Developer(s) – Nintendo EPD & Grezzo
Publisher(s) – Nintendo
Designer – Hiromasa Shikata
Producer – Eiji Aonuma
PEGI – 7
Released in 2015 as a direct sequel to the critically acclaimed A Link Between Worlds, Tri Force Heroes took the Legend of Zelda series in a new direction reminiscent of the Game Boy Advance installment Four Swords, whereby players can play either solo or as part of a trio to solve numerous puzzles and, fight against enemies and bosses and harness the power of different garments that can be bought throughout the game. Despite the fact that Nintendo was willing to try something new with the franchise, I still found it to be one of the weaker entries in the series, but overall, not one of the worst games I’ve ever played personally.
Graphics – 8/10
Taking place in the land of Hytopia, and taking a fairly distant departure from the usual locations and basic structure associated with most Zelda games set in the land of Hyrule, the game has a fair bit of diversity in terms of visual presentation. Although it’s a little more light-hearted than other entries in the series and doesn’t include as many dark locations as the likes of Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Twilight Princess, it has much of the same charm that came with installments like The Wind Waker or Minish Cap.
Gameplay – 7/10
Arguably more so than other Zelda gems, Tri Force Heroes has a very heavy focus on the element of puzzle-solving, with players having to either work together or alone, using all three links to overcome each different obstacle in each level and to defeat the boss at the end of it. There are also bonus challenges with each level that range from completing them in a set amount of time, or clearing them whilst taking little to no damage. The biggest gripe I have with the gameplay is that the bosses can become quite repetitious after a while, which falls way short of Legend of Zelda standards, as the series has become renowned over the years for its diversity in boss fights.
Controls – 9/10
The controls can be a little bit difficult to get to grips with at first, but once this has achieved, which won’t take too long, it plays out more or less as well as any other game in the series. There is a lack of control features compared to most other games, since more often than not, players will choose one item for each Link toward the beginning of each level, and will have to stick with the said items for the level’s duration, but otherwise, there no other issues with the games controls to address.
Lifespan – 5/10
Underwhelmingly, the game can only be made to last around 15 to 20 hours, which to me personally as a Legend of Zelda fan, and who likes to leave no stone unturned whilst playing a Zelda game, would be like a speed run. The problem lies mainly in the fact that Tri Force Heroes has a much linear progression to it than most other games in the franchise, which in turn, goes against every reason why Shigeru Miyamoto created the original game in the first place, making seem all the more disappointing.
Storyline – 6/10
Aside from the game not lasting very long, the story isn’t truly up to much either in my opinion. Princess Styla is one day cursed by a witch known as The Lady to wear an ugly black jumpsuit; and if that sentence alone isn’t enough to make you despair, I don’t want to know what is. The King of Hytopia, in turn, calls upon a hero who can lift the curse and bring peace to the land; enter Link. That’s all there is to it; there aren’t any of the amazing plot twists or dark undertones to accompany it, which make almost every other installment of the series great games in their own right, and numerous plot holes. For example, there is nothing to suggest that Princess Styla couldn’t simply wear something over the jumpsuit.
Originality – 6.5/10
I would say that the game does have some uniqueness to it, but for the most part, it stands out for the wrong reasons. The puzzles can be fairly elaborate and challenging, and there is a little replay value to be had in the additional objectives to be completed throughout each level, but whenever a Zelda game springs to mind, I most often think of an experience to be lost within and to have to invest a lot of time in doing everything there needs to be done. Unfortunately, I found it impossible to feel the same way about this game.
Overall, Tri Force Heroes, whilst it isn’t even the worst installment in the Zelda series (by far, that honor would go to the Wand of Gamelon), it falls way short of expectations, and makes no effort to perpetuate all the things that make the franchise as great as it is. However, that’s not to say that it’s a terrible game; there is some enjoyment to be had out of it for the short time that it lasts, and the quality in gameplay greatly outweighs what little quality it has in store.