The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

The new GameCube four-player Zelda adventure is looking just as quirky and endearing in English.

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The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
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Not too long ago, we procured a Japanese import copy of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Plus and put it through its paces to see how Nintendo's latest Zelda adventure turned out. But this isn't exactly your daddy's Zelda game--although at first glance you might think it is. Redubbed Four Swords Adventures for its American release, the game marks the first-ever multiplayer outing on a big-screen console for the hallowed series.

The main game mode in Four Swords Adventures is called hyrulean adventure, and it will pit four (yes, four) Links against the baddie, wind sorcerer Vaati, who has been freed after his stint of evil in the GBA Four Swords and he is once again wreaking havoc on the land. The game is playable by only one person--in this mode, you'll control all four Links in various offensive and defensive configurations in order to solve puzzles and fight enemies. The real meat of the game is when other players pick up their GBAs and join the fray. However, the Links will be able to interact with each other in all sorts of ways--you'll be able to pick up a buddy link and toss him over a chasm to access a switch, for instance. You can freely enter a cave or a building without disrupting the action for your cohorts, since the action will then switch to the GBA screen which, in turn, keeps things flowing nicely.

In the spirit of Super Smash Bros. Melee, there's also a well-rounded multiplayer mode in Four Swords Adventures called shadow battle. We saw a rollicking demonstration of this mode in which the four links attempted to whack each other and achieve supreme victory in a variety of arenas. These stages will be filled with pitfalls and traps that can snare hapless players, though witty competitors will find a way to exploit them to their advantage. The shadow battle mode looked like a great way to pass some time with three friends in case the adventuring gets stale.

As you can see from the media of Four Swords Adventures, the game uses a lot of artwork from A Link to the Past, that great old SNES entry in the series that showed up not too long ago on the GBA. Don't think Nintendo has reused these graphics as a way to cut corners, though. Quite the contrary, as the 2D graphics are used to endearing effect since they're coupled with lots of great special effects driven by the GameCube's horsepower. Stylized smoke and fire effects similar to those seen in The Wind Waker will accompany some situations, and at times the screen will be flooded with literally scores of enemies that you and your friends will scramble to defeat.

From what we saw of Four Swords Adventures, we concluded that not much has changed since the Japanese version of the game was released--instead, Nintendo is giving the game the top-notch localization treatment the company is known for. The hyrulean adventure mode will feature 21 lengthy levels to play through, and the multiplayer options will certainly give the game extra longevity as well. We'll bring you more on The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures as its June release date speedily approaches.

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