Hyrule Warriors Review (Wii U)

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Developer: Omega Force/Team Ninja
Publisher: Nintendo

Main Review

Review Context: During my childhood I was a Mario guy and never played a Legend of Zelda game. I did watch the cartoon. That changed when I watched my friend play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on his gold cartridge. I made it a point to play past Zelda games I missed out on. To be fair, I could only get two games a year at the time. Dynasty Warriors was a game I played twice and never thought about it, since you are just slicing through endless hordes of enemies.
Date of Playthrough: March 3, 2015

When the game was revealed at the opening of a Nintendo Direct, many were disappointed to believe that the next game in the Zelda franchise would be a hack ‘n’ slash game. After the game was shown, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata let the fans know that the game is a spin-off while the next true Zelda game is being developed. With the game being made by the Dynasty Warriors team, the feelings were mixed by fans, but when the game was released it was met with mostly praise. Will using Link’s Master Sword in a fast paced game prove to be the difference maker, or will you “listen” to your inner self and wait for the next true Zelda game?

Graphics

Team Ninja does a fantastic job of bringing the Hyrule kingdom to life. The characters have a Twilight Princess design of the character, looking realistic over the cartoony look of Windwaker. The game also contains pre-rendered cut scenes, which will make you hope they are included in the next Zelda game to give you the feel of watching a Zelda movie, before you’re snapped back to reality to remember you’re playing a game.

HyruleWarriorsScreen01The scale of the game is impressive, but with a few flaws. The battlefields for where you fight are huge and impressive, but since the game bares you with overwhelming enemies the frame rate starts to take a hit. This didn’t affect my playthrough, but I was thinking how much better the experience could’ve been if the slowdowns didn’t occur.

Since Team Ninja is widely known for the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series, many were surprised that the females didn’t have the trait of being…well… big, until you see Cia (boss) and what they did to the Great Fairy. You do get to see lots of enemies and allies from the Zelda universe, making this game feel like a love letter to fans.

Controls

For people who played the Dynasty Warriors franchise, the main joke of the series is “press attack to win”, making it to where (myself included) after 20 minutes you want to turn the game off. This game supports the Gamepad, Wiimote/nunchuck, and the Wii U Pro controller. Using different control schemes I saw nothing different, only that if you use the Gamepad your mission status is displayed on the screen along with a map, and support for Off-TV play. Though the Wiimote/nunchuck scheme felt a bit off, it didn’t affect the gameplay. The combos are made easy to mash away but have some depth, like when is the right time to unleash a massive combo. For boss fights you can’t use the “press X to win” method, as it will leave you defeated before you know it. I give the game credit for changing the formula up to using strategy in certain parts of the game.

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Design

The main story of the game goes as simple as this: Cia is looking for the strongest warrior, discovers Link, only to find that Zelda is always by his side. Something you would read on a Zelda fanfic site. As you unlock new allies and old friends, Cia opens multiple portals to bring about the end of Hyrule. You will be visiting key landmarks from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. As I stated earlier, this part of the story feels like a thank you letter to the fans. I should note, that upon playing the game it has been patched (1.0.6) to add more features and characters in the game to add more replay value for trying out new moves. If you feel you could do better, you can replay the level with a different character for a better time score.

The difficulty of the game is easy to get by on normal setting, but you can increase the challenge for your taste. The Dynasty Warriors games are known for being somewhat of an easy game to the point you give up due to lack of challenge, unless you decided to increase the difficulty to where the game has you dying within minutes. That’s why finding that sweet spot within the difficulty is needed. For Hyrule Warriors, normal to hard setting is reasonable to get by to where you don’t get bored and frustrated.

The game supports local co-op where one player uses the Gamepad while the other player uses the Pro Controller or Wiimote/Nunchuk on the TV, so no split screen is involved. Moments like this are why I love my Wii U, since I had used this co-op feature in zombie mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The recent patch has added Amiibo support. When you use a Link Amiibo you get a top spinner-like weapon, while other Amiibos give you random rewards.

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Adventure Mode has the game go back to the roots of Legend of Zelda style, only with each enemy you have a task, like for example, kill 100 enemies in 90 seconds. When you complete the tasks you earn weapons and items for tougher battles. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, but I will admit this game has lots of content with the recent patch and the season pass. (All the Season Pass content is released.) I can’t tell you what the game had before the patch, but the story mode alone had me hooked.

Sound

The game’s soundtrack consists of orchestrated music of the Zelda franchise (can’t have it any other way). When you watch the first cutscene, you start to believe that maybe this will be the game to have voice acting when you see Zelda play the harp. Not before long, all hope is shattered when you see text at the bottom of the screen. You get the usual grunts and screams. What will surprise you is during the loading screen you are treated to a Game of Thrones style narration. Thanks to the patch, you have the option to choose what music is played during battle. What’s a Zelda game without those classic sound effects, which you will hear…a lot of.

Similar Games Liked:
Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)
Ninja Gaiden (Xbox)
No More Heroes (Wii)

Similar Games Disliked:
Ninja Blade (Xbox 360)
X-Blades (Xbox 360)
Conan (Xbox 360)

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