Well, it’s not ONLY on Gameboy Color anymore…
Remember that post I wrote a month or so ago about my frustrating forgetting to save “oops moment?” Well, it was in regards to this game, and I finally went back to it after reading a novel in the interim. I faced my stupid mistake, sucked up my pride, and re-did the dungeon/dungeon and a half that I evidently forgot to save after. I was mostly annoyed with myself for not only forgetting to save, but also for forgetting to abuse the awesome virtual console features on the 3DS. The 3DS has the ability to create a save state on the retro game you’re currently playing, which totally reminds me of playing NES and SNES games on a computer emulator. Nostalgia feels.
This whole game was one big nostalgia feels session for me. My favorite GameBoy game ever is Link’s Awakening. And Oracle of Seasons is stupidly reminiscent of it. I haven’t played its partner game, Oracle of Ages yet, but I suspect its quite similar. The map, menus, and music are all too familiar. Especially the recycled music. Normally I’d complain about recycled music, but I like it so much I don’t even care. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, I tell you.
Oracle of Seasons is named thus because, well, the oracle of seasons has been kidnapped and needs to be rescued. Din the oracle is the damsel of distress du jour that Link has the pleasure of rescuing from Dark Lord Onox. Why? Well, because.
Anyone who has played a LoZ game knows primarily what to expect; 8 dungeons, a world map that is a PITA to explore, and pointless nods to Hyrule and Princess Zelda. Yes, there is a super-hot princess in a faraway kingdom. I get it. But that’s neither here nor there. How about the NPCs spend their one to two lines of dialogue telling me how to get to the next dungeon instead?
Oracle of Seasons is puzzle-heavy, making exploring the world map more of a chore than it really needs to be. On top of using power bracelets, Roc feather and cape, and a metallic glove (basically this game’s Hookshot replacement) to traverse obstacles, Link also acquires a “Rod of Seasons.” This special rod can change the season which alters how Link can interact with the landscape. The Rod of Seasons only works when Link is standing on a special stump. I still can’t wrap my head around why that is, but whatever. So you’ll wander around the map, looking for a stump to change the season to whichever new one you unlocked, without really knowing what you’re looking for. It’s kind of hard to know where the ice will appear or where the snowbanks Link can walk across will show up until after you change the season. Expect to do a lot of semi-pointless wandering around unless you don’t have time for that crap like me and use a FAQ.
A big tree that can’t see to stay awake is always asking Link to save the Essences of Nature between yawns. There are 8 of them (imagine that) and collecting all of them unlocks the final dungeon. As you can probably tell, I’m not too enthused about the “story” (This is Legend of Zelda, after all) nor do I remember much of it after only beating the game last week. Basically after defeating the Dark Lord there is a teaser to the companion game, Oracle of Ages. Then there’s a special code to input when you load up the new game. And vice versa if you start with Oracle of Ages then play Seasons second.
Retro Gameboy games only hold up against the test of time so well. The 3DS save state feature (that I am an idiot and kept forgetting to use) helps immensely. However, aside from adding more buttons to map items to, nothing can be done about the annoying amount of times I had to go into my sub menu to change my equipment. During more than one boss fight I found myself relying on 3 different weapons and tools which required so-many-pauses. THEN, on top of that, if you’re using a slingshot or a seed from the satchel, you then have to select which of the four options you want. And this will happen for more than one boss fight. It’s like, “So… wait… I need to use my sword, and my fire seeds, and my Roc cape, and Pegasus seeds? HOW?!” You get the idea. Not being new to old Zelda games, I expected it, and I’m sure you will too, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Another feature different from Link’s Awakening is the incorporation of pretty jewelry for Link to wear. Just rings, unfortunately. Every ring Link finds has to be taken back to Vasu the jeweler to be appraised. Only then can you find out what useful or useless feature it has. Thank the gaming gods Gale Seeds allow for fast travel in this game or I probably would’ve been walking around with a couple dozen unappraised rings for half the game. Once Vasu tells you what the ring does, you pick from your ring inventory which ones you want to carry around (up to three) and even then you can only equip one at a time. There’s a ring that grants times two sword damage with no repercussions, which makes it hard to care what the other rings do. But a certain ring that takes care of electric damage proves useful during the final encounter.
Not only is there the main world map that’s a bitch, er, puzzle, to explore, this game also has an underworld called Subrosia. I liked this area. It was full of cute, charming creatures who either helped Link along his quest or created mischief. This underworld correlates well to the corresponding map above ground. Navigating in Subrosia was relaxing because there wasn’t really any season crap to worry about. Subrosia mostly has mini games and cutesy chase sequences that are a fun break.
Pretty much everything else is what you’d come to expect from an old Zelda game, recycled music and enemies included! The usual frustrations aside, I couldn’t help but enjoy my time with this brainteaser action-adventure game. If this happens to be a Gameboy Legend of Zelda title you haven’t played, download it for cheap and do it! Me? I can’t decide if I want to download Oracle of Ages or play Link Between Worlds.