The Legend of Zelda gaming series is one of that has been going for some time now. After all these years, it must be a real challenge to continually make the series seem fresh and exciting. Here, Tri-Force Heroes revisits having a Zelda game centred around co-op multiplayer (albeit limited to 3 players). It’s a quirky take on Zelda that has been done previously (Four Swords on the Game Boy Advance), however, that title wasn’t fully appreciated due to the requirement of 4 people needing a console, a copy of the game and Game Boy Advance link cable. Thankfully in today’s modern world of internet and wireless connections, there’s more chance of players being able to make use of the multiplayer functionality.
One of Tri-Force Heroes best features is the ability of playing the game locally (which means in the same room) with two other friends, even if they don’t own a copy of the game. Don’t ask me how the technology works, but the official title is something called ‘Download Play’. Provided that one of you has a copy of Tri-Force Heroes, and two players are in the same room with a 3DS, they can take part in the 3 player mode. Please note though that you do need all three players in order to use this feature, as it will not work with only two of you. Also, if you’re struggling to find friends close by, you can revert to playing multiplayer online. But don’t worry parents, Nintendo has chosen not to include a voice-chat system, so you’re left with simple command pics on the bottom screen, which should help others understand what you are asking them to do.
Compared to the usual epic adventures of Zelda games, the plot and level structure of Tri-Force Heroes is something that closely resembles a Super Mario game. There’s a main villain who upsets the royal family of Hytopia (ridiculous name if you ask me) by cursing the Princess with a horrible fashion sense. You the player, who resembles Link but isn’t, is tasked by the kingdom of putting an end to this curse. In order to do this you and two others must fight and puzzle-solve your way through different worlds, each broken up into three dungeon like levels followed by a boss fight. Some Zelda enthusiasts out there are probably upset by this format, however, for kids it suits their short attention spans and for me it complements my very short bus commute to work.
At the beginning of each level the three players can choose a weapon, which will help them in defeating enemies and solving puzzles. At first you can only get your hands on a bow and arrow, however, the further you progress and unlock special outfits, the better the weapon you have access to. It was such a joy when I got my first new outfit, the Big Bomb outfit, as I was able to blow up multiple enemies with a bomberman style device. Aside from the usual sword swipes and firing of arrows to hit switches, the new totem pole feature takes centre stage in order to make use of the forced three player mechanic. The characters can jump on each others shoulders in order to reach those hard to get to places. Don’t be like me though and get stuck on the first totem puzzle!
I’ve heard some people in the gaming world criticise playing the main campaign on your own, which is complete and utter nonsense. Yes the creators intended for you to play with two other people, however, finding two friends with a 3DS in the room or going online to play with strangers doesn’t appeal to me. I’m still getting the same enjoyment from the game by myself and there’s an extra challenge in having to cart two lifeless dolls around with you. You see when you decide to take on single player mode, you get given two wooden dolls to accompany you. The bottom screen of your 3DS allows you to then switch between the three characters with a simple touch, rather than displaying the normal command pics for multiplayer.
Lastly, as an added extra there’s a battle mode, which has you square off against other players on or offline. This can be very fun for those who have the outfit outfits, as this invariably means they will have the better weapons to destroy you with. I’m told though that this is better played with two other friends in the same room, however, if they remain your friend afterwards (even if you are blood related and share the same house) remains to be seen.
Tri-Force Heroes is an excellent handheld game for the 3DS and a great addition to the Zelda franchise. It definitely succeeds as a multiplayer game and isn’t that bad as a bite sized single player campaign. Nintendo have again given us something that has brilliant level design that makes very good use of player abilities in order to solve puzzles. It also looks great and really pops when the 3D mode is turned on. This might have a better home with families who have lots of kids who own multiple 3DS’s.
The game is available now to buy from most retailers at around £30.00 and on the Nintendo eShop for download. The game has a PEGI 7 rating.