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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Why isn't Tri Force Heroes on the Wii U?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Or, as it would be on Wii U, Four Swords Adventures 2.

Were you around when the Wii U was first announced at E3 2011? The KoopaTV staff was alive and watching back then, and we can distinctly remember people were trying to figure out what Nintendo could do with its controller. Nintendo proposed a few ideas in its unveiling trailer.

Wii U E3 2011 Link drawing sketch GamePad Nintendo
You can draw Link, yeah...

None of the ideas were especially compelling, a problem that Nintendo still hasn't solved after four years. Still, fans and game developers across the world were thinking about how this new controller could fuel new gameplay types or reinvigorate older concepts that were ahead of their time.

One idea that popped up in discussion boards over and over again was revisiting the concept for The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. This was a GameCube game that featured Game Boy Advance-GameCube connectivity, with players having second-screen experiences as they used their Game Boy Advance as a controller. Sometimes the action would go down to the Game Boy Advance's screen from the TV screen. Sadly, not too many people played it since the game encouraged four-player action, and it's hard to have four people with four Game Boy Advances with four link cables. I myself only have one of each. But with the Wii U, the second-screen experience comes with every Wii U and it's all naturally integrated!

The Legend of Zelda Four Swords Adventures gameplay screenshot Game Boy Advance GameCube game
Picture instead of a GBA, your GamePad.
Screenshot courtesy of ZeldaMaster.

People later learned that the Wii U could only handle one GamePad per system (up to two with severe consequences). This would prevent local multiplayer in the way Four Swords Adventures did it, but there would be multiple ways around it. Online-only multiplayer is something a lot of people are getting used to, or the GamePad could be controlled by whoever happens to be underground or whatever the reason would be for a certain Link to be on the lower-screen. Passing it around to people would be a great social experience and usage of the GamePad! Meanwhile, the Links would normally be controlled by the Wii U's wide variety of controller options, like Wii Remotes or Classic Controllers.

The Legend of Zelda Wii U E3 2011 tech demo trailer
You know, this is actually a really huge TV screen if you compare it to the Wii U in the corner.

Either way, it would be a better Wii U-defining experience than just being the first console that features Nintendo games in high-definition graphics with real-time non-obscuring maps/inventory change. Which is exactly what Nintendo ended their 2011 trailer with, some five-second Legend of Zelda footage you can see a screenshot of above.

Skip to 2015. There are no The Legend of Zelda games on Wii U besides an HD remaster, and... a spin-off that apparently has sold over a million copies, but I don't think it's compelling at all. Nintendo announces The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on the 3DS. It's pretty much the Four Swords series with three Links, because the 3DS can't handle four Links in local multiplayer. There is also a vertical height element with stacking Link upon Link, while Four Swords is top-down in formations. You could still do that height thing with four Links on a TV, or you could encourage the game design so one Link has to stand on a switch while a three-Link tower has to go through a path (thanks to the switch being stood on) and shoot an eye-statue that's conveniently three Links tall. It's endless!

Four Swords Adventures had Tetris-piece-like formations, while this has TOTEM TIME!
Screenshot courtesy of GameXplain.
So... why does this game exist? I don't really know! Apparently the developers liked A Link Between Worlds and its graphic style so much (would still prefer Four Swords Adventures's) they wanted to do a multiplayer version of it. Couple that with system limitations but covering that up with a Triforce = 3 theme, and you get Tri Force Heroes.

But why couldn't it just be on the Wii U and leverage the existing positive perception of the Four Swords sub-brand? Sure, it's what everyone expected, but even doing what's expected (and at this point it would be unexpected after four years) would be better for the Wii U than what's currently going on.

Seriously, the Wii U needs first-party games that innovatively use the GamePad that make its existence worth it, gameplay-wise. (It's obviously worth it for making Miiverse a better place.) And Shigeru Miyamoto's garbage ideas on how to use the Wii U GamePad, like Star Fox Zero or his crappy E3 2014 projects that suspiciously weren't mentioned at E3 2015 ain't gonna do it.

However, this from the Wii U E3 2011 trailer would:

Shigeru Miyamoto HANDS UP DON'T SHOOT crosshair Wii U demo Mii
Miyamoto: "HANDS UP, DON'T SHOOT!"

Nintendo Satoru Iwata Mii crosshair shoot gun Wii U E3 2011 demo death
On second thought, given recent circumstances, maybe it's a good idea this game never came out.

Ludwig has always wanted to play The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures on the GameCube with other people with Game Boy Advances. He was so close a few years ago at a videogame club, but it never materialised. He still wants that experience and still has his Game Boy Advance and GBA-GCN cable for that express purpose.

Tri Force Heroes can be played online or offline. Nintendo wants to give people the chance to play with their friends with free demo codes!
People believe the next Nintendo home console's first-look trailer's games shown will be actual games, too. We'll see.
The backwards compatibility of the Wii U was critical to its asymmetric gameplay goals.

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