Hyrule Warriors Legends for the 3DS is an expanded port of the Wii U game; Hyrule Warriors released back in 2014. I very much enjoyed Hyrule Warriors for it’s wonderful blend of Dynasty Warriors-style combat and the soul of the Legend of Zelda franchise. Running around and cutting down swaths of Moblins, Deku Babas and other staple LoZ monsters is immensely satisying, and there’s so much content to be found that it becomes mind-boggling. The story mode is just the beginning with this game. Once you start to dive into Adventure Mode and start unlocking weapons, costumes and additional characters, it becomes easy to find it’s Dynasty Warriors penchant for unlockables is very much intact!
Hyrule Warriors Legends retains a lot of what made Hyrule Warriors fun and long-lasting, while adding on a bunch of new characters, mostly from The Wind Waker, but includes fan favourite Skull Kid from Majora’s Mask and an interesting completely new addition in the form of Linkle, a dual crossbow-wielding female version of Link, who isn’t Link, but kicks ass nevertheless! Her spins and twirls while firing volleys of arrows are mesmerising! Each of the characters added into this game are lovingly recreated and wonderfully interwoven into the already lengthy campaign making the amount of content within the game even more staggering than it was before. I have a particular affinity for being able to play the King of Hyrule who transforms into his boat form to knock all his enemies around. There’s a certain serenity to it that I didn’t expect. There’s also something to be said for Ganondorf’s shogun-esque look which I’m totally living for!
Beyond the character selection, which is certainly vast, this game is a Fairy Fountain of Zelda fan-service. The plethora of items, enemies, costumes, and more is an absolute joy, but all those things were present in the Wii U version of the game. The main gameplay function that Legends adds is the ability to switch between 3 different characters on the fly during any given mission. This makes getting to objectives within a mission that much easier than if you could only control the one character and it means that missions go much more smoothly than Hyrule Warriors did, or most Warriors’ games for that matter! Being on a handheld console does a great deal of favour to the Warrior’s formula, meaning you can simply stop playing if the repetitive, yet satisfying combat of the missions in the series stops being, well, satisfying!
However, for all the content that Hyrule Warriors Legends has to offer, it’s performance on the 3DS leaves much to be desired, and the fact that the majority of this additional content is also available on the Wii U version of the game, while given for free on purchase of the 3DS game, just makes me want to play on the Wii U rather than this handheld version. This is made apparent with the graphical drawbacks present all over the show. One of the best features of the Wii U version came in the form of the boss fights that would regularly show up. The example that I will use here actually shows up in the very first stage of the story mode, with a Dodongo that crashes through a wall in rather epic fashion in the Wii U version, simply makes that same wall disappear in the 3DS version through graphical downgrading, which woefully detracts from the action in a most certainly noticeable way. This is exemplified when delivering the finishing blows to said bosses, which originally rewarded your efforts with a wonderful finishing move, but is now replaced with a very anti-climatic ‘victory pose followed by lots of damage’ cliche, which disappointed me greatly the first time I saw it. Even the text and menus look blurry and down-scaled, when they could have taken a bit more care over such a common detail.
One thing that’s very important to note, is that while I’d say this game has it’s drawbacks on the New 3DS, they are magnified GREATLY on the regular 3DS/XL/2DS. The frame rate on these consoles is simply unacceptable, and the console simply can’t handle the number of models on-screen as it needs to. I simply cannot recommend anyone buy this game unless they own a New 3DS as it does not show Hyrule Warriors Legends off, much less it’s Wii U counterpart. Honestly I get the impression that this game would have benefited greatly from being a New 3DS only release like Xenoblade Chronicles. I understand that Nintendo probably felt pressure to release a Zelda-branded game for both versions of the 3DS, but had they been able to push the New 3DS to it’s limits, I feel that Legends could have been a much more faithful port of the original game.
To be honest, I can forgive the graphical drawbacks, and I can completely understand why Nintendo had to release this game on both versions of the 3DS, however one omission that makes me genuinely sad about this game is its’ total lack of multiplayer. Now I know that Zelda games and multiplayer tend not to mix all too well (I’m looking at you, Triforce Heroes!), local co-op is a staple of the Warriors series and not having it in one of the titles feels wrong to me, especially considering that it is fully present (even if it does cause graphical drops) in the Wii U version.
In conclusion, if you haven’t had the joy of playing any version of playing Hyrule Warriors, then I would suggest picking up Hyrule Warriors Legends, but only if you have a New 3DS rather than a regular one. Either that or pick up the Wii U version and get all the DLC for it, equating to, what is in my opinion, the best experience this particular title has to offer, but it is a great one nevertheless, with a gargantuan amount of content and a plethora of Legend of Zelda fan-service. Just be prepared for a few graphical downsides, and don’t go into this game hoping for a great multiplayer experience, as it, upsettingly, just isn’t there. I look forward to the large amount of DLC this game will receive as it looks like it will extend the life of this game even further, so if you’re looking for a long experience for your New 3DS that you can experience at your own pace, you might be in luck here after all!