Review By: Mirko Fina
Did you ever get lost in a foreign city to the point that you don’t have the slightest idea as how to move on? At harsh times like this, detailed and easy-to-use guidebooks might come in handy and could probably save the day, your day.
This is pretty much the same thing when talking about video games that you got stuck in. In the vast and dark ocean of disorientation one may either try to navigate by reading the stars (the internet) or by looking out for lighthouses in the distance (strategy guides). Believe me when I tell you that a Piggyback strategy guide is known to be one hell of a light house!
Light at the end of the tunnel
As for today I have two of the most recent (and looked-for) copies of Piggyback’s official strategy guides, The Legend of Zelda – The Windmaker and Kingdom Hearts to write about. Both guides come in at the standard A4- paperback format, which is necessary in order to keep text readable, and have pictures not too small of a size.
Furthermore they are split up into 5 (Zelda) or 6 chapters (Kingdom Hearts). Due to the high number of characters playable in Kingdom Hearts, its guide features an exclusive information chapter at the beginning – a short description of the main characters and NPCs, enriched by adding colourful sidefilling images, as well as close ups.
The remaining chapters are the same with both guides:
1. How to play
You will be introduced to the game’s controls (basic actions, such as walking as well as more advanced ones, like performing the dodge-counter attack), the Screen Displays, and the handling of ingame menus. Since the Fighting System in Kingdom Hearts is a little more complex, it is obvious that it takes some more pages to explain all aspects of gameplay.
The exclusive thing about this guide is that next to simply explaining HOW to handle the game it also succeeds in describing WHY and WHEN one has to make use of the different skills.
Zelda’s walktrough is subdivided into 20 sections (19 in Kingdom Hearts), starting from a general introduction on how to use the walkthrough (f.e. how to read and understand the gridmap) and ending with the final stage, Ganon Palace.
To do and Can do lists, general battle advices and boss strategies help a lot in order to advance at a decent pace, by drawing a clear line between necessary and (currently) unecessary tasks.
This guide’s strong point is the specially designed area-maps, for they provide both, a general overview of the whole area, and the locations of hidden items – very useful indeed!
In here you will find every single item listed and described. The GBA Tingle feature will also be explained in this section.
Kingdom Hearts’ guide features detailed lists and information about weapons, equipment, and general items as well as a shopping guide (Cid’s shop in Traverse Town) and an essay on Moogle Synthesis items.
Basically like in the Items chapter, all enemies are introduced alphabetically, featuring individual battle hints, stealable items and vulnerable points (Kingdom Hearts)
If there is something The Windwaker and Kingdom Hearts have in common, it’s the incredible amount of secrets, hidden items and subquest to be found and explored during the game.
Be it Kingdom Hearts’ 100 Acre wood and secret bosses or Zelda’s everlasting treasure hunt and heart pieces quest – there is absolutely nothing that is not written in there, which is, honestly, quite an awesome fact!
With the proper use of these guides you can easily reduce both, time wasted by wandering around aimlessly and unsuccessful, and the consequently resulting frustration.
Simple and clean
Piggyback’s design section succeeded in capturing the atmosphere of the different games by using a clever mix of colours (mainly earthy shading in Zelda, and cool blue shading in Kingdom Hearts), high quality character sketches and high-resolution screenshots (f.e. some really beautiful pictures of Kingdom Hearts' CGI-intro). Altough it’s not an artbook in the sense of the word, it has the touch of being an exclusive piece of work, something not just a bit above the average.
Summing it all up, Piggyback once again sets an example of how high quality strategy guides should look like. For beginners, but also for those who have already finished the games, the huge amount of information will make it possible to dive even deeper into Link’s or Sora’s world.