It's great to see such a variety of titles hitting the Wii U during its launch window, and of the many ports it's a joy to see the best of the Warriors Orochi games make the transition in Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. For the uninitiated, the Warriors Orochi series is a crossover of the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors games, where the characters from each series join forces to combat the demon hordes that threaten the world. Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper brings a few new additions, but for the most part offers the same action-heavy combat and strategy, against hundreds of on-screen hostiles, that the Warriors games have done for years.
The narrative starts with a demonic Hydra terrorising the land, having defeated all mankind's armies and leaving only three generals still alive. With all seemingly lost, the generals fight a last desperate battle, only for a mystic called Kagura to appear and offer a unique opportunity to turn the tide. The generals are offered the chance to go back in time and fight in the battles that led to this defeat, altering their outcomes and saving the other generals.
Keeping with series tradition, the story proves to be a great setup that completely ditches the historical accuracy of its progenitor series and enjoys the freedom and absurdity that comes with it. It even brings characters in from every corner of the Tecmo Koei family, with Ninja Gaiden's Ryu Hayabusa, Dead or Alive's Ayane and yet more obscure characters from Bladestorm (Joan of Arc), Warriors: Legends of Troy (Achilles) and Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll. It all comes together to create a weirdly compelling narrative, full to the brim with characters.
With over 130 recruitable characters to search out, there's plenty to do in Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. Each new level is a truly huge battle to get stuck into. You need to scan the mini map for targets, strategise regarding which ones to attack and in what order, then hang up your tactician's hat and get your hands dirty by joining the fight as a team of three interchangeable characters.
You build your team beforehand from your collection of saved generals; each packs different weapons and move-sets for you to learn and experiment with. With so many playable characters available the sheer number of combinations is staggering. Additionally, with a light coating of RPG-esque leveling and customisation thrown into the mix, you can modify and build on each of your character's skills and craft a team that truly suits your play style.
Once you're on the field of battle you're free to explore the area and massacre all that oppose you. Hundreds of enemies thirst for your blood with their own generals and commanders present and ready to challenge your combat skill. But with your superhuman strength and agility, you can fell dozens of enemies at once with a single swing, thrust or throw of your weapon. Saving the many generals and defeating each army of demon soldiers is hugely satisfying and a glorious spectacle - however, the Wii U version does struggle to show it all off.
The series has always found draw distances to be a challenge but here it's even more apparent. Groups of enemies appear out of thin air only meters away from your characters, and some of the larger boss encounters are comically but tragically incomplete as parts of them pop into view whilst others fade out. It's like playing with a migraine at times, with unseen threats appearing out of nowhere. Additionally, the frame rate struggles and the action occasionally grinds to a halt when things become too hectic.
It's also a shame that Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper makes such little use out of the Wii U's unique features. There’s neat local co-op action - where one player can use the GamePad while another plays on the TV using a Pro Controller - but the mini map is next to unreadable on the GamePad's screen, putting that player at a disadvantage. Beyond that, no other Wii U functions are utilised; in single player, the contents of the TV screen are simply cloned on the GamePad. However, the "Hyper" subtitle does introduce a few new characters that weren't in the original, as well as Duel Mode.
The Duel Mode turns Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper into a fighter, pitting teams of three against each other in a combat arena, similar to the Tekken Tag Tournament or Marvel vs. Capcom games. Cards gathered throughout the campaign can be activated with Battle Points you earn from dealing damage in the arena, which can increase your fighter's stats or decrease those of your opponent. It's a great addition; it lacks the nuances of a dedicated fighter, but the card collecting mechanic is a nice, compelling distraction from the large scale battles.
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is an uninspired port of an excellent game. There are missed opportunities regarding the Wii U's unique features and the slow down, frame rate and draw distance issues make this version the least appealing on the market. It never breaks the experience completely though, and its bonkers narrative and absorbing hack ‘n’ slash action is so engaging that it's easier than you might think to look past the limitations and enjoy the oodles of content.