Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (NSW) Review

Here is the final review of the month of May. The third time is definitely the charm with Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. SuperPhillip Central storms the battlefield with its in-depth review of this Nintendo Switch Dynasty Warriors-themed delight.

The many splendored spoils of war

I greatly enjoyed my time with Hyrule Warriors when it originally released on the Wii U. The game already came packed with content, characters, and scenarios to play through and engorge oneself on. Then, Koei Tecmo continued to provide content for the game in the form of new characters, weapons, costumes, and Adventure Mode maps via DLC. If that wasn't enough, the Nintendo 3DS release, Hyrule Warriors Legends, brought even more new content in the form of brand-new scenarios such as Linkle's Tale, Cia's Tale, and a multiple mission scenario based off The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

The only problem with the Hyrule Warriors Legends was that the Nintendo 3DS, even in New Nintendo 3DS form, just wasn't capable enough of a platform to showcase a game with myriad enemies to slay and destroy. Between the less than stellar frame-rate and the lack of as many enemies on screen as its big brother Wii U version, Hyrule Warriors Legends wasn't the most satisfactory way of playing Hyrule Warriors on the go.

Enter the Nintendo Switch and Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. The subtitle isn't just there to make the name sound pretty. It really is the definitive edition of Hyrule Warriors, sporting all of the content, characters, costumes, Adventure Mode maps, scenarios, weapons, and features of both the Wii U original Hyrule Warriors and the Nintendo 3DS' Legends, including the latter's My Fairy. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is a beast when it comes to content, and it keeps its satisfying gameplay that made the game so beloved by both The Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors fans.

Link's fashion sense for this battle is decidedly retro and old school.
Hyrule Warriors is all about eliminating as many foes as possible with all-stars from The Legend of Zelda series, in addition to several all-new characters specifically created for the game. K.O. counts racing up to the thousands is easily achievable by just how many enemies are on display at one time on the battlefield. While fighting foes, the goal is to capture keeps by eliminating enemies within them and then defeating the keep's boss in order for your side of battle to control it. Of course, the enemy's forces also plan to accomplish the same goal and make sure your mission is a failure. This is performed by the enemy defeating you or one of your captains in battle, having your allied base taken over by the opposition, and letting a specific target perish mid-fight.

Newcomer from Hyrule Warriors Legends, Linkle, sprays the battlefield
with the arrows from her twin crossbows.
While it's true that sometimes battles can be won by pure button-mashing, there is an elegance to combat to take note of. Combat is as simple as combining weak attacks with strong attacks to create different combos. The more times you press the weak attack button before you perform a strong attack determines which combo you use. The combos used, however, need to be smartly used on later difficulties. Many can leave your warrior open to attack or caught in a compromising position in battle. Avoiding attacks from enemies is also key, so careful evasion and watching for enemies when they wind up attacks so you can counter them after the fact for maximum damage is something to factor in fights as well.

Impa is about to give Darunia one serious surprise attack from above.
Legend Mode follows a new tale in The Legend of Zelda franchise, combining multiple characters from the series' mythos into one story. This is where Linkle's Tale, Cia's Tale, and the Wind Waker scenarios from Hyrule Warriors Legends take place. Nevertheless, the most interesting and content-rich destination in Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is Adventure Mode. Adventure Mode places you on Zelda series inspired 8-bit maps where completing missions successfully with high grades opens up adjacent squares on the grid. The goal is to reach the square on the map where the dark ruler of the map is situated, and taking them out in battle to clear the map.

Of course, there is a lot more to discover than just clearing grid spaces to make your way to the dark ruler. As stated, Adventure Mode maps contain the most content in Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, and that's because by completing missions with "A" ranks as well as finding character-specific treasure chests, you unlock new weapons, costumes, characters, health-increases via Pieces of Heart and Heart Containers, and more as rewards. It's absolutely addicting to continually unlock new content through normal play, and with eight Adventure Mode maps to fully explore, you won't be starving for battles to engage in.

Pressing the "A" button when the special gauge is full launches
a cool crowd control move such as this one from Lana.
Adventure Mode improves upon Legend Mode as the former is not just a collection of keep-capturing and enemy-annihilating. Adventure Mode's missions run the gamut from quizzes where you take out the correct foe based on the question posed, to battles against three giant bosses like the fire-breathing, bomb-hating King Dodongo; the aerial dragon from Twilight Princess Agorok, or the most hellish giant boss of them all, the Imprisoned of Skyward Sword fame. It can be mighty challenging to earn "A" ranks for rewards on these missions, but now that the Switch version has more manageable and gracious requirements for "A" ranks (especially in the damage taken department), these are much less of chores.

Shot through the heart and Zelda's to blame. Moblin gives his forces a bad name.
Speaking of chores, one of the biggest problems with the original Adventure Mode in both Hyrule Warriors and its Legends incarnation was that grinding for item cards was such a chore. Item cards allow you to discover secrets along the Adventure Mode maps, which in turn allow you to earn the reward for that particular grid square. The Nintendo Switch version remedies this with an insanely helpful ability to press the Plus button on the right JoyCon to bring up a shop where you can purchase any item card you've already collected in the past on that given Adventure Mode map. It's such a welcomed feature that I wondered why the heck it wasn't included in the original game to begin with!

Furthermore, another impressive improvement to Adventure Mode as well as numerous levels in Legend Mode and Free Play is the ability to switch between characters on the fly, something introduced in Legends on the Nintendo 3DS, but available in this definitive version as well. It's a twofold benefit: 1) For Adventure Mode map spaces with two rewards for two different characters, you can switch between characters to acquire their awards in battle, and 2) It allows you to cover more ground without all the frantic backtracking to save bases. Additionally, you can command captains to different areas in missions, making it so you don't have to babysit everyone or every base on the battlefield all the time. While one character takes on the enemy's offensive on the allied base, you can capture some keeps.

For days when Link's legs are just too tired, he takes his Spinner out for a spin.
The creativity with weapons and moves in Hyrule Warriors is phenomenal.
This is even better realized through cooperative play with two players locally on one Switch. This makes most missions much more manageable with the addition of splitting up tasks between players. In certain Adventure Mode missions, one player can choose a weaker character that relies on a much stronger, higher-leveled character in order to do the brunt of the work, all the while earning the rewards for the mission. Co-Op mode understandably contains less enemies on screen at one time for either player instead of a mass horde of enemy forces to bulldoze through like when playing solo, but that's to be expected. What isn't, however, is that strangely, Co-Op mode has to get activated with a click of the left stick before the beginning of every mission, which is a bit vexing, especially as sometimes I would forget to allow my older brother into the session by starting the mission before he had a chance to join in. Thus, I'd have to back out to the mission menu again and let him in. Why it couldn't just be turned on once and kept on for every mission so players wouldn't have to continually add a second player is anyone's guess.

Call upon a "My Fairy" fairy in battle to clear the surrounding area
of enemies, racking up a big K.O. count in the process.
Here comes the verdict, and the question many of you have probably been asking: If you've already played either or both versions of Hyrule Warriors, is it worth picking up the Definitive Edition on the Nintendo Switch? Well, yes and no. I annoyingly have to say, "It depends." If you're like me and have played both versions, but never downloaded the DLC, then heck yes, it is! There is still so much new content to be had here. If you already have invested hundreds of hours into unlock characters, costumes, weapons, and more in past Hyrule Warriors versions, then you can probably feel safe in passing on the Switch game.

While small in stature, Toon Look makes a big impression on the battlefield.
However, it's important to note that regardless of whether or not you jump into Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, you can feel safe in buying it at full price. The Wii U version, plus all of the DLC, would run a given person way more than the asking price of the Switch game. Add in two exclusive Breath of the Wild costumes for Link and Zelda respectively and all the quality of life improvements of the game, and Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition scores high marks and a high K.O. count while it's at it.

[SPC Says: A-]

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