A Game Review by Greg Dabkey
Game – Hyrule Warriors
Version – Wii U
ESRB Rating: ‘T’ – Teen
Release Date: 9/26/2014
Obtained – Courtesy of Nintendo
Hyrule Warriors is a merging of the Dynasty Warriors and Legend of Zelda series. Dynasty Warriors allows players to control a variety of different characters against up to hundreds of enemies at a time, while the Legend of Zelda is known for its dungeons, puzzle solving, smaller scale combat and single playable character (Link). While I was playing Hyrule Warriors, the gameplay elements made the game feel more like a Dynasty Warriors title than a Legend of Zelda title.
For the story, I will only cover the initial set up as I would not want to spoil it for everyone. If you do not even wish to know the intro of the game I suggest you advance to the next paragraph. A portal opens up suddenly and thousands of moblins appear and attack the castle. Zelda and Impa immediately take to action and begin to fight off the onslaught of enemies with the help of an eager soldier. Once the battle is at a temporary stalemate it is revealed that the eager soldier is in fact the Hero of Time, Link. Once the castle is fully defended Zelda, Impa and Link head towards where the portal was opened. Along the way, Zelda goes missing and is presumed captured while Impa and Link meet the sorceress Lana. Impa and Link then learn that Lana’s other half Cia is responsible for opening the various portals and the attacks. They split up to cover the three different portals, where Link finds himself in Skyloft, Impa near the Temple of Time and Lana in the Twilight realm.
The way Hyrule Warriors is structured is that the player can select from a limited amount of characters per story mode level depending on which ones are unlocked or which story arc you are playing. The player is thrown onto a battlefield after passing through the scenario information. The player typically starts close to or inside of one of their team’s forts. They can then run around the map fighting moblins or can run past them towards the first objective which is given shortly after the scenario begins. Each level is different so the objective could be to reach one of the enemy forts or to rescue one of your helper characters. While the player is actively trying to complete any of the objectives the enemy can move their forces towards the players main fort, or a captured fort or call for reinforcements. Oftentimes a captain or computer-controlled ally will ask for help and it will be up to the player to assist them in their fight.
Each level has losing objectives as well meaning if their main allied fort falls or if a particular computer-controlled ally flees from the battlefield the scenario is lost. So while the player advances to other forts or tackling the next objective they have to keep an eye on the action happening on the battlefield. I quite enjoyed the new experience with this type of gameplay and level structure for a game using Legend of Zelda elements. The enemy army can sometimes directly attack the main fort of the player or just recapture ones that the player took from them. Once inside a fort the player must defeat hundreds of moblins to trigger the fort boss. While fighting with the various characters, I noticed that a lot of them seem to have the same feel, like Impa and Link. Lana is only a little different as her magic attacks and combos can push the player backwards. The variations between characters feel mostly insignificant.
Once the fort boss is defeated, the fort is captured and Hyrule soldiers will attempt to defend it. Outside of forts, there are outpost stations that can also be captured by defeating their captains. Finally, there are mini-bosses and main bosses within the scenario as well. The mini-bosses are tougher and require some strategy but when left alone can usually capture the player’s forts or outposts easily. The scenario typically concludes with a main boss fight whether it’s a giant enemy like Gohma or Dodongo or even a special character like Midna, Zant or Ghirahim. Once the main boss is defeated the scenario is won. However I felt that after numerous scenarios were played, it got more stale as the objectives remain mostly the same but in a different order and maps are slightly different, but have a lot of the same feel to them in terms of how they are organized. The player captures several forts, defeats thousands of moblins, a dozen mini-bosses or captains and just repeats the same types of battles but with different weapons or characters. While the battle is in progress, the player can find materials, power ups, health, weapons, items, golden skulltulas or heart containers.
In the Bazaar which can be accessed in between levels, the materials that were found are used to craft badges. I did enjoy the forging of weapons and badge creation as it provides some bonuses per character. Badges can help with new attack combos, defense towards particular elements or to make the players items, magic and focus more efficient. The power ups can give the player a brief bonus to speed, attack, defense or to increase the magic meter, focus meter or item power. The weapons can be crafted like the badges but can be forged together to use various special abilities to make the weapon more powerful. The player can find assist items to use in any battle like bombs, a bow & arrows, the iconic hookshot, etcetera, or they can find special items like the Fire Rod or Spear that act as different primary weapons. Adventure mode is just a less structured story mode. The scenarios are shorter and have less objectives, but there are many more variations such as time limits, enemies dealing double damage or even quiz questions. It shakes up the scenarios into smaller more enjoyable pieces.
The controls worked perfect for Hyrule Warriors. The player could opt to use off-TV play or play normally with the TV. During the first story level the player gets a good handle on the control to figure out they have a weak attack and a strong attack and the ability to mix them in a particular way for combos. The player can also use a special attack when the focus meter is full. It gets filled while the player defeats moblins or other enemies. The player can also lock onto bigger enemies such as fort bosses, mini-bosses, outpost captains or the main boss to make it easier to attack these particular enemies. Finally the player can switch between items, but while doing so they are open to be attacked. I felt that the controls were really easy to get used to, and the intro level does an excellent job pointing out which buttons do what.
Visually, the game is very impressive. The scenarios are full of little details with emblems and unique designs to the various forts. The backgrounds are vivid and very fitting to the environment. Advancing through Faron Woods was pretty neat as the forts had half tree designs with the background full of normal trees. The character models look impressive as you can see from the various screens I’ve posted. This game is beautiful to look at while advancing through the game. I also enjoy the victory poses when the character completes a scenario. Lana will summon the Great Deku Tree, Link will ride on Epona or Impa will throw her sword into the arrow where it spins super fast and falls into its sheath to name a few. One of the best touches of all were the custom 16-bit sprites that were created for adventure mode. While Link looks like himself from the original game, matching sprites were made Impa, Fi, Sheik and the rest of the playable characters. The map is a solid copy of the original map of the NES classic and even shows the various openings and stairs after the player reveals them. While I was unable to experience co-op mode, there have been numerous reports of the frame rate dropping while both players are experiencing the scenario together.
The Legend of Zelda series is also known for it’s quality of sound and music. While Hyrule Warriors does offer completely new tracks, there are also a number of remixed tracks as well. While music in the Legend of Zelda is often more orchestrated and classically themed, the music in Hyrule Warriors is more rock themed with guitars. Being a fan of both rock music and hearing remixed music with this guitar themed style, it is very enjoyable to listen to. The sound effects give the player a feeling of nostalgia making it a complete experience. The wonderful chest opening sequence is used for treasures and also the same sound when acquiring a heart piece or container. One of the lacking elements is that there is not really any voice acting. The cut scenes are which is a good touch, but during the battle it is all text. I think having voice acting in this game would have made it easier to be used in the next installment in the Legend of Zelda series.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
Hyrule Warriors is a wonderful experiment where two different series merged together to create a new game. I think overall the idea works really well, my main complaint is that the main battle scenarios can get stale as the objectives are repeated for most levels, along with fighting the same mini-bosses within the same scenario. I find myself enjoying the game more in smaller sessions as opposed to longer ones. Adventure mode allows the player to play more unique scenarios with completely different and customized objectives making the game more enjoyable if played alongside the main story mode and switching between the two. I found no issues with the controls and Hyrule Warriors spots some top notch graphics and music making it a very enjoyable experience. I would definitely recommend this game to fans of the Legend of Zelda series and Dynasty Warrior series. Despite being best in small doses, Hyrule Warriors delivers a beautiful and fun adventure for Link to prove that he is Hyrule’s number one warrior.
+ Enjoyable music and sound
+ Link and crew in high definition
+ Various characters to choose from
+ A retro filled fun Adventure mode
+ Difficult and engaging boss battles
+ Engaging and intriguing story
– Gameplay may get stale as it is very repetitive
– Objectives in the main story mode are mostly the same