Thanks to Nintendo of America for the review code
Title: Hyrule Warriors Legends
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: 3/25/2016
The main game/story
In the land of Hyrule, a mysterious army has appeared, causing havoc across the land! Led by a mysterious sorcerer named Cia, Link, Impa and heroes from multiple eras must team up and stop the sorcerer from taking over Hyrule and completing a mysterious ritual… A port of the hit Wii U game with some extra bells and whistles for portable play, joining other Warriors titles on the 3DS such as Samurai Warriors Chronicles!
Please note that this review is written with the New Nintendo 3DS Models in mind, as that was the system that I played it on. Your mileage may vary if you own the older models, and I honestly don’t get why this wasn’t exclusive to the new 3DS family like the port of Xenoblade Chronicles from last year. With that out of the way, let’s see what this port has to offer, for both newcomers like myself, and for veterans.
While obviously not as crisp or smooth as the HD version on the Wii U, Hyrule Warriors Legends runs surprisingly well on the New 3DS. Despite being at 30 Frames per second with 3D off, the game still feels fluid and button inputs feel precise with little input lag that I could notice. The models still look decent at best, and the CGI cutscenes from the Wii U version are completely intact, narration and everything included! Unfortunately, despite this feature only being available on the New Nintendo 3DS, Stereoscopic 3D tends to slow the game down quite a bit, despite it making some of the backgrounds and stage elements look nice. It’s a shame, as I really would enjoy playing this with the 3D all the way up if it wasn’t for the sudden choppiness that comes upon turning it on. For those who won’t mind ignoring the 3D, it’s a very impressive conversion of the Wii U’s visuals.
Music and Sound
There’s surprisingly a lot of variety in the game’s soundtrack! While there’s only a few brand new themes (since most songs come from the Wii U original), nearly every song in the game is a stellar remix of a classic Zelda theme, depending on the stage you’re playing. Some can range from a rather emotional results screen to a rock remix of the theme from the main franchise! Adventure mode tends to offer a few nostalgic remixes as well, giving an 8-bit remix to a few of the menu themes in order to stay true to the classic Zelda map.
Traditional Warriors games have been criticized for repetitive gameplay, usually due to the fact that most combos are done by mashing the same few buttons over and over again to defeat swarms of enemies, and Hyrule Warriors Legends seems like another example of this at first. Upon playing the first part of the prologue, it seems like a Warriors game with Link inserted in it because he has a sword, but it ends up evolving into a game with a lot more strategy than I expected. Once you progress during the main story, new characters become available, along with new Sealed Weapons that can completely change a character’s performance. Don’t want Link to use a Sword? Just have him use the Fire Rod from A Link to The Past instead. Not interested in using Lana’s magic? Have her use a Deku Spear instead! Since each weapon can have a random assortment of skills, (such as boosted EXP and strength) along with the possibilities for certain skills to be transferred to newer weapons via the forging system, leading to a seemingly infinite amount of skill and weapon combinations for each character. You can even use the Bazaar to give each character new combos or minor enhancements to their abilities, such as extra elemental defense along with a faster focus gauge, although you’ll need to gain certain materials and the right amount of funds to pull it off.
Of course, even if your weapon is turned into a deadly attack, you’ll still need to keep on your toes, as just button mashing in hopes of beating up enemies won’t get you far. Sooner or later you’ll end up having to use items such as the Hookshot or Boomerang in order to weaken certain enemies, and you’ll need to watch the touch screen in order to see whether or not you need to rush to your Allied Base to defend it from intruders, or protect a CPU ally from a fatal blow. Luckily the 3DS version allows you to change to different characters on the fly via the touch screen, making the whole multitasking issue much less stressful. There’s even Owl Statues that you can warp to using the new Ocarina item, allowing you to save precious time during some of the tougher stages. Bosses get more and more aggressive over time, which means you’ll have to plan out good combos in advance in order to take them out and progress to the next level.
During the course of the Story mode, you’ll unlock some stages in the secondary mode of Hyrule Warriors Legends, known as Adventure Mode! By far my personal favorite mode in the game, Adventure mode drops you into a recreation of the original map from The Legend of Zelda, where each tile is a quick mission with a simple objective, whether it’s to defeat dangerous enemy captains, a certain amount of enemies or capture keeps, there’s a lot of missions to complete in this mode, and some paths only open up depending on how far you’ve made it in the story mode or how good your rank is on certain missions. The goal of each map is to find and defeat the Dark Ruler, collecting treasure and other secrets along the way. Yes, I said each map. Hyrule Warriors Legends not only has the giant map from the original game, but five additional adventure mode maps based off of other games in the franchise! The sheer amount of missions to complete, along with the potential to A rank every single stage makes this mode hands down the biggest mode in Hyrule Warriors Legends, and unlike the Wii U version, all five maps are available without having to buy them as DLC. (That being said, you do need to unlock the other four by completing the previous maps.)
And last but not least is the brand new My Fairy mode, exclusive to the 3DS version of Hyrule Warriors. To be completely honest, this mode feels rather rushed and thrown in at the last minute just to give the 3DS Version something brand new. The main idea of this mode is to raise a fairy that you find in bottles, usually very well hidden across the Adventure Mode and Main Story maps. And by “well hidden” I mean it. The mode doesn’t even unlock until you find your first fairy, and since they are only in specific pots in specific keeps in specific stages, you might end up having to look up a guide in order to find your first one. I went for 10 hours of gameplay in both Adventure Mode and the Story Mode before resorting to a guide on the internet, all because I just couldn’t find a fairy for the mode on my own. Once you finally obtain your pet fairy, you can raise them to improve their abilities in battle, which typically kick in depending on the current situation or the element of the Fairy. It’s a minor feature that’ll give you peace of mind in some of the tougher battles in Adventure Mode, but nothing that would cause anyone to choose this version over the Wii U Version.
In conclusion, I was honestly rather surprised by Hyrule Warriors Legends on the 3DS. Deciding to pass on the Wii U version back in 2014 is now something I regret after spending many hours on the 3DS version, mainly due to how packed with content this game is! If the main story mode isn’t enough for you, then the Adventure Mode maps will offer dozens upon dozens of hours for the hardcore completionists, especially for those who want to get an A rank on every stage. While it does lack the local multiplayer of the Wii U version along with the new My Fairy mode being nothing to write home about, I still found Hyrule Warriors Legends to be a perfect fit for the New Nintendo 3DS Family of systems. The C-stick really helps with any potential camera issues, and the extra buttons help make it so you don’t have to rely on the D-pad for targeting or the focus attack. Despite the disappointing framerate with the 3D on, I still thought that this game transitioned surprisingly well, and I strongly encourage any owners of a New 3DS to pick this game up; you’ll likely get just as addicted to it as I did, especially since it’s action packed gameplay is perfect for on-the-go road trips or long passing periods between classes in school.
However, folks with an ordinary 3DS might want to proceed with caution, as reports from other players seem to indicate that the game sacrifices a lot to work on the older hardware. That being said, regardless of your system of choice the boatload of content is still available regardless of which model you choose to play it on, and with DLC characters launching this summer, I can’t wait to see how the Hyrule Warriors world expands. Consider me hooked on this game!
I give Hyrule Warriors Legends an 8 out of 10, and strongly recommend it to any Zelda Fan with a New Nintendo 3DS, along with fans of games with a lot of content in general. If you have an ordinary 3DS model, you might want to do some research and decide if the compromises would affect your enjoyment of the game. Either way, you’ll find lots of content to enjoy!