The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is one of two Legend of Zelda titles released by Capcom for the GameBoy Color, as a part of their Oracle Series. Released near the end of the system’s life, the pair of games were said to send the GameBoy Color out with a bang. The game had a few features that were available only when playing on a GameBoy Advance in anticipation of the new console’s release, such as the Advance Shop.
After completing one of the two games in the series, they can be linked to form a single, linear plot (as opposed to two parallel ones) with an alternate ending. Game-linking also unlocks extra content, like new items. This game is named after its central character Din, Oracle of Seasons, and the element that is manipulated by Link in this game, the four seasons.
Oracle of Seasons opens with in the same manner as Oracle of Ages, with Link riding a horse. He spies Hyrule Castle on the horizon. Heading inside, he is sent by the Triforce to a land being ravaged by the ruthless General Onox. Link is teleported to the land of Holodrum and, after a bit of exploring, discovers a traveling troupe. After hanging around and dancing with the troupe’s main attraction, Din, the sky becomes dark and Onox strikes. In the ensuing chaos, Din, who is revealed to be the oracle of ages, gets kidnapped and taken to Onox’s mountain fortress, becoming imprisoned inside a crystal. As a result, the Temple of Seasons falls into the earth and the seasons of the land become erratic.
Link embarks on a quest to save Din and restore order. The young hero learns from the Maku Tree that in order to reach the center of Onox’s fortress, he needs to collect eight Essences of Nature. While in the process of clearing dungeons, Link spies a shady character amongst some weeds, and in following her, he comes across the land of Subrosia. It is there that he finds the missing Temple of Seasons. He takes the Rod of Seasons borrowed from the temple, and learns to control the seasons to aid in his quest to retrieve the eight Essences.
After finishing the last of the dungeons and defeating Onox and his evil dragon alter-ego, Din is released and the seasons resume their normal flow. However, the adventure isn’t close to finished. The Flame of Destruction is already lit by the chaos Onox caused. Observing Link from afar, a mysterious pair laughs, saying that the true evil had yet to arrive. This adventure carried on in a linked game of Oracle of Ages (or continues from a linked game of Seasons if Ages was played first.)
The two games of the Oracle Series retain many gameplay elements from Link’s Awakening (especially the DX version,) such as the graphics, audio, and top-view perspective. Oracle of Seasons is said to be more action based, and Oracle of Ages is said to be more puzzle based. As in Link’s Awakening, items are assigned to the A and B buttons via the inventory. Unlike certain games of the series, there is no specific slot for each item within the inventory. Collected Rupees, health, and the two equipped items are shown on an interface that is in a yellow bar on the top of the screen (similar to Link’s Awakening, which had the bar on the bottom.)
Oracle of Seasons shares the common ground with many Zelda games in that there are eight regular dungeons and a large overworld map to explore in between. The game’s world composed of a 14×14 grid-like map, which fills in as Link enters various areas. Link is guided by the Maku Tree, an important character both in Oracle of Seasons and Ages, who directs Link to the next dungeon along with a few other things. The Oracle Series, like many games in the Zelda series, features a trading sequence.
One particular feature of both Oracle games is the fact that certain choices made on the adventure will affect an outcome later on, making for various possible scenario in a single play-through. Among these are the animal companions that will accompany Link on his adventure (either Moosh, Dimitri, or Ricky,) and the growth of Bipin and Blossom’s son. These choices will affect the passwords obtained for a linked game.
The Rod of Seasons is the central item within Oracle of Seasons. With it, Link can manipulate the four seasons, allowing him to solve various puzzles on his quest. For example, a path that may be blocked by a large deciduous tree can by bypassed in the winter when its leaves have fallen. When Link obtains the rod, he only initially has the power to change the season to winter. The rest of the Seasons (which allow access to new locations) are acquired from the Temple of Seasons as the game progresses.
Another unique feature of the Oracle series is the appearance of Magic Rings to be collected by Link on his quest. These rings provide Link with a variety of bonuses and abilities when worn, giving the game an RPG-like flair. Some rings augment strength or defense, others provide specific bonuses such as not sliding on frozen floors. Others like the Cursed Ring actually give a decrease to Link’s abilities, adding an extra challenge. Others offer a change of Link’s appearance. There are a total of 64 rings to be found throughout Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, some requiring the use of linked games to obtain, others requiring the use of a GameBoy Advance.
Gasha Seeds are another thing that is unique to the Oracle games. They can be planted in soft soil throughout Holodrum or Labrynna. After a while, the tree will mature and Link can collect the Gasha Nut that the tree will produce. Inside, Link can find a variety of goods, like Rupees or Magic Rings.
An important element of gameplay in Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons is their unique ability to link together to form one linear plot, as opposed to two parallel ones. After one game is completed, the other can be linked to it using passwords provided by the game or a Game Link Cable. Linked games unlock additional content not seen in the separate games. Among the most notable changes in a linked game is the extended ending, or ‘true ending,’ where Twinrova and Ganon are encountered.
In a linked game of Oracle of Seasons, new characters appear in Holodrum. These characters will tell Link secrets in the form of passwords, which can be relayed to characters on a completed file of Oracle of Ages. By doing do, Link can obtain new items not seen in a non-linked game. The reverse occurs if Seasons is played first and Ages second. Passwords obtained during a linked game depend on the choices made by Link on his adventure. Therefore, passwords identify a specific play-through, assuring that Link will have the same animal partner in the linked game as the completed one, among other things.
Oracle of Seasons and Ages were the first Zelda titles to be developed by a third party. They were designed by Capcom, who went on to later develop two more titles for the series, Four Swords and the Minish Cap. Capcom director Yoshiki Okamoto actually approached Shigeru Miyamoto with a proposal to remake the original The Legend of Zelda for the GameBoy Color. Originally, depending on the success of the first title, Capcom would go on to develop their own title from the ground up. However, this idea was rejected, and Capcom went straight into creating their own title. They initially prioritized scenario over gameplay, causing early developmental difficulties, and were further hindered by the GameBoy Color’s narrower screen. They eventually turned to Miyamoto for guidance.
Miyamoto proposed the creation of the “Triforce Series,” a trilogy that would have each game focus on a different gameplay element, relating to one of the three elements of the Triforce (power, wisdom, courage.) What was originally meant to be a remake of The Legend of Zelda became the Chapter of Power, later known as the Mystical Seed of Power, which was action based. The Tale of Power was demonstrated in 1999; it was the only title of the three to be presented. The demo of the game featured Princess Zelda, the keeper of the seasons, captured by Ganon, who stole the Rod of Seasons to manipulate the seasons in order to solve puzzles. Several characters of Oracle of Seasons also make an appearance as well.
The three games were going to interact with each other for additional gameplay via the game-linking system. However, linking three games proved to be too complex, causing the Mystical Seeds of Courage to be cancelled. The Mystical Seeds of Power went on to become Oracle of Seasons, and the Mystical Seeds of Wisdom went on to become Oracle of Ages; the two together became the Oracle Series as we know it today.
Oracle of Seasons is the first and only title to take place in Holodrum. This land is thrown into chaos when Onox captures Din, the Oracle of Seasons, and buries the Temple of Seasons where the Season Spirits lie; this throws the four seasons into disarray, causing them to change erratically.
Holodrum is unique in that it is the only land to feature the four seasons. The world changes with the seasons: lakes freeze in winter, flowers bloom in spring, lakes dry in the summer, and mushrooms are ready to be picked in autumn. With the seasons out of order, Holodrum experiences all seasons at once, and Link can see all of the changes that happen simultaneously.
Being relatively uninhabited, Link interacts with few people outside of Horon Village, home of the guardian Maku Tree. On his quest, Link will travel north into the mountains, where he meets the Gorons of Goron City and the people of the secluded Sunken City, and even the residents of the lower world called Subrosia. Link must travel back and forth between the upper world and Subrosia to gain access to the Temple of Seasons and restore the power of the Rod of Seasons.
There was a limited edition adventure set of the game released, including a copy of both oracle games, a Boomerang, a shirt, two pins, and two skins both for the GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance; it was available for sale only in Europe. It was commercially successful game, selling 3.94 million copies. Reviews for the game averaged around a 9.1 or 9.2 out of 10, receiving a 10 from a few different critics. Oracle of Seasons is rated equal or higher to Ages by both critics and fans, indicating it was better received of the two.
1. In both the chapter book and manga adaptations of the Oracle series, Oracle of Seasons is presented as the first game in the sequence. This is also true for the timeline as presented in Hyrule Historia.