Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Legend of Zelda - Oracle of Seasons (Gameboy Colour)


One day our hero Link is drawn to the Triforce of Wisdom held within Hyrule castle. Suddenly it emits a blinding flash of light, Link  awakens in a forest in a far off land. The next thing he knows Onox, the General of Darkness, has swept away a young girl named Din, who just so happens to be the Oracle of Seasons. So yet again Link must save the day, how you ask? By searching dungeons of course!

Being linked with Oracle Ages Nintendo have licensed out the Zelda franchise to the masters of making almost identical games, Capcom. With much hesitation I approached the game fearing the magic of previous instalments would be lost. What I found however, was one of the most charming Zelda games of them all.

The idea of the game is to solve puzzles by changing the seasons. Need to get across a lake? Then change the season to winter and watch it freeze over. Or maybe the lake won’t freeze? Then change the season to summer and watch the water evaporate. A great idea that works brilliantly.

All the familiar Zelda elements are present; bombs, shield and boomerang to name just a few. Being a game about the seasons, unsurprisingly, nature is very important. Tying in with this theme it is possible to collect different types of magic seeds from trees, some cause fire while others act like the old Pegasus boots and give you a sudden burst of speed.

Dungeons wise the levels do not really offer anything dramatically different from what has gone before. However, that does not stop them from being as excellently designed as ever, with fiendish puzzles needing to be solved throughout. Unfortunately, it does share some of the faults of its predecessor Links Awakening. For instance the difficulty level is still set way too high from the start and a better learning curve for the sake of newcomers would have been nice. Also, some puzzles are as bizarre as ever which can lead to a lot of frustration. Saying this though they are only minor faults that only detract a little from the magic of the game.

Size wise, Oracle of Seasons is absolutely huge. As well as dungeons and overland areas the game is filled with little underground tunnels and even an entire subterranean civilisation that trades with their very own currency. A great achievement for the Gameboy Colour, something made all the more impressive when you consider the quality of graphics. Much improved from Links Awakening, everything is truly lovely. More importantly each of the four seasons is easily distinguishable from each other.

Overall, Oracle of Seasons is an absolute joy to play. So much magic has been put into the cartridge you feel it right from the start. This coupled with the fact that it includes a link up feature with Oracle of Ages where characters and items can be transferred across makes the game almost reach the dizzy heights of A Link to the Past. Unfortunately, the lack of a learning curve and a few obscure puzzles mean the game just falls short. A shame, but none the less Oracle of seasons is an exceptional game and one of the better Zelda adventures.

Overall 9/10

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