The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past / Four Swords (Game Boy Advance) Review

By David Lovato 04.03.2016

Review for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past / Four Swords on Game Boy Advance

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo quickly became many players' favourite in the series. Introducing series staples like the Hookshot and the parallel world theme, many of Zelda's famous aspects have their roots in the classic adventure. Nintendo ported the game to the Game Boy Advance in the early 2000s, and threw in a new adventure called Four Swords, which focused on multiplayer gaming via the GBA Game Link Cable.

A Link to the Past is mostly preserved from its SNES counterpart, though, noticeably, Link's voice and various sound effects have been borrowed from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. These are a smart addition and add character to the overall game, particularly Link. This was probably the richest of the early Zelda titles in the story department, with a prologue detailing Hyrule's history before players are thrown right into current events.

The top-down style of the first game returns, but the mechanics are much deeper. Moving around is smoother and everything feels less like it's locked to a grid. This makes sword combat trickier; it's much easier to miss a baddie right in front of Link, and in turn get hurt when they walk right past his swinging sword and bump into him. It's an interesting mix of strategy and finicky gameplay—missing the mark will lead to frustration, but getting the swordplay right feels oh-so-good.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past / Four Swords on Game Boy Advance

There's a surprising amount of depth to the maps, with clearly defined layers that are part of the game and not just for show; it's little surprise that this title got a 3DS sequel. From the deeper lore in the story—which involves traversing two Hyrules, one light and one dark—to the deeper mechanics, including things like spanning gaps with the Hookshot and spinning sword attacks, A Link to the Past really is a super version of its predecessors. Hyrule is a large, open world ripe for exploring and full of items that let players get creative. This game earned its spot in many fans' hearts.

Four Swords features a different graphical style, though the base visual depth and controls are very similar. The story feels somewhat slapped together, but it did take a chance by replacing series baddie Ganon for the now-classic Vaati. Making a multiplayer-only Zelda was risky, but those who had friends and link cables were able to partake in an experience that required working together to solve puzzles—or not working together and hilarity ensuing; in moments where one Link must lift another and throw him across a chasm, friendships were put to the test. Those without friends and link cables were utterly unable to play the game - something Nintendo later remedied with Four Swords Anniversary Edition.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past / Four Swords on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Nintendo took one of the best Zelda games and brought it to handhelds, giving it sound improvements and otherwise preserving everything that made it great. It was a move that clearly inspired a later title - A Link Between Worlds - and introduced more fans to many series staples that exist to this day. Paired with A Link to the Past is Four Swords, a title that takes puzzle adventuring to a whole new level by allowing two to four people to play together, cooperating to solve puzzles, or not cooperating to goof off - both of which are plenty of fun. Disallowing single-player was a let-down, but on the whole, A Link to the Past / Four Swords is an important title in Zelda's history, and a must-have for anyone who owns a GBA or DS.






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (10 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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