Hyrule Warriors Legends

It’s not every day multiple developers collaborate upon an RPG that combines elements from multiple subgenres, with the early Chunsoft-developed Mystery Dungeon games, roguelike gameplay and all, crossing into the Enix-published Dragon Quest pantheon. This trend continues even today, with developer Omega Force producing a few titles combining elements from their long-running Dynasty Warriors with elements from major RPG franchises, among them being the Wii U’s Hyrule Warriors, which would receive a port to the Nintendo 3DS entitled Hyrule Warriors Legends, which for the most part works well as a hybrid RPG.

The port follows a methodical linear structure where players can level characters with rupees (with leveling also occurring as in most RPGs when a controlled character earns enough experience from slaying enemies, making this the second Zelda title after The Adventure of Link to feature such a system) and purchase special abilities with materials gained from defeating foes, among other things. The gameplay proper hybrids elements from the Dynasty Warriors and Zelda games, with sizeable battlefields where the player must fulfill certain objectives or face defeat in action-oriented gameplay, in which case the player can restart from the last checkpoint reached after fulfilling various goals, or return to the game menus, in which case earned experience is preserved.

The gameplay works well for the most part, although there are some maps that would have benefited from more teleportation points warped to with the ocarina item the player eventually gains alongside other usable staple Zelda tools. Rupees are gained after victories, and within each scenario, the player can find a heart piece for a specific character, with four granting an extra life heart (with these also occasionally increasing through leveling), and a full heart extension for another or the same character. Another negligible issue is the slight underuse of the trademark Zelda items, but the gameplay is more reason than enough to experience the title.

Aside from the aforementioned teleportation issue in combat, the slight high maintenance of the sizeable character cast, and the absence of an in-game clock native to the mainstream Zelda franchise, Legends interfaces well with the player, with the player able to save and quit in the middle of battle and return to the point where they saved in most cases.

Story as usual is a weak point of the Zelda series, with the present narrative and backstory Legends weaves for the most part being derivative of the mainstream titles. The translation is more than serviceable, although there is odd emphasis of words at times. In the end, the plot is the port’s low point, but is far from terrible.

Legends for the most part uses rocky versions of the mainstream series’ trademark tracks, which is a good thing, as they sound present, with a narrator and occasional voice clips for characters that are good, the major exception being Link’s new high-pitched fairy companion.

The visuals look nice as well, appearing in between realistic and cel-shading, with regular high-quality FMVs that show what the 3DS can do graphically. The environs do at many times appear blurry and pixilated in terms of texturing, but otherwise, the port is easy on the eyes.

Finally, given the lack of an in-game clock, playing time is indeterminate, although there is plenty of replayability with respect to collecting all heart pieces and full hearts from each battle, in addition to slaying each map’s Gold Skulltula to unlock illustrations, and several other modes of play other than Legends.

Overall, Hyrule Warriors Legends is for the most part a solid port that hits most of the right notes, particularly with regards to its gameplay successfully fusing elements from the Dynasty Warriors games and mainstream Zelda titles, a polished interface, a nice rocky soundtrack with plenty remixed old and original pieces, good graphics, and plentiful lasting appeal sure to last players a while. It does leave some room for improvement, particularly with regards to the death of teleportation statues in some big maps despite being more present on some smaller ones, the lack of an in-game clock, a derivative plotline, some occasional annoying voices, and some visual blemishes. Even so, both fans of the main Zelda franchise and Dynasty Warriors pantheon are very much in for a treat.

The Good:
+Solid gameplay.
+Great control.
+Nice soundtrack.
+Good graphics.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Some maps would have benefitted from more warp points.
-No in-game clock.
-Derivative narrative.
-Link’s new fairy more annoying than Navi.
-Some graphical imperfections.

The Bottom Line:
Great for fans and newcomers alike.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 7/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Easy
Playing Time: No in-game clock.

Overall: 9/10

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