The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

Whatever happened to Purple Link? Did he die?

Or was he just, like, that friend that all the other friends secretly disliked so they simply stopped texting him when a kidnapped princess called out for a nonspecific number of heroes?

You see, Tri Force Heroes isn't the first time that The Legend of Zelda could be played cooperatively, as there were GameCube and GBA games that let four players, and four Links, team up.

But in the transition to 3DS, things have downsized a little. Goodbye Purple Link. And goodbye to the friend who played as them!

Tri me

The shrinkage in Link's entourage isn't the only change in Tri Force Heroes. You can now play online as well as locally. And download play means only one person needs to own the game when playing over a local network.

But the game also requires three human players, and won't fill the empty space with bots, or let one player control two Links like in Four Swords Adventures. It should be easy to find a third wheel online, but it's a bummer for those who want to play in pairs.

Oh, and I should point that you can play solo, but it's such a soul-crushingly bad experience - slow and cumbersome and, at times, impossibly tough - that it shouldn't even exist.

Three's company

So what do you get when you finally find a three player team? A fun, lightweight series of Zelda-themed obstacle courses with groups of enemies that you can dispatch together, and simple puzzles that require some teamwork to solve.

For example, a switch might be up on a high ledge. To get to it, the three Links must stand on each other's shoulders in a big wobbly totem, and have the topmost Link fire an arrow at the switch. That sort of stuff.

Things really fall into place during the boss fights. Here, team work is essential, and all three players must be on the ball and doing their bit. In one boss fight, a giant worm chases one Link, allowing the others to sneak up and slash its tail.

Totem-ly awesome

When everyone is working together, and playing well, the game can be tremendous fun. You help each other out, figure out puzzles together, and then get together for a boss fight that really puts your skills and teamwork to the test.

But that's when things work out. When three pals are playing in the same room, or communicating over Skype (there's no voice chat in the game) it feels great. If you're playing with randoms online, it can be a different story.

The emoji chat icons are cute, but "Over here!" and "Throw!" don't adequately explain the intricacies of a puzzle that requires a gust jar, a boomerang, a two-man totem and some smart timing.

You'll find trolls (you can blacklist them), lag (it affects all players, not just the one on a crappy connection), and disconnectors (it ends the whole session). If you don't have a three man crew, you'll have to cross your fingers and hope you get some adept partners.

Use the force, Link

There's quite a lot to work through. There are 32 stages that take around 10 minutes to finish. And you're encouraged to replay them - either to finish fun bonus missions, or to collect more crafting materials, to make cute outfits back in town.

Yes, there is a town. There's always a town. And always a princess. Though the game is distinctly a Zelda spin-off with a goofy story about how the princess's sense of style has been stolen, and many more jokes than you're used to.

All told, Tri Force Heroes can be a fun and raucous little slice of Zelda-style adventuring. And when it all comes together - with like-minded friends working in harmony and facing the hardest bosses as a tight-knit team - it's a great experience.

But get stuck with some rando who can't communicate, is lagging on their free McDonalds wi-fi, doesn't understand the puzzle, and keeps throwing you off the ledge, you'll curse Nintendo for the lack of voice chat or two-person play.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

Tri Force Heroes can be a thrill when played with a group of three friends. But try playing it solo or with just one pal, and things might not be so fun
Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown is editor at large of Pocket Gamer