Giant Bomb Review

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Hyrule Warriors Review

3
  • WiiU

This odd Wii U collaboration plays like a guided tour of The Legend of Zelda’s most iconic locations and characters. The price of admission? Playing a bunch of Dynasty Warriors.

For better and for worse, Nintendo has never shied away from taking its first party franchises in unexpected directions. Donkey Kong has been all over the map, from 2D platformers to a Mario 64 wannabe to bongo-controlled GameCube games. Star Fox traded in his pilot’s license for a staff in Star Fox Adventures. Metroid found success in first-person with the Prime series, only to disappoint some fans later on with the Other M experiment.

One franchise that Nintendo has never tinkered with to this degree is The Legend of Zelda. Possibly their most critically revered franchise, the detours the series has taken have focused more on unique gameplay mechanics (sailing in Wind Waker, manipulating time in Majora’s Mask, transforming into a wolf in Twilight Princess, etc.) than on genre-changing sequels. That’s why the announcement of Hyrule Warriors caught almost everyone by surprise. The relatively unsullied name of The Legend of Zelda (we won’t count those CD-i titles) has joined forces with Dynasty Warriors, a series with a less-than-stellar reputation that nonetheless possesses a following that’s warranted sequels in the double digits.

Numerous familiar faces team up with Link.
Numerous familiar faces team up with Link.

Hyrule Warriors is exactly what most people would envision when asked to conjure up the image of an Omega Force-developed Zelda game. Through and through, this is a Dynasty Warriors game that’s seen the characters and locations of The Legend of Zelda dropped into it.

To be fair, the nonstop barrage of Zelda references isn’t half-baked. Omega Force is clearly a fan of Link’s adventures, and reminders of this are everywhere. Locations from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword make up most of the battlefields, so you can look forward to slaughtering hundreds of enemies at Lake Hylia, Gerudo Desert, Skyloft, Ganon’s Castle, and plenty more. Playable characters run the franchise gauntlet, including mainstays (Link, Zelda), side characters (Impa, Darunia, Midna), and the blue-haired newcomer Lana.

Taking control of these other characters is one of the great novelties of Hyrule Warriors. In a series that’s always forced us to play as various incarnations of Link, taking control of the franchise’s other memorable characters proves to be one of the best elements of the experience. Each of them features a variety of unique special attacks, many of which can take out dozens of enemies in a flashy spectacle. This gonzo approach to combat can be a fun alternative to traditional Zelda gameplay. Whereas the main series has players placing and throwing single bombs in measured, specific fashions to open a door or defeat an enemy, Hyrule Warriors unleashes a barrage of bombs indiscriminately with one button press. It looks like a Zelda game at first glance, but Hyrule Warriors doesn’t take long to establish its wildly different gameplay.

The new character Lana joins the Legend of Zelda mainstays.
The new character Lana joins the Legend of Zelda mainstays.

Unfortunately, that’s what brings down the experience as a whole. Dynasty Warriors games have earned their reputation as repetitive, mindless button mashers. There’s certainly a specific audience for this, but Hyrule Warriors does little to appeal to those that don’t already belong in that group. Even as a huge Zelda fan, the novelty of revisiting iconic locations and playing as characters that aren’t named Link wasn’t enough to make me look past the gameplay. Fighting as Zelda is pretty cool at first, but the effect wears off when you’re jamming the Y button for the 500th time as you slash through another castle full of mindless skeletons. A few battles against larger boss characters help to shake things up, but these are few and far between.

Elements of the game attempt to deepen the experience, but they’re mostly of the basic “find new weapons, collect materials to craft items, pay rupees to level up quicker” variety. Taking a trip to the in-game bazaar between missions is a nice way to tweak your weapons before your boots are back on the ground, but it certainly doesn’t distract from the mindless slashing you’re required to do 95 percent of the time.

If you want to tackle these repetitive missions more quickly, a co-op mode is in place that allows a second player to use the GamePad. This does cause the framerate and resolution to take a noticeable dip, however. It’s by no means unplayable, so playing with a friend is a nice alternative if you’re tired of slashing through the hordes solo.

Great Fairies can turn the tides of some battles.
Great Fairies can turn the tides of some battles.

If you’re a Dynasty Warriors fan that has stuck through its countless sequels and spinoffs and still aren’t tired of the formula, then Hyrule Warriors offers plenty more. If you’re a Zelda fan on top of a Dynasty Warriors fan, then it’s an obvious slam dunk. It has a full story mode, a free mode that allows you to play as any character, and even an NES-inspired adventure mode that has you completing challenges and collecting items across a map inspired by the first Zelda title. There’s no shortage of content, assuming the core gameplay is something that’s up your alley to begin with.

Hyrule Warriors is an odd move for Nintendo, but it’s one that will make a specific audience of the gaming world very happy. As someone who loves Zelda and is lukewarm at best on Dynasty Warriors, I appreciated the references to the former while becoming frustrated at the bare-bones gameplay of the latter. This quirky offshoot is better than any Dynasty Warriors game I’ve played, while simultaneously being the worst Zelda game I’ve ever played.

192 Comments

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AthleticShark

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Congrats on your First review Dan. Too bad it is still Dynasty Warriors.

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officer_falcon

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That's about what I expected from this game. Not for me but it's cool that this was made regardless.

Also congrats on the first review for this site Dan!

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theimmortalbum

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Edited By theimmortalbum

WHATEVER DAN YOU'RE JUST A CORRUPT JOURNALIST CLEARLY THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVER MADE.

Also, hm. I've always had a slight fascination with Dynasty Warriors. The Gundam game really was just dumb fun. I might have to maybe check this out if it gets super cheap?

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enragedstump

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Glad to hear you stuck to your opinion on this. I have been hearing some people say they love this game, same people who hate dynasty warriors. baffles me. I personally will be picking this up :D

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Baltimore

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Edited By Baltimore

Kind of what I expected from this game. On the surface I think this combination makes a lot of sense but it feels like not a whole lot of effort was put into making anything but a very basic Dynasty Warriors experience

I know a few folks who love Dynasty Warriors and they will most likely love this game. But not I sadly.

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fargofallout

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Are the crazies going to come to bat for this game, or does it get a pass because it's not a pure Zelda game?

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Girthantoklops

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Nice review Dan! And that's an awesome deck, if I do say so myself.

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bassguy

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When I can snag this in a bargain bin for $10-$20, I'll totally check it out. As for the full $60 asking price, all I have is wet fart sounds for that.

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Winternet

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First Dan review yay! Sadly it was a review of hot garbage video game, but yay.

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MachoFantastico

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Edited By MachoFantastico

Congrats on your first GB review Dan.

Is it weird I'm actually more interested in the Dynasty Warriors part of Hyrule Warriors than the Legend of Zelda part.

Yep, it's weird.

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kdr_11k

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The only Warriors game I made significant headway in was Chronicles on the 3DS, one key was to play on hard, then it becomes really dangerous to fight the mindless hordes in areas where they get buffed so dealing with the strategy and taking away their buff zones became vital. At that point the actual combat was almost a side activity, secondary to planning out where to be at which time.

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mashzapotato

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The only Dynasty warriors game I ever got into were the emprie modes (think Dynasty warrriors with a tacked on strategy/kingdom management element) The core game has never really been enough.

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hassun

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Edited By hassun

Good to see Dan on the review beat again. That final line was a good way to sum it.

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s-a-n-JR

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Edited By s-a-n-JR

Dynasty Warriors? More like Dan-nasty Warriors! Ha HA. BOOM.

(Sorry Dan. Great review btw.)

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Joe423

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Edited By Joe423

Don't think I'll pick this up - Dynasty Warriors style gameplay bores me death despite how much I love Zelda.

On another note, great first review Dan!

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hammondoftexas

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Hey look at this, Dan wrote something for Giant Bomb! Good review!

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xite

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It's good to see you didn't forget those absolute gems of CD-i titles when you were going over the various Zelda incarnations.

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DoakSim

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Hey Dan - great to see see your writing! Fab stuff, thank you!

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Makayu

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Edited By Makayu

In some ways this review reminds me of how vetted Dan actually is as a video games journalist, I feel kind of bad admitting it but it was a little hard to take him seriously for me sometimes. This review was well written, articulate, and concise. Thanks for the cool review Dan, I look forward to the next one!

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Vashyron

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I really hope that no one actually thought this wouldn't be like Dynasty Warriors. Also, playing on Dynasty Warriors is normal isn't the most challenging experience.

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hermes

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Edited By hermes

This quirky offshoot is better than any Dynasty Warriors game I’ve played, while simultaneously being the worst Zelda game I’ve ever played.

Really?

No Caption Provided

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Bezieh

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Edited By Bezieh

@xite: It'd be real hard to forget them since they were played on the site the other day.

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Shortbreadtom

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@sanj: More like Dy-nah-sty Bore-iors am I right?

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ColossalGhost

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Shame it doesn't deviate to much from being a dynasty warriors game.

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AMyggen

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@hermes said:

This quirky offshoot is better than any Dynasty Warriors game I’ve played, while simultaneously being the worst Zelda game I’ve ever played.

Really?

No Caption Provided

The relatively unsullied name of The Legend of Zelda (we won’t count thoseCD-i titles) has joined forces with Dynasty Warriors...

Also, judging by that CD-i stream, he has obviously never played those games.

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Hailinel

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I am part of the audience that this game will make happy. This is a fair review, Dan.

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AMyggen

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Seems like a fair review.

I wonder when the video embargo goes up, need dat QL.

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Doskias

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Enjoyed reading this review! Yay, Dan.

That said, I've got no idea if I'll like this game or not, because I've never touched a Dynasty Warriors game in my life. Should be fun finding out

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mrfluke

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@hermes said:

This quirky offshoot is better than any Dynasty Warriors game I’ve played, while simultaneously being the worst Zelda game I’ve ever played.

Really?

No Caption Provided

from the review

"The relatively unsullied name of The Legend of Zelda (we won’t count those CD-i titles)"

and yea from the CDI stream, seems Dan never played the CDI games.

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huser

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Edited By huser

Glad to hear you stuck to your opinion on this. I have been hearing some people say they love this game, same people who hate dynasty warriors. baffles me. I personally will be picking this up :D

Sometimes that shiny new wrapper is enough to get people into a thing, even if it doesn't change their opinion on the matter. I don't have an active disinterest for the Dynasty Warriors formula, but this might just be enough to get me to try it. I'm sure that was true for some with the Gundam licensed games.

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forteexe21

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Edited By forteexe21

No mention of the Wii crossbow game?

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Gardamis

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Well, seeing as I have never gotten into Zelda or Dynasty Warriors, but i've been wanting to try a Dynasty Warriors game... this sounds interesting.

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Homeslice

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Love seeing how shocked people are that Dan can write (and write well). Pretty sure that Dan (with the possible exception of Patrick) has written more publicly available content in the than anyone at Giant Bomb since its inception.

Of course, we can't expect the vocal minority to actually look into something like that...

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cooljammer00

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cooljammer00  Online

Shocked Dan didn't take the opportunity to link the WWE 2K15 page to Lana

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dantey

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Edited By dantey

@homeslice: By that note, then we should include all the GS stuff the guys did before GB. That site was a review factory at one point.

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cooljammer00

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cooljammer00  Online

"Worst Zelda game" you've ever played? Well, I guess technically it was Jeff playing through those CD-I titles

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Kaigan

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Ganon's the final boss tho, that's fucked up.

Also, where does this fit in the canon timeline?

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white

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Can someone give Dan a portrait?

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hi_im_rob

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Glad to see that Dan is on the right side of history when it comes to Dynasty Warriors.

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VierasTalo

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csl316

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I liked Other M a whole lot.

*runs away*

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machinerebel

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I'm buying this because I need it, not because I want it.

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Murdoc_

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Edited By Murdoc_

@homeslice: Well if you only know him from GB videos, as I do, I'm surprised he's literate.

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Veektarius

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It occurred to me as I read this review that even if I weren't discounting this game entirely for being a Dynasty Warriors retread, I haven't played a Zelda game in so long that I wouldn't even appreciate most of the references.

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Seikenfreak

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Edited By Seikenfreak

So whatever happened to the Quick Look? Think I saw it on the "Coming Soon" list a day or two ago.

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paulunga

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Are the crazies going to come to bat for this game, or does it get a pass because it's not a pure Zelda game?

The crazies who defend DW or Zelda? I don't think Zelda really needed much defending in the past (though I wasn't much of a fan of Skyward Sword).

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Kolonel_Kool

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I love the headline!

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johncallahan

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Edited By johncallahan

This is about what I expected. That being said, between my love for Zelda, never having played a Dynasty Warriors game, and needing something for my Wii U, I'll probably pick this up.

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TheBlue

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The score seems meaningless here, your review does the game more justice than a simple scale. A very clear description of who would like this game and who wouldn't. Definitely a solid review.