"Tri Force Heroes is Four Swords without the need to sabotage or throw your friends off cliffs. It encourages purely cooperative rather than partially competitive play, and I found it was the better for that."
Ah, see what they did there? Tri Force not Triforce? Clever.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes should be immediately recognisable to anyone who has played either of the Four Swords games before. In fact, aside from up to 3 players instead of 4, Tri Force Heroes is Four Swords without the need to sabotage or throw your friends off cliffs. It encourages purely cooperative rather than partially competitive play, and I found it was the better for that.
The game consists of a variety of levels, though only 3 were available to demo at E3. I jumped into the Temple stage with a couple of other journalists and we pushed forward through the multi-room layout. Just like in Four Swords, each Link can only hold one item (aside from a sword) at a time. So while you can always hack away with your weapon, it's possible that only one player may hold bombs while another has a gust jar or lantern. As a result, certain puzzles require one player to focus on one aspect while another will take care of something else. At one point, we were forced to pick each other up and toss our friends across a chasm to reach additional switches. Separated, we had to work together to open the path forward for each other by combining bombs with gust jars to blow the explosives across ledges to players without them.
Unlike Four Swords, you can do more than just pick up and throw your adventuring partners. Now you can combine into a totem and stand on each other's heads. This allows the person on the bottom to move while the player on top can still use items freely. In another demo I watched, this was necessary to fire an arrow through one high torch to light another. The cooperative mechanics and items are used in clever and original ways that should have even Zelda veterans stumped for a bit.
In fact, Tri Force Heroes is quite difficult — at least when playing with a couple of strangers. My team and I initially struggled to combine our powers to solve the most basic of puzzles or defeat the easiest enemies. The health bar is shared, as are lives, so we died on multiple occasions, and while we made it to the final boss, we couldn't manage to defeat it. Playing with your friends in a room not filled with loud music is likely to make things easier, but there's a solid level of challenge here to keep more practised gamers entertained.
Tri Force Heroes will be out later this year, and it's absolutely worth a look for anyone who loved Four Swords or needs some multiplayer fun for their 3DS. It's tough to say at this point what the entirety of the game will be like, but the 3 levels presented at E3 showed that there's plenty of variety to be found.