. I know of a Lynel who I haven’t faced down with yet, and decide to head to the Colosseum-like ruins located just north of the Great Plateau. I transport to the nearby stable and run the rest of the way on foot.  Along the way, I keep encountering Yiga swordsmen, bowmen, and thieves (the ones who wield the circular spiked weapon.  I’m wearing good armor so they do not hurt me much at all, but they are an annoying nuisance when I’m trying to just make progress down the road.  You can’t run away from them very easily, because they can teleport right back in front of you again.  I also kill some bokoblins who are harassing Hylian travelers, on two separate occasions. These are pre-scripted encounters that I have run through before, so nothing new happens with them.

I finally get to the stadium, and while wearing my Ancient Armor and Greaves, along with my Lynel Mask, I walk in.  The Lynel doesn’t seem to be fooled for very long at all as I approach, and it doesn’t buy me any opportunity to get close in and deal a sneak attack or anything.  Maybe it allows me to run past a Lynel at a slightly closer distance without them getting aggressive, but it doesn’t seem to be much of a mask.  I forget to take it of and switch to better armor for my head piece, but the Ancient armor pieces I have on are fully powered up, and protect me quite well against the Lynel.

The Lynel wields a flame sword, and shoots lightning arrows, and does his usual charge attacks, fire breathing attack, and fierce roar attacks, which damage me enough to make me eat one Durian fruit meal for a re-charge, but he manages to miss me quite a bit with his attacks, and when he does hit they don’t do a lot of damage.  The Ancient armor set is pretty good.

I wear the lynel down and manage to headshot him with the bow more often than not, which allows me to mount and do extra hits, which add up quickly.  As well, during my dismounts, I master the art of camera direction, which enables me to be flying through the air while facing the lynel’s backside, which allows me to get off my mid-air arrow shot much faster, which in turn enables me to get off 3-4 shots while I’m in the air in slow-motion, and with a multi-shot bow, nailing headshots, those add up pretty quickly.

After defeating the Lynel I go through the rest of the stadium to explore and loot.  In the outer ring of the building, I discover numerous well-outfitted bokbolins, lizalfos, and moblins, on each tier, waiting for me to come up and fight them.  They’re equipped with flame, ice, and electric weapons, making this stadium a good place to go to get all your elemental weapons if that’s what you want in your inventory.

I defeat the monsters, but mostly leave their weapon drops behind, other than when I break something and need to fill a slot with a replacement.

On the top of the outer wall of the stadium, I find a hidden treasure chest, which contains an amber gem, and then I climb a bit up into the hillside that the stadium seems to have been built into.  Or maybe there was a landslide which covered one side of the stadium.  It seems weird that they would build a structure like this into the side of a hill.  At any rate, not much up there, but I do find a korok seed.

I’m now up to 46 seeds in my inventory, so I go back to the Korok village to see if Hestu can upgrade my weapons carrying capacity any more yet.  But he needs 55 more seeds to max out my weapons slots, and only 10 more for another shield slot.  But I don’t really need another shield slot, and would rather save up for another weapon slot, if I can manage to find another 9 koroks in the world that I haven’t discovered yet.  I’m sure more are out there.

I transport back to my home in Hateno village and look at my weapons racks, and while most of the stuff I have stored on them is high end, it’s not as good as what I’m considering my weak end of my current inventory.  So I rotate out the stuff on my walls and put up nicer stuff that I have extra of.  Royal class weapons instead of Knight class.

I guess there’s only a few things left in the world for me to do now:

  1. Fight a few more lynels and finish upgrading the Barbarian armor suit.
  2. Eventide Island challenge
  3. Find the last of my memory photo spots, somewhere in Hyrule Castle.
  4. Four more shrines to find (in addition to Eventide island), most likely in Central Hyrule in the vicinity of Hyrule Castle, I’d guess, as that’s the area on the map where I’ve ventured the least a this point. Otherwise I have no idea where they are.
  5. Finish up the weapon connoisseur side quest in Hateno village, if I ever acquire an Ancient short sword.
  6. The stable quest for the guy who wants recipes for royal Hylian cuisine.
  7. Fight Ganon and beat the game.

After that, there’s still the DLC packs that I haven’t touched yet, but likely will.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (80)

Back to farming and foraging for materials to upgrade my armor.  I need Hinox and Lynel parts most, plus I also need a bunch of Hightail lizards and Swift Violets.  I also need some rare stuff like Ancient Cores and Star fragments.  And I need a Dinraal’s scale, and one more Farosh’s horn.

I transport out to Eldin and fight the Lynel out by the Leviathan skeleton.  I screw up the first two attempts at this fight and restore from my save point.  The third time it goes well.  I nail the lynel in the face with arrows, mount him, and hit him 5 times, get thrown off, hit him in the back of the head a few times with more arrows on the way down, and repeat.  I manage about 3-4 cycles of this, and then mess up the timing once and he gets me for a good hit, I have to eat and replenish, and then he does it again, and I have to take another meal to replenish.  But after that I recover and take him down.  

The Lynel drops a strar fragment (!),  and his usual compliment of top tier weapons, about 20 lightning arrows, and the usual hoofs, guts, and horns.

I notice a stone circle nearby this Lynel’s patrol area, and find another korork seed here.  

Then Dinraal the dragon makes his appearance, and I manage to collect my scale this time. 

After picking up the scale, a Blood Moon occurs, and I get to fight the Lynel again.  This time I fight him just about as well as the first time, maybe a little worse, but 2-3 meals to replenish my life meter after my mistakes, and I win.

I transport out to the shrine near the fairy by Tarrey Town, visit the Fairy, and upgrade my clothes, boosting one of my Barbarian Armor pieces and my Ancient Greaves.  

Then I head to Tarreytown and buy out their arrow shop.  It’s late at night, and down below at the lake’s bank, I see that Fang And Bone is open below.  I have a bunch more monster parts that i can exchange for Mon, and so I do so, and get enough to buy myself the rest of the Dark Link outfit, as well as a Lynel Mask, and a Lizal mask, and then I’m down to not enough Mon to buy anything.  

I’m not really sure that I have a lot of interest in the rest of the stuff that Kilton has for sale, but there are the boko and moblin masks left, some horse gear, monster elixir, and a spring loaded hammer.  But I have very little practical need for any of this stuff, and would only be buying it out of curiosity to see what it does, and this late in the game most likely whatever it does will be disappointing.

I transport up to the shrine near East Akkala Stables, and take a short walk West to the Spring of Power, where I make an offering of Dinraal’s scale, to reveal the shrine here.  This shrine, unlike the other shrines in the game that you reveal by completing shrine quests, has an actual challenge inside:  a Major Test of Strength. 

I arm myself, and step forward to do battle with the shrine guardian.  With the Savage Lynel Sword that I took from the Lynel I just defeated, plus a Guardian shield and shock arrows, this fight goes pretty quickly.  I manage to break the Lynel Sword, but I don’t take more than a heart and a half of damage from this guardian, which is awesome.  

The guardian drops another shield, an axe or spear (I forget), and sword, so I pick up what I can that is worthwhile for my current inventory.  The shrine also has a chest with a flame spear with an attack bonus, but I don’t take it.  I get my spirit orb, and leave.

I transport back to the shrine south of Tarreytown and pray at the statue there, and receive another heart container.  Now I am just two heart containers shy of two full rows, and I still have two more spirit orbs.  I guess there are 10 shrines left in the game for me to find somewhere.

I now probably need to kill 1-2 more Lynels, 1 Hinox, and pick up two shards of Naydra’s Horn, and pick 14 Swift Violets and collect about 20 Hightail Lizards, and I’ll be maxed out.  Once I do that, all that remains uncompleted for the game apart from hundreds of still-undiscovered korok seeds, is the 10 remaining shrines, plus Ganon.

Pac Man Championship Edition NES Demake

In 2007, Pac Man creator Toru Iwatani gave me all the reason I needed to buy an XBox 360 when Namco released his farewell game, Pac Man Championship Edition.

The original Pac Man Championship Edition for XBox 360

Easily the best Pac Man game ever made, it was a fantastic modernization of the classic game which updated the design to maximize Flow, the zen-like state of consciousness sometimes called being “in the Zone”. Featuring a split maze, where completing one side spawns a prize on the opposite side, which, when eaten, refreshes the completed side, the game is perfectly set up for non-stop maze running and high score runs, where your goal is to maximize points in a timed run through a combination of eating dots, prizes, and ghosts.

I learned yesterday that a NES demake of Pac-Man CE has been released on the latest Namco Museum anthology, available on Nintendo Switch.

Graphical glitches aside, this is absolutely amazing!

The demake has actually been around for several years, and is available for download if you can find it.  You can play it in a NES emulator, or on real hardware, if you have an Everdrive. It’s implemented on MMC3 and weighs in at 257kb.

The original Pac Man CE was designed for 16:9 TV screens, while the NES is obviously engineered to display its graphics on an NTSC 4:3 display at 240i resolution. So to work around the limitations, the demake uses an ingenious programming technique to scroll the maze, using the NES’s video buffer to create an infinite horizontal wrap when you use the warp tunnels.

This is a must-play, must-own if you’re a fan of Pac Man or the NES. It’s also worth owning on the Switch. Apart from online leaderboards, it is fully featured, quite faithful to the XBox 360 original, and extremely well done.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (79)

I am looking for things to do beyond farming forage materials that I need to upgrade my various armor suits, but not things that are directly related to finishing the main quest to defeat Ganon today.

I think about taking on the Eventide Island challenge and getting that crossed off my list, finally, but I don’t feel like it today. 

Instead, I try transporting to Gerudo and see if I can get the sidequest completed for the little girl, Dalia, who wants to start an orchard but can’t due to the garbage in the water.  I go there, and it’s daytime, so Dalia is out, and she has new things to say to me when I talk to her this time.  After talking to her, I climb up on the walls and talk to Calyban, the Gerudo vai who is eating melons all day long, and she is still rude and doesn’t want to be bothered at first, but I tell her about Dalia’s problem, and she feels a bit guilty, and offers to quit polluting the water with her melon rinds if I bring her some wild berries.  I happen to have the 10 berries she needs in my inventory already, so I just talk to her again and give them to her.  She takes them, and apologizes, then goes to help Dalia clean up the garbage.  After this, I talk to Dalia and she is happy and starting to plant wildberry plants, because Calyban gave her the berries that I gave her.  

This completes the quest, and so I go to visit Riju, to see if I’ve solved all of Gerudo Town’s problems yet, so I can borrow the Thunder Helm. But apparently there is still more for me to do in this town, only I don’t know what else there is.  I go around and talk to everyone I can find, and don’t pick up any new leads.

I’m puzzled by this, but perhaps it’s one of those things where it depends on what time of day it is.  Several of the Gerudo I speak to do seem to have problems but non starts a quest.  There’s a vai who complains that she has a headache, and another one who I keep interrupting when I go to her house and she’s practicing talking to men in her bedroom, and gets embarrassed that I’ve seen her doing this. I’d help her out if I could, and I’ve met a few Hylian fellows who are looking to score with some Gerudo hotties, but nothing ever seems to come out of these conversations.  I guess Link is just not in the matchmaking business.

There’s the old woman who sits by the goddess statue and likes to talk and tell me about how she traveled all over Hyrule looking for the heart-shaped lake where you’re supposed to meet your true love.  I go back to the tavern, and the women who you can eavesdrop on are talking about one of their friends who went out by this lake; I’ve already helped her hook up with a Hylian dude, a long time ago, but hearing them talk makes me think maybe I should go back out there and see if there’s anything new going on with them.  I do so, and there’s nothing new going on with them at all.  

So… I dunno.  Somewhere in Gerudo Town there’s someone, at least one more someone, with a problem that I’m supposed to solve, and I guess I’ll find them someday, or not.

Since I’m way the heck out east now, I think about what else I could do.  I’m near the coastline, and I am in need of Hightail lizards, for my armor upgrades.  I forget which suit I need these for, maybe the climbing gear, I forget.  But I need a bunch.  I recall that there seemed to be many lizards along the shoreline on the beach, so I go for a very long walk down the southern coast of Hyrule, and find a couple of the lizards, but only about 3 Hightails.  I also find numerous crabs, and maybe a half dozen korok seeds that I hadn’t found on my first pass through the area.  In Faron I run into another stalnox, the skeletal Hinox who sleep during the day as a pile of giant bones, and then wake up at night, and defeat it, earning a Great Flameblade, which I swap out for my old Great Flameblade, which was probably starting to get close to being badly damaged anyway.  I mine ore wherever I find it along the way, and kill lots of lizalfos, and bokoblin skeletons, keese, and chuchus who harass me along the way, a few bokoblins on horseback, a couple of Yiga bowmen, a Stone Talus, and a Guardian on the beach, who drops an Ancient Core, which is another item that I need.  I think I need at least 6-8 Ancient Cores, though, and it’s going to take a long time at this rate to get that many.

A little bit further on down the beach past where I fought the Guardian, I come across a Hylian woman on the beach who is caressing a Sheikah orb like it’s her favorite thing in the world.  She is calling it Roscoe, and seems off her rocker.  I try to talk to her; there’s a nearby shrine pedestal, where I know if I put the orb in it, I will reveal a new shrine that I can clear, but she won’t let go of the orb until I show her four photos of guardians.  

That’s going to take a lot of work to track down the different types of Guardians that she wants to see, but I’ll make an effort to do it when I run into them.  

I continue along the beach still further, and come to a river channel that leads inland to where Lake Tower is.  I follow the river, along the east bank, and find a few more korok seeds.  This is an area I hadn’t really been through previously.  I also find yet another stalnox skeleton, but it’s day time and so inert; this is the third Stalnox I’ve discovered now in the game.

I explore around the area and find some treasure chests, and get some more rupees and gems out of them.  Then I see a few horses, and one of them looks like a good one, so I tame it and ride it to the nearest stable, which is Highland Stable to the southeast.  I get there and try to register it, but it’s not as good as my horses that I already have, so I don’t bother.

I still need a bunch of Hightail lizards and have a new sidequest to photograph Guardians, so I continue on with those objectives.

I guess I’ll take on the Guardian photo safari first, since I know where I can find at least two of the types of Guardians that the weird woman wanted to see.

I transport out to the Akkala Maze and photograph the flying Guardian and walking guardian there.  Then I transport to a shrine where there’s a combat trial and photograph the guardian there, and warp out back to the nearest shrine to where I met the weird Hylian Girl, and run over, show her the photos, and she gives me “Roscoe” and I unlock the shrine.  There is no trial here, I just get a spirit orb and a chest.

Next, I decide to return to Gerudo. There’s one more place I didn’t check in Gerudo for more sidequests: the military training academy.  I go there, and sure enough there’s a quest for me.  Barta (I think she’s the one who I rescued from the Yiga Clan when I went to recover the Thunder Helm) has gone missing (again); this time she was last seen by the Leviathan skeleton out in the desert.  I transport to the shrine there, and find her.  She is exhausted and near death, and her last request is to taste a Hearty Durian one last time.  I give her one from my inventory, and it heals her (of course) and she’s fine again. I tell her the royal Gerudo Guard is looking for her, and she returns home.  Mission accomplished. 

I talk to Riju, and she agrees to let me borrow the Thunder Helm.  It is a bit underwhelming:  3 defensive rating, and cannot be enhanced, and immunity to lightning. But it doesn’t seem to work — I still take damage from lightning strikes, Farosh, and other elemental attacks, but I guess it doesn’t cause me to drop my weapon.  But it doesn’t repel lightning to being attracted to me if I’m holding anything metal, and the lightning still does damage.  Maybe (probably?) not extra damage for being elementally vulnerable due to holding metal, but WTF, the dang helmet created a huge bubble of lightning repulsion when we went up against Vah Naboris, so come on!  I think the Thunder Helm is a huge disappointment, and would just give it back to Riju, as it’s worse than just wearing the complete Rubber Suit from what I can tell.

I spend the rest of the session running around the desert, looking for Yellow Lizalfos to kill for their tails; I need a total of 20 in order to max out the remaining pieces of the Rubber Suit.  It takes hours, but I eventually manage to get all the Yellow tails I need. With all the practice, I get pretty good at taking down Lizalfos when I’m prepared for them.  They like to lie dormant, and camouflage themselves, but you can easily see them, due to their shape.  I just run up and toss a bomb at them, blow them away, and run up, and ready another bomb as soon as I can, and keep hitting them with it, knocking them around, stunning them, causing them to drop their weapon.   If they get too close to me to use the bomb on them, I whip out my weapon and hit them 3-4 times, and when they go down, I run right over and hit them 2-3 times extra while they’re down.  Depending on the strength of my weapon, and the toughness of the particular Lizalfos, they don’t last very long, and I keep them stun-locked to where they can’t manage much if any counter-attack.

I also found a great many chests in the desert as well.  And one additional shrine, out in the western part of the Gerudo Desert barrens, there’s a set of four stone braziers in a square; I lit them all with my great fireblade, and a shrine appeared.  This one had a minor test of strength trial, and I defeated this guardian easily, loosing only 1 1/2 hearts.  The Ancient Armor really helps protect you from them, and the Master Sword apparently does extra damage to them as well.  Plus, I’m just getting better at learning how to exploit their weaknesses though tactics.

While exploring the desert, I find three more swift violets, which means I have enough to enhance to maximum one of my two pieces of climbing gear that still needs to be enhanced.

I have enough spirit orbs to add another Heart Container to my life bar, and that will leave me two short of two rows of hearts, which is the maximum you can  have.  I think there’s now fewer than 10 shrines left in the game for me to discover, and I know where two of them are.  The rest are likely somewhere in Central Hyrule, near Hyrule Castle, or else very well hidden elsewhere.  There’s so much territory in the world map that it’s easy to completely miss an area, but I’m starting to feel like I’ve been just about everywhere.  I know there’s still some places that I have only barely explored, but they’re no longer entire regions, and are more like small sub-areas where natural boundaries channeled me into other areas of the map that I explored instead when I first came through the region.