The Legend of Zelda franchise isn’t necessarily one that people expect to contain multiplayer features, but when you get the option to play Zelda with friends, there’s no doubt you and your friends are in for a blast!
Back upon the re-release of a Link to the Past on the GameBoy Advance, Nintendo included a 2nd game known as Four Swords, downside, it was only playable if you had two people, two copies of LttP + FS, two GBA’s/1 GBA + GameCube w/GBA Player add-on, and a link cable.
Not everyone had friends that were capable of playing Four Swords with everyone, but those that did were treated small little adventure that could last hours. The game was notably more fun if you had a full party of 4 players, but it was a tad hectic at the same time.
Within minutes of starting the game, Vaati made his first appearance and kidnapped Princess Zelda and it was up to you and your friends to save her once more.
Players were each assigned their own colored Link and thrust into the land of Hyrule where they must overcome three different stages featuring two sub-levels, and one boss-level. Players who managed to acquire a certain amount of rupees were granted a silver, gold, or hero key. Each key granted access to the final stage of the game, but if a player managed to collect a full set of keys, the players would witness a different ending.
The prologue of the game details what is presumably the events that occur sometime after Minish Cap. A wind mage known as Vaati raided the land of Hyrule and captured a series of maidens who were held in his palace. While many tried to save the maidens and defeat Vaati, only a young boy from the forests of Hyrule was capable of defeating Vaati, thanks to the power of the Four Sword which split the boy into four warriors.
Upon victory, Vaati was sealed inside the Four Sword and placed in a sanctuary to keep it protected. However, at the beginning of Four Swords, Princess Zelda notices a disturbance on the Four Sword’s seal and brings Link with to check on the sacred blade.
Upon reaching the sword, Vaati emerges setting forth the events of Four Swords.
The gameplay for the most part is fairly similar to all 2D overhead entries since Link to the Past, but one feature Four Swords contained on the GBA was the ability to unlock an extra dungeon in Link to the Past if both stories are completed on the same save file.
Upon the release of the special 25th Anniversary Edition of Four Swords on the DSi and 3DS, players could access two special sets of levels in which players could visit worlds based off older entries in the franchise such as the original NES Zelda, Link’s Awakening, and Link to the Past. Upon completing the Hero’s Trial and Realm of Memories, players are awarded abilities like the Sword Beam and Hurricane Spin.
Another addition to the Anniversary Edition was the ability for people to play Four Swords alone, or they could us Wi-Fi to play with others also using a Dsi/3DS.
I was never able to play through Four Swords myself up until 2007/2008. One day in the middle of my Sophmore year of High School while my friends and I were hanging out at lunch, we all decided to bring our GBA’s and copies of Four Swords to school to play when our semester exams were over and we were at lunch.
This short and small little epic adventure sure blew through the hours. My friends and I were so engrossed by the game that when two of our four players had to leave, we pretty much forgot they were leaving for class and lunch was over. Needless to say, we showed up to class about 45 minutes late.
The small little adventure of course is meant for friends, but it is also programmed to work in small increments. The levels themselves take about 15 minutes apiece to complete, but each time you play through, the experience will always be slightly different as dungeons are completely randomized making each adventure a unique one for you and your friends to experience.
I usually discuss a game’s development period to some degree when writing a retrospective, but unfortunately, there is not a lot of material to work with. The only real differences that can be found are those in the sprites, which featured more adult looking Links, as opposed to the child-like ones we see in the Toon entries.
Despite its very small size and length, Four Swords is still an adventure everyone should play if they’re looking for a fun time with friends.