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Alongside the release of the game Hyrule Warriors, came the gripes of gamers who put substance before style, saying that the game was merely a Zelda-skin of Dynasty Warriors. Are people really so naive and simple that they would buy into gameplay they’ve had no interest in for years, just because it was now themed after a Nintendo nostalgia franchise? Hell yes.

I love Hyrule Warriors. It ’s got the most playtime on my WiiU by far, reminded me of how hard it can sometimes be to put down a controller, and has been a contributing factor to my father’s general disappointment in me; exactly what video games are meant to do. I even gave in and paid the extra twenty bucks, just to play as Tingle. Am I stupid? Have I been deceived into getting a game that I actually didn’t want? I don’t think so.

Here’s the thing, I had seen Dynasty Warriors gameplay before I heard about HW, and I even remember playing a little once. And I didn’t like it; I didn’t dislike it either, I was just indifferent. But I’m actually enjoying Hyrule Warriors, still, months after its release. There is something different, even if it’s not the gameplay.

I think it’s the world. I never got into the world of Dynasty, I don’t even know if there is a consistent “world” across the games. But Zelda? I’ve been into that world since… well, since only about six years ago, but if my parents loved me more I would have gotten into it back in the 90s. I already know the characters, the items, the lore, etc. And I love it all enough to still be angry that Wind Waker only managed to get a baton into HW (seriously, Epona but no King of Red Lions?).

I get that it’s good to branch out, leave your comfort zone and all that, but I play video games while lying on a couch. It’s a pretty comfort-centric hobby. And it’s not that the traditional Dynasty Warriors games are new or uncomfortable to me –I’d play them lying on a couch too- it’s that they’re just not that interesting. I do enjoy the gameplay, but that’s not enough to hold my attention.

And why does one franchise get to lay claim to a whole gameplay style anyway? Is all asymmetrical team-based multiplayer a Left 4 Dead re-skin?

But that’s beside the point; Hyrule Warriors is a re-skin, I won’t deny that. I just don’t think being a re-skin is a bad thing. I actually kinda want to see more Dynasty Warriors re-skins (preferably with new gameplay ideas). Fullmetal Alchemist Warriors, how’s that sound? Spamming Mustang’s Flame Alchemy against Lust, Hitting hordes of enemies with Armstrong’s Strong Arm Alchemy, or just ripping apart enemy lines with Wrath and his sword. That sounds fun, right? Or maybe a Dragon Ball Z skin, or The Avengers. Obviously not as full games, Guitar Hero has already demonstrated that problem, but through some kind of distribution system.

On Steam, most mods and even a lot of paid-DLC for certain games are re-skins. Killing Floor sells different character models. Anyone who has Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam has at least played with different survivor and special infected mods (I always have Before My Body’s Dry as the tank theme). And as much as I enjoy vanilla Civ V, concurring Germany is just a little bit more fun when I’m playing as my favourite harvest goddess, Holo.

Re-skins aren’t substantive changes, and they don’t necessarily add anything to games. But they do add something for the player. Accessibility, charm, even just fanservice. And while I won’t say a game is good just because it gave me fanservice, if it has good underlying gameplay or a nice story, and the fanservice just helps pull me in, I’m cool with it.

Don’t Lose Your Way