Monday, February 22, 2016

Replaying the Realm of Memories

The 2nd best thing to play for the 30th Anniversary right after the original The Legend of Zelda is the Zelda game that actually has "Anniversary" right there in the title: Four Swords Anniversary Edition. This game got released for free on Nintendo DSi and 3DS during the 25th Anniversary, as well as for a short time two years ago in North America. I can only hope that it will be released again this year during the 30th Anniversary for anyone, who originally has missed the game.

For the 30th Anniversary I want to replay as many Zelda games as possible, but with both Four Swords and Tri Force Heroes I doubt that I will replay them from start to finish. There's no real need, since you can replay every level anytime anyway. In addition replaying levels always adds to a savegame: in Tri Force Heroes you can keep collecting materials, while Four Swords Anniversary Edition has a six digit Rupee counter. Mine is currently at 500,000 Rupees, which is a lot and got accumulated by playing the levels over and over again. But I'd rather increase my numbers in an existing savegame, instead of creating a redundant new one. The exception might be, if this game really gets re-released and I decide to play it on one of my other 3DS systems.

Replaying Four Swords Adventures on the other hand would be different, because the game has cutscenes and dialogues that you only get to view on your first time playing through the game. And there's nothing much to add after you've completed the levels, save for having 99 Force Fairies. (Which is why I love the challenges and outfits in Tri Force Heroes, it adds personal progress and keeps you playing for a while.) But I hope that I will be able to play Four Swords Adventures in multiplayer later this year, where I will have a new experience with the game.

Anyway, for now I just decided to go through the Realm of Memories again, the levels dedicated to the Anniversary, where you play through areas of A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening and The Hyrule Fantasy covered in graphics and music from these games. It wouldn't be the first time that I've replayed these levels just for fun, but it's the first time after playing Tri Force Heroes, which opened a new chapter in the Zelda multiplayer games and which I have played a lot recently.

At the beginning I even had trouble adopting back to the singleplayer mechanics of Four Swords. I was more inclined to beat the level the way it's supposed to be done in multiplayer, instead of abusing the "call" mechanic. I even picked up the 2nd Link to carry him around at first. Which is an interesting development, after I felt like Tri Force Heroes was lacking some important singleplayer features from this game. Now the warping actually feels like cheating to me. There still should be something like a "follow" command in Tri Force Heroes, but the other Links shouldn't warp through walls.

And I have to say that GREZZO certainly improved on the level design, when you compare both games directly. It got a lot simpler and more straightforward, but I feel like their levels in Four Swords were very tiresome. The floors are quite large and while the course is usually linear, it's very intertwined throughout the entire area, which makes you feel like you're going back and forth. It's also overusing the enemy switches, where every player steps on a switch, doors get closed and you have to fight some waves on enemies. Tri Force Heroes still has this mechanic, but it usually dedicates its own floors to this, instead of doing it all the time. Overall the levels in Tri Force Heroes are much shorter, but they always give you the feeling that playing one more level is okay. If you keep saying "just one more game", it's multiplayer done right. GREZZO's levels in Four Swords on the other hand just make me want to quit after a while.

It's even worse with the Hero's Trial, which I will save for a later date. These levels are so diabolical and exhausting that I really have to be in the mood for some big challenge, much like with Zelda II - The Adventure of Link. And the Hero's Trial levels are so long, I couldn't ever imagine playing them online with people. Which is why the Den of Trials in Tri Force Heroes got divided in so many zones with entry points...

But overall the additional levels for Four Swords were a good idea and I can only hope that Tri Force Heroes will get some special Anniversary levels as well. It would be very fitting.

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