The Legend of Zelda: The Lucky Hammer is a non-canon entry in the Legend of Zelda series. However, it features multiple differences, among them being that it's based on Feudal Japan instead of Medieval Europe. It's a stealth game in which, after a Lucky Hammer was abused by mankind, and after the gods took the hammer up to Heaven, a deadly outlaw, named Ganondorf, leads demonic forces on a conquest to eventually reach Heaven. Unlike the normal series, in addition to the puzzle elements, this game is also a stealth game, and doesn't encourage a lot of direct combat.
The game opens on a shot of a flag, with three triangles arranged into a triangle on it. The camera pans away, revealing the flag to belong to a village, whose buildings are crumbled and flaming. The village is clearly in ruins. The intro explains that, a long time ago, the goddesses created the land of Shugoon, a land where its military ruled. Along with the creation of the kingdom, the divine have gifted it the Lucky Hammer, a magical hammer that, with one swing, could grant the swinger's wish.
The Hojo Clan decided they'd keep careful watch of the hammer. However, those in the clan abused it, ruining order and ruining lives around them. Eventually, the Hojo Clan, which the camera is focusing on, was driven to destruction. At its destruction, the goddesses took the hammer away from the mortal realm, locking it away in Heaven.
The intro then shows legions of demons, ascending onto the land, rushing a nearby village and forcing the citizens out. From behind, a figure wearing heavy, black, samurai armor, a mask akin to a Hannya Mask, a giant, red mane, and also wielding a Kanabo, a giant war club, over his shoulder, approaches, gazing on the scene. The game then explains that, many years later, a being known as Ganondorf arose, and sold his soul to Hell in order to take command of a demonic army. And, with it, he seeks to eventually take over the capital of Shugoon, the supposed gateway to Heaven, and break into Heaven to take the Lucky Hammer for himself.
The camera then cuts to a village within a cave, several flags bearing a crying eye strewn about. The game explains that this is the Sheikah Clan, a clan of ninjas dedicated to keeping a careful watch on Shugoon from the shadows. They're said to take in orphans, and hopefully train them. And, among them is a blond-haired boy, who would eventually be called Link. Gameplay then starts with Link donning light clothing, before beginning to sneak. After finishing the basics of sneaking, he's suddenly called by the leader of the clan, Impa.
Impa explains that she heard tell of Ganondorf and his conquest for Heaven. She says he's already claimed several villages, and that she needs many of her Sheikah warriors to be in peak performance if they're going to slay this army. She also notes that she feels Link will play an integral role in the fight against Ganondorf. Link wonders what she means, but she remains secretive.
So, bearing the kind of katana Sheikah usually wield when they're starting out, and meets up with Impa, wearing a special ninja-outfit and special katana designed for the leader of the clan. She takes out five deku seeds, and a map, and hands them to Link, telling him that the first village he'll need to check out is a place called Kakariko Village, what was formerly a calm, farming village. With that, Link bows to Impa, and then sets out.
A short distance away, Link uncovers Kakariko Village, spying a small few demons patrolling the village. They appear to be simple bokoblins, and there appear to be about 7 of them, each separated a fair bit. Upon entering, players are prompted about sneaking, prompted to use the thick growth to hide from enemy view, as well as hang back to view their patrol path. If players are careful enough, they should be able to stalk each bokoblin, sneak up behind them, and finish them off with a stealth strike. Once the 7 are beaten, a larger building's doors suddenly open up. And from the doors come a larger demon, looking like more buff versions of the bokoblins. He's seen wielding a naginata, and is holding out a lantern that casts a light onto the ground in front of him, marking the approximate cone of vision for this guy. This is a moblin.
Players are prompted to ready the deku nuts, and warned that larger foes may not go down with one stealth strike, so they should be ready to run after striking. Sure enough, about 3 stealth strikes is what it takes to finish this guy, and, using the undergrowth, buildings, as well as certain barrels, players should be able to avoid detection, and finish the moblin off.
Once the village is freed of the demons, a cutscene plays, showing many Kakrikan villagers spying that the village is free. With a cheer, they all ran into the village, quickly settling back into their homes. At this point, Link is able to walk around and speak with the villagers, who're lauding praise for reobtaining their homes. Soon, Link is able to speak with the village chief, Sahasrahla. He recognizes the Sheikah-symbol on Link's bodysuit, and thanks him as well as Impa (though Impa wouldn't be anywhere close enough to hear it). Saharasahla holds out his hand for a handshake, and Link obliges, however, once the chief grabs Link's hand, he recoils, fearful. He then says that the spirit of death lingers on Link's shoulders, causing the ninja to stumble back, both in shock and fear.
Link approaches and tries to question what Saharasahla means, and the chief explains that he's a fortune teller, and can read the strings of fate as soon as he touches someone. And he sees death in Link's future, a death brought on by the bang of a drum. Link is shocked by the news, terrified. He tries to ask Saharasahla what/when this death will be upon him, but he says that he cannot see that. He sees only fog and hears only drums.
He backs away from Link, stating that it's entirely possible that death could come for him at any moment. Even as they speak!
As stated, this game is a stealth game. Link may wield a katana here, but he's not completely built for combat, mainly for a few reasons.
- Swing Lag - One of the biggest deterrents to combat lies in swing lag. When players attempt to slice, they'll notice ending lag lasting a little over a second. This means that if you swing, you'll be very open to attacks. This is especially harmful in groups of enemies, where even if you knockback one enemy with a swing, another's most likely going to capitalize on the opening you create.
- Enemy Groupings - Enemies are typically grouped up relatively close to each other. Most are usually within ear shot of each other, so if Link gets spotted, one enemy will probably alert the others. You should also look out for enemy traps, such as spotlights or bells, as they too will likely alert a lot of enemies.
- Low Defenses - Link isn't nearly as durable here as he is in other games. Players will quickly notice he takes much more damage than ever before if they're careless against enemies. Combine that with the previous two, and a straight fight is pretty much death for those without a way out.
Link will have to be careful as he travels Shugoon, else face death. Fortunately, Link has a few skills in order to traverse the forces of Hell.
- Hiding Spots - Frequently, players will see the A button flash up the option "Hide". These usually show up when Link's near a wall, a barrel, a doorway, or anything else that might obfuscate view. If players press the A button when he's near these areas, he'll quickly dash to cover, crouching behind a wall or leaping into a hiding spot. From here, in most occasions, he'll be completely hidden from view.
- Backstab - When you approach an enemy from behind, you might see the B button flash "Backstab". By pressing this, Link will silently pull out his katana, and quickly stab the enemy's back. This usually instantly kills enemies, and in the cases it doesn't, the enemy's usually collapsed for long enough for Link to make a speedy getaway. This doesn't produce any noise, and is usually the best option for taking down an enemy.
- Deku Nuts - Sheikah are typically seen holding a few Deku Nuts for a rainy day. These are a usable item that, when used, has Link throw one at his feet, producing a blinding flash that'll stun enemies within a certain radius for 5 seconds. In case players are caught in a group of enemies, these are usually useful for making a speedy getaway.
- Agility - With his training, Link's been made to be a far more agile adventurer than any other Link. He can leap farther than any Link, can run faster, and is able to jump higher than any Link, enabling him to reach high ledges.
- Bow - In tandem with arrows, one is able to utilize this to not only strike ropes or switches from afar, but also strike enemies from afar without directly attracting attention to himself. The arrows can also produce noise from afar to attract enemies towards them.
- Sensu Fan - With this, players have the strange ability to send forth a gust of wind with flaps of it. This is usually used to blow certain switches, and to put out flames, but it can also be used to put out the flame of a spotlight, shutting them out for a moment, or to blow away enemy projectiles.
- Mizugumo - A pair of shoes used to cross over water like it were soil under the wearer's feet. While wearing this, if players hop onto deep water, Link can leap forward. He can leap 5 times in one go while on water. This is usually used to cross over areas around enemies, or to reach areas otherwise inaccessible.