The GIA's Oracle of Ages review is only a part of the The Legend of Zelda: Oracles review
adventure! Be certain to read Oracle of Seasons review and collect both secret passwords to find the true review conclusion!
Nintendo's The Legend of 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.
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's safe to say that
the Oracles series' coolest item, however, definitely resides in Ages. It is worth mentioning 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 Ages ("Ages"), the more "puzzle-oriented" of the two Oracles titles, is set in the land of Labrynna. There,
the singer Naryu, the Oracle of Ages, watches over the woodland creatures and ensures
things run peacefully. All falls to pieces, however, when the evil sorceress Veran
possesses her body. Veran hopes to conquer Labrynna from the past and thus control
the present. Link must use Naryu's time travelling powers to recover the eight
Essences of Time and end Veran's reign before it can begin.
Using the Harp of Ages
In practice, Ages' overworld sequences feel most like the Light and Dark Worlds in
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Link travels between the worlds of the Past
and Present via the Harp of Ages. Link will learn three songs during his journey,
each more powerful than the last. The first song energizes stationary Time Portals
in each time period. The second allows Link to instantly travel from Past to Present from any location. The third song allows for instantaneous travel back and
forth between the two time periods. The layout of the two worlds is, at many times,
ingenious. Reaching your next goal will often take many jumps back and forth between
the two time periods, as well as careful observation of how the geography of the two
worlds overlap. An icon when entering and exiting structures lets Link know which
time period he's in. However, the Past generally looks browner, rougher, and more
faded than the colorful and more vibrant Present. This careful use of color gives
the player constant feedback regarding their current time period.
Players almost always must complete a series of overworld "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.
In Ages, however, the overworld plays second fiddle to the dungeons. Quite simply,
Ages' dungeons are amazingly creative. Dungeons can consist of multiple
floors and can have up to two "levels" on a single floor. Ages' dungeons are
extremely puzzle-oriented, and the layouts have crafty challenges on both a
room-by-room basis and, more impressively, built into the layout of the dungeon as a
whole. The creative puzzles and dungeon layouts are a great part of what makes Ages'
great; all of Link's skills are used in new and creative ways. Some of the dungeons
can seem insanely frustrating, but it only makes solving their mysteries more
The mini-boss and boss design for Ages is also superb. Nearly every major enemy has
a creative "trick" that must be discovered to succeed. Very rarely will full-on
attacking solve anything. Instead, Link must observe his opponent's patterns, think
about the environment, and explore his inventory. Several of Ages' more creative
bosses force Link to use traditionally non-combative items and skills in an
unorthodox or aggressive manner.
If there's one thing that stands out about Ages, it's the relentless creativity that
went into all aspects of its creation. The developers clearly wanted to challenge
the player with puzzles every chance they got; to do so, they created a large number
of new puzzle types. Some of these work better than others, but the ones that do
"click" are some of the most original in the adventure game genre. Ages proves that
there's life after block puzzles--and that if gameplay this original can be found on
a Game Boy Color, then gamers should expect more from next-generation software, too.
Despite a few difficulties with the pacing and in-game direction, The Legend of
Zelda: Oracle of Ages 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 Seasons....
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 Ages directory is is: farore. 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,
|The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
||Flagship / Nintendo / Capcom|
||Game Boy Color|
|Zelda: Oracles games released
|10 screenshots / 3 gameplay movies
|9 new character designs
|North American box art