Written by: J.H. Longman
“It’s not a Zelda game!” Most would cry, but I’m sorry Tri Force Heroes really is a Zelda game, one that is fully deserving of its placement in the series, also Nintendo did say earlier on in the year that they do have plans and new directions that they would like to see the handheld Zelda franchise go in and this game is just one of the first things they really wanted to try. As for the totem mechanic, yes is considered strange and multiplayer is a little odd but in a very recent interview, Hiromasa Shikata and Eiji Aonuma answered why the totem was implement, as well as answering the questions we’ve all been asking and you know what, the game really does hold up, so let’s talk about that puzzle solving, co-op Zelda game we are all loving and hating right now.
The story begins with Princess Styla, the most stylish of all and loved by everyone, except for the Drablands Witch, Lady Maud. One fateful day, something terrible was afoot in this fashion forward kingdom. Princess Styla received an unmarked gift that would change her life forever, one that would curse her with the most terrible fashion to ever befall the lands of Hytopia. In such distrust that even her father is deeply saddened by this, the Witch hunt is on as a brigade is formed and everyone who possesses the three traits the Totem Heroes possessed, pointed ears, thick side burns and a side parting, traits the Link we know and love does possess. Suffice to say, it’s not that long before he finds himself a new recruit in the brigade and is given the materials he needs to give to Madame Couture so he can don the Hero’s tunic and report for duty. Our time in the Drablands has begun.
As far as stories go, especially in the world of Zelda, this is probably the worst, but then again it is completely different to what Link has ever had to go up against, sure there’s a princess who is in need of saving, but there is no ultimate evil wanting to destroy everything. This game was exactly what Nintendo wanted it to be, a humoured light-hearted tale that is more about working together than having the standard Zelda type adventure as the dungeon system in that would never in a million years work here, so the stages and course layouts we are presented with, are exactly the very thing Tri Force Heroes needed. And as far as handhelds go, with the exception of the 3D versions of Majora’s Mask (2015) and Ocarina of Time (2011), handheld Zelda games have always been fluffy, humourous and softer to their full on graphics and mesmerizing titles that home console gets.
There are many ways you can play this game, be it online play where you can play with friends, or unknown heroes and work together to solve the puzzles of 32 overall stages the game possesses. There is local play, which for me as a gamer who loves to play with friends, is all about, but local play is I’ll admit very troublesome, sure solving puzzles would be easier because you are all together and usually in vocal range, but local play is not without its difficulties, more than online play, which is my preferred method of co-op. That being said you can go it alone, with two doppels, which you can switch between at any time to solve all of the puzzles by yourself. Yes it is harder to play through the levels like this and longer, but it is more than possible and quite frankly, a refreshing way to play after a bad few hours online when you find yourself teamed with either players who refuse to understand the puzzle you’re faced with, or bullies who just want to pick you up and throw you back and forth to one another. I know this happens for a fact because I yesterday when in the middle of a boss battle, my team mates thought it was much more fun to play with me instead and we mustn’t forget about the coliseum now either, the game mode where we can fight it out with our friends or unknown heroes and fight for your life in the hopes of being the victor and collecting not just a cash prize, but also a clothing item that will come most in handy.
And now we shall mention the costumes, my God the costumes, a lot of people are losing their minds over this but you know what, it works. Collecting things has been a great part of Zelda games, poes in Twilight, bugs in Twilight and Skyward, along with all manner of items. Pieces for your train and boat in Spirit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass, the list goes on and on and for a game that is meant to be played and enjoyed as a three player, (reasons why to be explained shortly) it just wouldn’t feel right if there wasn’t something to collect, so being in a fashion orientated kingdom, clothing materials were the logical choice and in a way, it’s like bragging rights as well, if you’re playing with a character who is wearing the garb of the Zora or Goron, than you already know that they are quite a few hours into the game ahead of you.
One feature that I really like in the game is the item system and how each player could all either wind up with the same items, or complete different ones, forcing them all to work together to complete the puzzles and admitted by Nintendo, there was a range of items they would have loved to use, but due to the gaming mechanics and state of play, not every item would work, which is why some of those items were made into special powers for a few of the costumes. Although there is one thing I like more than the weapons and it’s the dialogue boxes on the bottom screen, your means of communication with your fellow players.
It reminds me of the emojis almost everyone I know, uses in their messages, their tweets and texts. Some days I’ve had entire messages using emojis instead of actual words, so for me the form of communication is pretty freaking perfect and in a recent interview, Shikata said they went down this route because when they saw members of their development team playing the game together, there was one player who knew the ins and outs of the game and another player who didn’t, so the know-it-all spent most of the session telling the other one what to do and he obeyed him through-out. Having watched this, Shikata thought it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t what they wanted the game to be like and so, out came the Zelda emojis and it is doing wonders for the game. Would have been great to have an I’m sorry one for when accidents happen but it’s all good and there really is nothing quite like completing a challenging level with players you will most likely never meet in life and all three of you get your pom-poms out and celebrate.
Now yes there are just 8 stages, made up by 32 levels, but there is replay value in the form of challenges that are able to be unlocked on each level, challenges such as popping all balloons, completing the level with half the amount of lives and even completing the level without using yours sword, but this one is easy. Instead of you worrying about accidentally swinging your sword, you don’t even have a sword just the item you collected, leaving you a swordless and shieldless Link, after all, Link doesn’t even possess a shield in this game, but it does have a blue birdie and the Black gh, gh, gh, gho, gho, ghost! Sorry about that, too many years of Scooby snacks and Scooby Doo cartoons.
As for the whole “where’s Purple?” well like Nintendo said, he’s taking a break. Nintendo tried the totem with four players, but it just didn’t work out, it takes the players further up off the ground on the screen, but it also meant with four, there isn’t one player standing idle in the middle of the totem, but two. Also if a team of four like in Minish Cap, then the players would more likely split into teams of two and go their own ways, whereas with teams of three, if one little piggy wanders away from the pack, the other two are more likely to try and find their missing partner and vice versa. The lone Link would wonder where the others are and would feel more obligated to hunt down his companions and stay with them, as opposed to traversing the dungeons all on their own, which is impossible, because even in solo play, you still need two doppels to help you solve the puzzles and stand on the Triforce.
And now, before final judgement can be given and the panel of fashionistas pass judgement, it is time to break this game down with a list of Pros and Cons.
-It is an inventive co-operative puzzle solver.
-It is a game you can enjoy with friends, online gamers and by yourself.
-It continues to have the same humour and playfulness all portable Zelda titles possess, except due to the theme of the game, the humour and playfulness isn’t as limited as it would be in their more heartfelt and serious Zelda games.
-The “system” for beating the bosses and overall layout to each level is rather clever and the music that accompanies you is undoubtedly Zelda.
-You get to see Link dress up as a cheerleader, yes many around the world are furious about this, even more furious about the fact you can actually make Link dress up as Princess Zelda as herself, but come on, Goron and Zora Link is just adorable.
-For what it’s worth and what it offers, the fresh perspective styled gaming to Zelda that are used to, as it does possess most of the same elements, such as the questing, collecting, a land threatened, the music through-out and enemies we know and love, it’s just got a different way of doing things and in all honesty that isn’t a bad thing. Because the game has a childish element to it, kids much younger than the normal young Zelda players can get into the game and more importantly, into the series.
-The online play option is a godsend for those who want to play with others, but happen to live in an area, such as a small village on the coast, where pretty much Club Nintendo is you and just a couple of others and you’re the only one with a handheld.
-The story is a let-down, it honestly could have been a hell of a lot better, but it is what it is. So if you want to give the game a miss because of that, or because of its new style, entirely down to you. Sometimes you’ve just got to give a game a try, after all not everyone liked the idea of Hyrule Warriors when it was announced, but, in time almost all of us fell in love with it.
-The internet lagging and glitches can be a complete nightmare, especially when you lose connection altogether and removed from the level, booting all of you out, which bites the big one when you just beat the final boss and was waiting for Red to step onto the Triforce, but at least you get symphony rupees for your early departure. Sure being able to finish the level would have been better, or being rewarded a clothing item that is of use to you.
-Although the dungeons and stages work great in their own right, there is a reason why Nintendo have been going for 29 years and the style of this game to the others can be considered to be drastic and off putting, but then again, after all that time, sometimes you have got to add a little change to the system.
-Local play is only well and good if you have friends who are local to play, meaning if you are a completionist, you won’t be able to get every costume. In order to get friendly tokens, you have to play with friends in local play, or play the download play option, which means you’ll just have to go without wearing the Timeless Tunic and the Tri Suit.
-If this game wasn’t an official canon Zelda title, it would get a whole lot less hate and may even have been failed for its creativity, but because it was done as a Zelda game, an official one at that, people are more sceptical on it and compare it to the others. In a way the game was set up to be the object of hate, which is nothing new as the hate for Spirit Tracks continues to shower at times.
And that my friends shall do, for it is time to give this all new, non-conventional Zelda adventure its score and first Miketendo64 3DS rating and the score is, out of a full 10.0, a well-deserved 8.8/10.0 pointy-eared Links. However that rating is merely a standard game one, it is time to see how it fairs on the old Zelda rating chart and it comes in at 7.3/10.0 a drastic drop, but not at all unexpected. I’m new to 3DS gaming and yes there are quite a few great games that you simply must own and out of the top ten, this one may just scrape it in and compared to the other Zelda titles you can get, this probably falls at the bottom of the pile, but it is worth the money you pay for it and a good game to have that you can pick up and leave whenever and there are a lot worse games out there. So whether you choose to take the risk or not, for those of you who don’t, you are missing out on something we’re not quite used to seeing and that is a shame and those of you who did pick up a copy, make sure to let us know what you think of it. You never know, we might just see each other in the battlefield and together we will save the Princess from her terrible curse.
But as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of my own and it is encouraged for you to make your own.