When I first heard that a Legend of Zelda side project was in development called Hyrule Warriors, the first thought that ran through my head was a tournament fighter. Not in the same spirit of a Super Smash Bros., more akin to 3D fighters like SquareSoft’s Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring or Castlevania Judgement. The modern LoZ fighting engine could be perfectly built around that format. But as time passed and more information became available, much to my dismay, I learned that Koei Tecmo, the people responsible for Dynasty Warriors, was going to make a Dynasty Warriors game featuring Legend of Zelda characters…………………I died inside and all hope for me caring about this game sank like a rock in the ocean.
I’m not going to insult fans of Dynasty Warriors, but I never understood the big deal about this series. I was still knee deep in Command & Conquer by the time I decided to give this series a whirl. Well, a quick reiteration; the first Dynasty Warriors game was mediocre fighter that couldn’t quite keep up with the speed and fluidity of Soul Edge. So Dynasty Warriors 2 came out to make people forget that the first game ever happened. I’ve never seen a franchise jump genres so fast. Thinking it was going to be the perfect blend of a hack-n-slash and real time strategy, I was quickly disappointed and bored by the mindless button mashing!!! It wasn’t fun, but I figured they would eventually give you some kind of strategy sim in the next game.
NO they didn’t!! Dynasty 3 was pretty much the same damn game, just bigger and faster!! Then the Kessen series came out around the same time, and that was the same goddamn thing as well!!!! Made by the same company!!! and for nearly 16 years, they’ve been milking the same game for everything it’s worth!!! Which isn’t much!!!! WHY!!?!? WHY DO THEY KEEP MAKING THESE!!? WHY ARE THEY SUCCESSFUL!?! Adding a different prefix to Warriors doesn’t qualify as progression!! It’s like if someone told you to renovate your garage, so you simply add layers of paint all over everything to make it seem different! They attempt to harken back to the old arcade days of brawling beat’em ups, but is missing the psychology of what makes Double Dragon or Turtles in Time so much fun to begin with. Those games are stress-relieving and don’t go on for nearly 25 minutes a mission.
Sure, they threw some tactical games out here and there, these are their flagship money makers. Even to the point of getting their hands on anime titles like One Piece and Fist of the North Star did very little to make them try anything different. Every interview I’ve found is the devs promising to utilize the franchise’s universe and not make just another “Dynasty Warriors” game. They said the same heaping teaspoon of bull crap when Hyrule Warriors was being developed. How true did they stay to their word? Well, this clearly rhetorical device was an obvious setup for NOT AT ALL!!!!
If anything else, a powerful console should do wonders for these kinds of games. The action is pretty hectic and the frame rate drops when things get really cluttered. Visuals and character models look pretty amazing, the layout of the land is gorgeous, and there are plenty of enemies from each respective game, all whom look pretty sweet. Characters attack with flashy spectacular combos, so make this game as easy on the eyes as possible. Perhaps the only major drawback is that you get seduced by the glamourous visual effects that it becomes very easy to lose track of where the hell you are going. Many a times I had to readjust myself after a combo to go help somebody because I’m so disoriented after zipping back and forth!
There are some pretty cool electrical guitar remixes of some classic Zelda themes, and while they simply seem to be there to remind you that you are playing a Zelda game, it’s fun to hear them. Thankfully, none of the characters are given voiced dialogue, something that a pocket of growing people seem to demand. That’s fine, if you want Legend of Zelda to be ruined forever. The last time Link and Zelda spoke, it wasn’t pretty. The last thing I need is Bryce Papenbrook and Laura Bailey possibly dubbing two gaming icons to make them sound like generic anime leftovers.
Second verse, same as the first. Keep captains alive, take over keeps, rescue people, rescue people, rescue people, rendezvous with somebody, rescue people, escort someone, a stale Zelda-style boss battle where the enemy reveals its weakness and you have to hit it with an alt weapon and wail on it until it gets up again, rescue people…holy shit, does this get repetitive!!! What’s the point of getting all these great Zelda characters together for an epic brawl if they can’t go 45 feet without landing in trouble!? There’s no tactics involved, no skill. You just figure out the fastest way to slowly chip away at waves and waves of enemies until they are no more and move on. Hyrule Warriors tried to be cute by adding Badges, which are assist abilities to give your characters a moderate boost.
With the exception of adding the ability to use multiple potions and getting another skill bar, I found most of these not worth the effort to acquire. Items like Redead bandages and Big Poe necklaces are used by almost every character to boost defense-based badges (stupid shit like “moderate defense increase on Fire element-recommended stages.” What kind of protracted, oddly specific bullshit is that!?), but these items are dropped by the most frustrating enemies in the game to fight, so farming these are just a complete waste of time that you could spend just leveling up everyone with Rupees. Yeah, you can just PAY to level up your characters!!! Get lucid!!!
The Smithy, where you can go to transfer skills to weapons with empty slots, is only marginally more useful. By destroying a weapon, you equip the base weapon with the skill you’ve selected. In addition to element-based attributes, like added boost to light effect damage, there’s more goofiness. Strength III, for instance, means that 3 hit combos will receive additional damage (B,B,Y for example) That is unnecessarily specific, but in this game’s universe, this is a diverse and intuitive way to strengthen your characters. I call it bollocks.
This format sounds nice and gives off the impression that there certainly a lot to tinker with and get the right combinations you need, but in the end, when all you do is wait for enemies to reveal their weak point, none of this matters! All the flashy combos, item drops, and treasure chests are just a means of jingling shiny keys in front of an infant’s face to keep it amused.
Being able to play one of you potential favorite Zelda characters was something I thought I would enjoy, but the one character I wanted to play as, my gal pal Midna, is borderline uncontrollable, while the Hyrule Warriors original, the incredibly out-of-place Hatsune Miku clone Lana, is incredibly overpowerful!! She can keep enemies at bay and stun them in an endless loop of electric-powered wall tablets!! Way to make everyone else feel useless!!
I pretty much knew what I was getting into when I got this game, and if you’re a fan of the Dynasty Warriors formulas, it shouldn’t disappoint. This game exists to tide people over until Zelda U comes more into fruition, and it succeeds as that. I liked my idea of a tournament fighter instead of the most stale game engine I have ever played in my 22 years of gaming.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10
PROS: Super Zelda fan service!!!! Music. Original story is pretty good. Cia is saucy.
CONS: Mind-numbingly monotonous action that gets old FAST. Useless skills. FARMING