Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition Review: How to Triforce

It's dangerous to go alone, take this game! 


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”.

Hey! Listen!

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-bit maps and collect items and fairies by completing challenges on each part of the map’s grid. Adventure mode has several maps based off of different titles in the Zelda, not just the original NES classic. Another mode gives players the chance to play as a giant, Godzilla-like Ganon and tear through enemies while taking on larger boss monsters at the same time.

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 cuccos if you hit one in a mission all help blend the two series together into its own new thing.

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. 

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Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

  • Great Musou game overall
  • Adds some combat features from Zelda series
  • Playing as giant Ganon
  • Plenty of game modes
  • Looks better than most Dynasty Warriors games
  • Some levels could use more details
  • May not appeal to all Zelda fans
From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 16, 2018 6:00 AM

    Blake Morse posted a new article, Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition Review: How to Triforce

    • reply
      May 16, 2018 6:42 AM

      These games don't have 2-player co-op, right? I would love to play this split screen with my son but I guess that wasn't meant to be.

      • reply
        May 16, 2018 7:02 AM

        Fire Emblem Warriors hasard coop, and Hyrule Warriors on Wii U also did.
        It's plenty of fun, but the visual downgrade is massive.

        • reply
          May 16, 2018 7:05 AM

          Oh good to know, thanks! The only ones I've played were Dragon Warrior Heroes 1 and 2 and they didn't have co-op.

          • reply
            May 16, 2018 8:01 AM

            Yeah I want to say the Nintendo ones have coop, but I only played Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U so I'm not sure about the 3DS/Switch versions or the Fire Emblem one.

      • reply
        May 16, 2018 8:09 AM

        It would have been a nice detail to include in the review, no?

    • reply
      May 16, 2018 3:58 PM

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