The Game Boy Color is still going strong with the latest addition to the Legend of Zelda series. Oracle of The Seasons is 1 of 2 games released that combine together to form a complete adventure. People thought Capcom couldn’t pull off the unique adventure style of Legend of Zelda, but they did and the game not only plays great, but also looks spectacular to boot! Originally planned as a trilogy, Capcom had to scrap the idea as implementing the Password feature and linking 3 games would have been a programming nightmare!
In Oracle of The Seasons, Link travels to the magical and wondrous land of Holodrum. There he meets the Oracle of The Seasons, Din, dancing in a clearing in the woods. Things go chaotic when Onox, The General of Darkness, kidnaps her before his eyes. The seasons fall into chaos and the very life around withers as Onox sets in motion his plan to enshroud the world into total darkness.
Thus Link begins his adventure across Holodrum, utilizing the Rod of Seasons to control the very seasons itself as he pushes further to collect the Essences of Nature to restore order and face Onox himself in a battle to save Din and all of Holodrum.
Gameplay is relatively unchanged in some ways from similar Legend of Zelda titles. Link uses his trusty sword and shield as usual, together with trademark items like Roc’s Feather, Power Bracelet, Bombs and other special items to grant him new abilities and exploration options, allowing him to progress deeper or access previously inaccessible locations.
Oracle of Seasons is the more action-intensive of the titles, so expect simpler puzzles and a lot of monster bashing, jumping and running around. Dealing with bosses is also a simple issue of applying brute force in different ways and quick reflexes of the player’s thumbs. New items or equipment are purchased either from shops or found throughout the game’s main 8 dungeons. Link will have to dig, slash around and even burn trees to uncover certain items as well.
Oracle of The Seasons also has its version of an ‘underworld,’ Subrosia, a subterranean world occupied by the equally mysterious Subrosians. Link will have to traverse from Holodrum to Subrosia through Gates to uncover new locations as well as to access the temple of The Seasons.
Throughout his journey, Link will meet many NPCs from both worlds that will provide help and information. Link will also have a chance to meet 3 different animal friends who will help him traverse the difficult terrain that they specialize in: Moosh the winged bear, Dimitri the Dodongo and Ricky the marsupial. Depending on how Link progresses, he will have the chance to make a lifetime companion of 1 of the animals through a special flute.
Link will have to master magical rings as well. Magical rings grant Link special bonuses like added attack power or better chances of finding something. Link will also plant Mystical Seeds in several special locations in the game that will sprout and eventually reward Link with a special item. All these new elements plus the standard fare mentioned earlier make this game very deep and engrossing; a real challenge to master and also a unique experience all in one.
The most unique feature has to be the special Password Linking feature. Upon completing Oracle of The Seasons, players will be given a special Password that will allow them to start a Linked Oracle of The Ages game. While playing the Linked Oracle of The Ages game, players will stumble upon NPCs that recognize Link from his previous adventure in Oracle of the Seasons and award him with special Passwords. These Passwords can then be used in the completed Oracle of The Seasons game to unlock special mini-games and events that will give the Oracle of The Seasons’ Link great new power-ups and a new Password. The gained Password can then be used in the Linked Oracle of The Ages game to give the Link in that game a similar power-up! This is definitely one of the cooler features implemented for a handheld RPG and really makes things that much easier in their second game.
The music in the game is simply beautiful, simply pushing the Game Boy Color’s sound chip to new levels, though you’d probably be best of with an amplifier to really enjoy the trademark Zelda tunes in this aural pleasure of a game. Sounds are relatively simple; you’ll probably be hearing your fair share of beeps. However, certain sounds are implemented in puzzles and hint on treasure or certain combinations to execute a puzzle. Thankfully the sound is crisp and clear enough to ensure you won’t miss a beep.
The graphics in the game are colorful and really push the Game Boy Color’s palette range into overdrive. Playing this game on an old Game Boy or a Game Boy Pocket is simply out of the question. Oracle of The Seasons’ graphics range is greater then Oracle of The Ages’, due to the need to emphasize the different seasons in the game.
Link and most characters are represented as small simple sprites. The exception goes for the bosses though, as they are more detailed and significantly larger. The game also offers some rare anime-style cut scenes. Most notably in the introduction and certain plot events.
The control is easy enough to master; Link simply has to assign an item to Button A and one to Button B. Switching between items is also easy enough due to the simple yet detailed menus. You can practically save anywhere, but loading a game will place you at the entrance of the location, so you’ll have to hike all the way to the spot you stopped at previously. This can be a nuisance at times but allowing character data to be saved anywhere is quite a plus in this challenging game.
Controlling Link is a breeze, though the restrictive size of a Game Boy Color or Advance may make trickier action a real pain to pull off. Capcom did a great job fine-tuning the control, a relatively important feature in this more action-orientated Oracle of the Seasons.
In conclusion, playing just Oracle of the Seasons is simply playing just half of a complete and large adventure. It is highly recommended to have Oracle of the Ages as well to experience the real ending to the game. Action-oriented RPG players will have a much easier time with this title.