Tecmo Koei has been a strong supporter of Nintendo systems over the years, and in recent times the relationship between the two Japanese companies has developed further, with them seemingly growing ever closer. Therefore, it is no surprise to see the developer bring yet another game to the launch of a new system, this time a port-up for Wii U. Cubed3 braces itself for some intense battling in the epic Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper.
Imagine being able to head back in time and change specific key events to improve the future. Quite the daunting task, right? Well, in Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper that is exactly what is required, since there is no way to beat the devastating Hydra that is on the rampage in the present time with the current depleted forces. Therefore, with a little wizardry, a team of three warriors hop back and forth through the timeline using their past knowledge to overcome threats and prevent the deaths of fellow officers of war in order to recruit them and eventually defeat the deadly eight-headed beast. It is totally off the wall in terms of premise, ditching the overly serious nature of both the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series from Tecmo Koei, but if anything, the removal of the former confines and over-the-top fantasy setting helps make for a much more approachable game on the whole.
The core revolves around the team of three, each with their own individual talents and the ability to switch between the three at will during mass battles that involve taking on hundreds and thousands of enemies in the hope of staving off the impending threat sufficiently to gain victory and proceed onwards. Across the many grandiose battlefields, all of which are easily navigable thanks to a handy on-screen map feature highlighting key points and normally the next objective location, mass brawls ensue. Using all manner of button combinations, strings of hits can be carried out, complete with the odd special move here and there, as well as use of magical fire power and team attacks that are truly devastating. Working their way around the maps, specific officers must be slain in order to break through certain gates, and missions must be undertook and successfully finished to get the greatest reward at the end. Upon completion, weapons can be forged, defence boosted, new recruits switched into the team of three, and skill points attributed to the current line-up in order to make them increasingly stronger for the next fight.
The unfortunate stumbling block comes in the visual stakes, with Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper suffering from some extremely low quality graphics and terrible pop-up issues. There are many cases where character portraits shown when talking on the TV are extremely rough around the edges, only looking smooth and detailed on the smaller screen of the GamePad. There is also the almost comical effect of enemy hordes appearing out of thin air whilst running around battlefields. If it were not for the very useful map feature that shows where enemy forces are assembled, then it would prove quite shocking to be faced with an onslaught that magically appears from nowhere. For such a powerful console, this is obviously unacceptable, yet thankfully it actually does not deter from the enjoyment factor overall, with everything else covering over the cracks well enough.
The major selling point has to be in the form of the two-on-two beat 'em-up section, which ends up making Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper almost two games in one. Taking a team of three into a smaller arena and facing off against a bunch of opponents is extremely satisfying, throwing in card battling elements as well to spice matters up somewhat. This alone could have been an extremely engaging title alone, albeit for a lower price, but as an additional bonus it bumps up the value factor of this considerably, making it far more than a mere port from other home consoles. Although the game on the whole does not make the most inventive use of the GamePad, being able to play Off-TV alone is extremely handy, especially since the graphics look better on the smaller screen! There is also the chance to have two players using different screens, one viewing the action in battles on the TV and the other having their own separate viewpoint on the GamePad, so whilst no incorporation of innovative new ideas are at play, it makes for a change from split-screen on the one TV set.
For those that sampled the Japanese-only Wii title Zangeki no Reginleiv, this plays extremely similarly to that, with intense over-the-top battle scenarios taking place across vast fields of play, with plenty of missions to undertake and special moves to try out along on the way. The whole experience flows so smoothly and there are so many twists and turns that the constant fighting surprisingly does not grow repetitive.
Despite all the talk of developers getting used to new hardware early in a console's lifespan, the fact that this looks shoddier than the source material on lower spec systems is shocking. From the low resolution characters to the awful pop-up issues, it threatens to dampen the effect of what is otherwise a beautiful game.
A strong Japanese voice track and a surprisingly addictive soundtrack full of glory throughout; truly epic themes, intensely upbeat tracks, energising trance-rock tunes (think F-Zero), full-on rock out sessions - there is something for all!
Many different difficulty levels to play through, the main story to keep players engrossed during the melee fighting, more than 100 characters to recruit and play as, heaps and heaps of extras to unlock, online playability for up to two players, and the added bonus of a fully-fledged beat 'em-up mode, make this a very strong package indeed.
What it lacks in graphical fidelity, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper more than makes up for in every other area, with the standard en masse battling fare proving as thrilling as ever, now complete with crazy time travelling storyline to make the missions more intriguing. On top of that, not only is there a font of information related to previous titles that Nintendo fans might have missed out on and downloadable user-created battlefields, but also a highly addictive two-player beat 'em-up mode as a special add-on!