|Release: October 23, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Fantasy Violence|
by Jenni Lada
Nintendo has entered an era of asset reusal. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was a wonderful puzzle game based on Super Mario 3D World and Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is a surprisingly engaging timesink sampling all of the assets from Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes does this with 2013's A Link Between Worlds, but with much less success. The problem is, it wants to be as memorable and enduring as Four Swords Adventures, but falters. It's more a placeholder project than a full featured endeavor.
In The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, one or three players (not two, see below) take on the quest to help Styla, princess of Hytopia, become more fashionable. A curse has trapped her in a plain bodysuit, and its up to players to go gathering fabrics from eight worlds to create a ballgown rare and dazzling enough to make Styla more fashion forward.
This isn't limited to the princess, however. As the three Link replicas go through the 32 different levels, they'll acquire various fabrics at the end to create their own custom attire. Each outfit has a different effect when worn, designed to make the available levels easier to traverse or even offer alternate solutions. The Cozy Parka lets one of the Links basically become an Ice Climber, allowing him to run on ice. Make him look like Princess Zelda and he'll get more hearts. The dress determines the difficulty of each run, and every ensemble is engineered to encourage everyone to keep replaying each area.
It's a shame that, in practice, these new outfits don't feel like incentive enough to keep coming back to each dungeon. That, combined with a lack of story and difficulty levels that penalize single player traversals and occasionally over-simplify multiplayer matters is disheartening. Each of the 32 levels in a dungeon takes about 10 minutes to play, maybe as much as 20 if you're going it alone (It's dangerous to go alone, take at least one friend). You initially each pick an item that might make surviving the challenge easier, go through two rooms that offer some minor puzzle action, then face some sort of boss. After defeating the boss, crafting items for clothing are randomly awarded.
The problem is, it doesn't feel like there's any real motivation to keep replaying a level. You never know what materials will be in the chest at the end, even if you're going through a second time and adding challenges like popping balloons or having additional enemies drop in. These challenges will mean better materials, but you still don't know if you'll get what you need. By the time you create a costume you wanted, it's very likely it will have arrived too late to be useful.
Especially since the solo situation is very unbalanced. There are two options with The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. You play alone, switching control between the three characters, or find two other real people to play with via local or online multiplayer. While the puzzles can be solved all by yourself, albeit taking much longer to get from point A to point B, many of the boss fights are excruciating without accomplices. The Fire Temple's Moldorm is a fantastic example, as its eye color indicates which hero it's targeting, the tail is its weak spot, and defeating it means making multi-character totems to keep hitting the tail. I tried to tackle this one alone, couldn't, and needed to go online to find two strangers instead.
Unfortunately, working with strangers isn't always the ultimate solution. I have a better than average internet connection and experienced quite a bit of lag. I would do something, expect one of these allies to immediately respond, and wouldn't see support for at least two to four seconds later. The icon system for offering feedback is admirable, but isn't accurate enough to ensure success unless everyone's already been through a level once before.
The ideal play situation feels like three players in a room together, each with either their own carts or making good use of the download play option. Everyone contributes and communicates, and there's no lag. It also means everyone is on the same page, something the online experience lacks.