By Justin Graham / December 3rd, 2012
|Title: Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Console: Wii U
Release Date: November 18th, 2012
Genre: Hack and Slash
Do you like cutting down thousands of dudes? Are you a fan of Asian history, mythology, and literature? If the answer to the above is “yes”, then the Wii U has you covered. Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a Wii U-exclusive edition of Warriors Orochi 3, Tecmo Koei’s latest in the crowd-control hack-and-slash Warriors franchise.
Being one of the first Wii U games that I’ve played, Warriors Orochi 3 isn’t really a showcase for many of the console’s new features. There’s no touch screen support, for starters. The Wii U GamePad screen is simply used as a secondary display of the action taking place on the TV. This actually isn’t as bad as it might sound. The way that the game is set up, it makes it very easy to pick up and start playing the game without ever turning the TV on; particularly if I just want to lie down and relax while planting an axe, flute, or feather fan in some dude’s face. The GamePad can also be used as a secondary display in local co-op in lieu of traditional split-screen TV displays, allowing both players an unobstructed view of the action.
So what’s so “hyper” about Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper? The Wii U version contains a few extra features that aren’t in the original PS3/360 release. Of note, there are four new characters; Rachel and Momiji from the Ninja Gaiden series, Seimei Abe, a legendary onmyouji of Heian Japan, and Shennong, a sovereign of ancient China. Rachel and Seimei were originally included in a PSP edition of the game that wasn’t released outside of Japan, while Momiji and Shennong are entirely new additions. Each character is also accompanied by their own exclusive stage and scenario meant to introduce them into the proceedings. Given the already massive cast totaling over 130 characters, an additional four isn’t a sizable upgrade, but given their treatment and the way they’re included, the game is definitely better with them than without.
The other new feature is the one-on-one Duel Mode. While previous Warriors Orochi games featured such a mode, it was left out of the original Warriors Orochi 3 release as well as its PSP counterpart. In this mode, the player selects a team of three characters and fights against an opponent in an enclosed arena. As an upgrade over previous versions of the mode, there is also a card-battling aspect, in which the player can bring four cards into battle and invoke them to inflict status effects, deal damage, heal, create space, or draw the fighters together. As the player advances further into the story mode, more cards are unlocked.
Despite these new features, however, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper has all of the indications that it was a quick port. There are rare moments when the frame rate will chug a bit, and as mentioned before, the ways the game makes use of the Wii U hardware are limited. It also doesn’t take full advantage of Miiverse; attempt to attach a screenshot while leaving a message, and you’ll end up with a big black rectangle.
That being said, I cannot understate the amount of fun I’ve had with it. I’ve played the game since launch and have as of this writing put in over fifty-plus hours, have unlocked every character, and have seen all three endings. I have cut down thousands upon thousands of dudes. And I keep coming back because of a simple combination of an entertaining story, fun characters, and a simple but addictive combat system that has served the Warriors series well.
It’s a shame then that for all of the time I’ve spent with it, I can’t say much of anything about the online multiplayer. There’s support for online co-op play as well as competitive online in Duel Mode, but as of this writing, I have yet to actually engage anyone online. Not for lack of trying, either. There simply aren’t that many people searching for online games, as far as I’ve been able to tell. Part of it may be that the Wii U is brand new and hasn’t yet been released across all territories yet, and so there are a limited number of people on the Nintendo Network and a yet smaller number that are playing the game. Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to, I simply can’t say anything regarding the quality of the online experience.
It isn’t all bad, however, as the game does offer another online feature in its Musou Battlefields; a stage edit mode in which the player can take any stage they’ve completed and spend points to modify which officers are on the battlefield, basic soldier types, enemy aggressiveness and behavior, the background music, and even select battle sound effects from a variety of game libraries. These stages can be shared online, and given enough elements to unlock and a little creativity, some absolutely bananas scenarios can be conceived.
Graphically, Warriors Orochi 3 is on par with its PS3 and 360 counterparts. The ludicrously large cast of playable characters is vibrant and colorful, making it very difficult to settle on a “main” team of three. The game’s stages, largely pulled from Dynasty Warriors 7 and Samurai Warriors 3, also look great, and have been modified in ways both subtle and overt, reflecting the nature of the patchwork dimensional world in which the game is set.
The audio is likewise a best-of compilation and features tracks from throughout both Dynasty and Samurai Warriors, as well as music taken from Ninja Gaiden, Warriors: Legends of Troy, Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War, and Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll. The voice acting is entirely in Japanese; there is no English audio option. Some may find this more disappointing than others, particularly given that Koei had finally managed to correct the Chinese name pronunciations in Dynasty Warriors 7, but the Japanese actors are all very entertaining in their roles.
With a cast of characters this large, it might seem like the story would be a convoluted mess, but it’s actually really entertaining. The series has always been something of a professionally produced fanfiction in the ways that the characters from different historical periods interact with each other and come to blows, and the writers know well enough to have fun with the idea. Warriors Orochi 3 abandons the factionalized story structure of the previous entries for a single, linear story mode and manages to tell a more focused tale that uses Princess Kaguya, the central figure of the Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, as its lynchpin. What results is a story that ranges from laugh-out-loud silly to charming and touching.
The gameplay in Warriors Orochi 3 builds upon the basics of the previous games. The player still controls a team of three characters and can swap freely between them at any time during battle. Each character has his or her own traits and abilities, and are categorized as one of four basic types; power, technique, speed, and wonder. The combat is based on the traditional “charge” combo system that should be familiar to anyone that has played most any of the past Warriors titles. Outside of battle, the game most closely resembles Dynasty Warriors 7, with a hub area in which the player can interact and form bonds with characters, buy weapons and fuse them to power them up, and access the game’s network features.
If you have a Wii U and enjoy Warriors games, there is a lot to love in this package. It may not be as robust in terms of console features as it could be, and the online community may not be there, but if you love the idea of smacking dudes around with a harp while playing through an entertaining crossover tale, you really can’t go wrong with Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. It’s easily one of the best in the series that I have ever played.
Tecmo KoeiWarriors Orochi 3 Hyper