The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes launched on the Nintendo 3DS in all regions last week, so Source Gaming has decided to see how well the game ‘stacks up’ to its’ legacy. PushDustIn and TheAnvil will be reviewing the portable, very stylish adventure today and offer their opinions on the game and if it’s worth picking up.
Note: I’ve completed the first 5 areas 100%. The majority of my play experience has been playing online with strangers. The online mode is region locked, which means I was unable to play with the other Source Gaming staff. I’m also playing in Japanese, so please excuse me if I mess up a name or two. I’ve put in 25 hours into Triforce Heroes before writing this review.
I’m actually a huge Legend of Zelda fan. I’ve picked up and played through most of the games. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is my favorite game of all time, and is part of the reason why I was originally inspired me to start Source Gaming (as I wanted to compare the various translations of the game). In summary, I have a high expectation of what makes a Zelda game, and for this game in particular.
The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes follows the tradition of Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures in which Link must combine forces with other Links in order to complete puzzles and battle vicious bosses. As the name suggests, the number of Links has been decreased by one. So say goodbye to the purple Link for now (Perhaps it was done as a nod to the 3DS, or to improve the online experience.).
There is a single player mode where players control ‘doll’ versions of Link. However, that mode is incredibly frustrating and the levels were not optimized for the single player experience. At the very least Nintendo should have altered the requirements for the levels and changed some of the puzzles as they are just so difficult by yourself. Triforce Heroes is very much a multiplayer game, so if you do not have the ability to play with friends or strangers on the Internet then it is best to skip this game.
Just like the single player mode, the story is very limited. If you have watched the introduction trailer, then you are already familiar with the story and probably have a good idea of how it’ll play out. Again, Triforce Heroes isn’t about that…it’s about actually playing the missions with other players.
The unique gimmick of Triforce Heroes is the costumes. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the masks in Majora’s Mask, which is a very good thing. Players can choose their costumes after selecting the level which enhances their stats, or gives them or the team some sort of bonus. There’s a lot of costumes to unlock, and getting all the materials to unlock the next costume is a lot of fun.
As I mentioned in the disclaimer, I’ve played online with strangers. At times this can be incredibly frustrating as some people frankly don’t know how to play a Zelda game. If I had to break down my experience: 70% of the time it was okay. There are some minor issues, but not enough to say it was awful. This includes not getting that last mission that I needed in an area, a mediocre group, or a lack of communication (explained later). 15% of the time it’s bad…either connection issues or trolls who throw a fit when they don’t get their level/mission of choice. The last 5% of the time is amazing, and is probably comparable to playing with friends online or locally.
Let me start off with the good: I had an amazing experience with a group of two random people that I will always cherish. We went through every mission in the fire area one by one. After every mission we would all do synchronized cheer dancing, which was a lot of fun. Once we got to the end it was actually a little sad — as none of us wanted to say goodbye really. So instead we played around in the lobby for a solid ten minutes, running into walls and goofing around. If the 3DS online functionality was better then we would have been able to at least add each other as friends and do the other areas/ missions together…but we were stuck in the fire area. So we had to say goodbye to each other. It’s a real shame that Nintendo’s online policies have held back their online gaming experiences in a lot of ways.
Communication is essential to the game, and the lack of voice chat does cause some real issues when playing online — especially when playing with strangers. Some of the missions are very difficult (such as carrying a crystal to the goal within a time limit), so be prepared to do the same mission over and over again until everyone understands what to do. There’s been a couple of missions in particular that I ended up playing for 30 minutes as people kept dropping out, or the group I was with was unable to complete the requirements.
In order to alleviate this, Nintendo introduced some on screen graphics which can relay some messages to the other players…but the selection is limited. I wish there were specific graphics for the other Links so people would know who I was talking to when I pressed “throw” or “come here”. There also needs to be an emotion for “watch carefully” as I’ve ran into some issue where people not understanding a key element of the puzzle despite me or someone else trying to demonstrate it. I know I sound like I’m gloating but I really feel that I could’ve completed a lot of missions quicker if I was able to better communicate with my teammates. There have been times where I’ve completely failed to understand a puzzle too, and my teammates couldn’t communicate key concepts to me.
The most frustrating example was the windmill level in the water area which requires one person to stay behind and turn the windmill. I’ve had multiple instances of people trying to throw me off the ledge, which required restarting the level. In normal mode this isn’t a big issue but it was difficult to complete under the time requirements. Voice chat would have addressed all of these issues.
The mission variety and level design is extremely well done. This is a very fun game to play. I’ve been impressed by how varied the levels feel, and some of the challenges are very unique. Triforce Heroes, in my experience, suffers from the same issue as the Civilization series where you constantly are saying “One more level…”. This is a good thing.
This period of time is on fire for new game releases. They’re coming out left and right. As a big fan of Zelda, I’m sad to say that I was underwhelmed by this game’s predecessor: A Link Between Worlds. So, compared with other game releases coming out within the coming weeks, Triforce Heroes wasn’t particularly strong in my thoughts. Nevertheless I’m pleased to say that this game has far surpassed my initial expectations.
This game does a lot right. Where many other multiplayer games fall flat when attempting to force players to complete puzzles as a team, Triforce Heroes does so in a way that feels exceedingly natural. Single player does exist, but is not particularly thrilling. Communication is key, and swapping between your hero and two dolls is not the way this game was intended to be played. This game was built for multiplayer.
In true Zelda nature, you are not given a voice to communicate with your comrades. In multiplayer, you are provided with several communication pictures. These offer you the only method of communicating with your partners. These pictures are oozing with charm and personality. While a lot of people have voiced the opinion that they would have enjoyed a voice chat, I feel that this is more effective in terms of both; tone and execution. Giving your teammate a thumbs up for a job well done, or cheering them on with pom-poms never felt better!
A shift in focus towards a more customisable hero (or in this case heroes) was a nice change of pace. Unlocking new costumes is enjoyable and adds additional replayability to the mission-based nature of the game.
Frustratingly, Triforce Heroes has limits in place on the matchmaking system. People are only able to play with other players if they reside in the same region. While this has led to a very smooth experience online with minimal lag; there were possibly alternative ways to go about achieving this. Perhaps giving the player an option to choose between people in their own region or to play with people worldwide (with a disclaimer that the user may experience lag when playing worldwide).
The biggest issue with this game comes from the distribution of Friendly Tokens. Friendly Tokens are given to you in the game every time you play locally with a new 3DS. There are 15 Friendly Tokens in total, 8 of which you need to be able to purchase certain costumes. This unfortunately means that if you don’t know 7 other people with 3DS systems, then you will not be able to get all of the in game costumes. A change of this system of distribution is drastically needed for players who want to 100% the game, but don’t know enough people with 3DS systems to be able to get them.
Triforce Heroes sees a dramatic shift in focus towards multiplayer. While not a first, it instantly makes it a memorable and unique experience for fans of the franchise. Being Nintendo’s fourth Legend of Zelda game on Nintendo 3DS, this game ran the risk of getting lost in the crowd. Nintendo however changed up the formula just enough to make this stand out above nearly every other Zelda game. This is an unforgettable game and one of the premier handheld Zelda experiences. Apart from a few key issues there is a lot of fun to be had.