There are specific lofty expectations tied to a game when it has The Legend of Zelda title attached. Though most of the games in the series incorporate new art styles and new gameplay mechanics, you know that you’ll be acquainting yourself with several dungeons and doing a fair share of exploring. We all know what a typical Link adventure entails.
There have obviously been exceptions to this formula over the course of the franchise’s history, with The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes being the latest one to deviate from the norm.
Instead of leading you on a quest to prevent Hyrule’s destruction, as a Tri Force hero (Link from Link Between Worlds), you’re tasked with the important job of saving Princess Styla from living in complete drab. She’s lost all of her vogue, and has been cursed to live forever in what are probably the stinkiest tights (she can’t get out of them!). The folks from her small town, Hytopia, fear to express their fashionable side because they themselves don’t want to go on living in a pair of wretched, rotten tights . Yeah, the story is uneventful and inconsequential for the most part. Silly, but not interesting. It doesn’t matter though, cause if you’re reading this, it’s likely you very well know that this game is all about venturing into great trouble with friends.
“Yeah, the story is uneventful and inconsequential for the most part.”
Since Nintendo is all about bringing people together, this makes a whole lot of sense. As opposed to heading into large dungeons that span across multiple levels, loaded with mind-bending puzzles and open locations to explore, this title opts for breaking it down to 8 areas in the “Drabland”, with 4 dungeons each. On top of that, each dungeon breaks down into 4 levels, where you’ll have to test your wit by solving puzzles, defeat baddies with your classic Zelda (ie. Sword Slash) attacks, or a combination of both.
Seeing success in the most trying times will require all 3 players to be at the top of their game. Perfect coordination is of utmost importance when facing the difficult obstacles that lie ahead. Tools like the fire gloves (they make the Mario fireball sounds!) and arrows will be available for each player at the beginning of each dungeon. My only issue with this format is the lack of cohesiveness; it feels like less of a dungeon and more like a string of levels that require the same tools.
“Perfect coordination is of utmost importance when facing the difficult obstacles that lay ahead.”
Most importantly, is the totem mechanic. Stacking up your adorable heroes will prove crucial in most of the puzzle designs and boss fights. Tossing each other around will lead to previously unreachable heights, and many puzzles will require a management of stature. Acclimating yourself with this mechanic will prove fruitful.
So, if your favorite part of the Zelda games is the puzzle-solving aspect, you will love this, because it does puzzle-solving with extreme precision. Progressing through increasingly tricky dungeons is satisfying. There are environmental puzzles and even boss fights that require a high level of finesse from your squad. Some of them were obviously more difficult than others, but these were some of my favorite moments during my quest. Successfully vanquishing a massive boss as a team will feel like a true accomplishment.
“There are environmental puzzles, and even boss fights which require a high level of finesse from your squad.”
The puzzle designs are impressive, which is important in a package that overly depends on them.
Once you’ve completed each area, you’ll unlock certain challenges such as a time-limit, or less hearts for each dungeon. But, why would you want to go back? Well, remember the whole style premise? At the end of each dungeon, you’ll get a shot at a piece of garment gear. Collecting all the right pieces can get you an especially swagged out suit that will equip your hero with special skills, like the ability to shoot 3 arrows at a time instead of the measly one. Yes, the special skills are important, but dressing your hero up in adorable outfits is clearly the main objective. You can even stick the hero in a dress. There are plenty of outfits to choose from, which unfortunately, means having to grind for the required items.
“Yes, the special skills are important, but dressing your hero up in adorable outfits is clearly the main objective.”
There is a way to play through the whole game solo, but since it’s dangerous to go alone, you can either search for two other strangers (or friends) to team up with, or can do some local co-op, with the latter being the optimal choice. Why is that? Because no form of voice chat is included. Really, Nintendo?
The lack of voice chat is frustrating. Simple emotes are included to express certain commands, but they are not a viable substitution for hearing an actual voice. There’s nothing more frustrating than having the solution to your conundrum and not having the ability to thoroughly communicate that to the rest of your squad. It’s also important to note that the team shares a heart bar, so one bad player can really ruin your good time. So in short, this game is best played locally.
“Simple emotes are included that signal certain commands, but they are no substitution for a robust voice chat system.”
Play with friends, because that’s where this game shines as bright as a golden Triforce piece . Hopefully, you have two other friends with the handheld and the game. It won’t take long to see how otherwise could be a problem. The good news is that Nintendo figured this might be an issue, and included download play. This means two other friends can grab their 3DS and download a limited version of the game to join your grand quest.
If you can’t find others to join you, don’t worry! Going into it alone is actually not too bad. I completed about a third of the game by myself, and honestly, it was fine. I preferred it over playing with other Tri Force heroes online. You’ll have to switch between the three characters on the screen while the other two are just standing there, but it’s easy enough to switch on the fly with the touchscreen. Only the time based challenges proved to be a pain. Totems also prove to be strenuous and confusing on your own in pressure situations.
“…going into it alone is actually not too bad.”
So what does this all mean? Well, there’s really a lack of Zelda-esque magic here, but the polish is certainly there. The visuals and animations come from the same engine used for A Link Between Worlds, which was a fantastic game. For the most part, this is simply a one-trick pony, which isn’t necessarily terrible, because co-op seems to be the driving factor. I simply wish the dungeons were more cohesive. It’s best to know what you’re getting into to avoid any sort of disappointment. It’s an interesting experiment that feels a lot like Four Swords, and it works for the most part, thanks to brilliant puzzle designs.
I still would much rather have my doses of exploration for a change of pace, but there are 32 dungeons for you and your friends to conquer.
– Impressive puzzles that will stump even Zelda veterans. If you love LOZ puzzles, this is the game for you.
–Boss fights are designed for total teamwork. Taking down a beast with friends is always fun.
–A total blast with friends in local play. There are 32 dungeons ready for you and your friends to conquer.
–A lack of exploration means no change of pace. Yeah, it has Zelda by name, but this is not your typical adventure.
–Fashion premise is bland.
–No in-game voice chat.
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
This review was completed using a Nintendo 3DS copy of The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, provided by Nintendo. The game hit stores Friday, October 23 exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS. Image credit: Nintendo of America, Nintendo UK