Review by EarthAdept1

"Two times the fun, twice the reason to get one."

Many players will remember Link's classic adventure as one of the best. The port of the Super NES masterpiece to the Game Boy Advance is spectacular in and of itself, because it is one hundred percent faithful to its original, with a few improvements to the game mechanics. When coupled with the first-ever multiplayer Zelda game, it will let veterans experience new adventures and take newcomers to lands of magic and mystery that have truly defined the Zelda experience.

Story: 10/10
A Link to the Past
You are a boy who is lying in bed during a terrible storm. Suddenly you hear a voice inside your head as if it is a dream. Yet the girl is actually speaking to you...and asks that you sneak into her own castle to rescue her. This is the tip of a huge iceberg that forms one of the most intuitive but easy-to-follow stories in the Zelda series.
The Four Swords
An evil wind mage named Vaati used to wreak havoc on the land, and a young hero used the Four Sword to split himself into four entities and destroy the evil. When you see that Vaati has returned and taken Zelda, you come across the same blade that could grant you the same power...a unique story suitable for a multiplayer Zelda. Unusual and not quite like A Link to the Past's tale, but interesting.

Control: 10/10
A Link to the Past
A Link to the Past controls like a dream, since all of your actions are compressed into three buttons and a Control Pad. The B button controls the sword, the A button controls the items, and the R button is your action button. The L button shows your map. Because you never have to repeatedly switch items, having to bring up the subscreen and set an item on A is never a tedious task. Swordfighting is easy to learn, but defense is harder: your shield blocks projectiles in the direction you face, so you have to think quickly when defending.
The Four Swords
The controls for The Four Swords are the same as those from A Link to the Past. However, Link gets a new sword attack and you do not have a subscreen; rather the items are placed on pedestals which means you take a new item and leave your old item behind for later. You can also grab characters and make new things happen that were not possible in A Link to the Past, such as by making hot sparks come out of your swords when you clash them.

Graphics: 10/10
A Link to the Past
A Link to the Past boasted great graphics for an early adventure title on the SNES, and the GBA version keeps the same high quality. The graphics have not been improved or downgraded in any way, keeping the experience classic. This means colorful environments that look good and are not overdone. The small screen size still keeps clear images, and you can adjust the brightness, too.
The Four Swords
In the Four Swords, the textures and realism are improved from A Link to the Past, boasting more realistic and more beautiful environments and a Link who appears like his cel-shaded form in his upcoming Nintendo GameCube adventure. In the Four Swords, Link also shows more facial expressions and the animations (such as when Link pulls on an object) are much more detailed.

Sound and Music: 7/10
A Link to the Past
There have been no changes to the in-game music in A Link to the Past, so those who remember the classic tunes can relive them again, and the original Zelda theme sounds beautiful with stereo headphones. To newcomers, the music does not have much variety (for instance, there are only two kinds of dungeon music and two kinds of overworld music), but what the game does have is great. The sound effects take a huge leap because Link gets a voice, greatly enhancing the experience of the game. However, the port of the original sounds (like magic spells) are not entirely faithful. A good number of sound effects were better on the Super NES, and veterans will quickly notice a downgrade, but Link's voice can easily put that aside.
The Four Swords
The Four Swords does not feature classic Zelda themes, but completely new tunes that are designed to keep the pressure on. Although the music is varied from area to area, you may not notice a change at first because they sound quite similar. In other words, you will probably get a more engrossing audio experience in A Link to the Past. The sound effects are still superb and never get annoying, even with four Links shouting at the top of their lungs. Real veterans of the Zelda series may notice an extremely welcome rendition of a certain theme on the ''Choose a Game'' menu...

Replayability: 9/10
A Link to the Past and The Four Swords form a surprising synthesis. There are several features that you can unlock in one game by accomplishing tasks in the other. You will only be able to play A Link to the Past by yourself, and to play the Four Swords you must have at least one other player. If you have friends with the game, the replay value and fun is fantastic. If you do not, then newcomers will still enjoy A Link to the Past but veterans should buy it only if they are passionate about A Link to the Past--they will not be able to perfect the game without another player.
A Link to the Past
The one-player adventure, especially to newcomers, is one of the deepest and most difficult Zelda adventures ever, and it has innumerable secrets. It is a long game that will provide great challenge, and it is worthwhile. Veterans will enjoy the added features, and they will appreciate (or dislike, depending on the player) new options such as to save anywhere and continue from that point. However, although the game is truly tireless, the replay value is not as great as that of The Four Swords.
The Four Swords
The first multiplayer Zelda is phenomenal. Because you have to cooperate to perform tasks and save your partners’ butts, and you also compete to collect Rupees, emotions run high and the game is over too soon. Fortunately, the dungeons are all randomized, so two runs through the game will have completely different dungeons. To truly complete the Four Swords, you will have to defeat the last boss more than once, so its replay value is superb.

The Whole Package: 10/10
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past/Four Swords is a worthwhile investment for every GBA owner and Zelda fan. The only reason not to buy this masterpiece is if you are already a master of A Link to the Past and do not have a friend to play The Four Swords with. Unfortunately, you will be missing out on one of the most innovative Zelda experiences ever. Remember, you can always encourage your GBA-owning friends to rent a copy for a weekend. Sure, there are some downfalls, but there are so many improvements and good points to offset them that this game deserves a perfect score. It is truly a classic.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/08/03, Updated 01/08/03

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