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Hyrule Warriors Legends (3DS) Review

by Neal Ronaghan - March 21, 2016, 8:00 am PDT
Total comments: 9


Legends is packed with content, but you might have played a lot of it before.

The 3DS has played host to a number of downgraded Wii and Wii U ports over the years, whether it was Donkey Kong Country Returns or Xenoblade Chronicles. Hyrule Warriors Legends is the latest in this line of games, but contrary to what’s come before, Legends adds more substantial new content and game refinements. In a lot of ways, the 3DS version is the best version of Hyrule Warriors, but it suffers from having so much repeated content.

Legends contains almost all of the content from the Wii U version and its DLC. The Challenge Mode is missing in action, though I truthfully didn’t notice it was gone. The Legends story mode and retro-styled Adventure Mode are both present and nearly identical to what came before, though Adventure Mode’s map is filled with way more unlockable content on each square. The new missions in the story mode incorporate Linkle and the Wind Waker characters into the quest, but Linkle operates primarily as a side story running parallel and the Wind Waker levels are presented in an epilogue. In order to access the new content, you need to replay the entirety of what you might have already finished on Wii U.

The Wind Waker content is worth replaying that content to get to, though, as it adds in a lot of elements from the GameCube classic. It adds a new weapon (the hammer) that can be used to break the Helmaroc King’s armor, as well as really fun new characters. The King of Hyrule turns into a boat. It’s incredible. Linkle’s content reuses a lot of maps from the main campaign. Linkle herself is an awesome character to play as with sweet crossbow combos, but her story is presented in such a breezy manner that she seems like more of a joke than a bold new addition to the world of Zelda.

But whether you’re replaying the original story mode or checking out the new stuff, a number of quality of life game improvements makes everything more fun. Now, you can switch between playable characters on the fly, which makes missions more dynamic and easier to manage. You can also jump around some maps easier with the new Ocarina item, which lets you warp between Owl Statues (a la Majora’s Mask) around the battlefield. These two changes make a gigantic difference in how you can strategize and fight. It also helps the repetitive combat stay a little fresher because you’re not tied to one character for an entire mission. Likely because of all these changes, though, the 3DS version only supports single-player. To me, that isn’t a major loss. I did enjoy playing co-op on the Wii U, but the 3DS version has been a lot more of a “pick up and play” portable experience that wouldn’t quite work with another player.

Visually, Legends runs surprisingly smoothly considering the amount of action going at once. Enemies do noticeably pop in, and it’s apparent a hard limit exists for the amount of characters on screen at once. The gameplay is never adversely affected by this, though. It’s worth noting that this game runs horribly on the original 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS. If you don’t have a New 3DS, stay away. The New 3DS also offers some better control options, as you can use the second stick to move the camera and the ZL button to lock onto enemies.

Legends also adds the My Fairy mode, where you can capture and train fairies to assist you in battle with different attacks and buffs. You have to find the fairies in Adventure Mode, and it’s a little obtuse as to how to even initially access the mode. Training and even dressing up your fairies can be fun, but it doesn’t serve as much more than a distraction.

Hyrule Warriors Legends is a tough game to draw a conclusion from, though. On one hand, this is the best version of the game aside from the visual downgrade. On the other, it’s essentially the same game that came out on Wii U in 2014. It’s hard for me to recommend this for people who played Hyrule Warriors on Wii U, especially with more DLC coming to both versions. Legends is best if you vastly prefer gaming on a portable or have never played Hyrule Warriors before. Just make sure you have a New 3DS.


  • Basically the Wii U version in portable form
  • Even more dumb fun and ridiculous attacks
  • New gameplay tweaks
  • Tons of content
  • Reuses the Wii U version's content
  • Runs like garbage on the original 3DS


kokumakerMarch 21, 2016

I have this pre-ordered but I haven't upgraded to a New 3DS. Is it really so bad that I should give up now and cancel my pre-order? 😩

ejamerMarch 23, 2016

Interesting. Wasn't really interested in this down-port, but from your review it sounds like a good buy. Hmm... tough choice now between the big-screen console release and the portable version.

At some point, I'll get a New 3DS XL to replace my existing system. With a crack recently developing on the right hinge, that day might be sooner than later.

OedoMarch 23, 2016

I'm looking forward to playing this since I never got the Wii U version, but I don't get why they didn't release a demo for NA. For everyone like kokumaker who doesn't have a New 3DS but wants to play the game, at least they could see for themselves whether or not they'd enjoy it on the old hardware.

xcwarriorMarch 25, 2016

OK...  so.... since I neer picked up the Wii version, I think I want to pick up this version instead, right? I have a new 3DS, so that's not an issue.

Sounds like 3DS version is missing one mode and co-op, but as a whole has more content.

Graphics don't mean squat to me.

Might need to read a few more reviews, this really didn't solve my decision on which version to pick up.

TheXenocideMarch 25, 2016

So I had it pre ordered, but canceled my pre order because reviews almost universally say it's unplayable on a 2ds/standard 3ds. I was at the game store and a friend (with a new 3ds) showed up and picked up her copy. She played for a bit, then let me throw it in my 2ds. I would say it's noticeably slower, but not significantly so. After playing hers for a few, I immediately turned around and bought a copy. I'm absolutely enjoying it. Granted, I'm only 3 missions in, so I don't know if there's significant slow down later, but so far, I'm not really having any kind of difficulty playing the game and I'm thoroughly happy with my purchase.

kokumakerMarch 28, 2016

Xenocide, I thank you for that hands-on review! I bought the game and put it unopened on my shelf next to Xenoblade 3D, which I also bought for the day that I eventually own a New 3DS, figuring I might open it just to get the Wii U character DLC codes, but now I feel better about just ripping it open and playing it. So, again, I thank you!

Ian SaneMarch 29, 2016

Quote from: Oedo

I'm looking forward to playing this since I never got the Wii U version, but I don't get why they didn't release a demo for NA. For everyone like kokumaker who doesn't have a New 3DS but wants to play the game, at least they could see for themselves whether or not they'd enjoy it on the old hardware.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is the very reason why they don't offer a demo.  Letting someone find out the game doesn't play so well on the old hardware might discourage a sale.

DonkeyBilly KongApril 07, 2016

I have never played a game in this series, including the Wii U version of this one.  I'm playing Legends on a standard 3DS XL.  So far, I haven't had many issues with frame rate, but there are certainly quirks...

It took me a while to understand what was going on.  The game doesn't explain itself much, and the map is a mess of symbols.  It doesn't help that it is so low resolution and obviously not designed for that screen.  I'm not sure how the console or New 3DS versions work, but fighting hordes of enemies consists of tapping the Y button a lot and sometimes X.  There are many combos like this: YYYYYYYYY.  What makes it worse is that the hordes don't include many enemies at once.  As you defeat them, new enemies fade into view around you.  I assume this is to preserve frame rate, but it means that the big attacks can't take out many enemies at once.  There is also often no clear indicator of how much progress you are making.

Yes, the graphics are very muddy.  I normally hate it when people use terms like "DS graphics," but they really are reminiscent of that era, albeit with more going on.  Many textures are just blurry shapes.  Animations are likewise paired down, and in-game cutscenes are comically sparse.  A bridge being destroyed might consist of it simply vanishing, for example.  I don't care too much, but the issue is that so much of the charm of this game is the presentation.  So, when it falls flat, the whole game feels empty.

I was excited to try different areas, like Skyloft.  Unfortunately, the music was still bland battle themes, and the atmospheric environments were instead blurry, bright textures with similar layouts to other levels.  Speaking of Skyloft, this is where those owl statues for quick transport really started to come in handy.

As with many games, allies are practically useless.  First, I should say that the gameplay mainly comes down to killing enemies in "keeps," which are square rooms, and also enemy patrols scattered along paths.  As enemies retake them, you need to go back and clean up the mess.  You lose if the enemies take your main keep, which makes no sense in terms of story most of the time, since it's just an arbitrary square.  Back to allies, they can be directed to keeps or enemies manually using the touch screen.  Once there, they get hurt and ask for help.  If you switch to that character and tap Y, the room will generally be cleared out quickly, making me wonder what the AI was doing.  The allies mainly come in handy for defeating bosses, where you get certain advantages when fighting as a group.  They also have predetermined roles in some stages, where they do something useful.

A nice feature is being able to level up characters that are falling behind, though it is expensive.  Still, it is a nice option.  I find myself focusing on leveling the main characters and paying to level up the others as needed.

For a newcomer to the series, the whole concept is still a bit hard to grasp.  I feel like there must be something fun here that I am missing.  The core gameplay, consisting of juggling taking ground with fixing the keeps that you've already taken, feels like Diner Dash.  Regardless, it is a game that is easy to go back to in spurts, and I plan to.  Strangely, leveling my characters is one of the main things that keeps my attention.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, April 11, 2016

Haha. I'm actually playing this on an OG 3DS XL. It's not too bad, but I'm not one to get rowdy with frame-rates. It allows me to play one of my favorite Wii U games on the go, sitting in my chair in my room, or wherever, so I'll take the sacrifice! :)

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Game Profile

Hyrule Warriors Legends Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Koei Tecmo Games

Worldwide Releases

na: Hyrule Warriors Legends
Release Mar 25, 2016
jpn: Zelda Musō: Hyrule All-Stars
Release Jan 21, 2016
eu: Hyrule Warriors Legends
Release Mar 24, 2016
aus: Hyrule Warriors Legends
Release Mar 24, 2016
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