While Omega Force’s second attempt at a Nintendo x Warriors mashup – in the shape of Fire Emblem Warriors – did little for me last year, 2014’s Hyrule Warriors is an absolute blast from beginning to end, and is made all the better by the Switch’s Definitive Edition release. Bringing together the best elements of the Wii U and 3DS versions, as well as all of the previously released DLC, Hyrule Warriors is a celebration of the Zelda series set to the tune of the Warriors formula, and, barring some performance issues and repetition, is great fun.
As Alan’s original review of Hyrule Warriors mentions, Omega Force and Team Ninja’s mashup leans more heavily into Zelda lore than one might expect. The game’s story mode is fairly rudimentary, more or less just paving a way for players to be able to explore different eras of Zelda history, but it succeeds in setting up a big bad and a goal to strive for. It’s fun for the most part, and beating up baddies across a variety of different Zelda timelines is wonderful.
This is where Hyrule Warriors is at its best. The game’s rocking soundtrack, which contains a handful of remixes of some of the series’ most iconic tunes, adds a nice hint of nostalgia to proceedings, too. And it all comes together to form an experience that more often than not left me with a big dumb smile on my face.
When all is said and done with the game’s 11-hour story, you can venture off into a range of different modes and continue to grind characters to level them up, in turn making them more powerful on the battlefield. Adventure Mode, which gives you specific rules to fulfil over maps themed around the original Legend of Zelda, is great fun, while Challenge Mode allows you to continue to rank up characters by completing specific challenges in levels.
Considering the offerings here, there’s quite a lot for fans of the Zelda series to explore and venture through. This’ll all come down to whether you can deal with the repetitive nature of Warriors games, though. It’s a simple venture of horde hack-‘n’-slash at its finest, and the game tends to repeat objectives on the regular. That said, I still found myself gravitating towards engaging in Hyrule Warriors far more than I did Fire Emblem Warriors last year, and I like both series quite a lot. The former just seems to embrace its source material a lot more than the latter, and I picked up on that fairly early.
Bringing together the Wii U and 3DS versions of Hyrule Warriors makes the game a much easier recommendation for new players, too. Quality of life improvements like switching between characters mid-game and in-game commands have been implemented here, alongside the promise of a much smoother frame rate. The latter isn’t perfect, but it’s much, much better than what was on offer in either of the previous versions of the game. Having all of the DLC packed into this release of Hyrule Warriors is also great, and will keep you occupied for some time if you’re keen on exploring every nook and cranny.
In terms of new content, there’s not a lot to write home about. If you’ve finished the game’s story, other modes, and/or played through the character-centric DLC, there’s practically no reason to revisit the game besides the improved performance and portability the Switch affords. Whereas recent Nintendo remasters like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and the upcoming Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker are adding more content in or new ways to play, Hyrule Warriors is a by-the-numbers port that seems to be aimed more at new players rather than those that have played the game before.
That’s okay – a lot of players will go into Hyrule Warriors and treat it as a new game, and in that sense there’s definitely enough here to keep you entertained. Further, the Warriors features implemented are good fun, and the combination between the two IPs works surprisingly well. It’s going to be divisive, though, and is heavily dependent on whether or not you can stomach the repetitiveness Warriors games throw at you.