NuMetalManiak reviews: Link's Awakening and the Oracle games.

NuMetalManiak
Well, in two days I'll be on vacation, meaning I won't be able to set foot in RPGs like I usually do. Therefore, when I am traveling, I will stick to the Zelda games, particularly the first game, A Link to the Past, and what I am reviewing right now. These three games, all for the GBC (one on the regular GB, actually), are all underrated gems in the Zelda franchise. We've got Link's Awakening, which I played the DX version, in GBC, as well as Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, developed not only by Nintendo but also partially by Capcom. These are not in my RPG reviews series in a sense because I like to keep those reviews for much larger games, plus I like to go into smaller franchises, and Zelda is pretty popular. So without further ado, here it is.

You can expect the usual Zelda gameplay if you are a fan of the classic 2d games like A Link to the Past. Link gets his sword, his shield, his boomerang, yadda yadda yadda, upgrades, trading sequence, get eight of these special plot-devices so Link can take on the final boss. If anything, the three of these games are simply more ways to experience the original game, except of course with more fleshed out story. One thing I really liked in the GB Zelda games, every dungeon had its own music. This was great, as it's quite boring to hear the same tune in each dungeon in previous games. Later titles do this too, for all the fans out there. Another thing I enjoyed, mini-bosses. Each dungeon had one, and it's a minor challenge at some points

Let's start with Link's Awakening. I played the DX version, so of course I got the color aspect of it. There's no Zelda at all in this game, as Link had awakened on Koholint Island all washed up. The game introduces such characters such as Marin, Tarin, and Ulrira, and even featured some pretty strange cameos of things from other Nintendo games. Mario enemies and characters appear for some reason, and I think Dr. Wright was also in this. A number of sidequests are in Link's Awakening, like the one involving photos, the really good one with secret seashells, and the trading sequence. You might laugh at the prize upon finishing it, but I'll tell ya, this is the most overpowered boomerang ever. I have no idea what they were thinking as the boomerang was a lot weaker in most titles, here, it can kill most enemies, AND EVEN THE FINAL BOSS, in one hit. The plot centralizes on waking the Wind Fish, getting eight instruments and getting rid of the nightmares. This game has quite a sad ending though since the whole island disappears when it's all over, and this is implied by quite a few bosses you defeat in the game. Quite a few unique bosses that use your dungeon items, I wouldn't say there were any that were too frustrating, except maybe that Slime Eel in Catfish's Maw. All in all, enjoyable Zelda game.

Now onto the Oracle games. The way they are set up is that you play one (doesn't matter which one) first, and then you play the other. I have decided to play both separately, but maybe I'll try the Linked game (get it) feature later. I started with Seasons. Here, the character Din is taking by an evil general known as Anox and is basically kidnapped for the rest of the game. Link gets these "essences" to power up the Maku Tree in this game, and then gets a huge Maku Nut before finally taking on Anox. The same plot does NOT happen in Ages, instead the Oracle of Ages, Nayru, gets possessed by the villain, Veran, in this game, and over the course there is some plot instances that were more fleshed out around here. Of course, the essences and the Maku Tree ideas still remain. Ages had quite a lot of plot going on in it when compared to seasons.

Now both games have their strengths and weaknesses. Oracle of Seasons had the Rod of Seasons, which is the central item allowing for changes in seasons in the world map (Holodrum). It also had the incredibly wacky and weird underground world known as Subrosia. Oracle of Ages had the Harp of Ages, another musical item, and basically follows after Ocarina of Time (remember that that game came out before both of these two) with past and present worlds (Labrynna). I think Seasons wins out on this trope.

Now onto the villains, Anox is this killer-looking general, but he only seemed to serve a purpose for taking Din and sitting out the rest of the game until the very end. Dude, Ganon basically beat you to the punch a long time ago. Veran on the other hand was a much better villain, one who took over the bodies of certain characters, and one who was much more active. She clearly had her mind set on chaos, doing her thing while Anox was the guy who would just sit back. When it comes to fighting the two, however, Anox is the winner. He's only fought twice, once normally, but his final form is this FREAKING ROCK DRAGON and it is epic and very much worth the final challenge. Veran gets fought up to four times in the course of ages, the first two times possessing someone's body. Those fights required a bit of guesswork if you are not using a guide, since you need certain items to do it. The final forms of Veran, yes there's several, were actually a bit disappointing. Nothing humongously gigantic or as entertaining, and actually a lot easier than Anox.

Now onto dungeons and items. The creators put some effort into giving some interesting dungeon designs. Unicorn's Cave looks like a Unicorn's head. Mermaid Cave looks like a mermaid. Skull Dungeon looks like a skull. The Sword & Shield Maze looks like, well, a sword and a shield. As I said before it's lovely that each dungeon has it's own specific music, and I really like a lot of them, especially the Skull Dungeon and Mermaid Cave music in Oracle of Ages. As far as puzzles go, Oracle of Seasons has some very tough ones, but most of the dungeons are far more combat-oriented, which I found problematic at times. Ages on the other hand had much more to offer in puzzles, and was pretty rad at times. Most of the bosses in Oracle of Seasons are actually staple bosses from the first Zelda, though the ways of slaying each one are far more different this time around. Ages had all unique bosses.

The GB Zelda games were the first to introduce the Roc's Feather, an item for jumping. Does Link really need this? Well, there's 2d side-scrolling segments, so yes. Oracle of Seasons also introduced the Roc's Cape that had further flight. Link's Awakening had the staple items, but the Oracle games did without quite a few such as the bow & arrows and the hookshot. In place of the bow, there's these seeds, each do a different thing if you just use them, but in the Oracle games they can be shot out via a slingshot in Seasons, or a seed shooter in Ages. The slingshot is kinda boring but the hyper slingshot you get later allows for a spread fire. The seed shooter is quite interesting in that seeds bounce and it can be aimed diagonally. Seasons did not have any hook-like weapon, but it did also introduce the magnetic glove. I'm not a fan of it personally, but it paved way for some unique puzzles. Ages had the switchhook and its longer variant. This was an incredibly unique item, functions like a hookshot, but immediately trades places with the target, allowing for more puzzles (again). Quite a lot of good items huh? I haven't gotten everything though, as I heard that in a Linked game in the Oracle games, you can get such things as Bombchus and Biggoron's Sword.

A few things in the Oracle games are unique. You can plant what's known as gasha seeds, which are large teardrop-shaped things that can grow into nuts which have items. Also you can run into Maple, the witch apprentice, and compete against her when retrieving items. It can be fun, but what I hate about these two mechanics is that a Piece of Heart is from both of them and rewards are always randomized. Some of the rewards are actually rings. There's a shop in both games for appraising rings, which can all do certain things, such as benefits and penalties, or just silly novelty rings that turn Link into a Like Like, an Octorok, a Subrosian, etc. Also unique, animal companions. There's Moosh, the flying bear, Ricky, the kick-ass kangaroo, and Dimitri, the helpful swimming ace. Only one of these will permanently be Link's companion and can be called via flute if necessary. I like Dimitri for his good swimming ability and that he can kill enemies in the water.

Don't pass up the opportunity to check these games out, especially if you are a long time fan of 2d Zelda classics. Same, but different.

Comments

Good review, the only one of those I own is seasons. - Skullkid755

JUST USE AN EMULATOR - xandermartin98

I'll be doing the Linked Game soon. And I will be doing BOTH Linked games (Ages to Seasons, and Seasons to Ages). There's some secret stuff in both Linked games and I dabbled with it while on vacation. My next RPG review will be on one of the following:

Odin Sphere
Lufia: The Legend Returns
Wild ARMs 3 - NuMetalManiak

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