The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Review: The worst mainline entry in the Zelda series

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Review: The worst mainline entry in the Zelda series

In the vast and storied realm of The Legend of Zelda, some titles shine brilliantly, captivating players with rich stories, engaging gameplay, and unforgettable worlds. However, occasionally, even in a legendary series, titles fall below the high standards set by their predecessors. One such entry is The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, a unique addition to the Zelda universe that sought to offer a fresh multiplayer experience. As we embark on this review, we will delve into the various facets of this game, examining its battle system, story, music, art, abilities, sidequests, theming, locations, and overall quality of life. While The Legend of Zelda franchise is celebrated for its consistency in delivering exceptional adventures, Four Swords raises intriguing questions about how well the series adapts to new ideas. Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... a The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Review: The worst mainline entry in the Zelda series.

Combat - 5

This game's combat is the most barebones a 2D Zelda game can get—it simply lacks the depth and charm found in the other 2D titles. It can't even compare to the original The Legend of Zelda title. Since items are temporarily acquired in this game, and you have limited item access, you only have one ability at a time, limiting any potential for fascinating battle gameplay. The boss fights in this game are also incredibly mediocre, especially in a series well-known for its incredible puzzle-centric bosses. I have very little to say about the combat in this game—it isn't offensive, but it does nothing to set it apart from any other entries in the series.

Story - 2

This is the worst story in the entire The Legend of Zelda series. The whole premise of this story is based around the evil Wind Mage Vaati escaping from confinement and Link having to save Zelda from him. Quite frankly, this game has nothing going for it in its story—it's basically just a much weaker version of the story in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, a game that was already rather mediocre in the story department. There's no depth or intrigue here, no memorable or emotional moments, and no real meaningful or memorable areas... just boring, randomly generated, story-devoid levels. I wanted to like this game's story, but ultimately, there's nothing here.

Music - 5

I can't remember a single distinct track from this game. With The Legend of Zelda series consistently having high-quality soundtracks with heaps of unforgettable tunes, this game struggled to hook me in with its music. It didn't set a unique tone for the game, something every other entry in the series has done an immaculate job of. With a soundtrack as basic as this, Four Swords has the worst soundtrack in the series.

Art & Graphics - 6

This game tried a new style for the series, and while it looks better than the Oracle games or Zelda II, it definitely has some of the weakest art in the series. This game easily could've looked a lot worse, but it feels incredibly dated compared to the other 2D titles like The Minish Cap, Link to the Past, and even the original The Legend of Zelda. In the end, this game looks just about as mediocre as a game can look, so this game deserves a 6 out of 10.

Abilities - 6

This game uses its items in an unconventional way, that's for sure. You can only hold a single, temporary item at a time! While items like the magnet are really cool, that doesn't mean this game has good abilities because, quite frankly, the lack of being able to switch between different items on a whim to make a fluid puzzle-solving experience really makes this game feel like a very dumbed down version of the typical Zelda formula. While I like the items in this game, the utter lack of puzzle and explorative cohesion displayed through having multiple items in the other games makes this game feel all the more like the most bland and forgettable mainline entry in the series.

Sidequests - 4

Upon completing the main story of Four Swords, two extra worlds are unlocked! This added some additional levels and puzzles, which was a decent bonus. However, I had little motivation to continue playing the bonus levels because they were just more mediocre levels in this mediocre game. While I appreciated the callback to other games in the series, the levels provided little to motivate me to continue playing. Also, this game simply doesn't have the extraordinary collect-a-thon aspects of previous and later entries in the series, and that was incredibly frustrating for a game series centered around exploration, side content, and collecting bizarre items across bizarre environments. Ultimately, this game has some of the weakest side content in the series—it's so mediocre, like every other aspect of this game.

Theming - 5

VideoGameArt&Tidbits on X: "The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures -  promotional artwork." / X

This game's premise for gameplay is centered around the Four Sword, a sword that can split Link into four. This idea was excellent, even if I didn't like the gameplay loop it ultimately provided. In retrospect, the use of the Four Swords was implemented much better in Four Swords Adventures and The Minish Cap, and this game was really just using it as a catalyst to make a not-so-great multiplayer Legend of Zelda experience. Outside of maybe Zelda II, this game has the least exciting theming in the series—a series synonymous with its ability to constantly change up the formula in incredibly unique ways. While the Four Sword was a solid idea, this game doesn't do anything to make it as memorable as it deserves to be.

Locations - 3

As aforementioned, the levels in this game just don't cut it for me. Compare the randomized, generic levels of this game to the intricate design of most Zelda titles, and you've got a rather embarrassing set of Zelda locations. When the only memorable locations in a game are made to reference other games in the series, that's just disheartening. The locales of Zelda make these games so unique for me, and nothing about Four Swords gave me the incredible feeling I got from the locales of other Zelda games—honestly, a score of three might be a little generous.

Quality of Life - 9

Outside of the absurd amount of Rupees you have to spend to revive yourself multiple times in this game, this game doesn't have any considerable issues to speak of. I guess the slippery ice was frustrating, but that's to be expected with ice levels. This game may not be enjoyable, but it was definitely well-polished! I've got nothing to nitpick here, so let's move into the verdict.

The Verdict

Fun Factor: 6
Overall Score: 51%
Letter Rating: C

The Legend of Zelda is a series that rarely has misses, but this game is an unfortunate example that this series does have them. Four Swords is a game that was a very brief and wholly forgettable experience, and it is one of the most mediocre games I've ever played. It isn't awful, but even with its short runtime, I wouldn't consider it worth your time. I would only recommend this game to the most adamant, hardcore, and dedicated Zelda fans—to people insistent on finishing every title in the series.

Want to check out this entry in the Zelda series? Unfortunately, the Anniversary Edition is not currently available, but you can check out this entry on the Game Boy Advance with the link below... and support our website in the process!

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (GBA)

Primary Version: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition (DS)