The Legend Of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
Nintendo’s recent fascination with fashion has given it a new pep in its step. There’s something of Splatoon’s freshness in the carefree frivolity of Tri Force Heroes’ intro, wherein a stylish princess is robbed of her regal threads and forced to don a brown unitard. Her wailing father thus demands a trio of prodigiously sideburned heroes set out to find her a new outfit. A perky soundtrack suggests light-hearted tomfoolery awaits, but Nintendo ultimately fails to recapture the competitive edge and mischievous invention of Four Swords Adventures.
Three Links are required at all times, which naturally rules out a twoplayer option. You can cooperate with other players online or locally – generously, the entire game can be played via Download Play – while lone players command two Doppels, macabre dolls with Shy Guy-style death masks to which Link can transfer his soul with a tap on the touchscreen. Yes, you can still throw one another off cliff edges, but with a shared life meter, there’s less room for horseplay here.
The trio can form a totem to reach high platforms and spar with tall bosses – an idea that would seem to have limited range, and so it proves. And yet it’s lent much by the conscious limitations of the way you communicate with others. Coordinating a plan is simple in local play, but online partners are restricted to pictorial icons, whether you’re requesting a piggyback, suggesting a bomb throw, or simply pointing the way forward. At times, it’s like attempting to relay a masterplan via semaphore, prompting moments of entertaining confusion and passive-aggressiveness: impatient players will likely resort to tapping the same icon repeatedly to chivvy along dawdling allies.
Yet we’ve seen so many of these puzzles before. There are pressure plates to stand on, switches to hit, and pyres to set ablaze with arrows shot through nearby flames. One player will blow another over a chasm with the gust jar; once across, the other can return the favour with a boomerang. The stage design is compromised by the need to cater to lone players and groups, too. With a handful of exceptions, the intricacy of its environmental riddles is limited to afford solo players the time to move three Links into position. Inevitably, those exceptions prove irritatingly exacting without two live assistants.
For a fashion-conscious game, unlockable outfits are also integrated with uncharacteristic gracelessness, functioning as little more than difficulty modifiers. So, carefree and likeable as it is, this coltish caper isn’t particularly well tailored: baggy in places and restrictive in others, it’s proof that for multiplayer Zelda, four swords are better than three.
In theory, bosses present less danger to lone players, since they can’t harm the Links you’re not controlling. But while a quick switch can often save the day, you’ll still lose a heart if a Link is nudged into lava, or off the edge