The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes came out more than half a year ago, but I was holding off playing it until some of my local gamer friends got it. They still haven't so in the end I just got it anyway and tried out the random matchmaking and the solo mode.
I had enjoyed the solo mode of the DSiWare remake of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, although the game got very repetitive. This game has a similar feel overall, although since it uses the Link Between Worlds game engine it inherently feels a little more fresh. The main new mechanic is "toteming" which is where you stack the three Links on top of each other. This is pretty fun, although not new enough to build a whole game around it, and even with the 3D slider up and some of the visual cues, at times it can be difficult to tell how tall some of the enemies, platforms, etc. are.
There are also a couple of new items, which is always welcome, although one is pretty much the same as a previously seen item. The levels "get the job done", but they often reuse ideas from the Four Swords games. The variety of the gameplay comes from the items, which vary depending on which stage you're in, and the costumes. You can get costumes made by collecting certain treasures from each level (one awarded after each level completed), and they give bonuses that vary in usefulness (an extra heart container, no slipping on ice, power up bombs, etc.). The costumes are a lot of fun visually, and they add just enough of a benefit and change to the gameplay that they feel central to the game experience.
As is Nintendo's MO, Tri Force Heroes doesn't include voice chat, and instead you use icons to communicate. The icons are fun and well-chosen, and in many cases you can figure out what someone is trying to tell you through this limited communication mechanism. Although I gave anonymous matchups online a try, most of the time playing with strangers was a huge pain and completely not worth it. Basically the majority of the people I was matched with were idiots who would either not know how the items worked and/or charge into enemies and kill the whole team off (since all three players share hearts). :p In reality these people are probably actually 8 years old or something and Zelda n00bs, so I shouldn't judge them too harshly. On the couple of occasions I was matched with two people who actually did know what they were doing, everything worked flawlessly and we got through the levels extremely efficiently. In those cases the fun of the game actually comes through, and if I had gotten to play with people like that the whole time my impression of the game would no doubt be much higher.
I gave up on anonymous groups pretty quickly, but fortunately the single player mode works pretty well. In Four Swords you were able to set the four Links into predetermined configurations (horizontal line, vertical line, etc.) and you could control them one at a time, but in this game you only can control the three Links one at a time and switch between them. This actually works pretty well, and in some situations it felt like it would actually be easier to get through sections by yourself than trying to coordinate amongst three people, even if you were in the same room and could voice chat. The downside is that getting through the level is much slower playing solo since you have to do everything linearly instead of being able to accomplish some tasks in parallel. Also, in the more action-oriented sections, including boss fights, the delay in switching between Links messes up some of the timing and makes things more difficult than they should be, which can be very frustrating. The game includes a skip function where you can sacrifice a continue and better rewards to skip a subsection of a level, which is definitely useful.
The game includes a fair amount of filler, most of which feels like filler. There's a Coliseum where you can challenge one or two other players and you can pick your costume and from a post-release update a "Den of Trials", but both of these seemed fairly pointless. There are also three challenges for every stage, with requirements such as not using your sword, not falling, etc. This also seemed fairly pointless, and the timed challenges in particular seem like they'd be pretty near impossible playing solo. The one feature that is worthwhile is the single-card download play. This is a great feature, although of course the other two players won't get to keep a record of the stages they've beaten. The story is pretty nonexistent, and the single town is very barebones. It feels like they had thought about including a photo challenge sidequest which would've added to the replayability.
All in all this was a decent game, and probably my favorite multiplayer in the series thus far, although that's not saying much. Nintendo has really been pushing multiplayer lately, and I'm a little concerned about how much fun the next Metroid game (Federation Force) is going to be. If my friends ever do get around to getting the game I'll be happy to dive in to some more of the challenges to get the rest of the costumes, but overall this is definitely on the average side for the series as a whole.
Try out these The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes links:
- Official site
- Page on Miiverse. There was also an art contest for the game on Miiverse.
- Review on NintendoLife
- E3 2015 reveal trailer
- Entry at zeldawiki.org
- Entry at Wikipedia
- Entry at Metacritic