2015 E3 Hands-on Preview: The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

Do three Links provide triple the fun?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/23/2015 07:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is one of the most underrated Zelda games ever made. Released on GameCube, Four Swords Adventures was notoriously quirky, jettisoning the Zelda series’ signature open world exploration for a linear quest broken into stages, instead. The title marked the first time a Zelda game had ever gone multiplayer, as well, with up to four people able to play at once using four Game Boy Advance systems and special GameCube link cables. Though the gameplay was fun and unique, the setup to play was cumbersome, and along with GameCube itself having a smaller install base than its contemporaries, Four Swords Adventures suffered from a lack of sales. Those fans who were fortunate enough to play the game have been clamoring for a return to that title’s gameplay for a while now, particularly once Wii U arrived with the GamePad and its second screen. The new controller seemed a perfect match for Four Swords Adventures‘ play mechanics, but as is often the case with Nintendo, it seemed like little more than a pipe dream.

During this year’s Nintendo Digital Event, fans were shocked to discover that the company was finally ready to return to the multiplayer style of Four Swords Adventures, but not on the system they were expecting. This coming fall 3DS will be home to The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, a game that will support up to three adventurers at once. There are local and online multiplayer modes, with the game allowing either solo play (where Link is flanked by two paper dolls in lieu of human allies) or three players at once (two player is limited to a competitive mode, but not allowed for dungeon co-op). Three seemed like a strange number to me when I saw it during Nintendo’s E3 broadcast, I guess mainly because the previous multiplayer Zelda games have featured four player action. The game’s producer Eiji Aonuma and director Hiromasa Shikata have stated that four players when stacked (more on that in a bit) was simply too high, thus the smaller team to work with, but whether it’s one, two, or a dozen Links, Tri Force Heroes left me beyond impressed after I finished my demo.

I played the demo along with three other E3 attendees, with our objective being to make it through a dungeon. If there’s one thing that immediately separates Tri Force Heroes from Four Swords Adventures it’s the emphasis on cooperation over competition. Four Swords Adventures was as much about players working together as it was facilitating playful mischief. Entire matches of Four Swords Adventures could quickly deteriorate into frenzied attempts at sabotage (usually involving throwing defenseless players into pits). Tri Force Heroes at its core is about getting players to work together. As shown off in the trailer, stacking is a big part of the puzzle-solving action in this game. Players form what are essentially Link totem poles, which can be used offensively to tackle enemies or reach out of the way switches. In a way, I’m glad that this isn’t a mere rehash of Four Swords Adventures‘ style of play, as the verticality of the puzzles and action was a refreshing change of pace. It also feels like a solid fit for a handheld, especially 3DS with its glasses-free 3D effect.

There’s no voice chat in Tri Force Heroes, but Nintendo has done its best to accommodate for that issue with a number of verbal prompts that can be cued up to help direct teammates. How smoothly this will function when not in the same room as other players has yet to be seen, however, and I can’t help but question how well working with others in a game like this will be if everything is dependent on these limited dialogue choices. That said, the dungeon I sampled was classic Zelda in the sense that seeing how to progress was never obtuse. Anyone familiar with a Zelda game (and even those who aren’t) can scan the environment for visual cues for what to do next, and they’re just as effective now as they were decades ago. Any strategies that players will need to form to progress from point A to B should be easy enough for the game’s voiceless communication workaround to handle. Hopefully. No guarantees on that, but if anyone can make it work, it’s Nintendo.

Gameplay appears to be running off of the same engine as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, which provided a rock solid experience for that game and should do the same for Tri Force Heroes. At this point in development the dungeon I sampled looked good, if not great, but I’m willing to reserve judgment until we get closer to the final release date. What’s there is bright and cheerful, and I really like the new look for the Links. The colored hair is quite the departure for our hero, and coupled with the oddball fashion angle of the game, from its setting to the outfits that Link will wear, Tri Force Heroes is one of the most lighthearted entries in the series to date. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sample Link’s wardrobe switching, but the concept is intriguing, and I’m sure Nintendo will surprise us with many of the different outfits that will be available. Tri Force Heroes will be on shelves fairly soon (seriously, once the fourth of July hits Christmas is basically around the corner), and we’ll keep you posted on what appears to be shaping up to be a can’t-miss game.

One Response to “2015 E3 Hands-on Preview: The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

  • 745 points
    OG75 says...

    Ocarina of Time 3D = Special edition 3DS (Black 25th Anniversary edtion.)

    A Link Between Worlds = Special edition 3DS XL (Gold & Black Tri-Forces)

    Majora’s Mask 3D = Special edition New 3DS XL (Pretty cool and ultra rare.)

    I wonder if Tri-Force Heroes will keep the tradition alive? Perhaps NOA will bring the standard sized New 3DS stateside via a special edition. Maybe one of the “special SKUs” Reggie just hinted about. One could hope.

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