To fully appreciate The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure, you're going to require a GameCube, three friends and four GBAs. If you have no problem meeting these requirements and you're also a big Zelda fan, then you're in for a treat.

Although we did experience the Four Swords as a sort of bonus game to A Link to the Past, this version delivers a full course meal from what was once dessert. Although the requirements may seem to some as excessive, Nintendo has been touting the "connectivity" of the two systems for some time now, so some of you are ready, willing and able. Once all the devices and players are assembled the only other thing you'll need is a copy of the game for the Cube. Thankfully no carts are required for the GBA.

The four-player experience allows for a more personalized method of gameplay. The action toggles between the TV screen and the GBA where certain aspects of the game are private. Players can pretend to be part of the team but they can attempt to collect most of the power-ups and treasures for themselves. It's a co-op, competition of sorts.

Depending on how the game is played there can be a dynamic undercurrent. One cannot defect entirely from the party since there are many instances where teamwork is essential to move forward. Some tasks will require the combined strength of no less than all four of the players. Boulders must be moved, huge levers must be pulled and there are times when the players will have to assist one another to access otherwise inaccessible areas.

Link must rescue Zelda from Vaati. Using the four swords for the quest, Link splits into four different-colored warriors. The story mode is entertaining. You never lose sight of your goal. NPCs will help keep you on the right path. It is possible to play the game in single-player mode though it's not nearly as much fun. In the multi-player mode, the action switches to the GBA screen whenever you enter a building, cave or entrance of any kind. It's here that you can try to collect the gems and treasure for yourself with no one the wiser.

Each level will take about an hour to complete. At the end of the level you can secretly vote on which player you believe is Light or Dark. Everything that you've collected in that level will be gone when it's over. A new level means that everyone starts out fresh which eliminates anyone from dominating the game should they have gotten lucky in the first level.

If the tendency to fight your teammates becomes overwhelming there is a battle mode specifically designed for such activities. As long as you have two players you can fight it out with your swords. The combat is shallow but the environment is full of traps and power-ups which makes it more interesting.

I can't imagine it was easy blending the graphics from the GBA and the Cube. Rather than overloading the GBA's processor, the graphic quality has been lowered to accommodate it. Admittedly it doesn't look very good on the TV screen when you're playing on the Cube but there are some improvement in graphic quality when the game switches to the Cube. If you look closely you'll notice more animation, detail and particle effects.

Like the animation, the sound effects appear to have been cultivated from the last couple of Zelda games. One may call this consistency while someone else may call it complacency. At least the sound hasn't been degraded.

Four Swords Adventure offers a unique gaming experience. A living room is jammed with four gamers huddled around a TV set with the surround sound blasting out of the speakers, while they occasionally divert their attention to a mini, handheld gaming system - and back to the TV again. Sometimes they even shout at each other. Imagine having to explain this one to grandpa?

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System: GameCube
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Release: June 2004
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Stew XX