Clever dungeon and puzzle designs are nothing new for the Legend of Zelda franchise, but with Tri Force Heroes, Nintendo is hoping to try out a few new ideas. Resurfacing fond memories of the Four Swords games on Game Boy Advance and GameCube, Tri Force Heroes removes one from that equation, placing three heroes in a world that shares an art style with A Link Between Worlds.
With three characters traveling through the levels together, the designers have had a field day putting in puzzles that make you think about the levels using your numbers to your advantage. Players must stack, or totem, their characters on top of each other in order to reach high objects, or they must throw each other over obstacles in a particular order to solve a puzzle and make it passable for all. It’s a fun concept with quirky and humorous emotes that help players communicate if they aren’t sitting in the same room since there isn’t any voice chat.
In previous demos, we’ve journeyed through a straightforward dungeon and battled a spiky beast that required us to stack on top of one another to lob bombs into the monster’s weak point. In this particular demo, I joined two other heroes as we worked through an icy region. At the costume select screen, I donned the never-before-seen parka, which was being shown off for the first time. With this on, my character won’t slip on ice and can’t be hurt by ice breath – a perfect power to use in this level. From there we jump in and begin attacking the area’s many puzzles.
We find three items: a boomerang and two fire wands. I pick up one of the fire wands and immediately test it out. As the fireball blasts out, a familiar noise rings out from my 3DS’s speakers – the fireball sound from the Super Mario series. It’s a subtle nod, but it still brings a smile to my face.
We press on through the level with our items, lighting torches with the wands, melting ice obstacles, battling enemies, and using the totem formation to cross otherwise impassable chasms. The fire wands come in handy against the enemies and obstacles, but without the boomerang, which can retrieve any heroes who are left behind after throwing their partners over the gaps, we’d be stranded.
We ascend the mountainous region using our combined problem-solving skills, but as we reach the top, a massive, icy creature greets us. Our swords have no effect on its hardened exterior, so we resort to using the items we found earlier to melt it. While the boomerang was used to stun enemies and bring teammates over pits, it must now be thrown through lit torches to catch fire and then hit the boss. It’s trickier than just lighting the enemy up with the fire wand, but every little bit helps. My teammate and I use our fire wands to light as many surrounding torches as possible while dodging the monster’s ice projectiles. Thankfully, I chose the parka costume, so his most powerful attack, his ice breath, deals no damage to me.
After we light several torches, we turn our wands on the massive creature and begin a triple assault on it, melting it down piece by piece. After a few minutes, the creature is gone and we are rewarded with large amounts of rupees. It was a thrilling fight that was made more fun by playing with other people.
Tri Force Heroes also features a single-player mode for those who can’t find people to play with. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes releases October 23 on 3DS.
For more on Tri Force Heroes, head here for an interview with the game's director, Hiromasa Shikata.