although i’ve worked my way through quite a few series by now, including the zelda series, i haven’t finished any remakes of any of the games, or any replays. i recently dusted off the legend of zelda: four swords anniversary edition on DSiware not long ago, and finished up the last two stages that i was planning on tackling this playthrough, which were the last two (of three) bonus stages in the “realm of memories” (more on that later).
a little history lesson for people who may not already know. the four swords game was originally combined with the GBA remake of a link to the past, and at that time required two people to play (my post on that game is here). the game was succeeded by the gamecube game the legend of zelda: four swords adventures, which again focused on multiplayer, but didn’t require it since the game enabled you to switch between characters and change the configuration of your team (e.g. a horizontal or vertical line) as needed.
this remake is of the GBA game, although it’s a standalone release and, similar to the gamecube title, has the new feature that you can play it entirely solo (along with being able to switch between two characters, the AI jumps in and controls the other character when needed). the solo mode works perfectly well, and from that perspective the game is already a big improvement over the original version. however, other pluses are that it was a free download, and it enables simple-to-connect local co-op with DSis and 3DSes (as opposed to the GBA’s multi-link cable). the DSi and 3DS’s second screen is used to show the locations of the other players and the goal but isn’t an actual map; it functions more like a radar, just giving you a general sense of where things are relative to you.
but the big draw is that this release includes 18 additional stages, more than doubling the amount of content in the original. these take the form of the “hero’s trial” (more-difficult stages unlocked by winning 5 multiplayer matches or collecting 30,000 rupees), and the “realm of memories”. the “realm of memories” is particularly notable because these stages revisit familiar locations from past games (namely link to the past, link’s awakening, and the original NES title). although the link’s awakening stages are spot on (and even presented in black and white) and include the same sprites as the original game, i was slightly disappointed to find that the stages based on the original NES title used the same sprites as the link’s awakening stages, although that’s just me being nit-picky. aside from the layout and presentation, those stages don’t have much to do with the original games since they feature the same enemies and mechanics as the rest of the game, but it’s a nice bit of nostalgia and a great inclusion in this title which was released for the series’ 25th anniversary.
all in all this game is a definite improvement over the original and enjoyable overall, esp. with other players. although it includes more stages, the game does start feeling repetitive pretty quickly (although not nearly to the extent as four swords adventures which was a total slogfest), and it’s still somewhat annoying that you have to beat all the regular stages three times in order to get the final ending (which i just don’t have the patience for). the zelda series has always been about the exploration and the puzzles, and so since this game is more focused on combat and multiplayer there’s not much chance it will rank that high in my list of favorites in the series. still, it’s nice to have a change of pace compared to the rest of the series, and it was fun to see familiar locales from previous games in a new setting.
don’t go solo without these the legend of zelda: four swords anniversary edition links:
– official site, although somewhat barebones
– entry at zeldawiki.org
– review at nintendolife.com
– list of unlockables at gamefaqs