Legend of Zelda is a series where the main games tend to be terrific but some of the older ones don’t work as well. It’s a little bit like Metroid to that extent where I didn’t care for the first couple much but then they got better. This game plays out like a very old school LoZ title where you are really left to your own devices. It ends up making for a game that is pretty annoying to play.
So someone has decided to mess with the 4 seasons. The global climate is out of whack now and nobody really knows what to do. Fortunately Link is on the case. He will have to use the staff of seasons in order to put the world right again. It’s the only way to bring peace and prosperity back into the land. We don’t know exactly who the villain is, but he will certainly regret getting in Link’s way.
The main gameplay style here is that of an overhead adventure. You travel across the world as you look for different essences as well as the 4 seasons themselves. You can use various weapons in the hub world like your sword, boomerang, and other weapons. Talking to civilians will help you get past obstacles that can’t be overcome by brawn alone. There are also portions of the game that simulate the Mario experience as the game turns into a side scroller. It’s always pretty fun to go through those segments as a change of pace.
I played this game as a virtual console port on the 3DS. I can say right now that I can’t imagine playing this game without the access points. I use those quite a lot. Without them there are obstacles that will take you back to the beginning of a dungeon. If you make a wrong step you may find yourself in a room that you can’t back out of and you have to take the long way around. The game has many anti quality of life features that stack up.
On the plus side, I do like the graphics. They’ve aged well and this is a colorful style that just really works well. It’s why a lot of people like sprites since they transition into the future really easily. The soundtrack’s also pretty decent. It’s all catchy and works well for the various dungeons. So on a technical level this game was on the money.
The actual gameplay is pretty smooth as well. You never feel like the weapon is hitting too late or you miss something that you’re aiming for. The core gameplay is solid so I don’t expect you will really come across any issues. So this pretty much wraps up the good parts of the game. They are considerable of course but the negatives do outweigh them this time.
First off, there’s not much of a story. It’s not the kind of thing that will lower a score but when bosses show up without any dialogue or cutscene, you know something is up. Yeah there is still a story overall but it’s fairly barebones. I will give the game credit for having a cliffhanger ending though. It flat out tells you to go and buy Oracle of Ages as the game ends. There is a caveat to that though.
It looks like you have to buy both games to effectively link them and unlock the true ending. If you just buy one then you will really be playing through almost the same story. So…this seems like a really crafty way to get people to buy both titles. I also wonder how that would work through virtual console. I’m guessing I wouldn’t be able to transfer save states like that and if so that would be awful. I don’t know for sure though so just keep that in mind if you want to see the true ending.
No, the real issue with the game is the puzzles. LoZ loves its puzzles but the problem is that the series is often not as good at it as the real puzzle titles like Professor Layton. Half the time you are given no clue as to what to do next or have to use your weapon in a new way that was unexplained. I spent 20 minutes blasting one enemy with elemental attacks only to find out that it wasn’t actually causing damage. (Why have the boss glow as if you landed a hit when the hit didn’t work?)
Between dungeons you often have to do tasks in the hub world but there is no way to know what you are supposed to do. Additionally the hub world is huge so running back and forth is incredibly time consuming. The game took a lot longer than I expected it would in order to conquer it and this was why. I spent hours just spinning my wheels when I could have been at the next dungeon already.
I never cared much for that aspect because if I got a game then I want to be playing it. I want to feel the gameplay and just go all in but this really slows things down. I ended up needing a guide for many parts and I don’t see how I would have ever guessed what to do in some of these cases. There are some places you can teleport to in order to save time but not nearly enough of them. You still have to walk large parts of the world map on your own which is not ideal.
At the heart of it, the game just isn’t very fun to play for this reason. Sure, some of the dialogue can be fun, you can enjoy the boss battles but anytime you’re having too much fun the game slams you down with a dead zone where you have to figure out where to go next. It leaves you in a tough spot but not a fun one as you’re running through areas you’ve already been to a million times already.
At least because of that the length is considerable. If you get this game for the going rate of $10-$15 bucks then this is really not a bad deal. There’s also the replay value of getting the true ending but if you do need two copies in order to get to it then that may not be applicable in the virtual console version anyway. Definitely do your research before buying the game.
Overall, The overhead Link games aren’t really my style and this one was no exception. If it focused on more combat and less wandering around then I think it would have fared a lot better. Link games always have solid combat after all and that would have aged really well. So if you’re in the mood for a Legend of Zelda game, I’d recommend checking out Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, or Breath of the Wild instead. At the end of the day this one just wasn’t fun and is best left to history.