For the first time, the team behind the popular Dynasty Warriors series takes their unique formula and applies it to one of Nintendo’s beloved franchises in The Legend Of Zelda. Many were cautious when this crossover was announced, and all have been intrigued at the possibilities this combination could offer. It’s not every day that Nintendo allows someone to take their properties and use them for an entirely new genre. This is also an updated port from the underappreciated Wii U and the extremely popular 3DS. In this review, we will see how the game holds up on its own and compared to the other versions.
Release date: March 22, 2018 (JP), May 18, 2018 (WW)
Approximate Size: 12.3 GB
Genre: Action, Hack & Slash
Publisher: Nintendo, Koei Tecmo (JP)
Developer: Omega Force, Team Ninja
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch; also available on Nintendo Wii U (Played) and 3DS (Played).
The story was actually pretty great and the way it is presented, it shows the scope of how bad things escalate and how important victory is. The story sees a woman by the name of Cia tasked with watching over the Triforce, maintaining its balance, and as she watches the various eras in the Zelda timeline, she grows affectionate of Link. With her heart set on the Hero of Legends, and with jealousy towards the damsel always rescued by him in the form of Princess Zelda, this allows Ganondorf an opportunity to exploit and corrupt Cia. This causes Cia’s light to leave her and take the form of Lana and what you have is the classic tale of light versus dark. In her leading the war of evil, Cia opens up the realms and mixes the timelines from the Zelda franchise. Link, like in many games, is nothing special and just a foot soldier who cannot allow his land to be overtaken by dark forces and so, he enters the battle. Shortly after, his journey begins as he is asked to, like most of the iconic games, find the missing Zelda and to band together to stop the evil forces.
It’s great to have an original story that feels like it could fit right into the Zelda timeline without much effort. The cast is varied, and many fan favorites make an appearance from other games. Some characters get more attention than others and this might bother some players but I’m an advocate of doing what makes sense for the story and not to please fans of a character. In other words, there isn’t a need to push a narrative in a story if it doesn’t push the plot forward or add some background to the story going on. Its alright for a character to just show up to fight and aid the heroes because the world is in danger and not because there is a personal stake at risk. On that same note, I like that they took the time to flesh out their original villains and make them feel important. They could have played it safe and simply made this all because of a Zelda villain and that would be the end of it but, instead, they took the time to give Cia a personality and a reason for actions and to explain where Lana comes from and what she hopes to accomplish. Excellently done and a great time.
The story is a good time to play through and offers many unlocks, as well as more story after you finish this main campaign. I recommend everyone give it a try because you have nothing to lose and will find an interesting tale and take on the Zelda mythos.
Those familiar with the Dynasty Warriors series will feel right at home here. You will take control over one of many characters from the Zelda franchise and face hordes and hordes of enemies on large battlefields in an attempt to accomplish the goals of that particular mission. Enemies, as far as the eye can see, will fill the screen and approach you in battle. As you defeat them, they will drop currency in the form of rubies and items that can be used to upgrade your character and weapons. These enemies are the common ones found in various Zelda games, but some higher-level ones can take the form of boss fights. Also, some enemies can have weaknesses that others don’t, and different weapons and tactics will fair better than others. This is the closest you really get to any sort of puzzle solving elements, that need to strategically plan on how to defeat a foe.
The game, like others in this genre, does well in making the player feel extremely powerful. Normal enemies fall fairly quickly but it’s the number of combos that are available in this game, these flashy attacks, that really stroke the ego of the player. You have a standard string of button inputs that unleash a combo but over the course of the game, by collecting resources and currency, this is expanded healthily. Each combo is a visual showcase of chaos and destruction that never truly gets old as you watch enemies launched into the sky, away from you, and utterly outclassed and destroyed with a visual marvel. That’s another great thing about the game that breaks up any chance of fatigue or monotony and that’s the large roster available. You have so many characters that all look and play differently that you can never really get tired of seeing imputing the same combo strings because of how varied their styles are. Also, for those who love using the same character, each playable character has different clothing and weapons they can use that dynamically changes the gameplay. You love Link and want to play with him most? Not a problem, he has his master sword, but he also has the fire rod that you can use. Another thing you can use to dispatch enemies and unlock secrets scattered across the map are bombs, arrows, and the hook shot. You can intertwine them into the combos and get them temporarily buffed so that they do more damage. The characters also have finishing moves and ultimate attacks that are, like nearly everything else in the game’s combat, is a visual feast.
As mentioned earlier, there is a section where one can apply upgrades to warriors and weapons, as well as other areas of customization. At the Bazaar, players will be greeted with four sections: Badge Market, Training Dojo, Apothecary, and the Smithy. The Badge Market is where you’ll go to increase your combos and give your character longer strings and more flashy output via the Attack Badges. Defense Badges is where you’ll help your character receive less damage and increase his health. Assist Badges will increase the amount of time a Keep is held and the duration of your side items, such as bombs and arrows, when they are powered up. This is all done by collecting specific items and using rubies and the player has to follow what is similar to an upgrade tree to level up. Also, this needs to be done with each character individually and is one of the ways that replay-ability is encouraged and required. The Training Dojo is where you can go and spend rubies to level up your character. To prevent players from spending money and becoming overpowered, the limit to how high you can level up via the Training Dojo is based on your highest-level character. For example, if your Link is level 20, you can only pay to have your characters raised to level 20. At the Apothecary, you create potions that can also act as buffs when you’re in battle. You can create beneficial potions that can raise your health and some that do more like fill your special gauge as well. Finally, at the Smithy, you can sell duplicate weapons as well as transfer some perks to another weapon. Some skills are locked to a weapon, like the Master Sword, but others are unlocked by completing certain conditions and can be applied to, for example, a higher ranked weapon you prefer using. It’s a nice little system that works well and can change your playstyle depending on what you want. The game also has Zelda inspired secrets scattered across the map that, when found, can offer more to the player. There are chests that can be found that contain items such as Heart Container and Heart Pieces that can increase your health but also items called Sealed Weapons. Sealed Weapons usually unlock a new weapon category or level that can benefit the character that finds it. The game has many unlockables to find, like Gold Skulltulas that add more incentive to replay scenarios and/or to pay attention to the cues that’ll signal on the battlefield.
Also within this game are other scenarios one can play through for more story and background. These are Cia’s Tale, Linkle’s Tale, and Wind Waker. Cia’s Tale follows the villains and acts as the backstory that leads to the events of Legend Mode. Linkle’s Tale sees popular gender swap of Link believing that she is the true Hero of Legend and feels compelled to fight against Cia’s evil forces like a true hero would. The Wind Waker tale sees the Wind Waker cast searching the Great Sea for the cause of these strange portals and eventually aid Lana on her quest. These are nice supplemental stories that offer more of the great gameplay with different characters. Originally from the DLC that was available on Wii U and 3DS at an additional cost, it’s nice that it has been brought over and included into the Switch version with no additional fees.
In this mode, you play through the Legend Mode map without character or weapon restriction. This is great if you want to see how another character will do given similar circumstances.
This mode is pretty creative in how its set up, its presented on a grid similar to the original Legend Of Zelda and has the player go to different squares to complete challenges that will unlock Heart Containers, costumes, etc. As you complete squares, the map will open up and more challenges will open up. You can also play as many times as you want with any characters you wish without penalty. There are some that are character and weapon specific and, so, you may have to go back to another mode to unlock said weapon and character. Due to all the previous downloadable content being available, there are several other maps with challenges available to test yourself against, such as a Wind Waker map and a Twilight Princess one to name a few. This is a great mode with a lot of fan service, an absolute blast to play through.
Challenge mode is where players are put into different scenarios and must complete certain tasks within a time limit. Upon completion, your stats are saved to motivate you to try and get a better score or to encourage others to take the throne. These challenges usually range between Battle Challenges and Boss Challenges. These can come in the form of surviving a seemingly endless wave of enemies within a certain time frame or defending against an assassins bent on killing you. There nice little extras to take part in and battle against, adding another layer of challenge to the game and encouraging a different way to play. Ganon’s Fury is definitely the highlight because you take control over the hulking beast as he annihilates enemies on screen. Few games can make you feel all powerful like this one does, and it manages it in the most wonderful ways.
Coming from the 3DS version, this allows players to have fairies accompany their warriors into battle. Fairies are found in jars in Adventure Mode and you can befriend many but only one can be taken into battle at a given time. These fairies can add another layer or dynamic to the already spectacular gameplay and it is here that you can actually customize your fairy to fit your needs or to be visually appealing to you. Interestingly enough, and pretty cool, you can level up these fairies and they can learn new skills that’ll benefit you in battle. An interesting dynamic that came from the 3DS experiment and a lot of creative players will have a ton of fun here.
The game has a gallery that is available to view some artwork. The game offers difficulty choices, a pretty cool 8-bit weapon option, and you can choose controls similar to Zelda or the tried and true Warriors formula. For those coming from Wii U that haven’t played the 3DS version, character swapping is available and its as great as what was wanted back in 2014. All in all, the game offers so much for a player to do that you could easily have something to do in this game for several months without a need to buy another game. In my personal opinion, this version is better than the great Switch designed Fire Emblem Warriors, but both are worth picking up. What is also pretty crazy is that you can play the game with couch co-op and it still runs great, albeit with fewer enemies on screen. You’ll have a good time in co-op.
Hyrule Warriors isn’t the prettiest game out there, especially when compared to its Nintendo themed successor in Fire Emblem Warriors, but it’s a nice-looking game nonetheless. Various Zelda characters from different entries in the successful franchise make an appearance, and some original characters as well, and the developers have managed to keep the soul of these character’s designs while still maintaining an art style that has them all realistically looking apart of this entry. One of the worries, when designing this game and taking characters of different graphical styles and throwing them into one game, must have been them sticking out, or applying a graphical standard that would drastically alter what was beloved of these characters. Omega Force and Team Ninja have found the perfect balance that should appease all fans. The character models are all anime-like but not as extreme as Fire Emblem Warriors. Characters have an outfit designed for this game but there is a ton of fan service to unlock from different games in the Zelda franchise. The original outfits are nicely crafted and seem like they could have come from Nintendo should they have made another Zelda in the same vein as Twilight Princess. In terms of detail, the character models are detailed with a lot of care and respect put into them.
The in-game enemies are also detailed nicely. Creatures Zelda veterans have faced in other entries are accurately represented in this title but, like the models, they are also in this art style. It isn’t jarring, and it does not feel put out of place, quite the opposite. What’s even more impressive is how they can have so many on screen with no blemishes on them, no pop in, and no obvious loading. The original enemies unique to this game could be placed into a true Zelda entry and fit perfectly in. Players with no experience in any of Link’s adventures might think they are from another entry. The weapon designs are also executed wonderfully. All the iconic weapons that make a return are perfectly recreated with detail and the items spread across the game are also accurately portrayed. You can tell this game is made by fans of Nintendo’s historic titles with the amount of fan service and respect pout into all the designs. Even the menus and loading screens are handled with care.
The game has a lot going on at once and it managed to add another layer of good visuals with various effects that take place depending on the attacks. The developers, from the small number of titles of theirs I’ve played, seem to have a knack for being able to do good effects. Heat can be seen from fire, some magical attacks have particles coming from or around it, and even attacks add another layer by having visual cues accompany attacks. It’s all done rather well. The game also has beautiful CGI cutscenes that move the story along and are top quality, comparable to animated films.
The game’s locations, as varied as they are, also look good but not quite as good as the models and items themselves. Yes, the environments are large and with different color palettes and designs, but they feel almost lifeless and dull in a way. The team has managed to perfectly recreate these iconic Zelda sceneries from prior mainline Zelda games, but they don’t have aspects to it to make it feel like living or breathing locations. It would have been nice to see NPC’s from these locations either living there lives or reacting to the chaos around them at a distance but nothing like that is available. I can understand that the focus is on the character models and the destruction ensuing before you as your obliterating massive amounts of enemies, I just feel it would have been nice to add another layer utilizing the game’s environments.
Graphically, the game is nice looking and a great touch of originality and respect to the source material that has inspired it. There are some areas where more could have been done but, overall, the game looks fine. Also, some changes were made from the Wii U version. The game looks more vibrant on Switch, clearer, as it seems that when you compare the two there is a dark filter of sorts on the Wii U version. I’m not sure why is this; whether it was by design or accident, but I prefer the Switch version. When compared to the 3DS version, it looks a million times better and a reminder that it was truly impressive they managed to get this massive game on Nintendo’s tiny handheld.
Let me start off by getting the negative out of the way and that is the lack of voice acting. Now, normally I wouldn’t care about there being no voice acting, but this game has characters moving their lips with written text at the bottom. I could look past this if I felt there was an attempt to make these lifeless animations of moving lips actually try to somewhat line up with what is being said but it doesn’t. The decision to not use voice acting is understandable because, when this game launched, there had never been a Zelda game with voice acting. Many will overlook this, rightfully so, I just found that it stuck out and found it weird, distracting.
The game’s soundtrack seems to be divisive among many fans and critics of this game. The thing is, these warrior games have always used this type of music to build the adrenaline and infuse the player with a rush as he feels empowered to engage a vast multitude of enemies. This game is no different. Instead of using their own creative heavy metal and rock music inspired tracks, they’ve used these instruments and genres to create Zelda rendition. Powerful cords faithfully recreating iconic and classic Zelda melodies sure adds another layer to the game. I’ve said many times that music is an important foundation for a video game, to give it the feeling of a complete experience by adding another layer. Not every game needs orchestras or 8-bit tones, both of which encapsulate the Zelda series, sometimes it is alright to portray a classic in a new light. I thought I should mention that since I’ve seen a lot of opinions on the music since the game’s original release back in 2014 on Wii U, its port in 2016 on 3DS, and now on Switch in 2018.
The music is great in this game, I truly enjoyed the work that went into the adrenaline creating guitar powered remakes of Zelda tunes. All of the audio is good in this game, I have no complaints. The team behind the game did a good job with where they chose to take the audio design of the game.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is exactly what the title states; it is the ultimate version of Hyrule Warriors. The game has everything that was available on the 3DS and Wii U combined and runs at 1080p and 60FPS. For those interested in the series but never took the chance, this is the perfect opportunity. The game is loaded with more content than more games with full series, it looks good and the music is pretty great. There is no stuttering, no pop-in, and no performance issues that I’ve encountered. The game offers couch co-op and the story is surprisingly good. For those who have already played it… well, then it might be more difficult to recommend. 3DS players will see a vast difference in visuals and performance and Wii U owners will find an experience similar to what they’ve previously experienced. For you, I imagine portability will be the defining factor. For me, the portability trumps everything else because of my hectic lifestyle. Regardless, one thing is for sure, and that’s that the best version is the Switch version.