NS Review: Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

At first, when you switch on Hyrule Warriors, it appears to be a standard Zelda title. You have the usual chimes, the usual (if beefed up a little) music and a beautiful title screen showing Hyrule Castle. It doesn’t take too long though, to find out that this is quite far from a standard Zelda title. This is, essentially, a Dynasty Warriors title with a Zelda veneer. For those of you unfamiliar with Tecmo-Koei’s hack and slash franchise should imagine it as a series where you, as a ridiculously powerful character, massacre a ludicrous amount of enemies and other captains with equally absurd attacks – so far, so distant from a Zelda game.

That isn’t to say that the game disregards all of its allusions to the Zelda franchise. Hyrule Warriors focuses primarily on three games from the Zelda franchise: Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, and borrows characters and locations from these three. The lore may be messed with in each case, and the whole game overall, but the game feels far enough from the core franchise that keeping within the confines of it without playing around with it would seem ridiculous.


The locations throughout the game, with the exception of a couple, will all be places that you have visited before. The layouts of some of them may have changed, but it is wonderfully nostalgic seeing all of them rendered in gorgeous high definition graphics. Couple this with the fantastic music, which both manages to be nostalgic and brand new, with even the brand new tracks fitting well within the Zelda universe. The character selection is a wonderful trip down memory lane, encompassing the three games that are brought in, with a few surprising choices (Agitha?) and a light sprinkling of new characters (such as Lana). It’s when you bring all this together you stop and realise how diverse the Zelda franchise has actually been over the years.

Now to the meat of the game, the gameplay. Hyrule Warriors plays like a Dynasty Warriors title in essence; you have your standard attacks, strong attacks and special attacks. Then you proceed to form combos using a mixture of the first two and wipe out everything. That isn’t to say that you can just tear across battlefields and still win; you are often expected to halt your own progress to protect allies, or complete other objectives that can aid or hinder your overall progress depending on your success.


The main differences between usual Warriors games and this title come from the Zelda influence; there are hidden chests, Gold Skulltulas and areas on each map that can only be reached by returning later with items acquired later, such as the Hookshot. There’s also materials dropped by enemies that can be used to bolster your defences or attack power/strategies (all of which have names eluding to the Zelda universe, such as “Kokiri Sword” as an attack buff), and an almost excessive amount of weapons all of which have different strengths and other added bonuses (including increasing rupee drops, for instance). Needless to say, Hyrule Warriors contains a tremendous amount to find and explore.

All of the above isn’t even getting into the alternate modes that the game offers, such as the wonderfully retro Adventure Mode, set on a true to original replica of the world map from the original Legend of Zelda. The aim of this mode is to progress through completing set objectives; which become more devilishly difficult, and some of which require the acquisition of retro items such as the candle or compass to unlock the rewards. Some of these rewards can include characters that can’t be unlocked in the main mode, or bonus weapons for your characters. Then, to add to an already substantial amount of content, there’s the fact that Nintendo have announced DLC support up until at least February boasting new characters, costumes, game modes and maps. The sheer amount of work that has gone into Hyrule Warriors is astounding.


In short, the best way to describe Hyrule Warriors is to say that if the Super Smash Bros. titles are love letters to Nintendo from (essentially) themselves, Hyrule Warriors is a love letter to the Zelda franchise from a secret admirer. It may not be as well-crafted, or all-knowing as Smash, but it is playful and poignant, tender and loving and a wonderful new take on the locales, characters and situations we all love. An absolutely essential purchase for Wii U owners.

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