Game Informer has recently published its full interview with Nintendo director Hiromasa Shikata, about The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes.
Highlights of the interview include talk about how it’s partially inspired by Four Swords in a way, why there are 3 players instead of 4, the importance of fashion in the game and discussing online communication.
You can find the main quotes below, or read the entire interview here.
On how Four Swords seems like an inspiration for the game:
There are points where you could definitely say that, but there are other points where, no, it’s not at all. We have the overall producer of the Zelda series, Mr. Eiji Aonuma, with four swords of course he incorporated multiplayer gameplay elements, but if you go back, his first title, Marvelous, also had multiplayer.
As for myself, I was the lead game designer on The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and within that game we had the phantom Link element where you switched back and forth between controlling the phantom and Link and I was always interested in that type of gameplay, but not with a person switching between two, but with two people.
So, I didn’t come up with the idea or suggest the idea for Tri-Force Heroes because I wanted to do a sequel to Four Swords.
On why there are 3 players instead of 4:
Mr. Aonuma of course had Four Swords, and I had Spirit Tracks which had two players – so I just went with the one right in the middle. (laughs) That’s a joke actually.
I really wanted to adopt and use the camera we had in A Link Between Worlds because it worked so well with the 3D feature of the 3DS. Because of the way that camera works, and because we wanted to incorporate an element of height within the gameplay, we thought, “What’s one way we can take advantage of the fact that you can see that depth?” And so the idea came about of stacking things. Of course, when we’re talking about stacking things, we’re talking about having the characters stand on each other’s shoulders. We played around with the idea of four players, but to be honest, it just seemed too high. It was a little difficult to see and it just didn’t really quite get what we were going at, so we reduced it down to three.
On the importance of fashion in the game:
Let me talk about why fashion is important in Tri-Force Heroes. In A Link Between Worlds, there were these alien type things you would collect to power up items. I really liked that mechanic of collecting things to power up existing items. It’s not just powering up items – I wanted to do more than that. So in this game you will see things other than items. Things that will make you immune to fire, swim faster, something that will make more rupees appear. The easiest way to represent that in the game, I thought, would be through clothing. I thought that, depending on which clothing you collected, it would impact how you navigated courses and would make them easier to move through. It’s not something as simple as this will make a stronger attacker, or this will give you a better defense. They’re really designed toward making you be able to navigate and clear a course. That would be things like being able to shoot three arrows at a time, or being immune to lava.
On whether the game will feature costumes based on characters from other Nintendo franchises:
Like Mario? No. Stuff from the Zelda universe only.
On whether the team experimented with giving everyone full control:
Yes, of course we’ve tried as you describe, giving players full control to mount and dismount. What found was when you give players the ability to do that, to get up and down at any time, was that players would just constantly do that. “Hey we have to go over here!” and you would pick them up and the would say, “Nah, I want to go over here,” and people weren’t progressing. That was the phenomenon we witnessed. However, if you’re playing local you can just say, “Dude. Put me down.” And if you’re playing online you can use the communication panels on the bottom screen. There’s one that says, “Hey, let’s totem,” and another that says, “Put me down.” You can definitely express your desire to be picked up or put down in any mode of multiplayer.
On whether the message icons will be enough for communication during online play:
I believe we can. We obviously looked at implementing text and voice chat. But one thing we did notice right away, is if we did implement voice or text chat where you could say whatever you wanted, it lead to what we thought would be an undesirable form of gameplay. If you have played this map three times and someone else had never played it, you’re going to know exactly what to do and just say, “Hey dude, pick up that thing, get on my back, shoot that thing come over here…” and the novice would just say, “Okay. Sure. Okay,” and it’s not fun for either player. One player is just issuing orders, and the other is just following orders.
I think the key gameplay feature, the thing that you’re going to have the most fun with, the thing we’re focused on the most, is the cooperation element. You have to cooperate to solve puzzles to progress through that game. And if you have someone in the role of following orders and someone in the role of just issuing orders, it really does just take you out of that. In order to supplement and support that idea of communication, we implemented these eight panels. Of course you will be able to send and receive communication through these panels. Just eight, of course, isn’t sufficient enough. One can’t tell you everything, so it’s going to require some ingenuity on how you will combine those to communicate.
Really for the person who is receiving the requests via these icons, it’s not a straightforward, “Yo, dude, come over here and do this thing,” it’s, “Come here. Ok.” And then something else, and you see that – it’s like a quiz game almost. You will have to figure out what your partner who you’re playing with is trying to tell you. We’ve done a lot of monitor testing in our team and I’m happy to say there has been nothing we’ve created in the game that couldn’t be solved by using those communication panels. I do think with the person who is trying to communicate something through their ingenuity and the way they do this, once the other person understands what they’re trying to do and they do it, there is a high sense of satisfaction by saying, “Yeah! I was able to get my point across.” And for the person who is trying to follow the communication panels, they’re like, “Okay, you want me to do this here at this time. Hey I did it! That’s what you were trying to tell me. Yeah, we did it!” There is a real genuine sense of satisfaction when you are able to communicate using that. I really do think that what we have implemented is the best system to support the whole idea of cooperation to proceed.