A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes is a cooperative action game with lots of puzzles. Players work in groups of three, taking control of heroes armed with a sword, a bow and arrow, a boomerang, bombs, and other equipment and who fight monsters in dungeons. Combat effects are limited to flashes of light, and defeated enemies simply disappear. The heroes also solve puzzles in cooperation with one another, working together to help each other cross gaps, flip switches, and reach high ledges. Most puzzles can't be solved without at least some teamwork, making for a positive social gaming experience for groups of three players playing locally, each on his or her own Nintendo 3DS (only one copy of the game is needed). Online play connects players with strangers, but it's without support for any form of communication beyond preset pictures that convey either emotions or puzzle advice. This also is the latest installment of a popular franchise, so kids may be interested in playing the other titles in the series when they're done.
What's it about?
Set in the kingdom of Hytopia, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TRIFORCE HEROES tells the story of a fashion-obsessed town whose most stylish citizen, the princess, suffers a curse that covers her in a drab brown bodysuit she can never remove. The king sends out a request for heroes to explore 32 nearby dungeons -- collectively known as the "Drablands" -- to find the witch who cursed his daughter. Players take on the role of one of these heroes and band together in groups of three to explore the dungeons, which are filled with a mix of monsters and puzzles. All three must work together to solve puzzles and beat bosses, tossing one another from platform to platform, stacking up to reach higher plateaus, and throwing switches at just the right time to open the way for their partners. If you can't find three others to play with locally or have no access to a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can journey alone and control all three heroes, switching among them as needed to solve puzzles. Back in town, players get to use the loot -- textile materials -- they find while adventuring to craft new outfits with special abilities that may help them on future quests.
Is it any good?
This puzzle adventure can be pretty fun -- assuming you're playing with other people. Playing alone by switching among heroes (the game calls these dummy characters "doppels") is a slow and clunky business that only gets worse when you're facing real-time dangers, such as boss fights. But getting a couple friends together on the couch or even hooking up with strangers online can be a lot of fun. You'll puzzle out solutions as a group, help each other through dangerous gauntlets and repel hordes of enemies, then fire off congratulatory and celebratory emoticons when things go your way.
Be prepared for some repetition, though -- especially when playing online, where players must vote for the levels they want to play in each dungeon. Players also are tempted to replay previously completed levels with modifiers meant to make the game more challenging (such as starting with fewer hearts), all for the chance to earn rarer textiles needed for various costume recipes. The problem is diminishing returns: Once you solve a puzzle, it's a lot less fun to solve it a second time, even under more challenging circumstances. With the right trio of friends aiming to avoid repetition, The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes can be pretty entertaining, but it's not exactly an essential entry in Nintendo's iconic series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes is broken into 32 dungeons, each composed of four small levels that can take only a few minutes to complete, so how many dungeons do you think is reasonable to fit into a single play session before taking a break?
Discuss cooperation. How do you feel about relying on others to help you accomplish goals? Do you feel differently when either you or your partner requires more help than the other? Do you feel more or less satisfaction if you accomplish something as a team rather than on your own?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: October 23, 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Friendship
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence
- Last updated: May 9, 2021
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