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Rating: Not Rated

Capcom's Love Letter to Zelda (Part 1)

Talraen's Review of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (GBC) (Video Games)

The two Zelda Oracles games seemed to be trying to cash in on the Pokemon two-color thing, but they are at least completely different games. Full disclosure: as of this writing, I've only played Seasons.

The Seasons games were made by Capcom, though Nintendo was involved as well (I mean, it's Zelda after all), and are similar in many ways to the previous Gameboy Zelda, Link's Awakening. You have the return of items that only existed in that game, like the feather, and the interface is similar, but these games were made much later. There are a number of references to Ocarina of Time, for instance. Each game has a theme, and the theme of Seasons is action. There are still plenty of puzzles, but this game has some difficult combat, jumping, and other elements that fall under the "action" umbrella.

Oracle of Seasons has a lot of strong points, chief among them some of the cooler items I've seen in a Zelda game. The Magnetic Glove is my favorite, allowing you to use stationary polar stones to travel across pits as well as move other polar stones to complete puzzles. It takes the general place of the hookshot, but allows for some very interesting uses. The game also features five types of seeds which do anything from light torches to make you run fast to teleport you around the world. The item list does seem fairly abbreviated, but what you get is all good stuff. It's supplemented in no small part by the massive collection of rings to find, each of which gives a passive but often very useful bonus.

The titular Seasons are also very well done and add a lot to the game. Each of the four seasons affects the world map in various ways, allowing for some very interesting overworld puzzles. You gain more control of the seasons as the game progresses, but they factor into your exploration right from the start. Some of the seasonal effects are oddly arbitrary (such as mushrooms that are immovable stone except in fall), but the logic is consistent and the puzzles that use it are pretty fair, if often totally non-obvious.

If I have an issue with Seasons, it's that the 'action' is actually quite difficult. (Or I just suck at Zelda, which is entirely possible.) I died far more in this game than I do in a typical Zelda, mostly from the difficult bosses and minibosses in the eight dungeons. There are some really annoying movement puzzles later on, often involving ice, that were also more frustrating than fun. The game has a number of enemies that just seem totally unfair, though I will grant that it's likely there is a reasonable method to fight them that I just never discovered.

Overall, this is a solid game, and I don't think it suffers much (except perhaps in balance) by actually being a Capcom production. The linking between Seasons and Ages seems very interesting, though having not played Ages left that's more of an assumption than an observation. There's a ton of stuff, mostly rings, to collect, and incentives to play both games repeatedly, if you're into that sort of thing. If you just want a solid 2D Zelda, it's certainly that, too.

Score: B+

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