Review: The Legend of Zelda: 4 Swords Adventures
Posted 06 Jan 2005 at 06:47 by Wouter
As promised yesterday, if a little late.. (our most humble apologies for that by the way!) we bring you the Multiplayer Review of Four Swords, the Single Player review can be reached here.
A while back Nintendo tried to convince us that connectivity was the next big thing. They showed us Pacman VS, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and a few unimpressive looking Zelda minigames, nobody was impressed. Crystal Chronicles was more bothersome than it was fun to play and Pacman VS only appeared as a bonus disc to a very mediocre racing game, so all the connectivity talk died down quietly. Until now that is, because now Europe finally gets The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. Four Swords Adventures evolved from the bonus multiplayer mode that came with Link to the Past on the GBA and the demos that were shown on Nintendo's infamous connectivity E3. You've no doubt already read the Four Swords single player review so you already know this is a highly enjoyable Zelda game; this review will focus on the multiplayer modes the game offers. So if you want to know if Four Swords is worth the trouble of whipping out four GBAs and inviting a group of friends, you've clicked on the right link.
The more the merrier:
Four Swords has two multiplayer modes, Hyrulean Adventure and Shadow Battle. The first is a multiplayer version of the single player mode, the second is a battle mode, and all modes require every player to use a GBA as a controller. Hyrulean Adventure is the main mode of the game, so we'll focus on that one first. Like in the single player version, Hyrulean Adventure is made to be played with four Links at the same time. If you play with four players every player gets their own Link, if you play with three players one person gets an extra Link to control, with two players both players get two Links. Even though the levels are the same as in the single player mode, getting through them as a team adds quite a bit to the experience, you now have to coordinate attacking and solving puzzles with players that don't always do exactly what you ask them. The multiplayer mode makes Hyrulean Adventure more interesting by adding competition. Not only are you fighting an incredible number of enemies, you also compete against three other Links for force gems, heart containers, weapons and other items.
Fighting your friends:
Your GBA is your best friend in this competition because you can use it to hide from your partners. Walk into a house or a cave and your Link is gone from the television screen, you have to switch to your GBA to see the action. This way you can quickly open all the treasure chests you encounter before your friends notice you're gone. You can also bother your friends more directly, by picking them up and throwing them into holes, at enemies or at another friend, hitting them with rocks, bushes, road signs or whatever kind of weapon you come across. You can even make up new ways of irritating your friends as you go along, how about reading an important sign (text only shows up on your GBA) and smashing it up afterwards so you're the only one that got the message? This game will test even the closest friendships as you and your friends discover each other's darker sides.
You won't be irritating each other all the time though. The game has a very high concentration of fights and puzzles compared to other Zelda titles, don't look surprised if you're fighting against a hundred enemies at once. To get through the bigger fights and most of the puzzles you'll really have to help each other, arrange who gets which item and who attacks from which position. Needless to say the friend you just shoved into a lake won't be too eager to help you if you need him a few minutes later. At the end of every level each player gets to pick which other player he found the most helpful and who he found the most annoying. Helpful players get rewarded and annoying players get punished, so to win with the most force gems you have to be friendly too sometimes. After a few levels the irritating and the helping will form a balance of friendly competition and you'll really get the feeling you're playing the game together.
If you're tired of helping each other you can always duke it out in Shadow Battle. In this mode you fight on a small map until there's only one Link left. The maps are usually one screen large with one or more small rooms you play on your GBA. The fun is in the way the maps are filled with opportunities to outsmart the other Links. Every map has one or more traps, you can open trapdoors, activate flamethrowers, explode giant bombs and much more. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of maps and the battles are usually short, so Shadow Battle won't last too long. The competition in Hyrulean Adventure is much more interesting because you have to balance it with helping your friends, all you're doing in Shadow Battle is trying to kill other Links and trying to keep yours from dying.
Long after the connectivity discussion has died down Nintendo brings us the game that could've won the discussion. Four Swords is a nice single player game, but a great multiplayer game. The GBA allows you to play far sneakier than what would've been possible with Cube controllers, it makes the balance between winning the competition and getting through the levels together far more interesting. Even if you have trouble gathering your friends with their GBAs on a regular basis it's still worth the effort, the game has quite a few levels so if you can only play once in a few weekends it'll last you a long time. If there's one game that makes it worth owning both a GBA and a GameCube it's this one, so start thinking of arguments to make your friends buy GBAs as well, they're going to need them.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Connectivity might be a lost cause due to how much hardware you need, but if you have it, its worth it.
Great fun with friends
Brand new Zelda experience
Need friends.. with GBA's