Three years ago Nintendo’s executives, perhaps angry at the level of vilification aimed at the company’s business practices and their perceived lack of creativity, basically downed tools and did some soul searching. The company’s inability to supply Wii U customers with a proper diet of interesting games made it seem redundant and irrelevant, the forgotten console.
Nintendo then made a crucial decision to become an island of their own and rely on their own stable of exclusives to sell their systems, according to Forbes. Having decided against negotiating use of third party hits like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Portal, Mass Effect, etc., they needed to light a fire under themselves and get these games out more quickly. If they knew that the Wii U was coming down the pipeline for years, then they should have had some indisputable major releases planned for their launch window. Instead, there have been painfully few must-have titles out since the system was released last November. Pikmin 3 is probably the biggest game out for the system, and it was just released in July. But now, after the small success of Mario Kart 8, here comes Hyrule Warriors and a return to a kind of traditionalism. A reimagining of Tecmo Koei’s ancient hack-n-slash franchise Dynasty Warriors, it’s a sword and sorcery epic that will give you hours of maximum samurai fun. With Zelda carefully hidden away, your duty as the bodyguard, Link, is to save Him from the rest of the evil world.
It’s exciting from the very start, when the familiar music of Zelda’s theme is cued up. The menu layouts let you know from the first introduction that you are most certainly playing a game in the world of Zelda. There are many options listed but not all the options are available from the get-go as you sort your way through things in order to unlock them. In typical Zelda style, the enemy you chop, dice and hack to death are incredibly cute. You have a mighty samurai sword that can take out dozens of opponents all at once. Your attacks can also be combined even more into combos with the participation of chosen others. Plus, you have a special personal perimeter that allows you to build up two meters of ‘magic land’ where you can practice and work out your clever ways enough to enhance your attacks. As you improve, you get opportunities to buy the best of modern weaponry, including exploding boomerangs, longbows, crossbows and all modes of mini-bombs.
Still, it’s mostly about puzzle solving. The Hyrule Warriors’ story plays out over a number of large battlefields set up sandbox-style. Careful, though. Watch out for multiple traps; you must plan your strategies well as you have both a steadily rising number of soldiers in your exclusive care and even more enemies. There are also occasions where you need to be committing separate platoons and squads to missions within missions, help allies in action and help allies in distress. But why sweat it? All those good deeds get you points!
As with my favorite samurai movie, Thirteen Assassins, there really is something cool—a kind of soul-deep satisfaction—about cleanly slicing down one committed enemy after another on the noble battlefield. Sure it’s kind of repetitive, but let’s face it, one way or another, all war games are the same. Besides, as you improve in sophistication you will, ultimately, be able to jump past the limits of Link and become other characters.
Replays work well because in parts of the game there are some weirdly interesting re-imaginings of previously played situations inside a board game-style, with faux-8-bit graphics, which encourage you to explore parts of the world you haven’t dealt with previously. Yes, Hyrule Warriors is a tinkerer’s delight, offering you chances to give your character’s wisdom quotient a sort of electrical charge. If you have a Wii U, it’s a must-buy.