Link is the same silent protagonist we all know and love…Except this time around he’s rocking a clashing blue scarf!
Are you a Legend of Zelda junkie? Are you prone to nostalgia feels? Do you enjoy the battle-simulator, hack and slash craziness of Dynasty Warriors? Enjoy babysitting incompetent AI and juggling which pathetic ally you’re going to save next? How about repeating the same attack combo about 50 bajillion times to kill roughly the same number of rehashed enemy types you’ve already seen in every LoZ game? If so, you’re in for a treat! Hyrule Warriors is everything I just mentioned, and more!
All joking aside, we had a lot of fun with Hyrule Warriors before moving on. There’s still a lot of grinding to do and Majora’s Mask DLC that just released on February 5, so we’re probably not 100% done visiting it.
Back in the day, Steve-O and I had a lot of co-op Dynasty Warriors fun. I can’t recall exactly which ones we played, because there were a few, but I do remember the co-op craziness and general feel of the games. When I found out the same company worked with Nintendo to create what is essentially a Legend of Zelda skin, I was all for it. If you’ve never played one of the Dynasty or Samurai Warrior games, they’re basically a battle simulator where you run around capturing enemy keeps, killing enemy commanders, and fulfilling other stage-specific goals while keeping your bases from falling to the enemy. In games like these it’s not uncommon to slay 1,000+ enemies on a single level. And, thanks to the jumps in technology, the lag is considerably lessened compared to the old days of playing DW. Not that it’s non-existent, but it doesn’t really hinder gameplay.
Instead, you have bad decision making hindering gameplay, like cutscenes cutting in on the action (see what I did there?). Even turning them off in the main menu doesn’t stop opening treasure chests from being a drawn out affair that ruins the flow of battle and lets enemies pop cheat shots off on you. Not a big concern during the Legends story mode, but when trying to achieve A rankings to unlock goodies on Adventure mode it can make or break your progress. Another one of our biggest gripes worth mentioning is button-mapping for selecting items in your inventory. Stupid gimmicky LoZ bosses show up repeatedly, and certain items are needed to defeat them. But in order to look through your inventory to use things like bombs, potions, or the hookshot, you literally have to take your thumb off of the joystick you’re using to move the character around. So yeah, stand still amongst piles of 50 enemies at a time to find the item you need to use. Granted, the general cronies suffer from a severe case of the derps, but still. Every little bit counts when trying to unlock stuff.
Hyrule Warriors doesn’t take place in LoZ canon. Not sure at this point it really matters, since Nintendo can’t even figure out their own timeline. During the main campaign, you’ll gradually be introduced to both original and returning characters and unlock them as playable. Some you need the DLC for. You’ll get your merry band together and traverse a few Zelda worlds. Most of the time you have to play as a specific character. One of the great things about playing co-op is that the second player can be whoever they want: You can have Princess Zelda and Sheik fighting side by side, consistency be damned! One of you will have to make the sacrifice of playing as the mandatory character while the other picks their favorite and goes to town. Each character has their own flair and style, but swapping between them doesn’t take all that much to grow accustomed to because all the combos are the same. Literally. Leveling up character abilities requires giving them “badges” by using items collected in battle, and they all add up to variations of pressing Ys and Xs. That’s it. If you’re playing as a new character, it’ll take you all of one minute to test out all the combos you have unlocked. Then you’ll pick one or two favorite moves and just stick with them.
The variety mainly falls with weapon types and character style. On his own, Link can equip like, 6 different weapon types. Each gives him different moves and flashy things to look at. As you can imagine, his style will be entirely different if he’s on Epona compared to say, wielding the Master Sword or Magic Rod. Make sure you try each character’s weapons before dismissing them entirely. I tried Zelda’s Dominion Rod first and absolutely hated it. Yet later on she got a decent Rapier and when I tried it out I loved it. I tend to lean towards magic users while playing video games. In Hyrule Warriors I became smitten with DLC character Twili Midna. She’s slower, but her attacks cover such a large area, and her special move literally creates an enormous black hole under enemies’ feet. Another new mage is Cia. One look at her and you can tell Nintendo’s getting desperate enough to get a little risque:
Boobs in a Nintendo exclusive game? I know, I was confused too.
Other favorites of ours included Link, Impa, Lord Volga, and Sheik. However, I encourage you to try them all out. Some characters are insufferably annoying to the point where you won’t want to play as them (Lana and Agitha, that is), but I’ll begrudingly admit they have some cool combos as well. At one point or another you’ll be forced to play as them anyway.
Once you’ve completed the nearly pointless meanderings of the “Story” mode, you’ll want to go spend time in the nostalgic grindfest Adventure maps. It’s 8-Bit Zelda map glory, where you have to complete challenges and collect Item Cards to discover hidden goodies.
Somehow, your fires never seem to spread from that one bush.
Adventure Mode maps are maze/puzzle hybrids that require you to go all over the map and follow various paths to tredge your way to the weapons or hearts you want for characters. I’m certainly not the authority on this as it’s a bit grindy for my current tastes (Ok more like ‘it takes up too much of my free time to play video games’) but it adds a lot of life to the game for those who have that itch to max out their characters. The DLC maps even add more costumes for characters as well. Truth be told, I had no use for other alternate Link costumes after I had him decked out in purple. The Adventure Mode maps also add more Gold Skulltulas to unlock and collect. There’s over 100 of them. Again, lots of extras for those so inclined.
Like Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors is a game I was in for the co-op fun, not the engrossing gameplay and story. Which isn’t a bad thing, just the nature of the beast. Throw in a Legend of Zelda theme and you have a formula for hours of nostalgic fun. If you’re in it for the co-op like I am, prepare yourself for some co-op annoyances. Aside from the cutscene interruptions I mentioned earlier, there’s one other decision that constantly irked me. There is only one menu where the second player is able to join. And they have to do so every. single. battle. Firstly, nowadays it should be possible for local co-op to jump in at any time. Secondly, if I say I’m playing, keep me there until I opt out. I can’t count the number of times the second player would forget to join, making us have to suffer loading screens to turn around, back out of the battle, and start again. I also wish the second player could jump in the bazaar, where you level characters and smith gear.
And as a final note, I want to know who the hell has been designing Zelda bad guys for the last few games. Zant and Ghirahim look so terrible! Just… ugh. Do video game designers in Japan hold contests to see who can draw the fruitiest or wackiest looking villain?