The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
|The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures|
North American cover art
|Developer(s)||Nintendo EAD Group No. 3|
|Series||The Legend of Zelda|
|Release date(s)||JP March 18, 2004
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, released as The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords+ (ゼルダの伝説 4つの剣+ Zeruda no Densetsu: Yottsu no Tsurugi Purasu?) in Japan, is the eleventh installment of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series. It was released for the Nintendo GameCube in Japan on March 18, 2004; in North America on June 7, 2004; in Europe on January 7, 2005; and in Australia on April 7, 2005. The Game Boy Advance handheld game console can be used as a controller when using the Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable bundled with the game in North America and Europe.
The game takes Link on an adventure to restore peace to Hyrule after learning that an evil counterpart of himself, Shadow Link, has been created. Four Swords Adventures was considered the 48th-best game ever made on a Nintendo system by Nintendo Power, and received an aggregated 86 out of 100 from Metacritic. It is also the third-best selling game of June 2004 in North America, with 155,000 units, and has since sold 250,000 copies. It has also sold 127,000 units in Japan.
The main mode of Four Swords Adventures is "Hyrulean Adventure", an episodic, cooperative multiplayer adaptation of conventional The Legend of Zelda gameplay. "Shadow Battle" is a competitive multiplayer battle mode. "Navi Trackers", present only in the Japanese version of the game (and displayed briefly at E3 before the US release), is a multiplayer stamp rally race.
Hyrulean Adventure is the main campaign of Four Swords Adventures, and can be played by one to four players. It consists of eight worlds, each with three stages and a boss battle. The graphics are similar to that of the Game Boy Advance version, but the maps are static rather than randomly generated, the top-down view is taken from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and gameplay includes effects from The Wind Waker. The graphics also include enhanced atmospheric effects such as cloud shadows that slowly move across the ground, heat shimmer, dust storms, and fog. Music is based on that of A Link to the Past, but is rearranged in places.
In Hyrulean Adventure, most of the same mechanics as the previously released Four Swords for the Game Boy Advance (GBA) are used. The multiplayer version requires each player to have a GBA, which is used as a controller and to which the action transfers when that player's character goes off the main screen, but the single player game may be played with either a GameCube controller or a GBA. There are always four Link characters (differentiated by different colors: green, red, blue and purple) in play, regardless of the number of people playing; "extra" Links are attached to those directly controlled and positioned around the controlling character. Normally, the extra Links follow the player, but players can separate an individual Link and control independently, or put the four Links into formations. These techniques are required to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Players are encouraged to work together to gather enough Force Gems to empower the Four Sword, and failing to do so by the time the boss is defeated or the dark barrier is reached results in having to go back to the beginning of the stage to collect more. However, once the requisite gems are collected, players are automatically transported to the dark barrier and therefore do not have to repeat the entire stage.
Players can play minigames in multiplayer mode at Tingle's Tower, which appears in every world, to gain extra multiplayer lives. These eight games are earned by playing though certain stages in multiplayer mode. The minigames include horse racing, hammer tag, monster hunting and five others.
In Shadow Battle, two or more players battle each other until only one is left standing. As in Hyrulean Adventure, each player uses a different-colored Link character and wields various tools to attack the other Links. Initially, there are five stages which players can choose as the battle's arena. Five bonus maps are unlocked upon completion of Hyrulean Adventure (these "dark stages" are almost the same as the first five maps, but portals to the dark world appear and the player has limited vision). In each stage, items randomly appear, and are usually similar to the items in Hyrulean Adventure. There are many special objects in each stage, which can be used to the player's advantage. There is also a time limit; when it reaches zero, the game is tied.
Navi Trackers (formerly planned as a stand alone game titled Tetra's Trackers) is a game only present in the Japanese version of Four Swords Adventures (Four Swords +). In this game, multiple players use a combination of the television screen and Game Boy Advances to search for members of Tetra's pirate crew to gain as many stamps as possible within a given time limit. Action takes place on the Game Boy Advance used by each player, with the television screen showing a basic map and Tetra narrating the action. A single-player mode is also available, which allows players to either collect alone or compete against Tingle.
The game begins with the land of Hyrule in a state of fear because of strange happenings that have occurred recently. On a stormy night, Princess Zelda and the six shrine maidens fear that the reason for these events is that Vaati's seal is weakening once again. She summons Link and brings him to Hyrule Castle so he can protect her and the other maidens while they open the portal to the Four Sword Sanctuary to ensure that Vaati's seal remains strong. When they do so, however, a shadowy figure appears from the portal, revealing himself to be Shadow Link, who then kidnapped the shrine maidens and sealed them in crystals, spreading them to various fortresses and strongholds throughout the kingdom. Link follows him to the sanctuary where he retrieves the Four Sword to destroy this doppelgänger. The Four Sword is a magical sword that splits the wielder into four clones of himself and binds Vaati in his prison. Vaati is once again released as a result of Link's actions and wreaks havoc on the once peaceful kingdom.
Vaati renews his reign of terror by unleashing a multitude of monsters and demons upon the land, situating himself within his old fortress, the Wind Palace, to direct his affairs from. As Link and his three counterparts wander the overworld of Hyrule Field on their quest to restore peace to Hyrule, they learn that the creation of Link's evil counterpart and the release of Vaati is only a small part in an insidious plot to conquer the land of Hyrule and the world beyond. As the four Links battle thousands and thousands of evil creatures and monstrosities that have suddenly surfaced, it becomes increasingly obvious that there is an even more sinister force behind Vaati that is manipulating all the events of the game behind the scenes. In addition to rescuing Zelda and the shrine maidens and taking down Vaati and his forces, the Links must also collect force gems, jewel-like artifacts that cultivate the power of the land itself, in order to restore power to the Four Sword, now much less powerful due to Vaati's magic after being unsealed.
To further complicate the situation, the parallel dimension of Hyrule known as the Dark World begins to intertwine with the light world a great deal and begins to spirit away many citizens of the kingdom, particularly children, and trap them within the mirror dimension. Making matters even worse, Link soon learns that he and his three counterparts are the last line of defense against the growing evil as not only have the knights of Hyrule mysteriously disappeared, but corrupted versions of them known as Darknuts have allied themselves with Vaati and have claimed territory in his name, including Hyrule Castle itself. Meanwhile, hundreds of additional Shadow Links begin to rapidly appear all over Hyrule, commanding legions of monsters and creating massive chaos, effectively framing the real Link and causing many to lose faith in him. The only pathway, the Towers of Winds, to Vaati's base of operations within the Realm of Heavens has also vanished along with four jewels that kept it stabilized.
As the Links continue on in their quest after rescuing more than half of the maidens, it is eventually revealed by the Deku Shrubs clan within the Lost Woods who worship the mastermind that the true villain and creator and master of Shadow Link is none other than their own master, Ganon, King of Darkness. The back-story behind Ganon is gradually revealed to Link by the Gerudos, who inform him that Ganon was once a Gerudo named Ganondorf, the sole male among the race to be born once every hundred years, who was meant to be the guardian over his people and the desert's secrets. However, mesmorized by the very same dark secrets that he was meant to protect from evil individuals, Ganondorf betrayed his people, fled to their sacred pyramid grounds, and stole the powerful trident that he and the Gerudos were meant to protect from the outside world. According to legend, the trident was created and placed in the pyramids by a sinister cult that invaded Hyrule known as The Tribe of Darkness before they were defeated and sealed within the alternate reality of the Dark World, and contained their horrid powers and, as a result, it transformed Ganondorf into a demon of horrifying power.
Now known as the Demon King, Ganon, the villain used the incredible powers of the trident to seize complete control over entire areas of Hyrule and transform them into lands of darkness, bent into images that reflected Ganon's heart of greed and malice. Knowing of Link's potential threat to his plans, Ganon stole a dark artifact from the Forest Temple that holds the ability to take the inner darkness of a person and bring it to life, in order to combat Link. This artifact is revealed as the Dark Mirror, where the same Dark Tribe that made the trident were banished to and into the alternate reality of the Dark World, which Ganon then used to create Shadow Link from Link's own inner darkness, amplified the connection between Hyrule and the Dark World, causing massive armies of monsters to surface, and then sent the evil doppelganger to kidnap the shrine maidens and trick the real Link into releasing Vaati.
Taking control of the Realm of Heavens, Ganon used Vaati's Wind Palace as his base of operations, created a shrine around the Dark Mirror that amplified its power to make hundreds of Dark Links, and planned to use Vaati to dominate Hyrule and, eventually, the world. Through Ganon and Vaati's influence, the integrity in the dimensional barriers between the realms of Hyrule and the Dark World was weakened a great deal as portals to the alternate dimension began to appear rapidly throughout Hyrule in all regions and strongholds, allowing the dark energy that existed in the alternate reality to seep through and alter the nature of Hyrule's landscape and populace and continue to build up Ganon's power and allow him additional energies of darkness.
In order to gain as much power as possible and build up his army, Ganon desired to trap the shrine maidens so that his forces could siphon their power and increase their own along with his. Each guardian of the shrine maidens were loyal followers to Ganon, including Phantom Ganon, who began draining the maidens of their power, which would not only kill each maiden, but leave the kingdom powerless against the tides of darkness. The abductions throughout Hyrule are also revealed to be the work of Vaati and Shadow Link under Ganon's orders, who have been sending citizens and children into the Dark World where they would become part of Ganon's army to bolster his ranks. Vaati, who soon became nothing but another manipulation for Ganon, furthered his plans by creating monsters to add to his army and also created devices that sapped the power from the very land of Hyrule itself and slowly began turning it into a rotting wasteland.
The wind mage further and unknowingly aided Ganon in his meglomanic desires by proving to be an ideal distraction for Link and his counterparts to divert them away from his true plans and his involvement in the attacks on Hyrule and its descent into darkness while he concentrated on his conquest and rise to power. It is also revealed that the knights of Hyrule who stood against Ganon and his armies were murdered by the demon king, who then used his trident to trap their souls in the Dark World where they became creatures of Darkness forced to bend to his and Vaati's will. Using the knights, Ganon conquered Hyrule Castle and nearly all of the kingdom and stole the fours jewels to make the Tower of Winds vanish to ensure that Link had no method of reaching him and turned them into portals of darkness to allow the Dark World and its monsters additional entry points into Hyrule.
The Links are eventually able to wipe out thousands of Ganon's minions, save Zelda and the six shrine maidens, retrieve the four jewels, lay the soldiers to rest, destroy all of Vaati's devices, rescue all the citizens from the Dark World, reconstitute the Tower of Winds, retrieve the Dark Mirror, and destroy Shadow Link and Vaati. After restoring peace to the Realm of the Heavens and destroying the Wind Palace, the four Links are eventually challenged by Ganon himself in a final showdown to determine the fate of Hyrule and the world itself. After one, final and grueling battle, the Links are able to defeat Ganon and seal him firmly within the Four Sword with the aid of Zelda and the six shrine maidens. The Four Sword is then placed back in its pedestal at the Four Sword Sanctuary, allowing the four Links to become one again. As Link and Zelda leave to celebrate in Hyrule, the six maidens restore Hyrule to peace and tranquility while the people of Hyrule celebrate all the traces of evil being vanquished from their kingdom.
At E3 2003, Nintendo showcased two Zelda games which would make use of the Game Boy Advance connectivity, Four Swords and Tetra's Trackers. In December of the same year, it was announced that both games would be together in a single disc, Four Swords +, along with a third, Shadow Battle. Four Swords Adventures was released in Japan with Hyrule Adventure, Shadow Battle, and Navi's Trackers as three individual games bundled together. It was later announced on June 7, 2004, however, that Hyrule Adventures and Navi's Trackers would be sold as two separate titles in the United States, while the retail status of Shadow Battle was still unknown. This decision was later changed to bundle Hyrule Adventure with Shadow Battle, and to not release Navi's Trackers in the United States.
Despite the fact that translations for the PAL version were finished in October, the game was not released in Europe until early January 2005. A possible reason for this is so that the game did not compete with The Minish Cap for sales, which in turn was released pre-Christmas in Europe because, unlike North America, it would not cannibalize Nintendo DS sales.
Early on the development of Navi Trackers, it was decided that it would include a speech navigation system that talks and advises the player during mini-games. Players type in their name and the system calls players by their name during the game in order to notify them of their turn.
In 2006, Nintendo Power rated it the 48th best game made on a Nintendo system. Four Swords received a score of 86 out of 100 based on 55 aggregated reviews from Metacritic, and an average score of 85% based on 67 reviews from Game Rankings.
GameSpot praised the game's connectivity feature with the Game Boy Advance, claiming that this is "a truly compelling reason to invest in a GameCube-to-GBA link cable" and that "using the Game Boy Advance as a controller has an appreciable impact on the experience". They also praised the story and said, "One of the differences between the original Four Swords and Adventures is a more persistent narrative." The video was also applauded, with a critic quoted as remarking, "Adventures does improve on the original Four Swords' visuals, making the Wind-Waker-derived visual style even more reminiscent of the cel-shaded adventure of Link." The audio was noted, with a review remarking, "The sound design for Four Swords Adventures will be even more familiar to anyone who has played any Zelda game, and especially to those who have played The Wind Waker."
Four Swords Adventures also received criticism. Game Revolution said about the video, "Graphically, Four Swords Adventures is an odd mix of cheap 2D SNES sprites and nice Gamecube particle effects. It looks a lot like the GBA game, but now wears fancier pants and shows off upgraded visual flourishes, like Wind Waker style curly-Q air poofs. Still, much of the technology has clearly been ported over from the GBA, creating an inconsistent feel." They also criticized the requirement of the link cable, saying that "the required use of the GBA for multiplayer does limit the play potential."
Four Swords Adventures was the third best-selling game of June 2004 in North America with 155,000 units, and has since sold 250,000 copies, becoming a part of the Player's Choice line. The game also sold 127,000 units in Japan.
A manga novelization of the game was authored by Akira Himekawa. In it, each of the four Links have a distinct personality: the Link in green (nicknamed "Green") acted similarly to his normal self, aggressive and brave, the Link in red ("Red") was portrayed as a childish optimist, the one in blue ("Blue") was quick-tempered and overconfident, and the one in violet ("Vio") was aloof and self-possessive. This of course caused the four Links to argue among one another due to their conflicting personas. The four decided to use nicknames of the color they are wearing so they would not confuse each other.
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