Saturday, July 30, 2011

Replaying Oracle of Seasons

After replaying Oracle of Ages I linked the game to Seasons and continued my quest.

Overall I thought that Seasons was more fun than Ages. The story of Ages is definitely more developed and Ages has the better puzzles, while Seasons on the other hand is more straight forward and action-oriented. However, what I don't like about Ages is the overworld, while it's more realistic and consistent than the very colorful overworld in Seasons, it's just too empty, especially in the past. I mean there are actually screens with nothing but water on it, what's up with that? Couldn't they add at least some islands or something? A third of the overworld is ocean and the ocean area is just boring. Also travelling isn't much fun, because certain areas like Talus Mountain and require you to switch between present and past all the time, which gets annoying easily. Switching between different seasons on the other hand is fun. And Subrosia is one of the most unique and fun "overworlds" in the entire Zelda series, I just love this place. I'd also say that the dungeons in Seasons offer more variety and are more entertaining.

And Seasons has definitely the better gear. No, really, Seasons got all the good shit like Roc's Cape, Magnetic Gloves, Magical Boomerang or the Hyper Slingshot. You also get items more quickly in this game. A good example are the seeds, you just pick them up on your way and got most of them before the third dungeon, while in Ages at the same point you need to plant a tree and let it grow in order to get the Scent Seeds.

The best way to describe this game would be a mix between Link's Awakening and The Hyrule Fantasy. Because that's what it is. Originally Capcom was working on a remake of the classic NES The Legend of Zelda using the engine of Link's Awakening. At some point they added the seasons theme and the game would then become Oracle of Seasons. But the remake is still in there, the most notable part being the first dungeon. Same entrance, same layout, Aquamentus as a boss, it doesn't get more remake than that. The second dungeon, Snake's Remains, was also quite inspired by the 2nd level in TLoZ. All the bosses are there, you get Dodongo, Digdogger, Manhandla, Gohma, Gleeock and even Ganon when you're playing a linked game. And there are old men living in hidden caves under burnable trees and in some dungeon rooms, this is the only other Zelda game to do this next to the NES original and the one occurrence in Oracle of Ages, which I've mentioned in my last post.

Originally I planned to get all the items and upgrades from the linked quests (like Biggoron Sword, Bombchus, L-3 Sword & Shield, etc.) as soon as beating Level 2, but I forget to write down the random seed for my Hero's Quest and so I had to do it the traditional way. However, with an emulator using quick saves switching between games is much faster and easier than back then on the GameBoy Color.

I also screwed up the growth of Bipin and Blossom's child. I wanted to get the singer/musician this time, because I never had that one. I got the Slacker, the Arborist and the Hero on my GBC cartridges, so it would have been nice to see the fourth possible outcome. Well, maybe next time. In case you want to know what I got this time, it's a Hero.

One major complaint about both games is that getting all Pieces of Heart is way too easy. And I'm only comparing this with Link's Awakening, there you would have to check every wall in every cave if it's bombable or not and one Piece of Heart was even sunken in the ditch of Kanalet Castle. And some of the Secret Seashells are also very cleverly hidden, so in Link's Awakening you literally can't leave a single stone unturned, you have to check every wall, dive in every pool and dig through the whole island. And this is totally missing in Oracle of Seasons and Ages. As a big fan of Link's Awakening I was used to checking absolutely everything, but in both games I only got disappointed all the time. There's nothing really hidden anywhere except for some of the Gasha spots and all the supposed to be hidden stuff is way too easy to find. The only hard to get collectible items are the ones gotten randomly from Maple or Gasha Nuts... but this is not challenging in terms of exploring, it only exhausts your patience. It's not as terrible as getting enough treasures in Spirit Tracks, but it's an issue. Since I already got all 64 rings I only needed to look for the random Pieces of Heart during my replay, it's still annoying though.

As a sidenote, why is there no warp point in the Mt. Cucco / Goron Mountain area? It really sucks that you need to get up there from the Sunken Village, where you have to take an underwater path each time. (Update: There's another way up there from the Subrosia portal in Horon Village, which leads to the pirates' hideout. From there you can quickly reach another portal, which leads to Mt. Cucco.)

I really like the Golden Beasts. That's a really cool idea, which was sadly only copied by The Minish Cap so far. And The Minish Cap doesn't have as cool stuff as Golden Moblins, Darknuts or Lynels. I think Golden Monsters are a concept that has some potential.

I also made an exciting new discovery while playing the game. I never tried that before, but it's actually possible to beat Level 5 before 4. You need the Zora's Flippers for the dungeon, but not the Slingshot. As soon as you're done with the Sunken City, you can head there and play Level 5 first if you like. Or at least you can the Autumn and Spring upgrades at the same time and gain many advantages from that.

One of the main reasons why I decided to play Ages first and then link to Seasons was the Hero's Cave. I thought the one in Seasons was much cooler, however, this time around it felt like no challenge at all. Only the Boomerang puzzles would take some attempts and when I reached the end of the dungeon I asked myself, "that's it"? Well, the Hero's Cave in Ages at least has this nasty room with the colored cube and the lava, where you need to freeze the lava with the lever and quickly move the cube. If you fall into the lava, you get teleported out of the room and you have to start over again. I hated that room. Well, but there's an interesting fact for all those timeline theory gurus out there who only play the games for the story details. There's a friendly Sea Zora waiting for you in the Hero's Cave in Oracle of Seasons. Otherwise the game only features hostile River Zoras. See screenshot below.

I wonder how timeline theorists handle the fact, that there are four possible ways to get the Master Sword in the Oracle games. And in one case the sword is even fucking broken! I guess the timeline theorist's favorite case is the one where you find the Master Sword hidden in the Lost Woods of Holodrum:

That's more like it.

Well, replaying the Oracle games was quite cool. Both games really offer quite some replay value thanks to all the different choices you can make. The most important choice is the game that starts your adventure. Depending on that decision one dungeon (the Hero's Cave) and all the linked game events will look completely different leading to a different experience and different items. Your next choice is your animal buddy, there are three options here and it's not just what animal you would prefer, one entire area in the game will look different (see my post about the animal buddies for more info). Last and least there's Bipin and Blossom's son with four possible outcomes. So, you can replay both games at least four times and there's still something new for you to discover.

1 comment:

Zelda Realm said...

I changed the name of my blog...