The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes.
The Heroes We Do Not Need or Deserve.
Many moons ago, I began playing a little franchise known as The Legend of Zelda. This has led me to having many wonderful memories and adventures. But nostalgia is not the focus here. No, sadly we must focus on the latest entry in one of Nintendo’s most storied brands, Triforce Heroes. As you might have guessed from the title, this has not exactly been a stellar experience for me. That’s not to say it’s the worst game ever or anything that extreme, but it’s far from an excellent Zelda title as well.
Let’s begin with the plot, which is paper thin at best. This particular entry takes place in the land of Hytopia, which I can only imagine is the Shelbyville to Hyrule’s Springfield. In Hytopia there are two important things to know: Fashion is king, and the most fashionable in the all the land is the Princess of Hytopia, Styla (because they’re clever). However, one day the fair princess is cursed by a witch who hates her fashion, and Styla is now forced to wear some kind of non-removable black skin suit that looks like she’s about to do Motion Capture. Anyway, it is now up to the “Triforce Heroes” to traverse the Drablands (did I mention they were clever) and defeat the Witch……and that’s pretty much the plot.
Now I am not expecting some kind of deep, RPG-esque, twisty turny story from a game like this to begin with, and I can honestly live with this. It’s when you actually go into the Drablands that my issues begin with this game. Now of course I am aware that you play the game either in single-player and multi-player, but I want to come to that portion later. For now let’s focus on the actual exploration. Every Zelda game I have ever played had a world map of some kind for you to go around, find the hidden things, access the dungeons, and just take in and enjoy….but apparently Nintendo said screw that noise. You have two areas you can truly roam around in during your Hytopian visit: The town and the castle, yay. You access the Drablands through either a Multiplayer door or a Single player door. And then instead of actually finding these dungeons to explore, you have to select an area to go to. There is initially only one, but there are ultimately eight. Each area has 4 “mini-dungeons” to explore and at the end of each one you gain a material to craft clothing with, more on that later as well. My biggest issue with this is that they have essentially made a streamlined Zelda adventure right out of the gate. No exploration, just go here and solve this room. And that’s another issue, it’s all rooms. Other Zelda dungeons in the past have had some kind of flow to their dungeons, moving through different rooms to ultimately open the big room at the end and fight the boss, which is formulaic but hey it still works for me. Here it’s four rooms per area, the weapons are always just laid out for you at the beginning, and you’re done, which gets really boring and can feel uninspired. Oh and worst of all, the back of the box claims to have 32 dungeons…..8 areas, 4 mini dungeons a piece…..yea I get the math, however it is far from a justification.
Another aspect of this game is of course the whole dress up scheme. Admittedly this part does not really appeal to me that much, but that does not mean it’s necessarily a bad gimmick. It does stay in theme with the game, and making the outfits does provide some additional perks in combat. I am actually ok with this, it’s simply not a huge selling point for me, but that simply my one personal hang up and not an actual negative against the game so I won’t sit here and harp on that. Though I will say people who got excited over this game because Link can dress up as Zelda really confused me. I mean really? That’s a selling point? Something that does nothing to enhance the actual game it just merely takes a tiny step away from gender conformity? I’m not saying that’s a bad thing and I am definitely not trying to start some kind of political/human rights/ internet rage thing, I’m merely stating that this reason alone is just not worth being a day one purchase.
So now let’s focus on one of the biggest areas of interest to this title: Multiplayer vs Single player. Now I dabbled with both, and I feel like I got a good grasp on how differently they function. When it comes to Multiplayer, you can play either with two strangers or two of your friends. And it must always be two. One friend plus a computer or doll (yes doll, you’ll see) is simply unacceptable. Now what has to be the hardest part of multiplayer is coordinating anything that requires teamwork. You really only have preselected emoticons you can send each other, eight in all, and everything else you just have to hope your other two teammates are on the same page as you. However, that does not mean you cannot be dragged down by a weak link, something I was at the end of one of my online sessions. And that falls on me. Seriously I played so poorly that when got back to the main room/lobby, one of the other players literally picked me up and threw me at the character who could disconnect me…ouch. Well anyway, as far as actually connecting to other players and finding people to play with, it can take some time simply to find two people who are willing to go to the same area as you, but once you find each other it seems to work fine. I honestly had no issues with lag or disconnects. Granted I have heard other reports to the contrary, but personally I had no such issues.
So on to Single Player. It’s pretty obvious that Nintendo designed this game with three players in mind; however they also understand that some of us would like to have a solo adventure. This is where some of my biggest issues come into play. Now as much as I haven’t enjoyed the cookie cutter layout of the dungeons, imagine how much more of a drag it is when you have to literally and physically drag two other lifeless dolls with you to every single platform and room. It’s easily one of the most tedious things I have done in a Zelda game. Even more than the original way you had to get Triforce Shards in Wind Waker. It makes the levels take so much longer than they should, especially when you have to switch characters in order to solve certain timed puzzles and particularly during certain boss fights. Having to switch back and forth to distract some worm in the third dungeon was just irritating. At times it honestly feels like I am being punished for playing on my own, and that is really not a smart way to do this. If you want to see a good model for a game that is designed for Multiplayer but is still fun for someone who wants to play on their own, look at a series like Borderlands. It’s balanced enough for you to play on your own, and then it rebalances itself accordingly when friends and their characters join you. And yes I know that gameplay and genre wise that is comparing and apples and oranges, but as far as Co-Op vs Single player, it’s a good example to follow.
So what’s the ultimate takeaway here? Well to be blunt, I don’t like it. And before anybody says I am just slamming Nintendo or anything like that (Yes I did read the comments from my last article), know this: I am a HUGE Zelda fan. Don’t believe me? Look at the picture below.
That is my Figma Link riding a Hover board, and it is gosh dang glorious! I have beaten them all, the original for the NES, knew Link’s Awakening like the back of my hand, I got all 24 masks in Majora’s Mask, did all 50 challenge floors in Twilight Princess and will always feel that is an underappreciated title, all the way up to A Link Between Worlds (thank God the CD-i games don’t count). And I even read Hyrule Historia cover to cover. I will always love this franchise, but I am not having fun with this game. And isn’t that the point of any game? Sure, this game has Nintendo’s usual polish and is very far from typical incomplete glitch fest we get from many AAA games these days which is fantastic and how it should be, but with all of the tediums and the copy and paste approach to this Zelda, it just does not feel like a real effort was being shown here. I mentioned a Link Between Worlds earlier, and you know what? That game was FUN. I loved the layout, the world/s I could explore, and the ability to do any dungeon in order made it feel more like an open adventure. If this was meant to tide us over until they can actually give that open world Zelda I am still waiting on even the tiniest bit of information from, they failed. Instead we got what I can only call the Caffeine Free Coke Zero version of a Zelda title. It pains me how little thought went into Triforce Heroes. And honestly, were it not for it being polished and sound in terms of actual play and presentation, it would have gotten a much worse score.
Gamers Pantheon gives The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes a barely passing score of 60%