When Heroes Beckon…
When Hyrule Warriors was first announced on a cold morning in the middle of December, I had no idea how to respond. I sat in awe with fellow writer Jay Petrequin, just waiting to see what they would reveal. And then… Zelda music… beautiful graphics… a scarf! What could it be? Surely they wouldn’t reveal the new main Zelda game in just a Nintendo Direct, Jay boasted. Yet, there Link was, bashing and killing enemies like there was no tomorrow. It was revealed that it was not a main Zelda title, but a crossover game with elements from both Zelda games and Dynasty Warriors games. Having never touched a Dynasty Warriors game, I was still excited, and eager to get my hands on this game.
And here we are now; 9 months later. The Nintendo/Koei Tecmo lovechild has been born, and is eager to be nurtured. Hyrule Warriors launched here in the states last week, on September 26th. After a lonely midnight launch, I ran home and threw the game in my Wii U and waited for the Day 1 patch that every game has nowadays. But then, once it started…
From the moment you even start up Hyrule Warriors, you know it’s going to be a exciting and unique time. You’re immediately greeted with the familiar sound of finding a secret in Zelda, as if you’re about to dive deep into a world of secrets. Once the game loaded completely, I began the Story Mode, or as the game calls it, Legend Mode. The first thing you notice, is that sadly, there is no voice acting, as is the Zelda norm. However, during the game’s loading cutscenes, there IS a voice telling the story, and that… that alone makes me want voice acting in a Zelda game worse than ever. It just seemed to fit so well, and the fact that we probably won’t see voice acting in a Zelda game ever makes me extremely sad.
The game begins with our dear Princess having a horrid dream of events to come, then waking up, and having Impa running to her aid. After some quick talk, they go to overview the soldiers in training, where a certain Hylian catches the eye of a certain Princess if you catch my drift.
It’s Link. This is a Zelda game. Get on my level.
The gameplay begins in Hyrule Field, where you play as, you guessed it; Link. If you’ve ever played a Dynasty Warriors game, you’re familiar with what to do; kill bad guys, capture the enemy keep and well…. kill bad guys. It’s really not a hard concept to grasp, and Hyrule Warriors does a very nice job of explaining this to you. You can pull off combos, dodge, use a special attack that kills all enemies in your way, and even power up your Hero to kill enemies even faster. Like I said, it’s simple. Simple, but fun. There is something every so satisfying about just slaying enemy after enemy with complete control. As for the enemies you encounter, there are dozens of familiar faces. Dodongos, Lizalfos, even the dreaded ReDead (the wonderful humping zombies from Ocarina of Time).
Seriously, it’s a blast. As you continue alone the story, you learn about a sorcerer who protected the Triforce from evil’s hand. You recruit a mystical Ninja, who appeared just as Zelda disappeared. Huh. You meet a new character, Lana, who is the pure definition of a Kawaii Anime babe. The best part about recruiting new characters is that fact that they are all playable. Some of the biggest names of Zelda history are playable in this game, and they are all extremely unique and different from each other. Without spoiling too much on how, I will say you get to play as Link, Zelda, Impa, Sheik, Midna, Ruto, Phi, and many more! Hell, in a couple weeks, there will be a free DLC patch that allows you to play as the game’s main villains: Cia, Volga, and s Wizzro. It’s crazy! Each character has two or three different types of weapons, with many skills to choose from.
Speaking of which, you can customize each character with Badges and Skills for their weapons. For example, you can buy a badge (which is permanent) that makes it so you capture keeps faster. Another makes your magic bar fill up quicker. All of these badges require many different types of materials that drop from the enemies that you slay. Enemies can also drop weapons, which all contain skills, like Strength+ or Water IV. Some weapons contain empty slots that you can fill in with other skills, but at a cost; the weapon you take the skill from is destroyed in the process. You can also create potions for the battle that will up the drop on certain weapons or materials.
Other than Legend Mode, which I am still eagerly trying to beat, there is Free Mode, Adventure Mode, and Challenge Mode. Free mode allows you to play any story mission with any of the playable characters you have unlocked so far, to obtain hidden items you may have not been able to obtain previously, such as a piece of heart for a specific character. Challenge Mode is basically Adventure Mode on steroids, where you get thrown very difficult challenges that take a lot of skill to master.
Adventure Mode Shines the brightest of these modes however. Adventure Mode starts you off in the world of the original Legend of Zelda. There are tiles that represent each of the locations you could visit in LoZ, with each tile containing a challenge. These tiles can contain items needed to find more secrets, new characters, items, heart containers, and even some of those pesky Golden Skulltulas that are back in large numbers. The challenge tasks vary from tile to tile: one tile has you defeating 1000 enemies in 10 minutes, while another one tests your Legend of Zelda knowledge with a quiz. It’s actually tons of fun, especially because a lot of stuff isn’t thrown at you. It is very reminiscent of the original LoZ, where you have to actually find secret items, using items you find to maybe burn a bush, or push a rock. It’s a challenging aspect that I was happily surprised with, and find myself going back to unlock more of the map every time I boot up the game.
However, not all shines bright in the land of Hyrule (Warriors). One of the best things about Dynasty Warrior games I’ve heard, is the multiplayer. The multiplayer is a great way for you and a friend to get together and fight your enemies together. Multiplayer is also present in Hyrule Warriors, but you’ll wish it didn’t. Featuring Local Multiplayer only, one player takes hold of the TV while the other player plays on the GamePad. As you begin, the difference between single player and multiplayer shines dimly as the smile that was just wiped from your face. As you play single player, the game is flawless. It runs at 1080, almost a constant 60fps, and can have multiple hundred enemies on screen at once. Yet, once you start multiplayer, the difference is as clear as day. For starters, the frame rate drops a considerably high amount. The game looks nowhere as good, and the game even cuts the amount of enemies on screen in half. In all honesty, it makes multiplayer a little unplayable. It’s very hard to run around and end your enemies life while the game can’t keep up. You’re better off taking turns with a friend, enjoying it that way.
All in all, Hyrule Warriors is almost a perfect game. To me, it’s one giant love letter to Zelda fans, with a little Dynasty Warriors mixed in. The sounds the game makes are little sounds from this game or that, but when they do play, they seem to powerful to hear. For instance, the sound from Ocarina of Time when you defeat a boss; that sound plays every time you beat a level. Little things like that make this game come to life, not to mention it holds some of the best Zelda music of all time. It really is like a fan-fiction come to life, and you’re playing it, while having the absolute time of your life. The replayability factor is huge, especially with so many playable characters. If you’ve enjoyed Hyrule Warriors as much as I do, you’ll be happy to hear that there is DLC in development for this wonderful crossover. I won’t get into it too much here (you can click here for the official announcement) but I will say by the end of it, you’ll have three new characters, new missions, new weapons, and much more. It’s exciting, and I eagerly await until I can play some of them. But until then, i’m going to hack and slash my heart out, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.
So excuse me, I have some Golden Skulltulas to find and kill. Again. I give Hyrule Warriors a 4/5 for it’s amazing graphics, music, and story, but also taking into consideration the unplayable multiplayer.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Wii U (reviewed) ; Publishers: Nintendo; Developer: Omega Force & Team Ninja; Players: 1, 2 Local; Released: September 26th 2014 (Wii U); MSRP: $59.99
This review is based on a retail copy of Hyrule Warriors purchased by Hey Poor Player.