Hyrule Warriors: played at E3 2014

Even for a series that has featured a deadly grinning moon, Hyrule Warriors is an odd entry. It has most of the trappings of a more traditional Legend of Zelda game, but they've all been repurposed in service of Tecmo Koei's long-running action franchise.

Enemy encounters in Zelda games have traditionally been rare, one-on-one affairs. Link might occasionally take on a few at once, but he's never been cutting down swaths of Moblins at once like the warriors do here. The endless hordes just never stop coming, and so the progress is gated behind defeating stronger enemies and running to new objective points, cutting through foes all the while.

During my playthrough, I was tasked with finding a treasure chest with a bomb in order to open up a path to rescue Impa. From there, we had to go together to face off against a larger boss guarding a nearby keep. It wasn't terribly challenging, and I barely had to block. Taking wide swings that made Moblins haplessly fly back was fun at first, but that wore off quickly.

Despite a few special moves and the ability to use bombs, the combat didn't have much depth. I might have found it deeper with more challenging enemies, and this demo was clearly targeted towards an easy starting point. I did enjoy the ability to play as Zelda, and her more refined fencing style was a nice touch of character work given her royal upbringing. Her special move was also a cute reference to Zelda history, as it showcased the light arrows that so often appear in final battles.

Hyrule Warriors certainly uses the Zelda name as its stock, and Tecmo has found some clever ways to iterate on the legacy with references to please fans. Despite the references, though, it is still a Warriors game through and through. I expect it will hold some appeal thanks to its apparent reverence to the source material, but a Zelda game it is not.