Friday, July 29, 2011

Replaying Oracle of Ages

Well, after watching some Four Swords sessions (man, this game really looks like fun) I was in the mood for some more GameBoy Zelda. And since I've already beaten Link's Awakening and The Minish Cap this year, only the Oracle games were left. And the Oracle games are celebrating their 10th birthday this year, which is definitely a great reason to replay them. Actually I wanted to wait until the games appear on the 3DS Virtual Console, but this might take a while. So, I decided to play them on emulator, which has always the advantage that you can quick save and take screenshots. And I don't want to use my original GBC copies of the games, because they are "full" and I don't want to delete any of my old savegames.

I decided to start with Ages and link to Seasons. There are some reasons why I prefer this order. First of all, if you play Ages first, you'll get this super awesome Link statue:

Actually there's two of them. The second one stands next to the Maku Tree. Another reason is the Hero's Cave. I think the Hero's Cave in Seasons is much more fun and enjoyable than the one in Ages. The Hero's Cave in Ages has one of the nastiest traps in the entire series and I didn't feel like playing this again. Also, when fighting Twinrova you have a greater advantage with the Hyper Slingshot and Roc's Cape.

Well, I did use the Oracles Secrets Generator to start a Hero's Quest for an extra Heart Container and instant 64 rings. You might call this cheating, but I've earned this. Back when the games were originally released on the GameBoy Color I played the hell out of them. I played the games in all possible ways and I got all 64 rings along the way, which was a lot of work. The Hero's Secret, which you unlock by beating Ganon, gives you the main advantage, that you can start a new game and copy all your old rings right from the start. This saves a lot of time. Well, I still go for the rings hidden in treasure chests and other fixed locations just for the sake of beating all sidequests, but you don't have to worry about the randomly gotten rings anymore, the ones you get from Gasha Seeds or minigames. Especially the Goron Dance can be a pain in the ass, so I'm very happy that I won't have to do this ever again (except for the Mermaid Key).

My animal of choise was Ricky of course. For reasons check here.

There's this popular misbelief, that there were originally three Oracle games and Flagship scrapped one. And then some Zelda fans wonder what happened to the content of the third game. And while it's true, that three and at some point even six games were planned, Flagship never made three games. For most of the time there was only one game, a prototype. It all started as a remake of the classic NES game The Legend of Zelda using the engine of Link's Awakening. At some point they added the idea of changing seasons and this game would later become Oracle of Seasons. And this prototype was all they had for most of the time, "The Mystical Seed of Courage and Wisdom" were only games on the paper. Wisdom was supposed to feature color puzzles and Courage was said to have different times of a day, morning, noon, evening, night. However, they realized early enough that the link system was too complicated for three games, so they only made two in the end. So, don't worry, I bet every content ever made by Flagship was actually included in the Oracle games. Nothing was scrapped.

In the end Ages got a time travelling theme, but it still features a lot of color puzzles. For example the rooms with the blobs who change their color according to the color of the floor. Or the those blue tiles that get red when you walk on them. I blamed The Minish Cap for featuring dumbed down versions of this puzzle, so it was nice to actually have a little challenge in Ages again. Usually you would say, that puzzles have no replay value (typical Malstrom rand). Once you know the solution, a puzzle is boring. However, this is not the case in Ages, this game has some really smart puzzles, which will get you to think again, even though you've already beaten the game a couple of times. May it be the blue floor tiles or navigating Jabu Jabu's Belly, this game has some of the best puzzles in the series. But the fact, that this game features many color based puzzles is interesting. It's like they started to make the planned color puzzle game (which was supposed to feature Nayru), but at some point it became Ages.

It's also strange how around Level 6 the game suddenly feels a lot like The Hyrule Fantasy. It starts with an old man living under a tree at the base of the Rolling Ridge. I like the gag, how the old man in the presents charges you for door repairs and the old man in the past gives you money. Well, old men used to be much nicer back in the day. And in the Mermaid's Cave there's suddenly an overload of classic NES Zelda dungeon enemies, something you've never encountered before in Ages. There are suddenly Floor Masters, Red Bubbles and Blue Wizzrobes (the ones going through walls) all at once. It feels quite strange, but it's only the part around Level 6. Seasons is the game, which actually got all the Hyrule Fantasy remake stuff, Ages only got few things, like Eyesoar, who is remake of Patra.

When you play the games on emulator, it usually crashes when you switch floors in the map screen. This can be really annoying, I had to replay lots of dungeons parts because of this. But I guess you can't complain when using an emulator and ROMs. The original games work fine for me.

1 comment:

Fernando Aires Castello said...


I love the portable Zelda games, including my favorites Oracle of Seasons/Ages and Link's Awakening DX. I think it's pretty interesting that probably the entire cancelled third game was adapted into Ages, it's clearly visible that the color-based puzzles are actually the remains of the cancelled game.

I have also noticed that the games freeze when you switch floors in the dungeon map screen most times, it's really annoying, so I simply avoid doing it.

BTW I'm currently playing Seasons, I've never beaten it.

I love your blog. Best regards!