The Hero of Legend Goes to War
Nintendo have a long standing reputation as a family friendly platform. A stance that has brought widespread success with iconic brands such as Mario and Kirby, and made the company a household name. This continued stance has been a topic for debate amongst regular gamers and set Nintendo apart from it’s “mature” competitors. With this in mind, it could be forgiven if you overlooked the Nintendo stable when considering which franchises would pair well with the legendary hack and slash franchise of Dynasty Warriors. Luckily for us, the masterminds at Koei, Omega Force and Team Ninja recognised that one of Nintendo’s most iconic characters has been cutting through hordes of enemies and overthrowing (demon) kings for decades. Link’s entire existence has been spent fighting the forces of evil to save Hyrule and it’s Princess Zelda, and now he’ll be put through his paces as the land of Hyrule is mixed with the gameplay of Dynasty Warriors.
Hyrule Warriors takes the hack and slash gameplay of the Dynasty Warriors and combines it with the mythology and elements of The Legend of Zelda. You’ll take control of Link, Zelda, Impa, Sheik (yes, we know, but spoilers), or one of a wide casting of other Zelda characters and head into battle. You’ll need to fight your way through each level, capturing keeps and taking control of gates so more Hylian troops can join you in battle. Mission objectives will help guide you through each battle, but events and changes in the tide of battle can change your priorities at a moments notice. The main part of Hyrule Warrior’s gameplay will be instantly familiar to those who have played any of the previous Warriors titles and isn’t too hard to pick up.
Repetition is a problem that has plagued the Dynasty Warriors franchise from the start and continues to be a problem here. I found it difficult to play for more than an hour at a time without losing attention and feeling like a glazed expression had overtaken my face. It’s not going to be an issue for regular Dynasty Warriors players, but those coming in from the Zelda fandom might want to play through in smaller sessions. Having said that, there is a range of different modes to Hyrule Warriors that can change things up a bit, including a story mode which weaves a pretty interesting tale The adventure mode adds a bit of 8bit nostalgia and tasks you with specific goals to clear areas and unlock extras, and the challenge mode will have you trying to complete challenges that tend to be quite a bit harder than the much simpler story mode.
Omega Force and Team Ninja have picked some absolutely amazing parts of the Zelda franchise to highlight in Hyrule Warriors. It’s not just moments of fan service, but elements that translate really well into the Dynasty Warriors formula. Items such as the hookshot and boomerang function well to add some extra diversity to combat, while areas such as Skyloft and Lake Hylia (including a simplified Water Temple) provide amazing fields of battle that are amazing to see, even for non-Zelda fans. Every part of the Zelda brand has been used in a way that will satisfy fans but is still functional and won’t draw away from the experience if you’re not familiar with the franchise.
Hyrule Warriors is a really impressive title that melds two well known franchises together in a seamless way. You don’t need to be a fan of both franchise’s (or either, really) to jump in as the gameplay is simple enough to pick up, and the story is handled in a way that is easy on newcomers. Hyrule Warriors is one of the standout titles in the Wii U library, with the only real downside being the repetitive nature of the game.