Friday, May 31, 2013

Oracle of Ages & Seasons (3DS VC Review)

This review was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2022 by the same author.

Yesterday both Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons became available for download in the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Until June 20th they will only cost 4.99€ each, while normally a GameBoy Color title costs 5.99€. In Japan this offer will be only available if you buy both games at once, but in Europe it works for individual purchases also. So, if you're interested, then you should consider to take the deal in the next three weeks.

But first let's maybe take a look at how the Virtual Console variants fare... Sadly, in this case it's far from ideal that Nintendo only delivers slightly modified ROMs. These game really could have profited from some general improvements.

One of the things in question is the "Game Link" functionality. Originally, it served the purpose of linking both titles without the need passwords by using two GameBoy Color systems and a Game Link Cable. Of course, at the time this wasn't really any more convenient, where it probably didn't see as much usage. But like the multiplayer mode in the Virtual Console version of Tetris, it's now just completely fallow.

The menu items are still there, but nothing happens upon selection. You also can't talk to the Blue Snake at Vasu Jewelers any longer, which allowed you to transfer Magic Rings between systems. The blue book right in front of the snake also can't be read any longer, which could be confusing. What if someone tries talking to the Blue Snake or reading its book and then simply assumes that it's the same with the red site? The digital manual for the games also doesn't give any notice about this...

While it's not surprising that this functionality didn't make it into the Virtual Console version, it's still a missed opportunity. On the Nintendo 3DS they could have implemented the "Game Link" in much more practical means, since the save files for both games are now on the same system. When using the Game Link feature it could have automatically linked the files, so that you can at least avoid the lengthier passwords (the smaller Secrets weren't covered by the Game Link). And that's a shame, because the games would really profit from something like that.

The second point of criticism concerns the 100 Rupee Advance Shop. That's a special shop that can be accessed in both games early on the village at the beginning:

The Advance Shop in Lynna Village (Oracle of Seasons)The Advance Shop in Horon Village (Oracle of Seasons)

These shops only opened when you were playing the games on a GameBoy Advance. Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were released after the launch of the next generation GameBoy, which is why this shop was included as an exclusive for owners of the new system.

It's nothing major – you can buy one Gasha Seed and two Magic Rings for 100 Rupees each, where one of the rings was only available in the shop and nowhere else. In Ages it was the "GBA Time Ring" and in Seasons the "GBA Nature Ring". It's really not much, but for some it might have been an incentive to play the games on the GameBoy Advance at least once.

screenshot of the Virtual Console version with the shop closed in Horon

So, how does this look on the Virtual Console? Here the shops stay closed and there is no chance of purchasing these additional rings. While they don't have any special functionality, they will end up missing from your ring collection, which can be a nuisance for those who would like to go for 100% completion. You could make an argument that this faithful emulation, but they've already tampered with the games. And here it's sad that Nintendo went through the trouble of removing all Game Link dialogues, but they couldn't be bothered with opening the Advance Shops...

Luckily, there are still ways of getting these rings, since the old password system works exactly like in the original games and can be used to obtain them. Here is a small guide how to do so:

How to get the GBA Time Ring and the GBA Nature Ring in Oracle of Ages & Seasons for the 3DS Virtual Console

You can even use your Secrets from your old GameBoy Color games if you still have those!



If you don't mind using archaic passwords or that the Advance Shops can't be entered, then you will get two wonderful GameBoy Color classics made by Capcom, which still are a lot of fun. They aren't quite on the same level as Link's Awakening, but they will offer many charming hours and lots of references to the previous six Zelda titles.

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