Title: Hyrule Warriors Legends
Developer: Omega Force, Koei Tecmo, Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
NA Availability: Digital | Retail
EU Availability: Digital | Retail
Block Usage: 16,138
Hyrule Warriors came out for the Wii U and has a love or hate relationship with Zelda fans. This isn’t surprising, as the “Warriors” franchise has a very love-or-hate reception in general with gamers. Some people love the mindless violence and others cannot stand the repetition of the series. So, it’s no surprise that the same kind of reception hit when Koei Tecmo and Nintendo decided to make a Warriors game based on The Legend of Zelda.
As many of you already know, Hyrule Warriors recently came to the handheld world, in the form of a port to the Nintendo 3DS. There’s been a lot of skepticism about the game, but also a lot of hype. For me, it started as “Well, that’s one less reason to buy a Wii U”, as Hyrule Warriors was actually a game I was considering buying a Wii U to play. Now that it’s out on the 3DS, that’s just one less reason to buy Nintendo’s current console, holding out until the NX comes.
As far as the handheld entry goes, the reviews have been mixed, from average reviews and a particularly pessimistic review from everyone’s favorite site, IGN. They even went so far as to review the game twice, once for the New 3DS and another whole review just for the old one. If you’ve read those reviews and don’t agree with what they said, we’re on the same page. Now, let’s get to my thoughts. Here is my review of Hyrule Warriors Legends!
The story of Hyrule Warriors takes place in a separate dimension from the canon Zelda timeline. In this timeline, there is a Sorceress that serves as the Guardian of Time and Space. As she watched the different timelines, she noticed the endless cycle of rebirth with the Legendary Hero, Princess of Destiny, and the Embodiment of Evil that Zelda fans are oh-so familiar with. Eventually, evil slips into her and she begins a campaign of conquest to take over all of Hyrule after obtaining the Tri-Force, the ultimate power in the world.
In the midst of this conquest, Princess Zelda disappears and Impa takes Link, a trainee at Hyrule Castle on a journey to find the missing princess and stop the sorceress from stealing the Tri-Force by journeying not only across Hyrule, but into time periods dragged into the present.
The story of Hyrule Warriors is set up in a way that reminds me of the Dissidia: Final Fantasy series. The worlds you go through are from different timelines, all brought into the present, morphing the world. Instead of gathering specific dungeons from Final Fantasy games, this game presents dungeons and populations from some of the series’ most popular entries, notably Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword and, thanks to the new content in Legends, The Wind Waker.
The story is something that feels right at home with Zelda and there are cinematic scenes all over each story level to keep you interested in the story and characters, more in the form of newly-introduced characters in chapters, like Fi, Midna, Lana and, of course, everyone’s love-hate new character, Linkle.
Hyrule Warriors Legends is a port of the original Wii U game, represented as a 3D action game with RPG elements thrown into the mix. In each stage, you will be running across large 3D environments based on Zelda dungeons, fighting off mass hordes of enemies as well as mini-bosses, character bosses, and giant bosses.
First of all is how Legends is different from the original. First of all, there are new story scenarios thrown into this version of the game. Linkle has been incorporated into the story in 3 new scenarios, along with 4 new scenarios after the end of the base game for the Wind Waker content. Aside from this, there are gameplay improvements and the “My Fairy” system that lets you catch and customize fairies, a likely balancing addition due to the fact that the original game’s DLC mini-game, Ganon’s Fury, is not in Legends.
What people have most been interested in with improvements, though, is characters. Legends has all of the base and DLC characters from the original game as well as four new characters. The new additions are Tetra and King Daphnes from Wind Waker, Toon Link from Wind Waker, Skull Kid from Majora’s Mask, and Linkle, the new character that is a female character that looks very similar to Link. These can all be transferred to the Wii U version of the game, and there is planned DLC to add 5 more playable characters, including Marin from Link’s Awakening.
When you boot up the game, you can go into Legend, Free, Adventure, My Fairy, Gallery, Setting, and Extra. Gallery lets you see unlocked artwork and music tracks, settings lets you alter the game’s settings, and Extra allows you to access DLC for the game.
Legend Mode is the game’s story campaign. This has you going through the game’s 32 story scenarios, which include the original story along with the Linkle and Wind Waker story scenarios that have been added in. Then you have Free Mode that is like Legend Mode, but allows you to replay any unlocked story scenario with any character, rather than the characters involved in that stage’s story scenes.
Adventure Mode is, by far, the largest mode the game has to offer. This has you going across a tile-based map of missions that make up a map of the original Zelda game. Each of these tiles has missions as well as items that you can win from them. Items could be new playable characters, costumes, item cards to help you discover secrets on other tiles, or it could be as simple as just unlocking new tiles.
In adventure, each tile can unlock surrounding tiles, enabling you to move to them and do those missions. This is unlocked through a Rank system. Some tiles will only unlock if you complete the adjacent tile’s mission with a high rank. That means more than just completing objectives, but completing objectives in under so much time, taking as little damage as possible and killing as many enemies as possible beforehand. This rank system is also the key to gaining each character’s ultimate weapons.
Finally, My Fairy is the new mode added to Legends. In Adventure, you can sometimes find Fairy Companions in jars that can then be customized in this mode. My Fairy allows you to feed them food to power them up, customize their looks with clothing you find in Adventure Mode, send them to School to learn a different skill for you to use in missions, and Party Mode, which lets you use local multi-player to swap fairy skills with other 3DS players.
Actual combat is like Dynasty Warriors but also different. The standard invasion game from the Warriors series is here. There are bases all over the map that can be taken as well as hordes of enemies around the maps as well as commanders that are leading them. You and other commanders in the form of playable characters are moving around the map, completing objectives.
Objectives are where things get far less repetitive than Dynasty Warriors is known for. In Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires, every mission is capture bases until you have enough to win, or defend your country by capturing bases until the enemy flees. You capture bases, and then you capture more bases, and maybe one quick spar with a unique character. Not a whole lot of variety here.
Hyrule Warriors changes that. In a new map, you may be tasked with taking out some mini-boss officers running around the map, followed by escorting bombchu’s to blocked paths to allow you access to a new area. After this, you may have to fight a giant monster, like King Dodongo or Gohma. There are a lot of objectives in every story mission, and they all vary by quite a bit. No scenario has you doing exactly the same as the last, and that’s what helps Hyrule Warriors stay fresh from start to finish.
Adventure Mode also has variety. Missions could go from defeating so many enemies in time limitations to doing quiz battles with the game asking you what enemy comes from what game to fighting off a horde of giant bosses. There is so much variety here that it’s easy to forget about the repetition the Warriors series is known for.
Giant Bosses are one of the notable additions that has the Zelda flair that fans are familiar with. The giant bosses are renditions of past bosses from the series and, as such, have patterns and weaknesses that must be exploited. When you fight off a boss with normal combos, you can barely do any damage to them. This makes you figure out their weakness and exploit it to lower their defenses and pull off combos to do huge damage. These weaknesses are fairly simple to figure out, like throwing bombs into King Dodongo’s mouth or firing off arrows at Gohma’s eye.
Now there’s the gameplay enhancements that weren’t in the original version. One of the biggest features is the ability to manually and actively swap control between your character and another playable character on the map. That way, when a base on the other side of the map is under attack, you don’t have to backtrack to defend it. You simply tap the touch screen to switch to a nearby character and control them to defend the base. Other additions are Owl Statues that serve as warp points, a Hammer for hitting switched and certain enemies and bosses and a power boost that activates when several playable characters are all around the same boss.
The last things to talk about are weapons and RPG elements. When you finish a battle, you gain materials and weapons from it. Weapons can be used by characters and they all come in ranks and with different skills. The higher the rank, the stronger the base attack. You also have weapons that have empty skill slots, allowing you to fuse them with other weapons of the same type to let the more powerful weapon inherit a skill from the other.
You also gain Rupees and Experience from battle. Rupees are used to craft badges to enhance your abilities as well as manually leveling up characters. That brings us to leveling. Experience Points allows your characters to level up to increase their attack power. You can also spend money to manually level up your character but this can only be used up to the current level of your highest-trained character. So, if you have Link at Level 50 and Fi at Level 39, you can use Rupees to manually level Fi up to 50.
My main complaint about the game is something that also plagued the Wii U version. Completing objectives too quickly can screw your game up. When I went back to replay Legends Mode on Hard difficulty, I was completing objectives faster than the game could keep up with. Normally, this ended in a case of waiting for the game to catch up. However, I learned to back off because I’ve had a few cases where I did objectives so quickly that the game never registered I’d completed them, still asking me to complete an objectives I couldn’t undo. This led to me having to replay the stage from the beginning each time.
As far as time is concerned, each story scenario should take you roughly 15 minutes, give or take, your first time through. That would clock one run through Legend Mode around 8 hours. If you take your time investing into Adventure Mode to unlock all of the characters, I can see this game easily using up dozens upon dozens of hours.
Controlling this game isn’t bad, but it also has its flaws. First of all, you can use the buttons on the New 3DS for an advantage here. The ZL button is used for locking onto a nearby boss monsters and the C Stick can be used to change who you’re locked onto. The only downer is that the C Stick can’t be used to manually move the camera, like the Right Analog Stick can in the PS Vita Warriors games.
The base control scheme has you moving around with the Circle Pad and using the D-Pad for locking onto enemies as well as activating focus mode to increase your power with the magic gauge. The L button is used to center the camera behind you and the R trigger is used to use an equipped item, like a bomb or hook-shot.
The face buttons are set up differently depending on if you choose the Warriors or Zelda style control schemes. In the Warriors setting, Y is used for regular attacks and X for strong attacks, while B is used for dodging and A is used for special attacks/ultimate attacks. This is very similar to the control scheme on the PlayStation Warriors titles. In the Zelda setting, B is used for attacks and Y for strong attacks, while X is used for ultimate attacks and A is used for dodging.
However, you can also customize the controls however you with. Either of these is doable and comfortable.
The only thing I will note about the game’s controls is the ever-annoying camera. Since you can only center the camera behind you or move it while locked onto a boss, it wanders a lot. There will be many situations where you’ll be fighting in a direction that you cannot see. This is quite bothersome, especially when you’re in the middle of a horde and trying to focus attacks on their leader.
Let’s talk about the game’s visual presentation. I’m not going to say it looks fantastic, but I also won’t say it looks terrible. There are definitely a few jaggies when playing on the XL and some on the smaller 3DS/2DS units. The game doesn’t look perfect, but more like a higher-end PSP title. For a 3DS title, it’s quite acceptable. A lot better than the rough visuals of Xenoblade 3D.
So, let’s talk about performance, which is the biggest pet peeve of every Legends review. The game runs smoother on the New 3DS, but how does it perform on the old 3DS? I spent most of my time with this game on my 2DS and it isn’t nearly as bad as a lot of people are claiming. In comparison, I would say this runs a good deal more smoothly than the Warriors PS Vita games. There are times when the frames drop down pretty low, normally for a second or two after beating a large boss, and there are times when it jumps up to a smooth 30 fps when there are only a few enemies on-screen.
The base verdict of the frame-rate is that, yes, there are frame drops and most of the time, the game will likely be chugging around 20 fps. It’s very playable, even if you don’t have a New 3DS.