Available on Nintendo 3DS
Final Rating: 4/5
On May 30, 2013, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages on the Nintendo 3DS E-Shop as Virtual Console titles, 12 years after their initial release for the Game Boy Color. Both games are currently on sale for $4.99 each until June 20.
I’ve been a fan of the Legend of Zelda franchise since I was a kid, with my first game being Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64. However, my experience with the series has been mostly limited to the home console releases.
This is due to the fact that even during the 90s and early 2000s, portable consoles weren’t cheap. We had only one Game Boy Color in our household that was owned by my older brother. Even then, we didn’t have as much access to games like people do today, once again due to the high cost. More often than not, we often had to borrow and trade games with our friends if we wanted to play certain titles. By the time I got my first handheld console, the Game Boy Advance, I had moved on to other games such as Fire Emblem and Metroid Fusion.
The point I’m trying to make is that I’m approaching this game from the perspective of someone who’s never played the Oracle games and therefore doesn’t have the nostalgia attached to it that other gamers might.
Much like Pokemon, this iteration of the Zelda franchise comes in two versions, Oracle of Seasons, which is action-based, and Oracle of Ages, which is puzzle-based.
What made these games unique at the time of their initial release is that games could be played in any order. Upon completing one game, you would be given a password that would transfer your character and some of the items they were carrying into the next game. Doing so would also unlock the “true” final battle against the ultimate villain of both games.
I may get a lot of flack from the gaming community for this, but the Game Boy titles in the franchise haven’t aged as well as the home console enters into franchise.
This is primarily due to the limitations the Game Boy Color had during its heyday, primarily the 4:3 resolution and the simplistic control scheme reminiscent of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Playing it on a 3DS results in a bit of a disconnect at first, given that there are a lot more controls to work with. Nintendo attempted to alleviate this by assigning the functions of the select button to both the select and the Y buttons on the console.
The retro graphics and music are easier to take, as many current generation titles have implemented said aesthetics in varying degrees.
However, once the initial shock of the “limitations” wore off, I was still able to find the classic Zelda charm that the series is known for. What sets this game apart from the later portable Zelda titles is its pick-up-and-play aesthetic, where you’re able to save at anytime, there are several in-game hints and guides to help you if you’re stuck, something the later Zelda games, even on home consoles, have either done away with or overcomplicated over the years.
If you’re looking to explore the earlier entries in the franchise, then this game is definitely worth downloading.
However, if your first game was either Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess, I recommend taking more gradual steps in playing the earlier titles. Making the jump from 3D current generation titles to the 2D titles of yesteryear is stymieing if you’re not used to it. Baby steps people. Baby steps.
It’s a good game that’s worth the $4.99; however, its primary appeal is nostalgia, so it’s probably going to be more interesting to long-time fans than casual players. If you’ve got more that $5 dollars in your E-Shop balance, give this game a try.