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Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition – Zelda's strategic Slasher is better at Switch

No one is aware that Nintendo is delivering improved Wii U ports to the switch – the portable console is ideal for games that underperformed in their original versions. The switch versions tend to be even better than the originals.

If you're a fan of Legend of Zelda who missed Hyrule Warriors when he arrived in 2014, Definitive Edition is your chance to make up for lost time. Under the watchful eye of Nintendo, Koei Tecmo uses Zelda games to redesign its long-standing Dynasty Warriors action strategy franchise. Left and allies can be hacked and hacked by giant monster armies. The switch version includes all the DLCs released for Wii U and 3DS, resulting in a massive fan service offering.

If you're thinking about buying Hyrule Warriors, I'd just like to ask you two questions: Clusters of similar enemies over and over again? And will you mind that this port was not optimized for the switch screen in portable mode?

Above: Link and Companions Face Hordes of Monsters at the Same Time and Try to Turn Affected Red Crystals into Friendly Controlled Blue

What You'll Like

An action-packed RPG film about The Legend of Zelda

Hyrule Warriors is an action-heavy Zelda game, though it's understood as a "strategic action" rather than an RPG or a raw beat – 'em-up. If you're familiar with the Advance Wars series (or their great-grandfather, Military Madness), you'll get Hyrule Warriors by eliminating the Hex grids and turn-based thinking in favor of hacking-and-slushing.

Above: Each of the characters on your team can use multiple weapons and choose a primary one before the level.

Standard Hyrule Warrior Level is a 30 to 60 minute battlefield that you must conquer with a team of multiple characters. Each of the dozens of levels is filled with thousands of enemies and you hit 10 or 20 monsters simultaneously with big swings of your weapons. Their goal is to turn areas on the battlefield from evil reds to good blues and end the level with a Zelda dungeon-like boss encounter.

Above: Boss encounters have more than a bit of classic Zelda dungeon boss inspiration, including the need to use sub-weapons to expose flaws.

Nintendo cleverly combines classic Zelda weapons, characters and themes into each battlefield, making Hyrule Warriors feel like a major series game. But as soon as you realize that even basic weapons eliminate dozens of dumb grunts all at once, you begin to realize that your ultimate goal is to defeat several minibuses, stop territories, stop them, and clear them with little dialog boxes and tiny fires red target symbols

Above: Who appears from the Zelda Universe? The better question is: Who will not appear

Incredible Fan Service

Between all original and DLC content of the Wii U and 3DS versions of Hyrule Warriors, The Definitive Edition is full with Zelda Fan Service. You are constantly unlocking more of the approximately 30 playable characters, including modern, young and toon links, the wild impa, various shots of Zelda, freaky tingle, several tribal leaders and even variations of Ganon. Somehow, Hyrule Warriors allows Wind Waker's Tetra and Twilight Princess's Midna to coexist with a female link called Linkle – and it works.

Above: If you loved it in a Zelda game, you'll probably find it here – like Link's Okarina, which can transport you on the battlefields.

You receive weapons and crafting material that can enhance the characters' attacks, treasure boxes full of bombs that destroy the wall, arrows, Link's classic ocarina, hooked shot and heart tanks. If there were not enough classic Zelda content in previous releases, Nintendo added new Beat of the Wild outfits for Link and Zelda as switch exclusives.

Top: Cinematics switch between CG style and Wind Waker toon art, depending on the Zelda game, from the characters of a level.

Wonderful multi-style film sequences, solid audio

It is impossible to complain about the film scenes of Hyrule Warriors. They range from modern CG quality enhancements to large-scale battles to a hand-drawn Wind Waker style reminiscent of the diverse themes of the last 20 years of Zelda. Many are outrageous.

Above: A female link? Yes, meet Linkle.

No matter what title you like or dislike, they are lovingly represented here – from Ocarina of Time to a touch of "Breath of the Wild". There's also a decent amount of well-known Zelda music, cinematographic voice overs, and fine sound effects, though the voices in the game are often puzzling.

Top: Legendary Stages Include Semi-Linear Progression Through Chapter-Based Adventures and Secondary Stories

Masses of Levels Without the Need to Buy Additional DLC

Hyrule Warriors focuses primarily on storytelling Mode called Legend, which consists of nearly 20 chapter-like levels that become challenging after level 5. At this point, you can not play the game as a raw brawler, even on the Easy difficulty. But there are other modes. The Adventure Mode uses classic Zelda Oworld maps to allow for hundreds of additional battles with basic targets ("Beat 300 enemies"), but without cinematics.

Another mode puts you in control of a giant Ganon the cards of the game from an almost overhead perspective, fighting Grunts and several full bosses out of the game in a King of the Monsters style experience. This mode is amazing to watch and a lot of fun – maybe more for kids than for more strategic legends.

If you win every fight in Legend and Adventure Mode on the first try, you could end the game after a session lasting several hours. But, realistically, you will not, and after suffering a middle-phase defeat, you will have the choice to resort to either your last save point or an automatic checkpoint. Even on mild difficulty, you should repeat the midpoints several times per stage and then reach at least the normal difficulty level before you finish the game.

What You Dislike

A Strange Difficulty Curve for Levels and Controls [196590027]

I respect and hate what Nintendo and Koei Tecmo did with the difficulty curve of Hyrule Warriors. You've realized that first-time players will not immediately capture all strategic or control nuances, so the strategy and RPG elements are background noise in the early levels. If you miss them because you're too busy chopping up dozens of monsters, that does not seem like a big deal.

Top: Hey, did you notice the dialog box there? Can you read it?

But on the fourth or fifth level, you'll realize that the strategic elements are a really huge deal and that you probably did not pay enough attention to the dialogues. You will be told that a northern keep is being attacked or that a boss has teleported west. You have to choose to go there yourself or send an A.I.-controlled assistant to start the fight. Suddenly you need to know how to switch between the frenetic action and a game pause strategy screen to give commands to multiple characters. And you will suffer defeats because you have not responded quickly enough to pop-up events on your map communicated through tiny dialog boxes.

I hate that because I know that Nintendo could have done better. It is the best in-game instructor in the world, organically evolving to gradually develop important skills. But Hyrule Warriors lacks this magical Nintendo livery.

Above: Seriously, what's wrong with this navigation chart?

A stupidly confusing card

The only worst design element of Hyrule Warriors is its shell -right card, which is critically important, but almost impossible to use on the switch itself or a connected TV. The current location of your character is indicated by a small arrow against a background covered with blinking dots, spider webs, and icons. You might learn to press a button for an enlarged view with directional guidance, but even that's not great.

If I could only fix one thing in Hyrule Warriors, I would change the map and wallpapers for both screen sizes.

Above: Creating text in the dialog boxes can be challenging on the switch display.

Graphics That Have Not Been Optimized for the Switch Screen

Hyrule Warriors suffers from an unlocked frame rate that ranges from a split second of 60 FPS on stretches in the 20 FPS zone, depending on the Number of enemies you face. This is easy to excuse when there are tons of combatants, but the constant frame rate changes prevent you from feeling like a next-level port.

Another weird thing is that Nintendo has not really optimized the switch port for portable. Beyond the map, screen text can be microscopic – a problem for a game where so many of your goals are communicated through text.

Above: Here's just one of the similar-looking castle locks on a level. The segments of each map can look very similar, making it difficult to navigate without a directional arrow.

Repeating Gameplay

Depending on what you expect, the same level of Hyrule Warriors may or may not bother you. I would not criticize a straightforward strategy game like Advance Wars for having too many similar maps, so it's hard to criticize an action-heavy version of the same concept that lets tons of repetitive areas and mindless enemies interpenetrate.

Above: At some point, mowing by dozens of enemies feels predictable, even though it generally looks good.

Apart from the strategy, the gameplay consists of a lot of button mash and slash-stroke, interrupted by big magical explosions. From level to level the same topics repeat and repeat themselves, but with new characters and challenges. But that's the formula of the genre, and at least the Zelda content makes the fighting interesting.

Above: Hyrule Warriors has a two-player mode, but the game is really optimized for a single-player experience.

A focus mainly on single player (but with two-player mode)

Nintendo does not bother to promote the two-player feature in Hyrule Warriors – it actually has some hunting through the menus and the digital manual before I could ever find the split-screen mode of the game. If a second controller is connected, you can decide if you want to start with a second person playing with a different character, which is much better than the weak A.I. to help you.

And it's really fun. The split screen reduces the number of grunts in single-player mode and sometimes limits your point of view, preventing kite flying. But the frame rate is solid throughout. Consider this a nice bonus and not a primary way to play the game.


I went with zero expectations in Hyrule Warriors and came out satisfied – this is a cool game with goodies for Zelda fans, strategy fans and hack-and-slash fans alike. It's fun to play in two level sessions and allocate about half an hour to an hour per level. Between the main objectives, optional missions, and sub-story quests, there's so much to see and do.

Above: Some of the scenes of Hyrule Warriors, especially during Boss encounters, are simply fantastic set pieces.

That is, the only reason why I would call Hyrule Warriors "good" and not "OK" is its reach. About half of the legendary campaign I was tired of mowing soldier quantities and annoyed by the non-optimal card and control UIs of the game. But then I discovered the Adventure and Ganon modes and felt empowered by the title's potential for variations on the long Legend fights. And the more I kept playing, the more astonished I was from the fan service of Koei Tecmo and Nintendo.

Above: Hyrule Warriors can mostly be played by kids as Button Mashers, but strategic card management is necessarily higher level.

If you love beat-em-ups, action-strategy games, or Zelda stories, the Hyrule Warriors are for you. Considering that Koei Tecmo has done most of the development, the name Zelda is surprisingly worthy of it, but aside from its visual and incredible breadth, it will not be confused with the deeper, legendary Mainline series.

When Nintendo releases a patch with switch-worthy card and text size enhancements, further considerations are needed.

Score: 84/100

Hyrule Warriors: Final issue will be released for Nintendo Switch on May 18. Nintendo sent us a code for this review.

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