Just like the lambasted Zelda II before it, Four Sword Adventures is without a doubt the other black sheep of the Zelda series. It has a solid idea and the gameplay is very sound, but getting it set up for four-player multiplayer is a bit unintuitive and, more importantly, very costly. In the game, there is a minigame titled Shadow Battle, which is a simple deathmatch mode where you and the other Links duke it out to decide who is the ultimate Link (which, by the way, is Blue Link.)
But did you know the Japanese and Korean versions had a second minigame called Navi Trackers?
Princess Zelda’s Study is a series where we examine the history of The Legend of Zelda to bring you some fascinating (or just plain weird) trivia. In our studies, we’ll explore each game’s development, curiosities within the rich lore of the franchise, and the impact it has had on our culture. From time to time, we’ll also look at Nintendo’s past to unearth some facts about our favorite company.
Navi Trackers is a relatively simple minigame in which you are tasked with finding stamps from the various members of Tetra’s crew within the allotted time. The game itself is actually played on the Game Boy Advance, while the map is on the TV, which sounds not too dissimilar from the Wii U thinking about it now. Though this sounds very simple, there are a few things that set this apart, as well as an interesting history behind it.
Most notably, this entire minigame is narrated to the players by Tetra with full voice acting. The player can select their gender and name themselves using two Japanese characters. Impressively, Tetra will actually call the players out by name depending on the characters chosen, which (especially for the time) is impressive. It’s worth noting that though this minigame is in the Korean version, Tetra’s voice acting is still in Japanese.
This minigame seems to be both inspired and almost a copy of a Super Nintendo game that was, in fact, the first game that Zelda director Eiji Aonuma directed. Marvelous: Another Treasure Island has a similar gameplay mechanic where the player travels along a map and hunts for various stamps. Though there’s more to the gameplay in Marvelous than in Navi Trackers, the concept is the same. Marvelous is also known for using the Satellaview SoundLink system, where hints would be given in real time to players via a satellite.
Marvelous was at one point slated to be remade as a Zelda side game titled Tetra’s Trackers. While this standalone title was canceled, the game’s code eventually was brought into Four Sword Adventures and was renamed to the now-known Navi Trackers. The game was then set to be a separate game from Four Sword Adventures, but it was announced in that same year both games were to be included with Four Sword Adventures.
Navi Trackers was translated to English, but as we know, wasn’t actually included. Why it was not included hasn’t been stated, but I speculate it was due to the difficulty of the voice acting for Tetra, as well as Nintendo seeming to dislike voice acting in their major franchise games, with the very divisive Super Mario Sunshine as the biggest culprit.
It’s fascinating how such a simple minigame has so much history behind it. Aonuma wanted to make a Zelda game, and so he made Marvelous as a result. Shigeru Miyamoto then hired him on and Aonuma has been working on Zelda titles ever since. I think it’s very cool that such an unassuming minigame has such powerful roots behind it. It just goes to show that sometimes the small and unassuming things in life can, in fact, be much stronger and have much more depth than we initially thought.