Series like The Legend of Zelda are known for loading down their main characters with unrealistic amounts of weapons, items and gear. Hyrule Warriors Legends embodies this same magic trick. It’s nothing short of astounding that Nintendo managed to pack so much content and action into such a small package.

The original Hyrule Warriors launched for the Wii U in 2014, and was the first Nintendo-centric entry in the Warriors series. Legends takes this game and expands upon it, while taking away a good deal of it’s polish. The good certainly outweighs the bad, but let’s break it down.

Classic Warriors Gameplay

Though Legends features a cast of all Zelda related characters, it still follows the gameplay footsteps of the Koei Tecmo developed Samurai and Dynasty Warriors titles that came before it. If you know what that entales, or you’ve played the Wii U version of Hyrule Warriors, then you’ll know what to expect with Legends.

Players control a band of warriors who must traverse an expansive battlefield completing tasks, defeating enemies and taking keeps. While the majority of gameplay is focused on hack-and-slash combat, there’s also a deeply strategic aspect framing each mission. With situations constantly changing, players have to weigh their options in every battle. Do you focus on taking a keep or do you go take down that boss character who just appeared at your base? With so much going on at any given moment, Legends can easily overwhelm players with too many enemies and too many options. But the chaos is half the fun.

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Each character can upgrade their weapons and defenses as they level up or collect materials during battle. Unlike series like Monster Hunter, which also involve upgrading and crafting, the Warriors system is much more streamlined and simple.

Content Out the Wazoo

As mentioned above, Legends somehow manages to pack all of Hyrule Warriors into one overflowing cartridge, and then some. There are loads of missions, dozens of characters, and hundreds of weapons to discover as you work your way through the Legend and Adventure modes of the game. You’ll be hard pressed to complete the game in full without dedicating a few hundreds hours of your time. Not to mention there’s still some exciting new DLC on the way.

Zelda Fanfare

No game in Zelda history has ever been as full of lore, characters and throwbacks as Hyrule Warriors Legends. This is a game that thrives on fan favorite fighters and gameplay. Classic Heroes? Check. Treacherous villains? Check. Tingle? Unfortunately. It’s pretty obvious the game’s creators pulled out all the stops to make every location, music track, attack, and mission ooze with Zelda charm. It’s a game I’m sure many fans thought would never happen, yet here it is.

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Did I mention you can be King Daphnes from Wind Waker? Yeah, the guy who turns into a boat.

Finally.

Character Switch

Unlike previous Warriors titles, Legends gives players the option of switching between main characters during battle. This is enormously helpful in the grand scheme of things. Not only can players switch between their characters, they can also send currently uncontrolled warriors to different spots on the map for better strategic placement. Anyone who started their Warriors career with the original Hyrule Warriors will find this new mechanic a godsend, especially if (like me) you’re not the best at managing the madness.

Linkle

You may think I’m delusional, but Linkle is the best new characters to happen to Zelda in ages. Link carries himself with a quiet heroes dignity, never speaking and powering through hoards of evil minions with determination. Linkle doesn’t. She is a spunky, wise cracking sharp shooter. Something the world of Zelda has never seen. Fans really haven’t dealt with many main character gunslingers at all, seeing as most Zelda battles take place with swords or magic.

Linkle’s dual crossbows are beyond amazing and extraordinarily satisfying. It’s basically like she’s packing two pistols, and she’s going Matrix lobby scene on any baddie in her path. She can even go into an over the shoulder shooter attack (as seen in the gif to the left) that lets her rattle off arrows machine gun style until she runs out of juice. I have plenty more to say about Linkle, but for now just know that she is a very welcome addition to the roster.

Controls (On New 3DS)

Who knew an extra nub and two more shoulder buttons could make such a difference? There is a lot to take charge of in Legends, but Nintendo and the developers involved did a fantastic job mapping it all to the New 3DS’ buttons and touch screen. It’s actually easier to control characters and keep up with ongoing missions due to the 3DS’ screen proximity. Somehow there are even multiple options for abilities such as sub-weapons and lock-on. It all works together so well, that you’ll find playing the Wii U original a bit chaotic in comparison.

The Joys of Portability

Battles and missions in Legends can be lengthy, taking anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes depending on your difficulty setting and strategic know-how. On the Wii U there was no way to simply pause the game and walk away mid-mission aside from just leaving your system running. Legends doesn’t have this problem, as one can simply pause the game and shut their 3DS for the time being. It can make all the difference, especially if you’re the type of gamer who is always on the go or always being interrupted.

Downgraded Visuals

The original Hyrule Warriors had some of the most polished and well animated cutscenes in Zelda history. Legends keeps these in tact, but each one looks like it was shot through a thin film of vaseline. The gameplay visuals also take a nosedive, as the vast battlefields become blocky formations and the textures look like something from the Nintendo 64 era. But come on, this is an enormous game packed into a 3DS cartridge. You have to cut Legends some slack. It doesn’t look anywhere close to as nice as it did on the Wii U, but it’s still far from terrible.

It should be noted that the New 3DS is the only system that can play Legends in 3D, but the 3D takes a serious toll on the game’s framerate and overall presentation. Maybe Nintendo should have just focused that power elsewhere, as it’s basically a useless feature.

Fairy Raising

HEY LISTEN! Do you want to raise your own fairy? If your thought on the matter is a resounding “meh” then I’m right there with you. The fairies in Legends play out sort of like little virtual pets. Little tomodachi nymphs that players can feed, clothes and level up if they feel so inclined. Once players have acquired a fairly they can pick it before battle to deliver them small perks. It’s a decent addition, but certainly nothing anyone was begging for.

Slowdown on Regular 3DS and 2DS

Do not play Hyrule Warriors Legends on regular 3DS or 2DS. Please. Having tested the game in both myself I can tell you that the game runs at a much slower pace and the rapid fire gameplay suffers in a major way. Perhaps Legends should have been the second official title to receive the “New 3DS Only” title, as you’d be foolish to play it on anything that predates Nintendo’s most recent handheld.

Hyrule Warriors Legends feels like the “Game of the Year” edition of its Wii U predecessor. It has just enough new content to warrant a buy, and fans of previous Warrior titles, Hyrule or otherwise, will find plenty to love. Just make sure you have a New 3DS, or your experience may fall short of worthwhile.

The original Hyrule Warriors TAY Review can be found here.


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GiantBoyDetective is a gaming collector and journalist hailing from Indianapolis. For more info you can follow him on Twitter @SuperBentendo or visit his personal site.