I remember picking up 2014’s Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U with some trepidation. For those unfamiliar with the game, Hyrule Warriors is a spinoff title combining the bombastic Dynasty Warriors gameplay with the setting and aesthetics of the Legend of Zelda universe. I’ve been a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series since Ocarina of Time, but I never got into the Dynasty Warriors series. Well, I ended up absolutely loving Hyrule Warriors. When a 3DS port of the game in the form of Hyrule Warriors Legends was announced, I immediately had high hopes for the title, and for the most part, those expectations were met.
The story is nearly the same as the Wii U version, and as was the case with that game, it is nothing special. An evil sorceress invades Hyrule, and it’s up to Link and various other heroes from the Legend of Zelda universe to stop her. It isn’t a particularly well told story and it’s clear it exists primarily as a framing device, used only to drive the gameplay forward. This isn’t necessarily a negative though. It isn’t good, but it isn’t bad enough to get in the way of the gameplay, and there are enough “so bad they’re funny” moments to give the story some real charm. The main difference for Legends is the addition of side plots for the new characters added in this version. Legends introduces Linkle, a new female version of Link, as she travels to Hyrule castle to help protect the princess. She inevitably ends up tangled in the devious plots of several villains along the way. Again, like the main plot, Linkle’s story is nothing to write home about, but it’s always refreshing to see a new spin on a classic character.
There’s also a side plot involving the Wind Waker characters added to the game, but I haven’t actually gotten around to playing through them. I’ve spent the past week attempting to play through to the new content of the game, but haven’t managed to make it all the way there. Hyrule warriors was densely packed with content, and Legends even moreso. Not only does Legends include all the base content and most of the DLC from Hyrule Warriors, but it also adds features unique to this version. Along with Linkle, Legends adds Toon Link, Tetra, King Daphnes from Wind Waker, and the Skull Kid from Majora’s Mask to its roster, some of my favorite characters from the entire series. There’s also a new mode called ‘My Fairy’. I believe it’s a feature that lets you befriend fairies and use them in battle, but I never actually managed to find a fairy to attempt this with, which renders the point more or less moot.
Mechanically, Legends continues the Dynasty Warriors tradition of steam rolling over hundreds enemies with wonderfully, ridiculously over the top attacks. It’s mostly functional and just as fun on this version, but there were some hardware issues I faced that drew me out of the game. It’s recommended to play this title on the New 3DS, I assume due to its increased processing power, but even with that extra boost I noticed the game had some issues loading characters that weren’t in your immediate vicinity. This normally wouldn’t be an problem, but there are moments that it does become frustrating when you are attempting to rescue a troop close to death and you need to wait a few seconds for them to pop into existence. Using the C-Stick to control the camera was also a serious issue. I found it unresponsive at times, which was especially frustrating when I needed to switch targets in tense moments. Ultimately though, these problems didn’t interfere too much with gameplay and were easy to work around.
One new addition to the gameplay that made up considerably for the hardware issues was an ability to give orders to your ally warriors. In the Wii U version, the friendly AI was pretty much brain dead. They would typically just stand around and attack the pawns that were closest to them, and only act during plot sensitive moments. If there was a vital fort that needed to be captured, it was up to the player to take care of it, along with any other tasks they may have to deal with, such as protecting allies or fighting enemy generals. In Legends, you can order ally heroes to specific areas, or to attack or defend specific targets. The AI for your allies is still very poor, but you have the ability to switch between your warriors mid-fight. It still feels like you’re constantly babysitting your troops, but a lot of the running from one side of the map to the other is removed, keeping the pace of the combat fast and exciting, and streamlining the necessary micromanaging.
As is the case with Hyrule Warriors, Hyrule Warriors Legends will not change your opinion if you don’t like Dynasty Warrior games. Both games fall into that very specific niche of games, and refuse to budge for any new potential players. If you are not already a fan of the genre, I find it hard to recommend buying the game, but I would highly suggest finding a demo or borrowing a copy to see if it’s something you could get into. It should also be noted that I’ve only played the game on a New 3DS. As far as I know, the game does run on older models, but considering the scope of the game, I can’t imagine it runs on those models nearly as well. Perhaps all these caveats seem to paint the game in a cautiously optimistic, possibly even negative light, but for what it’s worth, I’ve really enjoyed the game and would highly recommend it for fans of the Legend of Zelda franchise, Dynasty Warriors, or this style of large scale combat game.
Written by Remy Williams April 1, 2016
Editing by Grant Phillips