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Hyrule Warriors Legends
Game Reviews

Hyrule Warriors Legends

A passable port of a solid hack-and-slash Zelda / Warriors adventure – as long as you’re playing on the New 3DS.

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Nintendo’s been a little more active when it comes to releasing spinoff games these days. We’ve got the upcoming Metroid Prime: Federation Force, fifteen thousand different iterations on Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi and recently Tri Force Heroes, a co-op focused variation on The Legend of Zelda. That’s not the only Zelda spinoff that’s made waves lately, however, as last year’s Wii U exclusive Hyrule Warriors garnered positive attention for its marriage of Zelda themes and Dynasty Warriors gameplay.

If you just can’t get enough of that one – or if you don’t have a Wii U – you’re in luck: there’s now a 3DS port available in Hyrule Warriors Legends.

Hyrule Warriors Legends is, at its heart, the same game you played on the Wii U last year. Assuming you’re running it on a New 3DS – more on that in a second – then it’s a nice, smooth experience with gameplay that barely differs from the original. You’ve still got your story-based Legends mode, your Adventure mode that combines Warriors combat with exploring a Zelda-style overworld and plenty of other options.

This works fairly well on a portable system, though the stages can be a little long for your average bus trip.  You’ve still got your classic Zelda characters battling off hordes of foes, claiming forts and collecting upgrade items. Slaying thousands of foes in any given battle is as cathartic as always. There’s an enormous amount of content on offer here, so much so that it can be a little overwhelming; the cast of characters alone can provide hours of variety, especially since Legends includes the original game’s DLC.

New features in this release include new characters, naturally. Linkle, a female counterpart to Link who wields dual crossbows, is the star of this show; at the very least she did a lot to drum up press for the port. Other newbies include Wind Waker heroes like Tetra and Toon Link as well as Majora’s Mask’s Skull Kid. You’re able to import these characters to the Wii U game with a code included with Legends, though none of the other new features are included in the transfer, so Legends remains the definitive version of Hyrule Warriors…at least in a content sense.

There’s also a new virtual pet mode called My Fairy. It’s…uh, well, it’s a virtual pet mode in a Warriors title. it’s not exactly what anybody was clamoring for and it doesn’t change things up very much. You can raise your fairy, dress it up and bring it into battle with you; well-raised fairies are better in combat and can provide some nice boosts. Still, if you’d prefer to ignore this feature then feel free; you probably won’t be alone.

The game’s issues arise when it comes to the concessions that had to be made in order to squeeze the beautiful Wii U visual experience onto a handheld. For one, the graphics are…well, “hideous” is too strong a term, but much was lost during the conversion. Transparency effects in particular are hit hard, with attacks like Impa’s water magic looking more like blue globs of gelatin than anything resembling water.

Textures in general are fairly muddy as well, though characters are better off than environments in this case. The idea might be that the downgrade would be harder to notice since you’re playing on a smaller screen, but I’m not so sure this is the case. Performance issues arise if you try to play the game in 3D, which doesn’t bother me all that much but could be a turn-off for fans of the concept.

That’s saying nothing about what happens if you try to run this on an original 3DS system. While the graphics are fairly similar, the older system struggles mightily to run Hyrule Warriors Legends but can only barely managed to pull itself along by the fingertips. On an original 3DS, Legends’ framerate dips to nearly unplayable levels and the option of using the 3D slider is completely removed.

One wonders why Nintendo didn’t just go the Xenoblade Chronicles 3D route of only making the game playable on the New 3DS. In any case, it’s bad enough that I can say with confidence that if all you’ve got to play on is an older 3DS, Hyrule Warriors Legends gets a flat “Nay.”

Still, Zelda fans will love it, Warriors fans will too, old 3DS owners will curse their outdated hardware and owners of the original Hyrule Warriors Legends might just look at it as as $40 DLC pack. As long as you’ve got the proper hardware (New 3DS) this is a passable port of a solid hack-and-slash adventure. Just be careful around those chickens…