Tri Force Heroes Preview: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Tri Force Heroes Logo

The year is 2002. E3 is just happening, and the energy from the gamers can be felt as Nintendo announced their new Zelda title: The Wind Waker. Hidden in the shadows of this announcement was the reveal of a miniature sized gem, Four Swords. Fast-forward another 13 years and Nintendo reveals a new game that feels eerily familiar to Four Swords; only this time, there are three swords and there's no A Link to the Past port either. Has Nintendo managed to make a proper spiritual successor to Four Swords? (Spoiler alert: I would say yes.)

This past E3 is when anyone first heard about Tri Force Heroes. There was not any information leaked about it before-hand. Most of us thought that the Hyrule Warriors 3DS title was the only Zelda related item we would see at E3, but Nintendo managed to give us a surprise, and a good one at that. The latest full-fledged Zelda title takes Link, Link, and Link on a journey through Hytopia to save the princess from a curse.

The Good:

If you have ever played Four Swords, you will find that there isn't really an emphasis on cooperation, but rather the game feels more like they just threw in multiplayer to make the experience more enjoyable. This is not the case with Tri Force Heroes. Hiromasa Shikata, the game's director, even confessed that he wanted stray from the competitive idea that Four Swords had, and rather aim more for cooperation in the gameplay of Tri Force Heroes. This is evidenced by the heavy use of the totem, and the fact that you absolutely need all three players in many situations to solve puzzles and advance through the levels, no exceptions.

Tri Force Heroes Blue Link Shrugging

The biggest limitation with the original Four Swords experience was the fact that you needed link cables. The Four Swords Anniversary Edition did have wireless local multiplayer, however. Nintendo has realized the future for once, and added in the ability to play Tri Force Heroes online. This is a big step forwards for Nintendo. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that this is the first Nintendo game that can be fully played online. No longer do you need to schedule a play-date with your best friend and run it by your mom five times to go meet up with Johnny to play the game locally. Instead you can just send him one of those new-fangled text messages asking for Tri Foce Heroes and chill.

The Bad:

The single biggest complaint I have heard voiced about Tri Force Heroes is the lack of online voices in your head. Yes, there is no online voice chat feature, and no, your complaining about it will not bring it to fruition. Personally, I support the decision made on this, as it creates a more open feel with the game. Journey on the PS3 didn't utilize voice chat in its online option, and that was hailed as a massive success. Similar to Journey, Tri Force Heroes does not have online chat, nor does it need to be played online at all; however, your experience may be heightened online. In replacement of verbal communication, on the bottom screen of the 3DS, there is a little menu with many neat buttons. Everything you may need to tell your online companions can be communicated through these.

Tri Force Heroes Link Dolls

Disabling voice chat also disables the opportunity for one player to become "The Boss" and order his "Workers" around due to knowing the game better than they do. In other words, you can experience the game and figure it out for yourself rather than listen to Mr. Know-It-All. Yes, Nintendo could have made it an option to have chat-enabled and chat-disabled modes, but they didn't. This is for your own good, as online chat cannot be monitored. A lot of players will likely be younger, and better than you, and the last thing Nintendo wants is you teaching them some new colorful vocabulary words. I wouldn't want someone shouting at me that I'm "a fuchsia idiot" left and right. If you really want voice chat, just use Skype, and then Johnny can shout colors at you all he wants.

The Ugly:

The worst thing about the game is that it can be done in single player mode, wherein the player controls all three Links. This has me concerned, because there are a lot of elements in the game that require input from all three Links at once. At the current point in time, I can only speculate on how the mode will feel, but I am not really looking forward to trying to manage all three Links in a clunky format in the middle of a boss battle. I understand that it would not be feasible for Nintendo to force this game to be online only, but the entire game was built around multiplayer, and trying to funnel this into a single player experience may not work nearly as well.

There is more bad news. Not only is your health bar shared between all three Links, but if you are to play online, you do need all three to be there. If someone drops out in the middle, it will be game-over; however, your progress will be saved. This means that you have to hope Johnny won't get hit too much causing you to lose, and you have to hope that Third-Wheel-Ryan-Without-Skype won't leave in the middle of a level. Personally, I don't like that my progress will be limited by the ability of two other people.

Tri Force Heroes Costume Art

Finally, the item system is, for all intents and purposes, the exact same as in Four Swords. Each Link can only access one item at a time, which cannot be changed whenever you like. Instead, you have to find a place to change items, just like Four Swords, and you can only change to the specific item available to you there. This, to me, limits the ability of the game to stump you, as you will go into a level with the exact tools you need, giving you an idea on what to expect. If you get stuck, instead of trying all of the tricks in your bag, you only have the one trick to try.

There is a lot I haven't mentioned about the game, and that's simply because I don't have it yet. This is a preview, not a full-fledged review. These are a few of my thoughts going in, and overall, I really do think it will be a worthwhile game to play. You may have differing thoughts, and those would be neat to hear too, please voice them to me. In summary, while there are a lot of negatives, these negatives are more just small nit-picks rather than game breaking flaws. In the end, no game can really be perfect in anyone's eyes, just really good, and this game has a shot at being really good. Let's hope it turns out to be true!

About the Author: Christopher Weil

The 2006 Time Magazine person of the year, born in Toronto, Canada, Christopher developed a passion for gaming at a young age. His favorite franchise has always been The Legend of Zelda, but he can also usually be found playing SimRacing games such as iRacing. He's in university studying mechanical engineering and looking to start his own 3D printing business.

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