Friday, September 2, 2016

Hyrule Warriors: Phantom & Train Rod Impressions

Let's take a look at the newest additions to the rosters of Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors Legends from the new Phantom Hourglass & Spirit Tracks Pack - Toon Zelda and the Sand Wand, which are both disguises for playing with the Phantom and the Spirit Train from Spirit Tracks. This pack is really about the weapons!

Toon Zelda with Phantom Sword

It feels really great to directly play as a Phantom for the first time, since in Spirit Tracks you only can give commands to them. Now you can run around, strike things with a sword and it feels really powerful at the beginning. My first impression was that this character has a Fierce Deity level to it, especially with the sword beams at the end of the attack string. It's a powerful sword moveset with the rolling move as an addition. She also has a similar move to Medli's C6 with a smaller range, but a period, where she seems to be safe from enemy attacks.

My enthusiasm was lowered by the fact that the Phantom doesn't seem to be overly effective against any giant bosses. The C4 with a following Strong Attack seems to do some good damage, but I also wasn't able to test it fully, because I haven't unlocked all Stamina Fruit badges for Ghost Zelda yet, even with my massive material collection on the Wii U. And there's a reason for this, Toon Zelda needs Ganon materials for pretty much everything. So far only few characters actually needed those and only for a few badges. Which was right, because you don't fight Ganon that often. But Toon Zelda really, really likes Ganon, which makes her hard to complete.

It's also a little bit of a weird character, since you're playing as Ghost Zelda in a Phantom and not really Toon Zelda herself. It's a little bit like Fierce Deity Link, who acts as a Focus Spirit transformation of Young Link, but here you have the Phantom as the main body and you only see Ghost Zelda in a few animations.

Sadly, the body also doesn't change with the tiers, which are different swords from normal, Teleport and Wrecker Phantoms. But why not change the appearance of the Phantom Body as well? It also feels like it's missing some interesting features. One combo could have involved Phantom Eyes and teleporting, another the flaming sword of a Torch Phantom. But I do like, how they implemented the rats as the Focus Spirit finisher. It's a funny sequence and finally those rats get to be useful, instead of being utterly annoying. Together with Toon Zelda's dialogues it's a really charming moveset and a beautiful addition to the game.

Toon Link with Sand Wand

The real star of the DLC, however, is what I like to call the "Train Rod". When I speculated about this DLC, I had both the Sand Wand and the Spirit Train as possibilities on my radar, but it never occurred to me that they would combine them into one crazy weapon.

And it's so crazy that it quickly became one of my favorite weapons in the game. Usually the alternate DLC weapons for characters tend to be mediocre, but not this one. I was afraid it would be too similar to the Dominion Rod, but it isn't, it's train riding carnage. I love, how the train gets summoned out of the gateway portals from Spirit Tracks and how Link just starts bombing everything around him with the cannon. This is exactly how I imagined a train moveset (or a boat moveset for Linebeck) and it's utterly satisfying. I can't get enough of it.

That it's actually the Sand Wand doing all this, makes little sense and it feels more like they didn't really know what to do with a Sand Rod weapon and then just turned it into a train weapon. The majority of moves actually involves the train, instead of sand blocks. But the train moves are awesome, especially the C5. It totally wrecks the Weak Point Gauges of giant bosses and is an amazing crowd clearer. And all the moves create so much havoc on the battlefield that it's hard for your enemies to do anything. Only downside is that you can't dodge cancel any of Link's combo attacks, but he seems to be pretty safe on top of the train anyway.

I also like, how they incorporated the Sand Rod and the Nice Sand Rod designs from A Link Between Worlds as the higher tiers, even if this means that we're probably never going to get to play as Osfala (not important anyway), however, it would have been perfect, if the train also changed appearance. The Golden Train for the third tier and one of the sets as the second tier, e.g. the Steel Train. You get this as item cards on the new Grand Travels Map, but not with the weapon. It's similar to the Phantom, where the tiers only change the appearance of the sword. And maybe in Hyrule Warriors 2 we're going to see a little more effort put into the various tiers, but overall I'm very happy with this new addition.

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