Connect with us

Games

‘Overwatch 2’ Gameplay Trailer: A Shot-By-Shot Analysis

Published

on

BlizzCon 2019 is well underway and one of the biggest announcements that came with it was that Overwatch was indeed getting a sequel aptly named Overwatch 2. This didn’t really come as a surprise due to the recent leaks (all of which turned out to be true) but we got a brand new cinematic as well as a gameplay trailer and a demo that attendants of the convention got the opportunity to play through.  While the gameplay trailer doesn’t actually show a huge amount of gameplay, it seems like a good place to start with a shot for shot analysis to see what information we can garner about the upcoming title.

So as Lucio would say, let’s break it down!

The Omnics Are Coming

The trailer starts with Lucio speaking to the rest of the Overwatch team through comms to say that he is being overrun by Null Sector, the omnic threat that ignited the war between humans and omnics within the lore of the game. He says he will hold them as long as he can as we see him looking out at a huge aerial ship later said to be the omnic command centre. Lucio’s home country of Rio de Janerio is one of the new maps being introduced to the game and we get a pretty clear look at it here. We also see some of Lucio’s new look, but more on the character updates later.

Ironclad

Next we see Ironclad Industries, sure to be associated with Torbjörn and Brigitte due to their affiliation with The Ironclad Guild. Ironclad Industries looks like it will be a part of the new map based in Gothenburg, Sweden, the home land of Torbjörn and his daughter. We hear Torbjörn ask Reinhardt why he is there and Reinhardt responds with, “It’s happening again” in reference to the Null Sector attacks.

Uprising

Brigitte narrates that Null Sector threat was clearly not just a one off occurrence, but instead a fully fledged invasion on a global scale.

Battlefield Banter

The best look at some of the new character designs comes in the next moment of the trailer when Lucio and Tracer share a few words whilst  on the battlefield. There is certainly a crisper feel to their new look. More on that later when we see some of the other heroes.

Story Missions

The next element of Overwatch 2 that we get to see is the incorporation of story missions. These look to be similar to the Archives events from the current Overwatch but on a larger scale. A feature often asked for in Overwatch was a story mode of sorts. The lore of Overwatch is vast but very little of it is actually included in the game, so this may well be the narrative element that we have been waiting for. We also get a look at Reinhardt, Mei and Tracer as they prepare to take on a mission.

There is also another look at the mission set in Gothenburg. Two more heroes make an appearance here, Bastion and Torbjörn, as they fight alongside Brigitte and Reinhardt. The story missions are going to be introducing an item system which allows for certain items to be equipped for the duration of the mission such as barriers, grenades and healing systems.

Student and Teacher

One of the characters who is spectacularly lacking in narrative involvement is Zenyatta. There is a little bit that can be gathered about his background as a Shambali monk who acted as Genji’s mentor but not much else is known. We get a shot of Genji and Zenyatta here, suggesting that Genji will get a story mission involving his former mentor. Here’s hoping that Zenyatta finally gets the attention and lore that he deserves.

Talon Trouble

Terrorist organisation Talon has had a major role in Overwatch history, with several of the games playable characters being current or former members. In the “Retribution” Overwatch event, the player must fight against several elite Talon soldiers and we see them here in the trailer (including that damn irritating sniper). We then see Doomfist declaring that “Nobody will stop us”. Doomfist is the leader of Talon and is sure to be a viable threat to Overwatch. On the official Play Overwatch website, Talon is described as an “enemy faction” alongside the omnics of Null Sector so they may have multiple missions based around them that include the Talon characters (Widowmaker, Reaper etc) in interesting ways.

Headquarters

A quick look at some kind of base for the Overwatch team and some of the new designs for the members. We see Mei, Lucio, Genji, Reinhardt, Winston, Mercy, and the newest addition, Sojourn. As I previously said, their designs definitely look a little more polished than their Overwatch designs.

World Map

The team gather around a world map with several key areas highlighted. Overwatch fans will already be familiar with most of the pinpointed areas as they already have maps in game. There are only two locations that are new but they will be getting new maps in Overwatch 2: Toronto and Rio De Janeiro.

Hero Missions

Another feature in the sequel will be Hero Missions. These will be more specific missions set for certain characters. The trailer boasts that Hero Missions will have “highly replayable co-op” as we see another father and daughter team up with Torbjörn and Brigitte. There is then a shot of Winston and Mercy in the well known Route 66 map (I think I spotted Ashe in the background too) fighting against Null Sector. This is followed by a mission between Tracer, Lucio and Hanzo and this is where we see one of the more interesting additions to the sequel .

Level Up

The Hero Missions will include a level up system and a range of new abilities for the heroes. The example we get is Tracer. We see the two abilities that she has at level one — Adaptive Reload and Hindsight — and the player gets to choose between one that will be usable in the mission. As the character becomes a higher level, more abilities become available to choose from. It is an RPG element at its most basic, which is a little disappointing to me as I would assume that a whole new game could warrant a vaster skill tree. However, during the Overwatch 2 panel at Blizzcon, Jeff Kaplan stated that this was a feature in early development and could be changed during production. It is still an interesting addition to the formula that separates hero missions from story missions.

Abilities and Combos


Customisable abilities are shown off further in the next few shots which show Genji throwing his blade into a group of enemies to take out several at once.

The next hero whose new ability we see is Mei as she encases herself within her ice block and then releases a blast which freezes those around her. It looks similar to her current ultimate ability but looks a little less cumbersome in that she doesn’t have to throw Snowball out first.

An example of a combination of abilities is shown next as Reinhardt smashes the enemies that Mei had frozen with an ability called “Hammer Strike”. Combinations of ultimates is possible now so it is no surprise that combining abilities would be introduced in the new system.

Push It Real Good

A new PVP game mode is the next feature to be shown in the trailer: Push. The game mode will feature teams fighting to escort a giant robot into enemy territories. The team that pushes the robot furthest wins. This does sound like a fun new addition, but it seems like a game mode that could have been added to the current Overwatch. I do worry that there won’t be enough new material to actually warrant a full sequel but hopefully these worries will be alleviated. The Push robot, however, is one of the best parts of the whole trailer. I would die for him and I probably will repeatedly.

New Maps

A few new maps have been announced for Overwatch 2 as well: Toronto, Rio de Janerio and Gothenburg. Again, I do wonder whether this material warrants a full game rather than just an expansion of the original. Perhaps a whole new host of maps will be announced closer to the release date. The maps, new characters and the Push PVP mode will also be available to play on the original Overwatch with both Overwatch and Overwatch 2 players able to join in and play together. This is just one of the few crossover features from the original game. Players will also be able to access their skins and all the characters from Overwatch in Overwatch 2.

Makeover

The trailer then shows the new looks of the core characters being used in the marketing for Overwatch 2: Tracer, Reinhardt, Mei, Lucio and Mercy. Reinhardt’s man bun is magnificent. Lucio’s green locks are glorious. Mercy has had a haircut, possibly to avoid desperate players yanking her ponytail while screaming for healing. Mei has a cool new outfit and hair style (see what I did there?) and Tracer looks a little more hi-tech than she originally did. She also seems to have had a change in body shape, looking more realistic and curvier than she did before. As a woman who constantly struggles with body image issues (who doesn’t in this day and age?) it is nice to see a design change to make a female character look more real.

Artwork from development also shows a new style for Torbjörn and Bastion. Bastion has a hat and that makes me so very happy.

Sojourn

The trailer then announces new heroes for the game but the only one currently confirmed is Soujorn, a cybernetically enhanced Canadian member of the original Overwatch team who has been teased since the very first animated short. Sojourn clearly has a strong link to the main narrative of Overwatch so her involvement is no surprise. Another character that we saw in the new “Zero Hour” cinematic is Echo, a robot who was introduced in the “Reunion” animated short and whose concept art is used in the original trailer for Overwatch.  It is possible that she could be introduced as a hero at some point, though there is no confirmation yet.

Actual Gameplay!

The last few shots of the trailer seem to be the actual gameplay. You can tell that the HUD has been changed somewhat, more so for the story and hero missions than PVP.  There is some Lucio, Widowmaker, Reaper, Reinhardt and Tracer gameplay.

The story/hero gameplay shows an extra ability icon on the bottom right hand side for each character that takes longer to refresh than normal. This is likely the ability that the player gets to choose in the hero missions.


There isn’t a huge amount changed in terms of gameplay that can be seen in this small segment but again everything looks a little crisper, clearer and more fluid.

Shoot Em Up

We get a small glimpse of Sojourn’s weapon in the next shot as we see what looks a highlight intro for her. She has a rather large gun but the best part is when she leaps into the air and her other arm turns into a different gun. A hero with cybernetic abilities — such as the whole turning limbs into weaponry things — could be really fun to play and could combine with other heroes quite well.

Overwatch 2

As I said, I’m not sure as to whether a full game is entirely necessary for the additional features that will be included. The story and the hero missions all look very similar to the events in Overwatch but it is possible that they could have more substance. I should certainly hope so for the price tag of a full game. The crossover between Overwatch and Overwatch 2 is also promising but it makes me wonder as to whether the original Overwatch will eventually be rendered redundant by the sequel. I am a massive Overwatch fan (if you couldn’t already tell) so I was super excited when I saw the announcement. I try to be realistic though, hence the skepticism. I am really hoping that Overwatch 2 will offer a strong narrative experience that will be worth the price of admission.

Overwatch 2 does not yet have a release date. Stay tuned for more info. Check out the latest animated short “Zero Hour” below.

Antonia Haynes resides in a small seaside town in England where she has lived her whole life. She's a simple girl with a passion for zombies, writing, film, television, drawing, superheroes, Disney and, of course, video games. Her ideal day would consist of junk food, fluffy pyjamas and video games because quite frankly going outside is overrated. Follow her on Twitter on @RainbowMachete

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Brigitte

    November 23, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Quality articles is the crucial to interest the people to go to see the site,
    that’s what this website is providing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Games

Indie Games Spotlight – Going Full Circle

We’re featuring five exciting indie games in our latest spotlight, including the internship roguelike Going Under and the cozy puzzles of Lonesome Village.

Published

on

Journey of the Broken Circle

Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s biweekly column where we highlight some of the most exciting new and upcoming independent games. Summer may have come to a close, but that hasn’t stopped big announcements from rolling in. With events like PAX Online and the recent PlayStation 5 Showcase flooding the web with announcements, trailers, and gameplay footage, there’s been a constant deluge of news to keep up with. With so much coming on the horizon, we’re spotlighting five exciting indies that you’ll be able to play sooner rather than later. Whether you’re in the mood for a brutally addictive action game or a cozy adventure and social sim, there’s bound to be a game that speaks to you in this spotlight.

Moving Up Professionally in Going Under

Work is its own payment in Going Under. In this action game from developer Aggro Crab, you’re put in the shoes of an unpaid intern who must explore the endless ruins of failed tech startups while fighting off the monsters that spawn within them. It’s hard work to do without a single paycheck—but hey, at least you’re gaining valuable experience!

As a former unpaid intern myself, the writing in Going Under certainly resonates with me and it’s sure to strike a chord with anyone who’s ever felt underappreciated or overworked. Its vibrant and colorful 3D graphics, as well as its satirical story, only make it all the more enticing. It really should offer a great working experience when it hits all consoles and PC via Steam on September 24.

Animated GIF

Fill in the Gaps in Journey of the Broken Circle

Something’s missing in Journey of the Broken Circle. Like its name would suggest, this puzzle platformer follows a Pacman-like circle with a hole to fill. It wanders through a world that is whimsical and existential at once, searching for a companion to fill its gaps. As the circle rolls through ethereal environments, it encounters different shapes to use that allow for new gameplay mechanics.

Journey of the Broken Circle might be about an abstract shape, but in its quest to become whole, it strives to capture the human experience. It promises to be an intimate experience that clocks in at about five hours to complete. If you’re interested in getting this ball rolling, it’s already available now on Switch and Steam.

Prepare to Get GORSD

There’s a delicate balance between unsettling the player without being outright scary. GORSD treads the line here as a one-hit-kill shooter that stars humans encased in the skins of octopuses, dragons with human faces, and nightmarish environments. Something feels off about GORSD, but that’s exactly what makes it so interesting.

Brought to life with detailed pixel art, GORSD supports up to four players who can face off in chaotic matches in varied arenas. It also features a full-fledged single-player campaign with a vast overworld with dozens of unique stages. Its concept is inspired by its developers’ native Southeast Asian cultures, making for a unique gameplay and aesthetic experience. If you’re ready to dive in and see it for yourself, it’s available now on all consoles and PC via Steam.

Get Ready For a Foregone Conclusion

Saying Foregone is a 2D Dark Souls would be cliché, but accurate nonetheless. It’s a hardcore action game where you’ll fight against insurmountable odds to prevent monsters from overrunning the world. It has a brutally addictive gameplay loop—its difficulty may be excruciating, but because it offers a wide assortment of abilities to leverage, it’s immensely euphoric once you overcome the challenges before you.

This beautiful 3D/pixelated hybrid action game has been available on PC in early access since February, but at long last, it’s seeing its full console release in October. It’s been a promising title ever since its pre-release days, and now that it’s finally seeing its complete iteration, there’s never been a better time to dive in and give it a shot. It’s hitting all platforms on October 5, so there’s not long to wait!

Finding Good Company in a Lonesome Village

Mix Zelda with Animal Crossing and you might get something like Lonesome Village. This newly-revealed puzzle adventure game features Zelda-like adventure in a hand-drawn world populated by animal characters. Players control a wandering coyote who stumbles upon a strange village and decides to investigate its mysterious happenings by interacting with villagers, solving puzzles, and exploring its dungeons.

It’s more than a simple adventure game. In addition to puzzle-solving, you’ll interact with Lonesome Village’s eclectic cast of characters to forge relationships and unravel brooding mysteries. It’s showing plenty of potential with its cozy gameplay loop, and if you want to give it a shot, check out its official demo from its Kickstarter page! It’s already been fully funded in less than 24 hours, but if you want to help the developers out even further, consider contributing to their campaign.

Continue Reading

Games

PAX Online: ‘Inkulinati’ and ‘Pumpkin Jack’

The PAX Online celebrations continue with the strategy game, Inkulinati, and spooky Halloween themed Pumpkin Jack.

Published

on

Inkulinati and Pumpkin Jack

The PAX Online celebrations continue with a strategy game whose tales are writ in ink and a game sure to put you in an early Halloween mood.

Inkulinati

Inkulinati

Platforms: Switch and Steam
Release: 2021

Preview in new tab(opens in a new tab)

Competitive strategy games stress me out. Chess? Stresses me out. Checkers? Stresses me out. Star Craft? Stresses me out. Managing that stress as a form of stimulation is what makes the best strategy games shine, though, and Inkulinati is so far demonstrating all the facets of such a game.

The titular Inkulinati are masters of a craft that brings their inked creatures to life on parchment, including a caricature of themselves. The two Inkulinati do written battle with each other until only one is left standing. The battles are carried out in a charming medieval art style that looks like it was taken straight out of a manuscript you’d find carefully stored in a library. These aren’t the masterpieces of Da Vinci or Van Gogh, but the kinds of scribbles you’d find the layman making on the edges of pages either out of boredom or mischievousness. The playful art makes for a playful tone and jolly times.

The core thrust of the gameplay is that each Inkulinati utilizes ink points to conjure units, or “creatures”, onto the parchment in a turn-based manner and sends them into the fray. There were a fair amount of creatures available in the demo — ranging from a simple swordsdog with well-rounded stats to a donkey capable of stunning foes with its trusty butt trumpet. Many many more creature types are promised in the full game, but I found even with the limited selection of the demo the gameplay was still able to be showcased well.

Your primary Inkulinati also has some tricks up its depending on the type you’ve chosen to take into battle. Instant damage to or healing a unit were the two shown off in the demo, as well as being able to shove units. Shoving is particularly useful as you can push enemies into the hellfires that encroach the battlefield as the battle wages on, instantly defeating them.

Doing battle with an opponent it all well and good, but what’s the point if it’s not immortalized for generations to experience down the line? Inkulimati understands this need and will record every single action of the battlefield in written word. It’s infinitely charming, and the amount of variations in how to say what amounts to just “X unit attacked Y enemy” is astonishing. How can you not chuckle at, “Powerful Morpheus killed the enemy and may those who failed to witness this live in constant pain and regret”?

Pumpkin Jack

Pumpkin Jack

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam
Release: Q4 2020

Halloween may be a little over a month away but that didn’t stop the 3D action platformer Pumpkin Jack getting me in the spookyween mood. The human realm is suffering from the Devil’s curse and have elected the aid of a wizarding champion to save them from it. Not to be outdone, the Devil also chooses his own champion to stop the wizard, choosing the despicable spirit Jack. With the tasty reward of being able to pass on from hell, Jack dons his pumpkin head and a wooden & straw body on his quest to keep the world ruined. The premise sounds slightly grim but make no mistake that this is a goofy game through and through, a fact only emphasized by a brilliant opening narration dripping with sarcasm and morbid glee.

The demo took us through Pumpkin Jack‘s first stage, a dilapidated farmland full of ambient lanterns abandoned storehouses. The visuals are compliments by a wonderfully corny soundtrack full of all the tubas, xylophones, and ghost whistles one would expect a title that is eternally in the Halloween mood.

We got the basics of traversal, like dodge rolling and double jumps, before coming upon a terrified murder of crows. Turns out their favorite field has been occupied by a dastardly living scarecrow and they want Jack to take care of it. One crow joins Jack on his quest, taking the form of a projectile attack that he can sic on enemies. Jack also obtains a shovel he can use to whack on the animated skeletons with a simple three-hit combo. There’s nothing particularly standout about the combat, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be this early on. More weapons such as a rifle and scythe are promised in the full game and should go a way towards developing the combat along with more enemy variety.

Pumpkin Jack

Collectible crow skulls also dot the map and seem to be cleverly hidden as even when I felt like I was carefully searching the whole stage I had only found 12 out of 20 by the end. Their purpose is unknown in the demo, so here’s hopping they amount to something making me want to find those last eight in the full version.

After accidentally lighting a barn ablaze and escaping in a dramatic sequence we came across the scarecrow in question. Defeating it was a rather simple affair that was just a matter of shooting it out of the air with the crow then wailing on it with Jack’s shovel. We were awarded a new glaive-type weapon as a reward but unable to give it a whirl in the demo, unfortunately. All-in-all, Pumpkin Jack shows promise as a follow-up to action 3D platformers of yore like Jak & Daxter, so here’s hoping to a solid haunting when it releases later this year.

Continue Reading

Games

‘Oracle of Seasons’: A Game Boy Color Classic

Published

on

Oracle of Seasons

“It is an endless cycle of life… the changing seasons!”

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages & Oracle of Seasons are very much two halves of the same grand adventure, but they’re both worth examining on their own merits. Seasons in particular brings with it quite an interesting history. The game that would eventually become Oracle of Seasons began life as a remake of the original Legend of Zelda. This remake would be accompanied by five other games– a remake of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and four original titles– all developed for the Game Boy Color. These games would not be developed by Nintendo themselves, but by Flagship– a subsidiary of Capcom that was also funded in part by Nintendo and Sega.

These six games would eventually be trimmed into a trilogy slated to release in the summer, autumn, & winter of 2000, before settling as a duology that would launch simultaneously in 2001. Where Oracle of Ages was the sole survivor of the four original games, Oracle of Seasons was a brand new game morphed out of the Zelda 1 remake. Considering director Hidemaro Fujibayashi’s own reflection on Flagship’s Zelda proposal, much of what would define Seasons was always present;

 “The core of the game was pretty much decided. That is to say, the fact that it would be on the Game Boy Color, the use of the four seasons, and the decision to retain the feel of the 2D Zelda games. It was also decided that it would be a series.”

Not only was this remake never intended to be a standalone entry, it would kick start its own sub-series while featuring seasons at the forefront of the gameplay. Series creator Shigeru Miyamoto likewise asked Fujibayashi to pen a new story for the original Legend of Zelda, suggesting a fairly comprehensive remake as the end goal. With so many inherent changes, however, The Hyrule Fantasy ended up leaving the region altogether. 

“I believe the Zelda series really only started to have scenarios after the hardware specifications improved. The original Zelda was a pure action-RPG and didn’t have much of a story to begin with. I wanted to combine both those aspects (action-RPG and an actual scenario) this time around. At first, we’d only planned on creating a game one-tenth the size of the final version. But it just kept growing as development progressed and gradually turned into an original game.” 
– Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Director/Planner/Scenario Writer

Oracle of Seasons takes after Link’s Awakening and Majora’s Mask by setting itself away from Hyrule– the kingdom only ever shown during the opening cinematic. Holodrum has one of the densest worlds in a 2D Zelda game, if not the densest after A Link to the Past & A Link Between Worlds. A kingdom geographically similar to Hyrule as seen in the original Legend of Zelda, Holodrum has its own northern mountainside, a final dungeon in the northwest corner, and dozens of old men hidden amongst the land. This all makes sense since Seasons is rooted in a remake of the first game, but it isn’t as if Holodrum is without its novelties. 

Holodrum is distinct from Hyrule where it counts. The kingdom itself is quite large, sprawling when compared directly to Koholint Island. Progression often feels like a puzzle, especially when working around roadblocks early on. Holodrum’s four seasons are out of order, with the weather changing on the fly between regions. Link has to work around snow banks, overgrown trees, flooded fields, and petrified flora to overcome Holodrum’s chaos. As easy as it is to get side tracked in the vast kingdom, it’s only because there always tends to be something around the corner. Getting lost isn’t a problem when the overworld is so secret heavy. 

Old men are frequently found hiding under trees, actually giving players a reason to burn them on sight now, but new systems are in place to make exploration even more rewarding. Link will come across patches of soft soil throughout Holodrum where he can plant Gasha Seeds. Owing their name to gashapon– Japanese capsule toys not too dissimilar to blind bag toys– Gasha Seeds grow into Gasha Trees which bear Gasha Nuts after Link has defeated 40 enemies. Gasha Nut contents are randomized, but they incentivize players to return to previously explored areas. 

Not everything a Gasha Nut drops is worth the effort of chopping down 40 enemies– the worst being five regular hearts and a sole fairy– but the best rewards make it all worthwhile. While the Heart Piece tied to the Nut is probably the best overall get, Gasha Seeds naturally feed into the Ring system. Rings add an inherent RPG layer to the Oracle duology’s gameplay, offering the earliest instance of genuine player customization in the Zelda franchise. Rings, like Gasha Nuts, are completely random. Link will find many in his travels, but he needs to appraise them at Vasu’s ring shop in Horon Village before they can be used. Except in a few rare instances, Vasu’s appraisals are randomized.

There are 64 rings altogether between Seasons and Ages, all with varying effects. Which rings Link obtains can influence how players go about their game. RNG also ensures that each new playthrough is unique from the last. While this poses an obvious frustration for any completionists, it’s a fantastic way of adding another layer of replay value to an already fairly replayable experience. The Expert’s Ring allows Link to punch enemies if he unequips his weapons, the Charge Ring speeds up the Spin Attack, and the Protection Ring makes it so Link always takes one Heart of damage when attacked.

With so many rings to choose from, the gameplay is kept in balance by Link’s Ring Box. Once appraised, Link can equip his rings into his box. While he can only equip one initially, players can find a Box upgrade on Goron Mountain. With RNG already influencing which rings Link has access to, it’s unlikely two players will have the exact same experience in Oracle of Seasons– rings offering more personalization than is still usual for Zelda. Besides Gasha Nuts, Rings can be found in the overworld and dropped by Maple, a young witch who makes further use of RNG. 

Maple is Syrup’s apprentice, the recurring witch who runs the potion shop in A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening. Riding in on her broomstick, Maple will appear after Link has killed 30 enemies. Should players bump into her, both Link & Maple will drop their treasures, prompting Maple to race the player for them. It’s almost always worthwhile to focus on what Maple’s dropped rather than what Link lost. Not only does Maple drop her own unique set of rings, she’s a convenient way of getting potions early on and will eventually drop a Heart Piece. Maple also gets progressively faster, upgrading her flying broomstick to a vacuum after enough altercations.

So much RNG can be off-putting, but Holodrum is such an extensive overworld that randomness isn’t much of an issue. Gasha Seeds drive exploration and Maple’s appearances reward it. These systems also encourage players to fight enemies head-on rather than avoid them when it’s convenient. If gameplay ever feels more involved in Oracle of Seasons than the average Zelda game, that’s because it is. This goes double when taking the very seasons into account. 

The four seasons influence overworld progression significantly and most non-dungeon puzzles center on Link using the Rod of Seasons to restore seasonal order to whatever region he’s in. Most of these puzzles solve themselves since seasons can only be changed on stumps, but concessions need to be made when an overworld features four unique versions of every region. Incredible use of the Game Boy Color’s hardware helps in this regard as well. The handheld was designed with making in-game colors pop and Oracle of Seasons– as an extremely late-life GBC game– stands out as one of the most vibrant titles in the system’s library. 

Each season has its own defining color palette– blue for winter, red for summer, green for spring, yellow for autumn– but there is always a wide range of colors on-screen. Winter matches its light blue with shades of white & gray; spring features an almost pastel color tone where gold & pink flowers bloom against soft shades of green; summer deepens most colors for a bolder effect; and autumn offsets its yellow with orange, red, and in some instances purple. Oracle of Seasons might very well have the best atmosphere on the Game Boy Color, each season stylized & recognizable with their own distinct tones. It’s a phenomenal presentation that outdoes OoS’ contemporaries. Seasons outright has better art direction than most early GBA games. 

The fact Oracle of Seasons commits to its premise in such a large overworld as strictly as it does is praiseworthy, but it’s even more impressive that there’s another world lurking underneath Holodrum. Subrosia is a bizarre underworld, easily the most eclectic setting in the franchise other than Termina (and in many respects more so.) Subrosians are culturally impolite, bathe in lava, and deal in Ore instead of Rupees. The Subrosian Market undersells a Heart Piece, volcanic eruptions are a welcome norm, and Link will be moving between Holodrum & Subrosia multiple times over the course of his journey. Players can even go on a date with a Subrosian girl, Rosa, that’s a clear play on his date with Marin from Link’s Awakening. Subrosia is so alien that it’s hard not to love every moment beneath Holodrum.

Beyond the four seasons and the dichotomy between Holodrum & Subrosia, what differentiates Oracle of Seasons most from Oracle of Ages is its focus on action. Seasons is a puzzle heavy game, but it lets combat drive the gameplay more often than not with a very action-centric tool kit. The Slingshot makes its 2D debut, replacing the Bow in the process, but its 250 seed capacity outdoes any of Link’s quivers. Its upgraded version, the Hyper Slingshot, even fires in three directions at once. The Roc’s Feather returns from Link’s Awakening to once again make jumping an important part of Link’s mobility. Not only is platforming far more frequent this time around– with the Ancient Ruins featuring quite a bit of jumping for a 2D dungeon– it upgrades into the Roc’s Cape which allows Link to glide.

The Boomerang now upgrades into a guided Magical Boomerang which players can control themselves; the Magnetic Gloves are ostensibly a better version of the Hookshot which can pull Link to & from magnetic sources, along with magnetizing certain baddies; and most enemies are designed with a combination of the sword & shield in mind. Oracle of Ages has its fair share of action as well, but not with quite the same focus as Oracle of Seasons.

In general, Seasons is a focused video game in the best ways possible. OoS always gives players a general direction to go in, but otherwise leaves Link to his own devices. There are little to no interruptions, and the gameplay loop emphasizes freedom in spite of the game’s linearity. There’s always something to do and you’re always making progress, whether that be narratively or checking in on some Gasha Nuts. The pace is perfectly suited for handheld gaming and quick burst play sessions. Only have a few minutes to play? Kill some enemies to trigger Maple. Got some time? Scope out the next dungeon and work towards saving Holodrum. 

There are also a number of side quests to round off gameplay. The main trading sequence ends with Link finding the Noble Sword in Holodrum’s Lost Woods; players can forge an Iron Shield in Subrosia by smelting red and blue ore together & bringing the refined ore to the Subrosian smithy; and Golden Beasts roam Holodrum, each appearing during a different season & in a set region. Once all four are defeated, Link can find an old man north of Horon Village who will give him the Red Ring– a ring which doubles the Sword’s attack at no expense to the player. 

All these side quests are worthwhile, especially since Oracle of Seasons is a bit on the tougher side when it comes to difficulty. Dungeons are very fast-paced, full of puzzles that are often deceptively simple. Dungeon items are used in increasingly clever ways, from traversing over bottomless pits with strategic use of the Magnetic Gloves to using the Hyper Slingshot to activate three statues at once. Notably, most bosses in Seasons are actually remixes of boss fights from the first Legend of Zelda

Aquamentus, Dodongo, Gohma, Digdogger, Manhandla, and Gleeok all return with a vengeance. Gleeok in particular puts up a serious fight, forcing Link on the offensive. Not only do players need to be quick enough to slice off Gleeok’s two heads before they can attack themselves back on, the dragon will persist as a skeleton for round 2. Explorer’s Crypt is a difficult enough dungeon where getting to the boss room with full health isn’t a guarantee, so Gleeok offers a surprising but welcome challenge as a result. 

Oracle of Seasons deserves a bit of credit for having one of the harder final bosses in the series, as well. Onox doesn’t have much in the way of personality, but he’s a tough boss to put down. His second form requires Link to use the Spin Attack to deal damage while making sure he doesn’t hit Din in the process, and Onox’s dragon form is a gauntlet of dodging, jumping, & surviving long enough to finally kill the General of Darkness. Players are bound to die once or twice, but the final dungeon is short enough where getting back to Onox takes no time at all. 

If Oracle of Seasons has one glaring flaw, however, it’s the story. The script reads like a massive step back coming off the heels of Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time, and especially Majora’s Mask. Link is summoned to aid the Oracle Din, already a seasoned hero and implied to be the same Link from A Link to the Past, but very little time is spent fleshing out Din as a character & giving players a reason to care about her. Her role is more akin to Zelda in A Link to the Past than Marin in Link’s Awakening. Similarly, Onox is an undercooked villain who shows up to kidnap Din and does nothing for the rest of the story. Of course, this light story stems from Seasons’ origin as a remake of The Legend of Zelda

Early press of the game– when it was still going by the name Acorn of the Tree of Mystery– indicates that the story was originally set in Hyrule and the seasons went out of order when Ganon kidnapped Princess Zelda, the guardian of both the Triforce of Power & the four seasons. Hyrule was changed to Holodrum, Ganon became Onox, Zelda turned to Din, and the eight fragments of the Triforce presumably became the eight Essences of Nature. While underwhelming, the plot’s structure if nothing else makes sense. 

It’s worth pointing out that Oracle of Seasons seems to recognize that story is its weakness and lets the gameplay drive the experience. Unlike Oracle of Ages which takes its plot seriously and has a clear thematic arc, Seasons really is just a remix of Zelda 1’s plot. Which is perfect for the kind of game OoS ultimately is: a fast-paced, action-packed adventure through an ever-changing world. When played as a precursor to Ages instead of its ending, Seasons’ story comes off comparatively better. The stakes aren’t that high or defined, but that’s more than okay for the first half of an adventure that spans two full-length games. 

In a departure for the franchise, Oracle of Seasons actually features a proper post-game, marking the first time any Zelda acknowledges that the main threat is over. NPCs will comment on how they haven’t seen Link in a while, the weather has stabilized as spring has set in Holodrum, and you’re free to wrap up any side quests left unfinished. This is especially noteworthy because players can link their progress from Seasons over into Ages and transfer any rings they have on hand. 

An epilogue makes for a charming send-off to one of the most charming games on the Game Boy Color. Oracle of Seasons underwent a strange development, intended to be little more than a suped-up remake of the original Legend of Zelda. Instead, Flagship ended up developing one of the finest games on the GBC– a vibrant adventure filled with personality and some of the best action on the handheld. Oracle of Seasons isn’t just one half of a greater game; it’s a classic Zelda in its own right.

Continue Reading

We update daily. Support our site by simply following us on Twitter and Facebook

Facebook

Trending