The Oracle series is the name given to the two simultaneously released Game Boy Color Legend of Zelda games, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, made by Capcom and Nintendo. The two games of the series are similar in gameplay, but also have unique features of their own. The two games of the Oracle Series have parallel plot-lines and can be played independently, but can be linked together to form a larger story.
Oracle of Ages
- Main article: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
Oracle of Ages follows Twinrova's plot to light the Flame of Sorrow. Their minion, Veran uses her power of possession to take control of Nayru and disrupt the flow of time, causing great pain and sorrow in the land of Labrynna. Her actions lock two periods of time together and alter history. Her ultimate goal is to cause as much sorrow as she can, and increase her own powers by forcing the populace to construct a large tower without rest or mercy. Link must harness the Harp of Ages to control the flows of time and stop Veran from destroying Labrynna.
Gameplay in Oracle of Ages centers on puzzle-solving.
Oracle of Seasons
- Main article: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
Oracle of Seasons follows Twinrova's plot to light the Flame of Destruction. Onox, their servant, plans to abduct Din and sink the Temple of Seasons to throw the seasons of Holodrum into total and complete chaos. Link must wield the Rod of Seasons and master the Essences of Nature to return Holodrum to regularity.
Gameplay in Oracle of Seasons centers on action.
Resurrection of Ganon
The main plot of the Oracle Series as a whole has Twinrova orchestrating an elaborate plot to revive Ganon using their minions they called from darkness, Veran and Onox, to light the Flame of Sorrow and the Flame of Destruction respectively, and the ultimate kidnapping of Princess Zelda, the world's symbol of hope, to light the Flame of Despair. They intend to use the three flames to revive Ganon . Their final move is to sacrifice Zelda to Ganon for him to use as a vessel. When Link saves Zelda, Twinrova decides to sacrifice themselves as vessels for Ganon. Because this is not the way the rites were intended to be done, the revival of Ganon instead results in a fairly mindless version of him that only seeks to destroy everything rather than rule over everyone. Link defeats Ganon, and, along with Princess Zelda, escapes the Room of Rites just before it collapses. This marks the true ending of the Oracle series.
- Main article: Linked Game
A staplepoint of the Oracle Series is its unique ability to interlink using "secrets", or passwords. By linking secrets, Link can work with Farore to obtain rare items which he could not otherwise get. This is also the only way to link both games together into one single plot, as opposed to two alternate ones. To complete the entire series, the two games must be linked together in order to defeat both Veran and Onox in one single storyline, as this is the only possible way to encounter Twinrova and eventually defeat Ganon.
In a Linked Game, various other (although more subtle) changes to the plot occur which further interlink the storyline of both games. This includes the meeting of Queen Ambi with her lover, the Captain, in Oracle of Seasons, or the appearance of Rosa on Crescent Island in Oracle of Ages.
- See also: Development of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Development of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
The origin of the Oracle series began when Capcom game director Yoshiki Okamoto proposed to Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda series, a remake of the original The Legend of Zelda for the Game Boy Color. Later on, it was decided that if the release was successful, it would be followed up with several other titles to be released in quick sucession. There was talk of remaking the second title in the series, The Adventure of Link as well, followed by four completely original titles, making for a total of six games. A few months later, it was said that there would be only three sequels following up the first release. It was said these games could be played "in any order", seemingly the true beginnings of the Oracle series.
The development of the games was tumultuous. Rather than prioritize gameplay, as was Miyamoto's convention, the development began with scenarios (story and characters) developed by Capcom subsidiary Flagship. Although Okamoto wished to begin with the remake of The Legend of Zelda before moving to a more ambitious project, some members of the staff believed that the first stage should be skipped and the development of a new Legend of Zelda title started right away. Since the development began with the scenario instead of the gameplay, the team encountered several difficulties in developing the maps, often having to "redo the maps and the scenario to make all the elements fit." Progress was additionally hindered by the size of the Game Boy Color's screen.
The Triforce Series
As Okamoto encountered problems in the development of the remake, Shigeru Miyamoto instead proposed the creation of the "Triforce Series." Each title was to refer to a piece of the Triforce (Chapters of Power, Wisdom, and Courage), revolving around a pivotal character (oracle) according to the chapter (Din for the Chapter of Power, Nayru for Wisdom, Farore for Courage). Each game was to focus on a different gameplay element of The Legend of Zelda series: the Chapter of Wisdom was to be puzzle-based, the Chapter of Power, action-based. The gameplay focus of the third title was never revealed. Each game was to have a new gameplay theme:
- The Chapter of Power had a season theme, featuring the Rod of Seasons to alter the four seasons and solve puzzles.
- The Chapter of Wisdom featured an item called the Magic Paintbrush which was to be used to solve color-themed puzzles.
- The Chapter of Courage was to have a theme of time, using morning, noon, evening and night to solve puzzles.
These three games became known as the "Mysterious/Mystical Seed Trilogy" composed of Mystical Seed of Power, Mystical Seed of Wisdom, and Mystical Seed of Courage. Mystical Seed of Power was said to be adapted from Capcom's original project, the original Legend of Zelda remake. Similarities to the original Legend of Zelda can be seen to this day in Oracle of Seasons.
A unique feature of the three games was to be their ability to be linked together using a password system (see Linking Secrets above). However, the coordination of three games proved to be too complex. To simplify, Mystical Seed of Courage was cancelled, thus reducing the series to two titles. Oracle of Ages was adapted from Mystical Seed of Wisdom (using Courage's time mechanic instead), and Oracle of Seasons from Mystical Seed of Power. Together, they became known as the Oracle series of today.
As confirmed in Hyrule Historia, the Oracle series are a sequel to A Link to the Past and a prequel to Link's Awakening, all of which feature the same Link, under the "Downfall" timeline split, where Ganon defeated the Hero of Time in Ocarina of Time. Some time after defeating Ganon at the end of A Link to the Past, Link is transported by the Triforce to Holodrum where Oracle of Seasons takes place. After defeating Onox, Link travels to Labrynna and Oracle of Ages takes place. Link then defeats Ganon in the linked ending of the Oracle games and leaves Labrynna by boat to continue his training in new lands. After completing his training, Link travels back towards Hyrule by boat when he is shipwrecked on Koholint Island and Link's Awakening takes place.
Both Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were commercially successful, each selling almost 4 million copies worldwide.
Both titles of the Oracle series were commonly given identical scores in critical reviews, both receiving a 9.2 out of 10 at Gamespot, and a perfect 10/10 rating of "Masterpiece" at IGN. With the looming approach of the Game Boy Advance, Gamespot believed that the Oracle series was "sending out the Game Boy Color with a bang." IGN's Chris Carle went even further, saying: "there are no two games better than Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons currently available on the system." The series was somewhat criticized for its audio. However, taking into consideration the limitations of the Game Boy Color system, it was noted to fare quite well in comparison to other titles on the system. The Oracle series was praised on IGN for its vibrant-colored graphics. Due to the "panoply of hues" seen in the changing of the seasons, IGN considers Oracle of Seasons to be the more graphically impressive of the two.
Although receiving identical ratings of 5 out of 5 in the Nintendo Power magazine, Oracle of Seasons was placed before Oracle of Ages in the Nintendo Power Top 200 Games List, the former ranking 34th on the list, the latter 39th. In August 2008, Oracle of Seasons and Ages were ranked fourth and fifth respectively in Nintendo Power's top Game Boy (Color) games of all time. Together, the Oracle Series ranked 57th in the Top 100 greatest Nintendo games of all time.
Both games of the Oracle series received positive fan reviews, maintaining identical user scores of 9.1 at Gamespot. IGN users also rank Oracle of Ages at 9.1, although Oracle of Seasons holds the slightly higher score of 9.2.
- The majority of the graphics in the Oracle series are recycled from Link's Awakening. Nintendo artist and series regular Yusuke Nakano designed the characters for the two titles, and incorporated previous creations from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask into both games.
- Design sketches from Hyrule Historia indicate that Ganondorf was originally planned to appear in the Oracle series.
- "A design sketch depicting Ganondorf's phantom. Ganondorf never appears in the Oracle series, however. Only his beast form, Ganon, is seen." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 169)
- "Hee hee hee!!! Veran, Sorceress of Shadows! Twinrova will not let your deeds be wasted! Look, Veran! The troubles you caused now burn as the Flame of Sorrow!" — Twinrova (Oracle of Ages)
- "Oh ho ho ho! Onox, General of Darkness! Twinrova will not let your death go to waste! Behold, Onox! The troubles you caused now burn in the Flame of Destruction!" — Twinrova (Oracle of Seasons)
- "The Flames of Sorrow and Destruction burn brightly! Only the Flame of Despair remains! Eee hee hee hee!" — Twinrova (Oracle series)
- "Thanks to Veran and Onox, the Flames of Sorrow and Destruction already flicker! And when we captured Zelda, the foolish humans gave us despair!" — Twinrova (Oracle series)
- "Oh, Flames of Despair, Destruction and Sorrow, burn with the power of our evil deeds! Yee hee hee hee! Come! Come! Follow the light of the three flames! Emerge now from the darkest depths! Emerge Ganon, Gerudo King!!!" — Twinrova (Oracle series)
- "The Flames of Sorrow, Destruction and Despair burn brightly. The return of the Evil King Ganon approaches. Our sacrifice of Zelda is all that remains! When we call Ganon's spirit into the vessel, it will be done! You can't stop us! Prepare to meet your doom!" — Twinrova (Oracle series)
- "Hoh hoh! Ganon's return was but a step away! Link! It is not over! Our rites have failed, but by sacrificing this body, Ganon will return! And you will be destroyed! Eee hee hee hee!" — Twinrova (Oracle series)
- "Gwoh hoh hoh... Gwah hah hah... Destroy...all... Kill ALL!!! Gwoh hoh hoh! I am Ganon... The Evil King..." — Ganon (Oracle series)
- "Since they could not sacrifice me in their final rite, the powers of darkness could revive only a mindless, raging Ganon. Your power, wisdom and courage were able to prevent Twinrova's planned resurrection of Ganon." — Princess Zelda (Oracle series)
- "The Oracle games originally started life out as a remake of the original NES Legend of Zelda. Yoshiki Okamoto of Capcom approached Miyamoto with the idea and, after much back and forth, got the go-ahead." — 25 Things You Didn't Know About The Legend of Zelda, 1UP.com.
- "We'd like to release the first one this year. We'll probably start at the end of this year or in the spring of next year. If all goes well, the sequels will follow in intervals of around three to four months." —Shigeru Miyamoto (Miyamoto Speaks on Zelda GBC)
- "IGNpocket has learned that Nintendo Co. Ltd. is hard at work on not one, but six new Zelda titles for Game Boy Color. While two of the titles are said to be based on previously released installments in the Legend of Zelda series, four of the games are completely original and designed from the ground up for Game Boy Color." — Miyamoto Speaks on Zelda GBC, IGN.
- "Okamoto-san asked me, 'will you let me translate "Game 1" to the Game Boy Color?' We decided to try and transplant the game to the system, and we received a pretty good response, so we said, 'let's make a sequel!' We would make about three games to be played in any order." —Shigeru Miyamoto (Six Times Zelda)
- "Mr. Miyamoto normally creates the game scenario (story and characters) after the initial game play is designed. If the action part of the game is solid, the scenario can be developed from there. We started by using the Capcom scenario creation company, Flag Ship, to create the scenario first. Then, we created maps and started developing the game. I don't believe that worked." —Yoshiki Okamoto (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Interview Part I)
- "The members of our team weren't agreeing over the direction that game development should take. I thought that we should produce a new version of the first Zelda game (released for the NES in the U.S.) for Game Boy Color. Then, if it went well, we could move on to the next stage (making a more ambitious game). But, my people wanted to skip that first phase and create their own Zelda game from the beginning." —Yoshiki Okamoto (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Interview Part I)
- "Using that system, the team had to redo both the scenario and the maps several times to make all the elements fit." —Yoshiki Okamoto (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Interview Part I)
- "During that process, we realized that, since the Game Boy Color screen is narrower than a TV screen, the player must scroll the screen to the left and right to see the whole room. That created some difficulties in game play development. If you see a crack on a wall, you know that you need to use a bomb to break through. But, if you can't see the crack, because all of the walls in the room aren't visible at once, you could miss it. That led to more difficulty in developing the maps." —Yoshiki Okamoto (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Interview Part I)
- "When Okamoto ran into trouble attempting to remake the original Legend of Zelda for the Game Boy Color, Miyamoto came to the rescue with his idea for a trilogy called the Triforce series." — 25 Things You Didn't Know About The Legend of Zelda, .
- "Each was also to have its own Oracle as the pivotal character of the story -- Din in the Tale of Power, Nayru in the Tale of [Wisdom], and the lost Oracle Farore in Tale of [Courage]." — The Legend of Zelda: The Third Oracle, IGN.
- "One game was to focus on action (Chapter of Power), one was to focus on puzzles (Chapter of Wisdom), while the gameplay focus of the third (Chapter of Courage) was never officially announced." — The Legend of Zelda: The Third Oracle, IGN.
- "The Tale of Power was about the four seasons, with the Rod of the Seasons able to change the seasons which then change the game areas..." — The Legend of Zelda: The Third Oracle, IGN.
- "The Tale of Wisdom was to use a color theme, with various events and areas and tools built around certain colors..." — The Legend of Zelda: The Third Oracle, IGN.
- "Nayru is occasionally depicted holding a brush because in the early stages of development, there was an item called the Magic Paintbrush. It was created to make use of the Game Boy Color." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 165)
- "The Tale of Courage was to have the theme of time, where you could need to use morning, noon, evening and night in order to solve various riddles in this game." — The Legend of Zelda: The Third Oracle, IGN.
- "Later in development, this series of Zelda games and its three titles were given a new story concept the official name, The Legend of Zelda: Mystical Seed of Power, Mystical Seed of Courage, and Mystical Seed of Wisdom." — The Legend of Zelda: The Third Oracle, IGN.
- "In 2000, the 3-game concept became too much for the platform and the limitations of the password system used for the games, so the team scaled the project back to just two games and restructured the password system and storyline. Mystical Seed of Power became Oracle of Seasons and Mystical Seed of Courage became Oracle of Ages, and both were released in 2001. The third chapter, Mystical Seed of Wisdom, was never finished..." — The Legend of Zelda: The Third Oracle, IGN.
- RPGamer - Japandemonium - Xenogears vs. Tetris
- Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages Review - Gamespot
- Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Review - Gamespot
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages Review - IGN
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Review - IGN
- GameRankings.com - The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
- GameRankings.com - The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
- Nintendo Power Magazine - Issue 200
- Nintendo Power Magazine - Issue 231
- Official Nintendo Magazine UK - 100 Best Nintendo Games