A review of sorts: Hyrule Warriors

So, because our city library system is awesome, we can borrow video games. And they're decently fast at getting new copies in, so even being late to the reservation (I think I was 30-somethingth in line), we got our copy a couple weeks ago.

So, Hyrule Warriors is the love child of the Zelda franchise and something called Dynasty Warriors (that I've never played, so I'm taking the marketing at face-value). What you have is an over-the-shoulder hack-and-slash, with plot and territory control mixed in. Each mission has several keeps that generate enemies. Go there, beat everyone up long enough, it becomes your keep and starts spawning folks on your side. Some missions tell you to capture the keeps, or escort the person, or what not. What makes it fun is that they preserve the idea that you are the Chosen One (or as I prefer to call it, Someone With An Actual Name). The field is full of enemies and soldiers play-fighting, and most of them don't even get health bars displayed. Your basic attack combos mow through mooks by the dozen. (And the kill-count can easily be in the thousands for any given mission). There's the occasional elevated who gets a healthbar, but unless they get given a Name, you'll drop them in one combo easy. If they get a cutscene, then you know you've got a bit of a fight.

The plot is fairly Zelda-standard - chosen one, fight through, protect/recover the Tri-Force, but there is a nice switch-up to justify letting you play as the Bad Guys, which also extends the plot far enough that it doesn't feel terribly short. Replayability seems pretty solid so far - in addition to replaying old missions to find hidden stuff (or just play with them as different characters) there's also an Adventure Mode that combines the overworld map of the original Zelda with missions for each screen. It's fairly mindless, but let's be frank - this is a game where you rampage around murdering anyone who looks at you funny. (And besides, if you've played any Zelda game you know the basic arc.)

The game supports two players - one on the GamePad, one on the TV - which means no split screen. Weirdly, it actually makes the game a bit more interesting, since you can't easily see where your partner is, and need to communicate as to who is going to put out which fire. (Remember those keeps? Yeah, the enemy will come capture yours as well, which is Bad). One irksome note is that the game is clearly designed for single-player - if either player triggers a cutscene, it stops the game for both players. (And weirdly, only player 1 can continue past the note, even if player 2 is the one who open the chest).

Another nagging issue is that if you're playing two player, you'll probably want a proper Pro Controller. If you do play Wiimote+Nunchuk, I'd suggest remapping some controls - by default waggling the wiimote is your basic attack, and it's a bit tricky to time the necessary combos that way.

On the downside, the missions are a bit more scripted than I would prefer - a lot of doors are opened on plot-timers, and there seems to be some built-in delays between events firing. For instance, the game will tell you to capture the West Keep and the East Keep. If you've already captured one, it still takes 10-15 seconds for the game to notice, and then do the "good job" bit .If you've already captured both, you've got to wait another 10-15 for it to cycle through the "you captured one", "go capture the other", "you captured it" routine, which is really annoying.

The other pet peeve is that two player mode is set up per-mission. Player one chooses the mission, and then player two joins at character selection. If player one picks a character too fast, then you have to abort and reset to get your buddy in. And you have to do this dance Every. Single. Time. It's incredibly annoying.

On the whole, we've had an entertaining couple of weeks thrashing things, so I suspect it'll end up in our collection sooner or later.