(Originally written for Youtube Oct 18 2014)
Hyrule Warriors, the fusion of The Legend of Zelda and Koei-Tecmo’s Warriors franchises is one of those combinations that nobody saw coming, but will seem obvious in retrospect.
Hyrule Warriors is mechanically a Warriors game dressed up in a very pretty LoZ skin, with the main objectives of each mission being a combination of taking enemy strongholds, defeating their highest ranking members, and otherwise cutting through their armies like a chainsaw through styrofoam. But this time, instead of playing as Lui Bei obliterating Cao Cao’s forces at Red Cliff, you’re Link, plowing through Moblins in Hyrule Field. It’s a simple premise held up by solid gameplay and lots of fan-service as players indulge in the more action elements of one of gaming’s most revered action-adventure series.
And boy is there fan-service. The game mashes up the different worlds from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword but throws in hints and nods to almost every other game in the Zelda franchise. For instance, at one point in the campaign, you need to invoke the Wind-fish from Link’s Adventure to help you defeat Giraheim’s forces at Skyloft.
Hyrule Warriors is incredibly easy to enjoy. The Warriors franchise has always been about delivering a power-trip, and there aren’t many places better to have one than in the middle of Hyrule. And, because of your ability to mow down most threats with a single combo, Hyrule Warriors doesn’t put up much resistance to the player’s abuse of their nigh invincibility, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cake-walk. In order to compensate for your outstanding ability the game throws a lot at the player to do at once, from defending one of your own keeps, rescuing team members in distress, and making sure two generals in the opposing army don’t rendezvous. Each mission in the main campaign has the player running around the map, making them feel, at some points, like the only soldier in the entirety of Hyrule that can swing a sword without cutting off their own arm. And because this is still a Zelda game, aside from all the fighting, there are heart pieces and gold stulltulas to collect!
In fact, having too much to do seems to be the blueprint this game was built on, with 13 playable characters each with their own skill trees to fill out and at least two weapon-types with which to forge your most prefect toy; 100 skulltulas, and, aside from the main campaign, Adventure mode, which has you explore the full 8-bit map of the original Legend of Zelda while completing focused challenges. This game will keep you very busy for a while.
Hyrule Warriors also looks and sounds incredible, pushing out wide-open, color saturated landscapes and having literally hundreds characters on screen at once without dropping a frame. All of the main characters got pretty nifty re-designs, and their animations are fluid and powerful. The music is culled from some of Zelda‘s best tracks over its history and remixed to be as blood-pumping and kick-ass as possible. If you ever enjoyed the opening theme to an action anime, you will love the music in Hyrule Warriors.
Hyrule Warriors is a very simple type of fun dressed to impress and polished to a sparkle. Far from being a shameless or soulless crossover, Hyrule Warriors is a celebration of Zelda history, and a power-trip to boot. The only thing that could have possibly pushed it over the top is recognizing The Wind Waker.
Hyrule Warriors gets a 9 out of 10.