A new Legend of Zelda adventure for 3DS
Nintendo’s acclaimed action-adventure series, The Legend of Zelda, is back in a new, fun-filled multiplayer incarnation available exclusively on Nintendo 3DS. With The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, you can pair up with two other players and explore the vast dungeons of the Drablands, completing puzzles together and uniting to defeat powerful bosses.
Tri Force Heroes is the second original game in the series to land on Nintendo 3DS, following 2013’s phenomenal A Link Between Worlds. While Tri Force Heroes shares a similar visual style to its predecessor, the core game structure and gameplay in this new title are dramatically different. Gone is the traditional vast open-world to explore, and in its place is a more compact experience focusing on a collection of multiplayer challenge dungeons to complete.
A wicked curse comes to the kingdom of Hytopia
The game opens in Hytopia, a quaint, fashion-forward village ruled over by King Tuft and his beautiful daughter, Princess Styla. Just prior to the events of the game, an evil witch named Lady Maud, who’s jealousy of Styla’s unbearably cute fashion sense has boiled over, places a curse on the princess, condemning her to wear a horribly ugly, irremovable jumpsuit.
In response, King Tuft issues an open call for adventurers with pointy ears, long sideburns, and side-parted hair―all traits of the fabled Tri Force Heroes―to enter the Drablands, find the witch, and lift the evil fashion curse. Not one, or two, but three heroic Links come forward (all matching, of course, the King’s peculiar description) and together they unite to take on the Drablands’ dungeons.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo EPD, Grezzo
Release Date: October 23, 2015
Genre: Co-operative Action-adventure
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Further cementing our three Links as the legendary Tri Force Heroes, just like the Hytopian prophecy foretold, they possess the distinctive ability to hop on each other’s shoulders to form a human totem. This crucial stacking maneuver is the foundation for nearly all puzzles and combat found in the Drablands dungeons. Similar to past Zelda games, in these dungeons you’ll need to trigger switches and take down enemies to progress, but this time, verticality shakes up the established formula.
Taller enemies, for instance, require you to stack Links to attack them at their level. In the same vein, puzzle switches can be positioned at heights that necessitate forming a totem in order to reach them. While stacked, you’re also able to toss Links a fair distance, useful for crossing gaps or reaching higher ground. My favourite use of the totem mechanic, however, is during dungeon boss battles, since they are presented as mini puzzles that typically involve stacking your Links to solve.
Many ways to play together
As Tri Force Heroes is built from the ground-up as a multiplayer experience, Nintendo has incorporated a few different ways to team up for the adventure. The first is Download Play, which lets up to three people play locally at same time with one copy of the game. Using this method, all three players can play through the 32 included dungeons, but those who don’t have the game will have a few limitations, including a smaller selection of outfits to wear, no access to the competitive multiplayer coliseum, and the inability to take photos to share on Miiverse. If all three players do own the game, you can initiate a Local Play game with full access to all the game’s content. Finally, you can also go online to join a multiplayer game, playing with either your friends on your list, or “Unknown Heroes,” Nintendo’s roundabout way of saying strangers.
Multiplayer is, in short, exceptionally fun. At the beginning of each Drablands dungeon, each player will have to choose one of three items needed to complete the dungeon’s puzzles, including series mainstays like the bomb, boomerang, bow, and gripshot. Your team will need to use these items, often in tandem and in very novel ways, to complete a series of challenges before ultimately facing the dungeon’s final boss. If you can get friends together to play in the same room that’s the best method, since you can easily communicate to work out puzzles and combine strategies. There’s no voice chat option when playing over the internet, so you have to communicate via the 8 different emotes on the touchscreen, ranging from a Link yelling “Over here!” to an image of three Links forming a totem. Occasionally the lack of voice chat resulted in awkward moments where one player would be communicating through emotes, yet the solution was still not very clear, but for the most part online multiplayer was smooth and entertaining.
Single-player is also an option using the game’s “doppel” system that lets you control one Link at a time, with the other two Links becoming stationary, lifeless statues. Conveniently, switching between your three Links is as simple as tapping their portrait on the touchscreen to assume control. While it’s good to see a single-player mode included (as not everyone has access to the internet, or may prefer to play alone) there are number of problems you’ll encounter when going solo.
To begin with, since puzzles were designed with multiplayer in mind, many of them demand the use the two, or all three of your Links at nearly the same time—a feat that is extremely difficult and cumbersome to achieve alone. Tasks which are easily accomplished with a group, such as hitting multiple switches at the same time to unlock a door, suddenly become tedious and challenging when you need to manually switch characters and hit targets one by one. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, fighting bosses alone can be a battle of frustration. Take for example Moldorm, a snake-like boss in the Fire Temple that aggressively pursues one Link and is highly vulnerable at the tail. In multiplayer, the strategy is straightforward: one Link distracts the Moldorm while the other two concentrate on damaging the tail; by comparison, in single player it’s near impossible to sidetrack the Moldorm since it will always chase whichever Link you’re currently controlling. Considering how incredibly fun the multiplayer experience is, Tri Force Heroes gives you very little reason to take this journey alone.
Dress up time
To assist your journey through the Drablands dungeons, Hytopia has a rather eccentric local tailor, named Madame Couture, who can create magic-infused costumes containing special properties. These uniforms will amplify a weapon, or give you a brand new ability, both of which can assist you greatly in the depths of dungeons. The legendary dress, for instance, will allow you to uncover more hearts to survive longer, while the Goron Garb enables Link to swim through lava or pass through fire unharmed. In order to craft new outfits, you’ll need to hand Madame Couture specific materials that you’ll find in deepest parts of each dungeon. It’s a rewarding power-up system that can open up new strategies to complete levels, but it can also mean redoing dungeons for more material-gathering.
Replaying dungeons may sound tiresome, but taking on a “Drabalands Challenges” can liven the experience up. After completing a dungeon, four Drablands Challenges will become available, each of which mix up the gameplay in one way or another. Examples include adding balloons to each dungeon level that you need to pop, removing your sword and giving you bombs, or adding a devilish Wallmaster (basically, a giant hand) that can reach down and snatch your heroes. The rewards you find in Drablands Challenges are often more tantalizing and used to craft some of the game’s most powerful outfits.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a superb, unique multiplayer addition to the Zelda franchise for Nintendo 3DS. When playing locally with friends, or online with other players, the game realizes its full potential with excellently-designed dungeons requiring coordinated teamwork. Playing alone is a different story though, as puzzles are much more difficult to complete, and having to lug around three characters is a drag. With that said, if you love the Zelda series and have a multiplayer itch, this is definitely the game for you.
+ Working together as a team is a lot of fun
+ Charming presentation: great graphics, catchy music
+ Outfits add unique new ways to play
+ Drablands Challenges give you a reason to go back
– Single-player experience is lacking
– With no open-world, exploration is minimal
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall Rating 3.75/5 (75%)