The Wii U version produced mixed results, but how does the Hyrule Warriors Legends experience fare on a handheld platform?
Developers: Omega Force, Team Ninja
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: March 25, 2016
Written by Frank Chiefari, special to App Trigger.
Hyrule Warriors Legends is an interesting addition to this series. It is, essentially, an upgraded version of its Wii U counterpart. The very first thing the player notices with this title is how gorgeous the game looks in the palm of their hands; it is notably breath-taking. I have played several titles with impressive visuals on the New Nintendo 3DS, but I have not been awe-struck by any other game thus far. The graphics during gameplay are clean, crisp, and responsive and expected, but the cut-scenes really blow the player away.
There have been a few gameplay additions, which actually have a much more influential impact on the overall experience of the game than would have been initially perceived based on announcements and trailers. The most obvious of these, which was showcased in the game’s E3 2015 trailer, was the ability to switch instantly from controlling one character to another.
Without this feature, Hyrule Warriors Legends is much more frustrating and much less enjoyable.
Initially, this can be perceived as a simple upgrade to make Hyrule Warriors Legends feel more fresh and rich. However, it does not take incredibly long to understand to what extent this actually affects the gameplay. In the Wii U version, it can be very annoying and tedious to drop what you are doing on one side of the map, to rush over to the other side of the map to defend your base, or save a key member of your team, etc. Now, in the Nintendo 3DS version, with one simple touch of your secondary character’s avatar on the touch screen, you are now controlling and combating with that character.
This does not only reduce the amount of irritation and tediousness by quite a large margin but makes the game much more enjoyable and causes it to flow much smoother. In this context, this particular feature progresses leaps and bounds further than its Wii U counterpart. Without this feature, Hyrule Warriors Legends is much more frustrating and much less enjoyable. Going back to playing the Wii U version, after experiencing this new feature that adds such a great deal of smoothness and intuitiveness to the gameplay, makes the Wii U version feel stale and irritable.
One concern or criticism I would like to address is a Hyrule Warriors issue that has been carried over to this newer 3DS. That criticism is that due to the constant ‘hack-and-slash’ nature of the gameplay, that the game is much too repetitive and that there is not much difference between one level from another. While it may be true that this could be the case as one can certainly play through Hyrule Warriors Legends in this manner, there are ways to avoid feeling too repetitive.
As you play through the game there are several new weapons that can be found and unlocked, as well as fused together, at the smithy. Some of these weapons come with quite complicated combos. If one were to attempt to fight through the hoards and masses of enemies in the game using only combination attacks, I feel that this would certainly reduce the degree of repetitiveness experienced in the gameplay; some of these combos are actually quite difficult to complete and time properly. The ability to toggle which character the player controls and battles inherently helps to reduce the repetitive feeling of the gameplay, as well.
From the development of the initial title on the Wii U, it was made quite clear by the developers that Hyrule Warriors Legends was engineered to bring fans of two worlds together; those of The Legend of Zelda world and those of the Dynasty Warriors world. This concept was not abandoned in this latest version of the game, as now you have the option of using either series’ control schemes. This is a great simple addition because it can cause two things:
Firstly, it will not cause either fanbase to be alienated by a control scheme that may not be used to.
Secondly, it allows either fan to be adventurous and experiment with the other control scheme.
…The story of Hyrule Warriors Legends was, essentially, a redux of the Wii U version with a few additions…
Another brand new feature to Hyrule Warriors Legends is the “My Fairy Mode.” This is an intuitive tool where the player can create their own fairy and give them different attributes based on items found in “Adventure Mode.” This gives an RPG feel to a game that was otherwise considered to be quite linear. Yes, there was always the ability to customize your weapon set, but this new mode adds incredible functionality to the “Adventure Mode” part of the game, which was already incredibly rich to begin with.
One’s customized fairy aids the player while traversing through “Adventure Mode”. It is important to be familiarized with this new “My Fairy Mode” because along with new characters and “Adventure Mode” maps, all future downloadable content (DLC) is also going to be coming with more and more fairies.
It was disappointing to discover that the story of Hyrule Warriors Legends was, essentially, a redux of the Wii U version with a few additions such as “Linkle’s Tale.” However, the original story has been so captivating that it does not carry any connotation of bitterness; instead, it reminds the player how good the original story really was. The prominent factor that was misleading and rather disappointing, however, was the fact that there was no addition of “The Great Sea” or any inclusion of the “Era of the Hero of the Winds” to go alongside with the three eras alluded to in the original story; “The Eras of the Hero of Twilight, of Time, and of the Skies.”
The E3 2015 trailer made it seem like the 3DS version was going to be focused more on The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker since it was left out of the story in the original game, but this was not the case. Yes, there is a whole map in “Adventure Mode” dedicated to ‘The Great Sea’, but it would be appropriate to surmise that fans of The Legend of Zelda series would be disappointed and underwhelmed to discover that ‘The Era of the Hero of the Winds’ did not warrant an entry to the main story with three stages, as the other eras received. Diverging further into Zelda lore would, likely, explain why.
The Legend of Zelda has a split timeline. “Ocarina of Time” and “Skyward Sword” exist in all timelines, however, “Twilight Princess” and “The Windwaker,” essentially, occur at the same time, in different timelines; they cannot exist side-by-side. It is very likely that the developers avoided using four eras in the Hyrule Warriors story for the sake of avoiding confusion and irritation by The Legend of Zelda fans.
“Linkle’s Tale” is quite interesting, but is far too short. It should have been much more developed but, again, this may have been a development decision to avoid altering the existing understanding of the timeline in The Legend of Zelda world. Linkle is enjoyable to use. She’s quick, agile, and nimble and her combat-style with her dual crossbows provide awe-inspiring combos that are ‘Bayonetta-worthy’. She is a fresh character that feels similar to Lana, yet perpetually unique. She also provides a subtle dose of comic relief with her characterization, which is certainly a breath of fresh air in a series which has been monopolized by incredibly serious overtones.
Just as with the ‘Hero of Hyrule Pack’ in the Wii U version, Hyrule Warriors Legends is going to have a ‘Season’s Pass Pack’ available at launch where, once purchased, players will be able to simply download new DLC as soon as they are available for a cheaper one-time charge. They can also be purchased individually for those who may not want all the content that the ‘Season’s Pass Pack’ comes with.
Wii U owners are not forgotten with the release of Hyrule Warriors Legends for the Nintendo 3DS; if they do purchase the 3DS version, they will get ‘free’ access via a download code to the five new characters on the Wii U version. Those characters are Linkle, The Skull Kid, Tetra, The King of Red Lions, and Toon Link. If they would rather not purchase the game they also have the option of purchasing them in a DLC, but they have to wait until the summer of 2016 to do so. There will also be options to purchase DLC’s for 3DS only, Wii U only, or both just as the system that already exists for Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS.
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Hyrule Warriors Legends is a very impressive and enjoyable game. It has several upgrades from the Wii U version that certainly warrants purchasing the title. Yes, the story is, essentially, the same, but it is a seductive and rich story with tons of dialogue which makes playing through it again still enjoyable. The updated gameplay mechanics make it a must for anyone who enjoyed the Wii U version. I would certainly recommend this game to both those who are familiar with the series and those who are new to it as well.
This is one of those games that can be played to be simply enjoyable or can be very difficult, depending on the difficulty selected and whether or not the game is played from a ‘minimalist’ or ‘completionist’ perspective. Again, like the Wii U version, “Adventure Mode” leads the way to loads of post-story content that gets deeper and richer with each DLC released.8.5/10
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review.