Review: Hyrule Warriors & HW Legends (Wii U & 3DS)

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Hyrule Warriors (Wii U )

Just a Dynasty Warriors / Musou  game with a Zelda skin right? Unfortunately I'm here to tell you that Hyrule Warriors is a little bit more than that. Hyrule Warriors takes the Dynasty Warrior approach to entering a battle as an overpowered captain sprinkles on some of the Nintendo magic and we have something I'll say... we've never quite seen before.

Arguments For

  • The Zelda Universe - Kicking ass as Link, Zelda, Midna, Girahim, Shiek, Darunia and friends is a lot of fun, I MEAN A LOT OF FUN.
  • Dynasty Warrior games are button mashers, you'll mash buttons over and over to advance. Word to the wise, most games require you mash buttons over and over. In Hyrule Warriors you'll be forced to learn to defend, learn advanced combo attacks, but every mission throws something new in terms of gameplay and strategy.
  • Enemies are much more of a challenge than press A to win. Higher level combatants are more than capable of withstanding the players attacks making counter-attacks and dodging integral for success.
  • There's more to the button mashing than Y+X. Exploring each characters combos for each of their weapons provides just as much fun as running through the game as Link alone.
  • Without spoiling much, you'll fight a mutiny, you'll have to simultaneously take and hold two keeps while defending your base, you'll be forced to discover hidden rooms and unlock hidden areas. Safe to say, there is a little more adventure to Hyrule Warriors than the status quo would suggest with the Dynasty Warriors enigma.
  • Managing your missions and their subsequent prioritization is critical to success. The Wii U's gamepad provides an easy control panel for organizing the information for the player and is the best way to play Hyrule Warriors. Not to mention, Hyrule Warriors is a great addition to Off-TV play when you're watching TV with the family/girlfriend.
  • While Dynasty Warriors has a loyal fan base; for many the series lacks appeal. There are no Dynasty Warriors characters in the minds of gamers day to day. Adding Link, Zelda, Tetra, Ganon and others to the formula really gives the series a much needed shot in the arm. Not to mention a Wii U exclusive that was desperately needed.
  • The story is good enough to keep you invested. Hyrule Warriors features a time travel mechanic to take you to all of the memorable Zelda moments: Lake Hylia, Skyloft, Twilight Field, Hyrule Castle, and some brand new environments to the Zelda series. One major bonus is seeing Ocarina of Time settings in HD and sharp visuals is beautiful and rewarding to any Zelda fans.
  • Adventure & Challenge Mode provide more life for the game in addition to its 10-15 hour campaign (depending on how much you're into collectibles).
  • Adventure mode in particular can hook a Zelda fan for 10+ hours on its own right with its Retro "Legend of Zelda" X Hyrule Warriors approach.
  • The incredible cut scenes in between levels provides fun to the Zelda lore overall.
  • New characters like Cia and Volga blend Zelda tropes with new fresh ideas.
  • If you're a Zelda fan this is the love fest and nostalgia game to play. It almost has the feel of a Fast N Furious movie where the whole gang gets together for an adventure. This is the fan-service game any fan of the series is going to adore and enjoy for hours on end.

Arguments Against

  • While the game is in HD, the textures are nothing you wouldn't expect to see in a 360/PS3 title. The game looks fine, but the maps are usually flat with edgy rocks and walls to find along the way.
  • Multiple levels feature the same tactics needed to accomplish victory. This can feel repetitive, even if those actions are just one of four or five needed for victory.
  • Co-Op mode (2-player) really chugs the engine and I definitely didn't find it an enjoyable way to play the game.



Hyrule Warriors Legends (3DS)

Hyrule Warriors was ported down to the 3DS and released in March 2016. The portable version is supported on the original 3DS, but was marketed and launched for the New Nintendo 3DS.  The game features all of the characters from the Wii U release title including the following extra's: Tetra, King of Red Lions (Daphnes), Toon Link, Skull Kid, Linkle, Medli, and Marin . If you purchase Hyrule Warriors Legends new on 3DS, you'll be granted a DLC code to transfer all of the characters to the Nintendo 3DS.

As for the game, Hyrule Warriors Legends is a tale of two games depending on the hardware you play it on. Many of the cut-scenes ported down from the Wii U version feature missing detail such as explosions occurring without flames or bridges falling without animations. Those playing on an original 3DS will find a game that features less enemies and chugs in battle. The main reason for my purchasing the portable version was for my five year old son who loves Hyrule Warriors. If you are thinking of getting this game for similar reasons I would advise that the lower quality on older hardware hasn't dulled his experience at all. He doesn't know what he doesn't know, and loves the game. But for those thinking of purchasing for themselves (16 years and older crowd) I would absolutely recommend that you only commit if you have the New Nintendo 3DS. On the new hardware this game plays very much like the original Wii U version. There are plenty of enemies for you to button mash your way through, story videos looks and run great, plus there's the bonus 3DS only Linkle side story to enjoy.

Arguments For

  • A great addition to the 3DS family library offering a Zelda themed game with easily over 10+ hours of gameplay.
    • 17 full missions in the main campaign plus DLC & other characters (Linkle, Ganon)
  • Adventure mode was tailor-made for quick, portable play experiences.
  • Quick-touchscreen character switching is uniquely integrated into the 3DS version to make sense of the bottom screen.
  • The C-Stick on the N3DS provides a much improved camera control option.
  • Most, if not all, the best things found in the Wii U version.
  • Amiibo support, one of the few 3DS games to use Amiibo.
  • Linkle's DLC and new characters provide a more than worthwhile reason for Wii U owners to pick up the 3DS version.
  • Linkle is a total bad ass to control. Dual crossbows... YES!

 Arguments Against

  • Every image used for menus, icons, and titles is really poor SD (maybe) quality.
  • Those not on a N3DS are not going to have a much less quality experience.
    • It can be played on a regular 3DS, but the enthusiast gamer is not going to enjoy the play through on the lesser hardware.
  • Its not the prettiest game, although that should be expected with a 3DS port of a Wii U game. The textures and models can be described best as "muddy" or "simple" in most instances.

DLC Overview

  • The Master Quest DLC adds a new Adventure Mode map, with brand new Master Quest style challenges such as no healing and no items allowed.
  • The DLC allows the unlocking of an 8-Bit weapon and new costume for each Warrior (found on the new Adventure Mode map)
  • The ability for Link to use Epona as a weapon
  • Twenty more Skulltulas to find on top of the 100 that already exist.
    • All in all at least another 30 hours of content for the hardcore enthusiast.



The Value:

There just isn't a game like Hyrule Warriors on the market. There is a ported X360 Dynasty Warriors game on the Wii U but it doesn't have any real chops when compared to the Zelda licensed Hyrule Warriors. On 3DS, Hyrule Warriors Legends really is the only horse in show. In either version of Hyrule Warriors, there is at least 25 hours of gaming to be had and up to 50 hours more if you really enjoy the game and its adventure or challenge mode. The Wii U version can be acquired between $25-$45 used or new with the 3DS version costing $40 new as it's still a newer release and also includes that nifty DLC. As a Zelda and/or a Nintendo fan I would say that both of these versions are "must owns" if you own Wii U or 3DS hardware. Have both? Grab the Wii U version first and them come back to the 3DS version in about a year or so just for a fun return to Hyrule.

The Verdict:

I think its unfortunate that games labeled as "don't do anything new" aren't critically received well, not everything must be groundbreaking. For those claiming to be tired of the Zelda method, this is definitely a palette cleanser. Hyrule Warriors is a fast-paced, button masher action game with a great collection of characters, splendid looking arenas and a neat Zelda-fan-festival story to draw from. The idea of a Zelda action game or a Warriors skinned Zelda game sounds cheap, but after these two ingredients are baked together, the result is one tasty cake. I really hope the sales of both versions of this game are enough to warrant future sequels in what could be a great new series for Musou & Zelda fans a like.

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