While Nintendo’s Wii-U failed to launch as a blockbuster home console it would seem that the company was smart enough to realize they had a few gems that deserved to reach a broader audience on the much more popular Switch. Or maybe it's just really easy to port games from one console to the other. Whatever the motives may be, I am extremely glad that this particular game was deemed worthy of a Nintendo Switch release, because Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition may be one of the greatest Musou games of all time.
The title is a collab between the big N and Koei-Tecmo, the creators of the Dynasty Warriors series, that brings the lore and characters of the Legend of Zelda series into the hack-and-slash world of Musou arcade action. Players get a chance to take on the roles of Link, Zelda, Midna, and several familiar supporting cast characters from the game series’ decades of history along with a female version of Link named “Linkle”.
Depending on the mode or level picked, players will be able to take command of supporting characters on the battlefield in addition to the main pick. As players brawl their way through various playing areas based on the many locations in the land of Hyrule they’ll gain new weapons and items for crafting as well as a ton of rupees. Basically everything you need for you standard Musou title. However, Hyrule Warriors goes beyond the standard affair and adds a ton of unique elements to the formula.
A lot of combat elements that have become standard for 3D Zelda games have been blended into the fighting system. For example, the addition of support items to use during quests like bombs, bow & arrows, and an ocarina that allows players to teleport to activated checkpoints on the field. There are also several large boss creatures that can show up in the middle of a level that will require creative solutions like throwing bombs in King Dodongo’s mouth to temporarily knock him out and deal damage that can lead to a critical attack.
Along with the combat elements that add specific Zelda vibe, there are several gameplay modes that are custom made for the title. There’s an adventure mode that gives players a chance to explore 8-
A Hero For the Ages
Hyrule Warriors art direction is also fantastic and offers up some of the cleanest cutscenes I’ve ever seen from a Koei-Tecmo title. While I’ve never personally been a fan of the cel-shaded style of Windwaker, the characters from the title that make an appearance here look better than they ever had.
Cutscenes are cleanly rendered as well and help drive the game’s story mode in a compelling manner while telling a story that’s unique while also familiar to fans of Zelda. If a player had somehow hidden under a rock for the last thirty-ish years and never played a single Legend of Zelda game they could still pick this up and have a good time, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to be familiar with the source material, obviously.
I’d say the one place that the game falls flat a bit visually it would be in the design and details of some of the areas of combat. For example, I’m not sure if the Deku tree level is supposed to be alluding to the polygonal graphics of the original N64 graphics or if it just needed a little more polish. Especially when other levels seemed to have much cleaner graphics.
While there’s plenty of big picture aspects that Hyrule Warriors handles well, the little details also help make this game feel like both a loving homage to Zelda’s history while also creating an IP that stands on its own. Nuances like being able to play the ocarina during loading screens, the soundtrack that takes a familiar catalog and gives it a little of the rock and roll flavor that one usually hears in a Dynasty Warriors title, or the fact that you can find yourself up against an army of
After being totally heart-broken by Dynasty Warriors 9 earlier this year with its pivot towards open-world combat it was refreshing to play a Musou game that got back to basics, so to speak, while also doing its own thing. My one caveat would be that this is definitely a game for people that like to get right down to the act of mowing down thousands of grunts while attempting to dominate a playing field. So, hopefully, players won’t be coming to Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition looking for an RPG like Breath of the Wild.
Overall, Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition offers up a lot of content and does a great job of compelling players to unlock more of it. As long as everyone knows what they’re getting into though I would definitely recommend this game to fans of the Dynasty Warriors franchise regardless of their familiarity with Zelda. I’d also give a thumbs up to fans of the Zelda games that are into arcade-style action every now and again.
This review is based on a Nintendo Switch digital code provided by the publisher. Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition is March 18 on Nintendo Switch for $59.99.