Rewind Review - The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons
After a week's hiatus RR-sama has returned with another Rewind Review! This time we're returning to the Gameboy Color with Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons as our games of focus.
While Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons are both two different games, I have decided to join these two for a couple of reasons. First, both games are actually required to reach the "true ending" of the game. Second, both games share a lot of gameplay mechanics, with the only true differences between the games being the story.
As with all Rewind Reviews, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages will undergo a review process through the eyes of a modern critic. No nostalgia glasses, no excuses, no rationalizing hardware limitations, and no sparing myself from angry fans and readers. Nothing will excuse this game from anything that we - as modern gamers - would expect to see in the genre today.
With that said, let's grab our Harp of Ages and Rod of Seasons and venture through Labrynna and Holodrum in the Legend of Zelda: Oracle Series for the Gameboy Color!
Both Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons start out in a similar fashion that is told through the game's intro. Link rides his horse up to a castle in the middle of a mountainous area. He then enters the castle and finds the Triforce within.
However, he is then teleported away to a distant land... This is where the similarities end between the two games as he is teleported to Labrynna or Holodrum in Oracle of Ages or Oracle of Seasons respectfully.
The intro sequence to Oracle of Seasons/Ages
In both Oracle games, Link is quickly introduced to the titular Oracle of either game. In Ages this is Nayru, and in Seasons it is Din - both sharing a name with the goddesses of Hyrule. However, they are soon kidnapped by Veran and Onox, sending Labrynna into a time-fluctuating mess, and Holodrum into a seasonal nightmare.
Both games progress as you would expect a Legend of Zelda game to do, and the story elements and characters are somewhat memorable despite few having major roles. However, the concepts that the games play with are the true highlights, namely: corruption of powerful people (Ages), the necessity of harmony in nature (Seasons), and the concept of decisions affecting the future (Ages).
My problem with the Oracle Series, however, lies with the games returning to the classic Legend of Zelda formula of simply having Link be the hero because... well... he's the hero.
The inventory screen is separated into equipable items, and quest items, much like Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask on the N64
Since Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons run off of a very similar formula to Link's Awakening, many of the features that were good about that game return. For more on this you can read the Link's Awakening Rewind Review. The save feature that was marked as "the bad" in the Link's Awakening Rewind Review has been removed, and instead the game boasts several Start Menu screens that have been formatted in a fashion similar to that of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask.
Oracle of Ages and Seasons also fixes a lot of the issues with the map of the overworld, making sure that any passageways are clearly visible instead of simply showing the general layout of the land.
Unlike Link's Awakening, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages show general areas of which Link can reach mountainous areas, highlighted by bridges or slowly ascending platforms
There's not really much to complain about in the Oracle Series. Both games - even without linking the two games for the "true ending" are very complete Legend of Zelda standalone titles. However, I will make it clear that one of the two games is much more difficult than the other.
Oracle of Ages has plenty of mindless minigames during the main quest that can make progression through the game frustrating at best...
I am referring to Oracle of Ages. Unlike Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages has many more limitations on Link as to where he can change the era he is in which can make overworld travel confusing. On top of that, many of the dungeon puzzles are more convoluted, while in-between dungeon minigames can be a chore. If you want a basic Legend of Zelda experience, pick up Seasons. If you want a more frustrating one, pick up Ages.
Other than these notes, there's nothing to really say.
While the art direction in the Oracle Series is great, it doesn't really look better than Link's Awakening
Both games share similar art direction with Link's Awakening, and it comes to no surprise that many of the sprites are reused from the earlier Gameboy Zelda title.
While I would make the complaint that there should have been some sort of improvement after almost 10 years of time between Link's Awakening and the Oracle Series, it's not a valid one. Unlike the last 10 years in gaming history, hardware for handheld gaming didn't really change between the Gameboy and the Gameboy Color. In fact, aside from the addition of color to the Gameboy there were no groundbreaking hardware improvements between the two devices.
Music is alright, I suppose. The talent is certainly there, but the songs are nowhere near as memorable as those found in Link's Awakening, and I suppose that is why these two games have gone largely unnoticed over the years. At the end of the day, despite being good games they brought very little to the table compared to other Legend of Zelda titles.
While the soundtracks of both games are alright, they're far from overly impressive when compared to other games in the series...
To be honest, I thought these games would play on my nostalgia just a little bit. They were among some of the first Legend of Zelda titles I ever played, and yet neither of them really popped out at me after playing all the other games in the series. Don't get me wrong, they're still good, they're just not great.
Neither game is particularly memorable, and neither really does anything new that it warrants a revisiting to these old Gameboy Color titles. If you want to play all of the Legend of Zelda titles out there, then by all means go for it. However, I would skip these after playing Link's Awakening just because they don't really have much to add to the Gameboy Color era of Legend of Zelda games.
As a result... Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons both get a 7/10 from your good ol' friend RR-sama.
With that, I bring Week 7 of my Legend of Zelda Rewind Review to a close. Have you played either of these games? Do you think my commentary is valid? Do you believe these games deserve more credit than they have received? Leave your opinions in the comments section below!
Also, be sure to check back on this article or the GameSkinny front page for future reviews, as well as swords and sorcery action as we make our way from the original 1986 release of The Legend of Zelda on the NES to the 2013 release of A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS!
Reviews in this Series:
- The Legend of Zelda (NES)
- The Adventure of Link (NES)
- A Link to the Past (SNES/GBA)
- Link's Awakening/Link's Awakening DX (GB/GBC)
- Ocarina of Time/OoT 3DS (N64/3DS)
- Majora's Mask/MM 3DS (N64/3DS)
- Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons (GBC)
- Four Swords (GBA)
- The Wind Waker (GC)
- Four Swords Adventures (GC)
- The Minish Cap (GBA)
- Twilight Princess (GC/Wii)
- Phantom Hourglass (DS)
- Spirit Tracks (DS)
- Skyward Sword (Wii)
- A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
- Tri Force Heroes (3DS)