Developed by Koei Tecmo, Hyrule Warriors isn’t like a traditional Legend of Zelda game. This is a crossover, mixing the gameplay elements from Dynasty Warriors with the characters and universe of Legend of Zelda. There is no overworld for you to discover secrets in, no dungeons for you to explore, and no difficult puzzles for you to solve. For a majority of this game, you’ll be tasked with capturing the enemy’s keeps. This consists of beating up a bunch of lesser enemies until the keep boss appears–and once you’ve beaten him, it lowers the overall amount of enemies on the map. Keep doing that, and eventually the level boss will show up.
Most maps will have you controlling several characters and delegating tasks to each one. While you might personally be controlling Link, you can order Zelda to head to a distant keep, and in order to make sure the enemy doesn’t capture your own base, you can send in Impa to guard it. Switching between the characters is easy and should be done often, as it makes the process of completing maps far less frustrating. From what I understand, this is a new addition to the 3DS version of the game, and it’s a very useful tool to have.
Combat is a combination of both strong and weak attacks that lead into impressive displays of power. While one or two hits might kill a weak enemy (which there are thousands of), a combination of strong and weak attacks might kill 15 or 20 of them. There are also 24 characters in this game, and each character has a unique style of combat. While the Goron Hero Darunia might use a powerful but slow hammer, the Sheikan Hero Sheik will use quick, light strikes with a wider attack radius to strike her enemies.
There’s also a staggering amount of new content, compared to the console release. While the main story is the same, and the first adventure map is mostly the same, all of the DLC that was in the Wii U release has been added to the core of the 3DS version, making this the definitive version of Hyrule Warriors. It isn’t just the DLC that makes it definitive, though–there are at least 3 new characters (Linkle, Twili Midna, and Skull Kid), and a new side story that makes this game stand out even more. There’s also new DLC that has been announced for this version, including a character from the game Links Awakening, a costume from the game, and a new weapon for the character Linkle.
Another concept unique to this version of the game are Fairies, which can be found throughout the adventure maps in random jars. After its rescue, a fairy will then become a companion that you can dress up, which adds certain elemental boosts to the player’s character. You can also feed them, which strengthens your fairy and can give them unique skills. The items for these fairies only drop in adventure mode, but with enough pampering they’ll become a considerable asset to your party.
In order to make your party stronger, you’ll need to craft badges and find stronger weapons. This will often have you challenging the same maps over and over again. This could be a hassle if you were to attempt this in the game’s story mode, due to the length of time each map takes to clear, but this is where adventure mode truly shines. I thought that it might’ve been better to finish the story before touching adventure mode, but adventure mode’s short challenges make grinding a breeze.
One map in particular will ask you to defeat 300 enemies before the time runs out, and it gives you a considerable amount of time to complete this task. After you’ve defeated the first 100 enemies, King Dodongo shows up to challenge you on the map. While you do have the option to completely ignore him, you also have the option to defeat him in hopes of getting a piece of material he drops. This material is useful for crafting badges that buff your character. The process of defeating any of the giant monsters might waste a minute or two, but it offers you a chance to easily fight a monster that would normally take 15-20 minutes to arrive in the story mode.
One aspect of the game that I really enjoyed was the music. Throughout Hyrule Warriors Legends, you’ll be listening to various remixes of songs from the older entries in the LoZ series. Some songs are blasting heavy metal that pump you up to fight even harder, while others are creepy remixes that push the tension higher and higher. While most of the remixes were metal, some of the most intense music in the game was symphonic, most notably the track “Under Siege”. I can’t tell if this song was a tribute to the classical song Mars by Gustav Holst, or if it’s just blatant plagiarism, but its biting staccato still serves to showcase the intensity of the moment. If you enjoy the music from older Legend of Zelda titles, you will love the music in this game.
When I first played the game, I really didn’t know how I felt about it. The enemies aren’t varied in the slightest, and often times you’ll see exact copies of enemies swaying in sync with each other. These copies weren’t the only thing to bug me though–while giant monsters such as King Dodongo at first seemed imposing, as soon as I realized I just need to move away and he’ll open his weakness up, he became completely nonthreatening. This goes for all of the giant monsters; once you understand their weakness, they pose no real threat.
However, I feel that my issues with this game are small, and honestly don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. While I might not like the massive amount of weak enemies, they are there to help the player increase their kill count, boost their special bar, and make tougher enemies easier to kill. Giant monsters are easy to kill because they only drop one material, and it would be a hassle to fight an extremely difficult monster, only to find out it dropped a puny weapon that you instantly sell.
This game isn’t really about the story or about playing for long hours at a time. This game is about short bursts here and there in adventure mode. That is where the real game is, and it’s where you’ll be spending most of your time after the story mode is finished. As much as I’d like to say that I was disappointed by the lack of a strong story, I have found myself truly enjoying the challenge and variety of adventure mode.
This is mostly due to the amount of content. You’ll be playing through the maps of old Legend of Zelda games, and the first map is of the original Legend of Zelda, which includes all of the secrets that overworld had. You’ll find upgrades to the weapons you gained in the story mode, as well as hidden costumes and hidden characters. In total, there are 6 maps in adventure mode, and each have progressively more difficult challenges. Personally, I’ve only beaten the first two maps, and I’m currently making my way through the map based on the second quest of the original Legend of Zelda, so I’ll be playing through this for a while.
It should be pointed out that I reviewed this game while playing a New 3DS. While testing the game on my old 3DS, I discovered several significant issues that would cause a player to throw their system at a wall. While playing through the first story mode map, I noticed that when the enemy’s numbers got to a certain size, my game slowed down to the point of nigh-unplayability. At times, I noticed the game struggling to perform what I needed it to, and from time to time it would stutter and skip frames. Another issue that I noticed was the 3D option being removed.
Finally, there is a game breaking bug on the old 3DS when the option to rename your fairy appears. I haven’t seen this bug personally, but from what I’ve read, the act of renaming the fairy might cause the game to crash, forcing you to restart the mission where you got the fairy. This is a very fast-paced game, and issues like this made me frustrated playing through it.
If you’re looking at this game and expecting the complexity of The Legend of Zelda, you will be disappointed. If you’re interested in mindless fun that makes you feel like a god while playing through it, then you’ll probably feel right at home. It’s Dynasty Warriors with Zelda characters, and if you don’t like Dynasty Warriors, you’re not going to like this title either.
Editor’s Note: All the provided screenshots are from the Wii U version of Hyrule Warriors Legends.
Hyrule Warriors Legends was reviewed on the 3DS using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 7.5
- Diverse cast with a huge selection of different playstyles
- A massive amount of content that will keep you playing for a long time
- Fun and engaging gameplay that will challenge you more as the difficulty increases
- Great music
- An RNG grindfest on the level of Monster Hunter. Prepare to fight the same enemies a LOT
- Copied and pasted enemies that sway in unison give a feeling of low quality work.
- Some animations are pretty poor