Hyrule Warriors Legends Review – Not Legendary

Dave Aubrey
Posted Apr 29, 2016
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  • Developer/Publisher: Omega Force+Team Ninja/Nintendo
  • Platform: 3DS, 39.99$
  • Review code provided by the publisher

The 3DS handles console releases surprisingly well, doesn’t it? Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D proved that the 3DS could handle a (slightly) downgraded Wii title with little problem, creating a very faithful portable experience. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D released exclusively for New 3DS, and used the extra power of the enhanced handheld to create another full-fat console experience which you can carry in your pocket. It makes me think that Hyrule Warriors Legends should’ve either released exclusively as a New 3DS title, or perhaps not at all.

Hyrule Warriors Legends could very well be used as an example of how not to create a handheld version of a game. What they’ve done here is take a visually impressive, entirely solid Warriors game built for a home console, and made it worse in almost every possible aspect. It’s really quite incredible, when you compare the two titles, how much worse this one actually is.

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To begin, textures look terrible across the board. Character models are recognizable, if chunky and odd in appearance. Enemy characters tend to suffer the most, having been given an extreme makeover so they now fit in with early PS1 game graphics. The resolution is of course much lower because of the 3DS’ screens, and the local co-op option is no longer possible either. So what have they actually gotten right?

Well, there’s Linkle, at least! Linkle is a charming female alter-ego to our recognizable protagonist Link – and she’s great. She comes across as lovable in cutscenes – showing much more personality than Link himself – uses interesting dual crossbows unlike other characters, and just might be the best reason to invest in Hyrule Warriors Legends, along with the other new characters, such as Tetra and Skull Kid.

Outside of the new characters and their new missions, there isn’t much to celebrate here, honestly.

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I’ve always held a firm belief that Warriors games work best on the most capable and powerful platform they’re released on – why play Samurai Warriors 4 on PS3 or Vita, when the PS4 version looks better, performs better, and with hundreds of enemy characters being rendered on screen all at once? Portability is a factor, but when the game experience becomes so drastically different it’s not really enough. This issue is more severe with Hyrule Warriors Legends. The 3DS – even the New 3DS – isn’t a powerful piece of tech. It simply doesn’t have the resources to render large amounts of enemy characters, so when I say that characters popping into view literally next to you I’m not kidding. The game clearly caps the number of characters it can render, but still has many more enemies that are supposed to be in the area fighting, meaning you will often defeat a small crowd only to see an equal sized one sprout in its place instantly.

In addition to the awful character fade, the framerate (especially on the original 3DS) is approaching unplayable. On New 3DS it drops and slows down, which will annoy some, but it remains playable, something the original 3DS simply cannot claim in many instances. On the one hand, it’s amazing that these large stages have been successfully ported over to such a small system. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to have been worth it in any aspect.

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So, the graphics are worse, it plays worse… What are the plus points then? Well, Hyrule Warriors Legends is still a fun Warriors game when it’s working. A good use of the Zelda license, treated well by developers who clearly knew what they were doing. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything more positive than this.

Ultimately, this is Hyrule Warriors for handheld and it should be considered a New 3DS exclusive. That’s all that can be said. The experience has been downgraded in absolutely every aspect, but it’s still fun in places; however, if you can, get Hyrule Warriors for the WiiU.

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