The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons Preview

The Legend of Zelda: Fruit of the Mysterious Tree (working title) is actually one big story broken up into three parts: a Tale of Power, a Tale of Wisdom and a Tale of Courage.

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Fans of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (and its color update, Link's Awakening DX) have plenty to be excited about. Nintendo has teamed up with Capcom to create three, yes, three new Zelda adventures for the Game Boy Color, the first of which is scheduled to release in Japan in December.

Similar to Shining Force III for Saturn, The Legend of Zelda: Fruit of the Mysterious Tree (working title) is actually one big story broken up into three parts: a Tale of Power, a Tale of Wisdom and a Tale of Courage. Gamers can start playing from any of the three adventures (though Tale of Power, shown here, will be available first), and their actions in each will carry over to the others. Through a special "link system," save data for the three games can be interchanged (most likely via the Game Link Cable or Infrared Port), making for an endless amount of possibilities. Anyone who was fortunate enough to play through all three Shining Force III scenarios surely knows how incredibly cool this can be.

The story behind the new Zelda trilogy was developed by Flagship, the Capcom off-shoot headed up by industry veteran Yoshiki Okamoto (Flagship is most noted for their work on the Resident Evil games). This time, the evil Ganon has kidnapped Princess Zelda and stolen the Triforce of Power, and it's Link's job to get them back. Once Ganon hears of Link's plight, however, he divides the Triforce into eight pieces and scatters it throughout the land. As if this wasn't bad enough, he also takes Hyrule Castle and its sacred treasure - the mystical Rod of the Seasons - and hauls it off to another "other-dimensional" world!

If any of this sounds familiar, that's because it is. Flagship basically took the story of the original NES Zelda and used it as a springboard in developing the story for Fruit of the Mysterious Tree. In fact, the logo for the Japanese version of Fruit is almost exactly the same as the logo for the original Legend of Zelda from the 8-Bit Famicom. The actual game draws many references to old-school Zelda as well. While Fruit of the Mysterious Tree uses the exact same game engine as Link's Awakening DX, the graphical style - particularly in the dungeons - is extremely reminiscent of the first NES Zelda. Lots of old-school enemies have returned too - the demo version featured Octoroks, Wall_Masters ... even Aquamentus (you get a cookie if you actually know who Aquamentus is).

The demo version at Space World allowed you to mess around with the Rod of the Seasons, which was very cool. With it, you can change between the four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall ... silly), which makes for lots of gameplay possibilities. For example, in one scene, Link tries to reach a treasure chest ... but it's surrounded by trees and he can't get through. So what does he do? He uses the Rod to fast-forward to winter, where the trees are gone (presumably chopped down for firewood), thus giving him access to the chest. Pretty neat, eh?

Link will also get help from several allies, including the peculiar Ulra Tribe (who reside in the other-dimension where Ganon went), the Mysterious Tree (which "houses the spirits," according to Nintendo) and a witch's apprentice named Maple. He'll also get to ride in the pouch of a kangaroo named Ricky who can jump and has a punch attack (cause all kangaroos are excellent boxers, right?).

All in all, this latest Zelda adventure is shaping up to be something spectacular. A U.S. release date hasn't been determined yet, but the Japanese version is due out in December (Tale of Power). The following two chapters (Wisdom and Courage) are expected to release sometime in the spring and summer, respectively.

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