Speaking with IGN, Hiromasa Shikata, the director behind Tri Force Heroes, shared more information about the upcoming 3DS game. Shikata spoke of Shigeru Miyamoto’s initial reaction to the game, the online modes, and the costumes, adding to the details of this delightfully odd Zelda installment.
Shikata’s interest in a multiplayer Zelda grew from his initial start in the franchise with Spirit Tracks, released in 2009. In the DS game, the player must switch between control of Link as well as Zelda’s spirit when the latter takes control of a Phantom, one of the game’s enemies. That mechanic caught Shikata’s attention. “That was something that really interested me,” he said. “That idea of multiplayer within the franchise as a Zelda game.”
Before Spirit Tracks‘ inspiration hit Shikata, there were few opportunities for multiplayer in a Zelda game. Four Swords on the Game Boy Advance (released alongside the ported A Link to the Past) was the first multiplayer Zelda experience, followed in scale only by Four Swords Adventures for the GameCube. Both games required link cables and each player to have a Game Boy Advance in order to get the full experience.
“That was something that really interested me. That idea of multiplayer within […] a Zelda game.”
Shikata acknowledged that this “was a bit troublesome.” However, the onset of wireless communication combined with the 3DS’ hardware encouraged him and his fellow developers to look into a multiplayer experience once more. Once work on A Link Between Worlds was completed, Shikata turned his focus onto what would become Tri Force Heroes.
Getting Miyamoto’s approval was one of the larger hurdles Shikata had to jump, as A Link Between Worlds was initially shot down by the series’ creator. But after seeing the success of A Link Between Worlds, Miyamoto was more open to Zelda experiences outside the norm. He encouraged Shikata and his team to work on the multiplayer idea. When one of the earliest builds was offered to Miyamoto to try, he became so absorbed in the gameplay that he was shouting out orders and reacting to failures. Naturally, the green light for the game’s continued development was quickly given.
A big draw of any multiplayer game is the ability to play with a friend or friends who may not be close enough to visit. Fortunately, Tri Force Heroes will have a “play with friends” option alongside the random matchmaking.
“When you’re getting ready to play online, the first thing you’ll see is [an option to] play with friends or anyone,” Shikata explained. Of course, two-player mode isn’t possible in online mode, but if only one of your friends is available to play at the start, the game will fill in the third slot randomly.
It won’t help you if someone drops out, however. Shikata felt it would be “a very difficult thing for players to do” if they were pulled into a game to replace someone else in the middle of a dungeon. The sense of co-operation and unity would be broken. The save system, however, allows for a quick return to the lobby to grab a new player before continuing into the dungeon; or the player can continue in single-player mode.
Players can choose their looks at the start of each level in Tri Force Heroes, and they’ll have a ton of options. Shikata was reluctant to give the exact number and kinds of outfits in the game, but he suggested, “A month’s not going to cut it; you might need like, three months of gameplay.”
Materials for making these costumes can be earned during the in-game story mode, while some of the best are earned through the PvP mode, The Coliseum. With a broader choice of costumes available comes the ability to better select which ones will best complement the item(s) a player will be using in each level. Some outfits will enhance an item or skill, while others will boost stats like speed, power, and defense. Items contained within each level are shown to the player beforehand, allowing them to choose the best combination for their particular play style.
The outfits were partly the result of Tri Force Heroes‘ multiplayer focus. Shikata sees players will be playing the game “a little bit each day,” and as they progress their outfits act as a banner of sorts. “Your work shows these other people how far you’ve progressed and the accomplishments that you have had,” Shikata explained. “It proves to them where you’ve been and what you’ve done so far.”
This sort of customization is seen in games like Monster Hunter, and MMOs such as Destiny and Final Fantasy XIV. But how Tri Force Heroes approaches the mechanic is different, Shikata affirmed. Rather than just putting on what looks cool or will benefit you in a wide range of activities and combat, Tri Force Heroes‘ costumes encourage the player to think how their outfit’s abilities will impact one specific level at a time. “That element of matching your outfit to the course you’re about to enter is a really unique feature of our game,” Shikata said.
Certainly there will be more than one unique thing to experience in Tri Force Heroes when it releases this fall. For now, you can check out some gameplay footage and our first-hand experiences to discover this game’s charm for yourself; and be sure Zelda Universe will be bringing you future information on this title!