Review by Xenocide

"This kind of game will bring back the hardcore gamers."

The Legend of Zelda may be a tad bit misnamed, seeing as how its really a Legend of Link. But Nintendo obviously doesn't joke around with the word ''Legend,'' because that's what we're talking about. This new outing of the Zelda liscense has definitely proven the year long delay worthy.
Capcom and Nintendo have taken their time to upgrade and refine the Awakening Engine into something grand. So heres the breakdown.

Graphics 10
Greatly improved over Link's Awakening DX. Because the engine has been optimized for GBC only, the game manages to use tons of color. I would have sworn the introduction used a high color technique, but I've been given confirmation otherwise. Flagship is just that good at optimizing the colors. As usual for the best GBC games, the sprites themselves tend to vary. Trees which are mostly green look ripped out of the SNES Zelda. More complex tiles and sprites look more like late NES game quality.

Gameplay 10
The other big ticket item for gamers, gameplay. The core mechanics of Seasons is battle, puzzles and secrets. The battle technique has been largely unchanged, except they brought back the freaky Kaleidoscope guys from the NES game who keep you from using your sword. Most enemies in Seasons are pretty easy, but the centaur-like beings near Onox's, the main bad guy, fort are pretty tough to beat if you get there too early. The bosses and sub bosses themselves are interesting and balanced well between figuring out how to harm the baddie and staying alive after you do. As usual, almost every boss's weakness happens to be hidden right within his own temple. You'd think they'd learn.

Your good old toys, err, ''Items'' are back, and theres a lot more upgradability to them. One of the two big additions to the franchise is the ''seed'' item. Harvested from trees that bloom at a given season, seeds can be used straight from the satchel or shot out from a slingshot. There are seeds that set fire, seeds that mimic the magic powder from before, and even a seed that will warp you to any seed tree on the map you've been to.

The other addition is the Rod of Seasons. As you slowly move through the game charging it, you'll be able to alter the map by changing seasons. The dual worlds theme is taken to extreme here by offering you four parallel worlds of different seasons, plus a curious underworld. Of course the rod is not just an eyecandy effect, things can greatly change. Lots of snow may fall in winter, letting you walk up to that cave enterance you couldn't reach. And once you get all four seasons, expect to be thrown season puzzles.

Of course, it wouldn't be Zelda without secrets. And Seasons has plenty of secrets that will keep you looking even after you've beaten the game. In fact, some you can't activate until after you have beaten it, and started a ''continuation quest'' on the companion game. Shameless attempt to make money? Sure. But you'd buy both even if they weren't linked like that, wouldn't you? As usual, hidden around the world are pieces of heart, and rupee holding treasure chests(plus theres some hermits from the original game that punish you). What's new to Seasons is a new treasure to hunt in addition to rupees and heart containers: Rings.
The rings behave similar to the ones in ''rougelikes'' (computer games based on an old ASCII art game called rouge). You can find rings in chests, you can ''bump'' into a bratty witch and steal her stuff, or you can plant Gasha Seeds which usually yield a ring. Like rouge, you won't know what a ring does until you get it identified. It seems that also like rouge, Gasha Seeds planted at the same spot tend to produce random rings of similar value to the player. Some rings let you change form, while may slowly regenerate your health. There are 64 rings overall, but some are more common than others.
Overall, theres tons of play value packed into this game, especially with the new Ring system and new MiniGames.

Sound - 10
The sound from the GBC is pretty good, considering the quality of other games. I give it a seven merely because of the quality of the sound could still push the hardware extremely hard and still leave me unimpressed. A lot of the old music is reused, but theres a lot more new music too. Three bonus points for not trying to tack on voice synthesis to the game ala Crystalis on GBC.

Control 9
Same as Zelda DX, only with a much larger subscreen system, reminiscent of Ocarina. The subscreen allows players a lot more control, but overall it adds just a little too much complication for almost enough functionality. Fortunately you'll use the first screen the most, and the Select+Start combo to get to the only really useful part of the third subscreen, the Save Menu.

Overall - 10
Proof that Nintendo takes game design to an art form. The 'carry over'/''continuation quest'' function meld the two games extremely well. This is the kind of game Nintendo needs to win the next console war.

Rent or buy?
Buy. But I don't need to tell you that. Everyone loves Zelda. But maybe you're a freak, or maybe I'm an old geezer and there are plenty of people who haven't grown up with the Legend of Zelda. To them, I'd recommend looking for a rent to buy program. I don't think they have those. I'll have to start one. This game rocks. If you're unsure, rent, but you'll just be wasting your money on the rental, and your time on the rental cart.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/23/01, Updated 05/23/01

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