Tag Archives: The Legend of Zelda

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

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 most 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 thin 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.

Niiutral

Niiutral

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.

Score

41.5/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo 64)

Developer(s) – Nintnedo EAD

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Eiji Aonuma & Yoshiaki Koizumi

Producer – Shigeru Miyamoto

PEGI – 12

Considered to be the black sheep of the series, Majora’s Mask offered a very different video gaming experience to that of its legendary predecessor, The Ocarina of Time. As well as being a fairly enjoyable game, in my opinion, it also excels in storytelling on a level that most games didn’t at the time and even on a level that most games don’t today.

Graphics – 10/10

As polished and as conceptually wonderful as it’s predecessor, Majora’s Mask remains to this day one of the best-looking video games of all time; certainly one of the best looking on the Nintendo 64. Although there are recycled elements taken from Ocarina of Time, it had even been theorized by many that this could be part of the story itself. But though most of the supporting NPCs aren’t new, the setting and the overall visual style certainly is. They’re exciting, immersing, and at times wonderfully disturbing too. Not only do they work to effectively differentiate it from Ocarina of Time, but they work to effectively differentiate it from any other game in the series, as well as other games in general.

Gameplay – 7/10

Overall, the game is almost as satisfying and exciting to play through as the first, with plenty of intense combat to engage in intricate puzzles to solve. The added feature of using various different masks granting Link many different abilities also offers a fun twist to the overall Legend of Zelda gameplay formula, offering variety in a very different way than in other games in the series. However, the one thing that personally inconvenienced me about this game was the time limit that is implemented. The player gets 3 in-game days to undertake each quest at a time until the world is destroyed and the game is reset; canceling out everything that had been done prior to the start of the 3 days. Even though it was suggested by Shigeru Miyamoto and put in to heighten the game’s sense of challenge (as well as being a possible dark allegory of how all human endeavor is ultimately pointless), to me, it severely hindered what should be in my opinion, a game without elements like that. I think that even taking into account the infamous 4th-day glitch (a well-known glitch, which can be implemented to add an additional day to the time limit), that element shouldn’t be present at all. I think to leave that would have given players more time to enjoy the game in a more positively fluent manner since if players find themselves repeating the same task over and over again, they can, in theory, convey a level frustration unlike in any other game.

Controls – 8/10

In the Great Bay Temple, Link is required to wear the Zora mask to get around, which allows him to swim deeper and faster underwater. The problem with this is that the controls for these sections of the game are pretty unrefined and it is easy to find plenty of obstruction throughout. Other than that, however, the control scheme remains largely the same as that of Ocarina of Time, and has now said this, the other masks do provide a fairly decent twist on the first game’s controls.

Lifespan – 7/10

Although Major’s Mask doesn’t last as long as its predecessor, there is still a fair amount to do within the game that overall, will warrant for about 25-30 hours, which isn’t bad at all. Aside from the main story quest, there are a good few side quests to undertake throughout, which also add greatly to the game’s atmosphere and subtly convey many of the varied and rich story elements found throughout. Though players may assume that it would have been easier to make a Zelda game that lasted just as long as Ocarina of Time, since the gaming engine and various elements in the second game already existed prior to the start of development, the fact of the matter is that the development process was a bit more convoluted than people may have realized, since it was originally planned for released on the ill-fated Nintendo 64DD, and several other projects were in the works at the time.

Storyline – 10/10

The best thing about Majora’s Mask for me, however, is undoubtedly the story. Following on as a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, Link is on a quest to find his former companion Navi the Fairy, when he is ambushed by a mysterious character called Skull Kid, who steals from Link both the Ocarina of Time and his horse Epona. Giving chase, Link subsequently finds himself in a foreign land called Termina, which is under threat by Skull Kid, who plans to use a powerful weapon called Majora’s Mask to crash the moon into Termina and thus destroying the world. It is up to Link to recover Majora’s Mask and stop the looming apocalypse. However, my short synopsis does not do this game justice. As well as incorporating a number of dark situations and subject matters, the game also deals with a large number of mature topics and themes on a level, which was rarely seen in Nintendo games at the time, and is still so to this day. There is also a widely popular theory about Majora’s Mask that has been circulating the internet for a long time now, drawing connections between the game’s story and the Kübler-Ross model of grief, which could make for a whole other series of articles in itself. As I said, Majora’s Mask is considered the black sheep of the Legend of Zelda series, and after having played it, it’s not hard to see why.

Originality – 8/10

Though gameplay remains largely in lieu of Legend of Zelda tradition, the magnitude of the game’s story, as well as both the decent amount of in-game variety and visual style helped to keep the franchise insanely unique at the time, and still holds up to this day as one of the most standout games ever made. Consequently, this game has remained adored by the gaming community, and as of next year, it looks like that adoration will reach a new generation of Nintendo fans since the game is scheduled for re-release on the 3DS.

Happii

Happii

Overall, although I found the 3-day time limit to severely hinder the quality of the gameplay, the fact of the matter is that Majora’s Mask is a game bigger than itself, and stands out as one of the greatest games of the fifth generation. Though it has split fans of the series firmly down the middle, there should be no argument that Nintendo was not scared to try something completely different when attempting to follow up the most critically acclaimed game of all time; and I think they accomplished that with this game flawlessly.

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD Group No 3 & Monolith Soft

Publisher – Nintendo

Director – Hiromasa Shikata

Producer – Eiji Aonuma

PEGI – 7

A throwback to the SNES classic, A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds revisited a very similar landscape to that imagined by Nintendo back in 1991 and had arrived with a newer coat of paint in terms of visuals as well as having a modified approach to gameplay with a few new mechanics and features. Whilst it doesn’t come very close to matching the same quality as A Link to the Past, in my opinion, I still found it to be a very decent game, and an exciting new take on the Legend of Zelda universe.

Graphics – 8.5/10

The newly polished setting from A Link to the Past looks spectacular, with classic locations of the series, such as Death Mountain and Kakariko Village, but throughout the game, the standout feature in terms of visuals was the new dungeons added. They’re almost as elaborate and intriguing than the ones found in A Link to the Past, but whilst one of the two early dungeons has a unique boss, the other has a recycled boss. In the latter half of the game, however, the scenery gets much better, when the constant switching between the worlds of Hyrule and Lorule becomes necessary. The dungeons in Lorule are a lot more elaborate and original with more unique-looking bosses, which do well do differentiate it as much from A Link to the Past as possible. The main problem I have with the game’s graphics is the general enemy design. Most are simply recycled 3D versions of the enemies found in A Link to the Past. It would’ve been a good idea to throw one or two more new enemies in for good measure, but the game lacks in uniqueness in that respect. With most entries in the title, different enemies always seem to be added, but with A Link Between Worlds, the developers seem to have taken a small step back. Nevertheless, the game’s overall style does present a mostly even balance between classic and new. Mostly with the new dungeons designed.

Gameplay – 8/10

For me, this game took some getting into at first. For the opening hour or so, it just seemed like I was playing nothing more than a glorified version of A Link to the Past, as it uses virtually the same game mechanics as the 1991 classic. But when I first entered Lorule, that was when I found that the game really started to come into its own. It is certainly worth persevering through to experience the positive change of gameplay that’s lasts throughout the rest of the game. There is a gameplay mechanic new to the series that allows the player to merge Link into walls and traverse along them to reach certain areas. This was actually inspired by the Phantom Ganon boss fight from Ocarina of time. It’s incorporated early on into the game, but it’s put to better use in the second half, having to be used to solve more elaborate puzzles within more intricate dungeons; its use is even necessitated to fight certain bosses as well. There was one other gameplay mechanic that I didn’t like at first, but I grew used to it. To get the in-game items that are typically found in dungeons, instead, they are found in a shop, which at first, the player has to rent, and that is taken away every time the player dies in the game. At first, I struggled to see the point of it, but after advancing further into the game, I found they could be bought outright for a higher price. I realized it was simply to better incorporate the need for the game’s currency, which is fair enough. These new mechanics present players with positive changes from the normal features typically found in Zelda games. They make for a very decent game, overall.

Controls – 10/10

As someone who played through A Link to the Past back at the game’s commercial apex, I was never going to have a problem getting to grips with how it plays out, as it uses a control scheme virtually identical to the old Super Nintendo game. But that’s not to say that newcomers to the series or to this in a particular style of play will experience any problems with it. The controls are straightforward with the only new outstanding control element being the wall-merging ability, which, again, no player would have problems with.

Lifespan – 7/10

Although it does take a fair bit of time to play through the main story, in lieu of Zelda tradition, there was also a surprising lack of side quests. Normally, Zelda games have a fair amount of them, but I was bewildered to find how few of them there are in this installment. There’s a side quest to do which involves collecting ore to enhance the power of the master sword at the blacksmiths and another involving a witch who provides a fast-travel gameplay mechanic (again, reminiscent of the one found in A Link to the Past), but for me, the amount of side quests falls well short of the normal amount usually found in a lot of other Zelda games. This game could’ve done with a few more, in my opinion. But A Link Between Worlds will make for around 10-12 hours of gameplay, which isn’t too bad.

Storyline – 8/10

Whilst not being a huge departure from other titles in the series, the game’s story is still very engrossing nonetheless. In A Link Between Worlds, Link is out to save the land of Hyrule, Princess Zelda and seven sages from a priest called Yuga. After gaining the three pendants of courage, power, and wisdom and retrieving the master sword, Link travels to Hyrule castle to confront Yuga, but he finds he is too late, and Yuga has imprisoned Zelda and the sages inside portraits, which he uses to manifest into the franchise’s iconic villain, Ganon. Before he transforms, Link follows Yuga into an alternate darker version of Hyrule called Lorule, and is asked by the princess of Lorule, Hilda, to save both worlds and defeat Ganon. The story unfolds into something much more elaborate with a few excellent plot twists along the way. Whilst the lack of side quests was a letdown for me personally, I found this game’s story to be very enthralling indeed, which with the inclusion of Lorule; I believe could potentially present new possibilities for where the franchise could go in the future. It may all make for an even further departure from normal Zelda story elements, and bring more new things to the table.

Originality – 8/10

I think that although many elements are undeniably recycled from A Link to the Past, there is indeed enough in this title to make it stand out from other games of its kind as well as other entries in the series. For me, this is the best DS Zelda game by some distance, as I wasn’t very impressed with either The Phantom Hourglass or Spirit Tracks. The control scheme incorporated in both those games thoroughly annoyed me. Undoubtedly, the most unique aspect of this game is the design of the dungeons and bosses. It’s elements like that, which have kept this franchise fresh and will continue to do so for years to come.

Happii

Happii

Overall, this game made for a very well designed and enjoyable experience. It is definitely not only one of the standout titles for the 3DS, but it is indeed one of the standout titles of last year. I said in a previous article that I would revisit last year’s game releases to see if any games are worth playing, and this one definitely is.

Score

49.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)