Hyrule Warriors combines the Legend of Zelda with Dynasty Warriors, a tactical action game that was created by Omega Force and Koei. This spinoff shows The Legend of Zelda in a new light as you battle massive armies in your quest to, you guessed it, rescue Princess Zelda and save Hyrule from evil.
In the main series of Zelda games you play as Link, keeper of the Triforce of Courage and a man of very few words… They’re more like grunts really. That’s no different here, except you don’t just play as Link.
Impa, Sheik, Midna, Fi and a number of other Legend of Zelda characters from across the series, including Princess Zelda herself, can be controlled on the battlefield. Each character plays differently with their own unique weapons and fighting styles.
The combat is incredibly fun and it looks stunning when you’re slicing, burning or spin-kicking (yes, spin kicking, Sheik IS a ninja after all) your way through the hordes of dark forces, but is a bit repetitive at times. You have two basic attacks – a regular attack and a strong/combo attack. You can chain together different button combos to plough through the enemies in style, but you can just as easily wipe them out by mashing one button.
The more enemies you kill, the more you fill up your Special Gauge. Once that’s full you can unleash an awesome special attack that kills large amounts of enemies at once. They look and feel outstanding with each character having their own unique special.
Furthermore, by filling up your Magic Gauge with green potions, you can enter Focus Spirit mode. This makes your attacks do more damage and lasts until the gauge runs out. Or you can empty the gauge all at once and reveal the weak point of an enemy which allows you to deal massive damage – which is great to use against bosses.
In Legend Mode (story mode) the levels can feel a bit repetitive after a while as they usually have a set formula: capture control points, complete smaller objectives to help you get to the boss, beat the boss. With that said, each level is beautifully designed with a different map layout, different enemies, and of course a different boss battle, which results in changing up your tactics. Will bombs be better for dealing with this enemy, or arrows? Which character will be the best choice depending on their weapons and skills?
Capturing Keeps and Outposts is key to increasing your army. To capture them, kill the enemies there until the Keep Boss/Outpost Captain appears and once they’re down, the point is yours. Be careful though – at some point the enemy usually receives reinforcements and start to push for a counter attack against your Keeps and Home Base. Your army will defend these, but they don’t exactly do much and you’ll often see them just standing around.
Sometimes you need to find a new weapon to aid you, which just so happens to be the boss’ weakness such as bombs, the bow and arrow, and the boomerang. When you reach the end of the level, the boss will appear and will probably launch an attack on your Home Base and if that falls, it’s game over. So using that shiny new weapon, it’s time to beat that monstrosity down as quickly as possible. Kill the boss, you win. The levels feel like a Zelda game dungeon on a grand scale and there are even mini-bosses that appear on the battlefield to do battle with your heroes.
And that’s just Legend Mode; there is so much more to do. Each level has Gold Skultullas that appear on the battlefield for a short time. Kill them and collect the tokens they drop; there’s 100 to grab in total. You can even increase your warrior’s abilities and strengths by using items you find whilst fighting to craft new weapons and upgrades for them.
If you somehow get bored of Legend Mode’s fantastic storyline that brings together characters from across the Zelda timeline who would never otherwise meet, then there’s a Free Mode to play levels over again with any character. Adventure Mode gives you missions to fulfil, such as ‘kill 300 enemies in 10 minutes,’ as you move around a top-down map that looks like the original Legend of Zelda on the NES complete with 8-bit music, and Challenge Mode throws a series of new battles at you.
All in all it’s a stunning, addictive game and a cross-over done right. Although combat is repetitive, it’s just too much fun annihilating wave after wave of monsters to care. It doesn’t feel like The Legend of Zelda has been ‘shoehorned’ into a Dynasty Warriors game, nor does it feel like a simple redesign of Dynasty Warriors.
The storyline, boss battles that force you to strike at opportune moments, and of course the legendary soundtrack all make Hyrule Warriors feel like it belongs in the Zelda franchise. It isn’t immensely challenging, but it is definitely a staple for any Zelda fan.