The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes Preview
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes Box Art
System: 3DS
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Q4 2015
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: N/A
by Angelo M. D'Argenio

Nintendo is a master of misdirection. Everyone wanted to hear more about the new Legend of Zelda game this year at E3. So Nintendo gave us a new Legend of Zelda game, just not the one we were looking for. This is The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes, an evolution of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords formula that features multiple Links working together to solve puzzles in a top down Zelda game on the 3DS.

The basic story, if you could call it one, is that the world needs a hero, except they aren’t quite sure who the hero is. Luckily, three different chromatically distinct people that look an awful lot like Link have stepped up to save the day. Who is the hero? Who cares? Why have one hero when you can have three?

There isn’t so much an overworld in The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes as there is a hub world. The story and exploration elements of the Zelda series are seriously cut down in this title, in lieu of dungeon roaming and puzzle solving. The “point” of the game, so to speak, is to make your way through a number of co-op themed dungeons with the help of your friends, random pick up groups online, or computer controlled puppets.

You can already start to envision the sorts of puzzles you will face in these dungeons. The simplest involve the Links throwing each other over pits in order to hit switches. Others involve one or two Links battling enemies while a third works to open or close a gate. Others still will include combining items, such as one Link laying a bomb as another Link uses a gust bellows to blow the bomb over to a crack on the other side of a chasm, or using that same bellows to put out flames so that another Link can get past the flames and grab a treasure chest. You can even lift each other up Disgaea-style and create a tower of Links which is used to access areas at higher altitudes.

You can also probably start envisioning the nightmare that is trying to coordinate three Links at once. Heck, in Four Swords, most Links just kept throwing each other into pits for the sake of trolling. Luckily, Triforce Heroes discourages this by making all Links share one life bar. If one of you falls, then all of you fall. Unfortunately, this also means battles can very quickly lead to a party wipe if you all take damage at the same time. The demo we were shown started us off with 9 hearts and even that felt like too little for most circumstances.

In general, the game operates off of the Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds system, which is to say every item except for the sword uses magic power. Once again, this makes the game a lot simpler than it would be if you had to manage arrow, bomb, and slingshot ammo totals, and simplicity is key in a game that is focused on cooperation.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes Screenshot

The newest “system” is the clothing system. The world of Triforce Heroes seems oddly obsessed with fashion. The Links can take advantage of this by swapping out their normal drab tunics with the fashion of the week. Each outfit they put on alters their abilities in some way. For example, the bomb suit makes your bombs twice their normal size, which makes them do more damage and increases their blast radius. This also makes bomb puzzles easier to solve because you don’t need to get a super bomb quite so close to a cracked wall.

Other examples of special outfits that Link can wear include the spin attack suit, which gives him access to his powerful spin attack, the Kokiri suit, which increases his ability with arrows, and the Zelda dress, which increases his chances of finding hearts when he breaks pots, slashes bushes, and defeats enemies. It’s also just a good excuse to get Link to cross dress if you are into that sort of thing. Several more outfits are going to be made available in the final version of the game, with at least one which will upgrade every item you can use, and several more that will upgrade your combat and traversal abilities.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes Screenshot

There are some flaws with the demo we saw. For one, it’s very easy to lose track of your teammates. On the upside, players aren’t required to stay on the same screen, but on the downside, this means your friends can be several rooms away from you, and if you need them to solve a three person switch puzzle, it can take them ages to catch up, especially if they are just screwing around.

The only real way you can communicate with each other are with little Link emotes which can show Link being happy, Link being sad, Link cheering with pompoms, Link calling for help, and so forth. Tap them once, and they will show up at the bottom of the screen. Keep tapping them and they will get bigger, taking up more screen real estate. If you are playing with a particularly annoying group of people (which I was) they will continually spam these emotes, making it impossible to see what you are doing. You can also call for your teammates, and every so often, when you perform an action, the game displays the action you are taking on the screen. Taking damage is one of these actions, so if someone keeps getting hit your screen becomes littered with “Red took damage. Red took damage. Red took damage,” once again making it impossible to see or do anything.

In short, playing this game with random pick up groups is going to suck.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes Screenshot

The rep at the Nintendo booth said that the game likely won’t support voice chat, which seems to be a pretty constant policy with Nintendo these days. Unfortunately, that really harms games like this, which are likely to be primarily played on the internet. The chances of getting three people with a 3DS to sit in one place and play this game are unlikely, even if the game does support download play.

The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes will be a fantastic game, if you have a constant party of friends that are willing to play locally, but the game simply isn’t as awesome if you have to play by yourself or with random people. Whether or not this will be a hit for you will pretty much hinge on whether or not it will be a hit for your friends as well.

The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes is slated for release at the end of 2015.

Angelo M. D'Argenio
Contributing Writer
Date: June 25, 2015

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