The Random Number Generator has decided that the next video game I should talk about is Hyrule Warriors for the Nintendo Wii U.
Hyrule Warriors is a crossover game that came out in 2014 which combines the content of the Legend of Zelda Series (which I have played) with the gameplay of the Dynasty Warriors series (which I have not played). It’s a real-time “hack and slash” strategy game in which you control and command several characters who are ridiculously strong when compared to most of your enemies. You can typically defeat hundreds of soldiers like they’re nothing. That said, storyline important allies and enemies are magically way more durable than regular soldiers.
This game was announced at E3 2014. At the time, it was a very unusual crossover. Before that point, the only major crossover Link had been in was Soul Calibur II for the Gamecube (in 2003), and as far as I remember, the only element of Zelda that was added to the game was being able to fight as the Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
In Hyrule Warriors, there are so many specific references to particular games of the Zelda series. In the base game, you could play as Long Scarf Link (specific to the Hyrule Warriors Universe), Impa, Sheik, Zelda, Ganondorf, Darunia, Ruto, Agitha (from a sidequest in Twilight Princess), Midna, Zant, Fi, Ghirahim, and an original character named Lana. As more updates and a ton of DLC became available, you could play as the true antagonists of the game as well as so many characters from games like Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker, Link’s Awakening and A Link Between Worlds. Also they added enough costumes so that practically every version of Link could be playable in the game.
I bought this game on its release day and was impressed (and still am impressed), but I’ve since developed a somewhat critical opinion of it as time went on. As amazing as all of this content is, I do have an issue with the fact that essentially the same game was released 3 different times in the small window of 3 years and 9 months. This wouldn’t have really been a problem except that the added storyline content in the 3DS and Switch version is locked behind having to buy the game all over again. I bought the DLC on the Wii U version when it was available, but I feel like that was a waste of money, because I barely used any of the characters. I would have used the characters if I was trying to complete the extra challenges on the Adventure Boards, but why would I spend time and energy completing all the extra content of a game if I was using a version of the game that doesn’t have all the content? In the end, it just felt like it was punishment for keeping up with the Zelda series.
The game is very beautiful, the music is awesome, and I do look forward to playing the game again on the Switch eventually, despite the fact that I’ll have to pay for it again. Hyrule Warriors was followed by a similar game, Fire Emblem Warriors. I definitely need to play it, since I already own it, but this whole experience has made me wary of prioritizing these games. It no longer feels impossible for a version of the game to suddenly come out again which is mostly the same but has a tiny bit of compelling extra content.
One last thing I should mention is that the opening cutscene starts with a narration in an actual voice, which was particularly jarring, because at the time, the last English voice acting to occur in a Zelda game was in the CD-i games (which I haven’t played yet).
I suppose the last Japanese voice acting in a Zelda game had been in Tetra’s Trackers, a multiplayer mini-game exclusively available in the Japanese version of Four Swords Adventures. I bought the Japanese version just to gain access to it, and as soon as I can, I will force a party of my friends to help me play through all the stages of it. I bet they can’t wait.
Voice acting has since been used in a few cutscenes of Breath of the Wild, and Zelda speaks in the Super Smash Bros. World of Light trailer. It’s possible that voice acting might become normal in future Zelda games, but only time will tell.
Thanks for reading!