Hyrule Warriors: A Great Gift for Zelda Fans

It has been a very long time, it feels like, but I got back into gaming. I bought a Nintendo Switch and a number of games (a process my wallet absolutely wept its way through). Naturally, I must comment! πŸ™‚ Of course, for most – not quite all – of what I’ll talk about, I am pretty late to the party. But, the metaphorical show must go on! I just hope that anything at all I say might have some sort of value.

The first game I wanted to buy and play was Hyrule Warriors.

The idea behind Hyrule Warriors is basically to take the usual premise of The Legend of Zelda – that a great evil threatens the land and wants to claim the Triforce, and Link and Zelda and their allies must stop it – and turn it into a massive fighting game, in which one can choose from a wide variety of characters, and face down villains, monsters, and entire armies. There is a story, mostly though not quite entirely told in the form of cinematics, but it’s mostly a β€œgo here, do this, kill as many enemies as possible without dying” sort of game. Both the main story and the many bonus challenges draw heavily on all the most major, lasting, and popular games of the franchise to date, but there is some original content as well. And, to keep things interesting, the bonus challenges change the rules a bit from one map to the next, which simply fascinates my brain as I seek to overcome the respective obstacles in the most effective way possible.

In short, it’s a great deal of fun!

The typical Zelda game is a quest to find and conquer various dungeon levels across a coherent map, collecting items, solving puzzles, beating monsters, and rescuing allies. All this, until one comes face to face with the final boss, beating them and saving the princess, with a few side-quests and mini-games along the way. By contrast, Hyrule Warriors is a straight-up fight fest made for the fans who love these games and these characters and Zelda in general. One moves straight from one battle to the next, with the various missions and side-missions popping up as they will, and the player(s) will either succeed or fail based on how effectively they can play. It can make one feel like one is running around like a headless chicken, but that’s the general challenge of it all, to adapt one’s own approach to the demands of any given battle.

There is a story mode which obviously started off as one tale, with a beginning, middle, and end, but which was added on to in batches with later expansions and DLCs. It’s a fair story, not too shabby, not too great or involved, and it manages to draw together the previous games of Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, and Wind Waker, with nods towards other games, which are more heavily drawn on in the bonus challenges, such as Majora’s Mask, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, Link’s Awakening, Link Between Worlds, and probably more that I’m forgetting at the moment. If the plot served to bring various beloved characters and classic locations together, then the original characters and locations served to set up and advance the plot. Which, I will add, they did pretty well with everything that is original to this game.

I particularly adore the enchantress, Lana! πŸ˜‰

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About my only real disappointment with the plot, really, is how quickly and unexpectedly it ends, when I was all ready for the next batch of content obviously inspired by another Zelda game. I was in the groove, man, and it just ended! πŸ˜‰

And one thing which is just a bit annoying: when these standard, dime-a-dozen monsters get buffed up such that they die slower and harder than freaking boss monsters! Sheesh!

A particular point in favor of the game is simply how many alternatives there are. There’s a cast of nearly thirty characters, all with similar fighting styles for the player but nuanced and different in ways which one can use and adapt with. Several of the playable characters have more than one option of weapon, with Link (of course) having the most diverse array, but every weapon has its own benefits and drawbacks in various situations (and some are just cool to watch). When going through one of the bonus maps, there are a number of routes one can take, and a number of specialized rules to keep in mind. One can raise fairies to cast helpful spells in battle (which is a knack I do not specialize in), acquire materials to create potions for added effects in each battle, or create β€œbadges” that enhance specific attributes for each character. One can play through the story, at various levels of difficulty, or play through increasingly difficult challenge maps, or take various standalone challenges, the latter of which includes an option of playing none other than Ganon itself, and, apparently, another challenge where one is one of the infamous Cuccoos. Each enemy defeated is experience gained, and so the character one plays becomes stronger and stronger, which means one must balance the slaying of enemies with the accomplishing of the mission at hand.

In complete honesty, I dislike the grind I face of having to level up most of my characters in succession, but I love – absolutely love, with all the bloodthirsty passion of my Viking ancestry! – the absolute, wholesale, complete, and utter slaughtering of enemies, mwahahahah!

And it must be said, no matter how many times I go through the story or beat a bonus map after the slog of getting to the evil overlord, I have yet to tire of those concluding credit cinematics. There’s just something magical about them. They’re a proper Zelda-themed reward for a fan’s triumph over the many challenges in the game. πŸ™‚

All in all, Hyrule Warriors is a fun game the promises to entertain me for quite awhile yet. I’m glad I got it.

Rating: 9 stars out of 10.

Grade: A-Plus!

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