Friday, August 18, 2017

Hyrule Warriors Legends (3DS) Review

Even though I co-reviewed the Wii U release of Hyrule Warriors, I put so much time into the 3DS release several months later that I feel I should review that too.  In an effort to not write a term paper's worth of text, I'll try to keep some things brief and concise while covering the important points.  I say this because there is a lot to talk about in Hyrule Warriors Legends, and not just the improvements and additions that the 3DS release sees.

First up, the general gameplay.  While the combat is similar to Dynasty Warriors, with weak and strong attacks, special moves (musous) and the like, there are several key differences in the land of Hyrule.  Named characters usually don't take a whole lot of damage from attacks, but instead have weak point gauges.  These are only exposed after certain attacks, and not for very long.  If you can hit them enough to drain the gauge, you will do a powerful attack to take a chunk of their health.

Large monsters will also appear in some stages.  These are barely damaged by normal attacks, and you have to almost exclusively use the weak point gauge to damage them.  True to Legend of Zelda style, each has a particular sub weapon weakness to help expose the gauge.  While it's an interesting system, I got tired of having to do it all the time.  I far prefer the more Dynasty Warrior standard of just hitting something and doing damage.  The weak point gauge relies upon RNG for enemies actually doing the attacks that expose them, making fast paced battles slow down.  I'll also mention that the new characters range from average to really good.  At least they are all better and more fun to use than Agitha.

The story mode still includes the original story that, by itself, easily takes over 20 hours with all the battling and dialogue.  It also includes Cia's story, which was DLC on the Wii U version.  If that weren't enough, it also adds a new story for Linkle, and a Windwaker story.  These three together basically double the story mode, which was already a good time sink.  There are even reasons to replay the levels, since you can earn gold skulltulas, which can eventually unlock a few bonuses.  Yeah, this replay is a bit forced, but you can forgo it entirely and just dive into Adventure Mode.

Adventure Mode is where you will spending the bulk of your time, which, considering the main story is 40+ hours, really means something.  You move around a map of the original (and awesome) Legend of Zelda, laid onto a grind, where every section is a different level.  You not only have to complete the level, but usually get a certain grade to open up the levels next to it, expanding the levels you have access to as you go.  Many levels also have some sort of treasure or unlock, either by using a certain character, or even using one of the iconic Zelda items.  These are also map rewards, but they are unfortunately consumable, so you will need to repeat stages to get more.

This mode has been re-balanced to be complete-able without much grinding.  For better or worse, the weapons have been spread around the maps more, since the base game includes several whole maps (the previous DLC ones are now included, and more DLC maps are available).  It's also great that it is a lot easier to go through the Adventure maps, since they already added 100 or so hours of content without needed to make players do a stage multiple times.  Considering the current gaming landscape, it's almost insane how much content is shoved into the base game... and I'm not complaining!  Especially since I didn't run into many Cuckoo maps, and even then they weren't near as bad as they used to be (they still do absurd damage for no reason).

The last big addition to the game is My Fairy.  Some Adventure levels have a fairy you can rescue.  Each has a default element and, when equipped, can cast a damaging magic spell that takes your magic meter.  You also find food to feed them, which levels them up, makes their spells stronger, and can change the element of the spell.  At levels 25 and 50, the spells gain added effects based on the element the fairy is at that time.  For example, fire element gives the spell an effect of lowering the defense of enemies in the area it was cast.  Plus, there are outfit pieces you can equip on the fairy that either powers up their magic, or gives you a discount in casting it.  Yes, it comes across as very Style Savvy and unnecessary, but after you get a taste of the fairy's power, you will quickly love their inclusion.  It makes getting tons of KOs very easy.

To me, the original Hyrule Warriors, while flawed, was my most played game on the Wii U.  This is no small feat considering there was a Monster Hunter released on that system, too.  The 3DS release, Hyrule Warriors Legends, is better in every way.  Yes, it lacks multiplayer, but it has been re-balanced to not need it really at all, and has a lot of small changes that really improve the experience.  The game is worth playing for Dynasty Warriors fans, but I don't think it's quite as good as those, since the weak point gauge and a few other things get tiresome after many hours.  If you had the Wii U version, I would surprisingly still recommend picking up this version, since it has all the content that game and its season pass had, plus more, for half the price of that version.  Even if you have to re-do everything, it is worth the price and time to dive back in.

The Good:
There's a ton of content in even the base game, and the adventure mode has been much better balanced.

The Bad:
Battling is still a chore if you are underleveled, and cuckoos are still dumb.

The SaHD:
Twili Midna ("Big-na", since she isn't "mid") has a perfect costume for my wife, but this game isn't 2 player, and she doesn't have that costume in the Wii U version. :(

(Hyrule Warriors Legends was purchased by the reviewer)

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