Developer: Omega Force/Team Ninja
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Released: May 18, 2018
Copy supplied by publisher
Hyrule Warriors remains one of the most unexpected video game crossovers this side of Kingdom Hearts. Even nearly four years after its original release, blending the hack-and-slash gameplay of Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series with the characters and settings of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda still seems like a wild idea that shouldn’t work. After all, here were two series seemingly on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of critical opinion — I don’t think I need to tell you which is generally viewed less favorably — combined into one game expected to appeal to fans of both. To the surprise of many, the experiment actually worked out pretty well.
First released for the Wii U in 2014, Hyrule Warriors received mostly positive reviews and even managed to sell around one million copies; an impressive feat given how few people actually owned a Wii U. The game was then ported to the 3DS in 2016 and has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch, where it’s received the “definitive edition” treatment. With all content from the previous two editions and the portable nature of the Switch itself, this is easily the best version of Hyrule Warriors available, but whether or you not you should bother with it depends on a few important factors.
If you’ve somehow never played a Warriors title, the set-up is pretty straightforward. A third-person action game with light tactical elements, you complete various objectives on large battlefield environments while carving a path through the enemy ranks. The main appeal of these games is feeling like an overpowered demi-god, as your character is capable of cutting down thousands of enemies in a single battle. Essentially, every fight is like a giant chess battle, only you’re able to insert yourself pretty much anywhere and shift the tide in your favor. While Hyrule Warriors doesn’t really offer much of a challenge in its hack-and-slash gameplay, you’ll need to employ a surprising amount of strategy in order to emerge victorious. Each battle offers constantly evolving objectives and if you don’t keep track of what’s going on, you will quickly find yourself on the losing end. It’s this tension between focusing on the fight right in front of you, while also trying to stay on top of everything else going on in the wider battle, that makes Warriors titles more compelling than their repetitive combat might suggest. Hyrule Warriors has an advantage in that it’s a great Warriors game that also benefits considerably from the Zelda license.