Many Nintendo fans believe that The Legend of Zelda is Nintendo’s most prized IP. Yes, Super Mario and Pokémon definitely have universal recognition, but hardcore gamers the world over would be hard pressed to not at least turn their heads whenever a new Zelda game is unveiled for the first time.
Despite this, The Legend of Zelda series is one that Nintendo seems to have no problem letting other developers have some fun with, for better (when talking about the Oracle games on the Game Boy Color) or for worse (like those CD-i games we all pretend to forget about). Now Nintendo has left the namesake in the hands of Team Ninja and Koei-Tecmo to work their magic on a Zelda crossover with the cult-hit Dynasty Warriors series to create one of the most obvious fan service cash-ins with Hyrule Warriors.
What Is It?
Hyrule Warriors is definitely not your grandfather’s Zelda game. Heck, it isn’t even a Zelda game, so we probably shouldn’t label it as one, but it isn’t exactly a disgrace to the series either. In fact, it’s quite an homage to it.
This crossover is really a pure Dynasty Warriors game through and through, with some Zelda in there to spice it up. For those of you unfamiliar with the Dynasty Warriors franchise, it’s probably noted as one of the most popular hack–and–slash titles in gaming. Since the franchise debuted in 1997, it essentially was a semi three-dimensional version of the sidescrolling beat-em-up titles of the past, except with loads of weapons.
Eventually, the series evolved into a fully-fledged war game with tight, simple controls and a loot system that satisfied both newcomers and completionists to create quite a cult-following. At that, aside from local cooperative multiplayer, it hasn’t really done much in terms of innovation, and that’s where the series ran dry in the HD era.
Hyrule Warriors takes that same gameplay and adds a little bit of Zelda here and there to liven the gameplay up. The result is a game featuring a Zelda-esque story, yet it’s not part of the game’s central canon, and a great Dynasty Warriors experience, yet still nothing totally original.
So what exactly do you do aside from slashing hoards of enemies that suck at fighting back? In Nintendo terms, it’s kind of like Star Fox. When people on the team other than Fox get attacked, it’s normally up to you as Fox to save them from that danger. It’s the same idea with Hyrule Warriors, but in addition to that you’re also seizing certain areas so that they can be dominated by your army, among other required tasks that the game will notify you of as soon as they happen.
On top of just slashing enemies to death, there’s also a bunch of other tasks to juggle, so if you have a buddy nearby, this is where cooperative play becomes ideal. Yes, the aspect of micromanagement is quite minimal and you can probably go through most of the game just going about your own path, but if you’re all about the loot, then you’ll find that there’s more to this game than simply running around pressing B, B, B, and Y in that order again and again.
Why Should I Care?
Despite the fact that it’s really a Dynasty Warriors game, it’s the Zelda fanbase that this game should primarily appeal to. By including popular characters such as Link, Princess Zelda, Darunia the Goron, Midna from Twilight Princess, and a host of others — the nostalgia factor will no doubt attract fans of this silver series as they’ll finally be able to take control of otherwise non-playable characters in their respective Zelda games. So not only will players be able to have Link discover the Master Sword and kick ass with it, they’ll also be able to take control of Impa, the true wielder of the Giant’s Knife along with even a few villains of the series.
Making things even more interesting are the many customization options you can use in Hyrule Warriors. Over the course of the game, players will uncover significant amounts of loot to upgrade their warriors with, giving fans of the series more than just the fighting styles of all these characters not named Link.
There’s even some nuances of Zelda mechanics in the game. Opening chests will result in the familiar cutscene of your character opening the chest and having the item float in the air, and there’ll even be some Zelda-style puzzles that are only solved after obtaining that area’s main treasure, such as bombs to open paths in Hyrule Field and the bow to shoot arrows upon meeting Gohma again. It’s nothing totally amazing, but these are definitely interesting touches that’ll definitely get some attention from those who haven’t played a Zelda game.
Dynasty Warriors fans should feel right at home with the style of play, but there’s really nothing of note that’s essentially different about Hyrule Warriors aside from all the Zelda fan service. You can play off-TV mode, but that’s really about it. In the end, it’s really the pulls of both franchises that will make it attractive to players of either series.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Looking at things from a fairly bare-boned perspective, there isn’t much in terms of gameplay. You’re essentially just killing things, and critics as well as fans of the Dynasty Warriors series would have trouble saying otherwise. Despite that, there’s definitely a huge amount of content in this game. The main campaign could take
.0 you anywhere between 7 and 15 hours to finish, depending on how much detail you like to put in every level.
The main adventure, the Legend mode, definitely has its moments, from bosses in The Legend of Zelda‘s stories beaten the same way several years ago, and even a Golden Skulltula sidequest that can unlock extras, such as art pieces. The game also has another Adventure mode that requires players to complete a grid of missions that looks just like the main world map from The Legend of Zelda, further pushing the fan service envelope forward.
The game itself is good-looking, though it’s nothing over the top. Much can be said about how great Nintendo games look in high definition, but it’s time to take that as a normal thing. Hyrule Warriors is on par with what players are accustomed to on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, so they’re nothing special, but it’s definitely an experience seeing popular characters from the Nintendo 64 era remastered to HD standards. The soundtrack, composed mostly of rock and roll medleys of classic Zelda tunes, is about as hardcore as it gets without sounding too crazy.
Hyrule Warriors is one of the first of many titles that’ll receive attention as we reach the latter part of the year, and while that’s mostly due to the fact that it isn’t as strong as other years, the game is still quite the experience to have. Fans of either series owe it to themselves to give Hyrule Warriors a try despite its repetitiveness. I just wouldn’t recommend playing the game by yourself–the game is definitely an experience better shared.