You can play the newest Zelda game alongside two other people. You can play it by yourself. But you can't, according to director Hiromasa Shikata, play Zelda: Triforce Heroes with a party of two.
Bad news for anyone who was hoping to plough through the co-op dungeon game — announced for 3DS during Nintendo's conference on Tuesday — with a single friend or significant other. There's an optional mode that lets you play against one or two other friends, Shikata says, but the new Zelda is mostly comprised of deep, intricate dungeon levels that require parties of either one or three.
"You can't play regular courses with two people," Shikata said during an interview at E3 earlier this week, speaking through Nintendo's excellent translator Tim O'Leary. In order to complete the game's various puzzles and defeat its boss battles, you'll need to be able to form a full party of three.
Two-person parties can play against one another in an optional mode, but not in the main game. "There is a mode within the game called the Colosseum, where it's completely competitive, there's no cooperation, it's a battle-mode, basically," Shikata said. "You can play 1-on-1 or 1-on-1-on-1, so you can play with two players."
What happens if you're playing with two friends and one of them is called in for brain surgery? "If someone drops out or quits, you'll get to a game over screen," Shikata said. It will save your progress, but you won't be able to continue unless you find a replacement or go solo.
The good news: it sounds like Triforce Heroes will be worthwhile even for those of us who prefer to play Zelda games by ourselves. If you're playing alone, the other two Links in your dungeon party will turn into brainless dolls that you can control with the touchscreen and manipulate to solve puzzles. And Shikata says during testing, plenty of folks at Nintendo felt like playing alone was way more satisfying.
"Actually there are some people [on our team] who prefer the singleplayer mode," Shikata said.