Monday, March 5, 2012

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages

After defeating Onox, the General of Darkness in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, I learned that my quest was just beginning and that Onox was a mere pawn in a larger plan crafted by the witches Kotake and Koume, collectively known as Twinrova (remember them from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?). When Onox fell, the flame of Destruction was lit and Twinrova was one step closer to their goal of resurrecting the Evil King, but two flames were still unlit. That was until I used the password I earned from beating Oracle of Seasons to then play The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages as a sequel.

As I previously mentioned in my Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons blog, when the Oracle games were first released I wasn’t really exposed to them like I had been previous Zelda titles. 2001 was a busy year for me, and unfortunately I really didn’t spend too much of it gaming. Thankfully, eleven years later I have enough time, or at least I can now make the time needed to play the games that I missed or want to replay and that has led me to start my own personal quest to beat all of The Legend of Zelda games. Not in their newly released chronological order mind you, but in the order that they were first released and the order I would’ve originally played them. I ask myself a similar question now with The Legend of Zelda as I find myself asking with The Star Wars saga: which order will I expose my kids to them? Will I let them see and experience them in the same way I did? Or will I let them have a different experience with them than my own and go with the chronology? I mean, with Star Wars this has some epic consequences watching them in order, opposed to watching them the way they were released. Remember seeing Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes back for the first time and finding out that Darth Vader was really Luke’s father? How mind blowing was that? Now picture watching that after seeing Episodes I, II, & III; it just doesn’t have the same effect. Really, it doesn’t have any effect anymore. It’s more like “yeah I know, Darth Vader’s Luke’s father. I just watched the trilogy that explained that. What else ya got?” So something that was once so amazing is now just lost on a new audience. Is there a big reveal that you’d be robbed of like that in the new Legend of Zelda chronology? I’m not sure (if you can think of one please feel free to post in the comments section). I haven’t completed my quest yet, but doesn’t it seem weird (similar to Star Wars) that you’d start with the newest game and work your way backwards? I’m not sure how I’ll let my kids experience these epic parts of my youth yet, but I do know one thing: they will experience them both. Now what were we talking about? Oh yeah, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages.
After completing the quest in Holodrum, once again the Triforce calls out transporting Link to the kingdom of Labrynna (still yet another adventure outside of Hyrule) where we find Princess Zelda’s nursemaid Impa being attacked by Octoroks. The creatures quickly disperse as Link approaches and Impa (who must’ve forgotten you from your encounter in Holodrum) tells you what you already know; the Triforce symbol on your left hand means you’re a Hyrulean hero and that must be what scared the Octoroks off (kinda funny that logic never seems to work again). She then asks you to help her on her quest to find a singer named Nayru.  Not far into your quest, you find a rock that also has the Triforce symbol on it blocking the route to Nayru’s house and for some reason Impa isn’t able to move it. Maybe it’s because she isn’t a true Hyrulean (she’s actually a Sheikah) or maybe it’s for another reason. Either way, Impa asks Link to move the Triforce rock and he does so easily. With the Triforce rock moved, Link and Impa continue their quest and encounter a group of forest animals surrounding the singer Nayru. This is also where you meet Ralph for the first time (Really? With all of the other great names they’ve come up with, Ralph is the best they could do?) who introduces himself as a friend of Nayru and whose path will cross yours throughout the game. After the round of introductions is over, Impa begins to act strangely as a shadow rises from her and reveals itself to be Veran, the Sorceress of Shadows (so that’s why Impa wasn’t able to move the Triforce rock or Sacred Barrier). Veran then takes possession over Nayru the Oracle of Ages and causes a disruption in the time stream.  This is where Link then receives his shield from Impa (remember this is a password linked game, originally he’d receive his sword) and heads to Lynna City to speak with the Maku Tree (this time a female tree opposed to the male tree in Oracle of Seasons). But before Link can get the information needed, The Maku Tree is attacked in the past and he must travel back in time to prevent it. After Link saves the Maku Tree, he learns he must recover the eight Essences of Time in order to defeat Veran and restore the time flow of Labrynna, and now the adventure continues.
After playing The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons I was prepared for maybe a little bit of a struggle in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, but then again I had read that Seasons is more of an adventure game and Ages is more of a puzzle game so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was happy to start the game off with four hearts instead of three, but even happier when I could transfer the rings I had already collected in Seasons to my new saved file in Ages. The ability to transfer rings made it so not only did the game really feel like a continuation of the first, but also gave me a pretty nice arsenal to start the game with (if you remember from my Oracle of Seasons blog, I quested for the Red Ring and it was quite powerful - more on that to follow). Similar to Oracle of Seasons, there were characters from previous games in Oracle of Ages. In Seasons they were from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, in Ages they were from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Notable characters were The Postman, The Hand in the Toilet, Tingle, The Happy Mask Salesman and Mamamu Yan (the previous two characters were actually in both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask). There were also some characters that traveled from Seasons to Ages, like the two good witches Maple and Syrup. Other characters that helped the game seem more like a sequel were Bipin and Blossom who had moved to Lynna city from their home in Horon Village and brought with them their son who was a baby I named in Seasons, that is now a teenager in Ages (if you’re curious I named him after my cat Riku). The Great Moblin that I defeated in Seasons is also back in Ages and doesn’t want to lose to the same punk who already beat him once before. And Moosh, who was my friendly beast companion in Seasons, was back as my ride in Ages. But the coolest thing that really helped The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages feel like a sequel was the password linked power-ups. Now, playing the game alone made this part kind of a pain because I had to decide when to stop playing Ages and go back to Seasons, but transferring passwords and then items back and forth between the games was fun. But before I say too much more…

It was really nice how they blended the password linked characters into the storyline so you’d encounter them naturally in most cases and not have to go out of your way to find them, at least in the game you were currently playing. For example, when I found the Ghost outside the Spirit’s Grave in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, he gave me a password to share with a ghost that was hiding in the Holodrum graveyard in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. This meant I spent a good deal of time going back and forth between game packs collecting secrets and then using the power-ups to help me through The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages. It also meant I was a lot stronger in Ages and made it through the game a lot faster and died a lot less (10 times in Ages in comparison to the 60 times I died in Seasons). Now, did this take the fun out of the game? Not at all, it actual made the game quite enjoyable and might’ve made it feel even fresher than it would’ve been if I played both of the Oracle games straight without linking them.  That being said though, I will admit that compared to my battle with Onox, my fight with Veran was little more than a skirmish.
When you first battle Veran in her Queen Ambi form, the fight is very similar to your previous battle against the Possessed Nayru before you start level seven. In other words, you’ve already fought Veran this way and it isn’t really hard. You fire Mystery Seeds at the Possessed Queen Ambi and when the shadow of Veran rises out of the body, you draw it towards you with your long hook and then lash at her with your sword; easy enough. And when defeated, she takes on her second form of a Winged Demon. Thanks to the password linking, I was already equipped with the Red Ring (the same ring I used to take down Onox) and made short work of her second form (although I will admit I took some damage attempting to dodge her fireballs). Then, similar to your battle in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, there is a brief moment of calm before you fight Veran for the third and final time. Unlike Onox this fight couldn’t have been easier (Red Ring again). I killed Veran in her turtle form and never even got to see her spider or bee form (too easy? Maybe, but then again I could’ve removed my ring). With Veran defeated, the game was over… Oh wait, it wasn’t. With Veran defeated it allowed Twinrova to ignite the second flame, the Flame of Sorrow, and allow their plan to resurrect the Evil King to come to fruition. While you’re busy celebrating your victory, Twinrova kidnaps Princess Zelda and plans on sacrificing her in order to raise Ganon from the dead, which lights the third flame, the Flame of Despair. With all three flames lit, you have no choice but to try and stop Twinrova before Ganon is resurrected.
The Twinrova battle for me was way more challenging than defeating Veran. Maybe it was because I wasn’t very good at shooting gallery mini-games and the first part of this battle used the same mechanics - you had to use your sword to reflect the icy blasts of Kotake the Sorceress of Ice into Koume the Sorceress of Flame and vice versa. I didn’t take much damage during this part of the battle, but man did it take me awhile (almost as long as it took me to defeat Ramrock, the boss of the Ancient Tomb). Once you have enough hits against Kotake and Koume, they merge to become Twinrova and the second part of the battle begins - this is where I died against them and had to try again. When you hit Twinrova with your sword it doesn’t actually damage them, it only stops them from attacking you; you have to hit them with scent seeds after you stop their attack to do any damage. I didn’t realize this at first and charged in sword slashing and got my butt handed to me. Needless to say, the Red Ring doesn’t do too much during this battle. Once I figured out the battle mechanics, I was able to bring Twinrova down on my second attempt, which meant only one thing: on to the main event… The battle with the king of evil himself: the resurrected Ganon.
I don’t know what it is about fighting Ganon that makes a game so satisfying, but when the game doesn’t end with a Ganon battle it’s just not the same for me (Zelda II: Adventure of Link and Majora’s Mask, both great endings but missing something). So when Ganon appeared threatening to “destroy all, kill all,” I was at the edge of my seat. Sadly, my Red Ring factored into this battle and I was able to fell Ganon faster than I did with the silver arrows in the Original Legend of Zelda.


With the Evil King Ganon defeated by mighty Master Sword yet again and the three kingdoms of Holodrum, Labrynna, and Hyrule saved, my quest through The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Ages was complete… or was it? When the titles ended, I was actually given a new password: the Hero’s Secret. If you use it in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages it begins your quest again, but this time with a Triforce symbol next to your game save as well as four hearts and the Victory Ring (proves he defeated Ganon). This allows you to play the games again in reverse order, something that maybe I can do once my larger quest is complete but for now, I can hear the Great Sea calling my name.