The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords Adventures
First things first: don't let the word "Adventures" mislead you. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is all about puzzles and battles, and nothing more. If you're looking for an epic trek across Hyrule, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for the Zelda game with the best puzzle design since A Link To The Past, you've found your match.
For you nostalgic cats, that's not all that the game has in common with A Link to the Past - the graphics are often similiar as well. In order to put as many enemies on the screen as capable by the GameCube (and make as many dollars per pixel as possible), Nintendo decided to take the retro approach, incorporating new Link sprites star alongside a variety of classic graphic elements including trees and enemies borrowed from A Link to the Past.
Because of this, some people may consider the look to be somewhat dated, but it really serves its purpose well. The 2D assists the multiplayer aspect of the game, and makes the field much more open and clear for gameplay purposes. Although even the most hardcore gamer would be lying if he told you he'd be unimpressed by the game utilizing the Wind Waker engine.
First and foremost, the multiplayer is the primary focus of the game, so that's where this review will concentrate. Connecting four Game Boy Advance systems to your GameCube will net you some of the craziest four-player gameplay this side of Wario Ware Inc. Not only does the GBA function as your controller unit, but also serves as a secondary screen used for indoor exploration and text. So, when the old man clues you in to some fantastic treasure in the nearby cave, your friends will not only be clueless as to your sudden spelunking addiction, but they won't know anything until your wallet becomes fatter with gems. Nice work, old bean, but now you've got to watch out for revenge.
You will never feel another rush quite like tossing a friend into a pit while you grab the large gem he was going after. Or, tossing him into a pit and depleting his hearts in return for not telling you about the treasure the old man hid in a cave. Or lighting your friends on fire for fun and profit. Or blowing them up with bombs just to laugh as they hemorrhage gems. But revenge and chaos aren't the primary purpose for connecting a few friends. No, you're supposed to cooperate.
When you aren't busy blowing each other up, you and your friends are supposed to solve puzzles together. Pulling switches in tandem, stepping on switches, and picking them up and tossing them...across a pit. There are a lot of unique and interesting uses of cooperative multiplayer to be found in the game, but it'd take an entire article just to go over the ingenuity of them all. Suffice to say, when you're forced to deal with the Light World/Dark World puzzles, you'll crack a stupid smile on your face more than a few times when the solution for a puzzle finally pops up in your mind.
In the end, the most important thing to consider about Four Swords Adventures is that it's not Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Editor's Note: Thank goodness). Without a doubt, FSA offers the most satisfying, multiplayer experience available on the market. While you won't have the thrills of sabotage and organized mayhem that the multiplayer game gives you, solving the puzzles and finding the limited secrets will offer countless hours of enjoyment.
Four Swords Adventures is yet another fantastic multiplayer experience for a system already known for its excellent multiplayer games. So grab a few GBAs, pick up a copy of the game and get to it, soldiers. You've got a lot of chaos to wreak.