Developer: Omega Force, Team Ninja
Genre: Action Adventure
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Content Warning: This game is rated T for suggestive themes and fantasy violence. The violence is endless but tame. You “KO” opponents instead of killing them. The suggestive themes would be the cleavage on the main villain Cia. Also, Ganondorf is a demon king (aka a bad guy with no affiliation with real life demons or satan). Lastly, you “pray” (aka raise your sword) about once every other level to cut to a scene where the Great Fairy assist you in battle by dropping a bomb on opponents. I would not recommend this game to anyone under 13 as the rating of T suggests.
It sure has been a while since a major Wii U game release. In fact, it has been since May when Mario Kart 8 was released. Luckily though, Nintendo has another hit for their system. Hyrule Warriors fills in a genre that Nintendo has never done before but they locked down an exclusive with Team Ninja to make a Legend of Zelda themed Dynasty Warriors game. This could of bombed since Team Ninja did an adequate job with Metroid: Other M. But! I am happy to announce that Hyrule Warriors is a must purchase!
Just to clarify before I cover the brief story, this is not in the official Zelda timeline. To make a brief story shorter… Ganondorf was defeated a long time ago and his soul was split into four fragments. Three are in different timelines (Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword) and the final piece is in the Master Sword. You start off with just Link as he goes from nameless soldier (who is the only one not wearing a helmet) to Hyrule’s hero in no time. Along the way he recruits others to assist him on a quest greater than any of us could dream. After about four stages you and your friends split up and travel to each of the timelines. This was the best part of the story as you get to experience the settings of each of these games. After teaming back up and retrieving the Master Sword, all seems to be good and well. Except Team Ninja decides to throw a curve ball. Despite the main story being done, you get to play a few levels as Ganodorf and WOW! The main villain is Cia apparently but, we all know Ganondorf is the true force of evil in the game. The story was kind of whatever as it was really just an excuse to go to all of these amazing settings and experience their worlds. I wouldn’t mind seeing Majoras Mask, Wind Waker, and Zelda U as the settings for Hyrule Warriors 2 (wink, wink Nintendo).
If you have played Dynasty Warriors before then you can skip this part. For those of you who haven’t then let me try to explain. You are on a battlefield that is controlled by two or three teams (think Risk in this case) and you have ever changing objectives given to you. They can range from defeating a boss, to capturing certain points on the battlefield, to simply defending a character (Zelda, can you heal yourself for once!?). It is essentially a light strategy game tacked on to a hack and slash, action heavy title. Ninety-nine percent of the time is hitting X or Y to perform various combos to slice through a seemingly endless amount of foes. This seems like it would be redundant or repetitive and actually… it is. But, it is never boring. With so much to do and keeping your eye on the map to ensure you will achieve your objective, Hyrule Warriors is dare I say… addictive. The various combos you can perform and constant finding of rupees, materials, and new weapons may actually just be the icing on the cake. Tired of low level caps in other games? In Hyrule Warriors, you can level every single character to 99! Thankfully you can use rupees to level up other characters to be caught up to whoever is the highest level. Leveling all characters could easily take you a hundred hours. By the end of Legend Mode (the main story mode), I had Link around level 35. At no point did I feel as if I were grinding or not having fun. The most frustrating part of Legend Mode can be if you have various things you need to do at once and they are on complete opposite parts of the map. Zelda may need to be escorted on one end yet, you are losing a key control point on the other side! Decisions, decisions… Oh and that is just Legend Mode. There are three other game modes as well. While Legend Mode forces you to pick between a certain set of characters for whichever level, in Free Mode you can play through the entire campaign as ANYONE and still get new loot and level them up. Free Mode is great if you want to fight Ganondorf as Ganondorf or you just need to level someone up but, don’t have the rupees to do it. Adventure Mode has an overworld that is exactly a replica of the original Legend of Zelda on NES but, separates the map into squares that each presents their own unique challenge. This is also crucial as you can get heart pieces/containers and is a fun way to level up characters as well. Hopefully, Team Ninja will use Link To The Past next time. Last but not least there is Challenge Mode. This is kind of similar to Adventure Mode but it is purely challenges that can range from something simple like killing X amount of enemies in X amount of minutes to something absurd. While I enjoyed Adventure Mode the most out of all of the side modes, I could easily see Free Mode or Challenge Mode being someone elses favorite. Oh and if you are wondering how long it takes to complete Legend Mode, I had about fifteen hours logged by the time I completed it. I almost forgot! The special moves that each character can perform is simply amazing as I have seen them wipe out upwards to seventy foes at a time. I have never felt so powerful as Link before.
Graphics and Sound
If you were disappointed that Zelda U was not going to look like the tech demo that Nintendo showed for the Wii U, then Hyrule Warriors will not disappoint. Hyrule Warriors makes Link and the gang look better than ever while maintaining a smooth sixty frames per second for majority of gameplay. The frame rate drops to thirty if playing co-op however, you all are facing hundreds of foes at once so this is perfectly acceptable. While character models look fantastic, I must say that not all the levels look just as great. When things are colorful then they pop and make your jaw drop just a tad. Hyrule Field (with the classic Legend of Zelda theme playing) is magnificent and a great way to open the game. While Skyloft on the other hand, did not look not much better than the Wii’s Skyward Sword. The endless amount of foes look acceptable but nothing special. All of the love and care went into the main characters and bosses. The soundtrack is perfect as it is mixed with classic Zelda music but amped up! Hearing the Legend of Zelda rock version had me ready to defend Hyrule. I did notice that when pausing the game, the rock music would subtly go to the classic theme without interruption. It is a small touch but, I appreciate it as sometimes I paused to catch a breath.
If you love Zelda, Dynasty Warriors, or good games in general then I recommend Hyrule Warriors. While Legend of Zelda games are slower paced action adventures, this game is hack and slash awesomeness. As I said before, I hope there is a Hyrule Warriors 2 with the settings from Majoras Mask, Wind Waker, and Zelda U. Heck, whatever the next handheld system is after the 3DS should have a Hyrule Warriors with settings from the handheld titles. Also, there is a twenty dollar “season pass” where there will be new content being released every other month (check the Wii U E-Shop as it goes into all the details).
On a side note, I am on board with what Nintendo is doing. They have Retro making the Donkey Kong Country games, Team Ninja playing around with Nintendo franchises (with mixed results so far), locking down Sonic as a three year exclusive, and getting Bayonetta 2 as an exclusive as well. Now, what Nintendo needs is a new Nintendo published game every two months and they have done everything possible to single-handedly make the Wii U a great gaming system all on its own. But please… Can we get a true sequel to Star Fox 64? I don’t want to see anyone running on the ground!
The Bottom Line
Another great game to add to your Wii U collection. Would not recommend for anyone under 13 though.