Monday, August 12, 2013

Four Swords Online next?

Will the Light World will never be free from the thread of darkness?
There may come a time when the land will have need of the Four Sword once again.

- Hyrule Historia

I've already talked about this in a previous post, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. On all their handheld systems Nintendo had a follow-up Zelda game using a previous engine. The Oracle games were based on Link's Awakening, The Minish Cap was based on Four Swords and Spirit Tracks was based on Phantom Hourglass. They even do this on the console with games like Majora's Mask, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes or Super Mario Galaxy 2. It's a good financial choice to reuse the engine and all assets of a successful game to release a follow-up. The Nintendo 3DS is far from done, so I'm pretty sure that they will make another Zelda game reusing the A Link Between Worlds-engine. It's only logical to do so and could provide another new handheld Zelda game in 2015.

Well, the A Link Between Worlds engine was made to match the A Link to the Past graphical style and world. And (aside from Ancient Stone Tablets on the BS-X) there has been only one other Zelda game to match A Link to the Past visually and gameplay-wise: Four Swords Adventures. Now the bold quote in the beginning of this post is from the ending of Four Swords Adventures in Hyrule Historia. There Aonuma is basically teasing another Four Swords game continuing the story after Ganon was sealed within the Four Sword. Also, Miyamoto and Aonuma expressed severals times that the Four Swords game were ahead of their time because of the technical obstacles like having four cables and that with online gaming and wireless network technologies Four Swords has the potential to evolve even further (see this interview on IGN for example). I think, at Nintendo there's definite interest in making another Four Swords game.

And A Link Between Worlds is delivering the perfect platform for it. Four Swords Adventures has its own Dark World similar to the one in A Link to the Past, but still different. It could be that the new Dark World in A Link Between Worlds is somehow connected to the one in FSA. They could expand upon that, maybe even introduce the Dark Triforce to the other timeline. So, even when everything is said, done and gone at the end of A Link Between Worlds, they would have a whole different timeline where they could continue the same graphical style and Dark World story elements. Four Swords Adventures makes it possible.

Also, the Item Meter would be perfect for Four Swords. So far bombs and arrows have been unlimited in Four Swords games, which allowed you to spam them, but an Item Meter much like in ALBW would add another strategic element to it. So, that's another thing from ALBW that would be perfect for a new Four Swords.

Of course the previous Four Swords games weren't really successful. But Nintendo is a company that likes to keep trying until their ideas take a successful shape. The Virtual Boy would eventually evolve into the Nintendo 3DS. The GBA to GameCube connection into the Wii U GamePad (even though this isn't really successful yet). To be successful, a new Four Swords game needs a full fledged singleplayer experience and online multiplayer. If you don't have any friends, who like to play Zelda and/or own a Nintendo 3DS, then the game will be useless otherwise and bomb like Four Swords Adventures did.


A singleplayer mode like in Four Swords Adventures or the Four Swords Anniversary Edition, which allows you to play the multiplayer levels alone, is absolutely mandatory (especially for online, more about that later). Zelda always was a singleplayer game and there's no way around it. There are many, many Zelda fans, who own a copy of Four Swords (better say A Link to the Past on the GBA), but were never able to play it. So, there needs to be some way to control multiple Links at the same time to master the levels on your own.

But that's just half of it. Playing Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures on your own is a nice in-between experience, but not a full fledged Zelda game. It's just not a real Zelda game, if it's in levels. It would need a full Zelda singleplayer experience, if it doesn't want to be a disappointment after A Link Between Worlds. But it can be done, The Minish Cap was basically a Four Swords story told in a singleplayer game. It would need another TMC as the main game and the option to play all multiplayer levels on your own. That way there would be plenty of interest in this.

Online Multiplayer

Even with wireless communication between Nintendo 3DS systems, you would still need someone, who owns a Nintendo 3DS and plays Zelda in order to enjoy local multiplayer. There are people out there, who can't even get a single Streetpass, let alone find someone to play with. So, an online multiplayer mode would be a necessity for everyone to enjoy the multiplayer. And it would be a huge hit. There are Zelda communities like ZeldaUniverse full of Zelda fans, who would love to play together. The only Zelda multiplayer game that was playable online, was Phantom Hourglass' Battle Mode. But that one was terrible. A real Four Swords game online, however, could be a hit. Imagine playing Zelda with Zelda fans all around the world!

Of course the player count would need to be dynamic. If someone leaves the games or quits the connection, you should be able to continue the game. But they already handled this in Four Swords Adventures. There, when a player would be missing, another player just gets to play two Links instead of one. If everyone else skips, you would return to singleplayer, where you play all four Links at once. Hey, you could even host like a dynamic game. You start playing in singleplayer, but leave the option for others to join you. That could work great.

I think that A Link Between Worlds will be shipped with a new Battle Mode, similar to Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. But it will be more like Shadow Battles in Four Swords Adventures, a Deathmatch game so to speak, and playable online. This would be a test to see if there's demand for something like a new Four Swords game. And if people like it, Nintendo starts developing Four Swords Online on the 3DS. I could see this happening.

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