It might be hard to remember now, but there was a time when folks thought that the Wii U might just have a chance at life. 2014 was one of those times, when the likes of Bayonetta 2, Smash 4, Mario Kart 8, and Hyrule Warriors all released for Wii U owners to enjoy. It seems almost bittersweet that all of those titles - in one way or another - have found themselves on Nintendo Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe released near the Switch's launch, Bayonetta 2 released on the Switch earlier this year, and even a new Smash Bros is releasing on the system this December. Most recently, however, Hyrule Warriors has gotten another chance at life with Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition.
If you've already played the original Wii U release, or the updated 3DS release Hyrule Warriors: Legends, you don't need me to explain exactly what Hyrule Warriors is. For those of you that haven't yet had the chance to play the game, however, the premise is fairly simple - Legend of Zelda meets Dynasty Warriors. Players choose from an ensemble of Zelda's most popular (and even most obscure) characters across battlefields, completing objectives, capturing outposts and keeps, and leaving thousands of enemy soldiers reeling in pain in their wake. Keep an eye on your map, follow the objectives, and dash across the map keeping your army in check.
Naturally, it's a very similar premise compared to Fire Emblem Warriors, another Dynasty Warriors cross-over that released on both the Switch and the New 3DS last Fall. However, where Fire Emblem Warriors takes inspiration from the weapon triangle system, pairing up, and the idea of constantly commanding units across a battlefield - Hyrule Warriors is probably closer to a traditional Dynasty Warriors title. The addition of a magic meter, grass that can be chopped down to reveal item pick-ups, and items that can be used to tackle menacing bosses bring the game more closely in line with a "traditional" Zelda experience, but it's fair to say that the bulk of the experience is a much more traditional Dynasty Warriors title with a heaping of Zelda paint on top.
The biggest draw comes from Hyrule Warriors' story mode, this time complete with the additions from the 3DS port all in HD. All the DLC content from both prior versions of the game are available here too, including many more playable characters than originally appeared in the base game on the Wii U. Each of these characters can level up, craft badges using resources towards increasing their movesets - with no two characters truly playing alike. Some characters even sporting multiple weapon types that they can use, with their own differing movesets. It's a far cry from how the roster felt in Fire Emblem Warriors, making replaying missions as different characters after having completed the story interesting.
That isn't to say that the only reason that players will want to keep playing the game is for the story. Adventure Mode drops players on a variety of maps based off of the worlds of previous Zelda titles, with tiles containing challenges, secrets, and more. Each map has its own end-goal, usually tying into what the goals were for the game that the maps were inspired by. Completing each of these challenges and finding secrets within each map is super engaging, and everything is bolstered even further by the fact that previous DLC characters are now integrated into many of these Adventure Maps, as another reason for players to play through them.
Even then, the story mode is decently long, with special skulltula challenges players could tackle in order to complete various portraits. It's not the best plot in a Zelda title, spin-off or not, but it is entertaining if nothing else. Much like the rest of the game, the draw to it would have to be the fanservice. Hyrule Warriors is filled with little details that Zelda fans will appreciate - whether it be sound effects from classic titles, playable characters that will excite diehard fans of specific titles, and more. There isn't too much depth to the game, but the fun comes from taking the Zelda characters you love and decimating Ganon (or Hyrule's) armies beneath their excessive strength. It's cathartic.
As for the technical details of this Switch release, it definitely runs much better than on Wii U in docked mode. Instead of running at a 720p resolution at a sub-30FPS framerate, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition renders at 1080p with a framerate that seems to hover around the 40 to 50FPS range. In Handheld mode, the developers made a puzzling decision to maintain the same 1080p resolution despite the Switch's screen being a 720p panel. The framerate is still better than on Wii U, but arguably the handheld performance falls behind Hyrule Warriors: Legends on the New 3DS. Not by much, but it doesn't make much sense why it couldn't have run closer to 60FPS with a properly scaled resolution. The My Fairy modes and the ability to swap between characters on the battlefield migrate over from the 3DS release as well.
If you're a Zelda fan looking to get into the Dynasty Warriors franchise, having skipped the two previous releases of Hyrule Warriors - it's easy to justify picking this game up. If you already played the Wii U or 3DS release and wanted to tackle more of the content in a prettier package, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition offers a bargain there too. Finishing everything the game has to offer will take you hundreds of hours, and there's a lot to love. If you've already had your fill of the game on either Wii U or 3DS, however, it's harder to justify picking the game up again. Sure it has all of the content, all while it runs and looks better to boot, but as great as more content is for fans - it's not as if the original Wii U or 3DS releases really felt lacking for content in the first place.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition lives up to its moniker, and makes a compelling argument for both fans and newcomers of the game to pick it up. It's a welcome addition to the Switch's library, though anyone that already had their fill elsewhere shouldn't feel the need to upgrade.
Versions tested: Nintendo Switch
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.