Running through Hyrule castle, mowing down thousands of enemies as Link, Zelda, Shiek, or any of the other Legend of Zelda characters sounds like something you’d never see in even your wildest fantasies. Playing as Shiek in a game that isn’t Super Smash Bros. would be a dream come true for most. But as a result of a collaboration between Nintendo and Koei Tecmo, a crossover between The Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors made all of this possible. Omega Force and Team Ninja developed the first Legend of Zelda hack and slash action video game, and let me tell you, Hyrule Warriors is amazing.
The story that drives Hyrule Warriors is brand-new, and outside of the official timeline. Ganondorf’s spirit was split long ago into four fragments, but with the help of a sorceress named Cia (one of the new characters in the Zelda universe,) he attempts to come back. It is told throughout 18 different missions, which take you to different locales and consist of different objectives to fulfill to progress through the story. The main story can take anywhere between 6 to 9 hours on the normal difficulty, depending on how good you are or how fast you intend to blast through it. I won’t lie, it’s not the best story to come from a Zelda game, but it is fairly interesting, and the CGI cutscenes are beautiful.
The game itself also looks beautiful in stunning HD, and runs smoothly with any hiccups being rare. Character models are detailed, the maps are vast and colorful. The music is also fantastic, and it really does feel like you’re in a Zelda game, even if the gameplay doesn’t give you that same feeling.
I mentioned earlier that Hyrule Warriors is a hack and slash game. For any gamers out there who have ever played a game in the Dynasty Warriors series, you’ll quickly adapt to the system. There is a heavy emphasis on combat. There are 16 characters that you can play as, the main one being Link. Depending on who you play as, you can use different weapons. For example, Link can use the Master Sword (after acquiring it in-game, of course) or the fire rod, and Shiek can use her harp. Each weapon has a set of simple combos that consist solely of two buttons, and are used to effectively mow down your enemies. Successful hits fill up your special gauge, which unleashes a powerful move. Link’s special for example, is his iconic spin attack. You can also fill up your magic meter by finding items on the map, and use it to enter a powerful mode where your attack is enhanced. Aside from the weapons, there are a number of iconic items to use, such as bombs, the boomerang, and the fairy bow to name a few.
The maps consist of keeps, and for the most part, every mission will have you capturing one or more of these keeps. To do so, you just need to mow down enemies in the keep until the Keep Boss arrives, then take him down to capture the keep. The higher rank enemies are tougher to beat, but drop materials and weapons upon defeat. Materials are used to craft badges for a character, and can do many different things. For example, you can craft a badge to have your special gauge fill up faster, and a badge to have two special gauges. Some of the more powerful badges (such as one that allows your character to have three special gauges) require rare materials which are hard to come by, and on top of that, each badge has to be crafted per character. Characters also level up the more you play with them, and currently the highest level each character can reach is 150.
Hidden in the game’s main story mode are other items such as pieces of heart, heart containers, and even gold skulltulas. Pieces of heart are heart containers are specific to a certain character. This means that you have to be playing as that character to find it. I mentioned earlier that the story won’t make you capture all the keeps on the map, only a few, if any. To find these items, you must explore on your own and capture other keeps. If you go to the right keeps, a chest will appear once you capture it, containing the item you’re after. Gold skulltulas are triggered after the player defeats 1,000 enemies in combat. Their approximate locations are shown on the minimap, and you must go out of your way to find them. Usually, they’re hidden under boulders or behind cracked walls. Once you get close, you can hear them scattering about, and you’ll know that they’re nearby.
Once you complete the game once, a new set of gold skulltulas are unlocked, but these ones are not as easily obtained. For starters, they can only be found on hard mode, and only if you have the right character and weapon selected. Not only that, but some of them may only appear if other hidden requirements are met.
For those of you looking for replay value, the items and skulltulas guarantee that you will be replaying each mission multiple times, which will add a hefty amount of time. If you intend to craft all the badges for one or a few characters, you can expect that to add even more time. This would be enough to justify the price tag, but surprisingly, there’s still more to do.
For those of you who are still thirsting for action after Legend Mode (the main story,) Hyrule Warriors presents Adventure Mode. It consists of a map modeled after the overworld map from the original Legend of Zelda. There’s somewhere over 120 tiles, each with their own mission. They aren’t as long as the story missions, but there’s a lot of them. You may find yourself replaying them a few times if you can’t acquire an “A” rank on your first run-through, but that’s not the only thing to replay them for. Like the story missions, the missions in Adventure Mode also contain items that are specific to certain characters.
Some of them are shown to you immediately, so you can start looking for them the first time you play the mission. Some are hidden, and to find them, you have to use the appropriate item card on the tile of the map. Item cards are awarded for completing different tiles, and consist of classic items like the candle, compass, and bombs. To find hidden items, you have to either bomb the correct area of the wall or burn the correct tree on the tile, for example. Once you find the hidden item, you have to replay the tile with the appropriate character to unlock it. And last but not least, some items are only unlocked by achieving an “A” rank. Whew. Just thinking about all the time that needs to be put into this game to complete even half of it is mind-boggling.
What does doing all of this get you? Why bother? Well like I mentioned earlier, materials are used to craft badges, skulltulas unlock pieces of portraits with great illustrations, and adventure mode and unlock new weapons and characters for use.
The co-op mode makes good use of the gamepad. You can play through Legend Mode with a friend, with one person uses the gamepad, and the other plays off the TV with either a Wii remote or a Wii U Pro Controller. The only downside is adding a second player for some reason tends to make the game fairly laggy. Not enough to be a deal-breaker, but it is noticeable.
Last but not least, Hyrule Warriors has amiibo support. Scanning a Link or Toon Link can obtain a new weapon, scanning Zelda or Shiek grants you a weapon that’s rated at 3 stars or higher, and every other amiibo will grant you a random item, piece of equipment, or weapon. Five amiibos can be used per day, which is pretty sweet.
Hyrule Warriors is a great game. The story could have been better, and the co-op mode might not be what you expected it to be, but the combat and the insane amount of replay value make up for it. Not only that, but the fan service is amazing. Being able to play as Ganondorf? Awesome. What about Fi, the spirit that resides in the Master Sword? Random, but equally as awesome. If you need a new game to play, Hyrule Warriors is it. And if don’t have a Wii U yet because you’re unsure about the game library, you can rest assured knowing that this game is definitely one of the top reasons why you should buy the console.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Wii U code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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