The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons are the joint 7th game to be released in the Legend of Zelda series, and the joint second in the Downfall Timeline following on from the events of A Link To The Past. Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons was released simultaneously in 2001 for the Game Boy Color system. The Oracles games were the first games that were developed in partnership with Capcom, after pitching the idea of remaking the original The Legend of Zelda for the Game Boy Color.
Development and Release
Yoshiki Okamoto, then head of Capcom’s screenwriter subsidiary Flagship, proposed an idea of remaking the original The Legend of Zelda for the Game Boy Color to Shigeru Miyamoto, the series creator, in 1999 but was declined. Okamoto decided to then threaten to make a rival competitive product, with a new title, story and characters and was rewarded with the task of creating 6 Zelda games for the Game Boy Color.
<img class=”alignright wp-image-1164 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Mystical_Seed_Series_Scan-191x300.jpg” alt=”Mystical Seed Series” width=”191” height=”300” />In comparison to Miyamoto’s focus on gameplay, Okamoto instead focused on the story element of the new games, and through trial and error of remaking the original game and realising they were actually doing more than remaking the game — a changed world map, problems with the GBC screen, the difficulty of the original game - Okamoto finally repented and asked Miyamoto for help in creating the game. Miyamoto then proposed a new spin on the games, introducing a trilogy angle, with each game focusing on a different element of gameplay. This trilogy was initially called the ‘Triforce’ series, named after the legendary relic from previous and future games. Where the Triforce contains three parts - Power, Wisdom and Courage - the three games were to follow this same pattern, one of them being the remake of the original title. Shown in early form at Spaceworld 1999, the first game in the series was the precursor to Oracle of Seasons, showing Ganon kidnap of Princess Zelda and the Rod of Seasons which threw the seasons in Hyrule into chaos. In the demonstration, Link solved puzzles based around the seasons with the aforementioned Rod but two other gameplay elements focusing on colour-based puzzles and a mechanic based on the times of day weren’t shown at the event. In the US at least, these three games were entitled Mystical Seed of Power, Mystical Seed of Wisdom, and Mystical Seed of Courage.
The series was planned where every game interacted with the other two, where players could begin any game of the three and have the actions of that first game affect the other two. Pooling resources from across the Capcom subsidiary Firestorm, including the Resident Evil writer Junichi Miyashita, work continued on the three titles’ stories. Interacting between the three titles, the developers settled on a password system but, due to complications and complexities across the three titles, the series was reduced to two titles at Miyamoto’s suggestion. The titles were adapted from the original titles, with Mystical Seed of Power becoming Oracle of Seasons, and Mystical Seed of Wisdom becoming Oracle of Ages. Mystical Seed of Courage was canceled.
Due to the development of the Game Boy Advance in the titles’ development cycle, ideas were tossed around of extra features activating when played on the backwards compatible GBA, but through fear of extending the already delayed titles and pushing the release until after the GBA launch, the team abandoned these plans. When the GBA was delayed itself, the team quickly some functionality and still have the games released a month prior to the GBA launch. These changes included brighter colour palettes to accommodate the darker screen and the addition of the ‘Advance Shop’ selling exclusive items.
Shipping on 8MBit cartridges, the titles were released Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were released simultaneously, making it easier for testing between the titles and keep the style consistent, and also allow players to experience both games at the same time.
The music for both titles was composed by two employees of the music and sound effect production company Pure Sound, credited under the pseudonyms “M-Adachi” and “Kyopi”. Legend of Zelda series regular Yusuke Nakano designed the characters for the two titles, and incorporated previous creations from Ocarina of Time into Oracle of Seasons and characters from Majora’s Mask into Oracle of Ages.
<img class=”alignleft wp-image-1162 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Zelda-Limited-Edition-Oracle-of-Seasons-Ages-189x300.jpg” alt=”Limited Edition Oracles Set” width=”189” height=”300” />Released to commercial and critical success, each version sold nearly 4 million copies each, ending the Game Boy Color’s lifespan with a bang. Garnering favourable reviews across the board, both titles were given equally high ratings with praise given to the colourful graphics, the interactivity and the story. Criticisms were made, though, of the audio and music, although it fared better than other games on the same system. Although of lot of music and effects were based on previous titles and other samples from the Legend of Zelda series, effects such as “simple beeps” were criticised.
A limited edition adventure was released alongside the retail version, which was limited to 500 copies. The adventure set included a copy of both Oracle games, a Boomerang, a shirt, two pins, and two skins for both the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. It was available for sale only in Europe area.
<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1161” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/OOA_Inventory_1-250x163.png” alt=”Oracle of Ages Inventory” /><img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1160” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/OOS_Inventory-250x163.png” alt=”Oracle of Seasons Inventory” />Similar to the previous release on the Game Boy, Link’s Awakening, the Oracles games featured the same basic controls, graphics and sounds and featured an overhead, top-down perspective. As per other titles, gameplay focuses around Link’s use of the sword and shield, as well as other staple items such as bombs and boomerang. Items exclusive to Oracle of Ages include the Seed Shooter and Switch Hook, with a counterpart version in Oracle of Seasons. Unlike other Zelda games, the sword and shield are not always equipped when in possession of them, instead, they can be assigned like any other items.
A lot of the game focuses around the finding of the Essences of Time and the Essences of Nature within the dungeons around the map. These dungeons oft contain puzzles and enemies, culminating in a boss that guards the Essence. When not in a dungeon, Link explores the Overworld, as seen in other Zelda titles. In Oracle of Ages, this overworld is called Labrynna, which is connected to the past version of Labrynna via Time Holes. In Oracle of Seasons this overworld is called Holodrum. Around the overworld, there are several optional side-quests which end in upgrades for Link’s equipment, hidden items and heart containers. One such quest is focused around ring collection, which provide Link with extra abilities and bonuses, such as improved defence. Some rings do not have practical uses, such as those which transform Link into enemy creatures, and the secret GBA rings. Another side-quest is a trading sequence, similar to the one found in Ocarina of Time, where the final result is an upgraded sword.
Many of the items in both games can be upgraded past their basic form, resulting in extra power or a more useful item. The latter three dungeons in both games feature a more powerful version of an item found earlier in the game, and the sword, shield, bombs and Mystical Seeds can be upgraded twice. Within Oracle of Ages the Power Bracelet can be upgraded, while the Roc’s Feather in Oracle of Seasons can, but the corresponding item in the opposite game cannot be upgraded.
<img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-1159” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Link_and_the_Harp_of_Ages-188x300.png” alt=”Link and the Harp of Ages” />The central item in Oracle of Ages is the Harp of Ages, which Link uses to manipulate time and travel between the past and present, much like how the Master Sword allowed the Hero of Time to jump between eras in Ocarina of Time. During the course of the game, Link learns three songs to play on the harp. The Tune of Echoes activates Time Portals at fixed locations; the Tune of Currents enables Link to travel from the past to the present without a Time Portal; the Tune of Ages allows Link to switch between the two time periods at almost any location on the map.
<img class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-1158” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Link_and_the_Rod_of_Seasons-185x300.png” alt=”Link and the Rod of Seasons” />The central item in Oracle of Seasons is the Rod of Seasons, with which Link can manipulate the four seasons, allowing him to solve various puzzles on his quest. When Link obtains the rod, he only has the power to change the season to winter. The rest of the seasons, which allow him to reach new locations in the Overworld, are acquired from the Temple of Seasons as the game progresses.
Where Oracle of Seasons focuses on action, Oracle of Ages focuses on puzzle elements of gameplay, and both can be interacted with the other by the means of passwords or the Game Link cable.
<img class=”alignright wp-image-1163 size-full” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Secret_Interface.png” alt=”Secret Interface” width=”160” height=”144” />Upon completing either game, players receive a password that can be used to play an alternative version of the other. In this version, some characters mention passwords that can be given to characters in the first game in exchange for an item or upgrade. Then, by taking a new password back into the linked game, the item or upgrade can be transferred. Rings can be traded by this password system or randomly created by connecting two games with a Game Link Cable.
In the alternative version, plot points are changed or expanded upon to allow the game to serve as a sequel. It also features an extended ending. After the extended ending, a password is given to the player which allows them to obtain the Victory Ring.
Trivia and Facts
The majority of the graphics in the Oracle Series are recycled from Link’s Awakening.
Design sketches from Hyrule Historia indicate that Ganondorf was originally planned to appear in the Oracle series.
The official timeline guide, Hyrule Historia confirms that the events of Oracle of Seasons occur before Oracle of Ages, however, when placed in the timeline, both games are joint 2nd in the Downfall Timeline.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons are officially the joint-second game in the Downfall Timeline according to the book Hyrule Historia. The games serve as a direct sequel to A Link To The Past and a prequel to the earlier release Link’s Awakening.
Oracle of Seasons & Ages Backstory
Having brought up the boy who would go on to become the Demon King, Twinrova plotted ways of raising Ganondorf after he was destroyed by the Hero in A Link To The Past in the Dark World. Needing the Flame of Destruction, the Flame of Sorrow and the Flame of Despair, which were derived from the chaos, sorrow and hopelessness of humanity, Twinrova also needed a sacred sacrifice to complete the ritual. To obtain the Flame of Destruction and the Flame of Sorrow, Twinrova sent the General of Darkness, Onox, to the land of Holodrum and Veran, Sorceress of Shadows, to the land of Labrynna.
By transversing time and setting correct the damage Veran had caused to the land, Link was able to resuce Nayru from Veran, only for Veran for then possess Queen Ambi at Ambi’s Palace. Using her new authority, Veran attempted to capture Nayru, Link and Ralph, but Nayru successfully used her powers to transport them all to the present. Gathering the last of the Essences, Link prepared for the final showdown with Veran. However, Ralph had his own ideas of stopping Ambi, despite knowing that her death would also cause his as she was his ancestor. Veran proved too powerful and knocked Ralph out, allowing Link to free Ambi by defeating her then moving on to an almighty battle with Veran. Laughing as she died, Veran said her goal of lighting the Flame of Sorrow was completed. Link, Nayru and Ralph then returned once again to their own time, where further plots were unfolding.