Hyrule Warriors Review for Wii U

Hyrule Warriors Review for Wii U

The Good of Both Worlds

The Dynasty Warriors series has amassed a sizeable collection of their unique beat ’em up titles. They are also no stranger to crossovers, sporting mergers with Gundam , One Piece , Fist of the North Star , and other franchises. However, when word surfaced about Hyrule Warriors , there was an air of both excitement and apprehension within the gaming community. With a heritage exceeding ten years to its partner, the Zelda brand is not one to be trifled with outside the careful hands of its first-party creator, Nintendo. Thankfully Hyrule Warrior pays grand tribute to the lore in exorbitant amounts. It doesn’t play like a traditional Zelda adventure, but there are enough authentic nods to nearly every game in the lineage to pass inspection from even the most diehard fact checkers.

The story wastes little time with spilling exposition. A brief exchange between Princess Zelda and her caretaker Impa about the absence of the legendary hero leads them into the castle courtyard where soldiers are actively training. One particular soldier, a young man named Link, stands out above the rest, both for his combat prowess, and he is the only one not donning a helmet, instead exposing his golden locks and aqua eyes.

Link’s incarnation in Hyrule Warriors leans more towards the realism spectrum. The art style falls somewhere in between Twilight Princess’s dark detailing and Skyward Sword’s smooth texturing. Every character, both good and sinister, is accurately reproduced from the Zelda archives, though some costume choices push the boundaries of the Teen rating (i.e. newcomer antagonist, the Sorceress Cia). With no voice acting save a timid sounding narrator and anime inspired gasps, the visually expressive characters give the text-based dialogue some life.

Charging from the first castle gate, you are immediately pummeled with the game’s frantic pace. Allies shout objectives and cry for help from across the map, keeping your feet moving at all times. Hordes of Bulbins, Stalchild, and other denizens of Hyrule block your path, though the first few swipes of your weapon will reveal their fragility. Clearing certain levels will unlock a new playable character, though you’ll find each utilizes the same two buttons for stringing together attacks. Once you’ve discovered which combinations are best for crowd control and which provide a more focused attack on singular enemies, it quickly becomes a repetitive task of clearing out keeps and taking down minibosses to complete your objectives. It’s exciting to watch dozens of enemies get launched from a single strike of your weapon, but it’s also redundant at the same time.

Hyrule Warriors Screenshot

The game’s RPG elements provide the incentive to keep moving forward and replaying completed areas in the game’s Free Mode. Along with gaining strength through leveling up, you’ll amass a horde of rupees which, along with materials acquired, can be used at the bazaar to craft potions, train characters (i.e. level them up), fuse weapons into an upgraded form, and slap badges on characters that provide passive buffs and grant extended attack combos.

Hyrule Warriors Screenshot

An added variation to the hack’n’slash campaign is delivered through the game’s Adventure Mode, which places you in a map grid pulled from the original The Legend of Zelda game. The sections on this sprawling lobby map get unlocked through completing missions in adjacent squares, completing specific objectives, earning a high rank, or using Item Cards to reveal secrets on the 8-bit areas. The missions themselves function like those in the campaign, however some objectives are set in small zones and are quick to complete, while others are full blown quests with a sixty minute timer. There’s also a newly introduced Challenge Mode that provides skill tests for expert combatants. Only one challenge was available at the time of this review, but it is likely more will be provided as DLC further down the road.

It’s always more fun to play with a friend, and Hyrule Warriors let’s you do so with two player local co-op. Yet it’s a very bare bones use of multiplayer that has much more potential. With one player using the GamePad display while the other uses the TV, each player can tackle a separate horde of enemies, but besides clearing the level more quickly the synergy between the two characters is lacking. Also, there is no competitive multiplayer in a game that has the foundation for a remarkable tower defense experience. Also, there’s no online multiplayer aside from a network feature in the Adventure Mode that grants you additional rewards for clearing a board another online player is sitting upon.

Hyrule Warriors Screenshot

It’s near impossible to make a judgment about whether Hyrule Warriors is more of a Dynasty Warriors game or a Legend of Zelda game. At its gameplay core it is by far the former, but the sheer amount of encyclopedic references from the Zelda series makes it hard to see anything but the latter. You’ll collect classic items like the boomerang and hookshot by reaching into the glowing insides of treasure chests accompanied by the expected musical fanfare. You’ll hunt down Skulltulas that award you sections of collectible illustrations. Travelling through areas like the fiery Eldin Caves, the serene Lake Hylia, and the blackened Palace of Twilight present layouts very familiar to veterans of the series. You’ll even find yourself slashing your way through a horde of Cuccos. There are just so many nods to almost every game of the series, you’ll pause when stepping away and realize you weren’t playing a dedicated Zelda game.

If you’re a fan of the Dynasty Warriors gameplay and the lore of The Legend of Zelda series, you will absolutely fall in love with Hyrule Warriors and enjoy the extensive list of replayable modes. For those of you who feel this is a taint on the Zelda brand, I can assure you that nothing but care and dedication has been given to the mythos of the franchise. That said, the gameplay itself can become quickly repetitive without a difficulty challenge besides beating the enemy to the punch. And though it looks like a Zelda game, it certainly doesn’t feel like a traditional one. The story races through in quick segments, mostly to introduce a new playable character. It’s not the epic tale masterfully weaved from past Zelda titles. It’s a game with perks and a game with flaws, and it will be up to each player’s personal preferences to decide whether it’s a worthy addition to their Nintendo library.

If you remove the thousands of enemies littered around the battlefield, the environments are pretty bare and bland in texture. The characters and animations, however, are anything but. 3.6 Control
The pace battles with the camera, making it a dizzying experience at times, and use of the GamePad beyond off-TV mode is a joke. However, string together attacks in quick succession is tight and fluid. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The classic melodies are all present and sound great, as does the barrage of sound effects from the non-stop attacks. The singular narrating is passable, but the grunts, groans and gasps from the characters gets excessive. 3.7 Play Value
There’s a beefy amount of replayable content to be had, if you are enjoying the repetitive gameplay. The lack of meat on the multiplayer is a big missed opportunity. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • The delicate balance of the Triforce has been disrupted and Hyrule Kingdom is once again being torn apart by a dark power, this time led by Sorceress Cia.
  • Heroic Link carves through a huge onslaught of enemies as he executes flashy moves with combat attacks. This also marks the first time that many other characters from The Legend of Zelda franchise are playable for any length of time, including Princess Zelda, Impa, and Midna.
  • Protect and reclaim recognizable landmarks from multiple games in The Legend of Zelda series, such as Hyrule Field and the Palace of Twilight.
  • Push back armies of classic enemies from The Legend of Zelda, as well as powerful enemies making their debuts in Hyrule Warriors
  • Advance the story to unlock new playable characters, each with unique moves and weapon types. Collect rupees and other useful items to upgrade weapons and craft badges, which players can use to bolster each warrior’s abilities.
  • Two warriors are better than one: Battle armies with a friend using local co-op mode, with one person playing on the TV and the other on the GamePad, providing each player with his or her own screen.

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