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Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages - Review

The Return of the Zelda Game Boy Game: Part 2

By: Jade Falcon


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 7
   Plot 4
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

20-30 hrs.

 
Overall
8
Criteria

Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
 

   The Game Boy Advance was looming in the distance. The latest N64 Legend of Zelda game had been released. The Big N decided it wanted to do another Game Boy game to squeeze more money out of the dying Game Boy Color system. However, there was too much of a delay for it to be released for the GBA, so they decided to release a great game for the GBC. To accomplish that, they needed two games and the help of Capcom. Three games were originally scheduled for release, but Nintendo trimmed it down to two shortly after announcing that there were three to be released. Oracle of Ages is the puzzle-oriented game in the duology. Does this new installment in the Zelda legacy stand up to its predecessors? Was the choice to make two instead of three games wise?

   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 and the menu cursor around. The sword can be just slashed or charged to unleash a spinning attack. Once more powerful swords are found, when Link has full health, a beam is released from the sword when slashed. Combinations of weapons (bomb with arrow equals a flying missile) make quite deadly results. The setup is simple, but it sure works great.

   There are several improvements on the Awakening interface. Instead of having to press the A, B, Start, and Select buttons together to save, there is a place in the menu to allow you to save easier. No more using up five arrows while attempting to save! There are three submenus: one for items, one for things such as keys and magic potions, and one for the quest status. The game runs much more smoothly with this setup. I also like what Nintendo and Capcom did with the game's font. The original Awakening font was just horrible to look at. It is a much taller, cleaner, more legible font. Key words are highlighted in different colors, making the fact more obvious that you should remember those words. With Capcom's help, Zelda's interface has been improved greatly.


Nice house.
Some house, eh?  

   The sound effects are a little lackluster and somewhat unoriginal. 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. Even the completely new ones aren't very good. The music, while still sounding like little bleeps, is great for the Game Boy's capabilities. The main world and dungeon themes of Awakening are back, as well as some great new tunes. The boss theme is also quite good. It must be if it were stuck in my head for a week after I finished the game! In short: The music is great, sound effects are awful.

   There are a few points that set this game apart from Awakening and the other console Zelda games. The biggest innovation in the game is Link being able to change the time with one song from a harp. Three songs can be learned, each one less restrictive about when and where the trip to the past and future can be performed. Now, if only we could travel between epoches in real life... *achem* Anyway, the screen actually scrolls! Gone are the dungeons and worlds with small, square rooms. Every screen is about one-third larger than before. Link also has a bag of seeds that have different uses, such as lighting torches and the ability to dash. There are trains and other new obstacles to tackle in some dungeons that make the journey through that much more of a puzzle.

   The latest trend in the Zelda series seems to be the lack of the title character in the game. A petition Nintendo to rename the whole series "Legend of Link" would be prudent since Link is the main character in all the games. Anyway, as with Majora's Mask, a completely new main enemy has been introduced, named Veran. Veran possessed the Oracle's body and wreaked havoc on the past and present. Link must find eight Essences of Nature to save the Oracle of Ages from her. To do this, Link uses the Harp of Ages to warp between past and present and bring order to time. Can anyone say, "Save the Princess!" Even with Zelda gone from the game, Link must save yet another princess. The plot is the complete opposite of the gameplay.

   I applaud Capcom in doing an excellent, flawless translation of the game. It has one or two common clichés from American life sprinkled in amongst the dialogue. Best of all, the dialogue does not detract from the story, which The translation and localization is probably the best done for a Zelda game yet.


Ahh, I love you...
Saved by the Fairy  

   After finishing Ages, the game gives you a password, useable on any Seasons game pack. This code allows you to "continue" the journey with some of the original items and some of the people recognizing you. Also, playing a "linked" game is the only way to completely finish the game, since after finishing both games, an old, familiar enemy comes back.

Ages's graphics have to be the best graphics on the Game Boy Color. The GBC's color capabilities are used to their maximum potential. The backgrounds are rich in color and detail. 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. In the realm of portables, Ages is an industry leader.

The game is not too hard, but not too tough for a beginning Zelda gamer to pick up. It should get you frustrated only once in a while. Wallmasters, back from LTP, which carry you back to the entrance of the dungeon, especially frustrated me to the extent of almost breaking my GBC. Very few puzzles take too much higher-brain powerSome of the bosses are just plain pushovers, but others are ridiculously hard. Except for that, the game isn't too difficult.

Along with the Mario series, the Zelda series continues to make great games off of basically the same storyline. The decision was wise to make only two games. It is better to have two higher-quality games than to have three lower-quality games. I don't see how Nintendo does it! If I had to pick between the two games, I would pick Seasons. It has better scenarios than Ages, despite Ages having a better storyline. These two games, totalling about 40-45 hours for the average RPGamer, are a sure bet to be a hit and should be played by every Zelda enthusiast.





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