The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition 3DS Review

Nintendo's been quite generous of late, giving away NES and SNES games to those who purchased a 3DS before the August 12 price drop, and more recently (and perhaps the best gift of all), a free downloadable copy of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition.

Four Swords made its debut in 2003 as part of the Game Boy Advance version of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and immediately became a hit. Up to that point, the Zelda franchise was a strictly single player affair, so the opportunity to team up with three other Links (AKA your friends) and raid dungeons together thrilled a ton of people.

This slightly re-tooled video game retains the exact same multiplayer experience and graphics, but with a few tweaks, starting with four player local wireless support, along with two new areas to complete.

In addition, Nintendo crafted a single player campaign where one person controls two different colored Links. It's a great way to experience Four Swords when no one else is around, but it forces gamers to constantly switch between characters to perform the same tasks, though the developers mostly solved this issue with a call button that automatically instructs one Link to follow the other. Still, you should expect some repetition along the way.

Regardless of which mode you choose, Four Swords is a fun time. What we have is a pint-sized adventure where you set off to rescue Princess Zelda from the evil Vaati, the Wing Mage.

Success heavily depends on teamwork, forcing you and the other player(s) to work co-operatively. So, for instance, all four Links may need to stand on switches to open a door or trigger some event (in single player, Nintendo swaps the other two players with statues).

You'll also make use of different items, such as Link's traditional sword and shield, along with bombs, Pegasus Boots and Magnetic Gloves, but there's a catch. You can only hold one item at a time, and switch at key areas.

It's a cool experience overall, but make no mistake. Multiplayer's the way to go. There's no substitute for ganging up on enemies with your buddies, or stealing all their Rupees; expect a lot of back stabbing along the way.

With this in mind, Nintendo missed a huge opportunity to go online. Sure, local support works just fine (some people prefer it, since it makes the dungeon crawling more personal), but the ability to team up with gamers from all over the world would have given this title a huge boost.

That said, Four Swords Anniversary Edition is a short but cool game every DS and 3DS fan should own. Just don't sleep on downloading it, since it'll be free until February 20, 2012.

What's Hot: Free, wireless four-person multiplayer, new single player mode, two new areas to explore, classic Zelda gameplay.

What's Not: Graphics remain unchanged, single player mode is a bit monotonous.

4/5