The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords was a 2002 action-adventure game for the Game Boy Advance by Nintendo. A Link to the Past originally came out on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but my parents never let me get that console. I played it a tiny bit at a friend’s house, but this was years after its release. We had Nintendo 64 and PlayStation now. We weren’t interested in spending too much time with old games. Later, I was blessed when Nintendo decided to port it to the new Game Boy Advance. They also included a new experimental game called Four Swords in the game cartridge.
Despite not playing A Link to the Past, I had rented and played the original Legend of Zelda a few times. A Link to the Past had very similar gameplay, though more advanced technology, being on a newer console than the old Nintendo Entertainment System. It had the same top-down perspective, but the graphics and sounds were much better. It was also slightly easier. Nintendo had a new game philosophy for this game. Just finishing the game would be pretty easy to do. Finding all the optional secrets would be the hard part. This was great because I was mostly able to beat the whole game without a guide, something that was impossible for me with the first Zelda.
With all my school obligations taking up time, I think it took me a couple weeks to beat the game. Then I found a guide that listed all the collectibles. In the next month, I had finished everything. A Link to the Past was pretty much perfect for its time. I was hooked on this game from start to finish. Every moment of the day I was thinking about what I wanted to do in the game later. Getting through the school day was tough. I would quickly rush through my homework, so I could get back to gaming. The game had just the perfect blend of action, exploration, puzzle-solving, quests, and rewards.
The only thing I could complain about in A Link to the Past was the graphics and sounds. They weren’t quite as good as the original game on the Super Nintendo. I couldn’t expect it to compete with the latest games on the Nintendo GameCube, which was also out at the time, but I wish the technical qualities were the same as the Super Nintendo. However, it easily looked and sounded as good as the rest of the games on the handheld Game Boy Advance.
The Four Swords game was a nice bonus. This game wasn’t on the original A Link to the Past game cartridge for the Super Nintendo. It was all new for the Game Boy Advance. Four Swords was a multiplayer-only game, where between two and four players could cooperate to defeat enemies, solve puzzles, and complete quests. The graphics were more colorful and vibrant than A Link to the Past. Each player controlled their own version of the main character, Link, with a unique tunic color.
While the overall goal was cooperative, players could also compete to collect rupees, the in-game currency. Sometimes that might mean fighting over killing enemies. Other times it was pushing other players out of the way to get the rupees that dropped first. This competition was all in good fun though. At the end of each level the game ranked the players based on how many rupees they got. The rupees were added together at the end. Instead of one big overworld, the game was broken down into levels with high numbers of rupees required to unlock each level in succession.
Luckily, I had a good friend to play the Four Swords with. This game was just as compelling as A Link to the Past. We were glued to our screens every bus ride before and after school. Four Swords was fairly short even with just us two playing. We finished it probably in about ten hours spread out over several days on the bus. It was a blast the whole time. We both wished it were longer though. I think it only had five levels. I would put Four Swords more in the party-game category than action-adventure like A Link to the Past. While the gameplay was roughly the same, this game was more about the fun situations players got themselves into than the gameplay itself.
The only bad thing about A Link to the Past and Four Swords was the lack of replay value. After I finished everything in the games, there wasn’t much reason to play again. I did come back to A Link to the Past many times to beat it again. It was just a fun game I could go back to a lot, but it wasn’t the kind of game I would play for months on end. The game was more than worth the purchase price though. I really appreciated the Game Boy Advance being capable of playing Super Nintendo games. It gave me a chance to play some of the hit games of the past. I still wish I could have played it in those Super Nintendo days. I thought it was really good in 2002. I can’t imagine how amazing it would have been in 1991.