Developer(s) – Omega Force & Team Ninja
Publisher(s) – Nintendo & Koei Tecmo
Director – Masaki Furusawa
Producer(s) – Hisashi Koinuma, Yosuki Hayashi & Eiji Aonuma
PEGI – 12
Hyrule Warriors is a title that combines elements from both the hack and slash gameplay from the Dynasty Warriors series and the world of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series; as well as its many RPG aspects. Going into this title, I was instinctively skeptical, since the Zelda series is one of my favorites and I saw the entire joint venture as a huge gamble on Nintendo’s part. However, I was quite surprised to find how good a game it actually is.
Graphics – 6.5/10
In lieu of the Zelda tradition, the game is conceptually diverse. It incorporates not only a plethora of different elements from different games in the series but a lot of the different visual styles of the different games too. The in-game visuals are very reminiscent of the likes of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, and some of the cutscenes take on a style more akin to a cartoon, similar to Wind Waker. There are also a lot of nice-looking FMV sequences throughout the game to accompany all this. It makes me wonder why Nintendo has Scarcely approved of the use of FMVs in their games. After all, they also worked pretty well in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze too. Some of the new characters do a good job of keeping the series fairly free too. The best example of that to me is Volga; an enemy character based on the boss of the Fire Temple in Ocarina of Time; Volvagia. The issues I have with the graphics stem from the technical side of things. I have spotted a good few glitches while playing, and sometimes the frame rate can drop when enough enemies are on the screen, which makes me question the hardware capabilities of the Wii U.
Gameplay – 7.5/10
Despite the fact that the game is very repetitive, as the main objective is to simply dispatch everything in sight until each enemy base is taken, it’s also very addictive. Omega Force has had a lot of experience developing games in the hack and slash genre l, and they are good at what they do. The popularity of Dynasty Warriors in Japan, as well as its spin-offs, speaks volumes. There are multiple game modes to choose from, giving players plenty to do throughout, and a great amount of in-game incentive for doing it, including new weapons, items, and characters. The fact that there is also a substantial amount of playable characters also gives the game a fair bit of variety. I think Team Ninja has made a much better job of collaborating with Nintendo this time around than what they did during the development of Metroid: Other M, anyway. Hyrule Warriors is much easier to enjoy to me, because not only is it much easier to get to grips with than Metroid: Other M, but because it doesn’t feel like too radical a departure from the main series; as indeed was one of the biggest concerns I had before playing it.
Controls – 8/10
The quality of the controls depends largely on what peripheral is used. Playing the game on the Wii U GamePad, as per the developer’s primary intention, does come with its limitations. Not only do the GamePad’s facilities not truly add much to the gameplay, with the exception of displaying previous progress notifications and players being able to use the touchpad to select secondary items, but after a while, playing the game with the GamePad can end up causing pain in the hands of players if they aren’t careful. I feel as if it is important that I address this issue to anyone who is looking to play the game but may only have the Wii U GamePad to play it on. Since the gameplay in Hyrule Warriors is very intense and action-packed, players may end up tensing their hands across the side of the GamePad, and doing this can cause quite a bit of pain after a good few hours. My advice to players would be to make sure that they try and keep their hands relaxed, and be careful to not tense them up around the GamePad regularly. Most game controllers are designed for players to naturally wrap their hands around, but the Wii U GamePad’s design makes doing this considerably harder. All that being said, however, there are no issues with the actual control scheme of the game itself, and since it centers mainly on button-mashing, I find, mastering the basics won’t be too much of a problem.
Lifespan – 8/10
Though gameplay remains the same throughout, there are still enough things to do to warrant around 30 to 40 hours of playing; maybe even longer if players wish to achieve 100%. There is enough intense and action-packed combat, as well as there being both a strong RPG presence and enough in the way of having to level up each individual character and gaining new weapons and abilities, to keep players interested for an extraordinarily long time for a game of its kind. Out of all the elements of the Legend of Zelda series present in Hyrule Warriors, a delightfully long lifespan is one that I am particularly happy to see attained by the developers.
Storyline – 6/10
Taking place outside of the official Zelda timeline, the events of the story follow Link, who with the aid of several other characters from across the series such as Impa and Sheik, must work to eliminate a new threat headed by the sorceress Cia, who intends to revive Gannondorf in order for him to lay waste to the land of Hyrule and usurp the throne from Princess Zelda. The game works better for fans of the series in a lot of different ways. But no truer is this than in the narrative. It helps to move the plot forward if players already know who everybody in the game already is, as they all come from several different games in the series. If not, some characters will inevitably come off negatively compared to how they were portrayed in previous games. For example, the character Agitha had a fairly subtle role in Twilight Princess, but in Hyrule Warriors, she comes off as considerably less subtle and more unintelligent; and series newcomers will not understand the references to her character in Twilight Princess that are present in Hyrule Warriors. I won’t give away exactly what happens, but one thing that won’t work quite so well for fans of the series is that one in particular plot thread is repeated from another game, and thus discounts one fairly major plot twist. However, having addressed all these issues, I didn’t find the game’s plot to be terrible by any means. Although it still follows the same basic premise that the series has done for almost 30 years now, all the different elements from different Zelda games have been brought together nicely to make for a fairly well written new story. It goes to show at least, that Nintendo is indeed willing to break traditions and take their franchises in new and different directions.
Originality – 6/10
Though for the most part this game draws is heavily influenced by pre-existing elements from 2 different video game franchises, I found that both of these concepts have been taken into fair consideration by the developers, and the result is something, which is somewhat unique in its own right. It may not be the most original end result to spawn from Nintendo collaborating with another developer, but I think if either party had strayed too far from either concept, the game may not have turned out to be as good as it is.
To summarise, Hyrule Warriors, despite its flaws, is a very addictive game and is most certainly worth investing a good few hours in. Even in spite of the many times that Nintendo has either teamed up with or handed over some of their longest-running series’ to other developers, I was worried that something terrible may have come of this in a particular endeavor. But much to my delight, I was proven wrong.
(Written for http://darkzero.co.uk/)