This review was originally posted on Nintendo Scene on 22nd March 2016.
What’s this? Reuben reviewing a game that isn’t a JRPG? Surely there is some sort of mistake? No, you aren’t imagining things, I’m reviewing an action-adventure game. But it isn’t the first time. I reviewed the original game here, and now I’m back to give my thoughts on the new 3DS game. I do have to say right now that, unlike my usual reviews of a new game in a series, I will have to compare Legends to its original because many of its benefits and detriments are only so due to the fact it is a port. Let’s go then.
The story of Hyrule Warriors legends, much alike the original, follows an alternate universe of Hyrule in which Zelda and the forces of Hyrule are locked in a tremendous battle against Cia, the dark sorceress and her army of instantly recognisable monsters. One of the recruits in Zelda’s army steps up to help fend off the invasion of Hyrule Castle and proves to be the Hero of Hyrule, and bearer of the Triforce of Courage we all know very well, Link. Along the way, we meet both heroes and villains of the series’ long history from Ganondorf to Darunia, and discover their places in the over-arching plot too.
New to Legends, however, is the charming tale of Linkle, which is unlocked as progress is made through the story in Legend Mode, the main story mode of the game. This wonderful new story centres around a charming young cucco farmer, who believes herself to be the Hero of Legend reborn and her adventure to save Hyrule from the invasion that she has heard is occurring. This particular addition is tremendous fun and adds another layer of narrative on top of the existing heaps of narrative. Also, for those of you that might not have played it as part of the original game, Cia’s story is also part of the game this time instead of being DLC.
The gameplay of Legends is much the same fare as the original, in that all of the hacking, slashing, levelling, keep stealing, boss fighting is very much intact. Every mission still involves cutting down swathes of enemies, building special and focus meters to release powerful special attacks and completing objectives to progress. One difference being that the player can now switch between commander units during the battles. The key points with this are both positive and negative, in my opinion. In terms of positive, it allows for playing as different characters all of which have different play styles and therefore maintaining player interest. Also, it means that each individual character can be levelled up more evenly with the others. However, the downside of this is that the AI of the allies appears to be even more dumb than that of the original, which I guess promotes strategic switching but I personally found it frustrating and lost multiple battles as the AI weren’t pulling their weight and kept falling.
Completing a map in Legend Mode unlocks the map in Free Mode, which allows the replaying of battles using any of the games characters, as opposed to the specific participants of the Legend Mode. This also allows the unlocking of other hidden objects in each map. The Adventure Mode of the original returns too, with a new map, containing more new characters such as Tetra, Tingle and the King of Red Lions in its midst. This mode entails exploring a replica map of the original Legend of Zelda and completing objectives in each square to unlock weapons, characters, and other goodies such as heart pieces and Gold Skulltulas (which are themselves used to unlock illustrations). New to this game is the My Fairy mode, which allows you to raise and nurture fairies you find in Adventure Mode to help you progress through that mode and it’s more difficult missions.
How does it play as a game though? Well, the combos that can be achieved with relative ease are satisfying but the game, even on New 3DS, suffers substantial frame rate drops that can’t be easily ignored. This is especially agitating when an standard enemy grunt jitters up to your character and hits them out of a combo you were in the process of doing. The gameplay is very much closer to the “Warriors” side of things and it does it very well, arguably being the most accessible Warriors game, but the 3DS doesn’t feel like it does it justice, especially in comparison to the Wii U original. Also given a lesser role in this version are the Amiibo, which give the player a random gift each day (up to five times per day); this is apart from the Wolf Link one, which sadly I don’t own.
Aesthetically, this game is a wonder. All of the stages, characters, and music have been faithfully ported over, which is no small feat. Albeit the models are a little less vibrant and the stages look more blocky and jagged, but every element of the Wii U title has been successfully brought over to the portable console. Given some of the detail put into the original game, I found it terribly surprising that the whole thing was so satisfyingly brought over, from an aesthetic perspective. The music is just as stunning as the Wii U original, with only a little downgrading clearly at work. Essentially, to look at and hear, Hyrule Warriors Legends is absolutely wonderful for a 3DS game. The biggest problem is actually that though, the Wii U counterpart is just that little bit better, and moving from the console version to the handheld version might irk some.
So, should you buy Hyrule Warriors Legends? If you haven’t played the Wii U version, it’s a resounding yes. The whole experience being available on the go, at the cost of a downgrade in aesthetic and gameplay is completely worth it, especially as this is the complete package too. However, if you have played the Wii U version, it isn’t really worth getting unless you are a really big fan and want the new characters in the Wii U version too, not enough has changed and it is just not as smooth and beautiful as its big brother.
Hyrule Warriors Legends is out this Friday on Nintendo 3DS. Thank you to Nintendo for supplying us with the review copy to make this article possible.