Back around 2000 or so, Nintendo began working on three Legend of Zelda games for the Game Boy Color that could be inter-linked by a password system. These games would all be based around the three parts of the Triforce and be called The Legend of Zelda: The Mystical Seed of Power, The Mystical Seed of Courage, and The Mystical Seed of Wisdom. However, it proved to be too difficult to coordinate a password system for all three games in a way that they’d work together, thus the team scaled back to two games. With this, Mystical Seed of Wisdom was cancelled, Mystical Seed of Courage was turned into Oracle of Ages
, and Mystical Seed of Power was turned into Oracle of Seasons. I’ll be looking at both of these games (in a separate review for each) and utilizing the password features in them, so let’s begin with The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons.
As the game begins you wake up in a field and wander around to find a small encampment led by a dancer named Din. Din explains that she’s been taking care of you ever since she found you unconscious. About that time an evil villain named Onox appears, destroys the encampment, captures Din, and decimates a place known as the Temple of Seasons. This throws the seasons around Holodrum into complete chaos with different areas being permanently set to a certain season. As you wander around and arrive in Horon Village you meet the Maku Tree who explains everything that’s been happening with the changing seasons and explains about the Essences of Nature. To set everything right you must collect all eight essences and confront Onox to rescue Din.
This game introduced a few things that weren’t seen in prior games…including a couple that weren’t used again sadly. The first and foremost of these is the Rod of Seasons. Once you obtain this you can climb aboard tree stumps and change the seasons. You start out with only the ability to change the season to winter, but as the game progresses you’ll gain the ability to change to the other seasons as well. This is a pretty interesting mechanic as the different seasons will naturally have different effects on the environment. For instance, some of the water will turn to ice in winter, vines grow in summer, and there are special mushrooms that can be “picked” (ie. picked up and tossed around like the more common vases) in autumn. As to be expected, this is a major mechanic for the game.
Another awesome mechanic are the rings. Early on you can obtain a ring box that can hold one ring for you to equip and you can later get an upgrade that allows you to hold more, even though you can only equip one at a time. As you travel around you’ll find rings, typically in chests, and you can take them to Vasu in Horon Village to get them appraised. Some of the rings don’t really do anything and are merely for collecting. Others do have some interesting effects, such as increasing the damage of the boomerang or preventing bombs from exploding while you hold one. While most of the time I didn’t bother with the rings (plus I’ve played through Oracle of Seasons on the Game Boy Color when it was first released so I have plenty of experience with it already), it does lead into the main mechanic of the Oracle games: the password system.
You’ll notice when you start up a new file you have a Secrets option. Also if you go into the Maku Tree you’ll me Farore, the Oracle of Secrets. So just what are secrets? Apparently they’re passwords…at least in these games. If you’re starting up either Oracle game but you HAVEN’T played the other first, the secrets option is pretty much not used. However, once you beat either Oracle game you’ll get a password that you can put into the opposite game when creating a new file. This begins a linked game and has two major purposes. The first is that you can now get passwords you can take over to the other Oracle game, which you can then get another password to take back to the linked game and transfer rings from one game to the other. The other use is a big one in that once you beat the main villain of the game, this time it’s not quite over. I won’t get into any spoilers, but needless to say there’s a bit more to the story in a linked game. With all of that out of the way, let’s talk a bit more about Seasons in general.
If you’ve played both Oracle games, one thing to note right off is that Oracle of Seasons is more combat-oriented than Oracle of Ages
. Of course you still have your overworld and dungeons to traverse with enemies to fight, but when it comes to the dungeons you’ll notice that the puzzles aren’t really that difficult to solve. Some may still leave you stumped but the dungeons themselves aren’t that difficult to navigate for the most part. What’s more is that if you’ve played the original Legend of Zelda, the bosses will be all too familiar. Classic bosses such as Ghoma, Digdogger, and even Aquamentis return and have new tactics to deal with. For example, Gleeok still has two heads, but now if you don’t destroy them fast enough once they’re separated from the body they’ll reattach themselves and must be separated again.
Another “mechanic” so to speak that’s unique to Oracle of Seasons is the ability to use portals to travel to another world called Subrosia. The first time you arrive you’ll notice that you don’t have a lot of options as to where to go, but as the game progresses and you gain new items you get access to more and more of Subrosia. You’ll also soon learn that this is where the Temple of Season now resides and it’s where you gain the ability to change the seasons to more than just winter. While interesting, a lot of the time it just seems like a bit of a waste of time and the tasks could have just been placed in Holodrum somehow, but I do like the fact you have to travel to a different land/world/dimension/whatever to gain new powers for the rod that’s the focus of the game.
Beyond that, it’s your standard Legend of Zelda game: travel to eight dungeons, collect major item, go to final palace, defeat main villain, end of game. The main question is has the game held up over the years since its original release on the Game Boy Color? For the most part, I’d say it has. Is it the greatest Legend of Zelda game ever made? Not quite. Those two remain to be Link to the Past (my personal favorite) and Ocarina of Time amongst most fans. However, I can say that I did have just as much fun replaying this on the 3DS as I did all those years ago on the Game Boy Color. If there’s anything that I’d have to criticize it for, it’s the fact that, as mentioned before, Seasons is more action oriented as opposed to puzzle-oriented. As stated earlier while there are puzzles in the game, they’re not really that troublesome to get past, most of the time it’s obvious that you just need to get the dungeon’s major item, such as the triple slingshot, and even getting the item isn’t that difficult.
Don’t get me wrong, I like action in LoZ games, but I prefer a mix of action and puzzles in the games, especially games that feature the main character going through dungeons. Imagine Dungeons and Dragons where you just wander around fighting enemies and never having to worry about checking for traps, or at most you push a few blocks around and a door opens. That’s basically how Oracle of Seasons felt to me. Bottom line, if you’re a fan of the classic Legend of Zelda games such as the original, Link to the Past, or especially Link’s Awakening, I’d recommend Oracle of Seasons. However, we’re not quite done here. There are two Oracle games after all, and since I’ve completed Oracle of Seasons and received the “secret” you get afterwards, it’s time to put these secrets to use. While this ends my review of Oracle of Seasons, my next review will be taking a look at Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and we’ll see if it’s as good as its season counterpart.