Free Zelda game on 3DS for limited time

Nintendo is offering a free downloadable Zelda game to anyone who has a 3DS.

It was 25 years ago that old-school gamers everywhere experienced something that would change the industry – The Legend of Zelda.

There are numerous ways Nintendo is planning to commemorate the legendary series, including a new Wii game and limited edition retail cards for downloadable content.

What most budget-conscious gamers will appreciate, though, is that The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure Anniversary Edition will be available on the 3DS for free.

That’s right, an entire game for free, absolutely no strings attached, as long as you have a 3DS. It’s a “limited time” offer, though there is plenty of time to take advantage of it. Nintendo says the downloadable game will have a price tag attached to it after February 20, 2012.

This isn’t just a way to celebrate the milestone anniversary of one of Nintendo’s most heralded franchises. The free game is most certainly also fodder for Nintendo to pull more customers to the 3DS.

Unlike the preceding Nintendo DS handheld, the 3DS has seen very sluggish sales. When it comes to new portable consoles, Nintendo’s problem is usually that it can’t keep enough product on the shelf. Now, it can’t get them off the shelves.

Nintendo has a very solid track record of being able to keep its console prices solid for a long time after being released, but the 3DS is a very different story. The company has already slashed the system from $250 to $170.

In addition to being the most expensive system Nintendo has ever released, it launched without any good games, and heavyweight franchises like Mario still aren’t available.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata admitted there were many faults with the release of the 3DS. In addition to the lack of launch titles, the company missed its target of a holiday 2010 release, which could have spurred significantly more sales and given it much more traction out of the gate.