The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages

Can we take a moment to appreciate how uniquely incredible the circumstances of Zelda’s Oracle duology are? It looks for all the world like a Pokémon­-style “one game for the price of two” scenario, but instead, both games are distinct, full-fledged products (with a bunch of neat connectivity bonuses between them) developed and released simultaneously. Even more surprisingly, they’re both genuinely good games. I don’t think there’s a single other instance of this in gaming. For what it’s worth, Oracle of Ages is the weaker of the two, as its era-switching central mechanic isn’t as fresh as season-switching in Oracle of Seasons, and it has a comparatively subpar soundtrack. It’s still absolutely worth playing, however.

Ocarina of Time may have dulled the impact of future attempts at playable time travel, but the mechanic is still used in a number of interesting ways here. Being largely built on the shoulders of Link’s Awakening ensures that the baseline gameplay is solid, as are the aesthetics (at least by Game Boy standards). From there, it’s further enhanced by the inclusion of animal companions, a couple of nifty new items, and some of the best 2D level design in the series’ history. The challenge level is also on par with the franchise’s best, although the story is possibly the worst of them all. And I’m including in that the barely-present NES plots, because those at least didn’t have characters with godlike powers that function only as damsels in distress.

7/10
7/10

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