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21. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
Nintendo | Nintendo | 2004
A full-fledged extension of a GBA minigame that splits Link into four parts and somehow makes the phrase "Zelda party game" make sense
What made it so great?
On paper it sounds absurd; four people control four different Links as they run around one screen trying to solve puzzles and bash enemies. Why would we want a multiplayer Zelda in the first place? The series had always been the ultimate single-player experience. It was like Nintendo saw a gap in its lineup and said "fill it with Link! No wait, FOUR Links!" And if you try to play Four Swords Adventures alone, filler is the nicest thing you'll call it. But this wasn't meant for one. No, this was created for four lucky friends who all managed to have four Game Boy Advances and four GameCube-to-GBA link cables.
Remember that whole GBA connectivity craze from a few years back? No? Well that's because you didn't settle down with Four Swords. Instead of everyone being tethered to the same screen, you could break away from the pack and go explore caves, houses and hidden areas on your own private GBA. What's the point? To collect more Force Gems than anyone else. Your sudden discovery of Gems or a staple Zelda item would send the other three into a panic, each slashing at the other to get to the stash first. Then, you'd all have to come together to push a giant block out of the way, forging a temporary ceasefire that'd be broken within seconds. This was the game that proved Nintendo had a good idea on its hands with GBA connectivity. Too bad this was the only good idea.
Get ready to play
The thrill of competitive gem-grabbing is what Four Swords is all about. The ultimate throwdown would have to be the effects-heavy bosses that spewed countless gems all over the screen. But before you could make it to the boss, you'd all have to pitch in and solve the labyrinthine dungeon first. Imagine traditional Zelda puzzles riddled with multiplayer nuances. It's a mix that worked so well, we honestly can't figure why this wasn't a bigger hit. Oh, wait, it's probably got something to do with that whole connectivity thing.
Been there, done that?
Square Enix tried to make a GBA-centric game as well, but its Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles played more like a glorified Gauntlet clone than a true party game. With four people it's a hit, but the solo game is to be utterly avoided.