The hallmarked “Legend of Zelda” franchise predominantly caught the western’s attention, due to pushing the envelope for the adventure genre. The same could be said, apart from the genre, for the long-running “Dynasty/Samurai Warriors” series, which is surprisingly still a phenomenon in Japan. Nintendo and Koei Tecmo have been experimenting with two completely different entities and created a concoction that is known as “Hyrule Warriors.” Within this peculiar crossover, the atmosphere and aesthetics from the Zelda entries are present, whereas, the core mechanics and fundamentals of the Warriors franchise are incorporated as well. Musou fans already know what to expect, however, newcomers of the Japanese feudal war concept might want to reconsider their decision towards this title.
In “Hyrule Warriors,” the tale begins with Princess Zelda that undergoes a frightening nightmare within her beauty nap. Her nightmare foreshadows an ominous purple mist that spreads its doom and gloom across the peaceful land of Hyrule. Zelda knows that her revelation that she saw was simply not a coincidence, thus leading her to make preparations, so she can address the matter before it becomes a reality. Among the Princesses’ massive army, she senses tremendous potential within the soldier Link — the blonde-haired protagonist that’s prevalent throughout the “Legend of Zelda” series. With the addition of Captain Impa, Zelda and Link embark on a mission that later becomes problematic as the unknown forces spreads their seeds of evil before the heroes can react.
There’s obviously more to the storyline than what’s being presented, however, spoiling the in-depth details and the plot twisters wouldn’t be fun for someone else. The pacing of the story is well done, as it keeps the players occupied with meaningful cut scenes and nicely voiced narratives that are prior to beginning a mission. Speaking of voice over, Nintendo continues to ignore the notion of including voices for the characters within the Zelda universe; instead, characters are still using their signature grunts to portray a sense of personality within the conversations. Needless to say, the characters from previous “Legend of Zelda” titles are well integrated into plot as they serve a purpose in this unified mission — rather than being there, just the sake of being there. Even though it’s another game that’s out to save the world, it’s relieving to see that the famous hero isn’t on another journey to save the princess again (which is plaguing the “Super Mario” franchise).
The visuals are simply gorgeous as Nintendo and Koei Tecmo really emphasized on the marvelous trademarks of the Zelda series. Ranging from the environment of various battlefields to the level of detail within the allies and main opponents — those components are all fairly top notch. In addition, the new art style captivates certain aspects of “Twilight Princess” and “Skyward Sword” that the developers mesh together to create the beautiful world of “Hyrule Warriors.” From time-to-time, you’ll notice that the textures of the rocky mountains (up close) and some patterned tiles are slightly blurry compared to other field assets. Likewise, players will also notice that distant foes look less detailed than the enemies that’s within your vicinity — and that’s due to hardware limitation of a vast number of enemies being displayed onscreen. Regardless of the small nitpicking, this game still holds its ground compared to other high-end Wii U titles that’s available on the market.
Fans of the “Dynasty/Samurai Warriors” entries know that this crossover plays like a true musou title once they pick up and play it for a few minutes. Selecting a mission to conquer the enemies’ territory as well as bringing down their malicious ring leader is still the focal point. Furthermore, the proclaimed hack and slash gameplay of plowing through endless hordes of enemies that long-term enthusiasts yearn for is still here. When players are in a dire situation, they can still turn the tides with their devastating signature skill that eradicates a portion of the warzone. Even breaking miscellaneous objects that comes across your way still grants various buffs that benefits the players. Literally, everything that an elitist can expect from the traditional Warriors series is prevalent within this game — with the exchange of the Hyrulean atmosphere opposed to the typical feudal Japanese era.
As for the newcomers that’s foreign to the whole war-tactician gameplay, their outlook towards this intriguing crossover could potentially either be positive — or negative. The whole nature behind the musou genre is that it comes across as being extremely repetitive, given the fact that the game flow is very simple and shallow. Players have a choice of choosing a vast silhouette of characters from the “Zelda” universe, however, these characters barely differentiate themselves — thanks to their combos featuring similar attack properties from each other. What makes matters worse is that the structure of these stages offers very little variation from one to the other, since the victory and defeat conditions essentially remains the same. As you’re playing through the stages, the pursuit to victory is quite an easy task as the relatively poor AI within enemies and the predictable attack patterns from bosses simply doesn’t pose a threat at all. At this rate, the musou genre is destined to solely appeal to the minorities, since many gamers might not have the patience to overcome the flaws.
Nintendo is notorious for constructing eye-catching presentation within their first-party titles, therefore, this title is no slouch by any means either. The theme consists of tan hued canvases with the ancient Hyrulean symbol accents that’s embedded throughout the menus. In addition, the re-imagined soundtracks from the previous “Legend of Zelda” titles rings a lot of nostalgia to the ears of the beloved die-hard fans. The new tracks across all spectrums of the game are well composed, catchy, and edgy — while avoiding the impression of being over-the-top by my standards. On top of that, there are two control methods to choose from that are very precise and responsive, likewise, conducting combos are quite seamless as the timing is pretty lenient. The most welcomed feature is the convenience of the Off-Screen Gameplay on the Game Pad, which does a good job representing the visuals and audio to the television counterpart.
“Hyrule Warriors” is fairly lengthy game that features a substantial amount of optional content for players to sink their teeth into. The main campaign includes 20 stages that involves slicing and dicing your way to banish the sinister forces that threatens Hyrule. The missions themselves can potentially drag on if you’re the type of player that focuses on racking up the kills, discovers hidden treasure chests, and hunts Golden Skulltrula for unlockable items. Moreover, players can replay previous missions on Free Mode to level up their favorite characters while gathering materials, collecting basic weapons, and creating special traits. There’s also an interesting new Adventure mode, which entails a grid scaled map where each space features a special mission condition in order to complete it. Without a doubt, this game will keep Zelda enthusiasts occupied for a long period of time, as well as the onboard support for upcoming downloadable content in the horizon.
Nintendo and Koei Tecmo proved to the world that two entirely different franchises can coincide to create unworldly collaboration that can appeal to a large fan base. The plot is simply a breeze of fresh air over the “Legend of Zelda” series, given the fact that it strays away from the charming aristocrat getting kidnapped — despite that you’re still saving the world with a couple of clichés. The breathtaking visuals along with the rearranged music that screams nostalgia from previous titles is something that die-hard Zelda fans will not overlook. However, the less engaging gameplay fundamentals and mechanics could potentially deteriorate the immersion for any players that’s not accustomed to the musou genre. If the hack and slash playstyle doesn’t bother you one bit — then you’re looking at a title that offers a wide array of stages, modes, and unlockable content that will keep you busy for weeks, if not months, to come.
- Stunning visuals and beautiful atmosphere
- Lengthy campaign/content and high replay value
- Phenomenal remixes of previous Zelda soundtracks
- The repetitive nature of the game flow
- The combat becomes incredibly dull over time
- Voice over on characters would have been nice
Ultimately, should you buy this game…?
[ DEFINITELY YES | YES | MAYBE | NO | DEFINITELY NO ]