It seems like Nintendo wants to bring all of its Wii U games to Nintendo Switch, with numerous ports such as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Bayonetta 2 available now, and even more in the publisher’s pipeline. Hyrule Warriors is the latest example of this ongoing practice. Not only was it initially developed for Wii U – a Nintendo 3DS version was also released a few years ago. Nevertheless, the Switch’s Definitive Edition aims to offer a complete package to fans.
The Legend of Zelda fans would argue that you shouldn’t delve into Hyrule Warriors thinking it’s a Zelda game; otherwise, you might be left utterly disappointed. It’s a spinoff that was essentially created as a love letter to the beloved action-adventure series. With this in mind, you could get a ton of enjoyment out of the game as it is brimming with fan service that longtime Zelda fans would appreciate. This comes in the form of recognizable characters, locations, music, sound effects and items that combine to form a compelling tribute spanning from the original NES game to Breath of the Wild.
As its title implies, Hyrule Warriors is basically a Dynasty Warriors game with a different coat of paint. It was developed as a collaboration between Nintendo and Koei Tecmo, which is known for creating some of the most iconic hack-and-slash video game franchises, including Dynasty Warriors. Hyrule Warriors plays almost identical to Dynasty Warriors, where gameplay primarily revolves around destroying the throngs of baddies in your path in order to claim the battlefield and reach your next objective. While this may sound enticing, it gets a bit repetitive after using the same moves and tactics to defeat thousands of enemies on a single battlefield. Needless to say, there’s a lot of button-mashing involved as well.
There are a total of 29 playable characters to mix things up, from Link, to Sheik to Ganondorf, but each one is controlled using the same buttons and combos. The animations and grunts are different, but other than that, they pretty much feel like the same exact characters in different bodies. The game does a good job putting the spotlight on supporting characters like Impa and Link’s female counterpart, Linkle, by placing them in a role of a significant hero in their own right. Every character eventually intertwines with another’s story, so it’s interesting to witness firsthand how they crossed paths and the nontraditional relationships that develop between them.
Battles can get very chaotic, especially when there is a boss you are tasked with taking down within a certain time limit. But the chaos is somewhat subdued when you get close to a comrade or foe, particularly non-player characters. You’ll often find them gazing at each other and going in circles until you come in to interrupt their staring game. This also applies to the main characters, which means protecting them should be a priority, as you’ll be forced to restart if at least one of them fails by losing all of their hearts. There are various missions within battles, such as guiding Bombchus to their targets or protecting the Deku Tree, but they are accomplished using the same chief method – simply overcome the obstacles that stand in the way.
There are animated segments between battles that contribute to the overall story. For the most part, it’s a standard Zelda-style tale that also involves two new sorceresses – Lana and Cia. Cutscenes are dramatic and entertaining until they are disrupted by on-screen text. Akin to typical Zelda fashion, characters don’t speak but instead spew out words that you have to read. This feels extremely outdated and unnatural, especially in a game that puts an emphasis on nonstop action. This concept is arguably the most awkward during gameplay in battles, when you have to abruptly shift your focus from combat to reading the words that are supposedly coming out from characters’ mouths.
Even though it looks practically identical to the Wii U version, the game is visually appealing in both TV mode and handheld mode, but it runs best when docked at 60fps. Its simplistic controls allow for playing with a single Joy-Con controller for up to two players in split-screen co-op. While this mode doesn’t compromise the enemy count, you might prefer having the entire screen to yourself due to everything that’s simultaneously happening on the battlefield.
The Definitive Edition packs in all the content of the previous iterations on Wii U and 3DS, including every piece of DLC, so there’s a ton to do. If the game gels with you, you could easily be playing for countless hours. In addition, it introduces new Breath of the Wild-themed costumes for Link and Zelda. If you already own either the Wii U or 3DS version, these two outfits might not be enough to convince you to shell out another $60 for what will essentially provide you with the same experience. But if you had to choose between the three, the Definitive Edition would definitely be the way to go due to being in HD and portable – it’s the best of both worlds. However, if the aforementioned nuisances such as mute characters are a turnoff in your eyes, you might want to consider spending your Rupees toward the more original Fire Emblem Warriors instead.
A review copy of Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch was provided by Nintendo UK.