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cover

 

Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

RPG / Party Game

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

June 2004

 

 

- Fantastic multiplayer and maybe the best use of the of GBA/GameCube compatibility

- Solid single-player game

- High nostalgia factor for those that have played the old Zelda games

- Lots of action on-screen

 

 

- The top-down presentation might be off-putting to some

- Getting enough people together that have GBAs and link cables

 

 

Review: The Legend of Zelda - The Wind Waker (GC)

Review: Mario & Luigi - Superstar Saga (GBA)

Review: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (GC)

Review: Legend of Zelda - Link to the Past (GBA)

 

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The Legend of Zelda:

Four Swords Adventures

Score: 8.8 / 10

 

Reviewing a Legend of Zelda game is always a little tricky – the Zelda games, after all, are legends.  And it never seems to matter what form the Zelda game takes, from the sidescrolling sections of Zelda II (NES) to the much maligned/praised animation style of the Wind Waker (GC), Nintendo never seems to be afraid to take one of it’s marquee series and take it in new directions.  Proving this yet again comes The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, a GBA connected multiplayer Zelda adventure that has more in common with the classic Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (SNES) than Wind Waker but the same level of challenge and engrossing gameplay as befits a Legend of Zelda game.

 

zelda four swords review          zelda four swords review

 

The multiplayer portion of Four Swords is obviously encouraged – a GBA link cable is included with the game – but there is a solid solo outing, too.

 

The plot follows the familiar formula of the Zelda games: an ages-old evil rising again, kidnapped princesses, and plucky Link ready to mount an ill-equipped offensive against the ages-old evil.  The difference is that Link is split into four – the crux of Four Swords’ gameplay both for single and multiplayer components.  Thankfully, instead of being a gimmick, this “Link splitting” actually adds gameplay, particularly to multiplayer, which encourages competitive co-operation.

 

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To begin with, you’ll need one to three buddies (or at least one), each with a GBA and link cable to plug into the GameCube.  The main action happens on the TV, but when you enter a cave or house the action shifts to the GBA for the player that wandered into the cave or house.  So while your buddies are off trying to vanquish foes, you can scarf up hidden treasure and gather information no one else has access to.  Although sneaking off on your own has its attractions for most of the time you really have to stick/work together 

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because the puzzles require teamwork.  Maybe most famously, you’re required to move a house, but there are many other sections that require you to split up to achieve a goal.  Four Swords accomplishes this by restricting the number of carryable items to one.  For Legend of Zelda fans this seems extremely limiting – no pages of inventory to deal with here – but it does heighten the teamwork aspect.  Sometimes its just a matter of every standing on a switch to open a door, but most times it’s more complicated and requires a little lateral thinking.

 

Though there is a definite team aspect, there’s a certain amount of competition involved.  Like Smash TV, at the end of each stage a score comparison is made – only regarding gems collected, number of times you “died”, etc. instead of toasters.  Also included is a vote at the end of each stage where you can (on your GBA) vote for the most “helpful” player and the biggest A-hole.  (The latter vote suffers from not being able to send an electrical shock through the link cable.)  Stages can be replayed and eight mini-games add a “party game” flavor to the proceedings.

 

Basically, Nintendo has done everything they can think of to make Four Swords the killer app to push the GBA/GC link functionality and they’ve succeeded well beyond the stylish Crystal Chronicles (though CC is still a good example of what can be done with the link-up).

 

zelda four swords review          zelda four swords review

 

There is still a single-player portion with somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 hours of game time.  The general control and questing remains the same but you get to control all four Links, which beings to mind Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA).  If you only play the single-player game, you’re still getting a good value for your money, even though the real fun comes with the multiplayer.

 

The presentation side is sure to disappoint those expecting spectacular visuals and audio along the lines of Crystal Chronicles.  Because the action switches seamlessly between the GBA and GameGube, the graphics have been scaled in such a way as to make the transition easier.  This means some pixelization during close-up shots.  Four Swords still manages to be impressive at times, throwing dozens and dozens of enemies on-screen at once.  You could say Nintendo has taken an easy out by providing basically the same tunes we’ve been hearing for the last 10 or 15 years.  I don’t take it like that.  I always get that warm wave of familiarity and nostalgia cresting over me when those tunes are played.  Throw in familiar locations and just about every strange character and beast Link has ever come across and you have a Zelda game tailored to true fans.

 

The real question is, “Is it worth the extra time, effort and money to assemble four players with GBAs and link cables?”  Without a doubt.  This is the best four-player game since the original Gauntlet and the resulting fun is worth the effort.

 

- Omni

(July 19, 2004)

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