Hyrule Warriors Legends (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 26.03.2016

Review for Hyrule Warriors Legends on Nintendo 3DS

Worlds, timelines and mythologies collide in Hyrule Warriors Legends - an expanded take on the Legend of Zelda brawler for Nintendo 3DS. The original concept, designed for Wii U, was met initially with raised eyebrows and murmurings of discontent from the fanbase, blending the story-driven landscape of The Legend of Zelda with Koei Tecmo's popular arcade brawler, the Warriors series. In a nutshell, Nintendo already had the mould of the Legend of Zelda series, so the goal wasn't to forge a third-party take on what's already established, but to invoke a more action-driven streak to the story of Link, Princess Zelda and Ganondorf. Despite the reservations, the Wii U release drew in Legend of Zelda fans in spades, offering some depth and new shades to the age-old struggle of power, good and evil. With the transition to handheld, and a need to render a heap of action on the screen, can Nintendo 3DS cope with the folk from Hyrule?

In a nutshell Hyrule Warriors Legends, at its core, is an expanded port of the original Wii U version, aiming to deliver a similar experience for handheld players in mind and also tap into the benefits of the beefed up power that the New Nintendo 3DS line boasts.

For the benefit of those of you who haven't yet dabbled in the Hyrule Warriors setup, the game tells a new, non-canon storyline that draws in inspiration and characters from the distinctive canon landscapes - primarily Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword - but this time round also inviting folk from Majora's Mask and The Wind Waker for good measure. For what may sound like a potential recipe for a convoluted plot or storyline stuffing, the game does well in developing a solid narrative with plenty of room for each of the many playable folk to have their own moment in the limelight.

It all kicks off when Princess Zelda awakens, soaked in sweat and haunted by a darkened force that plagues her mind afterhours. Armed with the Triforce of Wisdom in her veins, Zelda is quite good at predicting the future; one that foretells an evil force strolling up to Hyrule Castle and causing chaos. Therefore, together with faithful aide Impa, the pair rushes out to seek assistance from a reborn hero, who is conveniently a blonde haired, blue-eyed soldier that's training out in the courtyard. As predicted, the baddies invade and it's down to the trio to help out Hyrule's finest soldiers and defend the land from its scheduled demise.

The main storyline itself is structured through key narrative moments, helping new characters overcome evil forces and a bid to stop scheming foes from bringing together parts of a soul of a former evil, which are scattered across the three different areas of the game. Initially, the premise does sound as if it's a case of strolling in and taking down enemies one by one, but throughout each of the distinct levels, there are sub-missions and power struggles between good and evil that add interest and help shake up proceedings in what could have become a very linear tale.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors Legends on Nintendo 3DS

Characters have their own unique traits in both character personalities, attacks and weapons they can use. Link, the sword-wielding chap of legends, is the standard slash master, who can also utilise about magic bows. Impa juggles far weightier blades and despite the added weight, glides about in a more acrobatic way. Zelda, on the other hand, takes on combat in a more graceful manner, with nippy sword combos and deadly bow strikes.

The more intriguing side of the cast includes the likes of Fi and Ghirahim from Skyward Sword, the cheeky Midna of Twilight Princess fame and the downright bonkers Zant. Each of these secondary characters may not be as fleshed out as the series mains in terms of story or abilities, but do allow you to finally take on different faces from throughout the series for the first time. Link and Zelda do take on the lion's share of weapons, though, with the voiceless hero able to pick a fair few items as his weapon of choice - even a horse. Yes, a horse.

New to the Nintendo 3DS version are characters who fans have been clamouring to see inducted into the Hyrule Warriors roster - including Tetra, the King of Hyrule and Toon Link from The Wind Waker, and the misunderstood bugger Skull Kid of Majora's Mask.

A surprise addition to the mix is a brand new character, Linkle - a chirpy young lady who hears of the shenanigans going on in town and decides to arm herself with two deadly crossbows, plus a mysterious compass given to her by her grandmother. Her storyline starts off a little side-tracked, and potentially shoehorned into the original narrative penned for the Wii U version, but things come together once the The Wind Waker portion enters the fray. It's explained without too much disconnect towards the end of the Legend Mode. Think of it as a substantial Director's Cut, with a fair bit of meat to chew through and a neat way of filling some gaps in the original narrative.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors Legends on Nintendo 3DS

The bulk of the new material introduced does come in the story feature, but these characters can also be unlocked for use in the Free Play mode - essentially a level select option that allows scenarios to be played out with characters that just wouldn't have been there. It's certainly bizarre seeing Ganondorf whack through his minions like they didn't do their homework, yet oddly satisfying playing as some of these iconic antagonists for once.

Adventure mode also makes a welcome return, and something that may have been out of the question given how much was crammed into the ickle data cartridge (or in our case, the chunky download that did require an SD card swap). Presented using the original Legend of Zelda as inspiration, the feature is divided up into a map grid, where each block is a selected mission - from regular set-piece battles to boss rushes and more unique scenarios to conquer. It's a fairly deep feature within itself, adding to the game's longevity past the regular story feature, and whilst does thin out over time due to some repeating, offers enough content to keep you hooked for a good few hours.

The Wii U release served up different control schemes, and on the 3DS it's strictly a classic affair, with the Circle Pad primarily used for movement, face buttons for attacks and combos, and the shoulder buttons triggering special items/shield. For those of you who have a New Nintendo 3DS, the additional shoulder bumpers also trigger an Ocarina of Time-like targeting system for the key/boss enemies to keep them in good view, whilst trying to huddle through the smaller goons. It sits well, and responds as quick and sharp as you might expect - admittedly an XL-sized console may be more suited to the frantic button presses to avoid those pesky hand cramps, but the game does play nicely with the 3DS setup.

Beyond the button presses, the 3DS screen has been put to good use - not just serving up a standard map, but allowing characters to be hot-swapped on the fly during gameplay. A key component of the Warriors setup is securing bases, and these could easily be lost on a whim if members of your team aren't close by to help fellow NPC allies from maintaining the lead. In the Wii U release, it was a tedious task of having to pelt across what could have been a large, tunnel-filled level to try and put out one fire, whilst another was happening on the other side of the map. In this case, a character can either be commanded (as a computer-controlled ally) to head on over, or their icon swapped to let you take the reins.

This small, yet important, addition really ups the strategic approach to the game and can make those longer sessions feel that bit more rewarding because of the greater level of control offered over the key team members. Owl statues, littered across selected levels, are also a godsend, allowing you to simply warp to a location in two touch-screen taps. Some may argue that the inclusion of these gameplay tweaks may dampen the tense nature of the clash between good and evil, but it certainly keeps things tighter and more streamlined than before.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors Legends on Nintendo 3DS

Visuals are an area that are going to be a challenge for bringing a Dynasty Warriors title to a handheld, given just how much action is going on at the same time - including the enemies, effects and large areas to render (and destroy). As a standalone title, Wii U version aside, the game holds up well visually - offering a bright, slightly cartoon-looking take on the world of The Legend of Zelda. There's a consistent style that carries through, leaning more towards Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess in tone, but certainly getting more colourful when venturing into The Wind Waker territory.

However, there are some blips in framerate in key areas - especially when playing on an original Nintendo 3DS console, but these are rectified when upgrading to the New Nintendo 3DS family thanks to the added juice. There isn't 3D support for the older hardware, but it is present in the newer systems, though does stutter slightly when enabled - it's not quite up there with the best stereoscopic titles on the system, but understandable given just how much there is on screen to render.

Compared to the Wii U version, there is a noticeable drop in detail, as you'd expect, but there's still a consistent visual quality and enough detail to depict the world of Hyrule on the smaller screen. Both the audio and cut-scenes have remained intact from the Wii U release, and are especially immersive when using a pair of headphones.

In terms of replay value, Hyrule Warriors Legends offers a heap of content in both the Legends and Adventure modes, with hidden additional content to unlock via scuttling spiders and even a fairy simulator for something a wee bit different. Granted, it does become a fair bit repetitive if hack-and-slash games just aren't your thing - beyond the storyline, that's essentially what the remainder of the game is. Additional scenarios and characters are incoming via upcoming DLC, though, so would pad out the experience that bit more.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors Legends on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

All in all, Hyrule Warrriors Legends is the definitive version of the game, wrapping up some of the issues and storyline features from the original with additional content, refined controls and even more playable characters. It's an action-packed, worthy tribute to Nintendo's iconic adventure series that brings something new to the storyline and characters we've grown familiar with. If you've yet to play Hyrule Warriors, then the 3DS release is certainly the more comprehensive version - it feels as if it's more suited as a handheld, pick-up-and-play game. Those of you who have the Wii U version and intend on replaying the game, Legends is worth a look-in, but, otherwise, the additional content may not be enough to justify buying an expanded port.


Omega Force







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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