A co-operative game with three Link-a-likes.
While sitting and waiting for the next big Zelda game, Nintendo wants Zelda fans to do more than just twiddle your thumbs, and so have released the latest spin-off from the series in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on the 3DS, a co-operative puzzle adventure which brings together three players, along with their three Link look-a-likes, into a fashion-based story. Yeah, I know…
The story involves a town, a witch, a cursed Princess with bad fashion taste and a prophecy involving a hero that sounds not unlike Link. So far as stories go, Tri Force Heroes really does get a bit silly. However, the reason for all of this silliness is to tie everything together, and it does so with a distinct lack of seriousness and a nice bow on top.
Story aside, Zelda fans will feel quite at home in the setting, with a nice hub town followed by 32 levels of themed dungeon exploration and puzzle solving. The hub town gives access to a few important, and not so important, destinations, while the levels keep it short and sweet to compliment the co-op play.
And it is the co-op play that really divides the game. Tri Force Heroes can be played alone, or with two other players either locally, with download play enables, or online. How you play really does dictate how good the game is.
The best way to play Tri Force Heroes is locally, with two other players and the ability to talk, or curse, through the various puzzles and boss fights. It is here, sitting together on the sofa, that the game really shines and offers a truly impressive co-op experience.
Playing online with strangers is a bit hit or miss. When three competent players come together, the game is easily as good as playing locally. However, with no voice chat and the only means of communication being through a selection of different emoticons, things can get frustrating very quickly if one member of the group is not quite up to the task. That being said, getting the solutions across with just the emoticons really is quite satisfying. Then, of course, there are the trolls who are only playing to cause grief. These types of players can be blacklisted of sorts, but it is still not a nice experience.
Then there is playing the game solo. This is where things become much more difficult, although still possible, as the player controls all three heroes by swapping between them. When not being controlled, the other two heroes will just stand and wait, which can make some of the boss fights incredibly challenging. Playing solo is a different beast all together.
Also, players are limited to either a group of three or just one. There is no way to play with two players, so the choice is either heading online, taking on the game by yourself, or finding two friends with 3DSs and convincing them to join your adventure.
The puzzles within the dungeons get progressively harder as the game moves on, and generally consist of either using the objects that players carry in the dungeon, such as boomerangs or gust jars, or the totem mechanic. This involves stacking the characters on top of each other, to either reach a switch or be able to shoot a high up target, or to be thrown onto higher ledges to activate some pressure pad or whatever. This is a great little mechanic which requires a hefty amount of teamwork, further emphasizing the need for a decent team to play with.
Completing a world will see challenges set for the next time around. Time limits and the like will give players a good reason to replay levels for further reward, extending the game for those who like to get the most bang for their buck.
The other big deal in Tri Force Heroes is the costume selection. As players make their way through the levels, they will be rewarded with material that can be fashioned into a variety of different costumes. These costumes offer different buffs or abilities to the player, such as making them immune to fire damage, or allowing them to fire more arrows than usual. There are 30 costumes to unlock through the game, and each of them are quite distinctive and look good on the little screen.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a great game in the perfect situation. Playing locally with good friends is where this perfect situation can be found. Playing online is not ideal, but can be great fun, while playing alone really cannot be recommended. Pick it up if you have two friends with 3DSs that are willing to join you.