The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages is one of two Legend of Zelda titles released by Capcom for the GameBoy Color, as a part of their Oracle Series. Released near the end of the system’s life, the pair of games were said to send the GameBoy Color out with a bang. The game had a few features that were available only when playing on a GameBoy Advance in anticipation of the new console’s release, such as the Advance Shop.
After completing one of the two games in the series, they can be linked to form a single, linear plot (as opposed to two parallel ones) with an alternate ending. Game-linking also unlocks extra content, like new items. This game is named after its central character Nayru, Oracle of Ages, and the element that is manipulated by Link in this game, time.
Link, having been sent from Hyrule to Labrynna by the Triforce, stumbles upon Impa almost immediately, who was being attacked by a cluster of Octoroks. Unknown to Link, Impa had been possessed by the evil Sorceress of Shadows, Veran. This allowed her to trick Link into moving a sacred barrier that stood between her and her goal: to possess the Oracle of Ages, Nayru. In full view of both Link and Nayru’s bodyguard Ralph, Veran possesses Nayru and begins to use her newfound ability to control time; she heads back to the past to begin her plan of wreaking havoc. Link meets with Labrynna’s guardian, the Maku Tree, and learns that he needs to collect the Essences of Time to be able to defeat Veran. However, these Essences were scattered through different time periods, just as their name suggested, making them very difficult to acquire.
Link takes up the Harp of Ages in Nayru’s house, gaining the ability to traverse time and search for the Essences and reverse the damage done by Veran. More than halfway through the journey, Link is able to free Nayru from Veran’s clutches; however, as soon as Nayru was free, Veran possessed Queen Ambi at her palace. Using her new authority, she almost captured Link, Ralph, and Nayru, escaping only because Nayru used her power to return them all to the present.
Gathering the last of the essences, Link goes to confront Veran. Before he can though, Ralph charges off to slay Ambi before him, despite the fact that Ambi was his ancestor and her death would mean his. Veran proved to be too powerful for Ralph, knocking him out and then moving on to fight Link. After freeing Ambi and the battle that followed, Link bests Veran once and for all. Veran laughs as she dies, stating that her goal was complete and the Flame of Sorrow was lit. As Link, Nayru, and Ralph return to their own time, a mysterious pair watch on, saying that the true evil had yet to arrive. This adventure carried on in a linked game of Oracle of Seasons (or continues from a linked game of Ages if Seasons was played first.)
The two games of the Oracle Series retain many gameplay elements from Link’s Awakening (especially the DX version,) such as the graphics, audio, and top-view perspective. Oracle of Seasons is said to be more action based, and Oracle of Ages is said to be more puzzle based. As in Link’s Awakening, items are assigned to the A and B buttons via the inventory. Unlike certain games of the series, there is no specific slot for each item within the inventory. Collected Rupees, health, and the two equipped items are shown on an interface that is in a yellow bar on the top of the screen (similar to Link’s Awakening, which had the bar on the bottom.)
Oracle of Seasons shares the common ground with many Zelda games in that there are eight regular dungeons and a large overworld map to explore in between. The game’s world composed of a 14×14 grid-like map, which fills in as Link enters various areas. Link is guided by the Maku Tree, an important character both in Oracle of Seasons and Ages, who directs Link to the next dungeon along with a few other things. The Oracle Series, like many games in the Zelda series, features a trading sequence.
One particular feature of both Oracle games is the fact that certain choices made on the adventure will affect an outcome later on, making for various possible scenario in a single play-through. Among these are the animal companions that will accompany Link on his adventure (either Moosh, Dimitri, or Ricky,) and the growth of Bipin and Blossom’s son. These choices will affect the passwords obtained for a linked game.
The central item of Oracle of Ages is the Harp of Ages. It is used by Link to travel through time; which is the defining element of Oracle of Ages. On his quest, Link travels between the past and the present as he explores Labrynna. Link must act in the past to manipulate the present environment and to progress on his quest. He may also take advantage of terrain differences between past and present to gain access to places that are otherwise inaccessible. An example of this would be a dungeon that has collapsed in the present is accessible in the past, and a tree that is a sapling in the past is grown to full height in the present.
Another unique feature of the Oracle series is the appearance of Magic Rings to be collected by Link on his quest. These rings provide Link with a variety of bonuses and abilities when worn, giving the game an RPG-like flair. Some rings augment strength or defense, others provide specific bonuses such as not sliding on frozen floors. Others like the Cursed Ring actually give a decrease to Link’s abilities, adding an extra challenge. Others offer a change of Link’s appearance. There are a total of 64 rings to be found throughout Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, some requiring the use of linked games to obtain, others requiring the use of a GameBoy Advance.
Gasha Seeds are another thing that is unique to the Oracle games. They can be planted in soft soil throughout Holodrum or Labrynna. After a while, the tree will mature and Link can collect the Gasha Nut that the tree will produce. Inside, Link can find a variety of goods, like Rupees or Magic Rings.
An important element of gameplay in Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons is their unique ability to link together to form one linear plot, as opposed to two parallel ones. After one game is completed, the other can be linked to it using passwords provided by the game or a Game Link Cable. Linked games unlock additional content not seen in the separate games. Among the most notable changes in a linked game is the extended ending, or ‘true ending,’ where Twinrova and Ganon are encountered.
In a linked game of Oracle of Seasons, new characters appear in Holodrum. These characters will tell Link secrets in the form of passwords, which can be relayed to characters on a completed file of Oracle of Ages. By doing do, Link can obtain new items not seen in a non-linked game. The reverse occurs if Seasons is played first and Ages second. Passwords obtained during a linked game depend on the choices made by Link on his adventure. Therefore, passwords identify a specific play-through, assuring that Link will have the same animal partner in the linked game as the completed one, among other things.
Oracle of Seasons and Ages were the first Zelda titles to be developed by a third party. They were designed by Capcom, who went on to later develop two more titles for the series, Four Swords and the Minish Cap. Capcom director Yoshiki Okamoto actually approached Shigeru Miyamoto with a proposal to remake the original The Legend of Zelda for the GameBoy Color. Originally, depending on the success of the first title, Capcom would go on to develop their own title from the ground up. However, this idea was rejected, and Capcom went straight into creating their own title. They initially prioritized scenario over gameplay, causing early developmental difficulties, and were further hindered by the GameBoy Color’s narrower screen. They eventually turned to Miyamoto for guidance.
Miyamoto proposed the creation of the “Triforce Series,” a trilogy that would have each game focus on a different gameplay element, relating to one of the three elements of the Triforce (power, wisdom, courage.) What was originally meant to be a remake of The Legend of Zelda became the Chapter of Power, later known as the Mystical Seed of Power, which was action based. The Tale of Power was demonstrated in 1999; it was the only title of the three to be presented. The demo of the game featured Princess Zelda, the keeper of the seasons, captured by Ganon, who stole the Rod of Seasons to manipulate the seasons in order to solve puzzles. Several characters of Oracle of Seasons also make an appearance as well.
The three games were going to interact with each other for additional gameplay via the game-linking system. However, linking three games proved to be too complex, causing the Mystical Seeds of Courage to be cancelled. The Mystical Seeds of Power went on to become Oracle of Seasons, and the Mystical Seeds of Wisdom went on to become Oracle of Ages; the two together became the Oracle Series as we know it today.
Oracle of Ages introduced a new world not featured in any other title, called Labrynna. Lynna city is where the human race of Labrynna resides, with the Maku Tree nearby, who serves as an important character and a guide for Link. Lynna City is the most populated area of Labrynna.
Adjacent to Lynna City looms the Black Tower, built by Queen Ambi, monarch of Labrynna in an age past. On his quest, Link will travel back in time to a simpler era of the queen’s reign. Although the past and present of Labrynna are very similar, there are also many differences to be noted, like a change in landscape. In the past, everything is darker and duller, reflecting the attitude of the hard-working people of that time. The present world is much more cheerful and vibrant.
To the north rise the plains and mountain ranges. The northwest houses the Talus Peaks, which give way to the Nuun Highlands, the original home of Ambi’s Palace, then Rolling Ridge to the northeast, the home of the Labrynnian Gorons. West of Lynna City resides the Fairies’ Woods, known as Deku Forest in the past. To the south are the vast seas, both the Sea of Storms and the calmer Zora seas, home to Zora Village. To the east of the seas is Crescent Island, wherein reside the lizard-like Tokay, who are unique to Labrynna and separated from the outside world. In the present, the seas recede and the Yoll Graveyard appears in its stead.
There was a limited edition adventure set of the game released, including a copy of both oracle games, a Boomerang, a shirt, two pins, and two skins both for the GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance; it was available for sale only in Europe. It was commercially successful game, selling 3.94 million copies. Reviews for the game averaged around a 9.1 or 9.2 out of 10, receiving a 10 from a few different critics. Oracle of Seasons is rated equal or higher to Ages by both critics and fans, indicating it was better received of the two.
1. In both the chapter book and manga adaptations of the Oracle series, Oracle of Seasons is presented as the first game in the sequence. This is also true for the timeline as presented in Hyrule Historia.