In the recent Nintendo Direct, The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom and the limited edition golden Switch Lite stole the show for Zelda fans. However, one other Zelda announcement occurred and should not be overlooked: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords was brought to the Game Boy Advance (GBA) application for Nintendo Switch Online (NSO). Earlier this year, I wrote about the remaining games in the Zelda series that haven’t yet appeared on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s exciting to see one get scratched off the list. But did Nintendo make the most of this opportunity with Four Swords?

Up until now, the only way for a brand new Zelda fan to play Four Swords was to purchase between two and four copies of the GBA cartridge, the same number of GBA handhelds, and a GBA link cable. Finding all of these was both expensive and cumbersome. The addition to NSO now makes it much more accessible to newer fans who want to try it for the first time. However, the implementation method carries over one of the key hurdles from the original version – it must be played via multiplayer.

Multiplayer is available through an online connection or locally with two to four separate Nintendo Switch systems. However, “couch co-op” is not possible with multiple players sharing the same screen while a single Nintendo Switch system is in docked (or tabletop) mode. This would have required modifications to the GBA NSO app to allow features such as split screen. In the original game, players can wander off from one another within a level, so if split screen wasn’t introduced, modifications to the native game code to force players to stay within the same screen frame would have been required. So for families who share a single Nintendo Switch, you are out of luck unless you play online with someone outside of your household.

Four Swords Anniversary Edition made an appearance on the DSi in 2011 and later on the 3DS in 2014, and its main advantage over the GBA original was the introduction of a single player mode for those who were unable to rustle up a group of friends similar to how Four Swords Adventures and Tri Force Heroes included one. It also included a unique area in the Realm of Memories that was highlighted in a tribute recently here at Zelda Dungeon. Maybe Nintendo wasn’t going to entertain putting a 3DS game on the GBA NSO app out of principle, but it certainly would have been the superior version to make available in my opinion.

While it’s exciting to see a lesser known Zelda title get some time in the limelight on the Nintendo Switch, it’s hard not to wonder if it could have been better and made a tad bit more accessible.

Did the addition of Four Swords to the GBA NSO app excite you? Will you be trying Four Swords for the first time now? Are you disappointed that single player or “couch co-op” modes aren’t available? Let us know in the comments below.

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