Games of November 2019

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (GBC)

Maybe it's been the time, maybe it is the time, but a long time ago I wrote a review for The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. I replayed OoS again largely without the help of the previously mentioned strategy guide, then went to Oracle of Ages (hereafter known as "Ages") as the "part two". I realize that playing Ages after Seasons denies you the revelation that the pirate captain is Queen Ambi's lost lover, but while playing Seasons was charming, Ages just seemed like a chore. Running around activating the specific portals from the past to present (they aren't in the same place), irritating sequences between dungeons (and you thought the Subrosian Dance was hard), some unmemorable dungeons, and other things add up to make it a frustrating experience. To me, I think it's because Link's Awakening was a solid 2D adventure in the vein of A Link to the Past but scaled for the Game Boy, with Oracle of Seasons expanding on it, utilizing the assets but adding many things to it (seeds, mechanics, Maple, minigames, etc.). Oracle of Ages strips what made LA and Seasons good and expounds on the nonsense that makes Seasons weaker than it could've been.

Moreover, the items are so much worse in Oracle of Ages. Roc's Feather no longer has an upgrade, but the Power Bracelet does, in favor of the Power Gloves, which, like Link's Awakening have zero use outside of their dungeon. The Slingshot is ditched in favor of the Seed Shooter, which is clumsy and slow, and the Magnetic Gloves are replaced with the Switch Hook, an item like the Hook Shot, but even more useless with no real offensive capabilities. The Cane of Somaria makes a re-appearance, but the worst item is the Mermaid Suit, an upgrade to Zora's Flippers that actually makes navigating underwater WORSE by forcing you to continuously tap the direction you want to go. The Boomerang is not only unupgradeable but you don't get it until near the end of the game.

The big showdown with Ganon (if you play a linked game) is underwhelming, there's no additional dungeons to crawl through and Ganon is pretty easy, especially if you got the "Level 3" Sword (the Master Sword) through a linked game. At the end of the linked game, you do get a password to play the game "normally" to get the rest of the rings and see everything you might have missed, but playing games again without allowing you to skip or do portions easier (like many of the "New Game +" features of Square Soft games) is for suckers. All they give you is one extra heart! (Final Rating: 3.5/5)

Super Mario World (Super NES)

I've been acquainted with Super Mario World for a very long time—it was one of the games at the pediatric dentist's office (even after the SNES was discarded for a Nintendo 64 later on, the square of the Item Reserve Box from SMW was still burned into the television screen), and I still pick it up every few years for a 100% run (it's not hard). While definitely one of the best Mario games and highly innovative compared to the older NES games at a level that 2D Mario games have never seen since, it's an old hat to someone that has played it numerous times, so I can't rave over it like I could. But it's a comforting hat. It's only been officially ported once to Game Boy Advance as Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 which isn't good. The GBA version changes a few things to make it even easier, and botches too many things, some inherent, some not so much. The screen resolution is worse, the music was butchered (including some songs being the outright wrong key, compare the real Vanilla Dome music to the butchered version. It also adds a "collect-a-thon" aspect to get all the Dragon Coins in every single level, including ones that didn't have them to begin with. (Final Rating: 4/5)