Back in 2014, the Wii U added a sweet little game called Hyrule Warriors. Basically, it’s Dynasty Warriors merged with the Legend of Zelda series. While Hyrule Warriors received high marks across various sites, including ours, there are those of us who never picked it up, namely me, myself, and I. So when I saw Legends announced, I was quite excited to play a handheld version of the popular title. And thanks to Nintendo of America, I have been able to play, and now review the portable offering of Hyrule Warriors. I played the game on my original 3DS, and while I did experience some framerate issues, I enjoyed the experience overall.
Legends is essentially the same game as its Wii U counterpart, but with some additional features. The visuals have taken a hit, as is expected, but fear not; all is well. I’m not going to spoil the story for those who haven’t played the game yet, but suffice it to say, evil has come into the land and it’s up to you and your band of warriors (all popular characters from the Legend of Zelda series) to fight back against the evil and restore peace and balance to the land of Hyrule. Spanning multiple locales and times, players will fight against hordes of enemies big and small, and in some cases, really big!
Legend Mode is the main mode of the game and is split into scenarios, which begin on a linear path but then break into a parallel path allowing the player to choose which scenario to play through next.
Each scenario is set up with a simple map layout (viewed on the bottom screen) containing Keeps and a few other specific landmarks. Battles are generously timed for 60 minutes, and in this time, you must complete several missions. Some of these missions have you capturing Keeps (small forts) or keeping your allies safe, and even defeating certain enemy forces advancing towards your Keeps. While you are constantly engaged in combat, you might find yourself getting distracted by a number of optional side missions. These missions are great for extra rupees and swag – so long as you’re keeping up with the main mission. There will always be more than one main mission to complete, but usually they are given to you one at a time. Once you complete one objective, a new one will be assigned.
Once you have loaded a map you have several options available to you. You can check the info of the battlefield (player information), current status (victory and defeat conditions), warrior info (check stats, combos, weapon skills etc. for each warrior), view tutorials and change your game settings.
Battles take place one skirmish at time, with dozens of enemies coming at or surrounding you. Once you dispatch these enemies, more appear. Each map contains 4 Keeps, one in each cardinal direction. Each Keep has a gauge that depletes the more enemies you take out, or the more of your soldiers the enemies take out. As for the enemy Keeps, once the gauge is depleted, a Keep boss appears. These monsters are stronger, and take a little more to defeat. Once you have defeated them, you take control of the Keep and your generic soldiers occupy and defend the location. Smaller enemies will continue to assault your Keeps, but the AI does a good job of defending the locations for the most part. Occasionally, you’ll see on your map that one of the Keeps is in danger of falling, or a particular ally is in trouble and needs rescuing. Those are the times you want to rush over and provide aid. In the end of a battle, you will face off against a more serious foe, or have to complete more difficult missions in order to achieve a Victory. I played the game on Easy all the way through, and I only encountered a Failure a handful of times. You can adjust the difficulty per scenario, and I’m sure I’d have experienced much more of a challenge on anything other than Easy.
All throughout the battle you will receive a high quantity of rupees for killing enemies, opening chests (both visible and hidden), cutting grass, etc. Money is never far from your reach. All you have to do is swing your sword. In addition to rupees, you will also find hearts, heart container pieces, materials, weapons, magic potions, gold skulltulas (which unlock illustration pieces). You can take all that you acquire and use it in between battles at the Bazar to level up characters (all characters can be leveled up as much as your highest level character), purchase new combat abilities, strengthen weapons, create potions and more. There is much that will assist you in battles.
Some scenarios will introduce new characters, or focus on existing ones and then you will be in direct control over said character. Other times, you’ll play as Link but have control over 1 or more characters that you can switch between. In the end you will have a hearty roster of playable characters, each with their own unique set of skills and weapons. This large roster of playable characters really brings a fresh breath to the game once you have completed the main story. Plus, once you complete a scenario, you can then go back and replay it in Free Mode. This inclusion of a Free Mode increases the replay value significantly.
Adventure Mode is a completely new way to play the game by introducing an over world map in the style of the original Legend of Zelda game. The map is split into a tiled grid. Each tile represents certain challenges. In the beginning only a couple of tiles are unlocked. You will be able to unlock more tiles based upon your ranking for completing the challenge on the tile you select. The map has icons A, B, C indicating which rank you need to achieve in order to movie in certain directions. For instance, the tile directly above you may have the B icon on it, indicating you must pass the current tile challenge with a B rank or better. All adventure challenges take place in the 3D world of Hyrule Warriors just as they do in the Legend mode. So the same rules and same rewards are in place. In this mode you can also capture fairies, who can then be taken care of in My Fairy mode and then these fairies can assist you in battle.
To top it all off, there is even a medal system for achievements. And there are quite a bit of achievements to accomplish. Kudos to the developers for giving us just something else extra to keep us invested in the game!
You can upgrade your warrior and your weapons at the bazaar before each battle. The bazaar offers the Badge Market, Training Dojo, Apothecary, and Smithy. Badge Market enables you to create 3 types of badges: Attack, Defense, and Assist. Attack and Defense are exactly what they sound like. The assist badges are used to increase the time limit of temporary power-ups or decrease the amount of time it takes to capture a keep. The apothecary provides single battle potions. At the Smithy you can fuse weapons if you have a weapon with an empty slot. You can also remove skills from a weapon and sell your extra weapons, which can be quite profitable.
Moving on to the visuals and the soundtrack. Visually the game takes a hit being ported over to the 3DS and you have less enemies on screen at once. Oh and yes, there is slowdown, but it’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be and I still enjoyed playing despites the technological limitations. I definitely enjoy the graphics, and the music was great as well. Every sound effect and music track was enjoyable to listen to and I never got tired of it. Plus, you can also access a media player from the main menu which lets you listen to tracks that you’ve unlocked. This is a nice perk for those of us who never tire of hearing Zelda themed music.
I had no issues with the controls, everything was easy to use and simple. The Y button executes a light attack, whereas the X button will cause a heavy attack to occur. And if you hold X for a moment and release, it charges up and executes an even stronger attack. And you also have a special attack gauge, which when full allows you perform a special attack by pressing A. This attack is quite powerful and can destroy several enemies at once. Now if that wasn’t enough, you even have a magic gauge that is activated by pressing down on the D pad. This magic will temporarily increase your attack and allow you to mow down baddies like there’s not tomorrow. Plus, at the end of the magic attack, you unleash one last powerful attack. It is all so simple to control, but the hell you unleash is quite intricate.
I had no idea that I would enjoy playing a strategic combat game, but that’s exactly what happened. I have played for hours and enjoyed every aspect of the game. Hyrule Warriors Legends offers a vast amount of customization between all the playable characters and their weapons and skills. And that’s all just in the Legend Mode. You can easily sink in dozens of hours playing the game and barely touch the surface. I have enjoyed playing the game so much and I’m eager to see a sequel down the road for NX perhaps. I highly recommend you pick Hyrule Warriors Legends up and add it to your collection today.