NS Preview – The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3DS)

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes; an upcoming 3DS game that takes the lively and bright style of A Link Between Worlds, mashes it up with some of the best gameplay mechanics from Four Swords, sprinkles in some new features, and then vomits in a healthy(?) dose of Kill la Kill. The result?

**It should be noted that this preview will only cover the start of the game. I also want to note that this was a solo-player experience only (unlike the Nintendo Scene post-E3 event), and it was all played on a standard 3DS XL.

Tri Force Heroes takes place in a world where fashion is a core pillar of society, surrounding its tiny hub world with bizarre and eccentric characters. The goal is to free the Royals of the land from a curse where one of them cannot remove a tacky item of clothing, and return the obsession of fashion to the kingdom’s inhabitants. Any game that sets itself up as not entirely serious will often have to deal with the repercussions it brings, and your consumers will often only take your story as seriously as you present it. Consequently I can’t say I’m too connected or attached to those strange and goofy beings that reside in Hytopia, even Link himself.

Single-player mode replaces the non-players with freaky dolls called “Doppels” (who bear an amusing resemblance to Shy Guys from the Mario Series). The missions themselves are very linear, there’s a path, and there’s a bit of padding around it with very little room to stray. Jumping from the very open map of A Link Between Worlds (which is almost the same map from A Link to the Past) where one could do dungeons in whichever order they wanted, to such a petite hub and a list of paths you need to reach the end of, is odd to say the least.

It's what's on the inside that counts

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

It’s interesting watching Nintendo take new routes with things, especially in regards to such an enormous already existing franchise. I certainly wasn’t expecting a story and characters like the ones I meet in this game. Everything from the King having a breakdown, to the bizarre cat-lady seamstress, to the woman who stands outside the changing rooms and makes inappropriate comments to your questionable-age character, to the text that appears when you encounter a stray Doppel in the hub (“you softly wipe it clean”). It feels somewhat similar to encountering a rabid dog, sure it’s cute and you want to pet it, but also it might attack you and give you some super disease, and that disconcerting feeling of unease is one I felt myself experiencing a fair bit while interacting with the inhabitants of this game. Perhaps some of that discomfort also came from the drawn out intro, forcing me to stare at the same bit of text for twice as long as necessary before a slow transition whisks in to rescue me, only to force me to stare at another slide for far too long. Giving your story/cutscene/etc a minimum time before the option to skip is a good thing. If you’re trying to build sympathy and compassion for the characters then forcing players to stare at the same slide to the point impatience is felt may not be the best way to go about it. You can have a compromise that wont let first-timers skim entirely over the plot without burning an image into their retinas.

The Totem in action

The Totem in action

The characters are all mostly gaudy, over dramatic, and a little off-putting, but this isn’t to say I don’t like them. There are a few I felt bonds with in a short time into the game, and there are some that I may not outright like but can’t deny they amuse me or aren’t clever little characters. I’d say the bloopy and cute style of A Link Between Worlds suits this game well and may even help smooth off some of the more jagged edges of some of their personalities. The music in this game is sprightly, catchy, and smart. The track playing will change slightly depending on which color Link you are currently using, and stacking Links in different combinations (or all at once) will actually switch up the soundtrack as it goes, changing subtle parts, such as adding a drum. This is a fantastic inclusion and one I really think was a good choice to put in. This is where the diversity of music ends however, as it is the same track that will play throughout your first missions. The gameplay is mostly solid, once you’ve learnt how to do most of the things as solo Link you will have to relearn some minor adjustments in Totem form, something which could hinder a player if they’re surrounded by enemies and they don’t realize a new system is in place. Controls are smooth but it suffers from only 8 directions, rather than a full 360 control, and there also only seems to be a “Throw” option for bombs, and no “Drop” function, which I find to be a bit silly. In terms of the 3D, as is with the older systems, the experience has ranged from truly intolerable, to genuinely stunning. A game that sometimes requires you to have the 3D on order to gauge the situation is risky though.

Thus far, Tri Force Heroes has kept me entertained with its adorable visuals, wonderfully layered music, unique plot, (possibly not intentionally) creepy characters, and sassy dialogue. While it hasn’t exceeded my expectations in some areas, I greatly look forward to uncovering more of this little adventure, and sharing my thoughts on the whole game with you soon.

What are your expectations for The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes? Have you been able to play it yet? What do you want from it? Drop us a comment below, or tweet me @MattiasMay. Thank you for reading!

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