Two games franchises that were incredibly unlikely to be mixed, The Legend of Zelda, and, Dynasty Warriors, has recently been mixed together into the video game: Hyrule Warriors. Hyrule Warriors takes the characters and world from the The Legend of Zelda franchise, and mixes it with the mechanics of a Warriors game. The resulting game is an interesting one, and it’s one that we had a lot of fun with. Hyrule Warriors is developed by Koei Tecmo and is released on Nintendo’s Wii U console.
Hyrule Warriors is, first and foremost, a Dynasty Warriors game. The story progression, the mechanics, and the gameplay in general are all lifted from the Dynasty Warriors games. What makes Hyrule Warriors a Zelda game is that it has Zelda characters and follows a storyline set in Hyrule. In the game, the player can battle across various battlefields as various Zelda characters, such as Link, Zelda, Sheik, Impa and a few more. This is all done in Dynasty Warriors style, busting through armies of enemies and capturing control points on the map while also completing objectives to win.
The basic story in Hyrule Warriors is that a new villain has appeared in Hyrule. A dark sorceress that has been watching over Link for quite some time. However, she begins to grow overly fond of the swordsman and becomes jealous of him over time. This jealousy menifests itself and she becomes corrupt, and chases down pieces of the Triforce while also invading Hyrule with monsters from across time and space. It’s up to the player to lead on as different Zelda characters and conquer battlefields in order to reclaim the Triforce and bring balance back into Hyrule.
One of the things that was odd with the story was in the way that some of the characters, Link in particular, had personalities that didn’t seem quite right. However, one could argue that this is a different era’s Link and Zelda (and etc.), so that could account for it. This wasn’t terribly jarring to play, it was quite entertaining seeing some familiar faces working together again and communicating with each other, having the conversations that we could only dream of having if not for this crossover. The main point of contention is Link himself, having never actually said much in previous games, it is kind of odd seeing him having chat boxes with dialogue that moves beyond three dots.
The typical Hyrule Warriors Legend Mode (which is the story mode) mission is a battle where the player assumes the role of one of the main warriors in the game, and has to capture points and complete objectives in order to win. Players are able to capture points, or keeps, by eliminating a horde of defending units within the structure. What’s cool here is that the players armies can also capture points if there is enough of them to move through an opposing army and march into a keep. However, during the game, it feels more efficient to simply capture all the keeps, rather than waiting for your armies to do it. This is because, in comparison to regular foot soldiers, the player character is incredibly overpowered. This OP goes on against captain style enemies, but the player eventually equals out against enemy warrior units. Enemy warriors are typically villain characters from the Zelda franchise, but can also sometimes be lesser enemies, such as the Iron Knuckle.
Quite often, a battle will have objectives to complete alongside capturing the keeps. What’s odd here is that completing the objectives wins you the match, regardless of your position strategically on the battlefield. For example, the game will give you a mission to defeat an enemy warrior, such as Ganondorf. You could be down to your last keep because you’ve spent your time not too wisely, and then you can beat Ganondorf, which will win you the battle. It kind of feels like going around and capturing keeps isn’t as important as it should be. From what we can tell, keeps are good because they give you more control over the field and allow you to have more units running around at any one time, which gives you a size advantage against your opponents armies. Which would be important in capturing keeps. But keeps are really only important as objectives when they’re objectives, and can be pretty much ignored if they’re not. However, there are other benefits to capturing them, like treasure.
When fighting, the player earns experience and levels up their hero. Leveling makes the hero stronger. However, there are other ways to enhance warriors within the game. This can be done by grinding materials off of defeated enemies and then using them to craft abilities in-between matches. What’s cool is that these work retroactively, so the player can take any upgrades to a previous level, or even another game mode. Upgrading warriors is important because it makes battles much more quicker and easier. Also, combining normal attack combos with special attacks is a lot of fun. Especially when there is more of them to use. Going through, collecting drops and upgrading all of the warriors in the game produces plenty of replayability. Although, there are a few game modes to burn through, so it’s already a content filled game as it is.
One of the best game modes in Hyrule Warriors, outside of Legend Mode, is the Adventure Mode. In Adventure Mode, players work one tile at a time through the 8-bit first Zelda games overworld in order to unlock upgrades and other unique items that are only available to unlock through this game mode. Of course, you can use these unlockables all throughout the game. Each tile of the overworld correlates with an actual battlefield in Hyrule Warriors, but instead of working to capture points, the player is tasked with challenging objectives to be cleared. One of these might be to kill Demise as Fi, and another might be to kill off a few Iron Knuckles within a time limit. Something similar to this mode would be the Weapon Master (iirc) game mode in Soul Calibur 2.
One of the most brilliant parts about this game is its rocking soundtrack. Hyrule Warriors has to be OST of the year. They’ve taken a bunch of familiar and memorable Zelda tunes, and mixed them into some of the most awesomest tracks in a video game. It’s also quite enjoyable that the game has a narrator through all of the pre-mission storyline exposition that serves as a method of delivering the story while hiding the time it takes to load a level. The narrator feels in-place with the game, which is always good for a narrator to be. A lot of the time, with fantasy games, you get this put-on wizardy kind of voice, and they sometimes don’t fit. Even the sound effects have a nice crunch to them, everything feels heavier and stronger and it pumps the player up, leaving them feeling good throughout the entire game.
Hyrule Warriors is easily one of the most fun games out at the moment. The mashup of Warriors and Zelda is an odd one, but it’s a combination that works incredibly well. It feels like the developers are fans of the Zelda franchise itself with the amount of care that was put into making this game and matching the lore as closely as it has. The only issue with the game, lore wise, are from the Twilight princess era games. For instance, the bug collector girl shouldn’t be able to tell that she’s in the Twilight realm at all. But, the game has to be fun, and there may be some unexplained reason for why she could tell the Twilight realm was there (or we might just have our lore mixed up here, but we’re pretty certain that it was a huge plot point that the inhabitants of Hyrule had no idea that the Twilight realm was actually there). It can also feel a bit odd that the player has no direct control over their armies at all. Fans of the Warriors games know them to be action games, but for a series newbie, it can feel like strategy and action game. Or at least, it should be a strategy and action game.
Boss fights pop up every so often in Hyrule Warriors. These are sometimes enemy warriors, but more often than not, these are Boss Monsters lifted straight out of other Zelda games. What’s even cooler here is that their winning strategies are often similar to how they were defeated in their actual games. There are so many fanservice elements like this present in Hyrule Warriors that, as a fan of Zelda, the player would really enjoy. One thing that was even more funner was the impression that the game often feels like Link and his cheerleaders, given the higher percentage of female player characters and how much more often they cheer support towards Link than the only other male hero character. In Adventure Mode, you can unlock additional characters, but if the player is playing Legend Mode first, which we recommend, the limited roster does give this feeling. It is fun though.
Overall, Hyrule Warriors is an incredibly fun experience that gives the player a nice change of pace for Zelda games. Warriors fans can enjoy some new combinations based on characters unfamiliar to the franchise as well. It’s a game that is fun, no matter how long it is played for. And that is what’s truly important. It also helps that it feels like an authentic Zelda fanservice experience, as well as a genuine Warriors title in its own right. This is a crossover done right.
Rating: Triforce of Courage and Wisdom out of 10.
Hyrule Warriors is published by Nintendo Australia here in Australia. It is Out Now (and has been for the last week). Our review is written based on a purchased copy of the game. We are massive Zelda fans, so there might be a little bit of bias.