Released a year and a half ago, Hyrule Warriors proved to be a rather unconventional crossover. On one hand you had acclaimed developer Omega Force and its popular Warriors franchise which, although divisive, enjoys a constant presence in the world of gaming, and on the other we had a less conservative Nintendo, breaking down the once impenetrable barrier built around its world-beating stable of classic series, with Zelda at the very forefront.
A partnership was formed and, rather predictably, the end result drew from the best of both worlds. Although very much an Omega Force game at its core, Hyrule Warriors slipped perfectly into its chosen setting despite being a strictly non-canon affair. Not only did the characters look spot-on, but other iconic elements such as the ever-present Na’Vi, familiar enemy types, and an assortment of equippable items all made an appearance. Overall, it made for a fun game, albeit one that was naturally combat heavy given its deep ties to the Warriors series.
Another thing it has in common is that Omega Force couldn’t just leave it alone. For more than a decade, the developer has been remixing mainline Warriors games, lopping parts off here and adding others there. Although some of these spin-offs have been well received, an equal number have been met with disappointment, especially among fans whose devotion leads them blindly towards an impulse purchase.
Thankfully, Hyrule Warriors: Legends isn’t another case of clumsy content shuffling. It’s a comprehensive port that, 18 months later, manages to make a few clever changes. Chief among these is the ability to switch between characters when on the battlefield. It’s easy to get bogged down in the middle of a fight, so being able to switch up your style of play and order non-active heroes to carry out commands is a refreshing new touch.
Hardcore fans will know that, as helpful as this is, it isn’t exactly innovative. Omega Force has been using this same mechanic for donkey’s years, sometimes holding it back from core games only to include it later in a spin-off.
Next to this we have a sizeable chunk of new content, much of it inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Aside from Toon Link and Tetra, there’s King Daphnes and even a new model for Ganondorf. Skull Kid from Majora’s Mask also shows his face and there’s the debut of Linkle, a crossbow wielding female character who has been created specifically for Legends.
When sifting through the game’s list of playable stages, you’ll be able to dive into bonus missions to reach some of the new content. Amiibo support can be utilised straight off the bat, allowing New Nintendo 3DS owners to unlock rupees and weapons every time they plop a plastic mascot on their system’s touchscreen.
From a purely technical standpoint, Omega Force has done another stand-up job of pushing the portable hardware that little bit further. Characters look just as crisp as they do in the Wii U version and although the 3DS seems to limit draw distance, it’s a fantastic-looking adaptation all round.
For those running the game on Nintendo’s original 3DS hardware (this includes the 3DS XL and 2DS) there’s a noticeable dip in framerate when compared to the latest model which launch last year. Although not enough to severely hamper gameplay, we’re reaching that point now where a line is being drawn between both versions of the handheld.
Hyrule Warriors: Legends may be not be of the same calibre as most Zelda games yet there’s something to be said about way it draws from both the gaming properties it looks to fuse together. Although not entirely successful, it’s an interesting amalgam and one that fans from both camps will now be able to appreciate while on the go.
Given that this is essentially an expanded port of the Wii U game, we’ve not scored Hyrule Warriors: Legends individually. We’d like to point you back to our Wii U review from 2014, which we awarded an 8/10.