At its heart the Legend of Zelda has always been a rather solitary experience. Although each game in the series has gradually offered denser and more detailed worlds, there was still a general feeling of loneliness. The player’s only acquaintances were, by and large, forgettable NPCs and helpful/irritating fairy companions. This has, however, always been part of the charm, at least for me, of the series.
Link’s world never quite provides the horrifying spectacle and bleakness of Dark Souls
but it is, by and large, a lonely and self-absorbing experience of dungeon exploration and occasional overworld relief. As a player, through the acquisition of items we tame the world and make it our plaything in a way that is never quite possible in, say for example, Blight Town. But we do it alone, with the defeat of each puzzle confirming our mastery of the world.
Nintendo has experimented with multiplayer Zelda before, most notably with Four Swords Adventures
on the the GameCube back in 2003. Tri Force Heroes
follows a similar template to the Four Swords
series, but with a reduction of the number of heroes that are playable from four to three. As with Four Swords
, the aim of the game is for the player, along with two other friends, to work together to solve environmental puzzles and battle enemies.
By comparison to other Nintendo properties, the Zelda
series has always been driven by at least an attempt at a story. These have ranged in scope but have always veered towards the ‘epic.’ In this regard Tri Force Heroes
is rather different.
Set in the world of ‘Hytopia,’ the King’s Daughter, named Princess Styla, is predictably having a bit of trouble with a witch who is jealous of her keen fashion sense. The witch has cursed Styla to wear a brown jumpsuit, causing her to hide away in embarrassment. Fear of the witch has spread across the kingdom and the fashionable country is on the brink as people avoid wearing attractive clothing for fear of angering the witch.
The clothing aspect is a key part of the game as Link can buy costumes that will enhance his abilities in the ‘drablands,’ the mission areas. During missions the player finds objects such as Zora scales and Tektite shells that they can then exchange, in combination with some rupees, for new costumes that grant abilities. So, for example, a Zora costume provides greater manoeuvrability in water whilst the Goron suit provides immunity to fire. The collection of suits provides the opportunity for a great deal of repeated play as missions do not always guarantee the drop that the player needs to acquire the material for a costume.
After choosing a suitable costume, Link then journeys to the castle to begin his adventures in the ‘Drablands.’ Mission areas are divided into eight regions with four missions inside each. The fourth mission usually culminates in a boss battle which then unlocks further challenges for each area.
The areas have the usual themes: woodlands, ice caverns, volcanoes, a desert. Anyone who has played the excellent Link Between Worlds
will feel instantly comfortable in the world of Tri Force Heroes
. It shares a similar visual style and play mechanics with one key exception, the ‘totem.’
Puzzles in Tri Force Heroes
are generally designed so that players must cooperate to solve them, often by forming the ‘totem.’ This is a move whereby players jump on each other’s backs to gain height so they can use items to attack enemies, activate switches or to get to hard-to-reach areas. Only the player at the bottom of the totem is able to move all three players, whilst the one at the top is able to attack enemies or use items. Puzzles are designed so that the only way to progress is through cooperation as it is impossible to go it alone, which brings me to the multiplayer.