Pros: Excellent multiplayer mode, great single player mode, three
different games, awesome graphics, includes a free GBA link cable
Cons: Not as difficult as other Zelda games
It took two great companies to come together to make The Four Swords.
Capcom and Nintendo teamed up to make a multiplayer Zelda game.
Originally this was a bonus Game Boy Advance game that was included in
the Link to the Past cartridge. However, many people didn't take
advantage of the Four Swords. Two years later The Legend of Zelda: The
Four Swords Plus gets a number of additions and becomes a full fledged
Gamecube title. Not just a standard Gamecube title, but a game that
exemplifies what exactly Game Boy Advance connectivity can do.
story begins as Link is walking through a forest where he sees a shadowy
figure image of himself imprison princesses. To set them free Link draws
upon the blade of the Four Swords, which splits Link into four separate
Links. He must work together with the other Links to free the
princesses. When you enter Hyrule Adventure, which is the game most
similar to Legend of Zelda each player controls a different Link. Each
Link has the ability to hack and slash by pressing the B button. Holding
down the B button allows Link to do his signature spin move. At the
beginning of the level you don't start out with an item. Instead you
need to venture through the level to find tools. Tools include classic
items like the boomerang, fire rod, bow and arrows, slingshot, bombs and
even the shovel. These can be used by pressing the A button. Each weapon
can also be charged up by holding down the A button and if you find a
special fairy you can even increase their level for more abilities.
However, each Link can only carry one tool. This means in multiplayer
mode you'll either have to share or fight over the different tools.
Getting the right tools will enable you to collect more "force" pieces.
These colorful triforce like icons are not only your points, but they
can also provide a valuable upgrade for the sword. If you can collect
2000 pieces as a group the sword powers up and allows you to do the
whirlwind attack and shoot magic shots from the blade. To make sure
players aren't over powering other players every level all of your
upgrades get reset. You lose all gained heart containers, items held and
sword power ups to balance the game between players.
To upgrade your sword and complete levels you'll need to work as a
team. Capcom and Nintendo have spent a significant amount of time making
some intuitive puzzles that aren't too taxing, but just enough to make
you think. Many of the puzzles in the first level are pretty simple.
Mainly standard Zelda fare like stepping on switches, picking up giant
rocks and pushing large objects. Only that these puzzles have a twist
since you need to work together. For instance you may need all four
Links to stand on a switch, or need four Links working together to push
a single object. Later puzzles are more interesting and not exactly what
you would expect. For instance you can't jump until you collect the rare
Roc's feather item. Instead you'll need to pick up a fellow Link and
throw him across gaps. Another more unique puzzle places you between two
different worlds a shadow world and light world. You can see the shadows
of the shadow world on screen, but can't enter that world unless you can
obtain a special orb. Once you're in the shadow world changes you make
in that world have an effect on the normal world. Which means to solve
puzzles you'll be moving between the two worlds. Sometimes you'll have
to have some Links in the shadow world, while some are in the light
Besides all of the puzzle solving you would expect from a Zelda game,
the Four Swords has epic battles. Instead of fighting say two or three
enemies on screen at a given time you'll be battling enemies in the
double digit range. In the first level when you're walking across a
bridge you'll see a flood of armored knights running down at you. One or
two hits will eliminate a standard foe, but when you're surrounded by
them you'll have to rely on your partners. You can actually "chain" the
number of enemies you defeat. Each time you defeat a foe you'll see a
number and as long as you are not hit the number will increase. Adding
to the combo meter will increase the quantity of force pieces that can
be dropped. Boss fights like puzzles require teamwork. The first boss,
who resembles an enemy from the Wind Waker, throws energy balls at you
which you need to hit back to it. Instead of directly throwing the ball
back to the enemy you'll throw it to the next Link, who will then throw
it to the next Link until the fourth Link throws it back to the boss.
Sure the boss battles could have been hack and slash affairs, but
instead they make you think just a little. Not only that they force
teamwork upon players like no other game.
So you're probably asking yourself why the need for connectivity.
Nintendo makes sure that there is a need for connectivity for the Four
Swords and it isn't an after thought. Whenever there is a cave on screen
or a house to walk into you enter your Game Boy screen when you enter a
new area. This allows players to still fight on the overworld while
you're talking to someone inside a house or hording treasures in a
nearby cave. It basically allows a wider range of movement than your
standard multiplayer action RPG. Of course you do need all four Links to
move on to the next screen on the Gamecube, but while you're in your GBA
you can move or not move as much as you want. Nintendo also placed some
puzzle solving elements using the Game Boy for instance when there is a
giant bomb placed on the screen the only way to avoid certain death is
to hide inside of your GBA. The GBA also acts as a puzzle solving tool
because players can be two places at the same time. This is best seen in
Level 2-2, the shadow/light world level. Two players can be traversing
in the light world ready to grab an item while another two are solving a
puzzle in the shadow world. It is possible to have done the game by
using split screens, but the connectivity is used in such a well done
way Nintendo opted with the right choice.
If you're one of the Zelda series followers that have been frowning on the idea
of Game Boy Advance connectivity, rest assured it supports a single
player without a GBA. When you're playing single player mode you are
still in control of all four Links. By pressing L you can change a
different formations. The common formations are a back to back
formation, a horizontal line, a vertical line and a square formation.
For pushing large objects, picking up giant rocks and pulling switches
the formations are a fast way to accomplish what would normally have to
be done through teamwork. For other puzzles you'll need to manually
control each Link. By pressing X you can move one Link at a time to
position them to whatever places you need. When you would normally enter
your Game Boy Advance a window pops up with what you would normally see
in your GBA. If you have a link cable plus a Game Boy Advance and want
to play single player mode you can do that too. The controls in this
mode are the same as above except pressing select allows you to choose
individual Links. Either controlling with the Gamecube controller or the
GBA is a breeze due to the set formations. Nintendo made sure that they
didn't have to alter the levels or the design of the game to make up for
single player gameplay. If you we're thinking that the Four Swords is
strictly a multiplayer affair, Nintendo has proven you wrong.
However, you will be missing out on quite a bit if you don't have a
Game Boy Advance and a buddy. You won't ever get to experience the meat
of the game working together to solve puzzles in the Hyrule adventure.
Tingle also presents special multiplayer mini games that can be unlocked
by completing levels. These mini games are normally fast paced
arcade games. One game has you on a horse racing to the finish line
while collecting scattered force pieces. The mini games included are an
extra bonus for GBA users.
You'll be missing out on more than mini games with out a GBA. You'll
also be missing out on a four player battle mode. The four player Shadow battle
mode pits you against another Link, up to four Links in a battle to see
who loses all of their hearts first. Each of the stages are completely
different from one another. One stage has you on a platform above lava,
which you can throw an opponent in. Another stage has a bunch of
ladders, which allows for some interesting match ups. More levels can be
unlocked while playing the game. The other game that requires a Game Boy
Advance is formally known as Tetra's Trackers. Tetra's Trackers pits you
against other players in a race to collect rupees and find shipmates. On
the TV screen is a map, which shows the location of the players and
people you need to talk to. You'll race against other players to talk to
them first and to give them rupees. These two extra gameplay modes not
only add more replay value to the game, but make the Four Swords a
certified party game on top of an epic adventure.
The graphics in The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords owe a lot to A
Link to the Past. Many of the sprites were taken directly from a Link to
the Past. While the sprite based graphics pale into comparison to the
high level of animation in the Wind Waker, the graphics have a certain
style to them. The retro style of the characters, levels and enemies
translates perfectly to the Game Boy Advance. So when you're entering
into the GBA there is no loss in translation. The graphics also allow
for many objects to be moving around on screen without slowdown. Four
characters throwing boomerangs, thirty enemies running around and force
pieces falling from the sky can all happen without a hint of slowdown.
There are some Gamecube effects like the crisp explosion graphics,
reflective water and shiny sword charges. The only time when the
graphics have a problem is when you're looking at them up close. You can
see a pixilated edge, which isn't as clean as you'd expect from the
Gamecube. However, this is minor since you'll be mainly looking at the
characters from a panned out camera.
The sound has more of a quality loss than the graphics. The music is
mostly MIDI based. While it is nice to hear the familiar tunes from A
Link to the Past it would be better to have them in higher quality
audio. It might have been even a better to throw in some new songs too.
The in game voices also suffer from a Game Boy Advance translation. The
voices don't sound as clear like a Gamecube game, the quality is the
same as a GBA sound byte. Although, these are still minor problems that
don't distract a player from enjoying the game.
For the people that doubted GBA connectivity after seeing Final
Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords Plus
is here to prove that GBA connectivity can enhance gameplay. Nintendo
has also put in effort so you can enjoy this excellent title without
having a Game Boy Advance. This is because Four Swords Plus is a great
game without the use of connectivity. The level design is excellent and
the puzzle solving feels fresh since you have four players. Playing
through Hyrule Adventure, is like playing through any other Zelda game
with slightly more puzzle solving. If you do have a GBA you're in for
more of a treat. Because The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords plus
doubles as a party game due to the battle mode, Tingle's mini games and
the Tetra's tracker mode.
While the game is in Japanese, you can get through it without any
knowledge of the language. It might require a little more patience and a
look at different message boards, but it isn't that confusing to figure
out with out Japanese knowledge.
On June 7, 2004 it comes out to America. Although, the US release
will lack Tetra's Trackers. If you want all three games you have to
import the Japanese version.
The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords Plus is more than a game that
Zelda fans or even action RPG gamers will like. This game is easy to
learn, innovative and can appeal to people of all ages. The use of GBA
connectivity and all of the extra mini games just fills this game to the
brim with replay value. Oh yeah, it comes with a free link cable too!