The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons – Game Boy Color
Platform: Game Boy Color
Release Date (NA): May 14, 2001
Genre: Action / Adventure
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
As a kid, my brother and I were both given one of the two Oracles games. Being the youngest, I was given the leftover game and that pissed me off for a while. If you haven’t guessed yet, the game I received was The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, which I didn’t think would be as cool as The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages because well……the power to change seasons or the power to go through time? However, this game beat into me the ability to kick serious ass in handheld games and as I grew older and played the other game (read: stole the other game) I realized that this was the better Oracle game.
Now, before I get into gameplay, it’s worth explaining that there were actually supposed to be three games in the Oracles, originally Mystical Seeds, series, one for each of the three oracles. However, Fayore got cheated out of a game and thrown into both as password cataloger. The three, now two games were also designed with a different focus to gameplay based on the oracle that it represented. Now if you know your Zelda lore, Din was the goddess of power and Nayru was the goddess of wisdom. And in turn, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons became more action-oriented and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages became more puzzle-oriented. And together the two games connect to become a single cohesive story about the attempted return of Ganon, more on that later. But honestly, Capcom did a really amazing job taking The Legend of Zelda series and producing a set of games that not only fit in, but were actually fun to play. Unlike Philips attempt which you can find documented on The Bacon.
The story of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons starts with Link being teleported to the land of Holodrum by the Triforce to stop the evil about to be unleashed. While there, he first meets a traveling troupe and the Oracle of Seasons herself, Din, who also doubles as the group’s dancer. However, when Din notices the Triforce on Link’s hand the game’s villain, Onox, shows up and crashes the festivities. He kidnaps Din and sinks Holodrum’s Temple of Seasons in an attempt to bring enough destruction to the land to light the Flame of Destruction which is required to revive Ganon. As Link it’s your job to collect the eight Essences of Nature that will allow you to enter Onox’s Castle to save Din and restore the natural balance.
Should you complete the game and defeat Onox, the game allows you to freely roam Holodrum in the post-game and collect a password to use in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages to start a linked game. That said, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons can also be played as a linked game using the password from Ages once Veran is defeated. Doing this will allow Link to finish the story once Onox is defeated and Ganon is reincarnated by defeating him and Twinrova. Should you complete the linked game in Seasons, you’ll be given another password to use to start another playthrough called the Hero’s Quest which is essentially the regular game but with your rings carried over. And should you beat THAT playthrough you’ll receive a password to start a linked game in Ages and the cycle will start anew.
As I mentioned in my previous review for The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX, both this game and its companion title owe a lot to DX in terms of game design and graphics. Perhaps Capcom used the engine from DX as a starting point for the Oracle series, then expanded on it? This isn’t to say the Oracle games are copy-cats, no, they aren’t. Both games actually greatly expand upon the elements of DX with new and interesting pieces of equipment to use and several versions of entire overworlds. This game, for example, includes four different graphical variations of almost each area of the game, making it a pretty graphically impressive Game Boy Color game to start with.
On that same note, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons’ use of the different versions of every area in the game create some interesting possibilities for puzzles and challenges. To explain, each of the four seasons in the game; Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, each change the overworld in some way. In the winter, certain trees will lose their leaves and become thinner, shallow water freezes over, and snow piles up into large piles that you can walk across and small piles you can dig up. In the spring flowers bloom that you can cut for items, blast blooms bloom which you can use as catapults, and trees become larger again. In the summer vines will grow which you can climb, certain areas with shallow water will dry up, but blast blooms will dry up as well. And in the fall, mushrooms bloom and can be picked up using the power bracelet, leaves will also fall covering holes in the ground that Link can run over.
Using the version specific in-game item, the Rod of Seasons, the player is able to manipulate these changes as a way of advancing in their quest to save Din, and even just for exploring the overworld. However, Link not only doesn’t start the game with the Rod of Seasons, he also doesn’t have the ability to change to any specific season. In order to do that, he has to locate the Temple of Seasons which has fallen into the land of Subrosia, an entirely new overworld which interlinks between Holodrum using numerous portals. As Link progresses, he will need to return to Subrosia to unlock each of the four seasons via their towers in the Temple of Seasons. Subrosia also is the home of the game’s final dungeon and a band of undead pirates which Link will need to help in order to reach one of the later dungeons.
In addition to the Rod of Seasons, Link will gain items throughout his quest that will enable him to progress to certain areas or accomplish specific goals. Seasons, like Ages, brings back a number of items previously featured in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and its Game Boy Color port, DX. This includes the Roc’s Feather, Power Bracelet, the Magic Powder expanded into the Seed Satchlet, Bombs, the Sword and Shield, Shovel, the Pegasus Boots in the form of the Pegasus seeds, and a weaker version of the Boomerang. The game adds the Slingshot, Magnetic Gloves, Bombchu, and Strange Flute that is used to call one of three animal companions to Link’s side. Like Link’s Awakening, the Sword and Shield can both be upgraded, but now up to level three in a linked game. The Roc’s Feather can also be ugraded into the Roc’s Cape, and the Boomerang into the Magical Boomerang.
As I mentioned above, Link will gain an animal companion in the game, one of three, which will change specific areas in the game depending upon which of the three flutes Link has. The default companion is Ricky, a kangaroo who can jump over holes, jump up ledges, and punch enemies for Link. However, the game also includes a flying blue bear named Moosh that can fly over multiple holes and groundpound to defeat groups of enemies, and a dodongo named Dimitri which can ferry Link across water, currents, and waterfalls as well as bite and eat enemies. The player will have up until around the third dungeon to obtain a flute or else the game will give the player the default companion. It’s pretty neat though that no matter the choice, Link will never actually be at a disadvantage. Link’s animal companion will also carry over to your linked game as well.
Another addition to the game is the ability to equipt buffs and other abilities through the use of magical rings. Link will gain items called “Magical Rings” throughout the game that will need to be appraised for a small fee. Appraised rings could be anything from a disguise as an enemy to a buff from a specific type of damage. While Link can only have one of these rings equipt at a time, he can hold up to three after upgrading the ring box, or five in a linked game. The neat thing about these rings is that they transfer to a new linked game, enabling players to continue to collect all of them into Ages or vice-versa.
Honestly, overall, I absolutely love this game. Capcom did a great job and the creativity in both this and Ages really shines. Maybe The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons isn’t the most popular The Legend of Zelda game, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great in its own right. And I personally find it to be funner than Ages, and a great start to the Oracles series for new and old fans alike.
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