Hyrule Warriors – Review (Wii U)

It’s been a while, but I’m back with a new game review! This time, I’ll be giving my thoughts on one of Nintendo’s latest big releases, Hyrule Warriors.

More after the jump!

Since the Wii U’s release in 2012, I haven’t really bought any new games. In fact, I have ONE game: New Super Mario Bros. U. Unfortunately, Nintendo hasn’t released a lot of games for the system in their major franchises; I’m pretty sure that the biggest release was Mario Kart 8 a few months back. Two years later, however, there are a lot of big games from Nintendo on the horizon – Super Smash Bros., Bayonetta 2, a new Zelda game that we got our first glimpse of earlier this year, and the list keeps going.

One of the releases that caught my attention when it was announced last year was a mash-up between Koei Tecmo’s Warriors series and Nintendo’s own Legend of Zelda franchise. I was stoked. If for nothing else, I’d finally get a Zelda game of some sort for the Wii U, and would have a new reason to boot up the system that had seen very few hours of actual game time from me. I’m a sucker for Zelda titles; what can I say?

The fanbase for the Warriors games has always been pretty divided. On one hand, you have people that love the strategy/hack ‘n slash series – on the other, you have folks who claim the series is boring and monotonous. I fall in the former category. While I never played the series’ main entries, Dynasty Warriors, I was a HUGE fan of the spin off, Samurai Warriors. I loved the frantic nature of the game, and how it’s very “real-time,” in that stuff is constantly going on, no matter what you do.

The Zelda/Warriors mash-up is a strange one to say the least. It’s definitely something I never thought I would see, and never knew that I actually wanted. From my point of view, the colliding of these two franchises works pretty well.


The game's antagonist, Cia
Story: 8/10
As I said in my A Link Between Worlds review, trying to explain a Zelda game’s story is extremely hard to do and, on paper, doesn’t really sound all that engaging. Most of the time, you’re dealing with two objectives: Save the princess and recover the Triforce. Occasionally (most often in recent years), it gets a little more nuanced than that, but that’s the basic gist. Combine those objectives with the fact that you have to figure out where whatever game you’re playing fits in the series’ timeline, and you’ve got yourself a right mess at times!
Hyrule Warriors expands on the traditional Zelda story (though the Triforce is still the main focus), in favor of one that incorporates some of our familiar games’ timelines and, like the titles’ very nature, mashes them up to tell what is (to me, at least) one of the most “interesting” Zelda stories to date.
My only complaint with the story is that, given the frantic nature of the Warriors series, a lot of it is told during gameplay.
“What? Isn’t that when you want the story to play out?”
True, most games’ stories are told during gameplay, but the Warriors series (this entry included) is all about constant combat and completing objectives on the battlefield while doing so. With that in mind, some of the story can occasionally get lost as dialogue pops up on the screen while you’re trying to take out hordes of enemies. This becomes very frustrating when you miss a key bit of dialogue that might help you with an objective, all because you’re trying to keep your troops safe or fighting some of the tougher enemies.   

The game's pretty, and you'll be doing stuff like this... a lot!
Visuals: 9/10
 As you all know, I’m a stickler for resolution. I have no idea what resolution Hyrule Warriors is running at, but it’s gorgeous! I have to attribute some of that (if not all of it) to the game’s art style. The only thing I could possibly say on the negative side of things is that the framerate chugs occasionally as the Wii U’s hardware struggles to keep up when there are a lot of enemies on screen at once. This isn’t something that happens all the time and is, in fact, pretty rare. But when it does, it’s fairly noticeable.

Sound: 7/10
The music in this game, quite literally, rocks! Quite a few familiar Zelda tunes are present and reworked with a metal flavor. Since the game is pretty fast-paced and all about action, a metal-influenced score is perfect. The only piece of music that I really wish was included is the Dark World theme from A Link to the Past. Sadly, I never heard it if it’s in there, and it would have been a great one for a game like this.
While the music may be great, I’ve got to dock it several points for one reason: the lack of voice acting. It’s been a staple of Zelda games since Ocarina of Time to not have spoken dialogue. Instead, all games have featured a “Sims-like” approach by having the characters start their dialogue with some kind of unintelligible gibberish. This was fine for the 64-bit era, but it really is time to start having voice acting in Zelda titles. Want to have Link remain the “silent protagonist?” That’s fine. In fact, I prefer it that way. But when it comes to the other characters, Nintendo should really start making an effort to give them a voice.
I mentioned earlier how you might miss some of the dialogue in the game, or miss an important cue related to an objective. This could have been easily remedied by including voice acting.
The other thing I docked points for: “Hey! LISTEN!” Ugh. That should have never been included, and should never be again, as it was one of the most annoying things about Ocarina of Time. It seems like you’re interrupted by it nearly every five minutes towards the beginning of the game.

All the characters play and handle differently. Lana is a prime example.
Gameplay: 8/10
Being outnumbered, swiping your sword through 100 enemies in one blow, and mild RPG and RTS elements have all been staples of the Warriors series. This entry is no different. It can be a little repetitive, but I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t get a thrill from wiping out an entire regiment of enemy troops by charging up Link’s sword and unleashing his spin attack!
To increase the replay value, as has been done in previous Warriors games, Hyrule Warriors allows you to select several characters throughout the game besides just Link. These characters all play differently and have different abilities and move sets that will keep you playing. Also, a friend can join in for some good, ol’ fashioned local co-op throughout all of the game’s various modes. Nic and I played co-op for several hours, and it was a blast! 

Controls: 8.5/10
Opting to dock the controls a few points was kind of difficult. It’s not really the controls of the game itself that I had problems with, but the design of the Wii U gamepad and pro controller. Basically, it all boils down to the fact that I don’t like the right analog stick being placed above the face buttons. Not only does it take getting used to, since it’s been below the face buttons on every controller since there were dual analog sticks on controllers, but I think it would serve this style of game more if it were placed where I’m used to (for camera controls sake). Just my personal take on it.

Closing Statements:
All in all, I loved Hyrule Warriors. Again, I never knew that I wanted a Zelda/Warriors hybrid, but I’m glad it happened. Sure, it’s going to be one of those games that people either love or get bored with quickly, but it’s definitely worth trying out. It’s action-packed, has great visuals and music, and it will definitely feed your need for a Zelda fix until the next full-fledged game in the series is released.

Final Score: 8.1/10


Posted on September 30, 2014 .