We have been lucky enough to spend the last fortnight braving the perilous Drablands. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is now under a month away from launch, and so we thought it would be good to take the chance to share what we’ve been enjoying most in Link’s latest adventure.
1: The Wacky Story
Tri Force Heroes serves up a zany story that, while not Pulitzer Prize material, sees you on one of Link’s wackier adventures.
The tale takes place in Hytopia, a kingdom that was once in love with fashion. One fateful day, a power-hungry witch that resided in the Drablands sent a gift-wrapped present to Princess Styla. Dark smoke billowed out of it when opened, which resulted in the princess being clad head to toe in uninspiring clothes that she wouldn’t be seen dead in. Shame stricken and cursed to wear the costume until the witch’s magic was lifted, the princess locked herself away in her room. And now, living in fear of being stricken by the curse themselves, the townspeople refrain from being seen to be too fashionable.
With heroes reluctant to adventure into the Drablands, King Tuft sent out envoys to neighbouring lands in search of the fabled Totem Heroes – who legend says are destined to save the kingdom when danger looms over it. And, that’s precisely where you come in.
With pointy ears, thick sideburns and a side parting, you are seen to bear the attributes of the legendary Totem Heroes, and are sent to meet Sir Combsly – the commander in charge of the Witch-Hunting Brigade. And so, your adventure begins.
It may be a case of playing pin the tail on the donkey as to where Tri Force Heroes will fit in the wider timeline, but the goofiness certainly isn’t short on appeal.
2: Working Together As Three Totem Heroes
Rallying three players together sees Tri Force Heroes at its very best. The Zelda series has already toyed with multiplayer in Four Swords, but this Nintendo 3DS exclusive makes teaming up with other adventurers far easier through Online, Local and Download Play.
Away from the immediacy of other players being nearby, those looking to take their adventure online will be able to discover other heroes over the Nintendo Network with relative ease – two options letting you search for ‘Unknown heroes!’ or ‘Friends!’. And, as you patiently wait for your allies to arrive in the lobby, you can dash into a nearby wall to knock a melody box to the ground. This helps to kill time by challenging you to keep it in the air with successive sword strikes, which, if achieved, somewhat soothingly fills the room with one of many cherished Zelda melodies.
The lobby that you enter is based around whichever area’s levels you’re looking to tackle, meaning that you will only be connected with players that similarly want to venture there – saving you from the annoyance of repeating levels that you didn’t intend to play. Once gathered, players can then vote on which level they would like to take on from that area, with one chosen at random unless the choice is unanimous. If you find that one player is wasting your time, either in the lobby or levels, Nintendo has also introduced a mechanism to blacklist them so that you don’t bump into each other again in future matchmaking.
As for the levels themselves, so far we’ve beaten the first four areas in Tri Force Heroes – Woodlands, Riverside, Volcano and Ice Cavern. Nintendo has long excelled in fiendish puzzle design, and across these it’s clear that the new Totem mechanic notably allows for more mind-boggling challenges. That largely relies on deductive reasoning and team co-ordination more than anything, leaping on each other’s shoulders and them having a collective understanding of what your united goal must be. It’s readily impressed so far, even if the reliance on emotes to communicate online alone doesn’t provide as apparent a solution to a bewildered comrade.
3: Unlocking Outrageous Outfits at Madame Couture’s
While key to advancing the plot that will see the eventual conclusion of your newfound quest, your efforts in each level won’t go unrewarded. Showered with rupees at every turn, completing the level’s four stages will see the three intrepid Totem Heroes be met with the chance to open one of three treasure chests.
These each contain a material that can be taken to Madame Couture’s tailor shop. The clothes that she makes are famous across Hytopia for their special powers, and by gathering the necessary materials you can ask her to use her fashion magic to create outfits.
At the start of the game you are required to collect Hytopian Silk to make Link’s instantly recognisable green Hero’s Tunic, although this doesn’t provide any bonuses. As you gather Zora Scales, Star Fragments, Tektite Shells and more, Madame Couture can magically weave these into outfits from her catalogue.
Rather than merely being an aesthetic change, these lend benefits to your adventure. Those include the Big Bomb Outfit that makes your bombs bigger, Kokiri Clothes that see you fire three arrows at once, the Lucky Loungewear that can let you evade attacks, the Goron Garb that will let you swim in lava, and the Tingle Tights that will save you three times if you fall into a pit.
There are also other outfits (such as the Timeless Tunic and Tri Suit) that can only be unlocked with Friendly Tokens. These must be earned by teaming up with new players in Local or Download Play, encouraging you to meet up with others at StreetPass events and gaming shows.
4: Tackling New Challenges Posed By Bosses
With Link having often quested alone, the bosses that he has faced have been surmountable without any assistance – aside from Zelda’s deft archery skills in places!
Now that three heroes are recruited, such co-operative ambition has allowed Nintendo to challenge us with entirely new ways to defeat the monstrous foes that lie in wait. The first four areas have closed with increasingly difficult battles against Margoma, Moldorm, Arrghus, and Blizzagia. As can be expected, each put to use the items that players can equip themselves with, whether that be lobbing bombs at a vulnerable point, striking a weak point with a perfectly placed arrow, using the Gripshot to pull smaller enemies away and hammering away to stun a boss in their tracks. The Totem mechanic is equally responsible for such differentiation in approach, often requiring players to attack at certain heights to strike to damage the boss.
It’s perhaps at risk of making these dungeon bosses sound easier than they actually are, but careful strategy is needed – especially when you consider that all three Totem Heroes are sharing the same heart meter. Charging in won’t help, and it is only in working together that you will prevail – the ultimate reward being when your combined efforts at long last topple the boss.
5: Listening To the Mesmerising Soundtrack
The Zelda series has long been treated to many an astounding soundtrack over the years, but Tri Force Heroes out-quirks all that has come before. I couldn’t stop smiling when I wandered into Madame Couture’s for the first time, kooky music having been in complete contrast to everything else in Hytopia.
Don the Timeless Tunic, and the soundtrack is even completely converted into a 16-Bit style. It is that sense of detail that once again elevates the broader experience in a way that Nintendo has always achieved.
The soundscape that accompanies your adventure through Tri Force Heroes is enchantingly medieval, and resounds as one of the series’ more memorable scores.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes will release exclusively for Nintendo 3DS in Europe and North America on October 23rd.