Hey, you got Zelda in my Dynasty Warriors!
One of the oddest game crossovers I think I’ve ever had the chance to play, Koei Tecmo’s Hyrule Warriors is also quite a bit of fun. Now, I know what you’re thinking ‘it’s just Dynasty Warriors with a Legend of Zelda coat of paint on it’. Here’s the thing, you’re right and that’s not entirely a bad thing.
And I say that as someone who’s never even been a fan of Dynasty Warriors. The series is all hack ‘n slash and no substance as far as I’m concerned, as you mindlessly run about boring battlefields filled with dopey allies and even dopier enemies. At least, that was my opinion after playing one of the first iterations of the long running series on the PS2 years and years ago. Honestly, I can’t even remember the version, all I remember is being bored to tears and never playing it more than a handful of times.
That was then though, and this is now- and oh what a difference a coat of paint does indeed make. Still though, I guess that most of this review could be written off if you’re *for some reason* not a fan of The Legend of Zelda. Nintendo’s classic-of-classics series about the mythical kingdom of Hyrule and the ‘elves’ that call it home has been a fan favorite ever since it debuted way back in the late 80s though, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet that anyone reading this has been a follower of Link and Gannon at one point or another.
And if that’s you, well, then you’re going to find something to like about Hyrule Warriors. You just are.
Basically, the game plays like the rest of the Dynasty Warriors series, which means that you are (let me know if you’ve heard this one) running around a big battlefield chopping into enemies that mostly just stand there and take it, while opening up strategic points and advancing to the end of the map. Then you move onto a new map and repeat- all while almost completely useless allies tell you things and order you around.
There are a few things varying the experience though, and even though it might not sound like it, it really is a good time. For starters, there are familiar villains and monsters all over the place, massive boss characters to defeat, tried and true weapons from the series’ history (Zelda, not DW), and tons and tons (and tons) of complete fan service in it’s purest form. Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay of doing essentially the same thing over and over again does get tired, but not terribly so and I forgot about the monotony fairly quickly.
Controlling Link, Impa, Princess Zelda and all of the other characters you’ll get to beat up the baddies with (and there are quite a few) couldn’t be easier either thanks to a simple control scheme distilled down for ease of use for a game like this. By that, I kind of mean it’s got to be easy to play as pounding on the action buttons is basically all you’l be doing all the way through, so it’s got to be simple. You can employ combat strategies if you like, don’t get me wrong, but you really don’t have to most of the time. Oh, and Hyrule Warriors is playable on both the main TV and the GamePad too, which is always pretty great.
While we’re talking about ‘great stuff’ here, Hyrule Warriors is a terrific looking title too, which also helps drive the player forward, at least it did for me. Locales are varied nicely and range from the famed Deku Tree to lava-filled caverns loaded with Stalfos’ (remember them?!). The Wii U might not be the most powerful console out there, but it does shine when it needs to and this is one of those times.
Unfortunately the audio is a mixed bag. Most of the music is vintage Zelda and the second I heard those famous tunes play, it brought a smile to my face. So no problem there, but where the ‘mixed bag’ comes in is in the voice work area- and I mean that there is none. Well, there’s a little to be fair, but reading text and hearing a slight grunt from the character that’s supposed to be speaking as the lone representative of what he/she is supposed to sound like is just plain unacceptable in this day and age. And I know there are tons of gamers out there who really could not care less about this point too, that’s not lost on me, but I’m not one of them. For me, it’s just plain lazy and needs to be mentioned.
Co-op play is also available in Hyrule Warriors, and the quest is definitely more fun to take on with a pal as it alleviates some of its otherwise straightforward nature. Again though, if you’re not huge Zelda fan, then Hyrule Warriors is still going to feel like something of a grind to play through here and there.
There is a little something different to mix things up in the form of a classically styled homage to the over world from the original game from the NES. You’ll see the world laid out as the complete map from the game that started it all, and then head into stages form Hyrule Warriors as you select a square to play. The goal here is to level up, but since you’re just playing another map from the game’s campaign after you get past the cool looking map screen, well, it really isn’t all that interesting.
I have to add here that I just had a vision dance through my head of playing the game with the sprites from The Legend of Zelda in place of the character models from Hyrule Warriors, and you know what? I think that could have been pretty awesome as a little fun side game to what the main title offers as its meat and potatoes. Oh well…
I liked Hyrule Warriors. Maybe more than I should have and definitely more that I would have if it was just another Dynasty Warriors game. The mix of classic Nintendo goodness and mindless hack and slash gameplay just plain did it for me in a good chunk of the experience, only getting truly monotonous from time to time.
That’s me though, and if you’re not a Zelda die-hard, I might keep my distance, or try to at least give the game a shot before you go all in. Don’t forget that this is still Dynasty Warriors at heart, a polarizing series and something of an acquired taste.