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Fan service can't save Hyrule Warriors

Oct 14, 2014

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Hyrule WarriorsNintendo is well-known for being extremely protective of its properties. For that reason, no one could be blamed for being surprised when it was announced that Koei Tecmo would be creating a Dynasty Warriors-esque game based in the Legend of Zelda world. Think of it as the Triforce of Wisdom, Courage, and Red Bull.

Zelda games have typically always been extremely engrossing affairs, involving well-rounded characters, emotionally-charged stories, and more plot twists than you can shake a Wind Waker at. Hyrule Warriors attempts to meld a brief history of all things Legend of Zelda with a game that ratchets up the action to 11, with mixed results.

For the uninitiated, Dynasty Warrior games are very action-heavy, and typically task players with taking on massive groups of enemies in a 3D setting. Generally speaking, there is a lot of hacking and slashing as you cut swaths through countless bad guys.

Hyrule WarriorsHyrule Warriors doesn't aim to change that gameplay much. In the meaty story mode, you'll take control of several characters from the Legend of Zelda universe, and lay waste to thousands upon thousands of enemies.

While the story recycles plot devices from numerous other games in the series, give credit to Tecmo Koei for the amount of fan service on display here. From items and weapons, to the music and settings, fans are sure to have a smile on their face even as they struggle through a game that does its best to frustrate at every turn.

The main problem with Hyrule Warriors is that it puts a lot of weight on two of the most frustrating video game mechanics - time limits and escort missions.

Hyrule WarriorsEach campaign level has to be completed in a certain amount of time, and many of the objectives that are constantly being thrown at the player involve quickly completing a task, at the risk of instantly failing the level. Considering how difficult it is getting around levels - you won't have the aid of Epona or a Loftwing here - it can be a challenge just getting to a certain section on the map in time, much less successfully completing the objective once you're there.

Much importance is also placed on the player's ability to protect computer-controlled members of his or her party. Whether you're clearing a path for an engineer to lower a bridge, or making room for a bombchu as it travels to a giant rock that needs to be blow up, there's no shortage of these annoying objectives.

The most frustrating aspect is that as busy as your screen can become, with numerous groups of enemies and flashing objectives markers, you need to keep up with near-constant chatter. Like every other Legend of Zelda game, no character actually speaks, so you're forced to read everything other characters say, in case they give an important piece of information.

Hyrule WarriorsYou're given the chance to scan the level and otherwise plan before each battle, but it seems no matter how much info I had and planning I did, it all went out the window the second I had to run to five different places on the map, all while protecting four AI characters, taking control of sections of the battlefield along the way, and trying to locate a hidden item, just as an example.

There is admittedly a lot to do beyond the campaign, but the other modes see differing levels of success. Free Mode lets you replay already-completed battles with any already-unlocked character, while Challenge Mode offers shorter missions based on smaller objectives.

Adventure Mode is similar to Challenge Mode, although it's presented on a map that's taken straight out of the original 8-bit Legend of Zelda for the NES. You proceed from one block on the map to the next by finishing objectives within the Hyrule Warriors world, but once you finish a level, you're taken back to the map to search for hidden power-ups, new characters, and more.

Still, despite a wealth of content and a clearly deep appreciation for the source material, Hyrule Warriors can't quite hit the high notes played by more conventional Legend of Zelda games.

Hyrule WarriorsWith numerous game modes, a wealth of upgrade options, and a generous helping of playable characters, the game aims to keep players interested. The fact of the matter is, the gameplay just isn't up to par, and as unfair a comparison as it might be considering its pedigree, Hyrule Warriors simply isn't memorable like other titles in the series.

Dynasty Warrior fans and action-starved Wii U owners may find Hyrule Warriors worth their while, but long-time Legend of Zelda fans who are looking for a more recent experience that's both truly enthralling and well-rounded would be better served going back to 2013's A Link Between Worlds.


Hyrule Warriors
Format: Nintendo Wii U
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Koei Tecmo Games
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site:

Rating: 6.5 / 10

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