The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

The Triforce calls out to Link within Hyrule Castle, transporting him to a forest where he meets a traveling group led by Din, the Oracle of Seasons. Din is quickly kidnapped by Onox, General of Darkness, with the general also throwing the seasons of the land of Holodrum into disarray, and Link needing to find the eight Essences of Nature to restore stability to the land. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, developed by Nintendo and Capcom developer Flagship for the Gameboy Color, was paired with a sister title, Oracle of Ages, with data transfer allowable between both games. Oracle of Seasons, together with Ages, retains the classic gameplay of Link’s Awakening and provides a general solid experience.

The gameplay in Oracle of Seasons very much resembles that in Oracle of Ages, building upon the tool system of Link’s Awakening, where the player assigns tools, including Link’s sword and shield, to the A and B buttons, with tools sometimes being necessary to solve the puzzles in the dungeons he visits, and able to fend of monsters. The main difference is that Link acquires a special wand letting him change between the four seasons on the overworld at tree stumps, affecting the terrain and being necessary, with his tools, to advance.

While there is no way for Link to recover life aside from hearts occasionally dropped by slain monsters, he can purchase a special potion completely refilling his health once when it expires, although it can only be accessed through the trading sidequest resembling those in Oracle of Ages and Link’s Awakening. As such, some late-game bosses, chiefly the last, can be somewhat tedious, with an extra boss accessed if the player transfers data from Ages. Even so, the typical Zelda gameplay doesn’t much lose its appeal, with most bosses requiring some kind of strategy to beat, and the gameplay itself remaining a high point of the game.

The controls or menus aren’t particularly troublesome, with a handy save-anywhere feature and easy menus that don’t interfere with frequent tool-swapping. While the game does provide a general sense of direction on how to advance, doing so can take some time, given the occasional brevity of this direction, and there is some backtracking necessary at times. Still, the control scheme of Oracle of Seasons helps the game more than hurts.

Oracle of Seasons demonstrates more creativity than Ages, given the season system, but still retains the classic gameplay of Link’s Awakening with modifications. The story is slightly better than usual for a Zelda game, with some differences if the player uses linked data from Ages, although it’s nonetheless lightly sprinkled throughout the game, as has been the case with other series entries, and isn’t a reason to play the game.

The music and sound, though, remains a solid aspect, with reasonably diverse dungeon tracks and the classic overworld theme returning, and nice sound effects aside from the annoying near-death alarm. The graphics, largely taken from Link’s Awakening, with some occasional anime scenes thrown in the mix, are nice, as well, with good colors and reasonably-diverse environs, albeit small character sprites. Overall, Seasons looks and sounds great.

Seasons is longer than average for a portable Zelda, about fifteen hours long, with a few sidequests such as the aforementioned trading quest. All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is an enjoyable addition to the Nintendo franchise, building upon the classic gameplay of Link’s Awakening and featuring general solid presentation. Story as usual is somewhat lacking, but the Zelda franchise is far more renowned for its gameplay, and in that aspect it definitely doesn’t disappoint.

The Good:
+Solid Zelda gameplay.
+Story can vary with linked data.
+Solid music and graphics.

The Bad:
-Last boss is somewhat hard.
-Sometimes vague clues on how to advance.
-Story is thinly spread through the game.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Gameboy Color
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 7/10
Story: 6/10
Music/Sound: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Localization: 8/10
Replay Value: 5/10
Playing Time: 15-20 Hours

Overall: 7.5/10

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