Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beaten Four Swords

Yayyyyyy...! At last. From this day on I can finally say, that I've beaten all Zelda games in existence. (Well, except Ocarina of Time 3D for now, but that's just a matter of time, can't avoid the 3DS forever... or can I? But I got the game and I will eventually play it someday.) But this evening I finally had the chance to blast through Four Swords. So, how did I get the chance to play it? To make a long story short, I just asked one of my buddies. It's as simple as that. My buddy, let's call him "Den" for now, is more a PC gamer, but I've played quite some games with him in coop including New SMB Wii and Unreal Tournament 3, so we were already a good team. He doesn't have any Nintendo systems except for the SNES and he never played any Zelda games except for A Link to the Past, but that's fine. None of my friends actually play Zelda, otherwise I would probably have beaten Four Swords already...

Well, I have two GameBoy Advance systems, I got one cheap on ebay some time ago as well as a second copy of A Link to the Past: Four Swords. Primarily because I wanted to try both Four Swords and the multiplayer features of Four Swords Adventures. You can play alone by trying to use both GameBoy Advance systems simultaneously. In case of Four Swords it's even easier when you use the GameBoy Player. And actually I've managed to beat both Talus Cave and Death Mountain that way... so we only needed to play the Sea of Trees and Vaati's Palace to finally beat the game.

You might ask, why it took me so long then, after all I got all the necessary gear and someone to play with... and I honestly don't know. One reason is that all my old video game systems including both GBAs were over at my parents' house in my old home. I only got Wii and DS in my student apartment. But two weeks ago I was visiting home, there I replayed Four Swords Adventures and during that I thought I should bring the GBAs with me back to the university and ask one of my student buddies... but yeah, I've could have come up with that idea earlier. I was hesitating, because none of my friends play/like Zelda and I was secretly hoping that someday I would get to know someone, who actually likes playing Zelda... I was thinking that this game is something that only hardcore Zelda fans would want to play, nothing for my friends. But it seems I was wrong. Well, whatever, doesn't matter anymore. What matters is that I finally got to beat the game.

And it was fun. We were actually really playing against each others when it came to collecting rupees, but I managed to win every round. By now I have six Medals of Courage, only four more to go, so I can play the Riddle Quest on my retail copy. And exploring the levels is fun, it's really satisfying to cut all the grass, turn all stones, dive for treasures and look in all corners. It reminds me of Link's Awakening in some way, there could be hidden something in every spot. You really have to be thorough to uncover every secret. And next to rupees there's are three types of Mystical Seeds (obviously taken from Capcoms previous games, Oracle of Ages & Seasons) and the Rupee Shards to collect. The red Razor Seeds amplify your sword power, the blue Armor Seeds lowers the damage and the green Pegasus Seeds make you walk faster. All of them give you a major advancement over the other players, so you're really willing to cut all the grass, etc. The Rupee Shards work like Pieces of Hearts, only that collecting four gives you 500 rupees. They can also be found pretty much everywhere, I found lots of them under bushes for example.

Well, I was so obsessed with the game that I knew most about it in advance. I tried playing all the levels alone and I watched full playthroughs on Youtube or during some Zelda Marathon. Naturally this somehow spoiled the game experience, because I knew the solutions to some puzzles and I already knew what we needed to do in most cases, so the "figuring it out together" part was missing. It's still a fun game, especially this mix of competing against each other (you want the rupees!) and working together at the same time is very unique and some real cool multiplayer experience, something you don't get in many games.

And the game got some good replay value. The levels are not always the same but get randomly generated. Well, basically an area consists of a frame, which gets randomly selected out of let's say five, six, seven or so different templates, and the the inner parts of the frames get randomly chosen as well. There are multiple templates for each stage and many more combinations of them, so you can replay every stage many times until you've seen everything. And there were already some surprises for me, one area of the Sea of Trees for example was some Lost Woods type of dungeon with two treasure chests in every screen, never seen that before in Four Swords. The level generation is really cool and definitely adds a lot to the replay value.

Also, I love how the game set the style for The Minish Cap, it's always fun to see, what exactly was already made for Four Swords. Like certain enemies, gameplay elements or specific sounds. A lot of people think that everything was made exclusively for The Minish Cap and that it's the only Zelda game in its style, but that's not the truth. The Minish Cap is entirely based on Four Swords, you could go as far and say that all Capcom did was taking everything from Four Swords and forming a singleplayer game out of it.

However, what I missed from The Minish Cap was the rolling by pressing R while you're walking. If you try to do this in Four Swords, Link just stops and tries to grab something. This unnecessarily slows the game down and I hope that they'll fix that for the DSiWare port. It really would feel more naturally if the game fully adepts the control scheme of The Minish Cap. After all most people played TMC, but not Four Swords. (Update: This actually would destroy the concept of Pegasus Seeds, which is about having a Speed Advantage over the other players. So, this might be not a good idea.)

And I have to say that I'm not satisfied yet. Beating Four Swords once is certainly not all there is to the game, after you've collected all three Silver Keys and beaten Vaati for the first time you can go for the Golden Keys and beat him again. After that you can go for the Hero's Keys, Vaati's Palace then gets insane, it features 12 areas instead of the usual 3 and you fight all four bosses. Only if you beat that you've fully beaten Four Swords. So, I still can't claim that I've beaten all Zelda games for 100%. However, Den liked the game, so we will play some more rounds soon. I can't wait.

But that's the problem somewhere, isn't it? I can't wait, but I have to. Probably until the weekend. The fact that I simply can't play the game whenever I want, because I need a second player for playing it is still a problem. Please, Nintendo, never ever make a Zelda game again, that can't be played by yourself... Zelda always was a singleplayer game and no matter how fun the multiplayer in Four Swords might be, it doesn't justify that solo players are not welcome in this game.

For now I will revisit the Palace of the Four Sword. Beating Four Swords once finally unlocked the bonus dungeon. So far I only could enter the dungeon by using glitches, but now I can finally enter and leave the dungeon without any problems. It got some of the toughest bosses in the entire series, so replaying it will be a good challenge.


Anonymous said...

Just two words: Finally! Congratulations.

TourianTourist said...

Thank you.