Nintendo was forced to delay Zelda for WiiU until next year or maybe to the NX if you believe rumors based on the fact that Zelda WiiU and NX are both probably coming out next year, but they did manage to publish an entry in the Legend of Zelda series this year in Triforce Heroes. It is not what a lot of people wanted and certainly does not have as wide of appeal as its predecessor on 3DS, but it is still an excellent entry in an oft overlooked sub-brand of Zelda, the multiplayer ones.
In this game, the player controls a hero who happens to look like Link and is teamed with two other heroes that look like Link to try to save the fashion obsessed Kingdom of Hytopia and its Princess Styla. The players try to break a curse on the Princess by venturing out into the drablands and trying to find the witch who cursed her. Hytopia’s obsession with fashion comes in with the games different costumes for Link. Each on provides him with a bonus. Some make certain weapons, like the bow or bombs, stronger. Others change the amount of hearts to rupees that enemies drop or the number of hearts that Link has. While speeding through the 35 or so stages of the game isn’t difficult, beating all of the challenges and getting the drops needed to acquire all of the different costumes will take considerable time.
This is a style that Nintendo has tried before, back in the ill-fated days of connectivity with the Four Swords games. The first of which was a delightful mode for the GBA version of A Link to the Past and the second was a substantial and enjoyable experiment for the GameCube. They both shared the same problem, though, that it was nearly impossible to find people to play with. On the GBA you had to have 4 people with GBAs and a link cable and on the GameCube you needed those same GBA and 4 link cables. Playing it is a great experience; actually getting set up to play was a nightmare and is all but impossible today. Triforce Heroes largely fixes those problems by allowing for online multiplayer. Of course, there have been widespread complaints about connection problems, but I didn’t really experience any such problems. Playing online was a largely painless experience
Most of my time with this game so far has been spent playing it single player. It is not the ideal way to play the game, but it is still an enjoyable experience. The other two Links become doppels, dummies that just stay where you leave them. At times this is a particularly clunky solution, such as when you need to cover ground that has already been cleared. While the totem ability, where one Link lifts and carries another, lessens this problem some, being able to just call the other Links to the player would be a plus. For the most part, having the others become deadweight when not in use works really well with how the challenges are set up. Most of the challenges involve doing things in order or by color of Link, and putting the Links where you want them and switching when needed works. The few times where precise timing is needed the single player becomes tough, but none of the levels are impossible or even all that difficult by yourself.
Still, the heart of the game is the multiplayer and that part shines. At least is does if you get marginally competent companions. The ideal way to play, as it has ever been in any multiplayer game, is with some friends in the same room, with easy communication and camaraderie. The lack of voice chat can occasionally hamper communication, but not having to hear the inane or offensive babble of your unknown internet companions is still a net plus.
Triforce Heroes isn’t really the Zelda game that most people wanted, but it is one that will be remembered fondly in years to come. It is not likely to be anyone’s favorite Zelda game, but it is different enough from the norm that I suspect it will have dedicated fans.