Zelda Four Swords + 5 Gamecubes + 5 TVs = Sweet Zelda Party

presented by fastbilly1 with racketboy

The Idea In A Nutshell

Zelda Four Swords Adventure for the Gamecube is a killer party game, but who wants to play on a GBA? We fix this issue with a killer multi-Gamecube, multi-TV setup.

Nintendo Makes Legend of Zelda Multiplayer

It is a fickle slope when traditionally single player series add multiplayer elements. Sometimes it works, but more often than not it feels tacked on, rushed, or are just simply bad. However in 2002, Nintendo added a little something to their GBA port of their famous Link to the Past title, a high-quality side game called Four Swords.

Four Swords provided a random multiplayer world for those who knew one to three other people who owned copies of the game. This was a fantastic sidequest for the series but had a few problems such as the length of the game and the technical limitations of the GBA. No matter the problems, the Zelda series had finally worked in multiplayer, and it was awesome.

Flash-forward two years. Nintendo releases Four Swords Adventure for the Gamecube. This game expands the gameplay of the original and adds some rather nice features. Still using the Link to the Past inspired character and world sprites, it adds in Windwaker styled explosions, a orchestrated soundtrack inspired by Link to the Past, and a deathmatch-styled game mode. It seems like it has everything going for it, brilliant 2D gameplay, beautiful visuals, a fantastic soundtrack, but it has one dastardly hardware requirement that keeps it from being in everyone’s collection, which we will talk about later.


What Makes Four Swords Adventure Worthwhile?

In Four Swords Adventure, you still have your standard adventure, known as “The Hyrulean Adventure” , which involves eight areas; each of which has three stages and a boss fight. For those who have played a Zelda game but not a Four Swords; you work your way through the stages in typical Zelda style but with one twist. Force Gems appear on the stage and without a certain amount you cannot complete it. Whoever has the most of these crystals at the end gets a bonus on who wins the round. By “wins the round” at the end of the stage you are rated on several facets of gameplay.

So it does come down to a nasty game of co-op/counter-op as the game progresses. You also need the all of the players going one direction to change the map on the tv, so if one person is a completionist or just has to cut down every bush, then it can take awhile. This is both alleviated and compounded by the fact you can lift up other players. This most noted in three player mode when one of the Links is essentially dead space until he is put to work. The downside is that if you piss of another player they can pick you up and throw you into pits or take you places against your will. I like to view it as a needed accessory to the game, but that’s just mean spirit in me wanting to throw that prick of a blue player into a pit after he lit me on fire for the fourth time.

However my aggressions are better suited for the other multiplayer mode, “Shadow Battle”. Shadow Battle is simply deathmatch in Zelda. There are ten stages, random weapons and powerups. It is important that this mode is available because more often that not after a few stages in the adventure mode, it ends up being a fight anyway, why not add more weapons and flair? The stages are the standard set you would imagine from a multiplayer Zelda game: a Beachside Cottage, Wind Temple, Fire Temple, Hyrule Castle, etc, but they are all balanced and will provide you with hours of intense battles. Like a Bomberman title, the game is easy to learn (even none gamers should pick it up in a couple of minutes), has a fair amount of depth, and is fun.

Four Swords Adventure’s GBA-Based Weakness

To play Four Swords Adventure in multiplayer, every player needs a Gameboy Advance and a Gameboy to Gamecube cable. So to fully enjoy the game you need four GBA’s, four Gameboy to Gamecube Cables, and the usual Gamecube and TV. (see a diagram of this original setup)

Why does everyone need a GBA? Well the game is played on both the TV and the GBA screen. For example, when you enter a cave or building on the tv, you showup on the GBA. This makes for intense fights and puzzles that span both screens. Essentualy, Four Swords Adventure could not have been done any other way while maintinaing its unique gameplay and appeal.

While playing Four Swords Adventure with the GBA setup may be more affordable, it is definately not the most enjoyable experience for a number of reasons.

  • Standard GBA screens are notorious for being hard to see
  • GBAs aren’t as comfortable as Gamecube controllers
  • All participants will get neck aches from moving their head up and down, alternating from the main TV display to their own GBA.
  • When your teammates get stuck inside a dungeon or building, you can’t easily see their situation and help.
  • You are limited to wired GBA-to-GC link cables

Our 5+5 Four Swords Solution

To get around the limitations of the GBA-based setup, we used Gamecubes with GBA players linked to a central Gamecube and hooked up to their own TV displays. This is the same method employed in the Pacman Vs setup from last years Momocon, I needed to scrounge up three more Gameboy Players and Gamecubes to take it to the next level.


Breakdown of the Equipment Needed

  • One Gamecube or Wii running the Four Swords Adventure Disk
  • 1 Large TV for primary Gamecube/Wii
  • 4 Gamecubes with Gameboy Players
  • 4 GBA-to-Gamecube Link Cables to connect GBA Players to primary Gamecube/Wii
  • 4 Gamecube Controllers (Wavebirds are nice for wireless)
  • 4 Smaller TVs for the additional Gamecubes

What This Will Cost:

So that comes out a little over $350 before TVs (assuming you don’t have any of the stuff already). BUT if you break it up over time, hunting for deals or re-using older equipment you already have, you can get it all for a lot less. Heck I got a Gameboy Player for $5, and another for $15 on Craigslist.

Small Things To Keep In Mind:

  • You only need one disc for the Gameboy players, once they are the loaded you can take the disc out and put it in the next one.
  • Also I have been told that you can use the Japanese hardware on the US system.
  • However you cannot use the Japanese disc without a freeloader, but they supposedly work with the US disc. (I have not tested this)

The basic principle behind this is that with a TV people cannot complain that they cannot see what is going on on the screen. (They also have a bigger and clearer screen for reading the menus in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, in case you want to play that as well). This makes the games a lot easier to explain, but it also takes up a lot of room. And I just used the cables I already owned.

The 5+5 Zelda Setup Put To The Test

This was setup at Momocon 08 on Saturday in a corner of the Retro Gaming Room, and while it did not get the play traffic we expected it to grab, it was damn impressive. It was always a little daunting for people to jump in on since it does take four people. But people would see it, disappear briefly and then pop in with others to play a few rounds. There were two teams of ambitious people who tried their best to get through the story mode without a memory card., but everyone that jumped in and out seemed to have a blast. (Most player fatigue was probably due to trying to play the whole game without saving — Having memory card space is heavily recommended — my lesson has been learned.)

Photo Gallery | Zelda Four Swords 5 + 5 VideoSadly, I had to take it down Saturday night and transport it home (I only have so much space in the car), and on Sunday there were droves of people who were asking about it and wanting to play it and how to build their own. In the end, it took a lot of planning, friends, and a bit of luck to pull this one off, but it made a good impact on the con. Now that it has been done at our con, and documented, I think I may travel to some of the other smaller cons in my neck of the woods, to spread that strange mix of joy and frustration that this game always brings so more people can light their friends on fire with the firewand.

Other Multi-Screen Gamecube Games To Try

While it never had the potential to be the must-have Gamecube game, or the game that you buy the console for, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure did provide an experience that no other console has duplicated. There are two other games that use a similar setup, readers of the site may know Pacman VS quite well, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. If you do end up getting enough Gameboys for Four Swords, do yourself a favor and try to get the other two. All three are fantastic games and it really is a shame that they do not get the recognition that they deserve.


Mark says:


We finished the game. Took 20 hours to finish all together. (We did not do any of the “Tingle side quests) Once again, we had over 8 people so we were able to switch out 4 people every level, so we could have nearly continuous play. It took 2 weekends to finish over a period of 2 weekends

Ron says:

Just nabbed everything minus the Wavebirds, TV’s, and one GBA cable for 2500 yen at my local second hand store in Japan. (Guess that’s about $20 these days) 4 Gamecubes + 4 GBA Players + 3 GBA cables…can’t say no to a Gamecube being sold for less than a dollar…let alone the s

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