When Hyrule Warriors was released back in 2014 on the Wii U, I wasn’t too sure I would be entertained by the game. The short answer: I became quite addicted to the title, putting in over 100 hours of play time. There was just something enthralling about the game, enticing me to sink more of my gaming time into it. Now that the 3DS counterpart of the game, Legends, is upon us – adding new characters (Wind Waker!) and features – how does it hold up on the little Nintendo machine?
Before getting into anything else, I have to put a disclaimer out there: if you own an older 3DS or 3DS XL, there are some major technical differences in the game than if played on the New 3DS XL. The frame rates drops often, and drops pretty horribly. The game feels much slower, due to these technical issues, somewhat taking away from the frenetic feel of cutting down hundreds of enemies within minutes. It really does put a hindrance on the overall experience. That said, let’s get into the other aspects of the game.
The visuals on the 3DS version aren’t quite the best, but they are decent enough. Most things are fairly blurry, and, if paired with the previously stated technical issues on the older 3DS consoles, can be slightly distracting. Otherwise, the character designs, levels, and general art direction are largely the same from the original title. The music is enjoyable, much like the original, with energetic compositions full of orchestral swells and and “oomph” mixing well with thick guitar riffs and solid rhythm. It’s a fun soundtrack that not only fits the type of game, but pays a nice homage to the source material while still managing to sound original.
And speaking of fun, the gameplay is even more addicting than the original version. The general combat of the game is largely the same outside of some rather exceptional gameplay mechanics that were added: cut down as many enemies as you can with different button combos (essentially, light attack button presses followed by a heavy attack), capture keeps, fulfill the missions within each level, and gather materials/rupees/heart pieces/etc. Legend Mode is the storyline within the game, Adventure Mode has the player navigate an 8-bit map fulfilling very specific missions to open up new areas of the map, Free Mode let’s the player play whichever character they want to on any level, and Challenge Mode throws challenges at the player (go figure!)
What the additional gameplay mechanics provide is a more stream-lined experience (quite a lot more, actually). For instance, being able to switch between characters instantly is quite a huge addition, helping to keep each battle fresh, fun, and challenging. Taking on side missions is much more fun with this ability. Having the ability to essentially warp to another side of the map keeps the action in the forefront and invites spontaneous variety between usage of characters within a level. This also really helps with collectibles in special chests; certain chests/items can only be obtained by specific characters on certain maps, so having the ability to play as various characters eliminates the tedious nature of gathering the collectibles (heart pieces, special weapons, etc.) by replaying the same levels over and over and over. In addition, being able to leave a character in a certain spot or area on the map helped to fulfill objectives much more quickly; again, this makes the gameplay more stream-lined.
The addition of the Ocarina in tandem with Owl Statues also grants the ability to warp a character to an unlocked area. Simply trigger a statue and presto! Wherever you may be on the map, simply create some sweet tunes with your Ocarina and you’ll be transported to whichever unlocked statue you choose. It’s yet another fun feature that helps to trim the fat from the original title. None of these features felt like they took away from the feel of the game, nor did they feel cheap in any way: you still have to mow down tons of enemies, level up, and complete as many side missions as you possibly can. Sadly, for me, this created an even more addicting experience that I still keep coming back to. How dare you, Koei Tecmo.
The new “My Fairy” mechanic is an interesting addition, though it didn’t feel as substantial as the gameplay mechanics and characters added. The player can find fairies in Adventure Mode (filter out what you want to be shown on the map) and can level his or her fairy up. Doing so gives the fairy magical powers in battles, such as healing your character. Again, this is a fun addition, but nothing incredibly game-changing.
The additional characters are fun. Granted, I’m a huge mark for anything Wind Waker related (pardon my wrestling terminology), but all of the character additions are very fun and quite enjoyable. This is one of the huge draws that I found with this game, and it’s Wii U version: the variety in characters and differences in play styles is just plain fun. Each character adds another interesting fighting style to adapt to and master, utilizing plenty of characters within the Zelda universe. With so many characters to enjoy, you’re likely to find at least two or three that you latch onto that fit your personal style of play.
Though all of the additions are very nice, adding to the depth and addictive nature the game, there are some things that weren’t touched that perhaps should’ve been. For instance, the menus are still rather clunky and not incredibly user friendly. Though they work well enough, it would’ve been nice to see a change with the Smithy section of the menu. Sure, after a while, the process becomes more familiar, but it still feels and looks rather sluggish.
Hyrule Warriors Legends isn’t just a simple port; it adds some excellent new mechanics and characters that need to be woven into the home console counterpart. Which leads me to my final thought on the game: if you don’t have a Wii U (and own a New 3DS), want to mow over thousands of enemies, and enjoy most excellent references and throwbacks to the Zelda universe, get this title. But personally, this game left me wanting a patch (if that’s even possible) to the original version which would add the new mechanics. Legends is a good game, to be sure, and it incorporates extremely nice additions to keep it feeling fresh; as stated before, if you don’t own and never plan to own the Wii U version, and you want to put your New 3DS to the test, then I recommend this game. Otherwise, you might want to steer clear and simply wait to get the DLC characters in a few months and hope a patch comes as well.
A review copy of this title was provided.