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Published on October 6th, 2014 | by Dougie Wythe

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Hyrule Warriors Review

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Nintendo has been known for random bursts of creativity and breaking the mould of their games. Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi’s Mansion and Kirby’s Epic Yarn all mixed things up in a new and interesting way. Hyrule Warriors is exactly this. Developed by Koei Tecmo, known for the hack and slash series Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors is given an interesting new direction. Whilst it lacks the depth of Twilight Princess or Majora’s Mask, Hyrule Warriors is incredibly fun. Playing as Link as he runs charges into a crowd full of Bulblins, swinging the master sword, absolutely annihilating the battlefield in no time feels satisfying. Throwing in some special moves, guard breaks and combo attacks makes you’ve become a God on the battlefield. And it’s for this reason why this game lacks the Legend of Zelda in its title. The music may be lifted and remixed from previous games, the art-style is fitting and the Legend of Zelda series tropes are all there, but don’t expect any puzzle solving or exploring temples. Hyrule Warriors leans much further to the side of Dynasty Warriors with a Zelda skin, than it does a Legend of Zelda game with a Dynasty Warriors feel. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Hyrule Warriors storyline is best described as the Avengers of the Zelda universe. Heroes being pulled from different generations and timelines to fight villains spanning Zelda’s history. From the beloved Ocarina of Time all the way up to the more recent Skyward Sword, there’s something for every fan of the i. Even a never seen before character, Lana, fits perfectly into the roster, as if she were a long lost or obscure Legend of Zelda character. Much like Agatha, the Bug Princess. To reflect these diverse characters, each battleground has different art styles and enemies to fight. The bright and airborne Skyloft has the colourful bokoblins and moblins to fight alongside Demon Lord Girahim. Whilst Death Mountain has a bleaker landscape, with Gorons strewn across the battlefield. These aren’t just a few enemies scattered here and there, I really mean covering the battlefield, with only occasional patches that lack enemies.

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The infamous moon from Majora’s Mask returns in all it’s terrifying glory. Thanks for the nightmares, Nintendo

Whilst the objectives from battle to battle may be a simple “attack these points” or “Escort this to there”, the gameplay is still incredibly fun and replayable in free mode. This is thanks to the playable characters. Every character may have simple combos that are basic strings of light attacks followed by strong attack, but all characters feel so different and varied. Even though I was pressing the same combination of buttons for combos, ever character was diverse in their attack speeds, power and their battlefield tactics. If I feel like smashing through my enemies and crushing their guards, then I’ll play as the dual greatsword welding Demon King, Ganondorf. Whereas Zelda and her Rapier offers more finesse and speed. With a current roster of 13 diverse and recognisable characters, you’ll be replaying levels, exploring the adventure mode map and pulverising enemies with your favourite characters. Upcoming DLC, a mixture of paid and free, gives us new characters, new skins and new missions. The first of which lets you play as the antagonists; Cia, Wizzro and Vulga and even gives them their own story ark. With upcoming content over the next few months, this will surely be a game I’ll be returning to for a while and a title I’m very glad Nintendo is showing support for.

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All of the current playable characters and with so many more yet to come!

However, even though fighting is fast and fluid, you’ll be interrupted by the occasional boss character or monster. Boss monsters, such as King Dodongo have a dominant presence and just like the NES classic, you’ve got to throw bombs in his mouth to hurt him. This is a nice call back, but it breaks down the pace of the fights. As now, rather than fighting and pulling off amazing combos, I’m running in circles waiting for that very specific moment to strike so I can actually deal some damage. You won’t notice this the first time you fight a monster, but after sequential encounters you’ll be left bored or even ignore them completely to save time. As for the classic Legend of Zelda items, the hookshot, bombs, boomerang or bow, they’re too situational, used only to reveal the creature’s weak point. They’re very ineffective against crowds of enemies when your standard weapon attacks easily deals with any and all threats, meaning the items are relegated to just being for specific boss creatures or finding very obvious “secrets” on the battlefield.

Actual boss characters, such as Zant, Ganondorf or Volga aren’t as bad as the boss monsters. The game does encourage you to strike only at their weak points, which means waiting for the right moment, but with a high enough level or some ultimate moves, you can chip off their damage. In such a fast paced and ‘kill everything quickly’ style of game that Hyrule Warriors is, dealing with stronger characters should be a test of skill. Not a test of my patients to wait and run away until I can deal damage.

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King Dodongo. Big, strong, imposing and easy to defeat. So long as you have the time to kill.

Never before have we seen the Hyrulean forces mobilised in war against the forces of evil, and it’s a wonder to see this on the Wii U. The cut scenes and character introductions look flawless and beautiful, really showing that the Wii U can shine if used properly. Although, this only applies to single player. There’s no split screen option for Hyrule Warriors, but rather one player uses the Gamepad as their screen and controller, whilst player two uses their controller of choice. The problem with this is that for both screens, the frame rate and resolution is very noticeably dropped.

However, the beauty of the cutscenes are undermined by the lack of voice acting. Instead we get a text crawl and scrawling tick as it goes by. This is fine for the battlefield as it flashes up with objectives and short status updates, but when it comes to story being told in the bottom few inches of the screen, it’s distracting. It may be conventional for Legend of Zelda characters to lack voices, but we could have gotten a vocal mumble to make those awkward silences in the cutscenes seem less jarring. The strangest part is that the loading screen tells you of the upcoming battle, by voice over. A woman’s voice, I presumed Zelda’s, reads you the story of the upcoming battle. As much as I would have loved to hear Impa , Ganondorf , Darunia  and everyone else converse in the cutscenes, it was most likely a better idea to keep to the tradition of silence. This isn’t a problem that stops me from playing or enjoying the game, but it certainly does distract me.

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Official Legend of Zelda tracks return in all their glory, giving us songs we’ve known for years. We even get the songs we know and love in a heavier tuning that really gets your blood pumping. Perfect for the battlefield. However, some tracks don’t feel as well implemented or remixed.With the missions capable of going on for 30 minutes, songs such as “Kumite: SWS” drone and repeat to the point where I turned down the TV volume and listened to a podcast. That’s something I never expect from a Legend of Zelda title. To combat this, you can set a particular song to play during the upcoming battle, my favourite being “Hyrule Field 1st”. It ‘s what I’d expect from this game; a cover of a classic song with lots of energy to compliment the title and give it a unique twist.

Despite the moderately short and slightly repetitive campaign mode, Nintendo also offers up the retro ‘Adventure Mode’ as a break from the main story. This mode offers up new weapons, new items to use on the overworld map and even a few hidden characters to play as. Those who remember the original 1986 will have nostalgic flashbacks to scavenging the map for secrets. This childhood knowledge will carry over to Hyrule Warriors, as to get the full amount of secrets and unlockables; you’ll have to use the candle to burn bushes, power bracelet to push boulders and bombs to destroy walls. You’re rewarded items from completing the challenges or quests and use them on the map. Fear not, new Zelda fans, you don’t have to religiously know the original map to find all the secrets, the map will tell you if there’s secrets to find and you can use a compass to know what needs destroying.

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This will be where you spend most of your time. Trying to perfect each stage to unlock hidden goodies is a true challenge.

Hyrule Warriors is a prime example of how much fun and innovation a classic series can have so long as Nintendo is willing to experiment. The Wii U hosts gorgeous graphics for the battlefield and gives a constant smooth framerate, even with thousands of characters on screen. The combat is extremely fun from the start and as characters grow stronger, it feels more satisfying to get off the combos for those huge attacks. The soundtrack is the cherry on the cake, providing it’s my own chosen Legend of Zelda track for the upcoming battle. Whilst story mode may be a bit simple and short, it is vastly overshadowed by the extensive and very indepth Adventure mode. If you’re happy to play single player and can overlook the lack of voice acting, then you’re going to have fun tearing up the battlefield. With story and challenge related DLC coming soon, this game is definitely worth your money.

Dougie Wythe
Dougie Wythe

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