Your sword has excellent range which makes it fun to slash away at moblins, octoroks, and hopping skeletons. The eight dungeons are every bit as clever as a full-scale Zelda adventure, but outdoor areas feel more restricted and maze-like. New items are gradually introduced, allowing you to slowly unlock more of the island. The game is loaded with fun Nintendo elements like Shy Guys, Bow-Wows, and a Yoshi doll you can win in a claw game.
I'm not sure how to feel about the Super Mario-style side-scrolling screens; they feel a little out of place. A few of the bosses are kind of silly, like the genie clown tossing the Fruit Loops ("I'm your bad guy this time!"). The difficulty is pretty high for a portable game. It's easy to get stuck while scouring the scenery for an obscure item, and even when you know what to do (feed bombs to snakes) it can be difficult.
But my biggest complaint is the repetitive, unskippable text. Whenever you touch a rock, the game stops to display "Wow, this looks pretty heavy. You won't be able to move it with your bare hands." It wouldn't be so bad if more than four words were displayed at a time! Even when you acquire the power bracelet which allows you to lift rocks, you still need to equip it first, and since you can only equip two items at a time the juggling is constant. The game prompts you to save when you die, but an option to save in progress would have been nice too. Link's Awakening is a step down from Link to the Past, but no other portable title has ever glued me to the screen for as long as this one. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Once Oracle of Ages hits its stride however, it delivers the classic Zelda action we've grown to love. By traveling between the past and present, Link can acquire new items, gain new abilities, and solve puzzles on his quest to save the girl. The clean-looking graphics are about NES quality, but the well-orchestrated music and familiar audio effects sound as if they were lifted directly from Link to the Past. The stages are thoughtfully designed to provide constant clues and minimize backtracking.
The time-traveling aspect is a novel concept but it could have been better executed. It's hard to determine how changes to the past affect the present world, and traveling back and forth between the two ages gets old after a while. Magical rings are vital to your success, but their functions are hard to determine, and you can only change your ring when visiting the ring appraiser. In my opinion, Oracle of Ages is not one of the stronger entries in the Zelda series, but it's still a high quality mix of action and adventure. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
If you've played Oracle of Ages, the premise sounds awfully familiar. On the bright side, Oracle of Seasons does not contain the annoying time-travel mechanism of Ages, giving this one the edge in my mind. You still have to deal with the whole convoluted ring system though. Oracle of Seasons offers a few fresh ideas, but these are few and far between.
My favorite aspect of the game is its mine cart rides, which let you alter the configuration of the tracks by hitting switches. Oracle of Seasons is a respectable Zelda adventure, but if you've already played Oracle of Ages, be advised that this is just more of the same. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
As in the original game, the controls are exceptionally crisp and responsive. Your explorer moves swiftly and can easily hop between platforms. I loved shimmying down ropes and sliding down poles. The levels incorporate all the stuff you'd expect to find in a real pyramid, like cobwebs, flaming pits, skeletons chained to the walls, and platforms that disappear at regular intervals.
The visuals are a little dark, and certain items (like the purple keys) can be a little hard to make out. Pressing the select button brings up a map, and there are 150 rooms in all! 150! Despite that, the game has a somewhat linear structure and it's pretty easy to get stuck. The soundtrack will get on your nerves, but you can shut it off via the options menu. All in all, Montezuma's Return is a heck of a lot of fun, mainly because it doesn't try to fix what's not broken. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com