Monday, November 9, 2015

Tri Force Heroes – Coliseum Review

Link in the Fire Blazer at the Coliseum entrance with 66666 Rupees in his pockets... so devilish!

This review was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2022 by the same author. A second copy of the game was provided by Nintendo for testing purposes.

Since the main game of Tri Force Heroes is now all about cooperation, it's more important than ever to offer something where you can brawl it out with other players. And that's where the Coliseum comes in. It's comparable to the Shadow Battles from Four Swords Adventures, but based on the StreetPass battles from A Link Between Worlds. If you ever wanted to play those against human players, instead of the AI, then the Coliseum will now grant you your wish.


For the first time ever Zelda fans can now test their sword skills against each other online, either in a 1-on-1 or in a three-way battle, which is a lot of fun, but also has its downsides. The main problem is that the winning player gets determined by who has been defeated the least amount of times after 90 seconds or who has the most hearts left on a tie. When the timer ran out in A Link Between Worlds, the deciding factor was the damage dealt, which worked much better. The way it is in Tri Force Heroes you will only be motivated to stay away from the action, true to the motto »when two people quarrel, a third rejoices«.

Tourian vs. Tourist

While it's possible to play duels, for some reason they felt the need to add a Wallmaster, who randomly picks its target and goes for instant kills. If you get hit by one, then it's very hard to still catch up to your opponent. Plus, this is just a distraction from the actual fight, where it would have been good if there were an option to turn off the Wallmaster completely, so that it won't ruin your serious 1-on-1 fights.

You can play the Coliseum online or locally, but not in Download Play. There are also no bots, where it would have been nice to have the Shadow Links from A Link Between Worlds back as an option to play this mode on your own.

Item & Outfit Usage

You can find items in some of the arenas, which are randomly placed on multiple sockets, if present. This creates a race to the best item(s) at the start of the battle, especially if you're using outfits to boost a specific item. But this also means that some matches are decided right at the beginning by pure luck and that's just not a good concept for a competitive mode. Eventually, it would have been better if you could choose your item before the battle, just like with the Shadow Link battles in A Link Between Worlds, or if players were to lose their items when they get defeated. But the way it is things are just not working out too well.

artwork of Toon Link looking like a Hammer Bro from Super Mario

Especially the Hammerwear turned out to be very overpowered, where this outfit not only makes the hammer faster, it also deals a total of six hearts of damage per hit, the strongest attack in the entire game. While there are only two levels with the hammer in place, any matches on these levels can be decided within seconds if one of the players uses the Hammerwear and gets the item. Overall, the outfits feel like an interesting addition to the Coliseum, where the choice can lead to different strategies. But in practice there is simply a handful of outfits which completely dominate the Coliseum. And as long as you don't have them, you will be at a disadvantage.

But the Coliseum itself is also a good way of getting certain costumes, because the gold-ranked materials, which are offered as a reward, can otherwise only be obtained once by clearing all challenges of one area. The Coliseum let's you obtain them much faster, where it's not surprising to see players online who are simply supporting each other to win these materials, instead of battling. You will also get some Rupees, but the amounts are completely laughable: 20 for the first place, 10 for the second, and five for the third. That's just not worth it.

It also would have been nice to have something like the StreetPass Challenges in A Link Between Worlds, so that you have an incentive to try all the outfits inside the arena to complete different tasks. This would have made things more interesting and offered some more variety, where it's not just about winning. Speaking of, it doesn't count your lost games, only how many times you have won. And that's good, because there is nothing to lose and there is no reason to quit a match just because it's not going well.


There is a total of eight different levels available in the Coliseum, one per Drabland area. There could have been more, but at least they offer a lot of variety via different ideas. The level for the Dunes, for example, takes place on a giant tilting platform, but it doesn't have any items. Neither does the last arena, instead it rains magma rocks there. Otherwise, the available items are determined for each arena, where it's usually two or three different ones. In one case you can even find all eight items, where you can keep swapping them for some more chaos.

It's still a shame that the items are given for every arena, where an upfront selection would have offered more variety and depth, especially to the arenas which don't have any items by default. Of course then everyone would just use the Hammerwear and the hammer, but these items are in need of a nerf anyway.


The Coliseum could have been the one thing that keeps Tri Force Heroes going for a little longer, where Zelda fans can enjoy themselves in some good competition. And with eight varied arenas and the different outfits there is some potential for fun. Sadly, the rules are too messed up to play this more seriously, while the outfits can also make it a very unbalanced affair.

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