One of the many surprises Nintendo dropped on us during its E3 2015 Digital Event was a brand new multiplayer Zelda set in the A Link Between Worlds aesthetic. The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes may not have been the big Zelda reveal the industry had hoped for, but it was a still a refreshing new idea in the storied franchise. After getting my hands on it at Nintendo's E3 booth, I am certainly interested in what the full experience can bring.
The decision to make the game in the ALBW format is very much appreciated, as I'll take any excuse I can get to play more of that type of Zelda game. The three Links on screen all move, look, and act like the brave hero from the latest 3DS Zelda, and all of the enemies I'd seen in my brief demo came from that game as well. If you liked Link's last foray on the 3DS, you'll certainly enjoy this one.
Triforce Heroes is essentially a Four Swords type of adventure, just with one less sword. The two companions joining me in the demo and I was tasked with all kinds of teamwork-based puzzles, most of them centering around stacking the three Links like a totem pole in order to reach high switches or fight flying enemies. One of the Links would have to grab another Link, then the third would have to grab the one who grabbed the first one and the totem would be complete. I know that's probably hard to follow, but it's way easier in practice. The biggest challenge is easily the one shared health bar among the three players, meaning that one Link could take all of the damage and cost the entire team the round. Don't be that Link.
As we played through the dungeon together, I couldn't help but smile at the ingenious puzzles and room designs that Triforce Heroes threw at us. A few were rudimentary, like getting us all to hit different switches placed at three different points around the room in order to activate the portal to the next room (the portal, by the way, is a massive Triforce that requires each of us to stand in a different section in order to activate). Others were a little more devious, like the one that made us form the totem in a room of moving platforms, forcing the top Link to try and aim at a switch that didn't even appear on-screen. The teamwork dynamic is going to play a huge part in Triforce Heroes if the demo is any indication, so make sure to bring two players you trust into the adventure.
After a few dungeon puzzles we were pitted against a giant slime creature boss with a floating target inside of its body. While it didn't take us long to figure out the weak point, there were two interesting wrinkles: the weak spot could only be hit by arrows making this a long range battle, and after four hits the slime monster would increase in size requiring a two-Link totem formation to damage it, then after four more hits it would grow to full size and the three-Link totem was needed.
This battle became the most trying part of the demo for our threesome, as the attempts to create the totem during the hectic environment of the boss battle caused a lot of confusion and miscommunication. We died a few times getting ambushed by the monster while trying to figure out which Link was going where in the full-size totem, but eventually we worked together to figure things out and slay that vile beast. Victory in a Zelda title has rarely tasted sweeter.
Multiplayer Zelda games are always a bit goofy, as a format clearly meant for one-man exploration loses a bit of the mystery when other players are involved. Triforce Heroes tries to counter some of that goofiness with smart puzzles and a tight focus on the values of teamwork. It's not the Zelda game we've been waiting for, but I can see it being the Zelda game that tides us over until the big one is finally revealed.
The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes launches exclusively on Nintendo 3DS later this year.