Two years in, it seems the promise of the Wii U is finally being realized: Nintendo properties brought to you in HD, and in fun, new ways. While many fans are anxiously awaiting Super Smash Bros Wii U debut later this fall, there’s a surprising mash-up of franchises to tide you over: Hyrule Warriors.
It’s a little bit of Zelda, and a lot bit of Dynasty Warriors, as Nintendo gives up the reins to its vaunted franchise featuring a boy named Link who must take up arms to save the Princess, Zelda – unless of course she just goes and saves herself first. It has everything you expect from the land of Hyrule, with bombs, arrows, boomerangs, and swords, some puzzles, larger-than-life enemies, and plenty of allies along the way. But of course, this is a Warriors game, which means you also have hundreds, if not thousands of bad guys to hack and slash your way through on your journey to victory.
The control scheme is basically like any other Warriors game. The team at Tecmo Koei’s Team Ninja know what they’re doing at this point, and has shown through the Gundam games in the franchise that their hack-and-slash formula allows for a relatively easy “paste your franchise upon it” add-on. And that’s exactly what you get out of Hyrule Warriors, and that makes for a fun, if somewhat repetitive experience (because, you know, Dynasty Warriors) that should keep your Wii U busy and useful until that other game.
Essentially, for those who have never had the pleasure of one of the Warriors games, you run around, hitting mostly two buttons to vary between your quick and strong attacks to link together combos and kill literally thousands of enemies in large maps. The actual goals are usually “take control of this small portion of the map” or “defeat this character before he kills your allies/takes control of another small portion of the map.” It’s not very innovative, it’s not very complicated, and it’s an utter blast. In Hyrule Warriors, there’s all the Zelda trappings, like the aforementioned weapons. There are several playable characters, like Link, Zelda, and Sheik who are joined by some lesser-known characters like Agitha and Lana – it’s a great mix of characters, and interestingly the most powerful and exciting ones all happen to be female. Each have their own unique weaponry and crazy over-the-top special moves. You run around the enemy-filled maps hoping to stop Ganondorf’s plans to use the Triforce to take over the world, you know, as usual.
Basically, beat stuff up, unlock better weapons and new characters, beat stuff up again, listen to some crazy exposition about Ganon and magic and Triforce, beat stuff up again. Chances are, you’ve either played a Warriors game, or you know from this simple description whether it will appeal to you. For fans of the genre and fans of Zelda, it’s a match made in heaven.
There may not be much to Hyrule Warriors, making it fairly difficult to review, but the controls work well, the game’s characters have different enough moves (despite them being executed in an identical fashion), and the Zelda trappings make it considerably easier to get into the story than others in the franchise. It’s a beautiful game, and you can play it entirely on the Wii U’s Gamepad, using the smaller screen as your main one, meaning you can play while doing other things on your TV. It’s a nice feature only used by some of the games for the system, and with the slightly “turn-off-higher-brain-functions” nature of the game, it’s a fun multitasker.
Ultimately, if you want a break from Mario Kart and you’re anxiously awaiting Smash Bros, Hyrule Warriors fits in just fine. It’s an easy-to-pick up, fun to play game featuring your favorite characters from thirty years of Zelda games, and basically all you could expect or want from the newest mashup game in the Warriors franchise.