Experience the large-scale carnage of Dynasty Warriors and the unmistakable allure of The Legend of Zelda in the palm of your hand with Hyrule Warriors Legends for the Nintendo 3DS. Here’s everything you need to know before you make your purchase.
Isn’t this just a straight-up port of the Wii U game from a couple of years back?
It is not. Legends, essentially, takes the (already convoluted) series-hopping plot of the original Hyrule Warriors and further ups the ante. Now, in addition to the already robust cast from Legend of Zelda titles past, you also get additional story elements and characters from the world of The Wind Waker–not to mention the debut of Linkle.
She’s girl Link… Lady Link? Gender-swapped Link? Fem-Link? No, I reckon would be Linkette…
Let’s just say she is a new female character sporting a familiar green tunic and pointy ears. Canonically, she’s a simple cucco farmer who also happens to think she’s the latest incarnation of the Hero of Legend–her grandmother told her so!
The most interesting thing about Linkle is how she simultaneously reinforces and bucks gender stereotypes. On the one hand, she’s a bit of a flake with a faulty sense of direction (despite the fact that she possesses a friggin’ magic compass). On the other, she is powerful and self-assured, and her considerable skills with dual crossbows is easily the most enjoyable new element of the game.
For me, playing as Linkle was a real standout, and I look forward to seeing her in future titles. Despite the fact that Hyrule Warriors is far outside of accepted Legend of Zelda continuity, I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes a bit of a recurring character.
Of course, that’s not to downplay all the other included extras.
What kind of extras?
The biggie is the included download code. It’ll let you add new characters from Hyrule Warriors Legends to the original Wii U game. There’s also a bonus 3DS theme–which is, admittedly, the kind of thing I get entirely too excited about.
And this doesn’t take into consideration the new hotness baked right into that tiny cartridge!
What else has changed?
In addition to the new characters and storylines, Legends also manages to pack in some gameplay enhancements. New equipables like the hammer make mowing down enemies even more exhilarating, but it’s the Ocarina–that magical musical instrument that now allows you to warp between strategically placed statues–that really helps to alleviate some of the navigational headaches associated with the original title.
The same can be said for the new character mechanic. Just like Hyrule Warriors, each map has multiple associated playable characters with usually one flagged as being the best suited for the ensuing battle. In Legends, however, you can use the touchscreen to both issue commands to these additional, non-active player characters and to switch out between directly controlling said characters on the fly.
Again, considering the seemingly endless parade of mission objectives, optional goals, and other pick-ups (Damn those pesky Gold Skulltulas!) that bombarded the player in Hyrule Warriors, this newfound flexibility is a noteworthy addition.
Oh, and there’s also a new “My Fairy” feature that sort of lets you raise a fairy to aid you in battle. I mean, who doesn’t want a helpful fairy companion?
Who indeed. How does it look on the small screen?
All things considered, it’s made a more than acceptable transition to the 3DS. There are some jaggies, sure, but the characters and environments still look great, and the fact that the 3DS can render mob after mob of on-screen enemies without bursting into flames seems like a success in and of itself.
And since the game pulls in so many elements from so many disparate Zelda timelines, Legends is no stranger to cutscenes. These are simply beautiful and, thankfully, never too long.
But how does it control?
I think my only real knock against Hyrule Warriors Legends is that is desperately wants–nay, needs to be a dual-stick brawler. Sadly, even my shiny New Nintendo 3DS only has, like, one and a half sticks.
Still, while the analog nubbin doesn’t exactly afford flawless camera control, it’s honestly a little better than Hyrule Warriors‘ unruly viewfinder. The additional buttons on the New 3DS also make locking on/strafing an enemy and switching up your target a painless affair.
That said, with the most important elements of gameplay being controlled by the c-stick and face buttons, the handheld proves itself to be well-suited for practically everything Legends throws at it.
I read that it’s New 3DS only…
Yeah, I read that too! I would say I disagree–to a point.
I’m almost inclined to say that the more stripped-down control interface of the older 3DS models–what with them missing those extra buttons and whatnot–works a just as well as the expanded selection of the New 3DS. The R-trigger still deploys your secondary weapon, but L both locks on and centers the camera behind the player depending on context.
Sadly, it’s not all wine and roses. While I never marked the near-standstill of some reviewers, I did notice that frame rates do tend to drop on older hardware, making the frenetic pace of the game… significantly less frenetic.
Moreover, while it was just mostly in-game slowdown on the original 3DS XL, I observed the worst performance on our original 3DS and family 2DS systems happened before proper gameplay even commenced. While transitioning between the menus there were several second stretches when both screens would go black. The thematic music–and, man, do I still love the music in this game–would continue, but the screens would remain blank for uncomfortable amounts to time.
Most notably, however, is that Hyrule Warriors Legends only supports 3D visuals on New Nintendo 3DS and new 3DS XL systems.
So what about the Circle Pad Pro?
Believe it or not, I do still own a Circle Pad Pro, and I did try it out–and it didn’t work. I imagine it has something to do with the fact that supporting the peripheral would’ve likely further taxed the original 3DS’s meager processor. Or everyone but me has simply already forgotten the CPP exists.
Definitely one of those.
And I can use my amiibo?
If Hyrule Warriors Legends is about anything (I mean, anything aside from mowing down scores of enemies in sweeping, elegant blows), it’s about grabbing all those sweet weapons, materials, and Rupees. Scanning in a compatible amiibo does just that, providing you with more implements of destruction, or, conversely, more resources with which to create said implements.
Is it appropriate for kids?
While not simply a carbon copy of Hyrule Warriors, Legends doesn’t stray too far from the original iteration. There are multiple game modes, gargantuan action, and great music. (Did I mention I adore the music?)
There’s also a common narrative, centered on the sorceress Cia’s fascination with the Hero of Legend. While not overtly sexual, this is certainly amorous and her wardrobe even a little revealing.
The ESRB has rated Hyrule Warriors Legends T for “Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes,” and that’s a fair assessment. I could certainly see letting a 12-year-old (and possibly even my own 11-year-old) play through this, but it may be a little too much for younger kids.
Sadly, my 8-year-old daughter has been really excited about Linkle ever since the character’s reveal. My solution has been to let her play through some of my already-completed levels as She-Link in the game’s Free Mode.
That said, you know your kids best; as always, we encourage you to give this one a look and decide for yourself.
Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America