This assessment initially went stay in 2013, and we’re updating and republishing it to mark the sport’s arrival in the Nintendo Switch Online Game Boy / Game Boy Color library.
Ever since The Legend of Zelda launched on the NES, Nintendo has performed the franchise comparatively near its chest. Collection creator Shigeru Miyamoto has had a hand in virtually each launch so far, and earlier than the brand new millennium, Nintendo EAD dealt with improvement of each Zelda title. However when Nintendo needed an all-new Zelda trilogy for the ageing Recreation Boy Colour, it reached out to Flagship, a Capcom improvement group specialising in creating sport situations and story improvement.
Therefore Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons had been born. Initially conceived as a trilogy, every title was to be based mostly on a single piece of the triforce: Energy, Braveness and Knowledge. The video games would every have a singular world and story, however is also performed collectively — in any order — by way of a code system, revealing an over-arching storyline and further boss battles. Implementing such a code system throughout three video games proved too cumbersome, so a time-strapped Nintendo had Flagship scrap the Braveness sport, remodeling the remaining two into the Oracle video games.
Primarily based off the Knowledge ingredient of the Triforce, Oracle of Ages stays one of the puzzle-heavy video games within the collection. That is as a result of, like Ocarina of Time earlier than it, the story jumps between two timelines. However not like in Ocarina of Time, Oracle of Ages’ time mechanic is central to the gameplay, requiring the participant to consistently shift between previous and current to unravel puzzles and progress. This makes the straightforward act of navigating the world all of the extra entertaining, as you may be manipulating time as a way to change landscapes and alter the current day.
This energy to time journey comes from the Harp of Ages, an instrument Hyperlink receives when Nayru — the Oracle of Ages herself — leaves it behind after changing into possessed by the evil sorceress Veran. With a purpose to cease Veran from utilizing Nayru’s physique to journey into the previous and alter historical past, Hyperlink should use the harp to flip-flop between eras, enabling him to traverse areas which may have turn into impassable as a result of ravages of time, however are simply overcome prior to now.
Like several good Zelda sport, Hyperlink’s powers are restricted at first, permitting him to solely activate portals to the previous by enjoying the Tune of Echoes. With a purpose to navigate throughout the timelines, the participant should search out extra portals, that are incessantly hidden, and this offers the participant a stable cause to partake in one of the beloved Zelda pastimes — slicing grass. Apart from netting the participant hearts and rupees, mowing the garden may also reveal these portals. Portals turn into more and more tougher to search out as you progress, and this sturdy emphasis on exploration is addictive, largely because of Oracle of Ages’ zany characters and numerous world.
The solid of characters that drive the plot are lovably finespun. Staples like Zoras and Gorons supply the anticipated ranges of levity, nevertheless it’s the characters distinctive to Oracle of Ages’ story that basically shine. Probably the greatest must be Nayru’s overly-idealistic bodyguard Ralph, who no matter being painfully ineffectual continues to be seen incessantly dashing into the subsequent space forward of Hyperlink. Then there’s Queen Ambi, the chief of the previous model of Labrynna whom Veran seeks to regulate; she is seen remodeling from a forlorn romantic right into a deranged tyrant. Lastly, there’s the pesky Maple, daughter of Syrup who steals gadgets from Hyperlink and doles out among the finest treasures within the sport. Dutiful adventurers will uncover much more connections between characters, as new gadgets open up areas that may fill in much more of the story.
Whereas mainstay gadgets just like the boomerang and Grasp Sword return, the sport can truly be accomplished with out the participant ever even acquiring them. That is as a result of apart from buying gadgets from dungeons and treasure chests, you may also embark on some facet quests and commerce with NPCs to realize new tools. There are all-new gadgets for Hyperlink to make use of, just like the ricocheting Seed Shooter, which may angle off partitions to unravel puzzles and activate distant switches. But when Hyperlink hopes to obtain and improve every weapon within the sport, he must discover the sport’s facet tales throughout each eras.
On prime of that, like in Seasons, there is a ring system that may increase Hyperlink’s energy, including an additional degree of technique to the sport. Rings can enhance assault energy when life is low, increase your defence and even remodel Hyperlink right into a Like-Like. Some will truly lower your powers although, so make certain to get your rings “appraised” by the sport’s quirky, snake-training ring collector Vasu. Whereas many rings will be obtained from treasure chests, the uncommon ones are gained by enjoying video games and planting Gasha seeds (which develop treasure-bearing timber sooner or later), supplying you with much more incentive to discover Labrynna.
Except for gadgets, the Oracle video games additionally introduce all-new mounts for Hyperlink to trip. As an alternative of Epona, there’s Ricky the boxing Kangaroo, Dimitri the swimming Dodongo and better of all of the lovable Moosh, an enormous blue bear with comically tiny wings that grant him restricted bursts of flight. These mounted segments are confined to only a few situations — a few of which will be missed on a single playthrough — however they serve each as comedian reduction and a manner for the sport to shoehorn in further puzzles. One occasion has you rescuing Moosh from the Misplaced Woods, then utilizing him to traverse a beforehand impassable space to collect up some lazy carpenters, enabling them to complete a bridge and get you entry to the subsequent space.
Graphically, the sport actually wasn’t blazing any trails in 2001; borrowing from the engine utilized in Link’s Awakening DX, Oracle of Ages shares many visible similarities with the GBC remake. Enemy sprites are reused and the color spectrum is fairly restricted, however nonetheless, the sport nonetheless delivers an engrossing world because of the cautious design of Labrynna and the highly effective dichotomy between time eras, with previous Labrynna’s dreary upheaval clashing with the colorful and cheerful current day.
Zelda video games are well-known for his or her boss battles, and Oracle of Ages would not disappoint. The bosses listed here are diverse, intricate and — for probably the most half — unbelievable. The primary few could also be a breeze, however afterward, you may have to make use of a slew of things and tools to win. The restricted interface could make this endeavour a bit muddled, particularly when it’s worthwhile to use a number of gadgets in succession, as incessantly pausing to remap your buttons actually breaks up the motion. Regardless, the methods required to defeat later bosses could have you ever stumped for a bit, however determining the formulation and overpowering your opponents feels as rewarding as ever.
The story of Ages is all wound up and involves a satisfying finish, nevertheless it’s hinted that one other villain could have play a task, and to cease them you may must play Seasons as nicely, linking your subsequent sport with the code you obtain on the finish. For those who beat Oracle of Seasons first, the identical occurs vice-versa.
Oracle of Ages by some means feels each new and acquainted on the similar time. Whereas many beloved Zelda tropes stay, the sport nonetheless takes loads of probabilities, a lot of which actually repay. Hyperlink could have already performed some time-travelling in Ocarina of Time, however in Oracle of Ages, it turns into the sport’s central side, making manner for a puzzle-heavy journey stuffed with vibrant characters, fascinating gadgets and a plot a lot not like these beforehand seen within the franchise. Hyperlink’s Awakening could have given beginning to its sport engine, however Ages really feel like a sport all its personal. Whereas it is probably not probably the most conventional Zelda sport on the market, that is actually not a cause to keep away from it: that is the right alternative to expertise what Oracle of Ages has to supply.