Posted on December 13, 2012
My Top 100: #42 – The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
I just did a quick count, and I see that there are a total of six Zelda games in my countdown, all of them in the top 45. I really made an effort to keep from including too many games from the same franchise on it, but when it all comes down to it, if they’re fun to play, they have to be considered. Thankfully, Four Swords Adventures is enough of a black sheep in the series to leave people scratching their heads, figuring out why I would include such a linear Zelda game on my list.
I know the love affair with Majora’s Mask confuses the heck out of me, but I won’t go there!
I initially didn’t even consider Four Swords Adventures to be anything more than one of those bad GBA-to-GameCube tie-ins. That concept never really sat well with me in the Pokémon days (mostly because nothing Pokémon sat well with me to begin with), and when Nintendo announced that the multiplayer aspect of the new Zelda game would incorporate multiple GBA’s and link cables, I had doubts. Big ones. As in, “why would I ever play THAT game” doubts.
I was wrong to think that I wouldn’t enjoy the game by myself, but the game’s multiplayer format is bad enough that I don’t anticipate ever trying it. Using a GBA as a controller instead of a GameCube one seemed like too much of a money-making ploy. *sigh* If only you could use a normal controller, this game would almost be perfect…
This is as close to a sequel for A Link to the Past as we’ve ever gotten. At the same time, it took the Zelda formula you knew and loved – the exploring, the items, the free-roaming aspect – and flipped it all on its head.
Instead of your typical menu overflowing with items, the four Links could only carry one extra item at a time. If you encountered (for example) a bow and arrow sitting on a pedestal, chances were pretty good that using it was necessary to solve the next puzzle. At the very least, items might also help dispose of large groups of enemies.
Speaking of enemies, there lies one of the more fun aspects of the game. There are often situations that, if Link were to encounter them alone in A Link to the Past, would be very overwhelming. It’s called Four Swords Adventures for a reason, though, and Green, Blue, Red and Purple can take on all comers with four different formations at the touch of a button; “Box”, “Cross”, as well as horizontal and vertical. It adds a nice layer of strategy to the game, and helps make you feel like an unstoppable force against hordes of enemies.
I think the majority of complaints about the game were about it being split up into actual levels. You find treasures and proceed like you normally would, but once the level’s boss is defeated, you pretty much start at square one for the next stage. Any experience points or items you had don’t carry over, which is the opposite of what Zelda games are usually about.
I didn’t mind that the game focused on simply ramping up the challenge with each level – I thought it was a nice change of pace!
The soundtrack has very little original music, opting instead for tunes first seen on the Super NES. Graphically, it’s almost identical to ALttP; the art style is quite similar, sure, but there’s much more detail, and subtle changes in animation (for things like NPCs, trees, and even water) are pretty cool. I’m not much of a fan of the way a Game Boy Player screen pops up when you enter a house or cave… it looks and feels quite different, so that’s a bit jarring until you get used to it.
Other than that, this is definitely a retro gamer’s dream come true!