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The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GameCube) artwork

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GameCube) review

"Why do Nintendo always do this? Always. "

Why do Nintendo always do this? Always.

The Legend of the Zelda: The Wind Waker was nothing short of a classic. It provided us with the same magical atmosphere that Ocarina of Time introduced us to in 1998 but made that magic a little special by sprinkling a little cel-shading and sea travel over what was already a beautiful atmosphere. Nintendo had presented us with a true classic, which is something that the vastly deteriorating company rarely hands out nowadays. Wind Wakerís atmosphere, captivation and charisma were unlike any of the previous titles in the series. It blew away the companies fans and critics alike, producing what was arguably one of Nintendoís greatest games of the last decade.

But they always do this! Always! Let me explain.

Nintendo own some of the most popular gaming franchises in history: the Mario, Metroid & Zelda series have been running reasonably strong for the past twenty years. Theyíve already surpassed the stage where their very appearance would be enough to sell even the vilest gutter-drenched sorry excuse for game. However, Nintendo know this fact all too well and are willing to release substandard games featuring their prominent characters for profit. The Mario Party and sport games are the main culprits here but Nintendoís exploitation of the Zelda series, a series that is usually always smothered in quality, is unforgivable, as is their blatant plug of their failing GBA connectivity. Which only a handful of games have used since its conception in the systemís early days.

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords is an upgrade from a odd bonus feature that was added to the GBA port of A Link to the Past. Its use of the GBA-Gamecube connectivity is rather innovative but far too demanding to lift off. If youíre a hardcore gamer/Nintendo fan and have friends that also fall into that category, youíll love Four Swords for bringing you and your friends together to spend huddled nerd-fests in your basement, squashed together in the dark, clutching your GBAís with passion. However, if you donít fall into that category, youíll find out that Four Swords is nothing more than a sub-standard Zelda game that heavily relies on the connectivity gimmick in order to deter attention from that very fact. Let me point out here that, in order to experience this game fully you need the following:

4 x Nintendo GameBoy Advances/ GameBoy Advance SPís
4 x Nintendo Gamecube/GBA connector
Total Funds: £300

So, in order to experience this game fully, you must spend an extra £300 on accessories. (I donít feel like working it out in dollars.) That cost obviously is minus the price of the console and the controllers. Still though, itís a worrying thought that to play one game properly, you have to buy extra hardware just for it. Itís an even more worrying thought to see lots of people conforming to the idea. Perhaps use of an online system would be a better premise, but then again, Gamecube modems arenít the epitome of modern gaming technology.

The classic overhead 2-D visual style which the older additions to the Zelda series used makes a welcome return here. Although, critics have blasted the game for using 32-bit GBA visuals on system that has capabilities far beyond that, it does have a brilliant feeling of nostalgia which draws you back into the 8 & 16-bit days of Zelda. Its incredibly colorful & atmospheric textures are almost equally as captivating as The Wind Waker, itís cartoon-like characters are easily influenced by the cel-shaded visuals of that classic. The grass, water and stone have beautiful visual qualities that really pioneer the road for the reinvention for 2-D games. Without a doubt, Four Swords maybe one of the most beautiful 2-D games around, but this fact is overshadowed by the outright simplicity and unoriginality of the gameís mechanics.

UNORIGINIALITY!! I hear you scream. Yes, you didnít misread that sentence. Despite the fact that Four Swords allows for four players to play together as four different coloured Links, being the first the Zelda game to incorporate multiplayer into its core structure. However, instead of creating a team-based game where all members have different specialties & abilities, it gives you four playable characters that are identical in every way. The only time you require teamwork is when you have to use more than one Link to move a heavy object or if you become under attack by a vast amount of enemy forces. Using the new formation system, you can align your four Links into four different positions: vertically, horizontally, into a diamond shape which is ideal for battling surrounding enemies and finally, a square shape, which makes lifting and moving heavy rocks a breeze.

These formations are the keystone to the teamwork in Zelda. Whether itís standing on platforms to open doors, striking targets simultaneously or working together to pull levers, itís all that the game has to offer for ďteamwork.Ē Unfortunately, when you get to grips with these tasks, youíll find that nearly all of the puzzles in the dungeons actually revolve around these tasks, making most puzzles relying on the process of elimination to be solved.

Another irritating and important addition to Four Swords is the replacement of the Hyrule currency, the rupees with the identical Force Gems. However, instead of serving as money, these gems are the source of your power and each level requires you collect a hefty total of two thousand of these gems per stage. This immediately casts each stage into a mindless treasure hunt for the required amount of gems. When you collect the required amount of gems, your sword will power up and shoot beams of energy, allowing you to hit far off enemies and perform a devastating cyclone attack. This is handy for clearing fields of enemies but itís quite disappointing to pick up all of those gems just to get one measly new attack. If you get to the end of the level without the correct number of gems, youíll be cast back to the beginning of the stage and ordered to collect the right amount.

The linear and explorative worlds that Ocarina of Time, Majoraís Mask &The Wind Waker gave us are roughly thrown aside for standard overhead 2-D levels that offer little to the imagination. The dungeons are littered with simple puzzles and obvious traps, the forests are filled with hundreds of bushes just waiting for to you hack through them one by one. Digging, slashing & pushing your way through the levels in search for gems, keys or hidden passages leaves your finger aching after five minutes of play. Nothing in Four Swords is too complex, after a while youíll find the stuff you need by rummaging around the rocks and bushes. Not exactly the most exciting way to play games but, there you have it.

So, even despite the hardware demand, cost factor and need for four players, Four Swords is still a rather mediocre Zelda adventure which relies mainly on the connectivity gimmick more than anything else. In fact, it relies on it so much that it leaves the game as a repetitive, easy and short romp that isnít worth your time, money & hassle. Playing it for a while alone is enjoyable for a short while and with others is reasonably fun, but as you delve deeper into the game requires, offers and delivers, youíll be less than impressed. Itís nothing but a simple bridge to appease fans while they wait for the upcoming Twilight Princess, which will undoubtedly rock the gaming world. Nintendo, why do you take advantage of your fanís stupidity by releasing substandard games with your iconic characters? Youíre perfectly capable of producing quality titles, so why waste our time with this?

Actually, if you canít answer that question, youíve probably already been drawn in by their scheme to rob you blind. Next time, youíll learn.

goldenvortex's avatar
Community review by goldenvortex (July 28, 2006)

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