Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hyrule Warriors: Twilight Princess Pack (Review)

Zelda rounding up Bulblins with the Dominion Rod

This review was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2022 by the same author.

Hyrule Warriors gets expanded on a monthly basis, where at the end of November the Twilight Princess Pack arrived with Twili Midna, the Dominion Rod, the Twilight Map, and more. There was also the update to version 1.4 with amiibo support and some improvements, where now it's time to review it all.

Again, this review is targeted towards players of Hyrule Warriors, where you should be somewhat familiar with the game and know the basics.

A Pack of Packs – Strictly Separated Contents

Like the last time, the Twilight Princess Pack costs 6,99€ on its own or can be obtained via the Heo of Hyrule Pack for the 14,99€, where you get all four DLC packs with a discount. In Japan things are little bit different, where Hyrule Warriors gets published by Koei Tecmo instead of Nintendo. This is why the Limited Edition Treasure Box set was only available in Japan, but they also let you purchase the DLC in other ways, which is mainly about getting the individual parts on their own. In case of the Twilight Princess Pack this looks as follows:

  • Dominion Rod (500Yen)
  • Twili Midna (500 Yen)
  • Twilight Map (500 Yen)
  • Costume Pack with the Postman and Ilia (200Yen)

You can also purchase the whole pack for 1200Yen (~8.11€) or the whole "All-in-One Event Pack" for 3000Yen. In Europe, Australia, and North America you only get to buy the packs, but not single parts of the DLC.

Why is this any relevant? Well, the alternate sales policy for Japan affects the DLC as a whole, because the single parts must work independently from each other. If someone wants to buy Twili Midna and only Twili Midna, then it would be bad if this person would also have to buy the Twilight Map in order to get her better weapons and additional Heart Containers. Or if someone only wants to buy the Twilight Map, then it would be bad if that someone could not complete it without Twili Midna. So, that's why she doesn't have any unlocks and gets all her things right away.

Twili Midna riding a huge Shadow Wolf like a boss

This was already a problem with Epona in the Master Quest Pack, but while the additional weapon types are at least bound to an active character, the DLC characters get completely sidelined. This was different for Cia, Volga, and Wizzro, but that's because they were part of a free update and then could be treated like the 13 original characters, where they got their unlocks on the Master Quest Map. But the rest of the DLC characters won't get any missions in the game, making them purely optional and with that somewhat irrelevant.

That's a shame and Koe Tecmo should evaluate whether these single offers even make sense. If most of the costumers buy the whole pack anyway, then it will be better to only sell the full DLC pack, so that everything can be connected. It would feel much more coherent and satisfying if Twili Midna had things to do on the Twilight Map. It's as simple as that.

Version 1.4.0 – More Levels, Materials, and Potions

The DLC gets accompanied by a free update, where this update actually installs the whole DLC. So, even if you should not want to buy it, it will take several hundred Megabytes on your system or external hard drive. That's probably another side effect of Japan's single purchase options, where Twili Midna still appears on the Twilight Map as an NPC for example, even when you didn't buy her. So, everything is at the ready, just not unlocked until it gets purchased, like DLC in a multiplayer game.

Other than the potentially unnecessary storage space, the update offers a couple of improvements. The biggest change is probably that the maximum level of your characters was raised from 99 to 150, just like in Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends. This gives everyone three more Heart Containers, but also lets them deal more and take less damage.

Twili Midna in the Training Dojo, it costs 11,925,282 Rupees to get her from level 1 to 150, she would have 35 Heart Containers then and gain 855 attack

Hero Mode is still rather tough, where you might think that this was designed for level 150 from the start. At least now you have a reason to play absolutely everyone once more, where it's only natural to put characters who have already reached the maximum aside for a while. Thanks to the update every character has some room for improvement again, where it feels like a good decision that this raise came only after a while.

It also helps with certain missions in Adventure Mode, which were way too difficult on level 99 still, where this has now changed. So, in case you're still missing some A-ranks, you can now go for them with some higher levels. The new level cap did have a negative impact on the new Twilight Map, however, but more on that later.

In addition to more levels, you can also now get a lot more materials, 999 of each type instead of just 99. And it's surprising how quickly you will accumulate 999 of those common bronze materials, like from Bokoblins, Bulblins, and Stalfos. But you'll have some good use for them, because there are three new Potion Mixtures, which cost between 100 and 200 bronze materials and can be very useful in difficult missions. However, there is still no potion to gain more materials.

New medals have been added as well for the new Adventure Maps and maximums, but this was it. There are no improvements to the smithy, no Classic Controller support, or a restart function in Adventure Mode. Challenge Mode was also forgotten once more, where you may ask what this addition was even about...

amiibo Support

Actually, there is one more thing that the update has added: the game now lets you scan amiibo on the title screen. Whenever you hold an amiibo to the NFC touchpoint you will get random weapons, materials, or Rupees. This can be done up to five times per day, which can be a fun ritual, but won't get you much. With some amiibo you will only get a single Rupee as a joke, but there is nothing that you can't easily get in the game otherwise.

a Link Super Smash Bros. amiibo put on the Wii U GamePad by someone's hand

Except... for the Spinner, the new weapon type for Link. To obtain it you'll have to scan the amiibo of Link or Toon Link once. Afterwards their amiibo will give a random weapon for Link from the already unlocked weapon types. The amiibo for Zelda and Sheik work similarly, which means you get random weapons for the respective characters.

The whole thing raises some important questions about the usage of amiibo. When amiibo were introduced at E3, the whole concept was about bringing toys to life. The amiibo were supposed to be a "buddy", who you can bring into the game as an ally or an opponent.

In case of Hyrule Warriors this could have made use of the bodyguard system from Dynasty Warriors, where you get one or multiple companions to follow and support you. The Free Mode in Hyrule Warriors basically already has this, where the intended main character of the scenario follows you around. So, for example, you scan the amiibo of Link and then it makes Link appear during the battle, maybe even Dark Link when you're playing as one of the villains.

This could have been a possible concept for amiibo in Hyrule Warriors, but it instead went down a different path, where DLC gets locked behind a figurine. This also makes Link's amiibo more valuable than the others, since now it's without a doubt the most useful of the current amiibo. Someone who only has the money for one will feel compelled to purchase Link, instead of the figurine that he or she really wants. It's not about getting the figurines that you like any longer, it's about what figurine gives you the best additional content.

It's also a very unfortunate approach for everyone who just wants the additional content, but not the figurine. For those the Spinner should be available by other means, but this isn't planned. Of course you can borrow the amiibo from someone and get the new weapon entirely for free, but you still have to jump through unnecessary hoops here for something that is supposed to be DLC. Ideally, the Spinner should have simply been part of the whole Twilight Princess Pack, where it thematically fits this perfectly anyway.

So, what Nintendo and Koei Tecmo are doing here with amiibo is very concerning and we can only hope that this will be an exception. These figurines should not act as a key to meaningful additional content, because otherwise we're just going a step backwards in the digital age.

The Spinner

Ignoring the whole amiibo affair, Koei Tecmo put a lot of effort into making an entertaining moveset for the Spinner. Everyone who enjoyed speeding through certain paths of Hyrule Field in Twilight Princess to bump into some Dinolfos and Bulblins will have fun with this new weapon for Link.

Link driving the Spinner against some Stalfos near Eldin Bridge

The Spinner is of the lightning element, offering a good alternative to the Gauntlets. Its special gimmick is creating up to three copies of itself, which you can summon with the first four combo attacks. You can push them away for remote attacks, detonate them, or make them oscillate. The latter is caused by your C5 and is especially powerful against giant bosses, where their weak point gauges can be depleted in one turn.

The large spiral pillar from the Mirror Chamber gets utilized as well, which lets you perform mighty stomping attacks and is good for posing at the end of a battle. For weak point attacks against captains and commanders Link will also summon multiple totems out of the ground, which makes it feel like this weapon was originally planned for Zant, before it became an amiibo advertisement.

No matter the character, the weapon is a lot of fun in any case and may become a favorite for some players. Like Epona and also the new Dominion Rod, all upgrades of the Spinner are unlocked right from the beginning and you will simply find them randomly during more difficult battles.

The Dominion Rod

Spinner, Ball & Chain, Dominion Rod... Twilight Princess has a lot of items with lots of untapped potential. And Hyrule Warriors taps into some of that potential by turning them into full-blown weapons, where Zelda now gets her hand on the Dominion Rod, the first piece of the DLC pack.

This completely focuses on the two types of statues that you could control in Twilight Princess via said item: the owl statues and the large hammer statue, which you had to bring from the top of the Temple of Time down to its lowest floors. Each of the combos summons one of the two, where a symbol below a freshly filled bar shows you the type. As long as this bar is still filled, the statue now will support your normal attack chain, which means that this is a moveset where your normal attacks can be modified.

Zelda guiding the giant hammer statue via the Dominion Rod to smash some Bulblins

Special Attacks use both statues in combination. The owl statue throws your enemies up and the hammer statue then bats them like a baseball, which looks funny. However, it's disappointing that large fist statues from Armogohma's chamber weren't utilized in any way, which would have been a good fit for finishers. And eventually they could have come up with new statues, instead of limiting things to the known ones.

The Dominion Rod is a very good weapon for covering large areas, where your normal attacks alone can already clear entire troops. On the other hand it's not really well-suited for duels or fighting giant bosses. Still, it's a good addition for Zelda, who didn't really have the strongest weapons so far and now at least got a reliable option when it comes to scoring many K.O.s.

However, it's questionable why the Dominion Rod was assigned to the darkness element. This neither makes any sense for the princess, nor the weapon itself, which feels a lot more like a light weapon. Darkness probably only got chosen, because Zelda already has a light weapon, despite the fact that this doesn't befit her and that there are already too many darkness weapons in the game. It would have been a much better fit for some of the other ladies in the game, first and foremost Twili Midna, but as a new DLC character she wouldn't have gotten two weapons at once. Still, it would be interesting if certain weapons were available to multiple characters, where the Dominion Rod could have been a weapon for both Zelda and Twili Midna.

Twili Midna

With or without the Dominion Rod, the highlight of the Twilight Princess Pack should be without a doubt Midna, who now becomes playable in her true form. And this finally puts the beautiful Twili princess into the spotlight, after she only got a small appearance at the end of Twilight Princess.

The assembly of her moveset is therefore somewhat vague. Her weapon type is the Mirror in different variations, but for attacking she mainly uses one of those hands, which Zant employed to defend the Sol in the Palace of Twilight and also uses as part of his own moveset, except that Midna's hand shines in green. The combos then summon different things, which includes the actual Mirror of Twilight, gigantic shadow wolves, as well as certain objects that Midna used to teleport in Twilight Princess – the Sky Cannon and a wooden bridge.

Twili Midna magically raising the mirror above her head to attack Bulblins with a beam of light at the Palace of Twilight

The weapon is a light and darkness hybrid, befitting its wielder. Defeating enemies fills a darkness gauge to amplify your strong attack, which summons a shadow circle around her for some good damage. The more the darkness gauge is filled, the larger the radius of this attack will be.

Her Focus Spirit Special makes Midna shed a tear, which shatters the air in front of you like a mirror. And during her Special Attack she whirls around the large spear, which she normally only uses via the Fused Shadow. So, her moveset is filled with many references, as you would expect, but some of it might seem somewhat random.

Overall she is a very strong character with mighty area attacks and also some good tools against giant bosses. Only in duels her possibilities are a little limited and the squeaky sounds caused by her shadow hand can be somewhat annoying...

The real problem is, however, that the new Midna gets rarely any use inside the game. She wasn't retroactively integrated into Legend Mode, even though this would have made sense in certain parts of the story. Since she gets installed via the free update and only unlocked via the paid DLC, this could have been used to fix Legend Mode on some ends. But this didn't happen, everything is as it were.

Her biography in the gallery states that her curse was lifted after the war, where Koei Tecmo made things a little bit easy for themselves. It was probably too much effort to alter various scenarios and cutscenes, but in the least the DLC chapter "The Ursurper King" from Cia's Tale should have been modified, so that Cia's and Midna's first encounter matches the later story.

Midna petting a shadow wolf in a victory scene at the Temple of Souls

The new Twilight Map features Twili Midna both as an ally and an enemy, but there is nothing for her to do as a playable character. Like the other DLC weapons, her higher weapon tiers are already unlocked and you will simply obtain them randomly. And instead of collecting Heart Containers and Pieces of Heart, she will simply get more hearts from level-ups, where currently she gets to a maximum of 35, five less than everyone else.

There isn't even an alternate costume for her available on the Twilight Map. The only thing you can do with her is play for fun and level her up. While this may be okay for some, to those who are primarily focused on clearing Adventure Mode Twili Midna won't be of much use, because most of the missions intend you to use the previous characters. Additionally, the new Adventure Map is rather difficult, where it will take a while to get her in shape, even if you use the Training Dojo (it costs 12 million Rupees to get her to level 150).

If you really like this character, the game won't stop you from using her. But it's still very disappointing that you will probably never experience in this game how Princess Midna shows you a new heart after opening a treasure chest...

The Twilight Map

Just like in the Master Quest Pack, you will probably spend most of your time on the new Adventure Map. This one is actually an 8-Bit version of the overworld from Twilight Princess (Wii version), only that it's turned by 90° counter-clockwise and very inaccurate. But some environments are still recognizable and you also get the typical dungeon battles, where you need to find a Boss Key and defeat a giant boss at the end, at the right places.

screenshot of the Twilight Map

The retro look is still charming and different items from Twilight Princess got turned into 8-bit Item Cards, where you can uncover various secrets via the Spinner or the Fishing Rod. Here it's for the most part obvious where you will need to use which item. The Compass is only relevant for rocks, where there may be multiple on the screen and you need to blow up a specific one.

Parts of the map may also be covered in twilight, where you get one of three Twilight Rules:

  • No Item Attacks!
  • No Special Attacks!
  • No Focus Spirit!

In addition, whenever there is twilight in place, you won't be able to see enemies on your map, which can be a problem when you need to take out a specific target. And this will make you realize how much you actually depend on the map in Hyrule Warriors.

All in all, the Twilight Rules are similar to the Master Quest Rules, with the main difference that they don't affect the entire map, only certain squares. And unlike the Master Quest Rules you don't necessarily have to deal with them. There is the Tears of Light Item Card, which will remove these Twilight Realms, so you can play the battles normally. That's very nice and makes you wish that the Master Quest Map had something similar.

Another feature of the Twilight Map are portals, where two of them are connected to each other. You'll need to clear the battle on the square with a portal in order to activate it. Then you can use it via the Ooccoo Item Card, which brings you to the other portal. This may not be all too useful, however, since you can just progress normally without the portals. But it makes it easier to advance into the western regions and is also a good option should you want to get to certain costumes earlier.

The map also improved the whole character restrictions. While they are still found very often, they will now go away whenever you clear a battle with an A-rank, which then allows you to play the battle as anyone. This already would have been desirable on the Master Quest Map, where it's a shame that Koei Tecmo didn't patch this in retroactively.

In addition, defeated enemies will drop twice the loot, so either two materials or one weapon and one material. This will prevent you from getting weapons instead of materials and also make it easier to complete the Badge Market. It even would have been a fantastic change for the entire game, but this is another unique feature of the Twilight Map. Similar to the "Rack up your KO count!" Challenge Battles from the Master Quest Map, this gives the slight impression that you should buy the DLC if you want an easier time with grinding.

While the world of Twilight Princess was turned into 8-bit, there aren't new locations from the game serving as battlefields. Snowpeak Ruins or the City in the Sky as new stages would have been fantastic, but instead you need be content with the 14 familiar battlefields from the base game, which will can get boring rather quickly... And that's super disappointing.

Shadow Battles

Even though there aren't any new stages, at least the 93 new battles will include some new mission types. Only a few old missions got recycled this time, where the Twilight Map borrows from both the original Adventure Map and the Master Quest Map for a bit. For example, the fun "Rack up your KO count!" challenges return, but they are a lot more difficult and therefore less useful.

More useful are the Challenge Battle that tell you to "Put an end to the enemy's divisive plan!", where you will be facing up to three dark versions of a character, e.g. three Dark Fis. When you damage them, they will split up, similar to Lana in Legend Mode. This will also split their life energies, which goes on until you have many Dark Fis in front of you, who all can be beaten in a single blow. This is perfectly suited to farm lots of experience and specific character materials, especially with the double drops. Half of the game's characters have such a mission on the map, where maybe the other half will be found on the upcoming Adventure Map for Majora's Mask.

Next to the divisive plan battles, there are also the "Learn the key to a balanced attack!" missions, where you have to damage a duo or trio of dark foes equally. That's a lot less fun and both of these Challenge Battle types make you primarily rely on Special Attacks, which can make the gameplay quite monotonous (or more monotonous than usual).

In "Team up and defeat the enemy forces!" you will have to decide between two possible allies. At the end you'll fight with your allies against the characters you didn't choose. This sounds like an interesting idea, but it gets ruined by the fact that your enemies are completely over-the-top. If you don't defeat them fast enough, they will call multiple giant bosses to their aid, get powerful boosts, or employ other unfair shenanigans.

If you're looking for something more relaxed, then the "Protect the Bombchu!" missions will be a good choice, where you simply have to defeat some enemy captains, so that the Bombchus can advance safely, like in some Legend Mode scenarios. Those are probably the easiest parts of the Twilight Map.

Twilight Map screen of an Adventure Battle limited to Zant and Ghirahim

The new Adventure Battles make also use of another mechanic from Legend Mode, where you will have to escort allies to Magic Circles in order to wipe out elite forces. In addition, there are scenarios with multiple elemental barriers, where you will have to hunt down Fairy Hunters, before they escape, but also stop Barrier Specialists from creating new ones. Those can get a little bit frantic, because there are important targets with a time-limit attached to them everywhere.

More Damage, More Frustrations

While none of the above may sound particularly bad, the real problem with the Twilight Map is the overall difficulty level. The Master Quest Map was overall easier, despite or sometimes even because of the Master Quest Rules, where it can be completed relatively quickly. The damage values were even lower than on the normal Adventure Map, so you didn't have such a tough time.

Ironically, the Adventure Map based on Twilight Princess of all Zelda games is now the exact opposite to the supposed Master Quest. Every small scratch will deal multiple hearts of damage, while for example Agitha with her giant bug can cost you 18 hearts at once. In itself, this isn't such a bad idea, because every character can now have up to 40 Heart Containers (except Twili Midna). And those Heart Containers should have a purpose, where the Twilight Map can act as an alternative to Hero Mode.

The real problem is that Koei Tecmo still insisted on the damage limits for A-ranks and the second Gold Skulltulas. Only with an A-rank you will have truly succeeded, where often this is even required for rewards and to proceed on the map. You have to defeat 1200 enemies within 15 minutes without taking more than 10 hearts of damage (25 in the red areas). The second Gold Skulltulas even require you to defeat the 1200 enemies without taking more than four hearts of damage. But those are already gone after a single hit, where you can't make any mistakes at all. It's like the entire Adventure Map turned into "Don't get hit!" missions. And since there is still no restart option in the menu, things get especially annoying.

Asking for perfection in a game like Hyrule Warriors is where the fun ends and the frustration begins. It's all about being extra careful and abusing the new potions, like the one that constantly powers up your items, which again can lead to an even more monotonous playstyle. And it makes collecting all those extra Heart Containers completely pointless when the ten starting hearts are the limit most of the time.

Ideally, damage wouldn't even matter for the ranks on the Twilight Map. And ideally, there wouldn't be any second Skulltulas at all, where they could have distributed the hidden spiders over more battles. If you didn't have to care about how much damage you've already taken, the Twilight Map could have provided a great challenge, without being too frustrating and without you relying on cheap tactics.

Interestingly, the weapon elements have a much bigger impact than usual. Every character and enemy in the game is weak against a certain element, where here a Ganondorf can be defeated as easily as a Bokoblin if you're using a light weapon. At the same time characters can have resistance against certain elements, where you will have to attack them for several minutes, slowly draining their health. So, the right choice of weapon can be the deciding factor, where it's too bad that most of the characters don't have such a choice and you're often even restricted. So, for example you may have to fight Zant with the Magic Rod instead of the Hylian Sword, all to your disadvantage.

It's also a matter of the right level, where the Twilight Map truly shows the dark side of the simple difficulty system in Hyrule Warriors. It's all just based on how much damage you deal and take, where leveling up your characters will make things easier. This took its course on the original Adventure Map, as long as you didn't feel the need to push in a certain direction. If it was too difficult in one spot, you could always try somewhere else and then return strengthened.

But despite going into the Twilight Map with all characters above level 99, after a third or so it all felt like running into walls, where you have to get everyone to level 150 first. But leveling up beyond level 100 is slow and arduous – a single level may cost around 100,000 Rupees. And the game comes to a tedious halt here, where either you take the time to slowly level up or you have to bear through it somehow.

And even if you get to level 150, you still can take massive damage. The basic damage of the Twilight Map is simply much higher than everywhere else, which you can test yourself by playing Network Links on the same level in all three Adventure Maps. So, it's unfair in any case and this is contrary to the otherwise very accessible DLC. The Twilight Map will be daunting and only possible to complete for those who are ready to play Hyrule Warriors excessively.

Costumes and Extras

If you're willing to take on the challenge, then the Twilight Map will offer one new costume for every character (except Twili Midna), much like the Master Quest Map. Luckily, you don't need an A-rank for those, just a simple victory. And it can be worth the troubles.

Cia in blue clothes holding up a sealed costume from a treasure chest

The 16 new variants of the standard outfits are arguably much nicer than the ones in Master Quest. Ghirahim even gets a special treat, where his new costume isn't just a palette swap. Instead he comes without the cape and looks like he did near the end of Skyward Sword, which is something that fans were hoping for. But even the simple palette swaps are very nice, like a golden and silver Fi, or blue clothes for Cia.

Other than new costumes, you can also find six new 8-Bit weapons on the Twilight Map. But those require an A-rank, which means that they will be very difficult to obtain. And that's a shame, because they are quite imaginative. For example, the 8-Bit Power Bracelet replaces the Ball & Chain with the Raft, while Ganondorf uses the keys for his sword.

Ganondorf fighting with the 8-Bit keys in a costume with orange hair

It seems like the Majora's Mask Pack will give each of the original weapons one 8-bit version to complete the collection. If you're not a fan of such silly weapons, then the new Adventure Map will only offer you four Pieces of Heart and one Heart Container to obtain for every character, which aren't really worth much, as already explained.

The Twilight Princess Pack also comes with two completely new costumes, where both Link and Zelda are in for some cosplay. Link poses as the Postman from Twilight Princess along with his banner, while Zelda shows up as Ilia. Those may not be for everyone, but they can be a lot of fun. Especially Link as the Postman offers the typical humor that such characters brought to the Zelda games. Both of these costumes get unlocked right away after downloading the DLC.


This is the first time where we are truly looking at a mixed bag with Hyrule Warriors. The new weapons are nice, Twili Midna is fantastic, the costumes are awesome, and the 8-Bit goodness is everywhere. On the other hand you have the poor integration of the new weapons and the new character, the questionable usage of amiibo, the absence of any new stages, as well as the frustrating difficulty on the Twilight Map.

Koei Tecmo wanted to keep the players of Hyrule Warriors entertained via the DLC, but the Twilight Map may just kill any appetite left in them. So, we can only hope that the Majora's Mask Pack will do things differently.

The Good:
  • Many more hours of additional play time
  • True Midna finally playable
  • Great new weapons and costumes
  • Lots of new mission types
The Bad:
  • Nothing to unlock for Twili Midna
  • No new stages
  • Insane damage on the Twilight Map
  • The Spinner is only available via amiibo

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