The GIA's Oracle of Seasons review is only a part of the The Legend of Zelda: Oracles review
adventure! Be certain to read Oracle of Ages review and collect both secret passwords to find the true review conclusion!
Nintendo's Zelda: Oracles series has seen its share of tribulations on
its way to publication. The planned trilogy of games (one each for the Triforces of
Power, Wisdom, and Courage) got cut down to two titles. Moreover, though Nintendo
would be closely involved, scenario duties would be given to Capcom's Flagship
development team, the minds behind the Resident Evil storylines. Delay after delay
planted a mystical seed of doubt into gamers' minds. Fortunately, both titles are
worth the lengthy wait. Though neither title is perfect, both are so engrossing that
gamers will easily overlook small flaws.
That'll do, Link. That'll do.
Both titles in the Oracles series share the same game engine and many gameplay
elements. The graphics are a significant enhancement of those found in Link's
Awakening. As a Game Boy Color-only title, however, there are subtle enhancements to the structure of the overworld and notable color enhancements. There are also full-screen cutscenes scattered
sparsely throughout the game. Nearly all of the sound effects and many of the songs
are lifted wholesale from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening ("Zelda DX"). The
sound is probably the game's weakest point, though the blame must be spread evenly
between the unmemorable composition and the Game Boy Color's ungracefully aging sound
The gameplay is identical in many ways to Zelda DX. A sword and shield are still Link's standby equipment. Familiar
items such as the Power Bracelet, Roc's Feather, and bombs return; other items, like
the slingshot and hookshot, have been enhanced with new abilities. Both titles also
feature an array of creative new items with cool new uses; to reveal them, however,
would be to lessen the fun of discovering them for yourself. It is worth mentioning, however, that a variety of "Magical Seeds" with different effects are present in both titles. One these Seeds lets
Link warp around the overworld to certain "waypoints," cutting down on lengthy
footbound treks across the overworld map.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons ("Seasons"), the more "action-oriented" of the two Oracles titles, is set in the land of Holodrum.
There, the dancer Din, the Oracle of Seasons, keeps peace throughout the land and
seasons on a sensible three-month rotating timetable. Everything turns wrong when
the evil General Onox kidnaps her, throwing Holodrum's weather patterns into
disarray. Link must harness the season-changing power of the Rod of Seasons to
traverse Holodrum, recover the eight Essences of Nature, and stop Onox.
The reclusive Subrosians
Seasons' single overworld is slightly larger than the one found in The Legend of
Zelda: Oracle of Ages ("Ages"). In practice, changing between Seasons is more
straightforward than might be expected. Seasons can only be changed at enchanted
tree stumps scattered throughout Holodrum, giving each subsection of the map its own
"feel" and set of obstacles to navigate. Each season also only has a few effects on
the environment, too: Spring yields springy flowers that propel Link upwards; Summer
drains lakes and grows vines; Fall drops leaves and makes certain mushrooms ripe for
"picking"; Winter freezes lakes, drops snowdrifts, and kills certain trees. Even
though there are four "states" (as compared to Ages' two), the overworld is quite
navigable and never a headache. This keeps the game moving
quickly and ensures things are always interesting. An icon when entering and exiting structures lets
Link know which season he's in. However, each season has its own unique, easily
identifiable color scheme. This careful use of color gives the player constant
feedback regarding their current season.
In addition to the overworld of Holodrum, Seasons features a fairly expansive
underworld. The lava-strewn land of Subrosia features its own towns, story
sequences, and field-based puzzles to navigate--as well as an original race created
especially for the title with its own culture, appearance, and even monetary unit.
Your rupees are no good here! The overworld and underworld are linked by a number of
portals throughout. This, combined with the fast-paced but enjoyable method of
changing the "Seasons," makes navigating between dungeons a joy.
Players almost always must complete a series of overworld (i.e., "non-dungeon") quests in
between dungeons. These usually involve talking to people, discovering things that
need to be put right, working through a tricky part of the overworld layout, or
uncovering a new power or ability. Though many of these sequences are enjoyable, not
all are as well-documented as a gamer might hope, and goals may sometimes be unclear.
Most players are likely to wander the world aimlessly for several minutes at least
once or twice, hoping that something will "happen." For the most part,
though, overworld sequences are original, interesting, and entertaining.
Winter descends on Holodrum
Seasons' dungeons are underwhelming when compared with its creative overworld design. There's nothing wrong with them, per se, and some of the later ones
are actually quite creative. Most, however, are missing that certain "spark" that
makes a gamer think, "Wow, what a great dungeon!"; in general, Ages' dungeons
are far more creative. The dungeons are serviceable, however, and their lack of
excessive complexity makes most dungeons a straightforward, enjoyable adventure.
Clearing out a dungeon isn't an exercise in frustration, but in fun. Seasons' dungeons are perhaps closest in tone and design to the
original Zelda. Secret "rupee rooms" lie off of the dungeon map, while old men
flanked by torches dispense advice from deep within the dungeons. This feeling of
the original Zelda extends to the original overworld, as well--you may burn down a
tree to find a hermit who charges you for "door repair," or who gives you a "secret"
The mini-bosses and bosses are also more straightforward than those found in Ages.
Many are holdovers from the original Zelda (Aquamentus!), while the new ones fit
closely into that groove. This isn't to say they're uncreative, but the "correct" way to defeat them is usually immediately obvious, as opposed to
the more obscure techniques required in Ages.
None of these deficits should be seen as a "problem," however. What Seasons lacks in
dungeon and boss design, it makes up for in smooth pacing and sheer adventure.
Rarely will you be stumped or (excessively) frustrated by an obstacle in Seasons.
Instead, you'll get your bearings, assess the problem, solve the puzzle, and move on
to the next obstacle. Seasons's larger world and quick pacing make it a fantastic,
enjoyable game; you'll be so busy having fun that the problems will fly right by.
Despite slightly pedestrian dungeon and boss design, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of
Seasons is one of the best adventure games you can get for the Game Boy Color. Another one, of course, is The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages....
Read both reviews and collect both secrets. Then, put the combined address into your
browser to find out how the two Oracles games work together--as well as the true
ending (and score) of the review!
The secret Seasons filename is: himitsu. The true conclusion to the review
can be found at http://www.thegia.com/gb/directory/filename.html
entering the address, be sure to add the .html extension to the Seasons filename!
Both secrets are entirely lowercase.
Review by Andrew Vestal, GIA.
Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
||Flagship / Nintendo / Capcom|
||Game Boy Color|
|Zelda: Oracles games released
|1 new character design
|North American box art