I sometimes get the feeling that the handheld entries in the Legend Of Zelda series aren't really remembered as fondly as the console ones. Well, that's not quite fair. I think everyone knows and loves Link's Awakening. But I'm sort of in shock when I hear a Zelda fan say that they haven't played A Link Between Worlds yet. And I've heard that - in 2018. It's weird. And really when I think about it I just don't feel like all those portable titles that happened between Link's Awakening and Link Between Worlds are really a very big part of the conversation. It's like they're just kind of there. They exist, but they're easily forgotten as opposed to the titles we always come back to - the Ocarinas and what have you.
I know for certain that I played Oracle Of Ages back in the day; I remember it quite fondly. And while I also know for a fact that I OWNED Oracle Of Seasons, I'm now not entirely certain that I ever got around to playing it back then. So it was a fun little surprise when I linked my Nintendo ID to my New 2DS XL and found out that for some reason I owned Oracle Of Seasons on the Virtual Console. I had no memory of acquiring that one (or Metroid either apparently), but it turns out that I owned Oracle Of Seasons TWICE and never got around to playing it.
So I finally got around to booting up Oracle Of Seasons last night. It immediately has that sort of Link's Awakening look - basically 8bit LTTP - no big surprise given the hardware. And of course it has that unmistakable GBC pallet. It's cute as fuck, but it's not super hand-holdy either. It doesn't explicitly point you in any direction too often. Much of your quest is going to rely on talking to NPC's and poking around on your own - at least early on. This isn't good or bad, it just is. Compared to Link To The Past which I just completed again this past week, it feels like it's slightly more obtuse. There aren't a lot of moments in LTTP where you don't know where to go next for instance. It feels like Seasons requires a bit more experimentation (unless it's just that I know LTTP a lot better already). But I mean I found myself in an area that required a boomerang... and it turns out that that rhythm mini-game that I assumed was optional was how to get the damn thing. Hmm. So maybe it's just that. Maybe things that WOULD be optional in LTTP are just the meat and potatoes here and I need to switch my brain to that way of thinking.
At any rate, the game itself feels really great. The visuals are excellent and the controls are tight and responsive. Link's Awakening is an undisputed classic within a series filled with classics, and so far Oracle Of Seasons feels like a solid follow up to that one. So I'm happy to be playing this one right now. I'm probably two or three hours in already, and so far I've beaten the first major dungeon, and am now dicking around in the second one. I've found the bracelet that lets you lift heavy objects, and I know where the boss is but I seem to have missed a key somewhere so I need to backtrack a bit.
Delving back into Oracle Of Seasons, I beat the Snake's Remains dungeon. So now I've got the strong bracelet. The boss battle was kind of interesting, but not overly difficult to figure out. Though I find switching weapons mid-battle cumbersome. See, I'm so used to having the sword be B and the secondary weapon being A, that I'm still not used to just equipping two secondaries as A and B. I forget you can do that. And it seems weird in my head. So I kept having to switch between bombs and bracelet in that fight just because I think of them as A-button weapons.
Moving on, it was mentioned that I should head to a swamp to the west. There's still a lot of the overworld map left unexplored. Yikes. I can't say that I find the flow of Seasons all that great. Not that I want a super-linear Zelda game exactly. But I don't know - I feel like compared to Link To The Past or Link's Awakening, I find myself sort of 'lost' more often in Oracle Of Seasons. Then again, I know those games pretty inside-and-out from playing them so much over the years. I also don't recall having the same problem with Oracle Of Ages - of course I played that like a decade ago so who knows.
I'll probably just find a guide to point me to each new dungeon. I like the dungeons in this game far more than I like exploring its overworld.
My reinvigorated enthusiasm for Oracle Of Ages has rather quickly diminished. I spent some more time with it last night, but I wasn't really sure where to go. The swamp out west was mentioned so I headed there. And I found it... kind of. But I wasn't sure how to enter. There was no tree stumps around to let me change seasons, but it seemed like that's probably what had to be done. And on that note, I guess I should concede that probably my biggest hang-up with this game is that most of the overworld stuff does revolve around changing the seasons - not a shocker, given the title. But I don't especially care for this stuff. I get that it sort of riffs on the time-bending in LTTP, Ocarina Of Time and Majora's Mask. But I don't find it especially fun. Honestly, I just kind of want to go from one dungeon to the next, find the item in that dungeon that I need to beat the boss, rinse and repeat.
So I figured I'd check look up a walkthrough to help see what I should be going next. And then the walkthrough said that next I should be meeting three animals and deciding which will be my companion. And that two of the animals required doing side quests to get to them. And so I wondered if I could skip those two and just go for the one that doesn't require side quests, but reading through pages of the walkthrough I couldn't quite figure out how to skip straight to that part. And finally, I just decided that this seems like 'work' and I'm not really having fun with it. I don't think Oracle Of Seasons is the 2D Zelda game that I want it to be. And that's not the game's fault. But eh, I'm kind of all set I think.