The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
released on Feb 27, 2001
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages is one of two Zelda titles released for the Game Boy Color, the other being Oracle of Seasons. The game retain many gameplay elements from Link's Awakening such as the graphics, audio and top-view perspective. It also features eight dungeons and a large overworld to explore like in the previous games. Oracle of Ages is said to be more puzzle-oriented than its counterpart being more action-oriented. After completing one of the two games, both can be linked to form a single linear plot with an alternate ending. Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were often credited as being two of the top games for the Game Boy Color.
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Yeaaah didn't enjoy myself here. The puzzles and dungeons of 2D zeldas are probably my least favorite aspect of the series so making a game that focuses around that in particular is already fighting a rather uphill battle. This game plays like Links Awakening, and despite releasing EIGHT YEARS later a lot of the same QoL issues remain, such as the constant switching of inventory items. Sure, the game boy only has 4 buttons and a D-pad, but they could have done something like consolidating the map and menu to start and have select be used to cycle between selected items or something. Or made it so actions like picking things up were context sensitive rather than requiring their own bespoke items to keep switching to. I'd even go as far as to say the puzzle-oriented nature of this game combined with the multiple world mechanics of ALTTP make the item menu problem even worse here than in links awakening. The overworld is a lot less explorative and more linear this time around where everything is in its own isolated little zone. The dungeon music is also rather strange to say the least. On the bright side, I did find the characters endearing and the key art is awesome, it's a take on the zelda world I enjoyed looking at. After playing through this game, I'm not exactly thrilled to see what Oracle of Seasons has in store.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages is surprisingly great. With an asterisk but i'll get to that. The Oracle duology was always a missing piece of my history with this series and now that i've completed Ages, i gotta say, it kinda goes hard.
This is the Zelda game that puts it's biggest emphasis on it's puzzles. The puzzles here feel like a step above Zelda's usual puzzle selection, in fact, i don't think the games get this crazy again in that department until Breath of the Wild. As things stand right now, the game is probably the closest the series comes to the CrossCode level of puzzle quality (though i'd say there's still a big difference between this game's puzzles and CrossCode's).
Veran is an interesting villain if only because she's the only main villain who is female. Rather insane when you think about it. I also want to point out that she looks like an animated Disney villain. The way the time travel works allowed for an improved execution of the Dark World concept when compared to A Link to the Past (and tbh A Link Between Worlds) where both worlds matter instead of just only mattering half of the time. It is also pretty funny that this is the second Zelda game that handles the element of time way better than Ocarina of Time.
Also the soundtrack kinda goes hard. I mean the overworld themes and boss themes are reused from Link's Awakening but nobody told me Moonlit Grotto and Skull Dungeon had banger of a theme. And it was around this point i realized that Zelda dungeon music is usually just noise to me and the two dungeons i mentioned are two of five Zelda dungeons in the entire series where i've gone "oh yeah, this music slaps".
My main gripes with this game stem from the fact that it's a Game Boy game. The tiny 4x4 screen makes the navigation a massive pain in the ass, turning this game into a certified "walkthrough game" and although i had more fun with it than A Link to the Past, another "walkthrough game", at the same time i wonder how the flying hell anyone was supposed to get to Crescent Island without looking it up. Or the entire Rolling Ridges segment. Other Game Boy specific gripes include the constant menuing cause the game only lets you equip two items at a time and this includes stuff that would normally be passives in the other games and the fact that the map screens are useless.
The good news is that this game would benefit tremendously from a Link's Awakening HD treatment. When most of your issues are simply because the console limits your power, that's the mark of a really good game. As it is though, the Game Boy is pretty much the only thing keeping me from giving this game a higher score.
8/10, Switch Hook and Seed Shooter go hard.
A fantastic Zelda game, masterfully crafted by Capcom. Time-travelling puzzles and cool dungeons. You love to see it.
Dungeons are a bit too convoluted tbh. On to Seasons