RR-sama Review - The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
If you have been following my latest Rewind Review series, then you should know by now that Nintendo has had a difficult time making multiplayer games for The Legend of Zelda. Four Swords was a wallet nightmare that was hardly worth the payoff, and Four Swords Adventures was passable at best. Nevertheless, Nintendo has decided to give the green light to the multiplayer Legend of Zelda spinoffs with another main series title: The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes.
With nightmares of simplified dungeon layouts, broken budgets, and misuses of system capabilities still fresh in my mind, I was tempted to skip over this title. However, my dedication to completing all Legend of Zelda titles pushed me to pick up a copy of Tri Force Heroes despite my better judgement.
I regret nothing, and was pleasantly surprised. Here's why...
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes has surprisingly little to do with the Triforce, Zelda, or a legend. In fact, this might be the only main series Legend of Zelda title to not mention any of these items at all.
In Tri Force Heroes, Link has traveled to the distant kingdom of Hytopia following the events of A Link Between Worlds. In this new kingdom fashion is life, and looking to destroy this way of life is the Drablands Witch - otherwise known simply as The Lady. The Lady has cursed King Tuft's daughter, Princess Styla, to forever be stuck wearing a black skin-tight suit for the rest of her days. This has caused the land of Hytopia to fall into a state of mass paranoia where everyone is afraid of being stylish, fearing that doing so would evoke the Drablands Witch's wrath.
When Link arrives in Hytopia he finds a sign stating that the King is looking for three heroes to venture into the Drablands to remove the curse placed upon Princess Styla. According to a prophecy, three heroes can only enter the Drablands to break the curse on Hytopia if they have pointy ears, sideburns, and side-parted hair, and the ability to form a totem. It is only when these three heroes come together that Hytopia can be "blessed with everlasting peace and style."
Links have come to town, to save the Princess Styla! The Lady took her looks away, and now the onesie will stay... But they will, once Links come to save the day! HOORAY!
The plot is truly on the sillier side when it comes to Legend of Zelda titles - and possibly the silliest yet - but it is nevertheless enjoyable. The humor is similar to that found in Nintendo's Mario & Luigi series, and as such it is easy to forgive this almost self-parodying Legend of Zelda story. Just don't expect this to have anything terribly emotional, philosophical, or particularly mind-blowing.
My major complaint about Four Swords was that the game felt like "baby's first Zelda." The dungeons were simplified to compensate for casual players, and as a result there was very little originality in design. There was also the issue of most puzzles being designed as regular dungeons plus three extra players. This resulted in a game that was a poor cooperative game at its best, and a terrible Legend of Zelda game at its worst.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes does not make any of these mistakes. In fact, Tri Force Heroes is perhaps the most difficult Legend of Zelda game to date - excluding The Adventure of Link.
Each dungeon takes full advantage of each new item introduced in the game, and none of the items are used exclusively in one area. Early dungeons have only one or two items among its variety, but this quickly becomes a situation where each Link has an exclusive weapon that each player will have to carry for the rest of the dungeon. To add on to this, each dungeon is designed in a fashion reminiscent to Valve's Portal 2 in the sense that they need to work together in tandem to ensure the puzzle is completed successfully. This leads to players carefully considering who should carry each item as it becomes less about which item you enjoy the most, and more about which player is best at using it.
Careful who gets that Gust Jar! Their mistake might cost you your lives!
The difficulty of the game has been increased a great deal by having players sharing a single life bar. Whenever a player gets hit they lose 1 of 8 heart containers. These can be filled the traditional way - by collecting hearts - but the maximum never increases unless certain costumes are worn. This further increases the amount of consideration players must take when setting out for adventure as there is no all-situations costume.
Another addition to the game is challenge modes. These range from defeating monsters with certain weapons, time attack modes, and various other limitations. I must warn, however, that Tri Force Heroes is already a difficult game as is. As such, only play challenge mode if you have two equally competent friends or else you will suffer the wrath of the Drablands. In challenge mode, planning is a must!
Another problem with the previous multiplayer Legend of Zelda games was the inaccessible nature of the games. Players needed several copies of a game, multiple consoles, wires, and various other criterium in order to play a game that they would likely only play for a few minutes at a time.
Tri Force Heroes has addressed this in a number of ways. The first is the online multiplayer mode which allows players to play with random players over Nintendo's own server. This same method can be used to play with friends that you have registered on your 3DS, allowing you to play together even if you're not in the same space. These options are a great alternative for those who do not easily access 2 friends to play with.
That said, Tri Force Heroes also supports DS Download Play, as well as local multiplayer. Unlike other Download Play titles, this game allows your friends to access all dungeons in the game. The only drawback to this is the lack of ability to save progress for the downloaded games, and the host reaps only the rewards they acquire during gameplay. Regardless, it's a nice feature and can save you - and your friends - quite a bit of money.
It should also be noted that this is quite a lengthy game. With 32 dungeons, each filled with 28 different enemies, 8 minibosses, and 8 main bosses, Nintendo has not pulled anything from this game. Tri Force Heroes is certainly the definitive multiplayer Legend of Zelda experience.
The game is not without faults. A blacklist system helps players prevent trolls and undesirable players from being encountered again via online, and most functions in the game are well polished. However, the one fault of this game is one of the game's selling features: costumes.
At the end of each dungeon, players are presented with 3 chests. Only one can be opened by each player, and the item within is randomly generated. These items must be collected in order to create new costumes, and as such it can become quite the chore trying to collect that one item that you need to finish a suit.
The traveling merchant in town can provide you with many of these items, but the prices can reach into the thousands of rupees for rarer items...
Another problem with the gameplay itself is the lack of communication. While the placards available to players are useful, there's no way of properly communicating where you want that item to be used, or who should use it. Also, the totem card is just about useless for distinguishing between "I need to be on top!" and "Let's just make a totem!"
While neither of these are issues with proper dedication and local play, it can be a slight issue in online play with random players. Items are hard to find when you have to play roulette with multiple self-serving players, and cooperation is difficult when you have no idea what the other person is suggesting.
Does Red want to be on top? Do we just need to make a totem? What's going on? We may never know... unless it's local play!
I should also mention that while the game does support a single player mode, it has been executed poorly. Since the game was intended to be solely a multiplayer release, the single player has had no tweaks to make it friendlier to lonely heroes and leads to the game being nearly impossible to beat.
Much like A Link Between Worlds, Tri Force Heroes has a beautiful art style that takes full advantage of the 3DS's rendering capabilities. Each environment is colorful, well-detailed, and overall pleasing to the eyes. The art direction steals elements of both The Wind Waker's cartoon style, and A Link to the Past's exaggerated features. It is a beautiful style that can be appreciated by just about any Legend of Zelda fan.
Speaking of 'A Link to the Past', players are sure to recognize this "Faux Hero" who claims to be the true protagonist of the game!
As for the music in Tri Force Heroes, the game sports an entirely new soundtrack that borrows very little from previous titles. Earlier stages have a very flamenco-guitar inspired beat to them, while later stages have more choir style themes. The music feels fresh, upbeat, and matches the quirky nature of the game. If I had to draw a comparison for the music style, I'd draw a line to a game like Rayman: Legends.
Don't just take my word for it, have a listen!
Oh, and I should probably mention that there is also a secret mini-game in which players have to hit a ball in the lobby in order to listen to well-known Legend of Zelda themes. Here's the video if you want to give them a listen!
I was quite honestly blown away by this game. The level design is great, gameplay is solid, and the overall presentation is beautiful. The game is barely recognizable as a Legend of Zelda title beyond the superficial, and it does so in the best ways possible.
I would certainly suggest picking up this game if you know two people who can play with you, or if you don't mind playing online with random players. If you can't stand the idea of multiplayer Legend of Zelda titles, then give the game a pass - unless you want to take a shot at the extremely difficult single player mode. However, I must warn you that you would be missing out on one of the greatest Legend of Zelda titles yet.
For raising the bar of difficulty in Legend of Zelda titles, providing brand new gameplay and mechanics, as well as reigniting my hopes for future multiplayer Legend of Zelda titles, Tri Force Heroes gets a 9/10.
Have you already picked up Tri Force Heroes? What do you think of the multiplayer mechanics? Do you feel like this game has presented players with a challenge that has not been seen in a long time? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
Also, if you want to see more reviews on Legend of Zelda titles, be sure to check out my Rewind Reviews where I'll be covering every single Zelda title from the original NES game to A Link Between Worlds!