INSiGHT | The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Ages – Linking Between Worlds

By Joshua Callum Jeffery 15.12.2013 3

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With The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds sitting snugly in many 3DS users' systems for the holiday season, fans will be discovering the joys of slipping between alternate worlds to discover hidden gems and secrets. Fancy some of that on a bigger scale? With both Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages readily available on 3DS eShop, now is a great opportunity to get stuck into the great connectivity features that may have been missed when the games first launched.

It may be old, but it's oft forgotten that GameBoy Color classics Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages take the idea of linking between worlds a lot more literally than the latest entry on 3DS. In fact, it may be the first instance in the franchise's long history that the player is given the chance to "link" two games together with an old fashioned Link Cable rather than just linking the protagonist to the player. Luckily, even without a Link Cable it was possible to link journeys together, so players today can still enjoy this "Linked Game" on their own 3DS. How's that for putting the link in Link?

All puns aside, the Oracle series is a couple of Zelda adventures developed and released by joint Capcom/Nintendo developer Flagship back in 2001 (the same that worked on The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap later on GBA). Hot on the heels of 3D hits Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time, the first new 2D Zelda adventures since 1993's Link's Awakening had a lot to live up to - and they easily managed it by creating not only two inspired and fun solo entries, but also doing what no Zelda game had done before. These two Zeldas weren't just similar in release date and titles, they both connected, and not just in story. Once Link completes his journey in either land, Holodrum (Seasons) or Labrynna (Ages), players may notice the sudden appearance of "Secrets"…

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Secrets are long codes that the player can take from either game and enter into the other in order to unlock new content. For example, the first Secret obtained is the one earned for completing either game for the first time. Using this Secret (the Secret to Holodrum, or the Secret to Labrynna) in the other version of the game, the player is able to begin a unique version of that game's adventure with a plot altered to take place after the just-finished one, treating it like a direct sequel. Just finished Oracle of Seasons? Enter the new Secret into Oracle of Ages to have the same Link journey from Holodrum to Labrynna, continuing his adventure, complete with references to his journey in Holodrum, different story elements, altered dungeon and overworld layouts, and even more interestingly, Secret items and weapons not normally available in the solo game! The result works either way - no matter which game is played first - the journey can be continued right away on the other.

It may seem obvious to those who have already discovered the joys of the Linked Game, but this isn't just a little bonus to those who own both. It turns two separate 15 hour adventures into one great 30 hour epic spanning two worlds, 16 dungeons and an abundance of secret goodies to find. Flip it around and two solo games can be turned into what is essentially four unique adventures, two smaller solo games becoming two much bigger linked games in both directions, Seasons to Ages, and Ages to Seasons. To summarise, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages are two 15 hour solo Zelda games that can lead right into one another using the code gained at the end of the game - this changes the second adventure quite considerably and adds bucket-loads of content, giving the player a chance to replay each game from a different starting point so that even the second playthrough of each is a dramatically different experience to the first. If deciding to start with Seasons first and run through to completion of Ages, gamers wouldn't be blamed for wanting to start with Ages first next time to get two unique looks on the games just finished - that's around 60 hours of playtime - a Zelda completionist's dream come true, to be sure.

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Even if there are some who have been there and done that, though, what incentive is there to give it another go on the 3DS? Possibly the most exciting thing about this re-release is how seamless the experience can become thanks to the digital nature of the Virtual Console. As mentioned, the Secret gained at the end of the initial adventure is just one Secret to come across. Along the course of the continued adventure in the Linked Game, there will be NPCs who will share new Secrets, as well as someone in the other game to tell it to. A Secret from an NPC in Ages, for example, can be given to an NPC in Seasons for a lovely secret item. Whilst avoiding spoiling them, those who loved Ocarina of Time's Biggoron's Sword will be happy, and that's just one example of the lovely Secret items and weapons obtainable this way. Even better, the NPC with that item will then reveal the Secret that grants access to that item in the current journey too, really giving a feel that Link is growing more powerful than ever across his multi-title quest.

It sounds confusing, but that's where the digital nature of Virtual Console comes in handy. So long as the Secrets are jotted down somewhere, a phone, a piece of paper, anything, it's easy to quickly suspend one game and open up the other to hand over the Secret, then just as quickly jump back to report to Oracle of Secrets Farore with the new Secret. Oh yeah, Farore. In a regular adventure, a lot of Din or Nayru may be seen, leaving people to wonder what Farore has to do with all this, and it's when the player begins playing around with Secrets that they see a lot more of her and her handy Secret-keeping book. Not just Farore, but the Jeweller in each game's main town can give codes that will help carry the Ring collection between games, making it much easier to collect them all.

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Jumping between games like this feels natural on Virtual Console; pressing the 3DS Home Menu and quickly diving into the other game for something specific before returning back to the main quest really helps it feel like one big adventure with tons of replay value. Heck, A Link Between Worlds is a fantastic game, but no Zelda links between worlds on a bigger scale than Oracle of Seasons and Ages! Whether someone is interested in the franchise's history, missed these gems back when they were first released, or are just a bit of a Zelda Timeline boffin, there's plenty of reason to revisit these classics to scratch that Zelda itch. A solo journey filled with new characters and races, clever dungeons and hidden goodies can become an epic quest sprawling two Lands not seen in any other Zelda game.

Could anyone say no to stopping TwinRova and reuniting with Princess Zelda once more? While the process initially sounds confusing, once getting used to jotting down short codes and hopping between the lands of Holodrum and Labrynna in the blink of an eye, it all starts to flow and become a very unique and seamless experience. Definitely not something fans of 2D Zeldas - even those who have only played one of the two - should pass up!
Box art for The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
Developer

Flagship

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (31 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Comments

Truly fantastic series, but I never did what you mentioned - playing all the permutations. I think I just did Ages, then Seasons!

Where's SirLink? I'm sure he must have some comments!!

Great article, Josh - thoroughly enjoyable read Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Well, I did say just about everything I have to say about these games in my respective reviews. Smilie This feature complements my reviews nicely, though, as I focused more on the individual aspects of each game and not as much on the connectivity between them which was way ahead of their time. They are holding up incredibly well and are still very much worth playing even for newer Zelda fans and that's quite something coming from me as I find it really hard to enjoy most 8-bit games nowadays.

They were very in-depth reviews as well, I recall.

SuperLink was going to initially re-review, but that seemed rather pointless, so instead he thought of this particular angle. Worked quite well!

I think anyone that's enjoyed or is still enjoying A Link Between Worlds would love Ages/Seasons and The Minish Cap, definitely

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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