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The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition (DSiWare) Review

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Marking the 25th anniversary of the insanely popular Legend of Zelda series, Nintendo and Grezzo (Ocarina of Time 3D) have co-developed an enhanced port of the previously multiplayer-only Four Swords, which originally came built in to the GBA’s version of A Link to the Past. Titled The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition, this traditional 2D Zelda game now features an added single-player mode and is currently free to download (until February 20th 2012 when Nintendo will remove it completely) to all Nintendo DSi and Nintendo 3DS users on the Nintendo eShop. With the massive Skyward Sword sweeping onto Wii recently, Cubed3 finds out if the latest portable offering is worthy of hooking your time away from the huge console title.

The simple plot is based around Vaati, the evil Wind Mage, breaking free from his seal inside the legendary Four Sword, and kidnapping Princess Zelda. Link comes to the rescue, and after pulling the sacred blade from its resting place, splits into four copies of himself and sets out on a mission. Being a multiplayer-only game, many Zelda fans sadly missed out on the original game on Game Boy Advance. Thankfully, with Four Swords Anniversary Edition, there now exists a single-player option, whereby you utilise two Links to plough through each stage. Of course, with friends who have the game downloaded onto their DSi or 3DS systems, you can play the multiplayer mode with up to four people.

After choosing the colour of your secondary Link in single-player and beginning the quest, you’re presented with a map to choose which stage you want to conquer first: the Sea of Trees and its green forests, Talus Cave’s icy innards, or the lava-infested Death Mountain. Each stage randomly selects two levels to traverse through and a boss fight greets you at the end. Beat all three stages and you’ll then take to the Palace of Winds and fight Vaati. A tutorial stage gets you to grips with how the controls work and what each item does. It’s a pretty standard Zelda affair from then on in, with sword attacks mapped to the B button, pull and grab moves assigned to A, and your secondary items used with Y. Items are specific to each level, with the likes of the Roc’s Cape, to jump gaps, the Magnetic Gloves, to attract or repel objects, and the Gnat Hat, to crawl through tiny holes, all making returns, on top of the expected bows, bombs and boomerangs. Unlike in most other games in the series though, there is no inventory to select items from. Once you pick up an item, it replaces the one you currently hold.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

In single player, you can switch between which Link you want to control independently. Normally, your trusty non-green Link follows right behind you, but there are occasions where you need to manually control each Link to place them on switches or tactically defeat enemies. In each level the idea is to get to the finish point on the map by progressing through puzzles and defeating enemies. On top of this, rupee collecting is a priority. In multiplayer, whilst you need to work together with your friends to progress, it’s also a fight to the finish to snag as many rupees as you can, with the winner being rewarded with a medal at the end. The colours and sizes of the rupees determine their values - but watch out for the black rupees, as they cost you your pennies!

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

It doesn’t take long to get to the end of the quest, but fortunately Grezzo have made some excellent additions to entice players to keep going, offering brilliant nostalgic value and quality gameplay for long-time Zelda fans. First of all, after beating the game once the Realm of Memories becomes unlocked. It is in this mode that three levels based in the overworlds of the NES’ original Legend of Zelda, the SNES’ A Link to the Past and the Game Boy’s Link’s Awakening become available to play through. Each level uses the graphics and designs from its respective game, so you have all the 8-bit goodness and brown-haired Links in the original Zelda level, and surprisingly gorgeous green and black shading of the Link’s Awakening level. These are slightly longer than the normal levels of the game, and such is the absolute joy of playing through them, mostly because of the sense of nostalgia, that it’s a shame there aren’t more of them. There is only one level per past game, and no boss enemies to fight either, but there can be no denying the fun factor in playing through each one, especially when coupled with the original main theme soundtracks from each game.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The other extra added to the game is the Hero’s Trial. This presents you with a total of nine levels spread across three different stages, in some of the most difficult 2D Zelda gaming you’ll experience. If you thought you were good at Zelda, the Hero’s Trial will put your skills to the test in levels that are a lot longer than the normal ones. All sorts of hazards and armies of enemies are out to crush you in this mode, and it is most definitely a welcome addition since that challenge has been lacking in recent games in the series. Further replay value is added through obtaining special keys based on the number of rupees you collect in each main stage, in turn providing you with an even tougher final dungeon in Vaati’s Palace.

The graphics are reminiscent of The Minish Cap; bright, clear and colourful, complete with brilliant level design. The soundtrack has some catchy tunes, although they do seem a little 8-bit and there isn’t as diverse a range of music due to the game only have a small number of stages. One complaint could be a lack of online multiplayer, but it’s evidently more fun to play with friends around you if you can get them together, and the single-player option will make those that couldn’t play the original very happy that they can even play it at all now.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition on DSiWare- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Plays just as smoothly as all other 2D games in the series before it, with superb level design standing out. It’s not difficult until you come to the brilliant Hero’s Trial.

Graphics

That cartoony and vivid style widely seen in Minish Cap, one of the best-looking games on the GBA, is again used to great effect, with popular enemy sprites returning. Nostalgic levels look fantastic and even sharper on the DSi/3DS screens.

Sound

Tunes are certainly catchy but some sound a little too 8-bit, although the level-based gameplay means there doesn’t need to be any epic themes on par with A Link to the Past. It’s lovely to hear old classics again, and Link’s trademark cries and yells in his Ocarina of Time voice return.

Value

Not the longest of games by any means; you’ll likely fly through the main quest. It is through the beating of the Realm of Memories, the Hero’s Trial and replaying for unlockables in levels that are different on each play through that provides a lot of incentive to go back to the game. The real fun is clearly in the multiplayer side, but single-player still allows for a great experience.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Nintendo made a terrific decision bringing in Grezzo once more to work on The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition, since the additions introduced have made for a lot of replay value to a game that you might not have picked up again for a while after beating it. The unlockable classic and challenging levels will make every Zelda fan pleased, and the game has been designed perfectly for short bursts. Since it is currently free to all DSi and 3DS owners on the Nintendo eShop right now, there is absolutely no reason for you not to own this. Grab it now before Nintendo pulls it from availability on February 20th next year!

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02.12.2011

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Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Adventure

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (4 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

I'll have to read this review to know if it will be worth paying for when I finally get a 3DS.

Assuming there will be a way to buy it when it's not free anymore.

Jack (guest) 02.12.2011 19:52#2

I think Nintendo's said it won't be available to download after February 20, rather than it'll carry a price tag from then on. Still, I guess that could always change.

If you've got a DSi Canyarion Download it with that. You can always transfer your downloads onto your 3DS when you get it. Just make sure to tell the store clerk you need to transfer data if you're trading in your old DSi.

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422

No, I don't have a DSi. Now that you mention it, I do have some friends who like Zelda, but they never got their DSi online. I now told them to do so!

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