The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages Review
The Legend of Zelda series has seen many handheld entries over the year, but none were as fascinating and interesting as the pair of Oracle games. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages is part of a story told over two games – the other being The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons – that could be linked together to create a more immersive experience. These games could be played in any order, but both offered significantly different experiences with different worlds, dungeons, items, and scenarios. I have never played The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages all the way through… until now.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages takes place in a land called Labrynna, where the goddess Nayru resides. Early in the game, Link is tricked into helping Veran -the Sorceress of Shadows – gain access to Nayru. Veran proceeds to possess Nayru, which causes a disruption to the flow of time in the land of Labrynna. Seeking guidance from the Maku Tree, Link is tasked with adventuring through time to find the eight Essences of Time, which will help combat the villainous Veran.
Oracle of Ages was co-developed by Nintendo and Capcom and resembles the overhead Zelda games, specifically The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Everything in the game is connected by an overworld map consisting of towns, secrets, and many enemies. What makes Oracle of Ages different from many Zelda games is the ability to travel between the past and present. Similar to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, travelling between eras can have a significant effect on the overworld map, essentially giving you two worlds to explore. Travelling through time is done by finding Time Portals –similar to A Link to the Past’s Dark World portals – or using an item called the Harp of Ages. As a whole, this element lends itself to the puzzle heavy Oracle of Ages.
As with most Zelda games, dungeons are a main focus of Oracle of Ages, some of which are affected by the game’s time travelling mechanic. The standard Zelda formula of finding the map and compass, multiple keys, and puzzle solving are all present, but puzzles are not only larger in number, but also more obtuse and fun to solve than previous puzzles from Zelda games. Oracle of Ages also borrows the sidescrolling elements from Link’s Awakening, but has been fleshed out to create a slightly deeper experience this time around.
One particular dungeon element that is hard to ignore are the theme songs that accompany them. These theme songs are some of the most enjoyable from any Zelda game. Standout tracks include the themes for Moonlit Grotto, Skull Dungeon and the Mermaid Cave.
Of course, The Legend of Zelda games put a lot of emphasis on the equipment and items that Link can utilize to solve puzzles and fight enemies; Oracle of Ages is no different in this regard. Plenty of great items make their first appearance in the series, including some underrated Zelda items. My favourite is the Switch Hook, possibly the most innovative item in the Zelda series. With the Switch Hook, Link can magically trade places with an item, making for some really interesting puzzles.
Both Oracle games also introduce Magic Rings, and while rings did play a role in The Legend of Zelda, here they add more depth. Wearing rings will change Link’s attributes in some way. Some rings will allow Link to recover lost hearts, while another increase the damage inflicted with a bomb. There are over 60 rings to collect across both games, an element that encourages you to take advantage of the ability to link your adventures together to form one gigantic journey.
While I can’t fully discuss the ability to link both games together in this review – keep an eye out for our Oracle of Seasons review for that – I will say that I absolutely love the idea. I do know that a different ending and additional boss fights await the player in a linked game, no matter which game is played first.
As mentioned above, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages has a fantastic soundtrack, which includes the aforementioned dungeon themes, but the game is also visually impressive. While it isn’t the prettiest Game Boy Color game, it takes advantage of the hardware’s strengths, including some great color-based puzzles and detailed sprites.
4.5/5 D-Pads: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages is a must play game for all Zelda fans, and one of a few excellent Game Boy Color titles. It introduces many brilliant items to the series, has a number of brilliantly crafted dungeons and puzzles, and has many memorable dungeon themes. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages is $5.99 on the Nintendo eShop and should take gamers nearly 16 hours to complete. Pair the game with The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and you get an epic, handheld adventure for $12, a worthy investment for any Zelda fan.