Review- Hyrule Warriors Legends for the Nintendo 3DS

Anime Reporter deals out his early impressions of Hyrule Warriors Legends, the Legend of Zelda/ Dynasty Warriors mash up originally released for the Wii U as Hyrule Warriors, now re-released and somewhat updated for the 3DS.

Well, it’s now been three days since Hyrule Warriors Legends came out for the 3DS here in Europe, and that means I’ve amassed a nice little pile of opinions to inflict upon the internet at my leisure. If you’re not new to AnimeReporter, you’ll probably know that I’m a huge Legend of Zelda fan, in fact, when it was reumoured last year that Nintendo and Netflix were in talks for a Legend of Zelda series, I spent the next week putting together my concept for what such a series should be about as well as a pilot script and plot overviews for a few seasons to come. My favourite game of all-time remains Ocarina of Time and I adore the updated 3DS version in particular, which has made the Water Temple alone well worth shelling out for the portable console. With that said, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been pumped for this game since its announcement, so here are some of my thoughts.

Now, I should clarify that I have not yet cleared this game, in fact, (hopefully), I’m not even close. The story or “Legend” mode of Hyrule Warriors Legends (yeah, I’m just going to shorten that to HWL from here on out) is just one aspect of the game. Another mode, Adventure Mode, allows players to traverse an old-school map revealing several extra playable levels and challenges alongside their progress in the story. Me being the Zelda-geek I am, I’ve been taking these opportunities to level up my characters (and unlock some extra ones not available in Legend mode), as well as gaining a fairy companion, unlocking new weapons and customizing my heart out. This game is expansive, offering plenty of challenges and unlockable content. Completionists will adore the chance to obsessively scour maps for bonus treasure or to unlock content only available from certain Adventure rankings. I’m taking my time, unlocking as much as I can and savouring every detail. It’s abundantly clear that this game was made as a massive fan-tribute to the Legend of Zelda, with beautiful little character details sprinkled in, from special moves  to victory celebrations, to occassional qualities in the highly remixed soundtrack.

In truth, this isn’t exactly a Legend of Zelda game. It’s a Legend of Zelda tribute. It’s really like one of those cartoon movies where all of the different generations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or alternate reality Spider-Men meet up and are weirded out by each other before uniting to take down a common enemy, except… this doesn’t feel cheeesy as hell (so far anyway). So far, I’ve seen elements from Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword and every instance seems to have been given its appropriate time and sense of importance and there’s a surprisingly smooth transition in incorporating most of the character designs smoothly into the same game (let’s face it, Wind Waker was never going to look natural side by side with the other, but it doesn’t even really matter).

The gameplay is fun and not nearly as mindless as I first assumed. Yes, you cut through hordes of enemies like butter, but it’s also vital that you position yourself in certain areas and incorporate strategy into where you go and when. Characters are able to level up, as well as craft badges based on items from a number of LoZ games which upgrade their abilities and fighting moves. Likewise, weapons can be upgraded and fused together to combine skills, though only moves of the same type can fuse and characters can only use their own weapons. There’s a bit of a learning curve on this game. At first, it’s tempting to just plow through enemies, enjoying the freedom of playing with Zelda characters other than Link, but it soon become clear that you need to learn how to play and what strategies will work best in certain situations. Enemies, both big and small, are taken or adapted from the Zelda mythos and, really, it’s just hard not to get excited every time a new cutscenes reveals an old favourite character or a classic landscape. I’m having a ball just tuning out and slashing away, but I also love every detail that went into making this the ultimate tribute to this series. Items, characters, dialogue (no, not Link’s, don’t worry) and so many other details mean that this isn’t just a hugely enjoyable trip through the history of Hyrule, it’s a finely tuned sniper scope of nostalgia and it hits the mark. It’s truly gratifying to see Darunia dance, cuccos swarm like pirahnas, Sheik play the harp and Skull Kid be a creepy little bastard, together in one game and looking phenomenal in the process. While some have criticised the graphics quality of this 3DS version, I think it looks exquisite and I’m seriously impressed all over again by this little devices capabilities.

If you’re on the fence about picking up this title, I can only say that I have yet to be disappointed by any aspect of it. I’m enjoying discovering every inch of the world(s) this game touches on and yes, for the record, Linkle is very cool so far. Her crossbows are a pretty handy weapon style in a pinch and, given that the original HW incorporated a couple of original characters, people should probably ease up a little bit on scrutinizing this character so heavily. What this game is, really, is officially licensed and incredibly well produced fan-fiction. Go in with that in mind, or you’re already depriving yourself of a great gaming and nostalgic experience.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve spent enough time in the real world, I’m putting on my Kokiri hat and getting back to business.

Thanks for reading,

A.R.

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Anime Reporter brings you reviews and insights on anime, manga and whatever else I feel like! Welcome!

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