When Nintendo showed this game for the first time, many people were skeptical. A Dynasty Warriors with Legend of Zelda spin to it? The general opinion before hand was fairly negative because it is a Dynasty Warriors style game, the main complaint being that it was too repetitive. Sure, with One Piece it wasn’t too bad; we are talking about one of the most beloved Nintendo franchises and licenses to date. With Team Ninja’s last attempt with one of Nintendo’s licenses, Metroid: Other M (which we will NOT speak of regarding to the portrayal of Samus in that game), of course people were justified to feel skeptical.
The only time there was a Dynasty Warriors moment in a Zelda game was near the end of Skyward Sword (will not spoil but involves hordes of enemies and being a badass). Eiji Aounuma himself said that he wanted to make a game that captures a war scenario in a Zelda game during E3 2014. So Nintendo gave the opportunity to Koei Tecmo’s team of Omega Force, and Team Ninja a chance to redeem themselves.
So did Team Ninja and Omega Force give the Zelda license justice with Hyrule Warriors?
Definitely a Dynasty Warriors Game
Let’s gets this out of the way. Yes, Hyrule Warriors is a Dynasty Warriors game through and through. Yes, it can get repetitive if you play it too long. My history with Dynasty Warrior games goes back to the days of the PS2 with Dynasty Warriors 3. I also played their other branches of the same style, namely the Samurai Warriors series. I enjoyed these games and understand the arguments against it. I can see why people would go and dismiss this as doing the same thing over and over again. However, I will then say this: In any other genre, like grinding for better gear, getting your high score and unlocking new content in the game, and shooting many zombies, does that argument really hold in the gaming world? So for me, I will judge this game by it’s own standards.
Your Place In The Great War
So for those who have not played a Dynasty Warriors game, the short story is this: you are a one man army facing off against hordes of enemies. If there is one thing thing that the Dynasty Warriors series does right, it’s making you feel like a badass and having the power to do anything. Gameplay is straightforward: you pull off simple combos and take out as much enemies that stand in your way. While it’s true that you’re doing the same action over and over, I can’t help but feel a strange zen/focus like state when playing. Not once did it ever felt boring in my experience. One thing that is always great in any Dynasty games is the specials for each character. For example, Zelda can charge her light arrows to enhance her combos. Princess Ruto can shoot tidal waves. Impa can literally water bend and slice her opponents. All specials are unique and the way it just clears out enemies gives you this sense of great empowerment. From Link’s Spin Attack to Ganondorf’s Lightning, you can’t help but smile and feel a sense of accomplishment when you mow enemies down.
The main goal is to take over keeps and complete your goal of taking out the commander/boss or completing objectives as the war goes on. Just because you are a one man army, doesn’t mean that it is easy. You still need to keep watch on your heart meter and how much damage you take, especially on harder difficulties. If you overestimate yourself, prepare to be beat. Though, if you do die, it won’t penalize you. A very forgiving checkpoint system is there in case you screw up at some point. You can also manual save if that is your preference.
Here is where some flaws start to show. Since there is so much that is happening, plus with the amount of enemies that appear on screen, the frame rate can take a hit. This is especially so with the Co-op multiplayer. It isn’t to the point of game breaking, but slow downs are inevitable when you play. Some minor flaws like graphical limitations and lack of details of environment are present but nothing too serious.
After each level, you will see how much rupees, weapons and material you have collected in battle. All these things serve a purpose: In between battles you can level your characters up for a fee at the training. The higher the level, the more rupees needed. So its recommended to use it on low level characters to balance it out. A good feature to have so you don’t have to grind levels for each separate character.
Along with rupees, you will also gather materials to make badges that increase your offensive, defensive, or assist skills in battle. This ranges from making it easier to capture keeps, adding combos, giving you an extra special meter, and increasing defenses of different attributes. A little RPG element to give you more reasons to play through the levels again and improving your character of choice.
And lastly the weapons. All weapons comes with their base attack strength, but what separates it is that each weapon comes with its own own extra skills, like more attack strength to a certain combo or more rupees from kills. There are also locked skills that won’t be activated unless you kill 1,000 to 3,000 enemies. This better skills range from making dragon targets easier to kill, being unable to be staggered by attacks, or have a chance to one-hit kill against weaker enemies.. Each skill comes with slots that are allotted with each skill. You then can go to the smithy and combine a skill with a stronger weapon to make the best skills combo weapon of your choice. This process destroys the base weapon that you are fusing to, so be careful if you want two skills on a weapon. That is one gripe I have, you cannot carry over multiple skills to a weapon. Just only one.
Overall, there is already a lot of reasons why you will be coming back to this game, and I’m not even done with its replay value. I’ll pick this up later in the review, but for now, on to the story and characters themselves.
A Tale Eternally Retold
Even though that this is a spin off title, Hyrule Warriors takes reference and places itself in the history of the Zelda universe. Again, this is NOT canon. I’m not a Zelda Expert and don’t want to delve into the debate with the Hyrule Historia‘s accuracy. I’m just quoting what was the story in the game. So bare with me Zelda purists. In the lore of Zelda, it spoke of The Great War that involved all tribes in Hyrule. This is that war. The story tells of a seer who views all of the events that have happen through out the timelines of Zelda. Won’t spoil too much, but this seer had doubt in her heart which allowed doubt and jealousy to corrupt her and allowed to be taken advantaged by who else? Ganondorf.
Don’t expect a deep story here. From that point, it goes to back to present day Hyrule. Zelda is awakened by visions of a dark future and is looking for the one that is the Hero of the Green Tunic. Link in this game is a knight in training but then quickly realizes his potential by the first mission.
Needless to say, things goes sour and Zelda disappears from the group. During his travels to find Zelda, he and his group finds a sorcerer named Lana. She is one of the new characters specifically for Hyrule Warriors. She explains that someone has tampered with the timelines of the three major Zelda periods. They are the Era of the Goddess Hylia of Skyward Sword. The Hyrulean Civil War of Ocarina of Time. And the Twilight Era of Twilight Princess. Therefore its up to Link and his group to correct the timelines and of course, defeat Ganondorf.
To sum it up, story will definitely resonate to those who are interested in the Zelda lore. However, once you seen one timeline crossover plot, you’ve seen them all.
It’s not really surprising this was meant for hardcore Zelda fans. This game is overflowing with tributes and references from past Zelda games. Even the loading screen you can’t help but adore. All items from the bombs, boomerang, hookshot and all. Nostalgia will hit you hard and will leave a mark.
One such example is one of the weapons for Link. Of the different types of weapons, Link can wield a ball and chain. Knowing Nintendo, they always put tributes of their past titles. So with the ball and chain weapon, they instead put one of Mario’s enemies, the Chain-Chomp, as a weapon. Yes, you can use that evil doggy as a weapon.
Even to using famous characters themselves is a treat. When I first got to use Impa for the first time, I was giddy. Let it be known now, she is a beast in battle. She and her great blade is so fun to use and her specials is the prime tool for clearing out the horde.
From Impa, Darunia, and the rest of the cast, they are fun to play and treat in of themselves.
Then there is the “other” fan service. With Koei Tecmo, you know that they make female characters look good. Hyrule Warriors is no different. There is enough eye candy to go around. Especially for the antagonist of Cia.
Warning: Slightly NSFW
We even finally get to see how the Great Fairy looks like in high definition!
Even the stuck up Princess Ruto has that bewitching appeal.
And lastly, those damn Cuccos. As in Zelda tradition, if you attack them, them they will swarm on you.
From the mechanics, gameplay, sound, bosses and character design, the game delivers on the fan service. If you are in anyway a Zelda fan, this is for you.
You Will Come Back For More
The last few things I want to talk about is the Adventure Mode. This mode is the majority of the replay value.
In Adventure Mode, you will do challenge quests that ranges from killing certain number of enemies, all attacks are one-hit kills, kill a specific enemy via quiz and so forth. These challenges are layed out in the map of the original Zelda on the NES. The reason you want to do these challenges is to get materials, rupees, skulltullas and heart containers/pieces. Two main reasons why you really want to play this mode is that it unlocks new characters to use and new weapons like the Chain-Chomp weapon mentioned above. I lost so much hours in the mode grinding for material, getting these weapons, getting A ranks and getting skulltullas. There is also small online feature in which you can help other players in these quest for rewards as well. Needless to say, there is a TON of stuff to do. You will get your money’s worth out of it.
Present and Beyond
Nintendo announced DLC support in the future. Now that time has passed, I can say that the DLC is worth it. In the DLC, there is a new adventure mode called the Master Quest mode. So you get two adventure mode maps. Including with the new map, you get three more characters to use and a new side story chapter which tells the tale from antagonists of Cia, Volga, and Wizzro. The characters themselves are free with the update patch.
For DLC’s, you get Epona the horse as weapon with the first pack. If you played Dynasty Warriors, then this would be logical to add a horse. Let you know right now, wrecking enemies with Epona and just causing havoc is pure joy.
For a 20$ season pass, you get the Master Quest pack which is available now, the Twilight Princess pack which will be available later this month, the Majora’s Mask pack on January, and the Boss pack on February which will include two new modes.
And they also announced amiibo support with Link’s amiibo. When you scan the Link amiibo to Hyrule Warriors, you will get the weapon of the Spinner from Twilight Princess.
Again, there will be a lot of content coming in the coming months.
Now with all this said. With it’s colorful cast, fan service, and gameplay, does Hyrule Warriors deliver a great start to Nintendo’s fall line up? Does it give a future for Nintendo spin off games?
A Zelda Dynasty, And That's OK.
A Good Start for Nintendo
It’s a good start for Nintendo’s Fall line up. While it does have it’s flaws, it is still fun overall. However its undeniable that it’s a Dynasty Warriors with a Zelda skin, and that’s okay. This was meant for the fans of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors. If you don’t like hack n’ slash like Dynasty Warriors, don’t get this game. If you do get this, you will get your money’s worth. Fan service and replay value is where this game excels. But be prepared, its gonna take hours out of you. Overall, a good fun game. Just don’t expect too much.
+ Replay Value
+ Fan Service Galore
+ Adventure Mode
+ Sense of Empowerment
+ Character Play Styles
– Average Story
– Frame Rate Drops
– Shows limits on System (ex. Graphics, Visual limits)
– Can Get Repetitive with Fighting