Written by: J.H. Longman
This is a game review that is long overdue, so I shall now correct that. Hyrule Warriors, released in 2014, was one of the first games I sat up and paid notice to, from the first moment I heard and saw of it, I was all for the game. I mean a new incarnation of Link charging head first into battle where he could slay around a thousand foes, what’s not to love? Sure this game was never going to be a Zelda title, part of the ongoing series, but it was never meant to be and sure this fact did leave Zelda fans world over, divided, but it did a great job of winning us over, and for me personally, it is one of better Zelda themed games I have ever played and my current favourite game on the Wii U. Plus reviewing it now, well it’s just great timing, what with the officially announced confirmation of Hyrule Warriors for the 3DS, with Wind Waker characters.
For me, as a writer, story is everything and I honestly believe Nintendo did do a great job with the story of this, weaving the story delicately so that they could merge Zelda timelines, presenting us the opportunity to see some of our older, favourite characters from previous titles, but not just see, but play too, something that has been a little long overdue and not just reuniting us with the classics, we also got to see and play as newer characters to the Zelda universe, Cia & Lana, who I feel we could be seeing more of in the future, returning as newer incarnations or even mentioned during the background story to a later game.
Sure Cia died at the end, (whoops spoiler!) but how many times has Ganondorf and Vaati been defeated at the end of a Zelda title and still they were able to return, time and time again? Well the same could be done with Cia. Lana survived after all, and seeing as they were once the same person and the way the Zelda world works, I’d wager upon Lana passing on, her and Cia would be reborn as separate beings within a clan watching over the triforce and the royal family. In fact, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few years, Nintendo will reveal that it is Lana who founded the Sheikah Tribe and that Impa is actually the reincarnated version of her or even Cia.
Plus, in what other Zelda game, have you been able to create carnage on this large a scale, not even Link in Smash Bros owned like Link in Hyrule Warriors. With so many moves, so many weapons, so many ways to lay waste to all your enemies and it’s the same thing for Princess Zelda and all the other characters, and that is before you even count the added weapons and other collectables such as skulltulas and heart pieces & containers and bonus adventure maps and Boss Mode that are available via DLC. I know, Nintendo went over to the Dark Side, implementing Downloadable Content for Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros and of course Warriors, but they did such a great job of it, doing DLC exactly as it should be and not just for financial benefit, which is something we have seen a lot of.
Now as for the game itself, man O’ man what a barrel load of fun it is, but where to begin? Legend Mode, Challenge Mode, the characters, Gold Skulltulas, (I know, I keep mentioning them, but I just really loved meeting the requirements to get them and then hurrying over to collect them, filling in those gorgeous pictures. Getting all 100 Gold Skulltulas, hours of well spent gaming, such an achievement whore more), abut argh mind is in meltdown, it’s all too enticing. I suppose we should start with Legend mode, where voiceover intros and absolutely stunning HD scenes play out, detailing important moments of the story, such as the latest incarnation of Princess Zelda, watching over a sparring session where a young and sharp looking Link, serves as a Knight in training, a scene that felt like a subtle nod to one of the three endings of Spirit Tracks, where Link is training as a Knight as Zelda watches. Then after the scenes, well Hyrule Castle is under attack as an army of considerable size make their presence known and the game starts there, with an armour-clad Link wielding his sparring sword on the battlefield, for the first time, but he’s not the only character we can play, because as the story progresses and DLC packs downloaded, it’s not long before we can fight as many other characters, including the Dragon Knight Volga, Wizzro, Lana, and even Ganondorf, with his dual swords. (Every time I played him, I felt like the blond haired Celt from Spartacus; Gods of the Arena.)
I found myself so wrapped up in the story of the Sorceress being manipulated by a burning sun, Ganondorf in a form known to us, when he appeared talking to Zant, in Twilight Princess, that I spent five hours playing in a single session, only to realize the time, that it was 3am and I had to be up and ready for work by 9. Then once work was finished, I just kept playing and playing and two months later I was still just playing, although by this stage, most of the medals had been earned, Legend Mode complete (by complete, I mean, hard mode on all levels and all collectables earned and obtained), but I did have some help from my player two, AKA my sister.
Out of the many features Hyrule Warriors bore and implemented, the whole levelling up system is one of my favourites, something that hadn’t been seen since Zelda 2 and although it is a game that has seen some hate, I rather liked it. Much like how I like how the levelling up system wasn’t fixed solely to the gamer’s profile, but each individual character. Sure it was tedious trying to constantly level up a certain someone, but that’s what the training dojo and rupees was for, or Map Level A1 in the Master Quest Adventure map mode, was for, to easily level up a character 4-5 levels in a single instant and that’s without the exp+ as an extra ability on an equipped weapon and/or concocted potion. It also made for a clever play on Nitnendo’s part to ensure an extra couple hundred hours of gameplay, not that they needed to, I’d already spent close to a thousand logged hours and in the two months that followed their after, 1000 hours of Hyrule was easily smashed.
Achievement Earned – Medal Unlocked
Obsessed Zelda Gamer
But it really didn’t matter what I was doing when I was playing, be it challenge, adventure or legend mode, I was having fun every single second. The music, the graphics, it was everything and more, the very thing that is every Zelda game, as well as story and come on, who doesn’t love Boss mode, running wild as a Ganon, unleashing your evil reign of chaos, slashing away at hundreds of minute enemies and giant bosses. Come here Argorok, I’m not done with you yet. Even without the DLC, there really is just so much to content to this game, with the DLC making so much more available for purchases that were quite literally next to nothing prices that quite literally doubled the game. And if I had to pick a favourite pack, it has to be Majora’s Mask. Young Link is far superior to Link, especially when the magic bar is full and the mask comes on, goodbye Young Link, hello Fierce Deity Link. Time for Carnage, quite literally in fact as all this reminiscing on how great a game Warriors is and all the content, even the ones I have yet to mention, it is really making me want to shut my computer down and pick up the game pad again, so time for a wrap up.
We have now reached part of the review where I give Hyrule Warriors its game rating, but no decision can be taken so lightly, it’s time to bust out a list of – Pros & Cons, (like I need them this time):
-Inclusion of weapons old and new
-Variety in appearance (costume and character)
-Plenty of content to ensure hours and hours of playing (literally a thousand easy)
-A new arch villain to liven things up
-Implementing DLC in all the right ways, (adding to the story with a pre-story, as opposed to selling us a game that had a chunk of story ripped out and then sold back to us via extortionately priced DLC), Stimulating a great gaming experience, something you can enjoy playing over and over.
-Original enough story.
-Not enough variety in stages, sure the DLC offered new adventure modes, with new rules to abide by, but they didn’t come with new stages to quest on.
-No Poes!!! I don’t recall seeing Gold Skulltulas in Twilight Princess, so why not in the Twilight adventure map, replace the Skulltulas with Poes, it would have been a great game tie-in. They could also have included more of them, maybe another 20 to fill in another illustration, giving us another playable rewards map.
-Missed opportunity with the DLC. Hyrule Warriors features a scene with Ganondorf riding into battle on a horse, but the game doesn’t give you the opportunity of letting him use a horse as a weapon, like Link is able to use Epona. Also Most of the other characters actually had a “Dark” version you were able to fight against, but with the exception of Dark Link, none of the dark costumes are able to be acquired. Lastly , like with the dark costumes that were implemented, during the adventure mode functions, you can actually come across characters such as Sheik, fighting with as Zelda, possessing her weapon, or Lana being Cia and vice versa and yet, again this is an option that was also denied to us, which honestly would have made a pretty good DLC.
-No versus mode, sure co-op is good, you and your player two playing your way through whatever mode took your fancy, but a nice grudge match mode would have been nice. Forget competing to see who could get more kills, just an all-out brawl and pound your fellow gamer into the ground.
I think it’s pretty clear that Hyrule Warriors is a clear contender for scoring 8 or higher, and it does as it nails it with a solid 9.5 out of 10.0 because it really is the Best game I have played on the Wii U, better than Smash, better than Mario Kart 8 and Wind Waker. This really is a game that you have to play, “true Zelda tie-in” or not and with a version coming out on the 3DS with two all new playable characters. Now is a great time to get your hands on your own copy as there really is such a great gaming experience to be had by playing this, because if you don’t, then you’re just missing out on a really great thing. Even Hyrule Warriors Legends is worth the buy, because with the ground firmly broken and the success of Warriors, Nintendo are only going to build further on that success with so much more, such as the newly added Wind Waker content.
But that’s just my opinion, (after over a thousand hours of gaming, which still just melts my mind), and the opinion of many before me. Now is the time that you made your own opinion, for You to take up the legend and raise the Hyrule Warriors Master Sword.
Oh and one other thing, upon the announcement of Legends, Hyrule Warriors saw another update, one to commiserate the good news, a new costume for Link. Or should I say an old one, the Classic costume, which just means we get to slay our enemies and say “Well, excuse me Princess,” at the same time.