The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Albert Lichi 30.10.2015 7

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on Nintendo 3DS

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is the second non-remake 3DS Zelda game after The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. While A Link Between Worlds was vaguely a sequel, or possibly a reimagining of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Tri Force Heroes is an all-new game set in the fresh locale called Hytopia. Much like the Four Swords adventures, this aims to make a co-operative action adventure while abiding by the many conventions found in the series as a whole. Do all these ideas work together to make another successful entry in this long and beloved RPG, or do they fight each other and bungle the elements?

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a lot like doing karaoke. Sure, it can be done alone, but what is the point of that? It is very clearly built for playing with other people. Pretty much every part is centered on relying on partners to progress, and is so utterly focused on working together that the single-player mode seems ultimately frivolous and is damaged as a result.

Playing alone requires constant swapping of the various Links, which will usually require getting them to stack upon one another, using their tools in tandem to negotiate each room of a dungeon. Unlike past Zelda entries, only one object can be held and each dungeon will only carry three tools that have to be shared between the Links. The tools are mostly classic mainstays, like the bombs, boomerangs, hook-shot, and a few of the newer items, like the wind vase from Skyward Sword. Doing this alone is a real chore because the constant switching of characters is slow and actually can drag the pace to a complete halt.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on Nintendo 3DS

This also has a profound impact on the dynamics and how puzzles are solved, for instance, what took mere seconds in a team of friends or humans, will take minutes in solo thanks to having to arrange the lifeless doppelgangers into position. There are some sequences that are a true test of patience since it becomes painfully obvious that this was obviously not designed to be played alone. It gets so bad that the development team even acknowledges this by implementing a skip sequence button as if it knew it wouldn't be enjoyable this way. Even playing online is not a fair enough substitute, since the lag can be so bad it is sometimes impossible to move Link anywhere, and the best option is to just manually reset the 3DS unit completely. In fact, even when the online is stable, it has a pretty terrible input lag that will make some of the dungeons impossible and will result in a premature and unearned death.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on Nintendo 3DS

On the other hand, should there be friends nearby who are also playing Tri Force Heroes, it can be quite agreeable. This is a Zelda that is centred mostly on puzzles and using teamwork to overcome obstacles. In the much later dungeons, where the tools get more exclusive, each Link will have to serve a specified role, which creates a very interesting dynamic between the three players. It is the costumes, of course, that are crucial for each user to bring into each session.

Other than the emphasis on multiplayer, Tri Force Heroes has a major gimmick in the form of costumes that can be crafted from drops earned at the end of dungeons. There are other means of acquiring some of these drops, like the chest mini-game that can be played once a day, or simply buying one for rupees. There is one major issue with all this, though, and while the idea of making costumes with added perks is great, sadly some of them might not ever be obtainable as they require "Friendly Tokens." These can only be acquired through local co-operative or download-play, and unless there are many people around who have a 3DS, or are willing to get this game, there just won't be any way to ever fully enjoy all the aspects within. It can often feel like a slap in the face when a game arbitrarily locks out content behind walls like this, and it especially stings in a Zelda title that is founded on adventuring. Now it doesn't matter how dedicated a player is anymore, just how many people around them own the required hardware/software.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on Nintendo 3DS

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes boasts more dungeons than any other Zelda before it, yet has no overworld to explore, as a trade off. Even though there are well over 30 dungeons, all of them are quite small and can be beaten in about 20-30 minutes. The structure is almost like Monster Hunter, in some regards, since Link can't leave town and is only transported to dungeons, accompanied by the very long grind for materials that are earned at the end of a basic game cycle.

The hours can pile up doing many of the same things over and over again, and even with local friends it does have diminished returns and gets dull quickly. Many Zelda fans may be disappointed with Tri Force Heroes since it is not fun to play solo and requires others to get the most out of. The online play is dodgy, at best, and the over reliance on local play for the Friendly Tokens is a gross miscalculation by Nintendo and Grezzo (headed up by Koichi Ishii of Secret of Mana fame). Along with a very questionable localisation for the US release, this is hard to recommend to those who want an actual Zelda adventure. Anyone who is interested in a co-operative puzzle-action romp, however, will likely be satisfied.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a disappointing entry in the long-running series. It looks great, and sounds great, and it is even incredibly fluid (so long as the online mode isn't played), plus has some well designed puzzles and boss fights. The wide variety of costumes that have their perks is a very Zelda-like idea and works out fine, but having some permanently stuck behind the friend token barrier will put many off. The best way to play this is with others locally, since online compromises the smoothness and solo just is not the way the game was designed to be played. When it works, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes can be fun. They say clothes make the man - in Tri Force Heroes's case, it is only dressed for gatherings and not for adventuring alone.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Adventure

Players

3

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

I've played the entire game with two friends and lag has been minimal, only twice in a row one day was it unbearable and was followed by disconnect. 99% of the time, it played just as fluid as offline.

I think you're exaggerating the Friendly Token situation, because only two out of 36 outfits require them and one of them has no practical use, it just changes the music. I also strongly dislike them as a completionist and Nintendo really have to implement another way to earn them but to say it has an impact on the regular game for many feels like a stretch.

This game is very much unlike Four Swords Adventures, because that game has been designed as a free-for-all adventure where you occasionally team up to do something. In this case, the game simply wasn't designed with a single-player mode in mind and they didn't put any thought into it to make it more bearable. Why can't your doppels wear outfits? That alone is a huge handicap for the solo player. Why is there no command to make them follow you, or even formations from Four Swords Adventures? It's the lack of these little things that show that they tacked on the single-player mode just so the option is there.

It's fairly likely that this game will receive DLC in the future, since the structure suits extra content being added. If that happens, I really hope that Nintendo will make some adjustments to single-player, because right now that's a tedious and frustrating experience. I'd rather pick up and play Four Swords Adventures again, because that game was still awesome on your own.

Doesn't matter matter if it was one outfit. It is not fair for the customer to lock out content this way.

Whilst I somewhat agree with the Friendly Tokens debacle, I wouldn't say it was a deal breaker. I played through this with a couple of friends and we all had a bunch of fun.

However, the single player is absolutely awful, to say the least. Most of the puzzles require players to work together, doing so with the doppels is not only tedious, but also creates artificial difficulty which really isn't necessary.

A lot of those Bonus Challenges will be almost impossible in the single player mode, if Nintendo doesn't  optimise a few things.

Along with a very questionable localisation for the US release, this is hard to recommend to those who want an actual Zelda adventure. Anyone who is interested in a co-operative puzzle-action romp, however, will likely be satisfied.

Amongst all the fashion-related puns and down right wacky characters, are doge memes really all that out of place? I have the European version, so I don't know what other stuff is in the US release, but it doesn't sound like something I'd kick up a stink about.

Also, Nintendo never implied that this would be an "actual Zelda adventure". It was introduced as a cooperative title in the Zelda series and it does exactly what it says on the tin. I really don't get the people who expected any different, when Nintendo's intentions were always clear.

In short, it's no Zelda U and it's not going to hold me off until the next big Zelda adventure. However, it is a fun little title that can be enjoyed if you have a couple of friends to play through it with. Be it local or online.

( Edited 31.10.2015 13:30 by Mush )

My main issue with this and the way it turned out is that they shouldn't have even bothered to put a single player mode at all if the game was so centered multi play. A risky move yes- but then there won't people who bought it thinking they could expect an enjoyable single player experience. 

 

One thing I can't stand in a game is dated memes. There is nothing more uncreative or irritating a localization team can insert into a game.

Insanoflex said:
My main issue with this and the way it turned out is that they shouldn't have even bothered to put a single player mode at all if the game was so centered multi play. A risky move yes- but then there won't people who bought it thinking they could expect an enjoyable single player experience. 
 

Yeah, I agree with that. The only problem there would be that it'd cause a bunch of people to complain, so Nintendo really can't win. Either way, the single player has potential, they just need to make it more like the single player in Four Swords Anniversary, where it actually worked.

Bit of a shame about this, but my interest waned as it got closer to release. Didn't seem as appealing knowing single-player was naff, but maybe it'll be worth a cheap pick-up if I can be arsed with multiplayer some time.

Insanoflex said:
One thing I can't stand in a game is dated memes. There is nothing more uncreative or irritating a localization team can insert into a game.

Agreed. Does sound like a total waste of money having two separate English localisations, but this makes me thankful for it.

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