Hyrule Warriors review

After hearing about a new “Zelda” game that didn’t follow the typical dungeon-adventure formula, I was worried of it being something so simplistic as the “Link’s Crossbow Training” minigame on Wii. Fortunately, “Hyrule Warriors” is a full-fledged game that employs the “Dynasty Warriors” mass slash-em up style of gameplay.

The storyline is not to be compared with the intricate stories of your typical “Zelda” game, but it provides a visceral experience with the beautiful cutscenes. The story draws it’s characters from several past “Zelda” games, notably “Twilight Princess,” “Skyward Sword” and “Ocarina of Time,” and brings them all in to one timeline to defeat the newest evil, Cia, who has gotten her hands on the three pieces of the Triforce.

The boss battles are spectacular, but are easy to beat if you can remember their weak spot from the regular series.

A typical mission starts by dropping you and your allies down on a map covered in Cia’s underlings. You are guided by changing mission objectives that typically include taking over several Keeps to unlock a final area for a boss battle. Mission objectives may be modified if you fail secondary missions or if someone in your party needs to flea. The boss battles also draw from the dungeon bosses in the regular series and include their original weak spots.

It’s easy to call “Hyrule Warriors” fan service with the truly impressive animations and attack arsenals. The game gets tedious with your main function being simply to button mash B and X no matter the map objective. But sometimes that’s exactly what you want to do just so you can see each character’s moves.

Going to the Bazar, upgrading your character of choice with badges to give them new attacks and then rushing in to battle to see it in action is an exciting experience to say the least. It’s enough to make you want to see these attack capabilities in the “Zelda” games we’re used to.

Finding loot to upgrade your character's Badges is part of the fun.

Finding loot to upgrade your character’s Badges is part of the fun.

While the Legend mode is a bit cut and dry, it does offer some excitement in the form of a twist. If you would rather play the game on your own and leave the allure alive, I would recommend skipping this paragraph as it contains spoilers for the last part of the game. At the end of the regular Legend mode, when Hyrule is seemingly safe again, I nearly lost it when the game flips itself around and you get to play as Ganondorf and his cohorts for the remaining missions. You even get to be in command of the spectacular moves that were used against you in the previous missions.

As a throwback to older games in the series, there is an Adventure mode that places you on the map from “The Legend of Zelda” for the NES. As you progress throughout the map by playing typical “Dynasty Warriors”-style matches, you find more items to help you progress. If you’ve played the NES game, you’ll want to remember back as these items are located in the same places as the original game.

No matter what difficulty level you play, the game is far from being a big challenge. The first half dozen missions or so had me thinking whether trying to lose would even result in failure. The main difficulty in later missions is simply a game of priorities. Do I want to save the latest Keep that’s under attack, save my ally who foolishly thought they could rush to the opposite side of the map and survive, or finish killing the Keep Boss that just appeared?

Newcomer Cia wreaks havoc on the Hyrule world.

Newcomer Cia wreaks havoc on the Hyrulian world.

The local cooperative multiplayer, while entertaining, is handicapped. The first player utilizes the Wii U gamepad screen while the second player gets a full TV screen. When this happens, both the frame rate and video quality drop significantly. The gamepad looks akin to watching a YouTube video on a slow internet connection. The problem only magnifies when more baddies occupy the screen (which is hard to do anyways, because now they don’t appear on screen until you’re right near them). While not a deal breaker, it was a big enough problem to mention here.

If you are a “Zelda” fan exclusively for the elaborate puzzles and dungeons, “Hyrule Warriors” may not be your game. But if you love the characters of Hyrule and don’t mind them going all-out on all the enemies in Hyrule in a blood(less)-fest, this game is definitely worth it. For “Dynasty Warriors” fanatics, the game doesn’t expand much on that recipe but offers some visuals worth a look.