On May 14th, 2001 Nintendo released two Legend of Zelda games for the Game Boy Color: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. The two games featured a password system that allowed you to share “secrets” between the two games provided you finished one of them already. In my Oracle of Seasons
review I went more into detail about how the two games came to be, but I didn’t get too much into the secrets themselves. I also realize that there were a few other things I forgot to talk about that I may mention here. However, for the most part those things are pretty much the same between games. With that out of the way and a password I received from the end of Oracle of Seasons, let’s take a look at The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages.
As the game begins you’re found unconscious in a land called Labrynna. You know, the early portable games seem to have a habit of having you wake up somewhere after being unconscious for a while, dating back to Link’s Awakening, but I digress. As you wander around you meet up with Nayru in a similar fashion to how you meet up with Din in Oracle of Seasons. This time however, Impa isn’t who she seems to be as a ghost like entity flies out of her. This would be Veran, the game’s antagonist. She takes over Nayru’s body which allows her to travel through time and travels far into the past to disrupt the peace in Labrynna. After meeting the Maku Tree…who’s female in this game as opposed to male in Seasons…you learn that you must travel back and forth between time periods to put a stop to Veran’s plan. To do this you acquire the Harp of Ages, which is similar to the Rod of Seasons except that you use it to open up warp portals in various locations around Labrynna to travel back and forth from the past to the present.
If you’ve already played Oracle of Seasons, you’ll notice a couple things as you play. First off, some of the items appear in both games, either as the exact same item or in a similar form. For instance, Oracle of Seasons had a slingshot you can use to fire different types of seeds at enemies and switches, while Oracle of Ages uses a seed shooter to fire seeds that can rebound off walls up to two times before finally disappearing. Rings also make a return and function as they did in Seasons, but there’s something else you can do with them in a linked game, but I’ll touch on that in a bit.
The other thing you will notice in a linked game (though it might not be noticeable at first) is that certain actions will be different than if you just played a brand new game. Not only will different events occur in a linked game that weren’t there in a brand new game, but there are even dialogue changes based on the fact that you’re playing a linked game. For instance, one of the dungeon bosses, Vire, is featured in both Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. I’m not sure exactly how a linked Seasons game plays out, but when you defeat Vire in a linked Ages game, he’s actually appalled that you beat him again
. You’ll also notice some other dialogue changes here and there that normally wouldn’t happen in a brand new game that kind of helps progress the overall story between the two games.
However, there’s one other thing a linked game entails, and those are secrets. When going through one of the games fresh, secrets don’t do much. However, after you clear one of the games you’ll get your first secret, either Secret to Holodrum or Secret to Labrynna, depending on which game you cleared. Putting that into the second game when starting a new file will begin a linked game, and this is where secrets really come into play. If you go to Vasu’s ring shop in the first game you can get a secret from one of the snakes that you can tell one of the snakes in the other game’s ring shop. This will actually bring over every ring you acquired from the first game and allow you to use them in the second game right out of the gate pretty much. You’ll also occasionally find people who will tell you a secret and instruct you to give the secret to someone in the first game. Doing so will occasionally improve your equipment in the first game, but you might get a secret in return to improve your equipment in the second game. Doing this, I was able to get the Level 2 sword (called the Noble Sword) rather early in Oracle of Ages, and with one of the rings I brought over from Seasons I can fire sword beams even if I’m missing up to two hearts. In other words, starting a linked game and constantly sharing secrets can set you up pretty early for an easier ride in the second game.
As stated in my Oracle of Seasons review
, Oracle of Ages is the more puzzle oriented game of the two and it easily shows. There are different types of puzzles in every dungeon, from pushing a colored block around to change its color to jumping over colored squares to change their color to your typical push-the-statues puzzles. Heck, even the bosses can be like puzzles in that you can’t just run up and slash them for the most part, but actually focus and think about how to take them down. Even the overworld seems like a giant puzzle. With Oracle of Seasons it’s typically obvious when you need to switch seasons to progress to the next area. With Ages however it’s not necessarily that obvious when you need to switch time periods. In fact, not every dungeon is in the same time period, and in the case of one dungeon, you actually have to visit it in both time periods (similar to one of the dungeons in Ocarina of Time). This is both good and bad in my opinion.
While the puzzles in dungeons can be fun, not all of overworld puzzles are. There’s a part in the game in which you have to take a raft to a place called Crescent Island, but once you arrive via an oncoming storm (another similarity to Link’s Awakening) you awaken to find that several creatures known as the Tokay have taken your items. You then have to run around the island and recollect your items, which include occasionally swapping them out at a shop. Basically you’re swapping your shovel for either the Power Bracelet or the Roc’s Feather, and since some areas of the island require lifting pots and others require jumping over holes, for a bit you’re constantly going back and forth swapping one item for the other. After running around, going through time once or twice, gaining a new seed for your Seed Satchel, and getting all of your items back, your reward is…the entrance to the third dungeon. While I applaud them for making an Overworld puzzle, this just felt like a waste of time. I don’t mind Overworld puzzles. Heck, even the original Legend of Zelda had them with the Lost Woods and Lost Hills, but those were more like mazes. Oracle of Ages has some Overworld puzzles, but this one just felt unnecessary.
After writing the Oracle of Seasons review I realized I neglected to mention some basic things such as graphics and such, and since they’re basically the same between games I’ll discuss them here. Graphically the games resemble Link’s Awakening, only in color. They look pretty good for Game Boy Color games, and the music isn’t too bad either. In terms of the gameplay itself, they feel like the classic games do and the controls feel pretty solid. When it comes down to it, if you liked Link’s Awakening’s graphics, sound, and gameplay then you’ll like them in the Oracle games as they’re pretty much the same thing, some items notwithstanding. I also like the fact that when playing a linked game you not only get some new dialogue and events, but the game isn’t over once you beat Veran or Onox, depending on which game you’re playing. In fact, once you beat the antagonist in a linked game there’s still a bit more to go. I won’t really get into spoilers much, but it wouldn’t really be a Legend of Zelda game without fighting you-know-who.
Overall, the Oracle games are pretty fun even to this day. They’re not too easy that you’ll blow right through them, but they’re not too hard that you’ll pound your head in frustration. The password mechanic is really fun to use, and even though as stated earlier I was able to bring my rings over from Seasons and get the Level 2 sword rather early in Ages, it’s still not too easy that I’m just rushing through it. It’s hard to say which one I like better because while they both play in a similar style, the focus is quite different. Some players may like more combat while others may prefer having to think about solving a difficult puzzle to proceed. However, each game has its strengths and weaknesses, though the weaknesses are few and far between for both games. If you have the money to spare, I’d say definitely pick up at least one of them, if not both so you can experience the full story.