Sunday, July 9, 2017

REVIEW: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords - Legendary Edition

I’ve been hearing about these manga adaptations of The Legend of Zelda for a few years now. They look like a lot of fun, but I never picked one up as there wasn’t one based on Link’s Awakening, my favorite and only major experience with the action adventure series. So when the Four Swords Legendary Edition came about, I was excited to jump into the world of Hyrule for the first time as a right-to-left Japanese comic adventure!


I received a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords - Legendary Edition courtesy of VIZ Media.
Opinions are my own.

The Legend of Zelda: Legendary Edition contains two volumes of the beloved The Legend of Zelda manga series, presented in a deluxe format featuring new covers and color art pieces by Akira Himekawa. Link, an arrogant Knight of Hyrule, is once again on a quest to rescue Princess Zelda from the clutches of evil. This time around, the legendary hero wields the mighty Four Sword, a blade that splits him into four nearly identical copies. With four times the power, the Links must now learn to work together and fight as one.

Not only have I never played Four Swords, I’m not even sure if it’s a real game. I always thought it was just a quick tie in with the Game Boy Advance port of A Link to the Past, designed to show off the GBA’s four-way multiplayer capabilities. That being said, I have no idea how faithful this manga adaptation is to the story of the game or even if the game has a story to begin with.

One thing I am certain of is that Four Swords is that it absolutely does a perfect job of juggling four versions of the same character. Making Link, a silent protagonist in almost every game, an arrogant fighter who prefers to work alone was a decision that worked well when he was split into four arrogant fighters who prefer to work alone. They do all have their own little personality quirks, mentioned as being four parts of Link and not exact copies, but that’s really only important for the occasional cute joke or disagreement. Seeing four heroes chopping and slashing away on one page during an action scene is always awesome.

Casual Zelda fans like myself will be glad to know that you don’t have to have played Four Swords to understand all of the abundant video game references. There are callbacks and easter eggs that highlight many classic monsters and items from the games. I found myself scanning every page for references - and I’m someone who mainly grew up on the one Zelda game that completely lacked Hyrule, Ganon, the Triforce, and even Zelda herself.

My only real complaint is the one I foresaw going in. A black and white manga about a team of color coded heroes is bound to cause some problems. There is almost no way to tell the Links apart aside from the very subtle difference in the way they’re tunics are filled and even those are only called out a few times. However, as I said this doesn’t really matter. They’re all 90% the same person so it only became an issue when the group gets split up in the middle. For a few chapters, we appeared to be following the main, green Link until I realized we were actually shifting focus between all of them. It would’ve been nice if they each had different hair styles or physiques.

Four Swords is one of the most fun manga I’ve read in awhile. It doesn’t get hung up on trying to be a video game by giving Link a voice and a personality, it has a great balance of action and story, and it truly feels like it’s capturing the spirit of the game while still functioning as a stand alone action adventure story.

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords - Legendary Edition is out now, order your copy here.