Review by Mercenary

"Truely A Link To The Past!"

If you were to mention Nintendo to anyone, they may immediately think of a moustachioed plumber called Mario. Yet Mario is not the only one who stars in Nintendo's biggest and best titles. If you were to ask many Nintendo aficionados which one of the firm's franchises they adore most, they would be just as likely to state Link. Anyone who has ever been absorbed into one of Link's adventures will understand why. While there have been fewer instalments from the Zelda series than those titles that feature Mario, these have all generally been classics. While Mario is the stalwart that is used on most occasions by Nintendo when it is in need of yet another sure-fire success, it does seem that this particular series commands far more of Shigeru Miyamoto's care, attention and adoration than any other franchise. Invariably, every title in the series is beset with delays while the genius designer perfects every last detail.

The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past Four Swords
for the Game Boy Advance contains a faithful translation of The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past, the absolutely phenomenal 1991 Super NES classic plus The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords, an inventive and unique new multiplayer-exclusive quest. These two adventures do what Nintendo typically does so well by taking a genre (the RPG genre in this particular case), removing all the tedious features (such as statistics) and then wrapping it inside a slick, arcade-style package that appeals to everyone, not only the usual hardcore players. This title is also another fine example of just how successful cooperation between Nintendo and Capcom has been for developing portable Zelda series titles. This title is the third such venture between these two since 2001 after the Japanese duo also developed both The Legend Of Zelda Oracle Of Ages and The Legend Of Zelda Oracle Of Seasons on the Game Boy Color.

The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past is an epic prequel to both The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II The Adventure of Link. Initially it does seem quite simple as unlike most other RPG titles; the start of Link's great adventure puts you straight into the heart of the action. There are thankfully no excessively long and terribly cliched scenes that are so commonplace in titles of this genre for you to endure. You immediately learn that your first objective is to rescue Her Royal Highness Princess Zelda from perilous captivity by fighting your way through the rain to infiltrate the dungeon of Hyrule Castle before escaping with Zelda to apparent safety at the Sanctuary. This is a good indication of what is ahead you during the rest of your marathon journey-continuous action and adventure!

The graphics in this Game Boy Advance translation are still as atmospheric, detailed and highly imaginative as those from the stunning 1991 Super NES incarnation, though certainly superseded by those contained in The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords. The puzzles are complex and ultra tough but always logical with the solutions often staring in front of you. The immense surroundings are vast, colourful, vibrant and lively. The dungeons are gruelling if not quite as engaging and outstanding as those from The Legend Of Zelda Link's Awakening and The Legend Of Zelda Link's Awakening DX, but never at all dull. There are also great melodies included that have an orchestral ring that sets the mood for this quest perfectly. The genius of the Zelda series has always been in their balance. Although The Legend Of Zelda A Link to the Past is a huge, expertly designed and implemented adventure that lasts over thirty hours, but it never feels intimidating. It is as accessible to play for novices as it is for experts, with a user-friendly control system. The story moves along nicely with more twists than most dramas. While the action itself is inspired, there are always new locations to visit, new characters to speak to and new enemies to fight.

The core feature of The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past is the ingenious Light World and Dark World system. After reaching a certain point, you will be given the choice to warp back and forth between two separate realms at any time you so desire. Both domains are very similar geographically, but there are some subtle differences that separate the way you must tackle them. This system is more than just a gimmick as a lot of the puzzles revolve around warping between the two dimensions and require a significant degree of lateral thinking to solve. As can be imagined, with the multitude of items, Pieces of Heart and other secrets to discover, a significant number of hours will need to be spent experimenting with this feature.

The Four Musketeers
In addition to The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past, this title also contains The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords, a prequel itself to the former and the first ever multiplayer adventure in the series. It is also a multiplayer-only adventure that requires each player to have their own copy of The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past Four Swords inserted into their portable ready to play. Surprisingly enough, the multiplayer aspect has not really altered things as much as one might have expected. The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords contains all the proven game play ingredients that are associated with the Zelda series-the only difference now is that up to four players can experience the magic of this saga simultaneously. The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords is more than just a mere diversion from The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past.

What separates The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past Four Swords from most other titles with multiplayer options is that all players must cooperate occasionally with one another in order to progress through each of the four dungeons. This is a unique blend of cooperation and competition that will take some time for players to adjust to, yet also makes The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords such a great multiplayer experience. One important feature of The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords to note is that every time you play; a randomly created dungeon is produced from the source code, which ensures that you should never play the same one twice other than the occasionally instance of repetition.

In addition to this, how you are able to perform in The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords affects certain factors in The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past, and vice versa, creating a practically limitless range of playing experiences without the latter being tampered with unnecessarily. The presentation is charming too, surpassing that of The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past. The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords would have been too brief to publish as an individual title without the inclusion of The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past. The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords though should have been utilised again by both Capcom and Nintendo for The Legend Of Zelda The minish Cap.

The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past Four Swords is the very finest RPG title on the Game Boy Advance. It is amazing just how well The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past has more than managed to stand the test of time. It has done so to the point that has seemingly made that very phrase sound passé. It may not be quite as bold, complex and dynamic as The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time, but this does not devalue its excellence, while The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords is among one of the most innovative and intriguing adventures in the Zelda series. These two extremely special action RPG quests provided for far more than just some rapid playing sessions every so often, these are also involving and splendidly structured adventures that will keep players well occupied for a significant period of time. There are countless copies and clones available, but apart from other titles in the Zelda series, none of them can top this classic title.

Verdict
The Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past Four Swords is one of the very, very best Game Boy Advance titles that both blows away and puts other similar RPG titles to shame. This is the definitive two-dimensional exploration title on any portable format and an absolutely essential Game Boy Advance purchase!
98%

Did You Know?:
The Legend Of Zelda Triforce Of The Gods, was initially released in Japan for the Super Famicom exactly one year after the format itself was released.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/10/05


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