Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tri Force Heroes: Coliseum Improvements

The Arena was one of the features of this game I looked forward to the most, since the Zelda series kind of has a long history of failed Battle Modes. There were the Shadow Battles in Four Swords Adventures, which were pretty awesome, but you could only play it with other people locally, so most Zelda fans never experienced this. Phantom Hourglass then offered an online mode, however, the game of controlling Phantoms and collecting Force Gems was very different and probably not the most fun for everyone. Spirit Tracks then offered a more fun Battle Mode, but dropped the online component. And while A Link Between Worlds had an excellent duel mode, you could only play it against an AI.

Finally with Tri Force Heroes there's the traditional Battle Mode experience online, but it has too many flaws to be enjoyed to the fullest. I find playing with Randoms rarely to be fun and playing with friends only works, because you're avoiding unfair advantages of certain costumes. But it's not too late to fix this. Nintendo has already released an update for this game and more will follow, where the Coliseum could potentially be improved. And with this post I want to give some ideas on how to do this.

Costume Balance

Ironically my new favorite collectible item of all times is stirring up most of the issues. So, fixing this is probably one of the most important things, because some outfits are outright overpowered. Mainly the Sword Master Sword, the Hammerwear and the Serpent Toga come into mind.

The Hammerwear needs some serious nerfing, even in the main game it's very unbalanced. It's very fast, very safe thanks to the stun effect and does the most damage in the game with SIX hearts. The strongest attacks, which you can do with other weapons, deal "only" four hearts of damage and those are either Spin Attacks or Big Bombs, both being quite unsafe. The upgraded Hammer should only do four Hearts maximum as well and it should become a lot slower, more similar to the Nice Hammer in A Link Between Worlds, but maybe not as slow.

The Serpent Toga is only really an issue in the Ruins, where you can render yourself invincible by picking up the Bombs and then staying in the center of your colored circle. Now, there's an easy solution for that: just make the Boomerang pick up Serpent Toga users. If that was possible, then there wouldn't be a problem. Also, maybe an option, where offensive play gets rewarded and not defensive play, would help, so that players just don't hide behind invulnerability.

The Sword Master Suit really causes trouble with its range and I'm not sure, what could be done here. The increased range is the whole point of the costume, but it's also what makes it so hard to counter, especially if there are no items in play. But this leads me to another point...

Item Selection

Now let's say you're actually going for an upgraded item, there's always the chance that you won't get it, because your opponents pick it up first. And then you're in there with a big disadvantage. Many matches are decided by pure luck right at the beginning because of this.

Now there's a couple different solutions here. One would be that downed players drop their item again. In theory it sounds good, however, your opponent might wear the Sword Master Suit and is pretty much untouchable with you not having any powers.

So, the only real solution would be making sure that you get what you want. Essentially they could just use the empty sockets to fill them with enough items for everyone. Like in the Forest there could be three Bows and three Bombs, so that everyone will be able to pick up what he prefers. This also would work for the Vulcano and Snowlands, but Riverside and Fortress would need additional sockets and on Ruins this wouldn't work at all, because this arena has all items.

Another way would be giving you automatically the item, which gets upgraded by your costume. So, for example selecting the Robowear equips you with the Gripshot on all arenas. This way all items could be utilized in all arenas at any time, making the game more interesting. It would also add more balance against Sword Masters in arenas without any items. It's an easy solution with good results, given that they have nerfed the Hammerwear beforehand. Because otherwise you would just get hammered everywhere and all the time.

Options / Rules

At the very least I want some way to turn off the Wallmaster in duels, because it can be really annoying and disrupting a good fight between two equal players. It could even be a general option or something like the Drabland Challenges, where you play the Coliseum under certain rules like "Evade the Wallmaster!" or "Fight in Darkness!". Even the volcanic rocks in the Sky arena should be a challenge like this, since these rocks can be fun, but they destroy a perfectly neutral arena.

So, before a match players can vote for a challenge / rule or the default game. And I feel like the following challenges could be interesting for the arena:

  • Evade the Wallmaster!
  • Avoid the volcanic rocks! / Don't get hit by snowballs!
  • Don't fall at all! / Avoid falling and quicksand!
  • Win without using a sword!
  • Fight in the dark!

Win Criterias / Game Modes

Now, this could be a topic on its own. In Tri Force Heroes the player wins, who died the least after 90 seconds. On a tie, the remaining hearts count. In A Link Between Worlds the mode basically was "Last Link Standing" and when the two opponents still were alive after a time limit, the player, who dealt the most damage, won. This was to counter Blue Potions, which otherwise would decide the game.

Now, with tactics like the Serpent Toga I previously felt that A Link Between Worlds had the better way and it should be similar with Tri Force Heroes. However, then costumes like the Queen of Hearts would become useless and it's all about having the best damage output. Defensive play should be legitimate as well. "When two people quarrel, a third rejoices." And if someone wins by simply evading and hiding, it's the other two players' fault, really,

Still, maybe there could be an option for different modes that have different win criterias, so that the players can decide. There could even be a mode, where instead of destroying each other, the goal is to collect the most Force Gems or Rupees, similar to the Battle Mode in Spirit Tracks.

Big Plays

For the StreetPass battles in A Link Between Worlds there were 50 medals to collect / challenges to clear. And boy, was that a lot of fun. There were challenges for all the different items, some tricky kills and more. In Tri Force Heroes you could already have one medal for each outfit, even ones that you usually wouldn't use in the arena. For example there could be a medal, where everyone wears the Tri Suit (which actually activates all the effects except for the Rupees, I've tested this). This would encourage people to try and use all the different costumes in the arena, not just the most powerful ones.

And this would make people play the Coliseum more. At least until they have collected all 50+ medals. Of course there needs to be some neat reward, maybe you get a special costume for clearing them all. This would be perfect for a Coliseum Update and here are some other examples for potential medals:

  • Cause 9 Hearts of damage with the Cacto-Clothes!
  • Win without using B or Y!
  • Win without losing a Heart!

This could keep us playing for a while. Naturally some people would just help each other out with these. I would probably abuse my 2nd Nintendo 3DS systems for the tougher challenges. But overall this could be a good idea to bring more life into the arena. And all they would have to do is importing this feature from A Link Between Worlds.

Additional Arenas

Two more areas get added to the game via updates and there should be at least two more arenas as well. One for the Den of Trials and one for whatever area they will add next. The Den of Trials arena could visually follow the Baneful Zone, which was rather unique at the end. Instead of winning specific materials, you would just randomly win a material from any area, since the Den of Trials doesn't have materials on its own.

Of course one or two arenas won't add much. Ideally there would be multiple arenas per area, instead of just one. Especially the Dunes come to mind, where you have the arena with the giant balance platform, but no quicksand. It would be interesting to have an arena with sand to fight on. Theoretically there could be an arena for every level in the game and since these are small places, they shouldn't be too hard to built. After all the Den of Trials has over 30 floors, which all could qualify as arenas.

WARNING: Den of Trials SPOILERS ahead!!!


Unknown said...

Interesting ideas. On an unrelated topic, do you consider them Dark Links or Shadow Links? I'm still debating since of course Shadow Links appeared in ALBW, but it doesn't change the fact that these newer Dark/Shadow Links appear in a very similar fashion to Dark Link from Spirit Tracks in the Take Em All On Challenge.

TourianTourist said...

It's the same thing really. In German they are always called "Shadow Link" with the exception of Hyrule Warriors, while in Japanese and English there seems to be this weird distinction between Dark and Shadow Links... I fail to see the difference though. It's always the same idea and character.

I don't even remember the one in Spirit Tracks being given a name, so you might as well go with Shadow Link here, since that's what they are called in both Four Swords Adventures and A Link Between Worlds.

Unknown said...

Eh it's debated since canonically they're two different beings. Dark Link (and ironically, "Link's Shadow") are described as just being the dark embodiments of Link, and his evil or hate that a hero of his magnitude and light simply can't have. Shadow Link is just described as a demon from the Dark Mirror, while he doesn't have any backstory in ALBW. The Dark Triforce that appears under the Evil trio really makes me think that they're just Dark Links, which is interesting, as it would mean this is the first Link to phase both Dark Link and Shadow Link.