Hyrule Warriors Legends is a port of Hyrule Warriors from the Wii U to the Nintendo 3DS. The game is essentially a Dynasty Warriors game with The Legend of Zelda smeared all over it. As such, it plays nothing like a Zelda game, focusing on combat and defeating hordes of enemies rather than exploring dungeons and solving puzzles. Somehow, though, just having Zelda attached to it makes it a better game than it would been without. While it may not be a part of the core series, Hyrule Warriors Legends pays tribute to The Legend of Zelda as a whole, with several characters and references spanning its history. If that all appeals to you, this game is solid fun.
Legends Mode is the story campaign of the game. It goes something like this. Corrupted by a dark power, a sorceress named Cia opens up the Gate of Souls and begins summoning monsters to take over the kingdom of Hyrule. To make matters worse, she creates time rifts that connect the present day Hyrule to three past eras. Link, a newly recruited soldier of Hyrule, sets out to put a stop to Cia’s plans. Legends also includes three side stories. One of them, Cia’s Tale, was included with the Master Quest DLC of the original Hyrule Warriors, and it does well to flesh out the villains of the story. Linkle’s Tale is a new set of chapters that are charming, but they do not really add much to the overall narrative. The Wind Waker chapters following the Epilogue of the Legends Mode is probably the most satisfying as it include two brand new maps, a fun final boss battle, and a great ending.
There is no denying it; Hyrule Warriors Legends is ugly and blurry. All the backgrounds and even parts of the menus can be hard to look at, especially when comparing them to what they originally were on the Wii U. The character models look detailed which makes them feel out of place in these blocky environments. The graphics were greatly sacrificed just to have Legends run on the 3DS, and even the CGi cutscenes can appear low quality.
When Hyrule Warriors Legends was first revealed for the 3DS, I was immediately skeptical. At the time, I had already played the original Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U extensively, and I knew that the processing power of the system was holding the game back from its full potential. Enemies loaded rather slowly, making it difficult to complete certain tasks that require many enemies to be defeated at once. On an even weaker system, it seems like the game could only become less functional. Thankfully, it holds up for the most part, especially in terms of gameplay. It is not any better or worse than the Wii U version. At least it does on the New 3DS, as long as you do not turn the 3D on, which causes the framerate to stutter. I have not played on the original 3DS, but I imagine the experience is much slower.
Legends is very much the same as the original gameplay-wise, which is both a pro and con, meaning it can be fun but repetitive. You choose a character, each with their own weapons and move sets, to start a battle. Run around a map area based on familiar Zelda setting. Take over keeps by defeating enemies inside. Beat the enemy commander to win. That is usually how a standard play session would go, though there are sometimes other goals and obstacles thrown in. The Adventure Map is full of different challenges that are set apart from the usual. Each battle lasts around ten minutes, which is actually suited for the portable system as it can played in quick bursts.
On top of that, your warriors level up by beating enemies or paying to train them in the bazaar. You can also upgrade them by purchasing badges, which add more combos to the repertoire, grant more defense, and several other things. Building your characters is a surprisingly deep system, but you may need to pick favorites. Materials dropped by enemies are needed to buy badges, and leveling them in battle takes a long time, so resources are limited. Not to mention that there are 24 playable characters currently available in the game, including the DLC warriors from the Wii U version, and there are more on the way when Legends’ DLC launches. This is not a bad thing in the least. Have more characters is part of the extensive content this game boasts.
The new characters are fun to play as. I am particularly fond of Linkle. She fights unlike any other characters in Legends, and she is reminiscent of an action movie hero. Linkle uses her dual crossbows are a lot like machine guns as she kicks and flips around the battle field. Maybe the weakest of the bunch is King Daphnes with his somewhat some attacks. My only really gripe is one that I have with several of the returning characters; the sound effects they make are constant and can sometimes be grating. I have heard enough of Cia’s endless laughter and Twili Midna’s mirror that sounds like a squeaky toy. Tetra and King Daphnes’ sounds can be rather annoying, too, but maybe that is just me.
While Hyrule Warriors Legends cannot be called the definitive version of the game, it does have most of the features that the Wii U version received through updates. It also has some new features of its own like My Fairy, which is like a paper doll dress-up game. The fairies you can find in the Adventure Map map can be fed to level up their abilities and equipped with different clothes to grant your warrior perks in battle. There is a new item called the Fairy Ocarina that can be used to warp to Owl Statues that have been activated on maps. This is a great timesaver, especially when backtracking to certain areas is often necessary, but the mechanic is underused.
Probably the best new addition touchscreen functionality. The 3DS uses the touchscreen in ways that the Wii U GamePad should been utilized. The option to tap on different warriors and immediately switch to playing that character is a godsend, especially when you need to quickly reach an area they are closer to or to get them away from danger when their health is low. In the end, Legends has plenty more content than the original (minus its DLC), and it will keep you playing a very long time.
If the gameplay of Dynasty Warriors is not what you are into, you might as well pass this game up entirely, even if it does look like Zelda. If you can look past the graphics and the repetitiveness, Hyrule Warriors Legends is worth hundreds of hours of gameplay. It is really the only game where you will find so many characters from The Legend of Zelda in one place and also be able to play as them, unless you have the Wii U version. Honestly, if the future DLC Adventure Maps of Legends do not interest you, then you are better off sticking to the original game on the Wii U.