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 Triforce Heroes vs Four Swords

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PostSubject: Triforce Heroes vs Four Swords   Sat Oct 24, 2015 8:27 pm

If you can't already tell by my username, I'm very fond of the Legend of Zelda series, and the original Four Swords was the game that started it all. When I was in high school I was the second of four (and later a fifth) person to get the GBA remake of a Link to the Past, which came with the multiplayer exclusive Four Swords game. And as the second player I became designated as the Red Link (hence the R in my username)

Lots of fun times were had playing that game, and now, more than ten years since that came out, we have Triforce Heroes. I played the demo during two of the three days online play was allowed, and now I have the full version, so I just wanted to do a little compare and contrast between the two. 

This will refer to the original GBA Four Swords, and the DSiware Anniversary Edition, NOT Four Swords Adventures for the Gamecube. I only played that one single-player and didn't have much fun with it.

On the surface the two are pretty similar. Rather than exploring a massive overworld, you select one of several small "dungeon stages" and progress through mini-stages within, until you get to the boss. They're themed in typical Zelda fashion. One is a forest, another is an ice world, a volcano world and so on.

In Four Swords, there are only four main "worlds", And you play two stages, followed by a boss stage. But the thing is, there are actually many different stages with different layouts, so each time you go to the forest or wherever, you could end up with a completely different layout with different puzzles and enemies. Not only that, but the stages further change depending on how many players there are, as you can play it with 2-4 players. There is single player mode in the Anniversary Edition, but I'll get to that later.

These stages are fairly large and allow for a lot of exploration. You can separate from the others and collect treasures on your own, before coming together to perform tasks such as lifting huge rocks or stepping on switches that require the weight of all the players. It can take about 4-8 minutes to clear an average stage in multiplayer and 7-10 minutes in single player, since you have to do all of that yourself.

In Triforce Heroes, the game requires three players. You CANNOT play two players without a third. I have no idea what happens if you only have two people on local, but if you only have one online friend, it'll find you a random third person, which for some reason causes more severe game lag than just playing against two strangers online.

The stages are far more linear than those of Four Swords. You start out having to decide between three items, which you keep the entire dungeon stage. You stay mostly together the entire time. You solve one or two puzzles in the room before heading to the warp that takes you to the next mini-stage. The fourth mini-stage is always a boss battle. Beating any given mini-stage can take between 1-4 minutes if you know what you're doing,with 6-10 being the average for the whole dungeon. There are 8 worlds, each with 4 dungeon stages, which in turn have four mini-stages within. And unlike Four Swords, each of them is exactly the same each time you play it. There are special challenges, but they mostly entail to "cripple the player or add an annoying new element like a wallmaster that chases you the entire time"

Four Swords not only had the players competing to collect more rupees than the others, but also required a lot of working together. Torches could only be lit by having two Links strike their swords together, some enemies could only be beaten by having one person throw it toward the other.

Triforce Heroes seems to be entirely co-op. You're given very little time to stray away from your teammates and explore on your own, as all of the Links need to use their items and the totem mechanic to progress through practically every second of gameplay. 

And now it's time to talk about the single-player mode. In the Four Swords Anniversary Edition, you are able to control two Links, with one following behind you. You can detach the two at any time, allowing you to control one and switch between the two at any time. You can also call the other Link to your location at any time by pressing X, which can save you some time backtracking.

The second Link following behind will automatically get into position when something requiring the use of both players occurs, such as the aforementioned torches. While this can take the "how do you do this?" out of situations like that, I like it. FSA for the Gamecube did something similar in that you could arrange your Links into formations such as a synchronized line or square, but like before they all move together and can break off.

Triforce Heroes's doppel mechanic is the complete opposite of this. The two dummies MUST be controlled individually, which you switch between using the touch screen (instead of you know, a shoulder button. Really why do we need L AND R to use the Pegasus boots. Why do we need those AT ALL?) So this can make the game take three times as long because you have to guide each of your doppels individually, instead of having them follow behind you. And this game is so linear that I would have expected that here more than Four Swords.

Edit: I have been informed that you CAN in fact use the top Link to attack while controlling the bottom in totem form. I just tried switching to the top one to attack.

One thing the two games have in common is that you can strategically switch away to another Link in order to avoid taking damage, although your doppels will cost you a heart in TFH if they fall down a pit.

Making TFH all the more difficult is the complete lack of any kind of shield, the butter to the sword's bread in the Zelda series. I have no idea why there is none, but again there are two shoulder buttons, one could have been for the shield. And in a full co-op game like this there could have been great potential for it. Two Links stand next to each other with shields raised, while the third prepares an arrow behind them, shooting when the other two make an opening.

Now while it doesn't detract from the gameplay, I definitely liked the context of Four Swords better. TFH is just kinda like "You're a hero. By the way there are two more. Because." With a silly story involving clothing. Definitely the most lighthearted and goofy scenario for a Zelda game yet. I could see the Four Swords story-line working as well. Drawing out the Four Sword would be how you connect online, and the amount of players you can connect with determines how many Links he splits into. 

But of course, the totem mechanic is the reason there are only three Links this time, and Red was moved to player 3 this time. Probably because of how the Triforce is arranged. Courage (Green), Wisdom (Blue) and Power (Red)

I feel like a lot of the reason TFH is the way it is has to do with the online play. Smaller stages are easier to load, for example. Nintendo being the family company that they are doesn't seem to like forcing players to stay connected for more than ten minutes. This in my mind justifies the short, linear stages that are always the same each time.

If there's one thing I would have to say is a problem with the game, it's one exclusive to online play. For a game that tells you communication is required to progress, it sure gives you very few means of doing so. You have 8 emotes you can touch on the bottom screen to signal to your fellow Links. 

The only practical ones are the ones that say "Item!" and the one that signals a totem stack. But since you can't direct these at a specific player, it can get a little confusing when you're signaling "Item!" and the one person who has the boomerang just doesn't get it. There's also no way to convey how to apply these items, so if one person needs to say... hookshot downward to pull a wooden raft, but doesn't see that there's a post to hookshot onto because it's off-screen from where he's standing, you just have to wait until he figures it out.

I'll always have much more attachment to the Four Swords, especially since local contact was a thing in my life back then. Triforce Heroes is a nice substitute, but I don't think it deserved to be a full $40 game on its own.
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