#617 The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures

Posted: 1st September 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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81st game played so far Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Gamecube
Year of Release: 2004
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Okay, so this is the last of the Kat games (thank you again) as well as being the first that we have written exclusively using our new (or old when this will be published) website. It is a landmark for Pong and Beyond in many senses of the word… I also believe it to be the last time we will be using the Gamecube to GBA controller wire. Let us shed a brief tear and get on with things… … … okay that’s enough of that. I would also like to point out that this is also a square number and that’s pretty… quite enough of that just introduce the game. Sorry.

So, this is the fourth game in the Zelda franchise that we have covered with there being another eight to tackle at some point in the future. While are yet to tackle one of the handheld games this is definately the closest we have gotten seeing how it is a sequel to an earlier Four Swords game packaged with a Link to the Past handheld remake as well as using handheld consoles in multiplayer with the overall graphics resembling what we have come to expect from their Gameboy outings. Truly a confusing game to behold.

Our Thoughts

Since we’ve covered a third of the Zelda games on the list I assume we will be waiting until about the 300 mark for us to do the next one… which will ironically be the first one. It most likely will be, and at that point this game will probably be the most reasonable callback, with this being the only 2D top down Zelda game we’ve played so far.

I am not too proud to admit that before this list I had never heard of this Zelda instalment… that’s bad right? It’s interesting on its own, as the reason it was that way is probably that this is the only multiplayer Zelda game and that it has its own requirements to make that work – the previously mentioned GBA-GC cable. Well there are a couple of later ones but this was their first main title with multiplayer capabilities since the original Four Swords was bundled with a remake. However, when you consider titles such as Majora’s Mask and The Wind Waker it would be hard to see where a multiplayer could factor in until now; even then they cheated a little by having our hero split in twain twice. This is the only reason the multiplayer works as well as it does in this game. Because there are four Links, you can each control your own (or two) and actually have to work together to get through the levels and find the extra goodies.

Whilst the main line of play in the multiplayer is co-op there is also a nice bit of competition involved with each level ending in a neat tally of gems, enemies beaten and lives lost leading to one of the players being declared the winner. Depending on the competitive nature of the player this will affect gameplay in different ways especially when one player steals all the heart containers.

This is helped further by the choice of wording when you obtain items, where the game doesn’t say you’ve obtained, received or gotten items. No, you’ve ‘nabbed’ them, giving the impression of dirty dealing. Also note that those heart containers were often the alternative to large gem awards, meaning the latter allowed for some nice profit and having that player win.

Then there is also the ever present threat of Tingle (shudder) who will come in and steal your gems if you find yourself staying too long in a single area. I never liked the guy but this made me hate him even more. He comes out of nowhere and is a nuisance. It doesn’t help when he brings out games entitled Ripening Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love. No comment.

Still, Tingle aside, this may be the most fun I have had with a Zelda game so far due to the well executed multiplayer mode. Granted this is the first one I had not previously played but combining the handheld visuals with a multiplayer really worked for us. It’s true. The multiplayer means you’re simply having fun playing together and working with or against each other, and the use of the handheld means that you’re not too held back waiting for each other.

Another great feature are the puzzles which work equally well for both multiplayer and single player. The only downside of multiplayer is that you are only able to utilise half of the player formations. These formations not only work for puzzles but also in battles, since there are many times where you are literally surrounded by grunts. It is then that the single-player exclusive diamond formation comes in very useful whereas in multiplayer you have to make sure not to set each other on fire. The formations, at the same time, are needed to resolve the otherwise at times annoying control issues when you’re playing with less than four players. While the characters themselves control well, your followers are harder to keep under control. You can keep your party in one of the set formations, else you need to individually move all four into place when, for example, you want them to stay where they are for activating switches. True, but it is still a lot faster than in single player. Absolutely, the game does become easier to beat when you’re in multiplayer… probably to make up for all the backstabbing.

Another place where it helps are the added brains. Zelda games enjoy their puzzles, but we’ve had a few places here where we did get stuck for longer than what would be necessary. True, all Zelda gamers know that some of the puzzles can be intentionally tricky… but we both over analysed simple puzzles which caused us to fall prey to the *shudder* Tingle. Luckily, though, we managed to avoid him most of the time. We just wish we left him locked up where he was; he probably enjoyed it anyway…*vomit*

Moving on, the graphics of this game are very reminiscent of Link to the Past, the game the original Four Swords was bundled with. This works on that level but it also allows for there to be a minimal difference between the graphics on the television and on the GBA. They always look snazzier on the main screen but still it’s a lovely touch. It doesn’t look like a Gamecube game, true, but it’s enough to not look too bad either.Of course, that’s subverted during some cutscenes and bossfights, where the additional detail the Gamecube offers is put to good 3D use.

You can see the influence that The Wind Waker had on this game’s style since whilst it does feature the top-down look of the original it also uses the cel-shading that the gaming world had grown to love; something that has become a staple of the recent handheld titles like The Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. They’re still playing with it here though, not entirely sure where to take the style, and sticking to what’s safe. It’s an unequal marriage of sorts that somehow works well.

All in all, this is an interesting experiment, combining multiplayer with existing Zelda gameplay. While there’s other places it’s shown to work, it really comes well together here.

Final Thoughts

This is one of those games we might get ourselves at some point, as it’s a lot of fun to play. Whether you prefer the co-op route or want something a more adversial, you can have a lot of fun with them. The GBA support is lovely, as a nice addition to make the game that more playable. And it’s proper 2D gameplay, something I’ve been missing from the previous Zelda games we’ve played.

It’s harder to get, but if you can, it’s worth getting this game, getting out your old GBA and getting down with a few mates to try and beat that Shadow Links… as well as those others with their weirdly coloured uniforms.

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