Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition

There's been a lot of Zelda stuff going on this year, being the 25 anniversary of the original game's release in Japan. The 3DS saw the release of a 3D remastering of Ocarina of Time, the first two games were included in the batch of free downloads that early adopters of the system got, and later this year we'll get to play the first new console game in the series since 2006. The most recent part of the celebration was the release of the (temporarily) free Four Swords Anniversary Edition for download on the DSi and 3DS stores, which takes the special multiplayer mode from the A Link to the Past port for Game Boy Advance, and adds a single player option and a bunch of new content.

The one player mode functions well enough, giving you control of two different Links (they are separated by the power of the mystical and stupidly named Four Sword) and letting you switch between them or have one follow the other with a button tap. It's not nearly as fun though as the multiplayer, which was how the game was supposed to be played. I had only one other person to play with, but the game (obviously) supports up to four, letting you link up multiple systems and work together to save Zelda from Vaati. The structure is pretty simple. There are three different dungeons you can tackle in any order, consisting of two floors full of puzzles, traps, monsters, and rupees, and third with a boss. If you clear all three floors and collect enough rupees, a great fairy will reward you with a key. If all the players have all three keys, they can take on the final dungeon and beat the game. You can then unlock harder passes through the game, and new to this version, there are additional dungeons, some of which are based on previous Zelda games and are interesting in their own right.

It's hard to stress how much more fun the game is with multiple players. Instead of worrying about two different things at once, you can just focus on yourself, and put your heads together to solve the simple puzzles and work together to get past some of the obstacles, such as carrying your friends over a platform only you can walk on or defeating an enemy that requires you to throw it at another Link so he can slash it in midair. The dungeons are randomized so it's still fun to visit them with different people and improve your score. It's pretty lean as far as Zelda games go, consisting only of a few dungeons that take maybe 15 minutes each to clear per pass. But it's a lot of fun to play repeatedly with friends, and it's especially worth checking out for free if you have the right system for it.

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