The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures

released on Mar 18, 2004

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is the only console Zelda title to date to incorporate multiplayer elements into its main campaign. Because of its single-player elements, Four Swords Adventures is also the first game in the series to allow a single player to control more than one Link at once, and it utilizes various methods to allow the player to make use of the four Links, such as formations. Also it is the only title to break locations and temples up into succinct, separate stages and levels which can be replayed even after beating them once. The game itself, though an innovation in Zelda gameplay, is heavily inspired by the music, graphics, and locations of A Link to the Past.

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Disclaimer - I have never played this game with other people, only single player. I would actually wager that very few people who’ve played this game have done so with any more than 2 players due to how difficult it is to set up a multiplayer session - requiring a GameCube, a GBA, 4 link cables and three friends with another GBA apiece.
While the GBA linking concept is utilized in a creative and interesting way, the high barrier to entry for even playing this game as it’s intended is definitely a massive negative for the title as a whole.
That said, unlike the version of Four Swords on the DSi, four swords adventures actually has an enjoyable and well implemented single player mode. Arranging and switching between links is seamless and intuitive and it’s actually pretty easy to multitask with them and have the links do different things in quick succession. This mostly comes into play during boss battles, which are generally high quality.
The level design in this game is similar to the original four swords i.e pretty different from normal Zelda games. Most levels act as a sort of mini dungeon - even levels that take place outdoors - where the links will proceed down various linear paths and sometimes backtrack when new paths are opened by player actions. There are a couple levels that switch things up by acting more as puzzle boxes where the player has to talk to different NPCs and complete tasks and puzzles to proceed.
Combat generally feels good and is actually a bit more involved than most 2D Zelda games due to the expanded combat mechanics allowed by the four links.
The biggest flaw this game has - apart from the high barrier to entry - is due to how it breaks from the classic Zelda formula that fans know and love. While the mini dungeon focused design of FSA can be fun it’s not nearly as refined or engaging as the classic Zelda formula that Nintendo had perfected by this time. Four swords adventures if just sort of boring to play. It’s very repetitive and neither puzzles nor combat involves much challenge or engages the player in creative ways. After the first world you’ll have experienced pretty much everything this game has to offer. If you want to actually finish it you’re going to be in for a very boring and repetitive experience.
I’d only recommend this game to hardcore Zelda fans who want to see what it’s like. If it ever gets a remaster and playing with three other people is more practical id definitely be recommending it to more people. However, as it stands, most people trying this game for the first time in 2023 will probably be playing single player which just isn’t a terribly worthwhile experience.

better than four swords but that's not saying much

Four Swords Adventures feels like a slow descent to madness. Playing through the game was cool at first because it felt like an evolution of Four Swords in some ways. There was more of a story happening, the levels were longer, some cool gameplay moments. But honestly the more the game went on, the more I was getting sick of it.
Let me start with things I like because there isn’t that many. I played the game in single player and I really like how they translated the multiplayer elements into the single player mode, it just makes sense to be able to control all Links whenever I want and toggle whenever I want to control a specific Link. I also like the GBA implementation, even though I played it in single player with a GameCube controller, just knowing what moments would’ve used the GBA screen was a really cool concept, especially its use in a couple of the bosses. I also really like the Palace of the Winds. That’s pretty much all I like about the game.
Other than that, I kind of had a miserable time playing Four Swords Adventures. By the time you get to the second temple, you’ve already seen it all and have to get through this repetitive slog of a game. I had to literally force myself to keep going because there’s really not much interesting things going on in these levels. The temples were dreadful and so were the bosses. It also didn’t help that the game didn’t have any original music or locations that felt original. I kept thinking to myself that I might have had more fun if I played it in multiplayer like the game is intended but I can only see that being fun in the beginning. The game gets old fast and I don’t think playing it with friends would’ve made it any better.
Honestly what baffles me is that I left this game feeling like I heavily preferred the previous Four Swords. It had far more interesting items, shorter levels, and overall a shorter and cuter experience. Which is exactly the kind of approach they should have for a multiplayer Zelda of this style. Don’t pad it out to make it the length of a full game because this multiplayer formula just doesn’t work for a full-length game. Four Swords Adventures should’ve felt like a cool side mode the same way Four Swords did. Instead it tried to be a fun multiplayer Zelda experience and failed in doing so. It’s not a fun time and is barely a Zelda experience. This currently ranks at the lowest of my list because at least Adventure of Link tries to do something different and is a bit more “adventurous” for lack of a better term. Four Swords Adventures is just an uninspired and clunky game with tons of wasted potential.

BRING THIS BACKKKK we need an hd remake so so bad i mean not really actually cause the pixel art style is what makes it so amazing in my opinion but they need to port it to switch

Man, I really wish I didn't have to own 4 GBAs, 4 link cables, a working Gamecube, and a blood pact with the dark lord Satan just to be able to play this game without emulation.