Last year Nintendo and Koei Tecmo teamed up to create a game that would combine the Musou games large scale battles with familiar faces from The Legend of Zelda franchise. Hyrule Warriors was an experience that got bit of a mixed reception with some loving the blend of open-world battles with Zelda fan service, while others found it an overly repetitive hack n’ slasher. Personally I loved the game and over the last year I’ve put several hundred hours into playing it as I’ve tried to unlock just about everything possible. So with tons of new content and the promise of more on the way is it worth investing in 3DS port, Hyrule Warriors Legends?
Joining the games already solid cast of characters are 5 new faces. From the Wind Waker there’s Toon Link, Tetra, and King Daphnes, holder of the Majoras Mask, Skull Kid and an original new character, Linkle. Toon Link and Tetra’s cartoony style are a nice fit for the handheld however their movesets are similar to some of the other fighters. Similarly Skull Kid style feels all too similar to some of the other magic fighters which is a pity as he’s been long requested for the Wii U version. King Daphnes on the other hand is more unique being able to switch between human and boat forms to perform devastating sweeping attacks. Linkle though is the standout new character (she’s now one of my favourite fighters), armed with dual crossbows her moveset is quite versatile consisting of both melee and ranged attacks. What’s more she also gets her own story scenario which unlocks as you progress through Legend modes main plot.
If you’re not familiar with the original game, the story is set in Hyrule as an army of darkness led by the sorceress Cia, makes its way to Hyrule Castle in order to take over the land. It’s in this dark hour that the legendary hero steps forth to drive back the evil army with the help of Princess Zelda, Impa, and Lana. It’s an enjoyable adventure, as along the way you’ll get to visit memorable lands from across The Legend of Zelda’s franchise, as well as meeting some familiar faces. Meanwhile waking up in a cosy little village, Linkle hears of the invasion of Hyrule Castle and feels she must rush off to help; believing that she is this times reincarnation of the green clad hero. A belief that is well supported by the word of her Grandmother, and an intriguing golden compass. This is a brand new scenario made exclusively for the 3DS. Linkle’s fun personality makes her immediately charming. Constantly cheery while possessing a poor sense of direction, she’s always eager to diving head first into battle assisted by her flying army of cuckoos.
Your enjoyment of the title can come down to which version of the console you own. Overall the performance is downgraded from its Wii U counterpart, textures have been greatly toned down, enemy numbers are reduced and there’s the sad loss of a multiplayer mode. On the New 3DS you can enjoy smoother fights, more enemies on screen, and of course the use of an extra circle pad. My experience of the game though was a bit different as I was using an original 3DS system and the performance was let down because of it. Boss fights came with a great deal of lag, the camera can’t be controlled very well without the extra c-stick (and there’s no circle pad compatibility), and you don’t get any 3D effects at all.
The gameplay is very much what you would expect of a Musou title. You lead Link or one of the other 23 fighters into battles with hordes of monsters in a competition for the most territory. During the course of this slaughter you’re given a number of objectives to complete such as taking specific enemy keeps, protecting characters or taking down massive bosses. During fights you’re also able to traverse the landscapes in search of extra treasures like skulltulas and pieces of heart. For the most part combat involves the mashing of two buttons to perform light or heavy attacks, which can be stringed together to perform some overly flashy combos. There are also special techniques and extra tools you can use which add to the mindless button mashing fun but it is an approach that’s not for everyone. Both combat and mission scenarios become very repetitive over time so taking regular breaks is advised.
Hyrule Warriors Legends introduces a couple of new additions to bulk up the gameplay. In battle you’re normally assisted by several other members of the roster who act as the army’s generals. In this new version you can tap one of the characters icons on the touchscreen to instantly switch between them. This means that you can always stay in the action plus it breaks down some of the tedious travel between keeps. You can also cut down travel time by taking advantage of the new map strategy system. Using the map you can direct units to move to specific locations, for example you can assign different units to move to enemy keeps while you take another, then you can easily switch and take keeps quickly. The only real let down is that this feature is so good that it begs the question, why wasn’t it in the original?
The adventure mode maps are where you’ll spend the majority of your time as they’re filled with many different mission scenarios. There’s really tons to do from time trials, and full blown battle scenarios to taking part in quirky little quizzes that’ll test your Zelda knowledge. It’s worth playing through most of the missions to get your hands on fancy loot such as new weapons, clothing and characters. Speaking of which some of the scenarios have changed to include the new characters, the first of which you’ll notice is the little Hero of Winds. The other new addition to the maps are fairies. Located in pots within enemy keeps these little guys can grant you nifty power ups in a fight. In the My Fairy mode you can customise their appearance, change their skills and feed them to gain higher levels. The mode is a neat little distraction and can provide some interesting tactical strategies when you enter the fray, such as healing you when you lose all your hearts or performing guard breaks. However they’re not as crucial as we may have originally thought as there’s not a great deal of depth to the system or play a crucial role in the main flow of the game.
This handheld version of the game is a great way to get the attention of new players. The new port carry’s over most of what made the original so fun; and go so far as to include most of the previous DLC and of course offers more content further down the line. If you’ve already got the Wii U version though it’s a bit harder to sell it. Lack of a cross save feature means you’ll have to start over, which is frustrating if, like me, you’ve put a great deal of time into the original version. Perhaps it’s more for die-hard lovers of Hyrule Warriors rather than those with just a passing interest. The new content alone should be enough to draw fans in, especially as Nintendo are showing no sign of bringing the new content to the Wii U besides the 5 new faces.
Hyrule Warriors Legends feels more awkward to control on handheld and doesn’t perform nearly as well as the Wii U version but it does add some interesting new modes and features like character switching and fairy skills. For newcomers playing on the New 3DS is recommended, otherwise you’ll be faced with naff camera angles, fiddly controls and massive frame-rate drops. Of course these flaws won’t matter too much to super fans who are sure to enjoy the experience, the many new features and the upcoming content, providing they don’t mind starting over.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down.