Review: The Legend of Zelda: 4 Swords Adventures

Single Player Review

This is solely a Single Player review of Four Swords, we will have a review based on the Multiplayer offerings tomorrow! Reason being, the game is made for Multiplayer, we thought we'd give you a better idea of whether this will appeal to you if you can take advantage of this or not.

Whilst we are still in awe from the unveiling of the new Zelda shown at E3 all that time ago there is still a Zelda game fully deserving of your Zelda craving attention right at your peril. Althought this may look like a GBA game ported to the Cube (it is very similar to the multiplayer game that was included on the GBA version of A Link to the Past after all) it's so much more than that, aside from its glorious presentation via the Cube this is an adventure you'd kick yourself for missing out on. It's Zelda… but with a difference. This review focuses on the single player part of the game; the 'Hyrulean Adventure' which can be played with more than one person if you have multiple GBA's and links. I however only have the one and have completed the game doing so (the nice folk at Nintendo bundle a link in with the game for you); the purpose of this review is to let you know if the game is worth buying if you, like me, do not have everything needed for the multiplayer options it offers. Another C-E colleague is plugging away through the game taking advantage of these multiplayer perks as we speak (as well as the Hyrulean Adventure there is the Shadow Battle mode where you can fight each other) and we will have that review for you tomorrow.

 

Graphics:

Graphically as aforementioned, Four Swords wont win any awards, its basic, but where it is simplistic it makes up for itself with color, vibrant scenery, detailed enemies and special effects such as wind, rain, fire, snow, explosions and the like which are all pleasures to behold. You won't even notice the graphics aren't of usual GameCube standard after 10 minutes and even so, this is a 2D game after all, as many avid Zelda gamer will tell you, it prevails in its 2D origin.

Sound:

Zelda wouldn't be Zelda without the charm of the music; from the bouncy friendly tunes of villages, the darker gloomy music of temples and caves to the heart racing, fast paced music that hits you when a boss spawns at your feet. Plus you have all the usual chimes and such of opening chests, solving puzzles and unlocking doors, it's all second nature to the ears of Zelda gamers. You'll also be happy to know popular themes are kept for trademark areas such as Hyrule and Kakariko Village etc.

The Story:

The peaceful land of Hyrule is upset when the evil wind mage Vaati kidnaps 6 Maidens and Zelda from inner Hyrule and traps them in varied locations; you as Link take the Four Sword from its resting place to save them only to release a horrid darkness upon Hyrule which splits you into four versions of yourself! All of a sudden monsters are about every corner until you can save each Maiden and bring peace back to their keeping place. The story is decent enough with a fair few twists along the way, namely involving the retrieval of 4 jewels by saving Knights and a sacred mirror… gradually it all starts to unravel. Surely Vaati can't be doing all this evil by himself? But I say; 4 Knights, the 6 Maidens and Zelda to save, not to mention vanquishing Vaati and evil, Link's sure got his work cut out for him! Then again there is four of him; it's only fair he should work a little harder this time around eh.

 

Gameplay:

The new innovative thing about Four Swords is simply that, there are four of you! In multiplayer you can each control one of these Links. This will be a great experience to say the least (again we'll have that review for you soon) but in single player, it's just as fun, if not more, getting to control not one, but all of the Links. How it works then; inevitably good old green Link is the main man but he has his fellow red, blue and pink counterparts to help out, when not commanded by Link they will follow closely behind in single file where they are thankfully free from harm and falling down holes and such (it would be irritating having to try and keep all four Links safe when on moving platforms for instance). In battle is where you will want to take full advantage of your buddies, and my is it fun! By pressing R you simple choose which formation you'd like (This is actually much better using the Cube controller, simply using four directions of the C-Stick you can arrange the four of you into four different formations. Pressing Up will formate you into a square, Right puts you in a horizontal line, Down into a vertical line and Left puts you into a diamond, its that easy and done in the wink of an eye) It's up to you what formation you choose in battle, each are of their own aid and advantage and you'll soon prefer certain ones to others for certain things i.e. horizontally for firing arrows from a distance for maximum deaths in a line and such. Yep, when formatted you can use four of whatever weapon you posses, four bombs, four arrows, four boomerangs or four slingshots making everything that extra more dangerous and exciting.

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That brings us nicely onto another big difference about Four Swords; you can only carry one item at a time. Whereas this may sound like a hindrance, it actually isn't, let me explain. You see Four Swords is split up into levels, 8 in fact, all of which have 3 stages. Within each stage you start fresh, that is with 3 hearts, no weapon and no force gems (I'll come onto these in a second). Traversing through the level leads you to find the weapon or item available and find out where to use it. (there are also boots to make you run fast, feathers that make you jump, a shovel, a hammer, a lantern and a flame thrower!) This may seem to make it a little obvious what you need to do but its far from that and in instances you have a selection of what item you wish to take making you use your noggin that extra bit more.

 

Each of the 8 levels take a similar nature, they have 3 stages as mentioned, the last holding the main boss battle at the end and the savior of some distressed being, the first two stages also have mini bosses at the end and countless enemies along the way also. Throughout each stage you need to collect those force gems I mentioned, these power up the Four Sword to break Vaati's curse barrier at the end of the stage, 2000 to be precise. This gives you the incentive to search for gems wherever possible, open every chest you can and kill every beast you set eyes on (failing to get 2000 by the end of the stage has you travel back in time to the start of the stage till you have enough). The whole level nature is a refreshing new tilt on a Zelda game and although some will miss the freedom to explore willfully on their own accord, this is still catered for as not all stages are dungeons or temples, many are open such as the Lost Woods and Kakariko Village allowing for a taste of that freedom. It also makes the game more accessible, you can pick it up and play a stage before your tea for example, and find it easier to have a social life around without getting totally sucked in for hours on end, unless you want to of course and there's no doubting the game on that matter.

The stages themselves are all gleaming with Zelda genius as you'd expect, locations are varied and dungeons are tricky yet satisfying. All the quirks are there from doors locking behind you, killing a mini boss or hoard of enemies to reveal a chest then release your way out, light lanterns to make something happen, strike buttons, shoot eyes, hammer things in, jump gaps...It's all here and each problem solved will leave that satisfied smile on your face that only Zelda can conjure. The added difference with Four Swords includes a couple of things. For one, having four of you means having to press four buttons to do something for instance, this means formatting correctly or splitting up. This is done by pressing X, all four Links will stand still and you can choose which one to control by continuously pressing X, this way you can position them on buttons far away for example. Not only that but by pressing R you can pick up one of your static Links and throw him! You can imagine the wealth of puzzles Nintendo have come up with for all this and it's all great stuff. Then there's the GBA, walking into a cave or falling down a warp hole transfers play to your GBA screen, here you play as you would on the Cube game (of which will still display the place you were last). It's fun if a little annoying though, I actually preferred playing the game with the Cube controller myself as the GBA parts come up on a mini screen anyway but, everyone to their own I guess.

 

Lifespan:

8 levels, 3 stages each… that's quite a feat, each getting increasingly difficult along the way and noticeably longer, it can take up to and over an hour to complete a stage so, you do the math. It'll last you a fair good time, and this is just the single player remember. Going back to play it all again doesn't seem that crazy either, I'd certainly give it another play through because it's all gold and a joy to play.

Final Say:

If you love Zelda, you'll love this, it's not quite as difficult as the true adventure Zelda GameBoy games out there but it's certainly just as fun and on top of it all its original, standing out from all past games with there being four Links, of which has been utilized amazingly well. Even without the option to play the Shadow Battle mode or play through the main adventure with a friend or 3, you'll thoroughly enjoy every minute of the game. So, you can come to the conclusion that this is actually worth buying just for the single player (be weary however if you have played the GBA version included on A Link to The Past, it's very similar) although the best new experiences will spawn if you can take advantage of the multiplayer and you cant help but feel you are missing out. We'll have a review of such said experiences as soon as Wouter and his mates stop playing and write it... i.e. tomorrow.

N-Europe Final Verdict

A great Zelda game introducing fresh new ideas onto an already great formula.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan4
Final Score

9

Pros

It's Zelda with a difference.
Formation play.
Segmented and accessible levels.

Cons

Easier than other Zelda's.
Made for Multiplayer.


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