Now that The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening has finally released for Switch and is enjoying both critical and fan acclaim, the time has come to think about which Zelda game Nintendo should focus on next. Several contenders still remain in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, Spirit Tracks, and Phantom Hourglass, but there is one other that deserves priority: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. These were the first of the Capcom-developed Zelda games, and so they have a few unique quirks that haven’t been seen in the series since. Twin adventures, special items and power-up features never seen before or since are just the beginning of what The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons can offer the modern Zelda fan.
Twin Adventures, Together at Last
In 2001, The Legend of Zelda: Ages and Seasons launched as two separate titles for the Game Boy Color. Both had similar stories and structure, but differed in their gameplay focus. Oracle of Ages leaned much more heavily on puzzle-solving, while Oracle of Seasons was more action-oriented. This meant it was worth-while to play through both, which was absolutely a good thing since the whole of the story wasn’t revealed unless one took on both adventures.
In the Game Boy Color days, continuing the adventure from one game to the next was done via passwords unlocked after defeating one of the final bosses. Players could then take those passwords into the other game and start up a new adventure that basically picks up right where they left off. Seeing the differences between the normal and altered quests was a great deal of fun at the time, as was scouring the land for additional secret codes for items like special rings or the Biggoron Sword. With a remake/remaster Nintendo could potentially build this up even more by releasing the games as a single, unified experience and use the password system as a basis for some new and interesting gameplay.
Two Worlds, Four Lands
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons take players to the worlds of Labrynna and Holodrum respectively, each a fantastical land not unlike Hyrule with its own problems and secrets. There isn’t just one map in each game though, but rather two. Oracle of Ages’ Labrynna actually comes in two flavors: Past and Present. Meanwhile, Holodrum only represents the surface world of Oracle of Seasons. Once Link finds the right passage, he’ll find himself smack in the middle of “Subrosia” where the hooded Subrosians dwell. In both games, these lands are linked in such a way that they can be treated as a single place rather than two separate realities separated by a traversal mechanic. This makes them better realized than even the Light and Dark worlds in A Link to the Past, with only Hyrule and Lorule from A Link Between Worlds able to compete in terms of puzzle and traversal challenges.
A Kit Like No Other
Every Zelda game has its share of items that are never seen anywhere else in the series, but The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons have a veritable treasure trove of unique gear. Magnetic gloves, gliding capes, time harps, season rods, seed shooters, switch hooks and more accompany the usual Zelda gear in these games, and they all see plenty of use over Link’s adventures. These games follow and expand on the doctrine seen in A Link to the Past rather than Ocarina of Time its 3D successors. Items aren’t just one-off tricks used to get through specific dungeons; opportunities to use them constantly appear, making Link’s collection feel like a real necessity instead of a bunch of mostly useless junk. And that’s all without getting into the ring system! Again, the only other game in the series that can really compete with this design doctrine is A Link Between Worlds, meaning that there’s still a void today that these old Game Boy games can easily fill. That, and using most of these items is just plain fun; instantly switching places with enemies never gets old.
If Nintendo plans to continue remastering/remaking older Zelda games for the Switch, then The Legend of Zelda: Ages and Seasons deserves to be next on the list. It offers players a grand adventure told in a manner unique among Zelda games, one that Nintendo could easily flesh out even more if they wanted. They offer players extremely well-integrated worlds that consistently call upon the whole of Link’s arsenal rather than just a couple of mainstay weapons like the sword or bombs, and there’s actually space for Nintendo to try something new in place of the old password and ring systems. It’s an experience newer Nintendo fans deserve to have, and it offers the developer the perfect chance to try something new and different. With this, everybody would win, Nintendo especially.