Review by Field Ranger
"An innovative chapter of the legend."
The Legend of Zelda series has come a long way on its trip to GameCube. The original "The Legend of Zelda" engulfed players in an adventure not so easily forgotten - collecting valuable items, such as Rupees and Heart Containers, questing through dungeons, and defeating challenging monsters helped this game to define and set the pace for all Action/Adventure games. Now, we have The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, which takes an innovative approach to the series, and perhaps even sets a turning point for all games in its genre.
The gameplay, obviously the most important part of any Zelda game, is hardly lacking. You begin the game following Zelda, the Princess of Hyrule, to a chamber with six maidens in crystals. Suddenly, an evil force known as none other than Shadow Link, captures Zelda and the six maidens! You must now take control of the Four Sword, free the maidens of their imprisonments, and uncover the mysteries surrounding this strange force!
The Four Sword, in essence, splits Link into four different-colored Links. The original Link that pulled the Four Sword is the green Link, while the other Links are colored red, blue, and purple. The gameplay involves working with these Links to get through each level. The key to completing each level, however, is collecting mysterious objects known as Force Gems. These are collected to restore the Four Sword and regain the power to repel evil. You must have at least 2000 of these to dispel the evil barrier at the end of each level. If you don't have enough Force Gems by the time you reach the end of the level, you will be given the option to restart the level with the amount of Force Gems that you had when you reached the end of the level. Once you collect enough Force Gems, you will automatically be taken back to the end.
The other innovative gameplay element of Four Swords Adventures is using formations to access various parts of a level. This involves all four Links linking (no pun intended) together in four different shapes. The four different formations that you must use to get through the game are the "Cross," "Long," "Wide," and "Block" formations. You will learn these formations near the start of the game. You can also collect items from past Zelda games, which include the Fire Rod, Bombs, the Bow and Arrow, the Boomerang, and more. However, you can only carry one item at a time, and whichever item you may be carrying (if any) will be dropped at the end of the level. The game also has very creative and strategic boss battles, which is one of Zelda's "claims to fame." However, the same boss fights are often repeated several times in the game.
The game is also the first Zelda game to have a multiplayer function, which includes the co-op "Hyrulean Adventure" mode, and "Shadow Battle." Hyrulean Adventure is the main adventure, and can be played with either only one player or more than one player. Shadow Battle, however, can only be played with more than one player. There are also some other exclusive features that can only be accessed when playing with multiple players.
The game's control is very simple to use. Items are used with the "A" button, while the sword is used with the "B" button. Certain obstacles in your path can be picked up with the "R" button, and you can switch or choose formations with the "L" button. The classic Spin Attack, as usual, can be performed by rotating the control stick as you press the "B" button (or by holding the "B" button to see an overview of your area as well). When you have over 2000 Force Gems and are at full health, you can perform the classic "beam" attack with your sword, which unleashes an energy projectile each and every time you swipe the sword.
I've included this special section because Four Swords Adventures is widely renowned and critically acclaimed for its multiplayer function. Multiplayer features, as mentioned in other parts of this review, include the co-op Hyrulean Adventure mode, Shadow Battle, and Tingle's Tower. Since you most likely know what to expect (from reading the "Gameplay" section) from Hyrulean Adventure, I'll describe only Shadow Battle and Tingle's Tower.
In Shadow Battle, you get to pull whatever dirty tricks on your opponent that you can think of (using the ten available arenas and all items but the lamp). An interesting feature from this mode is the "Mystery Item," which will give you one of three items: a bombchu, a cucco, or a carrot. Arenas include The Field, Tower of Flames, Tower of Winds, Hyrule Castle, Above the Clouds, and their respective Dark Worlds.
Once you've cleared one of the worlds in Hyrulean Adventure and attempt to play multiplayer, Tingle will invite you to play his mini-games. The mini-games are very deep in variety. They include: Bucking Bronco, Cucco Wranglers, Monster Hunting, Hammer Tag, Volley By Golly, Mole Melee, Monster Hunting Returns, and a bonus course.
The game's music is rather impressive, including the classic overworld theme, and themes from other classic Zelda games, such as "A Link to the Past." The game's general audio is also very impressive, as you can hear the usual grunt of an attacking Hyrulean guard, or a "clang" as you deflect an enemy's projectile. The graphics are also similar to other games in the series, such as The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Four Swords Adventures also has a wonderfully done atmosphere, from tall mountains to boiling lava pits to spooky graveyards.
The game, even if you are playing in single player mode, will last you a decent amount of time. Each world in the game can take you up to over 2 hours, especially if you're not using an FAQ or walkthrough to assist you. Even so, I will admit that the game is not very hard compared to other games in the series; especially with the addition of Force Fairies, which are fairies that can be held in unlimited amounts. Force Fairies are used when you have died, and will automatically restore most (or all) of your health. I will also mention that they are quite numerous and abundant throughout the game, as you can acquire over 10 of them after completing only the first world.
Most of the replay value in this game, admittedly, is from multiplayer. The Shadow Battle and Tingle's Tower modes, for example (as well as the rest of the multiplayer features), are multiplayer only. The game is also very linear, and doesn't allow as much free roaming as games such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time did.
In this section, I will first mention the pros/cons of the game to summarize this review.
-Fun multiplayer co-op and multiplayer modes/features
-Classic Zelda themes and audio
-Easy-to-use controls and control schemes
-Impressive and original storyline
-Long-lasting and very replayable multiplayer
-Lacking in difficulty
-Repeated boss fights
-Linear, single player mode isn't very replayable
Buy or Rent? Buy if you enjoyed other 2D Zelda platformers, but only if you have friends to play with. Rent if you don't have friends to play with to see how you like it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/05/06, Updated 08/14/08
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (US, 06/07/04)
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