North American packaging artwork featuring (from left) Princess Zelda, Link, and Lana.
|Release date(s)||Wii U
JP August 14, 2014
EU September 19, 2014
AUS September 20, 2014
NA September 26, 2014
JP Q1 2016
EU Q1 2016
AUS Q1 2016
NA Q1 2016
|Genre(s)||Action, hack and slash|
Hyrule Warriors, known in Japan as Zelda Musō (Japanese: ゼルダ無双 Hepburn: Zeruda Musō?, lit. "Zelda Unrivaled"), is a hack-and-slash action video game released in Japan on August 14, 2014; in Europe on September 19, 2014; in Australia on September 20, 2014; and in North America on September 26, 2014. Developed by Omega Force and Team Ninja for the Wii U video game console, the game is a collaboration between Koei Tecmo and Nintendo, and is part of both Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda and Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors series. It is one of the best-selling games on the Wii U. An updated port for the Nintendo 3DS, titled Hyrule Warriors Legends (ゼルダ無双 ハイラルオールスターズ Zelda Musō: Hyrule All-Stars?), is currently in development.
Hyrule Warriors mixes the hack-and-slash gameplay of Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors series of video games with the settings and characters from Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series. Amongst many other characters, the player controls an original iteration of Link in melee combat to take on large numbers of enemies from the Legend of Zelda series. While there is a much stronger emphasis on combat than other games in the Legend of Zelda series, the player may use common weapons from prior games in the series, such as a sword, bombs, and Link's signature spin attack. Enemy targeting also returns, in combination with elements from the Dynasty Warriors combat system. Obtaining items through discovering and opening chests is retained as well.
The game has a context-based combat system. Depending on the character selected, the abilities of weapons equipped will change. Role-playing elements such as weapon and character leveling will also appear. Defeating enemies will give players weapons bags, which will equip a random weapon for the character. "Sealed weapons" may also be found in treasure boxes, which increase the types of weapons randomly generated for the player in the field. The game supports an asymmetric local two-player mode with one player using the Wii U GamePad and another using a monitor. The game is also compatible with Amiibo figures, with figures based on The Legend of Zelda series unlocking additional content such as new weapons.
Besides combat, Hyrule Warriors will offer an additional quest to collect 100 Gold Skulltulas, tokens that appear in specific levels after defeating enough enemies, which will unlock illustration pieces of the several characters in the game and contribute to upgrading the in-game apothecary.
The game is set in Hyrule, outside of the official Zelda timeline. Long ago, Ganondorf was defeated and his soul splintered into four fragments. Three of them were sealed in different moments in time, while the fourth was trapped by the Master Sword. But Ganondorf plots his resurrection through Cia, a sorceress who protects the balance of the Triforce while maintaining neutrality. Cia becomes fascinated with the spirit of the hero of legend, with her amorous feelings for the hero providing Ganondorf an opportunity to purge her inner light. As a result, Cia becomes consumed in her desires, opening the Gate of Souls, a portal to different time-space realities of Hyrule, to amass an army of monsters. Seeking to unite the Triforce and conquer Hyrule, she uses her subordinates Wizzro and Volga to wage war against Princess Zelda and the Hyrulian army.
As Cia's forces attack Hyrule Castle, Link, a Hyrulian soldier-in-training, rushes out to aid the other troops, discovering he possesses the Triforce of Courage. However, the castle is taken and Princess Zelda is unaccounted for in the aftermath, so Hyrulian general Impa asks Link to aid her in finding the princess. While searching, Link and Impa meet Sheik, a Sheikah warrior who claims to know Zelda's whereabouts, and Lana, a white sorceress from the same clan as Cia. The group heads to the Valley of Seers hoping to close the Gate of Souls, but Cia traps Link and Sheik, who is revealed as the bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom. Cia steals both Triforce pieces, combining them with her own Triforce of Power, and uses the completed Triforce to open portals in time and space to the resting places of Ganondorf's spirit fragments.
To restore Hyrule to normal, Link, Impa, and Lana each lead their own campaign to drive out Cia's armies and close the Gates of Souls in each era. Along the way, they are aided by each time period's native heroes, including Darunia and Princess Ruto from Ocarina of Time, Agitha and Midna from Twilight Princess, and Fi from Skyward Sword. During this time, Sheik reveals herself to be Princess Zelda in disguise, and Lana explains that she and Cia were once the same person, with Lana embodying the light Ganondorf purged from Cia's heart. Meanwhile, three of Ganondorf's spirit fragments are released, allowing for his body to be resurrected. No longer needing Cia, he attempts to take the Triforce, but Cia sends Link and Zelda's pieces back to their owners and uses her own piece to lock Ganondorf away.
After retrieving the Master Sword, its power strengthened by his bonds of friendship, Link prepares to confront Cia, who has been weakened after being abandoned by Wizzro and Volga and using her own life force to strengthen her troops. He defeats her and she fades away, with Lana inheriting her piece of the Triforce. Using the completed Triforce's power, the time-displaced heroes are sent back to their own periods and Hyrule is restored to normal, with Lana once again closing the Gate of Souls. However, due to the Master Sword's removal, the last of Ganondorf's spirit fragments is released, and Ganondorf is fully resurrected, summoning Ghirahim and Zant from across time and space. With their combined efforts, Ganondorf manages to retake all three Triforce pieces from their bearers, using it to strengthen his army and take over Hyrule Castle. However, Lana summons the heroes from Hyrule's history, and the combined group of heroes defeat Ghirahim and Zant before venturing towards Ganon's Tower. Link manages to defeat Ganondorf, but he uses the Triforce to transform himself into Beast Ganon. With the help of Zelda's light arrows, Link defeats Ganon, and the heroes use the Triforce to seal him away once more. The heroes of the past are returned, Lana resumes watching over the Triforce in Cia's place, and Link and Zelda return the Master Sword to its pedestal to prevent Ganondorf's escape.
Development and release
Hyrule Warriors was announced on December 18, 2013, in a Nintendo Direct video as a collaboration with Koei Tecmo. As such, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated that the game would not be the next main series installment of The Legend of Zelda, but rather a spin-off from the main series. Long-time Zelda producer, Eiji Aonuma, is supervisor for the title. The concept for Hyrule Warriors was first proposed by Team Ninja lead developer Yosuke Hayashi while he and Koei Tecmo executive VP Hisashi Koinuma, who was in charge of the Warriors franchise, were discussing a possible Dynasty Warriors cross-franchise game with Nintendo. Zelda was chosen due to the fact that Hayashi, Koinuma and many staff at the company were fans of the series.
When Warriors was presented to Eiji Aonuma, Koei Tecmo used their cross-over game One Piece: Pirate Warriors as an example of how the game would feel. In contrast to previous collaborations, Nintendo was confident in Koei Tecmo's ability to make the game, leading them to have "far more expectations than uncertainties." This confidence was shared by Aonuma, who readily accepted being offered a place in the game's development by Shigeru Miyamoto. Part of the reason behind Aonuma's strong support of Hyrule Warriors is an ongoing push by him to break away from many traditions that have become attached to the Zelda franchise since its inception. Along with Omega Force, the main developers for the Dynasty Warriors series, Hayashi and Koinuma brought in help from Team Ninja, who had developed the Dead or Alive series, to help more with one-on-one combat and inject new ideas into the development process. In an April 2014 interview, Koei Tecmo's president Yoichi Erikawa stated that he hoped Hyrule Warriors would appeal to fans of both franchises and go on to sell at least one million copies.
Hyrule Warriors was publicly displayed at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo with a new trailer, in which Agitha, Lana, and Midna were confirmed as playable characters. Zant and Argorok were also confirmed as boss characters. The game also appeared in playable form for showfloor attendees, as part of a Nintendo Treehouse presentation. Over the time span following the E3 announcement, Nintendo has released further information on the game's website, confirming Fi, Ruto, Darunia and Sheik as playable characters, as well as Ghirahim, the Imprisoned and a version of Gohma as boss characters. During a Nintendo Direct presentation on August 4, 2014, Zant and Ghirahim were also confirmed to be playable, alongside the game's main antagonist and final playable character, Ganondorf. A female version of Link was also considered as a potential playable character, but was scrapped during development.
The game was first released in Japan on August 14, 2014, and was available in both regular and special editions. The first special edition, the "Premium Box", features a copy of the game, an art book, a Triforce-shaped clock and two extra costumes for the character. The second special edition, called the "Treasure Box", adds a third costume, a scarf resembling Link's in the game and a miniature treasure chest accessory. A special edition featuring the game and Link's Warrior scarf was released in Europe, Australia, and New York City.
Three costume packs of were available as downloadable content (DLC) for those who pre-ordered the game at specific retailers. Each of these gave Link and Zelda one additional costume based on their appearances in a prior Legend of Zelda title, including Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. Players who registered the game on Club Nintendo within the first month of release received costumes for Ganondorf based on Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. These DLC packs were later made available for purchase via the Nintendo eShop in December 2014. Players who use the Link or Toon Link Amiibo figures with Hyrule Warriors will also unlock the Spinner weapon from Twilight Princess for Link, while scanning other figures will grant the player random equipment or items, with figures based on The Legend of Zelda granting higher-tier rewards. A free update that adds Cia, Volga, and Wizzro as playable characters was released in October 2014. The game has since received a series of free updates that add several other features, such as a higher level cap, new character and weapon skins, and additional challenges. An additional "Classic Tunic" costume for Link based on the original The Legend of Zelda was distributed for free in celebration of Hyrule Warriors Legends ' announcement.
Additionally, four DLC packs were released in the months following the game's launch. The first DLC bundle, the "Master Quest Pack", was released in October 2014. This bundle includes a new "Cia's Tale" story campaign, alternate Guardian of Time costumes for Lana and Cia, Epona as a weapon for Link, 16 unlockable character re-color costumes, and most notably, a second map for Adventure Mode. The second bundle, the "Twilight Princess Pack", was released in November 2014, and adds Twili Midna as a playable character, the Dominion Rod weapon for Zelda, Ilia and Postman costumes for Zelda and Link respectively, 16 unlockable character re-color costumes, and a third Adventure Map. The third bundle, the "Majora's Mask Pack", was released in February 2015, and added Tingle and Young Link as playable characters, a Skull Kid costume for Lana, Ocarina of Time costumes for Sheik and Impa, 16 unlockable mask-based costumes, and a fourth Adventure map. The final bundle, the "Boss Pack", was released in February 2015 in Japan and March 2015 in North America, and adds two new modes: "Boss Challenge", in which players fight multiple boss enemies at once, and "Ganon's Fury", in which players can play certain challenges as final boss Ganon, with a playable giant Cucco for Ganon's Fury and 5 new re-color costumes as rewards. Players who purchase all four packs receive an exclusive Dark Link costume.
Nintendo 3DS port
On June 10, 2015, a leaked trailer revealed a port of the game for the Nintendo 3DS, titled Zelda Musou: Hyrule All-Stars in Japan. The game was officially announced as Hyrule Warriors Legends six days later during Nintendo's Digital Event at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015. The port includes all previously-released DLC, features the ability to switch characters on the fly, and adds a new story chapter featuring characters from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker that serves as an epilogue. Tetra and King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, both from The Wind Waker, will be added as new playable characters, with others to be announced leading up to the game's launch. The new characters can also be transferred to the Wii U version.
Hyrule Warriors was met with a generally positive reception and currently holds an average critic score of 77.33% and 76 out of 100 on GameRankings and Metacritic respectively, with the latter site indicating "generally favorable reviews" based on 81 reviews. Critics generally praised all the references to the Legend of Zelda universe, while others enjoyed the combination of the two franchises although some criticized the repetition of the fighting formula. Miguel Concepcion of GameSpot praised the "delightful Legend of Zelda fan service from beginning to end" while still managing to be "a fine Dynasty Warriors spin-off in its own right". Jim Sterling of The Escapist praised the great variety compared to other Warriors titles, noting the "meaty combat system" and different styles between each playable character, calling the game "a mad idea that should logically get old after an hour, but never does", while Chris Carter of Destructoid called the amount of fan service "staggering" and being particularly favorable towards the cooperative gameplay modes. Kyle Hilliard of Game Informer stated that Team Ninja did a far better job on collaborating with Nintendo on Hyrule Warriors than they had on their last title, Metroid: Other M, stating that the game "isn’t a true Zelda game, but there’s plenty here for Zelda fans to enjoy". Jose Otero of IGN also enjoyed the cross-over, in what he states "makes me feel powerful in a world I love", yet in contrast noted an issue with cooperative play, particularly with the player using the Wii U GamePad such as a lower resolution and slow down.
Lorenzo Veloria of GamesRadar however was less favorable of the gameplay ties to the Warriors series that despite "brilliant Zelda fan-service" called the combat "unimaginative" and repetitive, while Dan Ryckert of Giant Bomb felt that the mission variety was "basic" and full of "mindless slashing" The review for GameTrailers concluded that "your long term enjoyment of this game boils down to how much you like Dynasty Warriors, or hack-and-slash games in general". Simon Parkin of Eurogamer however felt that Warriors gameplay is "often unfairly criticized", before going on to state that compared to previous titles "Hyrule Warriors rewards thoughtful play and demands a strategic approach that transcends the brute force combo-strings of its moment-to-moment gameplay".
The game sold 69,090 copies, or 57% of its shipment, on the first week of its release in Japan. Hyrule Warriors was far more successful in the West, however, selling 190,000 units in its first weekend in North America. The overseas success of the title surprised Koei Tecmo, since it had sold beyond their expectations. In January 2015, Koei Tecmo announced that they had shipped one million copies of the game to retailers.
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