Title: The Legend of Zelda – Tri Force Heroes
Platform: 3DS

Reviewed on: 3DS
Genre: Action Adventure, Puzzle
Players: Single player, 3 player Local & Online Co Op

Written by Whistler 22nd November 2015

Despite a lot of people telling me I’m in the minority, I’ve always felt adding multiplayer to the Zelda framework was such a fantastic idea. Despite only getting to play The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for the Gamecube a handful of times there was just something so enjoyable about exploring the lands of Hyrule with a couple of chums. Sure you would eventually put some friendships at risk as you screw over the Red Link player for the 5th time in a row to hog more rupees all to yourself; but the simple addition of Co Op just seemed like a match made in Nintendo heaven.

So much so that I was rather surprised they didn’t try to capitalize on their Zelda spin off series more often, (and learned that expecting all the peripherals needed to play Four Swords was a ludicrously expensive endeavour). But they have finally remembered Link’s colour coded twins and brought them to the 3DS with three player Co Op The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes.

Tri Force Heroes’ tale is set in the fashion obsessed Kingdom of Hytopia where the Princess Styla has been cursed to wear an unyielding black jumpsuit by the witch known simply as ‘The Lady’. In response the King sends word out calling for a hero to fulfil the prophecy, lift the curse, of which who else answers the call to duty but Link of course. That’s about as many lines I’m willing to dedicate to the story sadly, as the story is a paper thin sheet of tracing paper purely existent to give a reason to the gameplay. If you’re a hardcore fan especially for the plot then you will be left wanting as Tri Force Heroes’ plot is more tongue and cheek not helped by the ‘comedy’ that more than often falls incredibly short of a forced smile.

As to be expected with a top down Zelda title, Link and party can swing their swords, charge for a spinning slash or use their off-hand secondary item with the absence of a shield instead assigning both shoulder buttons to a dash attack. A signature feature is also the ability to pile up and create a Link totem pole that is effectively the main ingredient with almost all of the puzzles, while simple enough it is effective for adding plenty of enjoyment with the puzzles as each room becomes one part test, one part joyful chaos. Of course being a puzzle orientated Zelda title plenty of Link’s old faithful and lesser known toys and gadgets come along for the ride, each level themed with one or two aspects that will rely on a combination of understanding the items your handed and how they react with the environment.
Such as a level with lots of clifffalls will lead you to chuck one Link over, but they’ll need to utilize the boomerang to bring you along; another level, the bow can hit long distance targets but you’ll have to work together to make sure you’re on the same height.

A distinctly curious departure from its Gamecube predecessor, Tri Force Heroes places more emphasis on puzzle orientated gameplay as opposed to Four Swords’ balance of exploration and combat.

Enemies are largely placed to either fill in gaps between rooms or to add pressure onto the puzzle solving sections; surprisingly though this is far more enjoyable and lends itself to Tri Force Heroes’ scaled back levels.

Long term fans will probably be a little disappointed that an open world is not present in this title, instead opting for a levels accessed via the Kingdom of Hytopia hub town. Within the hub town you can access the lobby, a daily prize shop, a photo gallery and the costume shop.
I was rather perplexed though when I immediately began running comparisons with Tri Force Heroes and my beloved handheld title Monster Hunter. However while in the latter all the elements come together for a truly amazing experience, in Tri Force Heroes they feel underdeveloped, underwhelming and outright obnoxious at times.

One of Tri Force Heroes’ main mechanics lies with the ability to suit Link up in specialised garbs to unlock unique properties to help with certain levels such as the Kokiri Garb allowing you to shoot three rather than one arrow at a time with the bow, the Torrent Robe doubles the size of the Water Rod’s pillars or the  

Legendary Dress for increasing heart drops. Collecting these isn’t as simple as hoarding a mountain of rupees however as likened to that of Monster Hunter’s system, these threads will need materials gained from completing levels and sadly also share the similar downsides. Alas when completing a level there’s no guarantee you’ll get that bloody Zora scale. While of course this helps garner interest in replayability and helps keep the Co Op community going it can become incredibly frustrating due to how the game handles level selection. Once your lobby is finally populated (after several horrible netcode issues) with another two Links you’ll all select your desired world and later desired level however if so much as one player chooses something different than the fire temple you’ve been trying to do for the past five attempts; you’ll instead have to suffer a roulette of fate. Alas while in theory it can help players avoid treading through levels they’ve already done it just doesn’t work very effectively and stales the experience as it effectively enables the former it’s meant to be avoiding.

What’s worse is it can almost make you consider the single player, well consider it for a nanosecond.
Tri Force Heroes’ attempt at single player is probably by far the laziest tacked on junk I’ve bore witness to. While they could have easily copy-pasted Four Swords Adventure’s format by making the task of swapping between Links seamless with the shoulder buttons, but as that was taken by the dash command they were instead crowbarred onto the touch screen.
This just makes the single player an absolute chore, as while controlling a single Link the other two tag alongs are lifeless statues where you will either have to unwieldy switch to them or taxi them from one side to the other via the totem pole command.

Single player is just not an option unless you’ve been looking for an effective method for inducing sleep.
However where Tri Force Heroes excels is in the local multiplayer, though it is a pain that you need a minimum of three players to actually get the local Co Op going. A somewhat nice remedy for this however is that title does also offer a fully functional download play; allowing you to play the game in full so long as one of you has the game, (so no lengthy diplomatic session to convince your friends to invest in the blasted thing).
With local play you can all chime in instructions, cheer triumphantly as you totem pole 360 no scope the boss, face plant the table when you all die cause you forgot which one of you in the stack has the bow and which has the bombs and laugh when it all inevitably breaks down into playfully screwing each other over.

Tri Force Heroes is surprisingly one of my sleeper favourites of the year for the sheer amount of unfiltered fun that can be had with friends; it’s simple and fun, the perfect combination for handheld gaming where you can’t necessarily commit hours to each play session.

When all is said and done The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a playful spin on the series but is plagued by niggling online issues and an awful abomination for a single player. It’s an enjoyable experience in short bursts so long as you have a consistent trio of chums to play with but is not worth the asking price unless perhaps you all chipped in a third of the cost as you should ONLY ever play it if all members are present.

But at least it’s a Co Op title for my 3DS that has halted me chucking the platform altogether for just a little bit longer.


Enjoyable team-based gameplay,
Simple yet effective puzzles,
Unfiltered Co Op enjoyment.


Pathetic single player,
Somewhat dodgey online netcode causes frequent resets,
Thin on the story,
Somewhat poor level choosing system,
Loot system can be tedious.

Final verdict,

Certainly no grand scale Zelda adventure, but Tri Force Heroes stack up for a 7/10.

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