Our updated review following a comparison between play on an old 3DS and new Nintendo 3DS, Wind Waker storyline coverage and our final score.
Hack and slash your way through Zelda enemies once again in the 3DS port of Hyrule Warriors Legends. But try not to let the diluted and unattractive graphics cloud your judgement, Hyrule still needs saving, albeit on a smaller screen. Rinse and repeat.
Developed by Omega Force and Team Ninja, and hailing from the creators of the Dynasty Warriors franchise Koei Tecmo, comes more of the same capture-the-keep strategy combined with glorified lip-smacking button bashing in Hyrule Warriors Legends. If you were a fan of the original, which was released for the Wii U back in 2014, then the 3DS port is likely to whet your appetite. It’s something the Wii U version is not; it’s portable. Yet it is certainly not the definitive version, and most likely never will be, when the home console version surpasses the 3DS port in every sense. Playing Hyrule Warriors Legends on an old 3DS XL – withered and decaying by hardware standards – is difficult to say the least, though it is playable and somewhat enjoyable. But if subpar 30 frames per second gameplay and continuous framerate drops aren’t your cup of tea, it’s time to upgrade.
For newcomers to the game, Hyrule Warriors Legends contains 18 main storyline chapters and pulls well-known areas from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. When the dark sorceress Cia becomes jealous of Link’s relationship with Zelda, she awakens a deeper evil from within and begins to wage war on all of Hyrule, opening portals across time to infiltrate the past. With the Hyrulean army at their rear, Zelda, Link and Impa must team up and forge an alliance with the blue-haired beauty Lana to close all of the portals, in order to destroy Cia’s darkness and restore the light back to their home land.
As was the case with the original, Legend mode features three levels of difficulty in easy, normal and hard. It also brings back the Badge Market for buffing characters’ attack and defence, the Training Dojo for levelling warriors, the Apothecary for mixing new potions and weapon drops, as well as the Smithy for crafting and fusing new weaponry. The 3DS port works much the same as the home console version, where players must work their way through the map, capturing keeps as they go and completing missions such as defeating certain enemies, or by taking on side missions to escort an ally on the field. But Legends does mix it up a little and adds a new character switch mechanic found on the 3DS touch screen. Players can seamlessly switch from characters by touching their icon – a real-time saver and a great addition in such a fast-paced and often confusing environment when hordes of enemies lay at your feet.
Luckily most of the DLC from the original is included in Legends save from Challenge mode. Cia’s storyline also unlocks after completing the main tale, though her movesets are horribly sluggish on the 3DS; starkly evident with those characters who do not wield a light weapon such as Darunia with his hammer. Even running with your characters feel slower on the handheld, but maybe that’s just the choppy framerates talking. While you do, eventually, get accustomed to the level of play and begin to expect the blurry slow-motion enemy kills coupled with lagging cutscenes, awfully skewed text and awkwardly placed zooms, it’s a real problem when those on older systems may find more frustration than enjoyment. Fortunately, those newly added owl statues are a real blessing when time is of the essence, allowing players to transport themselves across the field when activated.
Occasionally, there are glimmers of hope with that frantic, addictive action we’ve come to expect from Koei Tecmo’s series, and it’s the inclusion of Linkle which brings a new lease of life to the game. A female counterpart to the Legendary Hero, Linkle is – perhaps – a little stereotypical in my eyes, but very peppy and enjoyable to play as with her dual fire crossbows. In fact, her weaponry makes her a great choice for beginners since her long-range attacks and bomb arrows can really pack a punch to oncoming enemies. With her story taking place over five main missions in Legend mode, Linkle teams up with a variety of allies, including the superb and fun sequences with Skull Kid and Twili Midna. It’s a shame her missions are tied to your progression in Legend mode, though, as her story would work well in a stand-alone format.
While Linkle has her shining moment in Legends, the Wind Waker storyline features brand new areas such as stages based on Windfall Island, the Forsaken Fortress, and the Earth and Wind Temples. It’s worth noting that the storyline only unlocks after you’ve completed the five episodic battles with Cia and the entirety of Legend mode. Although it encourages new players to complete each level, it’s also time consuming for those who have already played the Wii U version, with no option to transfer save data from home console to handheld.
Players can unlock Tetra and King Daphnes as part of the storyline, though Toon Link and Skull Kid can be found in Adventure mode. As each character has their odd quirks and fun weapons, they provide a new lease of life – a lighter and speedier one – to the main game. Perhaps it’s the art style, but the light-hearted feel and, subsequently, the boss fights with Helmaroc King and Phantom Ganon are suitable at home on the 3DS.
Of course, the main bulk of Hyrule Warriors Legends lies in its adventure mode. By completing a series of trials such as slaying all giant bosses in 20 minutes, or by defeating the correct enemy in the keep, players will acquire ranks A through to C when victorious. Gaining an A rank in battle will not only give you better treasure perks such as heart pieces and unlockable characters, it will also open up more chunks on the map allowing you to explore even further, eventually paving way to the Great Sea map.
New to the 3DS port is My Fairy – a place where you can nurture and clothe the fairies you collect in adventure mode. Like Pokemon Amie in X and Y, or a standard Tamagotchi from the 90s, you’ll need to level up these fairies by feeding them. Though they will gain bigger stat boosts and elevated fairy magic which you can use in battle, it’s a shoe-horned feature with very little necessity. But hey, listen, at least they look cute with those sparkly bows.
Adventure mode also brings new characters, outfits and some new weapons to unlock. Though it will likely take you hours to get through the base map, there is plenty of variation with mission battles and timed sequences to avoid monotony. And with the amount of DLC promised by Koei Tecmo and Nintendo, the various maps and content on offer will only broaden in time. Although it’s a little oversaturated for beginners, long-term fans are bound to revel in delight. But, with that said, who keeps bringing King Dodongo back? Honestly, that beast is like the walking dead, feed it some brains bombs and it just keeps coming back for more.
A quick reminder to those playing on an older 3DS; there is no 3D at any point in the game. If you want to land those mighty sword attacks and physically see them in stereoscopic 3D, you’ll have to upgrade to a new Nintendo 3DS. Graphically, Hyrule Warriors Legends is also far from pretty. It may be dressed up with new content after a quick refurbishment, but that ugly wallpaper in your grandparents’ living room is still ugly, no matter how many photographs you try to hide it with.
Having played the game on both the old 3DS and a New Nintendo 3DS, there are stark differences. Graphics on the new model appear sharper and easier on the eyes, plus there are no visible drops in framerate. It’s much smoother. That is until you pop the 3D slider on; lags, drops in framerate, problematic slow motion, all of which dilute the experience entirely. It may be best played on the new Nintendo 3DS, but certainly not in stereoscopic 3D.
Hyrule Warriors Legends is a healthy dose of hack and slash fun. Perhaps it didn’t really need a 3DS port, particularly on older systems, as the gripes from the original still remain with odd mission lags and its mindless attacking nature, but it’s still accessible to both fans and newcomers. A glorified portable add-on, the game’s like the Wii U’s younger sibling; gets more attention at first but eventually learns to respect its elders.