Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons - Review

The Return of the Zelda Game Boy Game: Part 1

By: Jade Falcon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 7
   Plot 7
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

10-20 hrs.


Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

   On the verge of the release of the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo needed a big game with which to retire the Color Game Boy. When faced with the choices, the Big N decided on a Zelda game, not seen on a portable system for eight years (Link's Awakening). However, they could not do it on their own. Nintendo teamed up with Capcom to create an excellent pair of games (Seasons and Ages) with which gamers can fondly remember the Game Boy Color. This review covers Oracle of Seasons.

   The basic controls from Awakening are back. A and B use an item from the inventory, Start brings up the menu, and the directional pad (duh) moves Link around. The sword can be just slashed or charged by holding the button to unleash the spinning attack. Once more powerful swords are found, and when Link has full health, a beam is released from the sword when slashed. The setup is simple, but it sure works great.

   Nintendo and Capcom did wonders with the game's font. The original Awakening font was just horrible to look at. It is a much taller, cleaner font. Saving is also much easier. There is a place in the menu to allow you to save easier. No more using up five arrows while trying to press all the buttons at the same time just to save! There are three submenus: one for equippable items (can be used with the A and B buttons), another for non-inventory items such as keys and magic potions, and the third for the quest status.

Take that... and that!
Fighting a dragon  

   The music, while still sounding like little bleeps, is great for the Game Boy Color's capabilities. The main world and some dungeon themes of old are back, as well as some great new tunes. Players of the N64 versions of the Zelda will recognize songs such as the Song of Storms. The boss theme and the traveling music for the fourth dungeon are quite good. What brings the sound quality down is the sound effects. Frankly, they are unimaginative. Almost all of the sound effects used in the game are exact copies of the effects in Awakening, or just remakes of the original ones. In several cases, the sounds are worse than in Awakening.

   There are a few points that set this game apart from Awakening. The screen actually scrolls! Gone are the dungeons and worlds with small, square rooms. Every screen is about one-third larger, and in the towns, there is absolutely no scrolling. There are also trains, "turnstiles," and other fun, new gadgets with which to play around, but at the same time they make the journey through some dungeons just that much more of a puzzle. Unlike previous incarnations of the Legend of Zelda saga, every character in the game either is a part of the main storyline or has something important to add regarding the storyline. The biggest innovation in the game, however, is Link being able to change the season with a swing of a rod. In one season, say winter, a wall climb can be impassable, but in the summer, vines appear, making the wall easy to scale. Now, if only that could be done in real life...

   Seasons introduces a new main enemy, named Onox. He captured the Oracle of Seasons and threw the seasonal balance out of whack. To save her, Link must find the eight Essences of Nature and defeat Onox. To do this, Link has to control the seasons using the Rod of Seasons to bring order to the seasons. The entire main story is fully given by the completion of the first dungeon. When finished playing Seasons, you are given a password that can be used with any Ages game. When playing through the game in conjunction with Ages, the two combined stories produce one main overarching story, and it brings back an old foe. It's not as in-depth as Final Fantasy, but it gets the job done.

This is my train of thought.
New Addition: Rail Service  

Season's graphics has to be the best graphics on the Game Boy Color. The colors are rich and used to their full potential. There are more character sprites than in previous games, and all of them have some of the greatest detail that can be found on the GBC. For example, some of the graphics for the items were also touched up, like the swords each having a distinct appearance. There are anime-style cutscenes,though they are just pictures, for the important events of the story that enhance the visual appeal. The seasons are plainly different; the colors and the scenery look like the respective season.

The game will only occasionally be frustrating. Some of the bosses are just plain pushovers (Dungeon 1), but some are ridiculously hard (Dungeon 6). Wallmasters, the creatures that take Link back to the beginning of the dungeon, back from Link to the Past, are especially frustrating. There is no warping system, so treks from one corner of the map to another and back take some time to complete.

The Zelda series never ceases to be amazing. The series continues to make great games off of basically the same storyline. If I had to pick between two games, I would pick Seasons as the better game if you are strapped for money. It's more combat-involved and just a tad longer than Ages. Though the Game Boy Color has all faded into the shrouded mist of the past, they are still playable on the Game Boy Advance, and are excellent games to bridge the gap between the GBC and GBA. These two games, totalling about 40-45 hours for the average gamer, are a sure bet to be a hit and should be played by every Zelda enthusiast.

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