Throughout the course of human history, seemingly incompatible elements have often come together to make something great. But for every Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup there’s Mary J. Blidge covering a Led Zeppelin song. And then there’s Hyrule Warriors, a new action game for the WiiU that falls somewhere in between by mixing aspects of The Legend Of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors games.
For those unfamiliar with either series, The Legend Of Zelda games are epic and puzzle-filled adventures, while Dynasty Warriors are button mashing hack & slash action games where you battle an endless army that tries to overwhelm you with sheer numbers. But while Hyrule Warriors is set in the realm of the Zelda games, and has a lot of nods to those games, it’s still much closer to the Dynasty Warriors series.
The deciding fact is, ultimately, the combat in Hyrule Warriors, which has you hacking and slashing your way through hundreds of weak enemies at the same time like you’re the warrior in some dynasty (though those games have never been this cartoony). It’s kind of like cutting grass if you haven’t mowed the lawn in a long time, and now it’s really tall, so you decide to trim it with that Lord Of The Rings sword you bought at the mall a few years ago. Except then you make the mistake of using a really effective fertilizer, so the grass grows back really quickly, forcing you to hack through the same areas of your lawn over and over.
And yes, it’s as challenging as that sounds. Or not challenging, as the case may be.
While most enemies in Hyrule Warriors can be dispatched with a simple swipe of your sword, you also have a number of magic and special attacks, which you recharge by finding potions or by just smacking a bunch of people until the appropriate meter fills up. There are also times in when enemies can’t be cut down five at a time, but instead need at least four slashes of their own to defeat, as well as big bosses who are impervious to most attacks until you figure out their one weakness. Take King Dodongo, a frog-looking dinosaur who normally shrugs off your sword attacks, but becomes vulnerable to them when you throw a bomb or three into his mouth. Which, of course, is how you defeated him the last time you met, in 1998’s The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.
Though it also doesn’t help that you always start off with an extraordinary large amount of health, and even if your enemies do manage to knock you down a peg or two, you can easily replenish yourself by grabbing one of the many power-ups that have been dropped by dying enemies.
Hyrule Warriors also differentiates itself in how its battles play out. Rather than have you run from one sword fight to the next, as you would in most story-driven action games, you instead find yourself on a large battlefield with numerous areas, and you have to defeat the majority of enemies in those areas to regain control of them. Of course, as you do so, other areas become infested with enemies, and you then have to run over to there — often past other groups of enemy soldiers — to make sure an area doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
The thing is, while the combat in Hyrule Warriors is redundant and repetitive — and since that’s really all you do here — you might think Hyrule Warriors is also redundant and repetitive. And it is. Which is why, if you fight your way through more than one in a row, you’ll grow so bored that you’ll start to wonder if it’s one of the twenty-four hours every week that FXX airs reruns of The Simpsons.
But if you play it in short bursts — like if you play a battle, then watch a couple episodes of The Simpsons on FXX, then played another battle followed by another couple episodes of The Simpsons on FXX — Hyrule Warriors can be fun. Granted, more so if you enjoy the Dynasty Warriors games than the Zelda ones, and even then only if you enjoy mindless and arcadey hack & slash action games that don’t require any strategy or, well, skill.
Ultimately, though, Hyrule Warriors ends up being neither a piece of delicious candy nor an overproduced, soulless cover of a classic rock tune. But while fans of The Legend Of Zelda will think it too shallow, fans of hack & slash action games will think it’s too repetitive, and fans of the Dynasty Warriors games will think it’s too goofy, if you can get past those things, it’ll engage you for a little while. It’s just too bad it couldn’t have been something more.