Looking Back – The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages

Greetings, adventurers, and welcome to just a small part of something very awesome! Just like Oracle of Ages is only one part of a grander game, this article is one piece of a massive project headed by NekoJonez to look back on all of the Legend of Zelda games over the years. Lots of bloggers are involved and sharing their memories with this delightful series, so if you love Zelda and want to see what everyone is sharing, you’ve got to head to Neko’s blog and check out the hub article. Also, if you like the art for the featured image today, credit goes to an artist called ZoeF on DeviantArt. Go check out his other stuff!

Zelda handhelds sit in this awkward sort of realm where they tend to be totally respected or totally ignored. Many fans I know of would refer to Link’s Awakening as their favorite Zelda game, while there are others who have never swung a sword on their GameBoy. I lie somewhere in the middle – when I was a kid, I personally had a tough time figuring out the GameBoy Zelda titles. The console games were more approachable, more colorful, and so I mostly ignored Link’s handheld adventures. However, something about Oracle of Ages drew me in and made me want to play it.

I remember the opening sequence well. The Link of this timeline is an established hero, having just defeated Ganon and saved the kingdom of Hyrule. Yet there’s something that’s not quite right – another realm needs the hero’s aid, and being the good guy that he is, Link and his Triforce of Courage march right over to Labrynna to save it from whatever terrors have beset it.

Oracle of Ages Opening
Mmm, dem grafiks

Right upon entering this strange world Link is immediately met by Impa, who begs him to remove a mighty stone to free someone who has been trapped, a beautiful girl named Nayru. Always ready to help a beautiful girl, Link pushes the stone aside with the power of the Triforce and leads Impa right to Nayru. The problem? Impa’s body is possessed by the spirit of a powerful sorceress called Veran, and this woman now has direct access to Nayru. What’s so special about Nayru, you ask? Because she possesses the power to control time itself, Veran can use her abilities to go to any time she desires.

So begin Link’s adventures in Labrynna. Veran is a cruel and capable enemy who uses her ability to possess people to occupy key positions of power in many important time periods. In particular, this gives her the ability to build The Black Tower in the past and use it in order to take over the present and future. The only way for Link to combat time travel is to use it himself, and so he takes up the Harp of Ages in order to manipulate time and combat Veran’s stolen power.

Veran
You can tell she’s evil because her cleavage is showing. Also, can we take a second to acknowledge the sheer impracticality of that cape?

I’m a stone-cold sucker for time travel, so you know this game was right up my alley when it came out. The Harp of Ages is a great item and it along with Sheik’s presence in Ocarina of Time gave me a weird thing about wanting to play the harp for awhile. Of course, there were other lovable items in this game, and my favorite of all was the Seed Shooter. Something about the idea of growing these magical seeds out in nature and then utilizing them to accomplish different tasks really appealed to me. Plus being able to ricochet seeds off of different surfaces and hit enemies at weird angles was totally awesome.

Oracle of Ages was also the first Zelda game I ever played that featured the Roc’s Feather, and I thought that Link jumping was basically the coolest thing in the entire world. I mean, jumping is the secret to why Mario is so cool, right? Combine that with Link’s arsenal and you have a truly unstoppable force. An additional piece of Link’s arsenal this time around is the ability to call a variety of animal companions who can help you in different ways.

The different companions in the game are Moosh (a flying bear), Dimitri (a swimming dodongo), and Ricky (the most original of all: a boxing kangaroo). Honestly, Dimitri doesn’t stand out that much in my memories, but I do remember Ricky pretty clearly and Moosh was my favorite as a kid. Moosh’s ability to fly across long gaps is certainly beneficial for Link, plus he has the advantage of being cute and huggable. I also love the impracticality of a bear with wings – Moosh is definitely the most ridiculous animal companion and it’s totally awesome.

Moosh
Now that’s my kind of pet!

I think part of the reason I had an easier time with the Oracle games compared to other Zelda handhelds of the time is because I had the official strategy guide. Before the internet became infinitely more practical for gaming advice and guides, strategy guides were a pretty normal part of my gaming experience and I had quite a few of them for Zelda games. The Oracle guide stood out because it was “reversible,” so to speak – half of the book was the Oracle of Ages guide and half was the Oracle of Seasons guide. To change games you just flip it over, and it was pretty nifty because you just needed one strategy guide for both games AND for the extra content you unlocked by linking them. I loved to read that guide and since I never had a way to link up Ages and Seasons to find out their finale, reading that guide was how I discovered the true ending.

If you enjoyed this look back on Oracle of Ages, I highly encourage you to check out the retrospective that NekoJonez has organized. He also wrote an article dedicated to Oracle of Seasons that you can check out, which goes more into detail about the history of these two games. I encourage you to share any of your memories of Oracle of Ages here in the comments – it was a really fun game and I imagine that many reading this have favorite moments to share. Thanks for reading, adventurers!

7 thoughts on “Looking Back – The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages

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  1. Hah, Oracle of Ages. My 2nd Zelda game I ever played. I have to be honest, I didn’t need a strategy guide, not even once. While this game is more puzzle based, I was able to beat it without a problem.

    Funny story, the more action based Oracle of Seasons, I did have problems with to beat the puzzles and with that game, I used a walkthrough. And, my English wasn’t the best then and I didn’t know the word walkthrough yet. So I needed up typing into google things like: “how to get X in The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons Nintendo Gameboy Color” Yeah.

    My finest memory about this game is that I actually tried to make a full game out of those title puzzles from this game. You know where you had to walk on each tile once and you couldn’t go back? Yup, I tried to code a whole game about that. I never made more than 4-5 levels and a few textures. So, it’s incomplete and unplayable.

    I have a lot of memories with this game and I could write a whole article about it, but I’m going to summarize it with saying this: “The Oracle games are my favorite Zelda games ever made. They hit the best spots in my childhood and created so many memories, I’ll never forget them.”

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  2. I think this may have actually been the first Zelda game I played, but I was way too young to realise what it really was and ended up taking it back to the store without playing it all that much (this was back when you could rent games for a weekend). I love that the strategy guide was reversible; I really miss those old things. And even though I realise it’s better for the environment, I miss when game boxes included little manuals with weird little tidbits about the story and stuff. Used to just lock myself away when I got a new game and obsessively read through the manual before ever booting it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Two of my favorites of ALL TIME! I cannot believe the lack of respect these games generally get in conversation, especially considering the high regard at which Link’s Awakening was held. They were on the same darn system, after all.

    I recently sniped an eBay auction with Oracle of Seasons with that double-sided guidebook you spoke of! And man it’s a thing of beauty. I never had or played Seasons as a kid (only Ages) but Seasons brought me right back to it when I played it a few years ago on an emulator. The colors and palette swaps were just something else – as a kid it would have blown my mind, where even as an adult it wow’d me.

    They’re such perfect companion games. I wish Nintendo’d do something like it again! I never vote for remasters much, but I’d love to modernize those two games, if for no other reason than to make their existence known.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems like the handheld games get looked over sometimes despite having some really solid entries into the series. I certainly enjoyed Ages and I was always disappointed in my youth that I didn’t have a way to snag Seasons and get the true ending.

      Liked by 1 person

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