“Hyrule Warriors is exactly what you think it is – an odd genre mash-up that works perfectly for its scope.”
Platform(s): Wii U
Release Date: September 26, 2014
Developer: Omega Force, Team Ninja
If ten years ago you would have told me that there would be a Legend of Zelda meets Dynasty Warriors crossover game I would have slapped you into the next century for such blasphemy. So when it was announced that Hyrule Warriors was indeed a thing, I was a bit confused. Nintendo has always been the fretful mother hen for perhaps their most precious series. After the fiasco that was Other M, I figured they would never allow another dev/publisher to touch their IP again.
Now, I can free admit that I’ve never been all that enamored with the Dynasty Warriors series. Mostly, I’m of the same opinion about DW that our Charles Webb has about Diablo III – in that it’s a mindless game that’s great for listening to podcasts. It may seem that I’m poo-pooing the series, but I’m not. Overall they’re OK games that are fine for what they are.
“Hyrule Warriors” is a curious thing. In some ways it’s a bold move which proves that Nintendo kinda knows what they’re doing. While this will only serve to whet the appetite for those frothing fans looking forward to the next “legit” Zelda, Warriors is a solid – if mindless – entry that supplies more helpings of fan service than anything I’ve seen in a long time (Smash Bros. notwithstanding).
Team Ninja and Omega Force have their work to hush the fan-base fears. Fortunately, they have seemed to do the impossible and make a decidedly non-“Zelda” game smartly fit together.
So, let’s not skirt around the fact that this is a Dynasty Warriors game first. Zelda is merely the Photoshop filter the devs have used to transform Lu Bu into Ganon. But it does it so well, that I’ve become somewhat enamored with this title. I’ve always kinda preferred the DW series more when it has a different – if very limited – change. Like Gundam Warriors, or more importantly Warriors Orochi, Hyrule Warriors at least is a fun diversion for the respective fan community.
If you’ve ever played a Dynasty Warriors game then you’re more than ready. For those who haven’t, here’s the gist. You assume control as one of many hero units who act as captains. You’re tasked to capture enemy bases while having a variety of every changing objectives which you must complete to win the battle. Most of these tasks involve stopping the opposing enemy hero units – usually by pummeling them into pulp. Ultimately, you’ll go through the story missions as a multitude of TLoZ characters such as Link, Impa, and Sheik.
Overall, the combat is punchy and fluid. All the characters have a distinct feel with each hero having unique powers and weapons. The mechanics are grasped nearly instantaneously and within seconds you’ll be slicing and dicing through waves of moblins, stalfoses (stalopodes, stalfi?), and familiar Zelda baddies. And there can be some decent challenges as you progress. I especially liked the way in which huge boss creatures appear and how they must be dealt with. In typical Zelda fashion, you’ll find sub-weapons to help wound the boss so that you can deal the final blow. It’s a nice twist to the usually DW gameplay by incorporating Zelda tropes.
The story shouldn’t be much of a surprise for anyone even briefly aware of Zelda. As with all the other titles (mostly) darkness has been cast over the kingdom of Hyrule causing all manner of chaos. Turns out that there’s a mysterious force seeking the wish granting Triforce. Of course, it turns out that Ganon is actually behind it all and must be sealed away once again. Listen, we all know the score; however, TN and OF weave a compelling tale that cherry picks various Zelda‘s stories into an enjoyable narrative.
Extra game content is fairly robust. Beyond the Legends Mode which takes you through the plot, there’s Adventure, Free, and Challenge modes each offering some cool rewards. Free basically allows you to play as any character during any story mission and is a decent way of leveling up your heroes. Adventure is kind of a neat thing that presents some fun discovery missions that unlock character upgrades. Ditto with the other modes.
However, the mission structures are nearly identical to the ones you’ve played over and over. Hyrule Warriors is best played in short burst lest you get burnt out. Also, grab a friend. While this isn’t a terribly challenging game, some the harder modes can be a bit frustrating played alone. There’s no online co-op (which sucks) but I feel just fine on the couch with a pal.
Here’s the straight dope. Hyrule Warriors is a totally fine game that serves a solid helping of fan-service cake. This game isn’t your arthouse indie darling, nor is it the “AAA ALL THE AWARDS GOTY 4EVAR AMEN!”, but is perfect for what it is: a fun, mindless action game you should play with friends who love Zelda.
Hyrule Warriors is available Friday, September 26.