The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

7.8 Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10
Features: 8/10
Replayablility: 7/10

Lots to collect | Difficult challenges keep things fresh | Unique costume mechanic

Replayability fades quickly | Poor story | Need internet for the full experience

Game Info

GAME NAME: The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

DEVELOPER(S): Nintendo EPD, Grezzo

PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo

PLATFORM(S): 3DS

GENRE(S): Adventure

RELEASE DATE(S): October 23, 2015

Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series has never been one to stray too far from its series’ roots. Granted, there have been a variety of unique environments and situations, but the basic Zelda formula has remained largely unchanged these last 28-odd years. The one notable exception to this rule is the Four Swords series, which, for the first (and as of yet only) time allowed up to four players to control their own personal Link simultaneously. Enter Tri Force Heroes, a game that reintroduces the cooperative elements of the Four Swords series, combined with a series first: online game-play.

I can almost certainly say that Tri Force Heroes will not be remembered for its story, which is virtually non-existent. The fashion-centric narrative isn’t particularly off-putting, but rather uninspired. It honestly feels like it would be more at home in a Mario Bros. spin-off title. Total lack of emotional investment, character development and dramatic gravity create a story that is ultimately, and unfortunately, completely forgettable. I normally wouldn’t put so much emphasis on a weak story for a game that is so obviously driven by the game-play, but this is a Zelda title, and a well-thought-out narrative is not simply expected; it’s practically a requirement.

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As I stated above, this is a game that is driven by its game-play. Fortunately, that is an area where this title shines. Participating in mini-dungeons is a blast with people online, essentially allowing those of us who never had three friends and a link-cable back in the days of Four Swords to finally indulge in some good old co-op Zelda. There’s a certain air of deviousness about working together that adds a level of excitement. Despite working together, your ultimate goal is to further your own agenda, so you’ll often find yourselves rushing to open that lone chest first, or throwing one another out of the way to grab the purple rupee. Since everyone shares a single set of hearts, game-play favors friendliness over downright cruelty. Failing to come to your ally’s aid means you’ll all suffer, so you’ll rarely meet players who are downright immature and vindictive.

Unfortunately, since online match-ups are purely random when playing without friends, this means you’ll occasionally be matched with players who either have no idea what they’re doing, have a terrible wi-fi connection, or my personal favorite: players who quit as soon as the mission begins if the mission they wanted to play wasn’t selected. Fortunately, Nintendo was forward-thinking enough to include a blacklist feature, which allows you to identify players you never want to meet again. It’s a useful function that helps eliminate the clutter of players, allowing you more time to play with others who genuinely want to progress.

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When playing locally with friends, you’ll be able to talk to one another to coordinate and efficiently accomplish tasks. However, online play totally lacks voice chat, which will surely be a turn-off to many. The game makes up for this with icons on the bottom screen that allow the player to communicate. Tap an icon, and your two partner Links will see it displayed on their screen. It’s not always the most effective means of communication, but it usually gets the job done. It also allows the game to retain some challenge, wherein rather than having another player give you the play-by-play of what to do to finish a dungeon, you’re left with only hints. Another interesting aspect with this image-based communication system is how well it fits in a Zelda title, where the main character never speaks. Somehow this style of communicating feels so much more right in a game with a silent protagonist. It’s possible voice chat would feel out of place in the Zelda universe, although it’s hard to deny it would make the game substantially easier.

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Tri Force Heroes isn’t a particularly long game when taken at face value. There are 8 worlds with 4 stages each. Each of these stages contains a regular level and 3 challenges that task you with completing the stage in a particular way. However, to progress to the next world, you need only defeat the area’s boss. That means that, hypothetically, a player could beat the game after only 8 stages. However, playing this way will rob you of valuable materials you’ll need to create outfits, a central point of the game-play. You see, Tri Force Heroes, unlike past Zelda titles, sees Link changing outfits rather frequently. Each outfit grants Link a different power or ability that makes playing certain challenges easier. One outfit may light up an otherwise dark dungeon, while another may grant you extra heart containers (perfect for those challenges that restrict how many hearts you begin with). A smart player will utilize the appropriate outfit to make a particular stage or challenge easier to complete.

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That aside, the outfits are just plain fun to collect. In Monster Hunter-esque fashion, finishing stages earns you materials, which can in turn be turned into new outfits. The requirements are much more lenient than the aforementioned Monster Hunter though, often requiring just one of every material needed to make a garment. That same collect-and-grow-stronger mentality is definitely at work in this title though, which provides completionists and those who enjoy unlockables with plenty to strive for. The game will probably give those who want to accomplish everything a few week’s worth of good times before things start to feel a little tired and repetitive. That being said, DLC is on the way, which should provide the game with much-needed additional stages that could potentially keep Tri Force Heroes feeling fresh and new for months.

Tri Force Heroes is an eclectic mix of old and new for The Legend of Zelda series. There is a lot to love in this little game. There’s also a lot that old-time Zelda fans might find lacking. Tri Force Heroes isn’t going to be the next Wind Waker or Majora’s Mask. Rather, it’s a unique game that any Legend of Zelda fan should at least try before writing it off. It may not be as epic and awe-inspiring as other titles in the franchise, but it has an atmosphere of pure fun that makes it hard to ignore.

Summary

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Author: Lukas Termini View all posts by
An amateur game designer and lover of all things Nintendo, Lukas studied digital arts and 3d animation at the University of Tampa before graduating in 2013. If he isn't playing a video game, you can bet he's probably thinking about it.