Preview | The high-octane action of Hyrule Warriors
My editor Ramon Aranda and I got a chance to spend some extra time with some of the games from Nintendo’s E3 show floor, and one of the games we didn’t get a chance to try out was Hyrule Warriors. This game is an interesting partnership between Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda franchise and Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series, utilizing elements of the latter for a spin-off of the former. Giving the game a whirl, we had the choice of two playable characters, Link or Zelda, and I thought I would try something a bit different and play the demo using Zelda and her rapier. Right from the start, the game has fun little NES sprites performing actions on the loading screen, an 8-bit version of Link defeating an Octorok, or various other throwbacks.
Now for the demo, the level we were given was Hyrule Field, which was a pretty general stage, with castles and keeps, and large grassy fields for the most part, and the classic Legend of Zelda theme providing the soundtrack. You have your Hyrulean forces at odds against hundreds of enemies that will look familiar to fans of the series. In this stage demo, I recognized Bokoblins of various types, Iron-shield Moblins, as well as Lizalfos, all using their Skyward Sword incarnations, only this time, they come in large armies that fall quickly to your blade. Now like the rest of the Dynasty Warriors games, this is still a hack and slash game, and due to this nature, you’ll be spending a lot of time pressing attack buttons. We were told that the game will offer the option to choose control styles, one for gamers more familiar with Dynasty Warriors games, and another for Legend of Zelda veterans. I believe I was using the Dynasty Warriors control style for the demo, as the attack buttons were set to X and Y, as well as the trigger buttons launching attacks as well.
Using Zelda, she moves through the field in a somewhat delayed and strategic manner, giving some of her attacks a bit of a setup. Pressing the X button would stock up on special light magic, which you could then proceed to perform a combo with the Y button, and finish using the devastating spell. Over time, you’ll also fill a special bar that will give you a powerful special attack that takes down several enemies, in Zelda’s case, it was a powerful light arrow that shot out through the armies. Movement in the game is swift and fast, as enemies don’t tend to block your path and you could simply run past them, though defeating more enemies allows you to earn experience and level up, as well as drop special power-ups to use throughout the missions. I actually had a good chuckle as I heard the Wii U gamepad’s speakers alert me with a “Hey! Listen!” as a Navi-like fairy would tell me how to perform certain actions and teach me things about my opponents on the field. Throughout the level, I was given various missions and told to move to certain parts of the map, usually to help out other allies like the Goron Captain, or Impa, usually involving defeating an opponent that was a bit stronger than the masses.
Upon completing my first mission, a cavern opened up, with a short path to a treasure chest. Our Nintendo representative made a personal note to say that this was the first time in the series that you would see a character other than Link perform the iconic treasure chest opening sequence, as Zelda ended up holding bombs over her head with a smile on her face, adding the ability to the right trigger of the gamepad. As I utilized my new ability to blow up boulders and obliterate enemies, I quickly made my way to a keep that was under siege, managing to defeat enough enemies to capture the keep for our forces. Apparently this didn’t take too kindly to the enemy Wizzro, as this forced his hand into unleashing the King Dodongo, which as series veterans would know, are weak to…you guessed it, bombs.
Fighting the large beast, he would breathe fire and stomp across the battlefield, occasionally opening his mouth to inhale as this would be the chance to throw bombs into his mouth. Interestingly enough, I picked up a bomb power-up that temporarily made me throw large bombs that did massive damage. After the explosion, the King Dodongo would go down briefly, giving you a chance to target him and deliver your combos without opposition. This also gave him a small little circular health bar, which was secondary from his main health. Diminishing this secondary health would make it so you could deliver a finishing blow that would automatically defeat the boss monster, in this case, Zelda shot a large light arrow down his throat, making him explode into rupees, the classic form of currency for the series, and ending the demo.
I have to say, despite the type of game this is, it has a lot of variation and ways to keep the game interesting, and I really had fun with it. Now even though I played my full demo as Zelda, I did get a short amount of time to play as Link as well, trying out his sword techniques which were much different than Zelda’s. Link plays a lot more balanced and feels right at home, given plenty of large area attacks that makes him very ideal for players of all types. Unfortunately, that was all I got to try, as the demo didn’t include any of the other announced characters like Midna, or Lana, the character making her debut in this game. Despite that fact, luckily I don’t have to wait too long to get my hands on the full game, as Hyrule Warriors launches exclusively for the Wii U September 26th for $59.99 MSRP.