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Nintendo 3DS Review: ‘Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages’ & ‘Oracle of Seasons’

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The release of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons for the Game Boy Color in May 14, 2001 resulted in praise from fans and critics for providing a unique Zelda adventure for the Nintendo’s early color handheld. Although this system also played host to a re-release of Link’s Awakening, which was the intrepid Nintendo adventurer’s first portable release, the “Oracle” adventures stood out by marrying classic Zelda mechanics with a connectivity aspect that represented a first for the Zelda series.

Nintendo is now making these games available again on the 3DS Virtual Console system, releasing them more than 12 years after the titles’ initial debut. After playing through both these titles, I found similarities and differences in each of them, but regard both of them as great Zelda titles and worthy additions to the 3DS Virtual Console.

Link meeting Nayru and Din, key characters in Oracle of Ages & Seasons

Link meeting Nayru and Din, key characters in Oracle of Ages & Seasons

When you look at these two Zelda titles side by side, they appear to have much in common; the graphical engines resemble one another, the familiar B, A, Start and Select layout is present, and the music even has the familiar Overworld theme, along with the classic chimes for when you find a new treasure or locate a secret area. That similarity even extends to the stories, both of which require you to locate eight mystical items to triumph over evil. In addition, both games also have various side quests such as collecting rings throughout the area.

However, while these two titles may share many similar aspects, the games also have a litany of differences between them. The first of them involves their gameplay approach. Playing Oracle of Seasons treats you to an experience that is light on puzzles and heavy on action; I was able to quickly locate my early weapon and the first dungeon within only an hour or two of play. When I sat down to play Oracle of Ages, however, it took me some time to get established with the game due to its emphasis on puzzles over action.

Continuing on with gameplay differences, the two titles differ on how you interact with the main overworld, with Oracle of Seasons letting you use the Rod of Seasons to manipulate nature’s seasons, and Oracle of Ages letting you play the Harp of Ages to travel through time.

The Rod of Seasons: making you experience all for seasons in four seconds

The Rod of Seasons: making you experience all the seasons in four seconds

All in all, after looking at these games’ similarities and differences and analyzing them as a whole, I found myself liking the graphics and music in both titles. However, I the vibrant world present in Oracle of Seasons appealed to me more than the world present in Oracle of Ages. I also felt that the season changing dynamic in Oracle of Seasons resulted in more visual variety than what was possible in Oracle of Ages.

Both of these titles proved extremely approachable from a gameplay perspective, and I appreciated the 3DS’s ability to create ‘restore points’ to let me continue my progress. This feature enhances the portability of these games and makes it easier to recover from any challenging situation you may face.

As for these titles’ stories, I found them simple and direct, with the Maku Tree in both games pretty much telling you where to go after you completed an important dungeon or event. I personally felt, however, that the story in Oracle of Ages was told with more weight than in Seasons, perhaps owing more to that title’s puzzle oriented nature.

In closing, even though I personally preferred Oracle of Seasons due to its action-heavy focus, I would recommend both titles to fans looking to experience Nintendo’s classic Zelda adventures on their new portable system. Be sure to purchase both of them if you get the chance, as the title’s password connectivity features allows you to upgrade your items and experience different parts of the games’ overarching story.

Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons are rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Violence.

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About Jason Townsend-Rogers