The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is one of the two Zelda games of the dual release made by Capcom on Game Boy Color. If you haven’t already read my review on Oracle of Ages or know of that game then I highly recommend checking that first. This review will assume you know all of my information presented in the former review and will be focusing more on specifics of Oracle of Seasons as well as the connectivity of the two games. With that in mind, I do hope you enjoy this continuation of what is essentially a two-part review. Let’s jump on in!

The general idea here is the same as in Oracle of Ages, among other Zelda titles. You adventure, go through dungeons, beat enemies, and work your way to beat the final boss, save the girl, and bring peace back to the land. This time around the main baddie is a powerful knight named General Onox. He kidnaps Din, the titular Oracle of Seasons, and uses her power to destroy the Temple of Seasons. This throws the seasons of the land into chaos. Much in the way Veran’s goal was to spread sorrow, Onox’s goal is to spread destruction. So it’s up to you to gather the eight Essences of Nature that will allow you to enter his domain, defeat him, and save Din. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the Oracle of Seasons?

The interesting new thing in this game is that your special legendary item is the Rod of Seasons. To use it you need to jump atop one of the tree stumps located throughout the world and swing it. You can then change the season of that area, which will consist of a certain amount of screens. You start with only one season in the rod, meaning you can only ever switch it to that one. However, you will eventually get all four as you go. The different areas of the land will default to a specific season when you first enter them or re-enter them from another area. This means that each screen has four possible versions, essentially making the overworld four times as big. There are also a few other items unique to this game, but I’d rather not spoil them for you. Oracle of Ages focused on puzzles, but Oracle of Seasons focuses more on action and combat. It’s not about figuring out what to do so much as it’s about being able to actually do it. There are still some puzzles in the game, but they take more of a back seat for a welcome change of pace.

I like the different focus because it gives Oracle of Seasons a bit more of an identity and will test different skills because of it. I also think the art is much better. Each screen has four different appearances depending on the season. This could’ve been done more simply, but it’s more than just adding some snow in the winter and leaves in the fall. Certain things on each screen change to open up different paths and make you think while exploring. There are also the different palettes for each season. I find this noteworthy because this is a Game Boy Color game that actually takes advantage of the range of colors it can produce. It’s very visually pleasing, especially compared to the more uniform appearance of its counterpart. There are also plenty of nods to the original Legend of Zelda in this game, which is an interesting touch. It’s overall a much simpler and more straightforward experience.

However, this part kind of bothered me. I personally preferred the presentation of Oracle of Ages in the story. In Oracle of Seasons the plot is set up in the beginning and then is only really mentioned now and then in passing. There’s not a whole lot of world building or characterization in place. Instead, this feels more traditional in the sense that you are presented with the goal at the outset and are expected to continue towards it without the necessity of development. I guess I found it more interesting how Veran kept messing with people in Oracle of Ages, with Nayru seemingly still in my grasp and eventually moving on to a new victim. It just made for a much more engaging villain and set of circumstances. I also encountered an issue I didn’t mention in the previous review regarding heart pieces. See, you can only get so many in the game, but two of them are very annoying. You get one of these from random encounters with the witch Maple. She will fly around the screen every so often and running into her makes you both drop items. One of the items she may drop is a piece of heart. The other is from the gasha nuts from planting the seeds to grow the trees. These two things are annoying because they are completely random. You might get them while playing through the game, but if you’re going for completion then it can be a gigantic pain when they don’t show up due to bad luck. It’s even worse when you have one of them and not the other because there’s no way to tell or check on it aside from more tedious grinding towards these specific random encounters. The other pieces you could just double check with a guide, but not these. So write them down if you’re going for completion, and get ready to be patient regardless.

Speaking of completion, the only way to get the true ending of the duology is to play through one and then link to the other one as a sequel. I did this by starting with Oracle of Ages and then linked it to Oracle of Seasons as the sequel, so I shall be referring to my experience as such. You do can do this with a Game Boy link cable or alternatively by the use of a password given to you at the end of the game, which is a very nice compromise for those owning both games themselves and only one system. You start a linked game with one extra heart and access to the appearance of many characters from the previous game. You generally will talk to these characters to pass along secrets, ultimately resulting in you receiving a variety of very useful powerups. The process is a bit confusing so let me explain it with my experience as the example. I played through Oracle of Ages and was given a password. I wrote it down. I entered the password into Oracle of Seasons to create a linked game file. Then, in Oracle of Seasons, often times characters would ask me to tell secrets to characters in Oracle of Ages. They would give me a password. I’d write it down. I’d swap over to my completed file of Oracle of Ages and find the person. I’d tell them the password and they would reward me with something while also giving me another password for my other game. I’d write down that password and swap games. Then I’d go into the Great Maku Tree and tell the password to Farore and THEN I would finally get the upgrade in Oracles of Seasons. You can also get a secret from the snake at the jeweler to give to the other snake in the other game that will allow you to carry over all of the rings from one to the next.

Connecting games also means that you get the full plot and a bit of extra content. There will be a new dungeon for you to play through and two more bosses for you to face. It turns out that Twinrova has been behind the scheme the whole time. They need Veran to spread despair and Onox to spread destruction so that the corresponding magical flames of these attributes will light. The witches themselves then kidnap Zelda to put the land into despair, lighting the third and final flame. They plan to use these flames and Zelda’s body to resurrect the king of evil himself, Ganon. So it’s up to you to fight off Twinrova and ultimately defeat Ganon in classic Zelda fashion. After this, you will receive the true ending and get another code called the Hero’s Secret. This password is to be entered into the same game you just beat in order to start it as the first of the two games but with the added bonus of having the victory ring, an extra heart, and the ability to input your previous ring secret to get all your previous rings at the start of the game. This is also how you can complete the entire ring collection.

The extra content of two bosses, a new dungeon, and lots of useful powerups is definitely worth the effort if you already have both games. It’s actually a cool experience to write down these passwords and swap out the games in order to get these cool secrets. It somehow feels primitive yet rewarding because of the effort you go through for your upgrades. And it’s certainly a good way to make the game easier if one of them is too difficult for you. I also think it’s a super nice compromise of ideas. The concept is to promote the game link cable and playing alongside others, swapping secrets and rings and such. The use of passwords for people who own both of the games themselves or for those who may not have nor want a link cable is a really nice workaround. It keeps the implementation of the connectivity from being a cheap marketing tool to sell accessories. Unfortunately, the connectivity presents some issues as well.

As I mentioned, you need to use these secrets to get 100% completion. There’s nothing that really keeps track of that nor is there any real reward for it, but completionists do exist. In order to complete these games completely you need to play through one game getting everything you can in an initial game. Link that game to the next game. Proceed to find all of the secrets between the two. Beat the second game and obtain the hero’s secret. Input the hero’s secret into the same game you just won to start a hero’s quest. Play through this game as the first game, importing all of your previous rings to keep them as part of your ring secret. Put in the secret to make the other game your linked game and move all of your rings over there. Get all of the items and secrets in this game. Then you will finally be able to have everything in the games. It’s a ridiculous amount to be asking. Playing through everything twice is a lot to expect and not worth the hassle unless you’re REALLY serious about 100% completion. Not to mention that there are two rings that are exclusive to shops found only in the advance shops. These shops can only be accessed if you play the games on a Game Boy Advance rather than a Game Boy Color. This part DOES feel like a cheap way to get you to try and buy another product, though by the time these games released it wasn’t such a crazy thing to own a GBA. Even so, it feels like a barrier more than a bonus.

I’d recommend playing these games through with the easier one as your first and the harder as your linked game. That way the extra powerups will really help. For me, this order means Oracle of Ages and then Oracle of Seasons. It’s worth checking out all of the extra stuff the linked experience has to offer at least once, but I can’t recommend 100% completion as it’s just too much work for not enough payoff. These games are both fun to play as standalone experiences as well, in case you don’t want to bother with passwords and swapping cartridges. I still like Oracle of Ages better in most ways, but Oracle of Seasons is still very fun as well. If you like one of the games, you’ll probably like the other. And you’ll probably like them both if you liked Link’s Awakening as they basically just expand on those ideas. Plus, both of these games are on the 3DS eShop for something like six or seven bucks. So you can find them if you’re really looking. If you’re a big Zelda fan and haven’t given the Oracles games a shot yet then definitely go for it. And to think a third-party developer could make GOOD Zelda games in the same style as other Zelda games. It’s a crazy world we live in.

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