Welcome back to another installment of What We’ve Been Playing! This week we’ve got a retro gaming recommendation of a less popular Zelda title and some solid puzzle action for your mobile gaming needs.
Desiree Rodriguez – The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
Zelda: Oracle of Ages is the side game to the previously reviewed Zelda: Oracle of Seasons as well as another staple every Zelda fan must have in their gaming collection.
This time out, our plucky hero Link finds himself in the land of Labrynna. Where Link ends up saving Impa the previous nursemaid of Princess Zelda. Impa explains to Link that she’s been sent to watch over Nayru, the majestic famous singer of Labryanna. Impa is soon revealed to be a possessed pawn of our antagonist Veran, Sorceress of Shadows. Who then possesses Nayru to use her Oracle powers over time for her own malicious purposes. It is now up to Link, tasked by Impa, to save Nayru and restore Labrynna to its original time line before the chaos and darkness that has spread across the land becomes irreversible.
While these opening scenes are a tad bit predictable (if you can’t tell Impa is possessed than you should probably stay in and watch Netflix more), they set the tone for the game. More importantly they help completely differentiate Percale of Ages from it’s counterpart Oracle of Seasons. Where as Oracle of Seasons focused heavily on a battle oriented gameplay, Oracle of Ages focuses more on puzzles, and the story. There are more cut scenes interlaced throughout Link’s journey that give the game more depth. Following this are more secondary characters to help flesh out the games world and give Link some more people to interact with.
There’s Ralph, Nayru’s childhood friend and self-proclaimed protector, Veran makes for a more interesting villain than the barely seen General Onix of Oracle of Seasons, Gorons make an enjoyable appearance, and we see the return of the ever cranky witch Maple. The trading route this time around is more complex which makes it less tedious than some of the mini-quests in Oracle of Seasons.
The puzzles here are at a Zelda level best. This makes the dungeons more enjoyable if you’re a fan of classic Zelda puzzle games, if a bit more time consuming. Traveling through time takes a bit more thinking, but seeing the effects of Link fixing or setting up various aspects of the past directly affect the future gives the game a more interesting aspect to it. Oracle of Ages is all about the story and puzzles. The monsters and bosses aren’t as hard, and there’s less side-quests but everything else is top notch. Out of the two, Oracle of Ages wins out for story alone, but both games are more than worthy of a place on any gamers shelf.
Jose Cordova – Threes
I’ve had a very busy week recently and so the majority of my gaming has been done on my phone. One of my favorite aspects of video games are their narratives. It stems from my love of storytelling in any form. A compelling narrative is difficult to find in the mobile gaming space because mobile games are usually bite sized experiences. If I can’t find a solid narrative to sink my teeth into then I need a strong game system or game mechanics to sustain my interest. Threes on iOS is that kind of game.
Threes is small puzzle game where you slide numbered tiles around a grid combining them and trying to reach the highest score possible before the your grid fills up and you run out of moves. Threes is the definition of “easy to learn and difficult to master” and is the perfect game to feed that obsessive section of my brain that loves chasing high scores. It’s amazingly addictive and tremendously fun. To top it all off, the art is just lovely and the score is the perfect background music to keep you in the zone.
The most amazing thing about this game is that it was created by a three man team with one person writing the game, one person responsible for music, and one person on art. The game is so good that a number copies of the game have appeared on the iOS store and other platforms. Having tried a couple of them I can tell you that Threes is easily the better game and has deeper gameplay with a greater level of challenge. It’s definitely worth your money. Find it on the iOS app store.