I wasn’t expecting a lot from Hyrule Warriors when I heard about it. It was clear from the marketing material that this wasn’t going to be a proper ‘The Legend of Zelda’ game but it contains characters from the Zelda series, which in my book at least makes this game worth a glance. My first impression was positive – this may not be the Zelda we’ve been waiting for but after seeing Zelda and Link for the first time on the big screen in glorious HD (Wind Waker HD may have been released first, but it doesn’t count) I was ready to forgive this game for any deficiencies.
The most satisfying part about playing Hyrule Warriors is killing dozens of enemies with each mighty swing of your sword. Each level is full of hundreds and hundreds of enemies that can’t really hurt you and only serve to be targeted by your absurdly powerful combo attacks. It can be very satisfying to see entire armies fall before your mighty blows, but if that was all there was too it the novelty would wear of quickly. Fortunately the ‘filler’ enemies aren’t the only bad guys you’ll encounter, there are also stronger baddies that are capable of doing slightly more than dying at the sight of you. Various bosses from previous Zelda games (such as King Dodongo) also make appearances and they require extended battles ( and usually a specific key item ) to defeat. Learning enemies’ weak points and defeating them quickly is important so that you can get to the true objectives of each map – controlling the keeps.
Each map has a several keeps which can be captured and controlled by either army. Bad guys and good guys spawn from the keeps, and capturing keeps can help prevent enemy armies from pushing into your territory. Most of the strategy of playing the game involves deciding when and where to capture a keep. While you are attempting to capture a keep on the west side of the map the opposing army may be moving in on the east. The game involves a lot of running back and forth and balancing between gaining new ground and defending what you’ve already captured.
I played almost the entire game with my oldest son who was about five and a half when the game came out. Two player mode allows one player to use the Wii U Gamepad and another to use the TV. Back in my college days I adopted a policy of owning my own controller and NO ONE ELSE EVER TOUCHES IT. This hasn’t always worked out as a viable strategy for the Wii U as the Gamepad is unique to the console. When my son was playing with me I was stuck squinting at the Gamepad while he enjoyed all the real-estate of the big TV. My son had trouble navigating around the map by himself but he was able to follow me if I led him to where the battle was taking place. I mostly let him wander the map taking out random groups of bad guys while I took care of capturing the keeps and moving the missions along.
Some parents may have issue with the level of violence in the game but since it was cartoony and relatively non explicit I was comfortable letting both of my boys watch, even though the game is rated for Teens. While I was comfortable with the level of violence in the game I was a little less comfortable whenever the main antagonist came on screen. The primary antagonist ‘Cia’ has been over-sexualized and when she appears on the scene the camera tends to linger on her barely concealed breasts (Killing : OK, Boobs : BAD). With Team Ninja involved in the development it should have been obvious what kind of content to expect. The boys didn’t seem to notice or care about Cia whenever she came on the screen but I still tried to complete any missions Cia was likely to appear in when the kids were at Grandma’s house.
The game is easy enough for anyone to play. I even managed to get my wife to help me with a few levels (which we completed in about half the time as when my son was helping). My only issue with he game is the lack of variety in the missions. Once you’ve gone through the exercise of killing thousands of enemies a few times it can begin to feel stale. Fortunately there are additional modes that keep things interesting and the game has been receiving regular patching that has added capabilities such as Amiibo support and DLC. While this might not be the Zelda game that we’ve been waiting for, it’s a worthy distraction until the real thing comes along.
- Zelda characters in HD!
- Missions don’t offer much variety.
Is it fun: Yes