Author: Akira Himekawa | Illustrator: Akira Himekawa | Page Count: 196 + 176
"There’s a new Link in this chain!"
I've not played Four Swords Adventures (2004) because the stores near where I lived didn't stock it and I didn't have access to online retailers back then, but after reading the two-part adaptation I'm wishing that I could play it right now!
After some brief but satisfying establishing of Link’s uppity nature and his close friendship with Princess Zelda, the Big Bad is unleashed and the adventure begins.
The environments will be familiar to anyone that’s played any of the previous games (Castle Town, Mountain / Ice / Desert regions etc) but that familiarity doesn't result in reader apathy because the situations that the Links find themselves in holds the attention completely. The comedy is situational and more often than not caused by confrontation; it’s rarely the goofy kind that I complained about in Oracle of Seasons (2001), so it’s much more enjoyable.
The art is black and white, so the four colours identifier on the cover is redundant inside. Akira Himekawa gets around that by giving each Link a unique tone / pattern instead. She also provides each with a unique personality. There’s plenty of help in the narrative but frantic battle scenes can be confusing. Rather than try to remember who the darker gray was and who the dotted pattern was, etc, I found it more engaging to remember which colour was impetuous, which was cautious, etc, and then note the expression on each Link’s face as he responds to words or actions. The temperaments are so well depicted that it made it both simple and fun to match them to their colour. At the same time I could note the strengths and weaknesses of each one at specific times.
Book I is fantastic and surpasses all the LoZ books that came before it. If Book II had kept the same level of momentum then Four Swords would've scored even higher but I need to take an average of the two, therefore:
3½ lucky finds in the toy box out of 5