Oracle of Ages & Seasons

Introduction

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.

Gameplay

<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.

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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.

Timeline Information

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.

  • Oracle of Seasons Events
    Link sets off on a journey to continue his training after the events of *A Link To The Past*, with the Triforce guiding to him Hyrule Castle, where he was transported to the land of Holodrum. <img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-1156" src="http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Din_Oracle_of_Seasons-231x300.png" alt="Oracle Din" />Upon landing in the strange land, Link explores the land and comes across a dancing troupe, led by the dancer Din. As she welcomes Link to the land of Holodrum, dark clouds fill the sky. As the sky darkens, the General of Darkness, Onox, strikes. A funnel cloud appears from the sky, taking Din away in it and transports her to Onox's mountain fortress, and imprisoned inside of a crystal. As a result, the Temple of Seasons falls into the earth and the seasons of Holodrum become chaotic. Link awakens in the care of Impa, who tells him about the current situation. In order for Link to confront Onox and rescue Din, he must talk to the Maku Tree. Link finds the gate to the grove of the Maku Tree locked. In order to prove his worth, he is told to brave the Hero's Cave and retrieve the sword therein. He successfully does so, and enters the grove of the Maku Tree. However, the Maku Tree has been sapped of its power and does not recall how to stop Onox. He informs Link that Onox has also taken the eight Essences of Nature, mysterious items containing the very essence of the various aspects of nature and growth. If Link retrieves these, the Maku Tree will be able to return to his true power and thusly, he will be able to produce a Maku Seed that can dispel the barrier that deters outsiders from entering Onox's Castle. Link eventually finds a portal to a subterranean world known as Subrosia, populated by the cloaked Subrosians. Here, he also finds the ruined Temple of Seasons. He finds his way into the temple, where he communes with the spirit of winter. To aid him in his quest, the spirit presents him with the Rod of Seasons, a mythical object that allows the user to change the seasons to their own liking. In order to use the rod to change the seasons further, he must find other portals leading into the three other towers of the ruined Temple. Eventually, Link manages to add the power of every season to the rod.<img class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-1169" src="http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/General_Onox-241x300.png" alt="General Onox" /> Link manages to recover all eight Essences of Nature. As promised, the Maku Tree produces a Maku Seed, which dispels the barrier around Onox's Castle. Inside, Link encounters General Onox in a decisive battle. Realising the threat that Link poses, General Onox tries to stop Link by transforming into his true form; that of a giant Dark Dragon. Despite this, General Onox is ultimately defeated by the young hero, and Din is released from her prison and the seasons are returned to normal. However, General Onox ultimately succeeded in accomplishing what Twinrova, the evil being that had been controlling his every move wanted him to; to cause enough destruction and suffering in Holodrum to light the Flame of Destruction. Impa tells Link that a further quest awaits, whilst Twinrova, watching the scene remotely, states that the Flame of Destruction has been powered by the havoc Onox has wrought.
  • Oracle of Ages Events
    <img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-1157" src="http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Nayru_Oracle_of_Ages-175x300.png" alt="Oracle Nayru" />Upon restoring the land of Holodrum, Link sets out on a further journey to land of Labrynna where he comes to the aid of Impa, who was under secret orders to bring the oracle Din back to Hyrule, but was attacked and surrounded by demons. Impa was having trouble moving a boulder with the Royal Family crest on it, however, Link moved it with ease and ventured on to find a singing Nayru, surrounded by animals. Upon meeting, darkness surrounds the group and Veran, the Sorceress of Shadows, appears from within Impa, and took control of Nayru’s body, who is in fact the Oracle of Ages. The Oracle of Ages can control and govern the passage of time in the land of Labrynna, and with the Oracle now lost, the passage of time falls into chaos and strange events occur within the land. Veran, using Nayru’s power to manipulate time, traveled back to Labrynna’s past and forced the queen at the time, Ambi, to construct a giant tower. <img class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-1168" src="http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/200px-Veran-188x300.png" alt="Veran" />The guardian of Labrynna, another Maku Tree, requested that Link take the Harp of Ages set out in search of the eight Essences of Time. The Harp of Ages helps Link in his quest across Labrynna, manipulating time. Link uses it to play the Tune of Echoes, the Tune of Currents, and the Tune of Ages, which all allow Link to travel between the past and present, and to create and activate Time Portals. The crests that represent these songs correspond to the crests of the Gods that created Hyrule in the Era of the Gods.
    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.
  • Resurrection of Ganon
    <img class="alignright wp-image-1155 size-wcsmall" src="http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Twinrova_ice_an_fire_forms-250x188.png" alt="Twinrova" width="250" height="188" />After the defeat of Veran and Onox, a mysterious pair laughed, saying the true evil had yet to arrive. Despite Link defeating Veran and seemingly bringing peace to the land of Labrynna, another evil is ready to attack following the actions of Veran along with Onox in Holodrum. <img class="alignleft wp-image-1154 size-medium" src="http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Ganon_Oracle_of_Ages__Oracle_of_Seasons-240x300.png" alt="Ganon" width="240" height="300" />Both plots were put in place by the evil witches, Twinrova, whose sole aim is to resurrect the Demon King Ganon by lighting the Flame of Sorrow, Flame of Destruction and the Flame of Despair, which would be done by kidnapping Princess Zelda, a symbol of hope across the world. The three flames together would revive Ganon, using Zelda as a sacrifice as a vessel for returning King. Link saves Zelda and Twinrova sacrifice themselves to restore Ganon. This, however, wasn’t the intended sacrifice and instead of a Ganon bent on world domination and rule, a mindless and out of control Ganon is resurrected bent on destruction. Link defeats Ganon and saves Princess Zelda from the Room of Rites before it collapses. ### Oracle of Ages and Seasons Legacy By defeating the revived Ganon, this brings to close of Link's adventures in Holodrum and Labrynna, and with peace returning to the lands Link says his goodbyes to the people he met through his trials, and sets sails for the next land in which he would train.After training in distant lands and adventures, Link seeks to return to Hyrule to live peacefully, but is caught up in a storm, starting a whole new adventure for the Hero.