Hyrule Warriors Legends is a worthy port of the original The Legend of Zelda spin-off, allowing fans to take the game with them on the go – with a few noteworthy additions.
Nintendo has, in recent years, been incredibly protective of its IP. After botched deals saw the birth of meme-worthy, Philips-developed games and an incredibly lacklustre Super Mario Bros. movie, few companies outside of the Big N have since been permitted to work with the publisher’s many franchises. This is, of course, with the exception of a crossover property that went by the name of Hyrule Warriors. Blending The Legend of Zelda with the massive combat of Dynasty Warriors, this Tecmo Koei collaboration found an audience on the Wii U – and now it’s arriving for the Nintendo 3DS under the banner of Hyrule Warriors Legends.
At first glance, Hyrule Warriors Legends probably didn’t make a lot of sense to fans of the Wii U original. Given the technical limitations of the 3DS handheld itself, the end result was likely thought to be nothing more than a shoddy port of a game that features rather massive battles and hordes of enemies. Instead, the title serves as a technical feat on the hardware, successfully bringing and improving upon the home console experience. That doesn’t erase the issues experienced by the original game, but it does make for an intriguing option on the go.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, however, fans need to be aware that the title runs significantly better on the New Nintendo 3DS handheld. That’s not to say its unplayable on the older tech by any means, but it does run a little choppier and the 3D feature is exclusive to the newer model. Even then, turning on the 3D can cut the frame rate down significantly when there are a lot of enemies on-screen, which means that it’s better just to enjoy Legends with the option turned completely off. This isn’t a first for software on the portable gaming device – and it’s surprising it can even run it at all given the immense battles found within the game – but it’s the weakest feature included in the title by far.
Of course, Hyrule Warriors‘ infamous hack-and-slash formula has remained intact in its shift to the 3DS, with wave upon wave of enemies making for some, at times, overwhelming combat. The greater strategy in Hyrule Warriors – and Dynasty Warriors for that matter – has been holding points and keeping main characters alive. This ensures that players will continuously be checking their maps and taking cues from their allies in a bid to remain in the fight. This is where the gameplay itself is the most gripping, as users run around to provide aid to several fronts of the battle that are collapsing under incoming forces. After wiping out over 1,000 enemies in a match, however, it can feel incredibly tedious.
Indeed, the biggest issue that I found within the original is that it more or less equates to a grind fuelled by mashing the same buttons over and over again. This is something we pointed out in our review of Hyrule Warriors, and it’s understandably not addressed within this port. What’s made it significantly more tolerable, however, is the newfound pickup-and-play mentality that accompanies the clamshell design of the Nintendo 3DS. While some battles once took a significant amount of time to play through, entire segments can simply be halted by closing the unit and opening it at leisure. This means that the moment players realize they’ve had enough, they can simply pause the game and return when they feel the need.
In that sense, it feels like this formula has long been destined for the handheld, allowing casual play sessions on transit or during long car rides that make the game that much more enjoyable and impulsive rather than forced. Truly it was meant for portables, but those that enjoyed the original on Wii U will also find a lot more content this time around too. The addition of Linkle, alongside several other notable characters such as Skull Kid, jam pack the finished title with even more fan service and options whilst tearing through the campaign. As a nice touch, those that pick up Hyrule Warriors Legends also receive a code to download the new warriors free of charge – although owners of the original can also spend $12.99 USD for them as well.
Hyrule Warriors Legends isn’t a blockbuster revisit, but it does lessen the grind of the original game substantially thanks to the hardware’s design. Add in a slew of new playable characters, and those that had fun with the Wii U entry are sure to find similar joy here. Still, it’s something that will appeal to a very niche audience thanks to the grind-heavy focus of its gameplay. Those looking for a tried and true The Legend of Zelda experience are better off checking out other core entires on the hardware, but, with that said, Dynasty Warriors fans will almost certainly feel right at home.
Hyrule Warriors Legends arrives for the Nintendo 3DS on March 25, 2016.