Hyrule Warriors review: it won't disappoint Zelda fans

£39.99; Wii U; Nintendo

Click to follow
The Independent Tech

With the Wii U's traditional Zelda adventure still some time away, and the gorgeous Wind Waker HD remake almost a year old, Nintendo are hoping to plug their Autumn scheduling gap with a different kind of escapade. Created by Team Ninja and Omega Force, Hyrule Warriors fuses elements from two popular series, reskinning Dynasty Warriors' gameplay in Zelda's familiar costumes.

There's more combat in one level here than there would normally be in a whole Zelda game, yet somehow it doesn't feel at odds with the mythos of our beloved green-clad hero. It even seems to enhance the scale of Link's quest, battling thousands of enemies in a single area lending an appropriately epic sweep to the usual Princess-rescuing proceedings.

After taking your side in an initial skirmish which sees Hyrule Castle besieged by Ocarina of Time's fire-breathing King Dodongo, Zelda disappears. Presuming her kidnapped, Link and his ally Impa set off in search of the harp-plucking royal daughter, heading across the Eldin Caves to act on rumours of a girl warrior who resists the onslaught of dark magic.

The premise is relatively simple, with every fresh campaign featuring a number of keeps and outposts that must be captured in order to advance across the map. Each has their own bosses, and defeating these captains means outposts will produce troops that fight for the controlling side. This introducing a tactical edge to battle - will you press on and risk an attack from the rear, or work methodically through the waves of enemies, covering all sides as you steadily advance?

Special events pop up frequently to introduce more combatants to the frame, some friend and some foe. Like all good Zelda games, there'll be Deku trees, Gorons and the supremely comforting sound of treasure chests opening as you explore the world, with a variety of well-known landscapes the backdrop for bruising battle action.

As well as simply smashing your way across the maps and capturing keeps, extra tasks appear to add variety to the standard tactics. These can range from activating Fairy Fountains for magical assistance, to escorting a pair of Bombchu through enemy lines in order to explode obstacles in your path. Sometimes multiple tasks force you to prioritise a path that sacrifices hard-won positions for long-term gain.

Between levels, visiting the Bazaar opens up the potential of your ever-increasing travelling party - each character can be upgraded by spending rupees and found materials on a variety of unlockables, with badges to improve specific skills, apothecary items or in the training dojo.

The available weaponry is pleasantly varied, with Link first acquiring the traditional bombs to throw to explode walls and boulders. Soon the bow and arrow is at your disposal to vanquish foes immune to close-range attacks, and collectibles also provide some neat equipment such as the 8-bit wooden sword. Standard RPG tropes apply when using appropriate weaponry for the situation and the same goes for clothing, for example the familiar Zora tunic being available for use in stages where water elements are recommended.

With several modes to vary the action after the main quest is complete, Hyrule Warriors has much to offer fans of both Zelda and the hack'n'slash formula. Two player co-op is a welcome inclusion, especially with the wealth of unlockable characters. Only a few niggling camera angle problems and the onset of sore thumbs after much combo completion detract from what is otherwise an attractive package. Pre-ordered deluxe editions even come with a gorgeous replica of Link's scarf, which for Nintendo enthusiasts makes an excellent bonus with winter on the way.

Comments