Monday, August 11, 2014

Why Hyrule Warriors got me so excited

I haven't been so excited for a new video game in a very long time. True, I have been excited for A Link Between Worlds and even The Wind Waker HD last year, but this goes way back. I realized that Hyrule Warriors is actually something I wanted for many, many years now. It has to do with ideas I had in the years 2000/2001 and 2005... the first has to with Majora's Mask and some things that I wanted to see in the game. The second is a game concept, which I recently rediscovered and which is not unsimilar to Hyrule Warriors.

Old Desires from Majora's Mask

Majora's Mask was actually the first Zelda game, which I got on day 1 and where I eagerly anticipated the release of the game, closely following its development in gaming magazines (no internet available). And while it certainly was my favorite game at the time, I had some complaints about it ...

The biggest one was probably Tingle. I was convinced that Majora's Mask would have been a much better game without this character. I grew to like his character later on with The Wind Waker and Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, but back when Majora's Mask came out, I hated him. Well, I was 14 years old at the time and everything had to be "cool", so he simply wasn't acceptable. This doesn't have much to do with Hyrule Warriors, except for maybe how cool this game looks, but I thought this something funny to mention.

What has to do with Hyrule Warriors though are weapons. I really didn't like, how the transformation masks didn't utilize any items to fight. Except for Fierce Deity Link they all fight with their bodies, but I would have preferred it, if Darmani had used a hammer, Mikau a spear and if Deku Link had shot Deku Nuts instead of silly bubbles. Today I don't necessarily share this view, I like how the characters were designed, but for me Zelda always has been heavily item based. And even though I grew to like Darmani and Mikau in the way they were, it's still good to finally get a Goron, who's actually fighting with a hammer! I love that and Darunia will probably become one of my favorites in the game.

Also, with Majora's Mask I really liked the idea of playing different characters and races inside Zelda, but the game didn't fully satisfy me and then the Zelda series never really got back to it (save for the remote control sections in TWW). It was nice to be able to play with a Deku, a Goron and a Zora, but I wanted more. Even if this might sound totally ridiculous, but I wanted a Gerudo or a Garo Link as well. And with Fierce Deity Link I wanted to play with him outside of the boss chambers and fight normal enemies with his power ... I can't tell, how many times I replayed all the individual bosses just to feel Fierce Deity's might.

Well, Hyrule Warriors most likely won't let me play as Fierce Deity again or as a Gerudo woman, but there's still the potential to fulfill these old wishes in a sequel. In the least the first game will let you play with different characters including a Goron and a Zora.

Zelda Fighting Game Concept

I recently discovered an old draft for an actual Zelda fighting game based on Unreal Championship 2 - The Liandri Conflict (UC2). This game basically combined the action of Unreal Tournament with the 3rd person melee combat of a Zelda game. It even had the targeting system and is one of the most enjoyable console shooters I've played. Unreal Championship 2 is even one of my favorite games of all time, I bought and still keep the old Xbox just for this game, my only non-Nintendo gaming console. I still like to play it today every now and then, in fact I did so last weekend.

In the game you also get 14+ individual characters, where each of them wields their own melee weapon. Anubis fights with a staff, Apophis with an axe and the sexy Selket with dual swords. Sounds familiar, right? The roster was even made out of hexagons and had a similar shape and size to the roster of Hyrule Warriors. Here's a recent video of the game, where you can view the roster and see some gameplay:

When this game was released, I was obsessed with getting something similar for Zelda. I even made my own Zelda roster with the following characters:

  • Link
  • Sheik
  • Mikau
  • Darmani
  • Nabooru
  • Din
  • Ganondorf
  • Shadow Link
  • Lizalfos
  • Stalfos
  • Iron Knuckle
  • Gomess
  • Majora's Wrath
  • Fierce Deity

Each of them would have gotten their own special melee weapon. Link used sword & shield, Mikau a spear, Darmani the hammer, Nabooru dual scimitars and Din the Rod of Seasons. Some characters, especially the mini bosses, I only added for their weapons. Like Gomess with his scythe, Majora with its whips or the Iron Knuckle with the axe. In the arena you would find and use typical Zelda items like the Bow, Bombs or Hookshot, much like in Hyrule Warriors.

There was also a Horse Battle mode, where every character got his individual mount. Link had Epona, Darmani got Dimitri and the Stalfos was riding a skeleton horse.

In a way Hyrule Warriors is a nice implementation of this idea, which does things a lot better with the one man army system. It just suits Zelda more than only having 1on1 combats and allows you to do way crazier things with the characters. And the mounts actually could become a thing in a sequel, since there have been Warrior games, where you can use mounts

I also like, how Hyrule Warriors handled its weapon system. Everyone gets his own item to fight, just the way I like it, but they allow multiple weapons per character to chose from and they didn't go down a route, where they simply added a character for its weapon. But at least now you know, where my ideas have been coming from. And I also was too focused on the weapons, while you can have characters fight with magical items, which allowed female characters like Ruto or Lana to enter the stage and shine.

But besides the differences I'm actually amazed, how close this Warrior Zelda hybrid got to my old ideas. And it certainly feels satisfying to finally get my cool Zelda fighting game after so many years.

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