I once said that Tecmo Koei’s Warriors series of games are coming hard and fast, I wasn’t kidding.
Developed by Team Ninja and Omega Force, Hyrule Warriors hits our shelves bringing a mish mash of the patented Dynasty Warriors and Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda which is certainly one sentence I never thought I would say. Link and his pals team up as they take up arms to battle hordes of well-known Legend of Zelda goons, this time around though, you won’t need any puzzle solving skills as even though Hyrule Warriors is a Legend of Zelda game, and its mechanics are Dynasty Warriors through and through.
Hyrule Warriors’ plot feels very much like the one I described in my Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate review. Link and his pals travel through time to different periods in the Legend of Zelda series to close Gates of Souls which are being used by corrupted sorceress Cia to wage war with Hyrule whilst trying to find the sealed soul fragments of series antagonist Ganondorf. Hyrule Warriors is the first Warriors game I have played that tells the story in English which will certainly increase its appeal to western players. The plot is impressively complex; Cia and Ganondorf aren’t the only bad guys as Cia enlists the assistance of famous Legend of Zelda baddies such as Wizzro, Volga and Ghirahim, all of which fits into the story nicely. The cut-scenes that trigger during levels are excellently executed. It’s a huge pleasure for me, being a Legend of Zelda fan, to see well known characters in full motion captured animations that downfall only being that the characters during cut-scenes only make grunting noises with text displayed underneath but this didn’t affect the atmosphere much.
Hyrule Warriors is nothing more than a Dynasty Warriors game with a Legend of Zelda mask on. The recycled game play elements may put some off but the LOZ lore, its visuals and being able to fight as one of the series’ better known characters such as Zelda, Sheik, Impa, and Darunia as well as Link of course makes this Dynasty Warriors game one of the best I’ve ever played. The button bashing, no-strategy-needed game play returns only this time you no longer have a horse (Ipona only appears during Links victory animation) and you can’t jump which is replaced by a dodge manoeuvre. Filling your characters special meter allows you to unleash awesome looking super moves which are the best I’ve seen in any Warriors game. These moves are unique to each character, Link uses his mighty sword to spin cut through enemies whilst Zelda uses the Ocarina of Time and as flashy as these moves are, seeing entire waves of enemies flying after the impact is extremely satisfying. Enemies in Hyrule Warriors work exactly the same way as previous Warriors games. The smaller enemies come in huge numbers but are fodder and can be ran through, tougher enemies come with health bars and take a little more punishment to put down. The toughest opponents though are the games many bosses, some of which are huge like the infamous King Dodongo and The Imprisoned which have certain methods to defeat them.
Bombs, the bow and arrow, the Boomerang and other famous LOZ pickups can all be earned through missions which are weak crowd controlling attacks however power ups found during levels can strengthen them up significantly. Other pickups during levels include hearts which replenishes health, Triforce pieces which replenish the special meter and potion bottles which are for the magic meter. The magic meter, once activated places your character in an enhanced state which increases damage output and decreases damage taken. This state can also be cut short by using your characters special move during it which unleashes a different flashier move. These moves as well as each characters combos makes Hyrule Warriors a blast to play and the dynamic battles which is another recycled element, keeps you and your toes.
Aside from the campaign (dubbed Legends Mode), Adventure Mode is available which offers a different kind of story. Players complete a series of challenges to uncover an overview map of the 8-bit NES Legend Of Zelda game. These challenges range from defeating a certain boss within a time limit or defeating a set number of enemies. Completing these unlocks more characters, weapons and upgrades for your party. Gone is the little RPG-like hub screen which saw players pondering around an area before levels with the Blacksmith and other provision NPC’s available to interact with. In its place is a skill tree where you can purchase upgrades for characters depending on if you have the appropriate materials or not (found by defeating enemies). Also available is the Smithy which is a simplified, less complicated way of fusing weapons together to make them stronger although I haven’t yet found an option to sell weapons I don’t need. These new ways of managing characters and their armoury make Hyrule Warriors more accessible and also take away a lot of time running around a meaningless hub world; it’s a good step forward.
Hyrule Warriors is one of the most colourful Warriors games I’ve ever seen. Well know locations like Faron Woods, The Water Temple, Skyloft and The Twilight Realm are all present and look beautifully rendered and bright. They are faithful recreations and it’s a pleasure exploring them. Link and co all look how they do in other Legend of Zelda games, the fantastic cut-scenes show us closer higher resolution version of each character which in turn make them look simply stunning and the big burly bosses like the aforementioned King Dodongo are satisfyingly intimidating.
Hyrule Warriors may not be the best Legend of Zelda game but it’s the best Dynasty Warriors game I’ve played yet. Its faithful recreation of the characters and the environments are fantastic and the plot is nicely paced and executed. The gameplay is heavily recycled but never stops feeling fresh thanks to the Legend of Zelda overlay and them awesome super moves! A must own for Wii-U owners.
Story - 4/5
Graphics - 5/5
Gameplay - 4/5
Overall - 4/5
Version reviewed - Wii-U