This year at Nintendo’s EB Games Expo booth, the upcoming cooperative The Legend of Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, was playable. The game itself is centered around three players controlling a different coloured Link character in a team of three. This team must work together to solve the puzzles of a dungeon and ultimately move forward and defeat the boss with the power of teamwork. The build we played was light on story, so we’re not entirely sure what the game is about, but it’s a pretty interesting play.
For our playthrough, it was myself and Gaming Spud hands-on with two out of three 3DS devices with the third being controlled by a random. The level was split between all three of us voting on entirely different maps, so a kind of roulette played through and chose a level randomly for us. This level was a forest themed level, where there was lots of grass and scenery made of wood. What made it particularly interesting was that there was a bunch of moving platforms and things to traverse, often on the way to puzzles, which would prove to be troublesome later for some of the more teamwork based challenges.
The basic idea for each level is that you need to pass through a bunch of Triforce shaped warp points and eventually defeat a boss. To reach these warp points, you have to complete puzzles using teamwork and the power of friendship… also, skills. For the level that we were playing, it was easy enough to pretty much solo the beginning few sections until we finally reached this one platform that required us to actually work together. Nintendo has kind of provided a solution to communicating with people you may not know by giving players these buttons on the touchpad to issue commands to the other players. However, we found that if your other player is ignorant to both in-game prompts and real-world communication, doing any kind of puzzle that requires the barest of minimum in communication become easily failable. What makes things worse is that players have a shared health pool, rather than having individual controlled health. And so if you’re using Links ability to hold other player characters in a totem configuration and the final player needs to hold all two of you above themself while you both are vulnerable to incoming attacks, and they lack basic decency, it causes the entire group to lose health and to ultimately lose.
Tri Force Heroes’ gameplay isn’t entirely similar to a regular Zelda game, but it’s also not entirely dissimilar either. It’s kind of like a dumbed-down version of a Zelda game, with Link only having a small number of items, and is given more player interactive skills to make it more team-worky. Nintendo tried this approach before with Four Swords and that wasn’t too popular, so it’s odd that they’d try it again but with one less Link. I think that an actual co-operative adventure that didn’t have the core of Zelda changed would work much better than these gimmick multiplayer experiences.
Overall, I think that Tri Force Heroes has the potential to be fun with a team that actually knows how to play video games. However, it seems like given Nintendo’s past attempts at co-operative Zelda games, this one might not be as strong as they’d hoped. It didn’t feel enough like a Zelda game, but instead, it felt like a Zelda themed game. I’m hoping the full version can change my mind on this one.