"A Link Between Battlefields"
I'm just going to lay it out on the table, friends. As big a fan of The Legend of Zelda as I am, I must admit that Hyrule Warriors is one of the most mindless games I've ever played, the most shameless exhibition of button-mash gaming I have experienced firsthand in quite a while. And you know what? I'm okay with that.
The Zelda universe, with its high fantasy settings and grand conflicts between good and evil, makes an excellent stage for the type of massive battles that the Dynasty Warriors series is well known for. It's nice how Koei Tecmo manages to blend the two franchises together, smoothly infusing the one-man-army action of DW games with nods from LoZ titles past (such as rupees, items, jars, killer-chickens, etc.). Though it tosses aside much of what makes Zelda, Zelda, like solving puzzles and exploring large worlds, the gameplay never feels too jarringly out of place next to that of the main games.
Much of that is due to how Koei handled the titular warriors. Even with a simple combat system of linking (Zelda pun intended) regular attacks with powerful combo moves, and spicing it up with chargeable special attacks and temporary powered-up modes, each of the LoZ all-stars in Hyrule Warriors feels unique and powerful in battle. Between the hefty slashes of Link's sword, the rapid strikes of Zelda's rapier, the mobility of Fi's dance-like attacks, the devastation of Darunia's hammer and the wide reach of Midna's magic wolves (to name a few examples), every character brings something different to the experience, and much of the fun lays in figuring out each one's unique combos and the best time to bust them out in battle.
This makes up a lot for the repetitive nature of Hyrule Warriors' hack-&-slash gameplay and its endless, near-unvarying cycle of mowing down mobs of grunts, capturing and defending bases, and fighting bosses that can be bested with the same series of dodges and quick attacks. As monotonous a grind as it tends to get, it nevertheless makes it easy to settle into a smooth rhythm of chaining combos that feels oh so satisfying when hundreds of foes fall before a warrior's might in just the span of a few minutes.
Then there's the incentives, the ways the game keeps the grind worthwhile beyond that enjoyable rhythm. The meatiest of these, outside the main campaign, is the Adventure Mode, a series of challenges (which, in a nice touch, are set on grid modeled after the map from the original Legend of Zelda) that , when cleared, dish out a huge amount of stronger weapons, health boosts, new warriors and other enticing collectibles. The act of earning these is also helped by enough different mission objectives that the thought of trying to conquer the whole map doesn't kill one with visions of tedium. A second challenge mode, one that consists of quick, randomized challenges, doesn't offer quite the same satisfaction for one's time, but still offers a refreshing break from the "clear the battlefield" mission structure found in most of the game.
You may have noticed that I've said nothing about Hyrule Warriors' story, an oddity considering story is an important element of all Zelda titles. And here is why: it stinks. There is some promise, what with villains like Ganondorf and a Link-obsessed sorceress, and a journey through the realms of classic Zelda games that has classic characters teaming up on both sides. It plays out like something from LoZ fanfiction, but instead of being geekish-ly memorable it ends up being barebones, uninteresting and, frankly, poor. It feels like Koei Tecmo was less interested in taking the audience on a grand and exciting adventure and more in getting them from one battlefield to another in as quick and utilitarian a fashion as possible. It's quite a shame, really.
Ultimately, though, even with a stinker story and some of the most repetitive gameplay available on the Wii U, Hyrule Warriors, as an overall experience, is an enjoyable one. Despite the basicness of it all, Koei Tecmo's franchise-mash-up succeeds where it is counts: making each of the Zelda series' finest feel utterly unstoppable in battle. And with all the extra worthwhile bonuses to collect through the main campaign and challenge modes, there is plenty of incentive to lay smack, take names, and then hop back in for more.
GameDynamo's Score for Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
Images / Screenshots / Artwork
Our Hyrule Warriors photo gallery currently contains 92 images. Click on any of the thumbnails below to see some of them, or the button to view more.
More Hyrule Warriors Images »
[View Hyrule Warriors images / screenshots +]
[Watch Hyrule Warriors videos / trailers +]
[View more Hyrule Warriors articles (news, previews, reviews) +]
[View Hyrule Warriors cheats / guides +]
MORE FROM GAMEDYNAMO